February 13th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
More than 150 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged each year, according to the trend trackers at Hallmark. This excludes packaged children’s valentines for classroom swaps.
Feb. 14 is the second-largest card-purchasing occasion. Christmas ranks No. 1, with a whopping 1.8 billion cards (individual and from boxed sets) sent annually.
Hallmark also notes:
- Almost half of all Valentine’s Day cards are purchased in the six days prior to the holiday, making it “a procrastinator’s delight.”
- Parents account for 40% of all Valentine’s Day card purchases.
If you’re going to buy a card, please look for designs printed on organic and/or recycled paper. Hallmark started recycling paper in the 1940s, and the company in 2008 created a green icon that appears on its line of earth-friendly products. Organic/recycled cards from smaller publishers are also available at natural and organic food stores.
To avoid paper and snail mail altogether, Hallmark offers a wide selection of Valentine’s Day E-cards (as does American Greetings).
Valentine’s Day sentiments may be rooted in the fiction of celebrated English author Geoffrey Chaucer during the High Middle Ages. The tradition of courtly love began to flourish during the period, and Chaucer’s Parlement of Foules poem was written to honor the first anniversary of King Richard’s II’s engagement to Anne of Bohemia. Literary theorists continue to debate Chaucer’s role in Valentine’s Day traditions, but some who slogged through The Canterbury Tales in high school or college can blame the notorious bard for the holiday fuss!
Photo courtesy of Hallmark
Read More:Green Your Valentine’s Day Cards
August 22nd, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Outdoor entertaining, whether you’re hosting a summer cookout or a fall brunch, should focus on celebrating good times with family and friends—not worrying about what to serve.
You can prepare cold appetizers, salads and side dishes in advance. They’re an easy way to add flavor without turning up the oven’s heat.
Here are some outdoor entertaining tips to make guests happy and your life easier:
- Go Organic. Use fresh, seasonal, organic ingredients. Your guests will appreciate big flavors that won’t weigh them down.
- Gather Round. Set up a chips-and-salsa bar. It’s a great way for guests to mix and mingle. Try yesterday’s recipe for Black Bean and Corn Scoops, an alternative to traditional salsa. Guests will also enjoy Tomatillo Salsa, Granny Smith Guacamole, Charred Red Onion Salsa and Fiery Fruit Salsa.
- Bowl Them Over. Add a festive touch with brightly colored serving bowls and plates.
- Made in the Shade. Some guests are sensitive to heat and sunlight. Make sure an indoor room is available for cooling off. If you have a large gathering, consider renting a tent or setting up chairs and tables under a shady tree.
- Keep It Cool. Chill empty plates and glasses before giving them to your guests. This will help keep foods and beverages cold.
Tips courtesy of Tostitos
Read More:5 Outdoor Entertaining Tips
December 29th, 2008 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
With plastic toys turning up toxic and non-biodegradable shopping bags jamming landfills, German scientists have developed something called bioplastic, or liquid wood.
It’s made using waste material from the paper-making process and includes taking wood pulp, mixing it with hemp, flax or wood fibers and other additives to make a nontoxic wax that can be used to create a material similar to petroleum-based plastics.
A German company named Tecnaro invented liquid wood, or Arboform as it’s officially known, and they’re currently working on perfecting the technique. But, it’s already being used to make things like car parts, golf tees and ballpoint pens.
And, as MSNBC reports, they recently used liquid wood to make intricate figurines for a holiday Nativity scene.
Via SustainableBusiness News.
Read More:Bioplastic, Liquid Wood
February 26th, 2007 - Barbara Feiner
I’ve posted three recipes in honor of Chinese New Year: Braised Black Bean Pork, Almond Gel and Sweet Sesame Balls. As the 15-day celebration comes to a close, consider creating a Tray of Togetherness for your family.
Eight is considered the luckiest number in Chinese culture, bringing good fortune and happiness. A traditional Tray of Togetherness features eight special treats, including dried fruit, seeds and nuts. You can find the ingredients at your local natural and organic food store or at a nearby Asian market.
In the example shown here, you’ll see (clockwise from top center):
- Sesame sticks, said to bring many children
- Red melon seeds, because the color symbolizes happiness and joy
- Candied winter melon, representing growth and good health
- Kumquats, because the gold represents prosperity
- Peanuts, signifying longevity
- Lucky money candy, leading to a sweet and prosperous year
- Lotus seeds, attributed to fertility
- Longans (an Asian fruit), said to bring many good sons
And if you want to wish someone good fortune in Cantonese, just say: “Kung Hay Fat Choy.”
Book Pick of the Day: Chinese Healing Foods: Keep Your Body and Soul in Balance with Powerful Natural Foods and Seasonings
Photo courtesy of Panda Express
Read More:Tray of Togetherness
February 14th, 2007 - Barbara Feiner
Happy Valentine’s Day from OrganicAuthority.com!
If you’ve been following the blog over the last week, we’ve already planned your really red organic dinner with Valentine Salad, Maple Wasabi Glazed Salmon and Triple-Berry Granola Crisp.
Now it’s time to put the final touches on your card or letter. Here are some tips for expressing your love from the experts at Crane & Co.:
- Small is beautiful. A few well-chosen words can be just as effective as an epic effort. In fact, leaving certain details to the imagination can make your note more intriguing.
- Your handwriting, however hieroglyphic, should not hold you back. It’s more personal than any fancy font on your computer. And, says graphologist Barbara Harding, because you take your time with handwriting, the results are more thoughtful.
- Write what you dream about. Go with what you know. Recall the first time you met or a recently shared experience that was particularly special. Be witty, romantic or passionate—but be yourself.
- Borrow brilliance. If you’re stuck, incorporate a quote from your favorite author, song or movie—or, even better, one that you and your significant other have shared in the past.
- Unplug your love. If you’re tempted to send an e-card, pause for a moment and consider what will have the greatest impact on your relationship. A handwritten card or letter is something to cherish. Create a memory that can be saved and savored for decades to come.
Book Pick of the Day: A Kiss Is a Kiss Is a Kiss: A Celebration of Romance Hollywood Style
Read More:Happy Valentine’s Day
February 8th, 2007 - Barbara Feiner
For a romantic and organic Valentine’s Day dinner, the American Institute for Cancer Research recommends a selection of naturally red foods whose color reflects the presence of health-protective phytochemicals.
For your entree, try a delicately broiled salmon, garnished with cranberry relish. For side dishes, there are many options: beets, red cabbage and red onion, not to mention pink grapefruit, dried cherries and raspberry vinegar.
Garnet-red beets contain flavonoids that help lower your risk of cancer and heart disease. As beautiful as they are delicious, they are a cinch to roast, and their meaty texture takes well to dressings.
Pomegranates are relative newcomers to the U.S. market and well worth getting to know, as they are packed with health-protective antioxidants. You can now find pomegranate juice and concentrate in many stores (and even pomegranate molasses). It adds a brilliant vermillion color and a bright, sweet-tart flavor to salad dressings. Either the concentrate or molasses versions of this fruit make an elegant nonalcoholic cocktail when mixed with club soda.
Tune in tomorrow for a special Valentine Salad recipe, featuring beets, pomegranate juice, pink grapefruit and dried cherries, among other yummy ingredients.
Book Pick of the Day
Pomegranate Seeds: Latin American Jewish Tales
Read More:Go Red for Valentine’s Day
January 10th, 2007 - Barbara Feiner
Did your New Year’s resolutions include your organic garden and houseplants?
Here are some gardening tips from the plant doctors at The American Phytopathological Society, a nonprofit, professional scientific organization that advances the public’s understanding of plant pathology and health.
- Mulch perennials after the ground freezes to help them overwinter comfortably, even though temperatures may fluctuate.
- When studying plant catalogs, look for pest- and disease-resistant plants, such as mildew-resistant phlox, fusarium-resistant tomatoes and disease-resistant crabapples. This will make your gardening job easier and keep your plants healthier.
- Send a soil sample to a laboratory to learn about your lime and fertilizer needs, rather than guessing.
- Set plants in the ground only at the proper depth. Deep planting harms roots and kills plants.
- Use only the well-drained areas of your garden for plants—unless you purchase some swamp-loving species!
- Inspect plants carefully before purchasing to find evidence of invaders like spider mites, scale insects or mealybugs, or root swellings that may reveal crown gall disease on plants like flowering cherries or roses.
- Spread a circle of mulch around young trees to keep lawn mowers from damaging the bark, which can lead to canker diseases in the future.
- Use only a few inches of mulch (depth), and keep it a few inches away from trunks and stems of plants to discourage crown rot.
Tune in tomorrow for more plant-savvy tips!
Read More:Grow Healthy Plants in the New Year
January 1st, 2007 - Barbara Feiner
Happy 2007 from OrganicAuthority.com!
If nurturing your organic body and soul has made your list of New Year’s resolutions, then mark your calendar for 9 p.m. Thursday. That’s when “The Dan Ho Show” debuts on the Discovery Health Channel.
Author of Rescue from Domestic Perfection, Dan Ho’s life changed in February 1998. While working during the dinner service at his successful Chicago restaurant, he had a seizure, followed by an out-of-body experience.
The man who owned a large house, decorated with a vengeance and meticulously tended to his garden realized his life was not his own. Everything had been “perfectly” executed—the way it was “supposed to be”—down to the last platter and end table in his living room.
Ho realized his lifestyle and struggle to attain perfection were detrimental to his health. His culinary talents and impossible-to-achieve fitness regimen had backfired, leaving him obese.
Ho decided to simplify his life, paying close attention to his health and environment. Style and wellness, he decided, cannot exist independently.
“The Dan Ho Show” is designed to liberate viewers from the “deluge of lifestyle gurus who portray an impossible standard of so-called perfection, all at the expense of true, expressive style.” Ho’s suggestions will help you crawl out from under the rigid commandments imposed by cooking, entertaining, gardening, decorating, cleaning and grooming mavens.
Start the new year by playing the Dan Ho Game online.
Photo by Todd Plitt
Read More:Happy New Year!
December 25th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
Merry Christmas from OrganicAuthority.com.
In the past, I’ve reviewed different brands of organic eggnog, including Horizon Organic Lowfat Eggnog and Clover Organic Eggnog. Both are delicious and rich, but they’re dairy products.
If you avoid milk, there’s a new kid on the block: Vitasoy Holly Nog, which is lactose-, gluten-, cholesterol- and dairy-free.
Holly Nog has a fraction of the fat of traditional dairy eggnog, but it’s a nice holiday treat. Spiced and naturally flavored, it’s a creamy, smooth drink with a balance of cinnamon and nutmeg notes—and only 120 calories per 8-oz. serving (and 4 grams of soy protein).
Enjoy the recipe we posted last year for Spiced Coffee Eggnog. Have a safe holiday!
Read More:Merry Christmas!
November 30th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
Yesterday, I posted Part 1 of this series on holiday safety tips for organic pet owners. Here are some additional suggestions from Dr. Lorraine Corriveau, a wellness veterinarian at Purdue University’s School of Veterinary Medicine.
Overeating: Stick to your pet’s normal diet. Table scraps, garbage-raiding and counter-surfing can lead to stomach upset. Too much rich food can cause serious inflammation of the pancreas, which can be life-threatening.
Holiday Visitors: Pets can become overexcited, confused or frightened by an onslaught of holiday guests. Keep them in a quiet part of the house, and make sure they have a safe retreat from children and well-intentioned visitors. Keep pets’ beds or kennels in a safe place, and be sure guests know they’re off limits.
Ornaments: When decorating your tree, help prevent breaks and mishaps by keeping weighty ornaments close to the floor and valuable ornaments/family heirlooms out of reach from curious mouths, noses and wagging tails. Keep knickknacks on shelves inaccessible to animals. Also make sure Christmas trees are tethered to a nearby wall or window frame for ferrets or cats that like to climb.
New Pets: There’s no time worse than the holidays to bring a new pet into the home, but many people surprise a loved one with a new puppy or kitten on Christmas morning. The excitement can cause a new pet to be confused or overstimulated. Wait until the week after the holiday, and then puppy- or kitten-proof the house so the pet can be introduced into a quiet, safe environment. Don’t forget to ask a veterinarian for advice on selecting a new pet.
Read More:Pets & the Holidays (Part 2)