Monday, January 14, 2008

Flower Arranging

I collect flower vases so that I have a variety of options for my floral arrangements. Also, different containers look better in particular areas of my home. There are plenty of eco-friendly choices you can make when selecting a flower container

· Antique or second-hand containers

· Earthenware containers

· Glass containers, especially recycled

· Containers made out of stone

· Recycled metal containers

Any container that holds water can hold flowers—be creative and look around your home for possibilities. You can cover empty cans from your cupboard with fabric, for example. Or, put a bunch of flowers in a watering can. If they are watertight, clay pots can hold flowers.

When you entertain, it is nice to have flowers on the table—but not if they obstruct your guests’ views of one another. Low containers are perfect for the dining room table. To keep flowers upright, it might be necessary to use what florists use, floral foam. Oasis® brand is most common; just make sure the package indicates that the foam is for wet floral arrangements. Floral foam is available in craft stores.

The key to using floral foam is to allow it to absorb water at its own rate, in a sink or a container filled with water. If you forcefully submerge it, the inside of the foam will not get wet. The foam is ready to use when it has sunk to the bottom of the water-filled container. Floral foam is easily cut with a knife; cut whatever size you require, wet it, and place in a container.

You will want to cover the floral foam completely. In addition to flowers, you will need green filler—either from the florist or cut some from a bush or tree in your yard. You can cover the foam first and then place the flowers, or arrange flowers and then fill in spaces with greens.

Finally, relax and enjoy the process of arranging flowers! Experiment with different flowers and vases, and allow yourself to create. Most importantly, honor yourself with fresh flowers on a regular basis!

For more information, read Harmonious Environment!

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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Lotus Body Botanicals

The following is a blurb from my interview with Maria Falce, owner of Lotus Body Botanicals.
For the the full interview, go to HarmoniousEnvironment.

Norma: Tell me about your medicinal grade essential oils. Energetically, how do they compare to industrial or synthetic grade essential oils?

Maria:The synthetic oils are dead and the industrial oils are weak and lack substance and direction. Both are toxic or potentially toxic. The rest of the oils out there that are not 100%pure are not necessarily bad oils, they are just not true, they are not complete and at best smell good. Their ability to heal is muddied due to the mixing and dilution of various oils, you just don’t know what you are getting or what it can/will do. There are oils that are grown here in the States that are pure; they are just energetically different from the oils I use. This goes back to the land and the wisdom of the Earth. The European oils are older and wiser and have deeper healing qualities that have been tracked and used for centuries. The American oils have been around for 100 to 200 years at most and are just more immature energetically and because we lack a full understanding of the oils in our culture, we just don’t know what the healing properties of these plants are. It is so adaptable and dependent upon the environment that the same lavender plant grown here and in France will have totally different medicinal qualities. So, I am not saying that all American grown essential oils are bad or inferior just that they are not yet fully understood and have a tendency toward energetic immaturity. Here is an example that I feel explains what I am saying. Last summer, my husband came running into the house, a wasp had stung him numerous times. He was in a great amount of pain. I only had a couple of drops of my good lavender left and didn’t want to part with it (mean wife) so I offered him the bottle of[ a popular brand of essential oil] lavender, this is a very popular and common brand in the US. I figured that since lavender is so giving with its oils that it had to be real. He applied the oil and continued to complain of extreme pain and burning from the stings. I finally gave in and gave him my wild lavender and within 2 seconds of application, all of his pain was gone. Later that day, there were no physical signs that he had ever been stung, the redness and the welts were completely gone. Now, was this a case of a synthetic oil or a diluted oil or an oil grown somewhere that wasp stings were not prevalent? I do not know for sure. I just know that it did not have the healing properties that lavender is supposed to have, so in my opinion it is an inferior oil, real or not.

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Monday, January 7, 2008

Beef Wellington, Roasted Kale and Sauteed Char

My husband and I don't eat red meat often, but when we do, it's the best: free range, anti-biotic free, grain fed. I had bought beef tenderloin a couple months ago from Whole Foods and froze it, waiting for a special occasion to cook it. My husband has been working like crazy lately, Saturdays included, so I decided to surprise him this past weekend with this dish.
My local A&P now carries organic dried mushrooms and I had a bag of Chanterelle mushrooms that I wanted to try. I used them instead of regular mushrooms and enjoyed them. You soak them in water, and the water smelled so great, I decided to save it. Tonight I will use it as the stock for cream of mushroom soup.
There was enough for two nights (recipe that follows is for two portions) and we had roasted kale the first night and sautéed char the following night. For recipes, go to Harmonious Environment.

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Saturday, January 5, 2008

WorldGood Fair Trade

This interview with Miranda K. Paul, owner of WorldGood Fair Trade, can be read in its entirety at Harmonious Environment.

Norma: I gather there are a lot of plastic bags lying around in Gambia? Please explain the situation.

Miranda: YES - the plastic bag situation in The Gambia is horrendous. It is a problem in both urban and rural areas. There is no official waste management system throughout the country, and the introduction of imported plastic bags to the markets well over 10 years ago caused many impoverished people to turn to this cheap method of carrying parcels, etc. No education about or understanding of the nature of plastic was given to people. Many farmers who rely on livestock were seeing unexplained deaths in their goats especially, and butchers are commonly finding plastic bags wrapped around the intestines of these animals who died unexpectedly. Many of the women in Njau also noticed that these plastic bags were getting buried under the soil and their gardens wouldn't grow. Other problems surrounding the plastic bag trash includes large pools of water / breeding ground for mosquitoes and all kinds of trash contaminating water supplies in rural areas. There are very few, if any, places I have traveled to in Gambia where plastic trash is not a problem. I don't have any official numbers of how many lbs. of plastic trash might still be left to clean up, as it is continually added to daily as there is still no limit, ban or education about these plastic bags on a wide scale and it's the most convenient means of toting goods from the market for customers who didn't "bring their own bag". ALL of the bags used from the women of Njau are literally recycled trash. I have found out that several "green" products or companies are actually using new plastic to make such objects, and I am appalled because that's contributing to the problem. The point of this project is that one day, the women will be done making these bags and can move on to other things. The bags are washed TWICE, and bags that are too dirty are not used.

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EnterMarket Interview

The following is a blurb from my Interview with Jeff Kahn, Vice President Sales at Entermarket.
For the the full interview, go to HarmoniousEnvironment.

Please give me specific ways in which you are going green in the different segments of your company.

Some of the ways we are going Green in the different segments of our business are as follows: Using recycled boxes in the warehouse. Using recycled packing materials. Reconfiguring the lighting in the warehouse. No idling policy (making sure trucks shut their engines off while waiting to load and unload). Ask our existing clients to always think "GREEN" while planning a promotion by using recycled paper and printing with soy based inks for their marketing materials. Giving our packaging clients the option to change from traditional plastic packaging to biodegradable foam and recycled board packaging.

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