It isn't easy being green - especially when you're urban and love Thai take out. But I'm sure gonna try.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Bear With Me....

It's been a crazy few weeks. I was getting organized for the holidays all the while my husband had perhaps one of the busiest work weeks of the year. Throw in a family-wide stomach bug, a preschooler with no school, a class gift gone wrong, and a house mess that seemed to multiply exponentially, and it was virtually impossible to get anything done. Now that we're on vacation, I'll probably take the week off, get some much needed rest and catch up with family and friends. I'll be back ASAP with a new post. Thanks in advance for your patience.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Review: Desert Essence Jojoba Oil

Not only am I an urban zucchini mama, but I'm also a frugal and neurotic mama. So, there's nothing I love more than a relatively inexpensive product that serves multiple purposes and is safe for the environment and our bodies.

Whether you're using a drop in your bath, or slathering it on your skin (even your face), Desert Essence oil is light and moisturizing. It even softens coarse hair and soothes flaky scalps. I know! I use a few drops every day in place of hair products.

Jojoba oil also removes eye makeup and those nasty few-day-old kid tattoos. I have even used jojoba in place of shaving cream - on dry skin - in an emergency, and it did the trick painlessly.

What's more, jojoba oil is all-natural and gets a "1" (low hazard score) rating on the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep database.

Not too shabby for one little bottle, huh?

The oil comes in 2 ml and 4 ml bottles, in organic and conventional formats, and is available in many health food stores, Whole Foods and even Trader Joe's. A little goes a long way. This is one case where I say pick whichever fits your budget because there's only one ingredient. (Although, there is definitely a stronger, nuttier odor with the organic oil.)

Two product warnings:

1) If you take your jojoba oil on the road (which I do regularly), make sure you put it in a waterproof case. I'll admit, this is a time I need to be practical, and I use a Ziploc. It simply doesn't travel clean.

2) If you are using jojoba oil to remove your makeup, make sure to rinse your skin before wiping with a towel or laying on your sheets. You don't want grease stains.

Depending on the size and whether or not it is organic, Desert Essence Jojoba Oil will cost you anywhere between $6.00 and $15.00. It is, in my mind, a perfect product: affordable, simple, multi-purpose, eco and health-friendly.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tap into Your Inner Little House

Oh how I wanted to be Laura Ingalls. I can still see Melissa Gilbert running through the grass with an adorable shaggy mutt running behind...da da da da da da.... Nelly was as nasty as could be, and who didn't want to marry Almonzo? Now those were simpler times.

I'm not suggesting we all go out and shoot and skin a bear so that we can stay warm this winter. Certainly there have been many, many important advances that have vastly improved the qualities of our lives. But with these advances came all sorts of complexities that we now view as the norm. Cosmetic and food products need to have preservatives to give them shelf stability, and the downside of our gas powered cars are their emissions. These are just two examples.

My parents and in-laws are frequently irritated that I complicate their lives by sending them out of their way to buy products at farmers' markets and health food stores.

"There are no organic vegetables in our town!" My father will gripe.

But I found a local organic market that is a ten minute drive from his house.  True, the food there is more expensive, but the extra money spent supports the local farmer who picked and delivered spectacular cherry tomatoes just the day before.

"It's not easy to buy your special soap at Stop and Shop," my mother-in-law whines. "And plastic wrap on our food in the microwave keeps the food from drying out. If they sell it, it must be safe."

My family members have too much faith in the system and not enough faith in our ecosystem.

I say, "What would the Ingalls Family do?"

The entire family would hop into their horse-drawn cart and drive for an hour to support their local baker or to pick up groceries from their local shopkeeper. In fact, they would be joyful about it, and they would probably play games and sing. Maybe someone would even play a harmonica!

Finding stores, farmers and companies committed to providing healthier, more earth friendly options shouldn't be seen as a complication. It should be seen as embracing a simplified lifestyle. I don't want to put anyone out, I just want food whose ingredients make sense to me: milk, eggs, sugar, water. I don't want ingredients I can't pronounce in my food or slathered on my body. That's complicated!

And it doesn't stop there. Do you think the Ingalls family cooked their food with radioactive rays? What would they think about wireless networks?  If they left their lights on all night, their homes would burn down.

Don't panic. I'm not getting all conspiracy theory, lets-go-live-on-a-commune on you. I'm just saying the world we've created is much more complicated than it is healthy. And the only way to make it healthier is to make healthier choices. Where you spend your money and what you spend it on tells the system what you will and won't put up with.

Try not to think about making lifestyle changes as making your life more complicated. Instead think of it as liberating yourself. Imagine yourself running through a grassy field with rosy cheeks and braids flying in the wind.

Tap into your inner Little House. If that doesn't cut it for you, try the Waltons.

Goodnight John Boy.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Urban Zucchini Mama Take 1

I'm essentially a city kid. I grew up in one of the most sophisticated cities in North America and then moved to Manhattan, where I thrived for almost ten years. Now, a writer mom living in New England, I find myself torn between the world I was raised in, and the world we live in.

A sale sign outside Bloomingdales can act like a carrot dangling, and take-out beckons from every corner. But a garbage can full of containers plagues me, and how much stuff does one person need? Between you and me,  recently I've begun to imagine what it might be like to have my own goat and even a chicken or two...

I know I'm not alone. I can't be the only urban mama out there trying to do what's best for the planet and my family's health all the while driving around in an SUV? (I know, I know, but I do carpool sometimes, and in winter the hill I live on requires all wheel drive just to get out of the driveway.)

This is a blog about the choices I'm making to simplify and health-ify our life. It's about the small decisions, and the not so small decisions I make regularly that seem to both baffle and amuse many of my urban friends. (It's true, I don't have a microwave. And we get by just fine.)

But this blog is also for you - other urban folks - struggling to figure out the same decisions, but don't have the time to think about them. Here's where I can help. I'll offer you tips, tricks and product reviews to help navigate the overwhelming complexities of trying to simplify our lives. Ironic, isn't it?

I'm an expert when it comes to shopping and research. I spent eight years reviewing products for a prominent parenting website that is now part of the Disney Family Network. I've tested everything from strollers to cloth diapers and a gazillion toys. I know which questions to ask and what research to do. And I love to research products - sometimes to my own detriment, but absolutely to your gain.

This summer I took my first plunge into living on the other side. I bought a whole slew of zucchini. I shredded it, measured it, froze it, and am now storing it so that I will have it in winter months when organic food is scarcer, pricier, and flown in from places far away. I'm the Urban Zucchini Mama preserving food just around the corner from the subway, a grocery store, and my favorite Thai take out.