Monday, December 14, 2009

My Christmas wish list - #5

As I discovered in her previous book, Ecoholic, Adria Vasil's sarcasm and humor go great with green living tips. Ecoholic is a Canadian green living bible so I can hardly wait to see what she has to say in her new book Ecoholic Home (just published in October) .

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas wish list: #3 & #4

As you can tell from the heading, this is a 2 in 1 Christmas wish. Pictured here is one of my favourite nibbles at one of my favourite restaurants, Opera Bistro. I love this nibble because the crispy potatoes are so satisfyingly perfect with the homemade dip. And when the potato wedges are gone it's all I can do not to dip my fingers into the luscious mustard mayo.
What I also love about this appetizer is the cone-shaped serving basket that it arrives in. Made by NB artist Brent Rourke, it's exquisitly beautiful and a bit funky. I don't see these particular baskets on Brent's website but I know you can buy your own when you next dine at Opera Bistro.
P.S. This photo looks good enough to eat because I borrowed it off the Opera Bistro website.

Christmas wish list #2

A membership to your local museum or art gallery -- one of the best family outings there is. During our visit to the NB Museum last weekend my kids made these cute whale ornaments out of toilet paper rolls. We also watched an intriguing film about the Bay of Fundy and got to view the new exhibit, Portraits: New Brunswick Painters, 1970-2000. Seeing that I coveted a certain painting of cherry pie by artist Gerry Collins, my daughter (age 6) said she'd paint me one just like it. And she did!

Monday, December 7, 2009

A new kind of gift to give

If you do an online search on green gift giving you’ll find all kinds of unique and nifty items made of recycled products or organic materials. There’s a growing market for all gifts eco-friendly and more and more places to find them locally.

But I often think we should all challenge ourselves a bit more on the green front during the gift giving season. Buying stuff for gifts isn’t awful but there are more ways to give. Of course we all know this but when it comes down to the Holiday crunch it always seems easier to buy something rather than sit back (impossible during the rush) and give some thought to other gift options.

Before you next zip into Winners think about this: based on U.S. stats, the products we buy and the assorted packaging that comes along with them, account for 44% of our greenhouse gas emissions. I was stunned by this. Turning off the lights and driving less are important green living tips but curbing shopping habits is the mother of them all.

So how do you curb your habits during the biggest shopping season of the year? I found my inspiration at the office…

At work there are often online auctions to help raise money for worthwhile causes. They’re filled with corporate branded clothing, cell phones, gift certificates and such. Recently someone had the brilliant idea to ask employees to donate a personal skill or service to these auctions and the resulting variety has been a boon to the online auction hall. It also got me thinking about a whole new kind of gift to give at Christmas.

Here are a few examples:

  1. A friend with a sailboat put up for auction a two-hour evening sail, complete with wine and cheese.
  2. My husband is a terrific guitarist so offered two hours worth of guitar lessons.
  3. Are you computer savvy? A co-worker offered to be someone’s computer geek for a few hours. He can configure a home network, program a PVR, connect all the pieces of a home entertainment system and ensure your wireless modem is properly secured.
  4. Another coworker will do a personal coffee run every day for a week for the lucky bidder (and pay for the coffee too).
  5. I will soon be delivering one freshly baked loaf of bread a week for four weeks to one of my coworkers.

You can take the same approach with your Holiday gift giving.

  1. Are you someone who is hyper-organized? Offer to help someone set their kitchen cupboards or closets to rights and purge the clutter.
  2. Give a week’s worth of frozen homemade meals to friends who are often rushed at mealtime.
  3. Give tidy bundles of kindling to someone with a woodstove or insert.
  4. In a little book, write out the recipes for your best speedy weeknight meals and the kid’s favourite lunches.

The more you think about it the more ideas that come to mind. These are the sorts of gifts that area a joy to receive and especially pleasurable to give.

Friday, December 4, 2009

My Christmas wish list - #1

I love Olivier's Femme line of face cream and facial soap. Now I'm waiting for a pot of their body scrub. (After an in-store demo I was hooked.)
The oils are creamy not greasy so it's easy to use and leaves your skin feeling smooth and moisture drenched, not slippery.
Take a look at the ingredient list. All pure and natural: Olive oil, virgin coconut oil, sea salt, oat flakes, essential oils of neroli, of rosemary, of tea tree, of sage, sweet almond oil, essential oil of benzoin, tocopherol (vitamin E), essential oils of rosewood, of palmarosa, of carrot seed.
You can visit their shop in the Saint John City Market or shop on line: