Tag Archives: family

Mechanized Insects, Please Buy Me Something Green and Rent A Living Tree

Grasshopper by Mike Libby

Plaid pants aside, I really have found the perfect gift for the man who has everything. Because he most certainly has never had, doesn’t currently have and should definitely have one of the amazing creations by Mike Libby. In Libby, I have found yet another genre-bending artist who takes design, creativity and reuse to an entirely new level. Libby takes real (not live) insects and crustaceans, intact, and mechanizes them. Yep. Puts moving parts in and about and on them to make them, well, really cool. Read an article on his work from 1800recycling.com, where I learned about Libby, or check out Insect Lab and his entire collection and read more about his extensive body of work. I think he and Edouard Martinet should have a show together. In my living room.

Speaking of my living room, there is a sweet little *plastic Christmas tree in its corner, thanks to the generous offer of my neighbor. But I know some of you don’t have tree-giving neighbors and haven’t yet done the one thing everyone expects you to do: (besides go to college, get married and have kids) Put a Christmas tree in your living room. Here’s a new find, a place out of San Jose, where you can rent a living Christmas tree, and if you are so inclined, they’ll tag your tree and you can get the same one year after year. How cool is that?

Now, you’ll need presents to put under that tree. Treehugger, inhabitat, 1800recycling, The Daily Green, and uncommon goods all have fabulous green gift lists, so check them out. Jessica Bates of 1800recycling.com gives us a few tips on eco-friendly gift wrap and Green Halloween made a video on wrapping with fabric, that quite frankly, makes me think twice about ever using tape and scissors again – and I like tape and scissors.

For a gift that needs no wrapping, give a tree dedication from treepeople.org: “A Tree Dedication gift starts at $25 for one tree and the recipient will receive a personalized greeting card. Multiple trees can be dedicated, or for a gift of $100 a special certificate announcing a grove of trees will be sent to the recipient.” I want a grove of trees in my name!

For gifts that give back: often times a buy one and one will be donated scenario. How can you not?

For gifts that don’t require wrapping or the giving of stuff. This is a Jocelyn favorite.

For the kiddies: Green gifts for children from Treehouse gifts in Berkeley.

*Remember how I said that living trees and even cut-down trees are better than plastic? Well, they are, but anything second-hand trumps anything new.

-Jocelyn Broyles

Green Your Christmas Holiday with a Living Tree

Photo http://www.christmastree company.com

When it comes down to how you’re going to green your Christmas, you’ve got about seven gazillion options, but the one thing nearly everyone does first, is go get a tree. And there’re definitely opposite sides of the fence when it comes to the sustainability of living trees, versus cut trees, versus plastic trees.

Having done my research, as I am wont to do, when you’re considering your green Christmas tree, plastic trees loose. Hands down. They’re generally made of PVC (nasty, old-format plastic made in China that off gasses toxins left and right) and even if they’re made of newer, less toxic petrochemicals, the trees often contain lead that flakes off over the years and their cores are often PVC.

Photo from lulu.com boots by schu

So what’s a girl to do? Put on some all natural mascara, some non-formaldehyde (among other things) vegan nail polish, some animal-friendly boots and go decorate the tree in your front yard – and don’t be tree-ist! Any tree will do, whether it’s got piney-type needles or not. Just ask the folks at SF Environment, where for $100 they will loan you a non-traditional, San Francisco-friendly potted tree, pick it up at your home after the Holiday and plant it for you somewhere in the city!

There are also mini-tree options if you live in a small space, want to give a tree, or just want to simplify your life. The Pinery, out of So. Cal., offers a variety of trees and tree-like options.

-Jocelyn Broyles

The Greennii Blog Updated for Tday-1: Green Your Thanksgiving, Now With Organic Stuffing To Go With The Organic Seven Layer Salad and Organic Pumpkin Pie Recipes

napa at sunset by Nick Dor

Photo by Nick Dor, http://www.ndphoto.com

Oh boy, oh boy! Did I mention in yesterday’s blog that I was excited? While my heart gets little pangs almost hourly at Thanksgivings past in Costa Rica with some of my most favorite people and ones whom I love most in this world, I am grateful to be where I am at this moment and am at times breathless with the beauty that is fall in the Bay Area.

So with one Barbarosa Ranchers turkey thawing in my fridge (it’s for a friend’s family) and the other turkey awaiting its brining party tonight, I am all aflutter with preparations for the big Thanksgiving feast, which mostly includes me getting my recipes in order and passing them on to you!

Laurie’s Stuffing (with real homemade breadcrumbs, of course!)

What:
12oz stale bread crumbs (the bread should be made at least two days prior)
1 C melted organic butter
1 1/2 C chopped celery
1 C chopped onion
1 3/4 C homemade organic chicken stock
1 pound organic, free range sausages of your choice (chicken, lamb, pork
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons ground sage
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

How:
Cook sausage in a separate pan, set aside to cool. Set aside 1/4 cup of broth. Combine bread crumbs with butter and spices. Stir stock in gradually. Crumble sausage and add to mixture. Spoon into 2 1/2 or 3-quart greased casserole dish. Use reserved broth to pour over stuffing to avoid drying while baking. Bake covered 30 minutes at 350 degrees F. Remove cover and bake 5 to 10 minutes longer for a crisper top. Makes 12 (1/2 cup) servings.

Miss Carrie’s Seven Layer Salad

(This is the dish at Thanksgiving that makes you feel like at least your sort of eating something healthy and not totally laden with calories. It lies.)

What:
1 head organic butter lettuce (or other type)
1 large organic red onion, finely chopped
2 C organic canned, frozen but thawed or fresh green peas (fresh is my first choice, but hard to find locally produced this time of year)
1/2 C organic or homemade mayonnaise
1/2 C organic sour cream (can substitute plain organic yogurt)
1 C shredded organic cheddar cheese
12oz. organic, free range, grass fed, loved it’s whole life bacon, cooked and crumbled

How:
Choose a pretty, clear glass salad bowl or cake pan – you’ll want to see the layers. Mix the mayo and the sour cream together. Set aside. Layer in the different ingredients in the order listed, with the lettuce on the bottom. You may not need the whole 12oz of bacon, it depends on the size of your serving dish. Serves 8-10.

Photo from Suzanne Enoch's post on http://www.thegoddessblogs.com

Organic Pumpkin Pie (from a pumpkin no less!)
2 cups of pumpkin pulp purée from a sugar or other pumpkin*
1 1/2 cup organic heavy cream or same amount of hemp milk (my choice by far and I drink milk)
1/2 cup packed organic dark brown or raw cane sugar
1/3 cup organic white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 organic, free range, cageless eggs plus the yolk of a third egg
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon
1 good crust (see recipe below)

* To make pumpkin purée from a sugar pumpkin: start with a small-medium (about 2 pounds) sugar or other pumpkin, cut out the stem and scrape out the insides, discard (save the seed and see our roasted pumpkin seed recipe). Cut into sections and steam in a saucepan, with a couple inches of water at the bottom, until soft. Scoop out the pulp from the skin. Or you can bake whole or halved in a 350°F oven until fork-tender. Optional – put pulp through a food mill or chinois to make extra smooth. NOTE: I am a lazy cook and I don’t bother with making extra smooth pulp. But, I do bother with real pumpkin. Start it first and it will be done by the time you assemble the rest of the ingredients and it is worth it!

Preheat oven to 425°F. Mix sugars, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Beat the eggs and add to the bowl. Stir in the pumpkin purée. Stir in cream/hemp milk. Whisk all together until well incorporated. Pour into pie shell and bake at 425°F for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes reduce the temperature to 350°F. Bake 40-50 minutes, or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 2 hours.

Isophene’s Short Pie Crust

This recipe is from my grandmother who’s middle name was Isophene. I am NOT a pastry baker and I was scared of pie crusts until I was 34 and my mother assured me I could make this crust. I was also living in Costa Rica, pre-made crusts were nowhere to be found and I had 30 coming for Thanksgiving dinner. It turned out to be really easy, fun and is the only pie crust recipe I use!

2 C Flour
½ tsp. Salt
¼ tsp. Baking Powder
½ C Salad Oil (this is how my grandma wrote it – I use soy, corn or safflower oil, but not olive – it’s flavor is too strong)
¼ C Water

You’ll need a 9” pie tin and you’ll use this as your mixing bowl. Put your dry ingredients in the pie tin and mix well with your hands. Add wet ingredients and mix with your hands – remember back to your mud-pie days. This crust will not look super even, white-ish spots are fine. You want it blended, that’s all. As my mother wrote in giving me the recipe, “This falls apart easily. Don’t worry. It also smuches back together easily.” Once it’s mixed, start smuching it out towards the edges of the pie tin. Leave a little extra at the lip of the tin and using a pinching method make the little scalloped edges. Wa-la!

Ahhh, The Family Reunion

Who doesn’t love to hate them? Thirty or forty of your most favorite, or unfavorite, people all gathered in one place so they can argue with the aid of too much sunshine, too many mosquitos, too much beer and not enough places for you to run and hide.

1982 Family Reunion

As you might have guessed, a family reunion lurks in my future. Thankfully, I actually like all of these people (well, most all of them anyway) and foresee having a truly enjoyable day hanging out on the back 40, playing horseshoes, talking with family-who-are-also-friends whom I haven’t seen since we moved back from Costa Rica. All of these things are making me look forward to this upcoming sunny Saturday afternoon, but one thing in particular piqued my interest and made me both encouraged and discouraged about the general tone of the event.

In a mass-email-to-the-whole-family-format, I offered to bring Eco-friendly, compostable or non-disposable plates, cups, utensils, napkins and whatnot for eating and cleaning up. I got a couple of, “Oh, someone is already buying all those supplies at Costco.” responses. I also got a couple of, “That’s great! I vote for the reusable or compostable options.” responses. But then, I actually got ridiculed, lambasted and derided in an unnervingly angry response by one particular family member for deigning to make the offer, and for believing that one little nod towards sustainability would make a difference in the first place.

I say that I was both encouraged and discouraged, which is a bit of an understatement, as I was actually quite angry for most of the day yesterday, but after a lot of thought and consideration, I came around to being almost entirely encouraged by the whole exchange. Encouraged, because I did get some support in the first place, but also encouraged, to my surprise, by the angry email. For to incur such wrath by merely offering to bring compostable products to a summer barbeque means that the Green movement is making some waves and making some folks uncomfortable with the status quo, and when people are uncomfortable and upset about something, it generally means change is on the way. And that, folks, is very encouraging news indeed.

So, for good times and little ridicule, here are some tips on how to be a little more green at your next family event:

1. Encourage folks to carpool to the event location, and choose somewhere that is close to several of the invitees, if at all possible.
2. Encourage everyone to bring their own reusable products: water bottles, utensils, cloth napkins, reusable picnic plates. Or, not quite as good, but better than plastic – supply folks with compostable products including plates, cups, utensils, napkins. And don’t forget the compostable garbage bags to clean up all the trash.
3. Get a consensus (this is the hard part!) about what folks want to drink that isn’t beer or wine or other alcohol and mix up some large batches in those “Gatorade” coolers that have the nifty poor spout and keep drinks cold all day. This will save on individual cans and plastic bottles of juice and soda.
4. Buy your meat from a store or farm that offers ranch grown meat and raises their livestock humanely and without hormones. And while you’re at it, opt for organic veggies and non-processed deserts.
5. There are several organic breweries and wineries out there. Try them! They’re actually not even “not bad for organic”, but taste good and aren’t particularly more expensive.

-Jocelyn Broyles