Archive for the ‘eco living’ Category
Yes we are all busy and most of us live very rushed lives. Maybe you’re gulping down breakfast or putting your shoes on in the car (that’s us). But kids pick-up on this harried atmosphere. It can’t be good for them right? Especially when you are trying to teach them the virtues of keeping calm and staying focused.
So we recently instituted mandatory 5-minute meditation time in our house. Ideally, it would have been in the morning (which would probably never happen), so our time is in the evenings after dinner. There are scores of books and CDs on meditation and kids, but our modus operendi is simple: we close our eyes, say om slowly 3 times and then breathe deeply until the timer goes off.
Five minutes of silence in our house every evening is absolutely priceless.
image: “Om” by Chandelle Hazen, available at Fine Art America
A baseless superstition – or does Vastu have have merit? I’m convinced it’s both. Vastu “consultants” abound in India (and elsewhere) who make claims that if rooms and furniture are oriented “as per Vastu,” then good fortune will come – or at the very least that nothing bad will happen to you or your family. In fact, sometimes apartments or offices in India remain vacant because they’re not “as per Vastu.”
I highly doubt there will be be much difference in my life if I sleep with my head to the North or the South, or if I use more than 2 types of wood – but as we’re building our new house, it struck me that some of the principles of Vastu are actually in harmony with green building design (which is the focus of our home). We aimed to orient our home and rooms to maximize effects of sunlight and airflow so that we could minimize (even eliminate) the need for heating and cooling. To that effect, we have a large Brahmasthan (area in the center of the home which is left open), an East-facing front door, a kitchen in the SE, prayer room in the NE, etc. etc.
Vastu and Green Design – it should be the subject of a book I think.
Do you Vastu?
I don’t often get excited about cars, but our house has been in a state of uber-excitement for the past week over our big Diwali purchase: the 100% electric Nissan Leaf.
Suddenly driving is less of a chore – and we have lots to share with random, curious strangers. The kids have even composed their very one “electric car song.”
What I love most (apart from never having to go to a gas station – we plug it into an outlet in our garage) is the programmable climate control – so the car is just the right temperature when we load the kids in the car at 7:45 am.
Of course, we took it to the temple last Friday and almost ran out of charge…we pulled into the driveway with 4 miles to spare. Learning curve noted. Good thing we have a good number of EV charging stations around us…
The rubber industry is a key sector of the Indian economy – it’s one of the top 5 rubber producing countries in the world. Native to South America (the Indians there called it the Crying Tree), the rubber plant was brought to India during British rule. If you’ve ever visited Kerala, you may have been lucky enough to get a demonstration of how rubber is made.
Here is a terrific educational video for kids which shows how rubber is harvested, pressed and dried into sheets. Have them spot all the things in the house that are made of rubber for an afternoon of fun!
Which is more eco-friendly? Toilet Paper vs. Water?
The person who can solve the front door shoe storage issue will have my heart forever. As in when guests arrive at your front door and you politely ask them to remove their shoes, only to have them awkwardly lean against walls and doorframes to do the deed and then try to find a place to put them neatly away. And worse still if you’re having a party – when all the shoes end up in a random mess on your front porch.
Sure you may have a mudroom or garage for your family or a coat closet (which, if you’re like me, is probably already filled to capacity). But I’m talking about a clever, clean, modern solution to having front door guests remove their shoes before they set foot in your home. Why haven’t houses or front porches been designed with this purpose in mind? Like maybe a built-in stone bench with shoe storage underneath?
A couple years ago, EPA came out with a Doormat Study – basically confirming what most Eastern cultures already practiced – that removing your shoes at the door was the healthy thing to do. Specifically, EPA concluded that 30-40% of all contaminants inside the home (including lead from lead-contaminated soil, lawn and garden pesticides, industrial toxins, mutagens, dust mites and allergens, etc.) were brought in from the outdoors. (Did they really need a study to confirm this commense sense?)
So the hunt continues…in the meantime, here are some interesting ideas:
Rolling shoe bin (image via here):
Outdoor shoe cupboard (image via here):
Rustic (image via here):
A portable/moveable option via Quirky:
“Ha” was what I’d be thinking when my mother would ask me if I was continuing to give oil baths to my kids. When they were babies I’d do it once in awhile – I thought it a nice way to massage and moisturize before their baths. But as they got older – when I could declare victory just for getting them in the tub, and when the flossing, brushing, tongue-cleaning, mouthwashing and toilet training got added to our nightly routine, the oil bath was the first to go.
Until last winter. Their skin was getting dry and my son even had patches of sandpaper-like skin. So I brought out the oil again and took the extra few minutes to use it on their skin and hair before their baths. And really, it worked better than any moisturizer I tried. Then as summer rolled around, with all the time spent in the ocean and the pool, I continued it.
In reading about the traditional Indian oil bath, it seems to be an Ayurvedic tradtion – with the purpose of relieving the body of excess internal heat. It’s recommended that you use castor oil or almond oil and take this oil bath at least once a week. I use the Burt’s Bees Body Oil pictured above – it has almond and lemon oils. (Read more about Ayurvedic oil baths and process here).
Maybe I should start taking them?
A note of caution about using oils on babies/kids – a few years ago Maharashtra’s FDA commenced an investigation into baby oils – including the popular Dabur Baby Olive Oil that is sold in Indian grocery stores in the United States. It is unclear what the outcome of this investigation was.
I saw this last year on Modernica‘s website: the Superstar Holiday Tree. It’s been called a “Christmukkah Tree” – supposedly suitable for families who celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah (note the Star of David shapes).
Would you use this as a Diwali Tree? A place to hang ornaments – and a place to gather Diwali gifts? Would we be copycats or just assimilating a new tradition?
Made of natural baltic birch wood, the tree is designed to be reused year after year. It comes in 2 sizes – large ($240) and small ($125). But hold your horses – the tree is not available for another few weeks (yes, after Diwali).
Too bad Modernica didn’t think to market it as a Diwali Tree too.
Blackberry Mascara? Shimmery White Peach Lip Gloss? Sound yummy? What if these cosmetics are made with fruit pigments from actual blackberries and organic peaches? Even better – ya? Oh, AND what if you knew these items are made with 100% all natural ingredients – as in NO synthetic chemicals, preservatives or fragrances – only food grade ingredients teeming with antioxidants?
Today we introduce to you the second of our Navratri Giveaway Sponsors: 100% Pure – developers of 100% natural, 100% vegetarian skin care, hair care and cosmetics. Developed based on research that up to 60% of topical skincare products are absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream, their aim was to eliminate the toxic chemicals in mainstream cosmetic products – that have been proven to cause cancer, tumors, irritation and skin disorders. They carry the first and only cosmetics colored with antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetable pigments (patent pending).
After sifting through the products on their website – and reading the list of ingredients for each product – you will most likely want to trash your current skincare inventory. In case you do, we list below 9 of our favorite 100% Pure picks.
100% Pure is giving away a package of 2 products from their Fruit Pigmented Line: Blackberry Mascara and Tahiti Satin Eye Shadow. So ENTER for your chance to win.
How often do you get excited about what’s in a mascara tube? This one contains Organic Green Tea, Honey Beeswax, Wheat Protein, Seaweed Powder, Rice Powdr and of course pigments of Blackberry. Water and smudge resistant.
An island-inspired creamy shadow to make your eyes sparkle – leaves your eyelids soft, moistured and nourished with vitamins and antioxidants. Made with Avocado Butter, Pigments of Peach, Apricot, and extracts of Goji Berry, Acai Berry, Rosemary, Oregano, Thyme, Lavender, Tahitian Noni, and Japanese Honeysuckle.
Bath-Time combined with Dessert-Time! Certified organic 2-in-1 Body Wash and Shampoo, Bubble Bath and Body Cream. 100% yummy!
More than a pretty bottle – packed with skin nourishing honey, vitamins, antioxidants and skin brightening fruits. Contains Organic Almond Milk, and Organic White Tea, Calendula and Jasmine.
Something you leave on your skin all day SHOULD be 100% natural. Contains Organic Aloe Juice, Organic Avocado Butter, Organic Shea Butter, Organic White Tea and Organic Lavender, Pomegranate Seed Oil and Japanese Honeysuckle Extract.
This 100% Pure formula gets its brightening effect from all natural, gentle ingredients like Bearberry, Kojic Acid, Sake, Fruit Acids, Licorice, Vitamin C, Lemon Juice and Strawberries. Washes away makeup, hydrates and soothes.
Think about all those vitamins for your skin! This is a highly nourishing facial cream with high doses of vitamins, antioxidants and skin beneficial nutrients that reduce fine lines and wrinkles and increase skin firmness and glow.
Lip gloss you can actually eat! 100% natural, vegetarian and gluten-free – this gloss is made with 83% Vitamin E from organic rice bran and fruit pigments that moisten and deeply soften.
Who couldn’t use a good tinted moisturizer? This one is made with pigments of Peach, Apricot, Cocoa Bean and Goji Berry and also contains Oregano, Thyme and Japanese Honeysuckle. Comes in 7 shades and the SPF 20 protects your skin against UVA and UVB rays.
WINNER for this prize will be announced at midnight EST on Wednesday, September 28th – so make sure to enter before then!
I hope these fun and beautiful leaf dishes will be available for our next July 4th cookout. I would love to have guests use them as plates. Reminds me of the huge banquets in my grandmother’s village – where diners would eat in “batches” on fresh banana leaves.
Designed by Nao Tamura, these organic form flexible plates are made of silica sand and are microwave and oven safe. And, might I add, look very kid-safe as well.