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Lifestyle

CSA Adventures: Tomato Recipes and Canning Tips

Posted by on Aug 27, 2014 in Lifestyle | 0 comments

CSA Adventures: Tomato Recipes and Canning Tips

Game over, grocery store tomatoes. We’ll see you in the fall. Local tomatoes are in season and there’s nothing like them. This year, my CSA delivered heirloom tomatoes in more colors than a pack of Crayolas and all sizes. Some were perfect for popping like candy and others for sandwiches and cooking. One of the best thing about tomatoes is you don’t need to do much to make a great tasting dish. Some great tomato recipes are: Classic BLT – Between my meat and vegetable CSAs, I had the B, the L and the T covered. I just needed to buy bread. While it’s certainly not local to New Hampshire, you can’t go wrong by adding avocado. Bruschetta – The tomatoes are the star in this appetizer or side dish. And it’s so simple to make, especially if you skip peeling the tomatoes like I do. I also added a little bit of mozzarella to the bruschetta. Ratatouille – One of our readers commented on our eggplant post and suggested making ratatouille, which I did the other night. It was a great way to use the wide range of seasonal veggies I had in the fridge after a late night at work when I all I wanted something simple, light and healthy before bed. Tomatoes and Hummus – Cherry tomatoes dipped in red pepper hummus have become a staple in my lunches this summer. I usually bring cucumbers or carrots too for variety. In addition to the CSA tomatoes, I bought a half bushel (about 26 pounds) of tomatoes from a local farm for canning. Since we go through a jar of salsa nearly every week at my house, this year, I wanted to make my own. I also liked the idea of making salsa because I wouldn’t need to peel every tomato. Last year, when I got a half bushel of peaches, I experienced how tedious it was to peel every single one and did not want to do that with tomatoes. (That said, the canned peaches were delicious and I will be making them again this week.) With the tomatoes, I made two types of salsa: Ball’s zesty salsa and fresh salsa. I still had quite a few tomatoes left and probably could have made another batch, but I didn’t feel like chopping anymore. So we’re eating them … after a week, we still have a handful left but I’m not complaining. If you want to can tomatoes, there are some things to consider: Get a recipe from a  trusted source and follow it. Tomatoes are lower in acid than many fruits that are typically canned. That means that preserving tomatoes safely requires adding the right amount of acid (often in the form of lemon juice or vinegar) to the right amount of tomatoes and other foods in recipe. Buy canning tomatoes in bulk. Many farms sell canning tomatoes – ones with few seeds – in large quantities. And it pays to buy in bulk. The half bushel I bought was only $15, but the individual tomatoes were $2.50 per pound. It’ll...

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Eco Fashion at Style Week Pittsburgh

Posted by on Aug 25, 2014 in Lifestyle | 0 comments

Eco Fashion at Style Week Pittsburgh

Going green isn’t easy and for many reasons fashion is one part of my life where I haven’t made much progress. For one, defining eco fashion is challenging. When you see a fashion item labelled as eco-friendly it could mean recycled materials, reused materials, organic materials, a sustainable manufacturing processes, a local- or hand-made product, the ethical treatment of workers or all of the above. To make it easy the definition of eco fashion I’m shopping with is that an item can meet any one of the above conditions. It’s also been difficult to find eco-friendly fashion in a variety of styles. Until recently I’ve only been able to find eco-friendly clothing lines offering boho, hippie, hiker or yoga style clothing. Other issues I often have is size. I’m on the smaller side at 5’2″ with a petite frame and many designers don’t make clothes in my size. Luckily, the landscape of eco fashion is changing quickly, both locally and online, thanks to small business owners who are trying to “do the right thing” and a greater acceptance of and desire for eco fashion. Last week Style Week Pittsburgh hosted many events around Pittsburgh, but the Saturday afternoon boutique crawl in Lawrenceville stood out as the “greenest” so decided to go exploring here’s some of the gems I discovered. Style Truck Locate the Style Truck via Twitter or Facebook. Style Truck is a mobile boutique carrying fair-trade and eco fashions to neighborhoods in and around Pittsburgh. Owner Jackee Ging traveled frequently for her previous job and that experience informs her selection. Style Truck offers versatile fashions, that can be dressed-up or down, in materials that pack well so you can travel light and don’t have to iron. The collections found in the Style Truck mostly come from small companies with ethical manufacturing processes because Julie does not want to support the horrific working conditions that lead to accidents like the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh last year. This past weekend the Style Truck was full of colorful tops, beautifully patterned dresses and trendy items like soft pants. I bought an Escapada Living color block top for $36 (on sale with a 10% Style Week discount). This is more than I would normally spend for a top but it’s something I can wear to work or on a weekend, and supporting a small business owner selling fashion with a conscience is a major bonus. Phoenix 3627 Butler Street Pittsburgh, PA 15201 My next stop was Phoenix, an upscale consignment boutique. Buying on consignments fits into my definition of eco fashion because items are given a second life instead of being sent to a landfill. This was my first time at Pheonix and I was impressed by the selection, organization and quality of the clothing. I was able to find items in my size easily and nothing I took off the rack to try on had any defects. The prices were very good too. They had a “dollar” rack with items for $4, $6 and $8, anything 1 month old was 25% off and 2 month old items were 50% off. I have expensive tastes and while working at a high...

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Review: Powerslayer Kit from Velvetwire

Posted by on Jun 28, 2014 in Lifestyle | 0 comments

Review: Powerslayer Kit from Velvetwire

Find out if the $79 Powerslayer Kit is worth the money. Powerslayer is an eco-friendly software driven charger that powers off when your device is charged.

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Green-er Gardening: Repair A Garden Hose

Posted by on May 28, 2014 in For Your Home, Lifestyle | 0 comments

Green-er Gardening: Repair A Garden Hose

I needed to replace the nozzle on my garden hose, but it had rusted to the brass coupling and no amount of rust cleaner or brute force would separate the two. If you have a rusted or leaking coupling, there is a very quick and inexpensive way to repair it so you don’t have to send your hose to the landfill. To replace the coupling on your hose you need a: utility knife, screwdriver, male connector and coupling repair clamp.   The repair is as easy as: cutting off the end of the hose with the utility knife, slipping the clamp over the hose, inserting the connector and tightening the screws to secure the clamp. As quick and easy as this project is, there are a few lessons that I learned and would like to share. First, measure the width of your garden hose before you head to the hardware store. There’s nothing more frustrating than coming home with the wrong parts. Second, spring for the more expensive metal clamp style. There are many types of hose menders. The style I used is $6-10, but it’s the easiest to apply, creates a secure seal and will last longer than plastic fittings which are $3-5. Bonus Tip If it’s the opposite end of your hose that’s leaking, you probably need a new washer. Take the existing washer to the store with you to make sure you get the right size replacement.   Like this post? Subscribe to our email list, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Pinterest for more green living...

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Stopping The Cycle Of Unwanted Gifts

Posted by on Jan 27, 2014 in Lifestyle | 0 comments

Stopping The Cycle Of Unwanted Gifts

As well-intentioned and thoughtful as the gift givers in our lives are, we’ve all be the recipient of unwanted gifts. With the major gifting season behind us, media outlets from Fox Business to Lifehacker are offering tips on how to unload those unwanted presents. Donating, returning or selling unwanted gifts solves a symptom of the problem but it does not address to the root of the cause. For those of us trying to keep a light carbon footprint, keeping consumption to a minimum is part of our lifestyle. Personally, I would rather not receive unwanted gifts, especially those that don’t align with my eco-conscious values. If I don’t want to use a personal product because I know it’s toxic to me and the environment, re-gifting or donating the item is not a good solution. Stopping the gift giving cycle can be tricky since gift giving and receiving is fraught with social mores. However, the next 10 months present a great opportunity to test some methods for putting an end to the cycle. Consider your next birthday, house party or other occasion a trial run before we hit the big leagues in December. When trying to stop the gift giving cycle, the giver’s feelings are the top priority so consider each person’s personality and values. Since many people value time with the friends and family over things, one method that’s worked well for me is to approach the gift giver before the next occasion and let her know how thoughtful she is but, this year, I’d prefer she save the time spent shopping and spend it in my company. Asking the gift giver to come over for tea, go out for lunch or split a bucket of balls at the driving range is a great way to spend time together and break the cycle. When I’m sending invitations to a birthday or housewarming party where guests are often expected to bring gifts, I often use the line: “Your presence is preferred to your presents.” Not only is it polite, but it’s complimentary to the guests. For occasions like holiday parties, where people are tempted to bring alcohol as a gift for the host or hostess, I ask guests to bring their favorite drink to share. Before I started telling guests they would be drinking their “gifts” I’d often receive cheap bottles of alcohol the gift giver wouldn’t even touch. Once I actually had to leave my own party to go buy more beer and, at the end of the night, ended up with a cabinet full of cheap wine nobody wanted. When trying to stop the cycle of unwanted gifts, it’s also important to be critical of your own habits. Have you ever felt obligated to give a gift to someone, but you didn’t know what to buy and in the end you weren’t sure if the gift was wanted or appreciated? I’ve been there too. One approach I’ve employed is offering to do something with or for the individual, which may mean going out for a...

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DIY Gift Bag Tags For Eco-Friendly Gift Giving

Posted by on Jan 8, 2014 in Lifestyle | 2 comments

DIY Gift Bag Tags For Eco-Friendly Gift Giving

My green conscious and my thriftiness drive me to save and reuse gift bags, but there’s a problem with this. While the corners may still be crisp after a gift bag’s first use, the tag is ruined. Luckily there’s an easy, green solution to this problem. You can make your own gift bag tags reusing old cards. For this project you will need: Old cards Ribbon Scissors Hole punch Pencil and stencil (optional) To create a stencil for my tags I cut the corners off a business card but you may want to get more creative with the shapes or do some “free form” cutting. Once you determine your shape, cut it out and punch a hole in the top of the tag. Then fill out the tag and attach it to the bag with a ribbon. I used ribbon saved from a gift too, which means the materials for this project were 100% recycled and free! The hanger straps on clothes are another great source for free ribbon. I’ve always cut mine out because they are uncomfortable and now they won’t go to waste. Now that the holidays are over, it’s the perfect time to create your tags for next year, and you can continue to collect birthday and other holiday cards to create tags for other occasions. Do you  have a green gift giving tip? If so, please share it in the comments below. Like this post? Subscribe to our email list, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Pinterest for more green living...

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Homemade Gifts With A Green Twist

Posted by on Dec 9, 2013 in Lifestyle | 0 comments

Homemade Gifts With A Green Twist

Looking to give DIY or homemade gifts this holiday season? Here are some ideas to get your creativity flowing. Luxurious Lotions, Balms & Scrubs Treat your friends and family to these luxurious lotions, balms and scrubs. The natural recipes will also lighten their environmental footprint. Make a coconut mango body butter with a mix of seasonal scents and warming oils that are perfect this time of year. Gift a dead sea salt hand & foot scrub to exfoliate and moisturize those areas that are often most affected by the dry air. Give lip balm  and get creative with the flavors. Add peppermint oil for a seasonal twist or mix raspberry oil and vanilla to make a sweet raspberry cheesecake balm. The possibilities are endless! Make a colloidal oatmeal sugar scrub that exfoliates skin and is gentle enough to be used as a face scrub too. Give the gift of relaxation with homemade bath salts. It’s as simple as mixing 6 parts course sea salt, 3 parts Epsom salt, and 1 part baking soda plus a few drops of essential oil. Mix up some seasonal homemade foaming hand soap. It’s so easy. Just combine distilled water, castile soap and essential oils. Give the gift in the foaming hand soap dispenser that best matches your friend’s style. (The soap dispenser is one of our and our readers’ favorites. We both have one at home and it’s one of the most popular items in our store.) Tasty Treats Infused oils make a lovely gift. Epicurious has a great guide to infusing oils with spices, herbs, aromatics and more. Fruit’s out of season in many areas, but that shouldn’t stop you from making jam or spiced apple rings. Many local farms store and sell apples through the winter and frozen berries can be used to make jam (once thawed, of course). Some of our favorite recipes are spiced apples, blueberry jam (traditional or with vanilla) and strawberry jam. Making homemade vanilla extract takes 30 days, so it won’t be done by Christmas. But many of us celebrate in the new year, catching up with family and friends after the busiest days of winter are behind us. If that sounds like you and your friends have an affinity for baking, homemade vanilla extract makes a great gift. Make a traditional vodka extract or liven it up with spiced rum or your friend’s favorite adult beverage. If you’re crunched for time, check some green gifts you can buy instead. Like this post? Subscribe to our email list, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Pinterest for more green living...

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Green Gift Ideas

Posted by on Nov 27, 2013 in Lifestyle | 0 comments

Green Gift Ideas

Looking for great gifts to give this season? These green gift ideas could be the answer. Green Beauty Give the gift of green beauty with e.l.f.’s mineral makeup gift sets. Both the standard and deluxe sets come with a mix of mineral makeup products and a makeup remover for your eco chic friends. The sets are neutral toned so you may want to add a pop of color with a fun shade of eyeshadow. Or make up your own makeup set by mixing and matching from e.l.f.’s mineral makeup line and adding some reusable makeup brushes and brush guards. Eco Fashion I came across this “scoodie” (scarf + hoodie) on Pinterest and loved the style. Then, I found out it’s made in California by a company with a conscious. Stolen Sunday’s fabrics are produced in Los Angeles and sewn into garments in  San Francisco. The company makes a variety of infinity scarfs too. Zoya Nail Polish Zoya nail polish, best known as a professional nail polish used in high-end spas and salons, is also made using an eco-friendly, vegan formula that is free of toluene, formaldehyde, DBP (phthalates) and camphor. And with over 300 colors to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect color for everyone on your list. Use this link to sign up for an account with Zoya and a coupon for a free bottle of nail polish will be added in your account. When you use the coupon and add 2 more polishes to your order, you’ll get free shipping too! To use the coupon click the My Account link at the top of the page, then click the My Promotion Codes link. From there you can apply the coupon to your cart. New Homeowner If you know a homeowner who gets home early some nights and stays out late others or travels frequently, they’ll appreciate the Nest Learning Thermostat. Nest allows the owner to monitor and adjust the temperature setting from their phone or computer so they can save energy – and money on their bills – anywhere they are. It’s a bit pricier than other thermostats, but our friends who have one say it’s worth every penny. Kids Need something for the kids? Last year, we listed Green Toys on our holiday gift list and got great feedback from the parents who bought them. In fact, one of our friends started a trend in her social circle. She was giving them as gifts to her daughter’s friends and other parents took an interest in the toys. Green Toys quickly became the “must have” and “must give” toys among that group. Each toy is made of used milk cartons in the U.S. which eliminates emissions that would normally result from shipping the products from overseas. Plus, the minimal packaging is 100% recyclable. You’ll find everything from tea sets to dump trucks in Green Toys’ product line. Reusable Shopping Bags If you know someone who always forgets their reusable shopping bags in the car or at home, flip & tumble’s 24-7 bags make the perfect gift. These are your average sized reusable bag, but they fold into a...

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