Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Merry Whatever Everybody!
The holiday season is, indeed, a great time to get together with friends, loved ones, and unloved ones, to enjoy a lot of food, and money well (hopefully) spent. However, for a lot of us, it can also be a very stressful time. Between strained finances, busy schedules, and reminders of personal voids, many people can find themselves down with a case of the Ebenezers. The Batu Crew have done some winter brainstorming to bring you a locally comprehensive list of things you can do and give to yourself and others, to De-stress and Re-cheer.
"ROOOOO ROOOO ROOO" That is the sound of an elephant seal. Mating. In San Simeon. While we are busy buying, they are busy...getting busy. It's a unique experience and get away that can re-connect one with nature, immerse one in the beautiful scenic drive up the California coast, and make one contemplate, well, seals gettin' it on. That last one may not be a stress reliever, but it IS interesting.
"Shoe fly, don't bother me... oh wait, you're a Butterfly... sorry, my bad... " To the south and the north in our little central coast haven, Monarch Butterflies, the harbingers of delight, can be seen fluttering amongst relaxing Eucalyptus trees. If you've never had one of those little orange happiness airplanes land near you, you are missing out on one of the most invigorating and joyous experiences this area has to offer.
"It's not the money I'll miss... it's all the stufffffff...." Bernadette, you have a point. Stuff CAN be awesome. Especially if it's a basket full of relaxing stuff. Stuff you can get right here at your local House of Bamboo, such as aromatherapy candles, cozy bathrobes, and inspirational scrolls for encouragement and wisdom!
Baby It's Cold Outside: so enjoy a dunk in the pleasant and warm Sycamore Hot Springs. Great for your skin, and your mind, this is sure to relax and warm from the inside out on a cold day.
Tea Time: Hot tea can put you in a mellow mood, and warm the spirits. However, some Kava Kava tea from The Secret Garden will put you on a different level of relaxation. The Secret Garden carries an array of herbs and teas that can elevate your spirits and keep you level headed during the holiday crazies.
Time spent with other people is wonderful, enriching and educational, but it's also important to remember to take time for yourself during the holidays. Here's to whatever keeps you mellow!
Sunday, November 28, 2010
I hope you have enjoyed your Turkey, Tofurkey, quiche, lamb, mock duck, or whatever was on your dinner table last Thursday. We have one holiday down, and another two to go. Whether it's Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas, or the Winter Solstice, it is time for us to look around us and appreciate the gift of loved ones and blessings we have in our lives. For some of us, that means trampling other people to get a flat screen T.V. for next to nothing, and for others, that might mean enjoying a warm meal at a homeless shelter.
From one end of the spectrum to the other, the holiday season is, believe it or not, about more than just an economic boom for retailers. It's about something different for everyone, but mostly, it is a reminder that no matter what the weather is like, we can still feel happy and full of love. We can try to bring a smile to others' faces. We can eat what we want, drink what we want, and renew ourselves for the start of one more year to come.
I invite you to make a list of five blessings in your life: people, material, or theoretical, and draw it up. Make it fancy, how you like it, get it framed. Make it colorful, or black and white. Try and make it out of recycled materials if you can. Old buttons, magazine clippings, etc, and put it somewhere where you'll see it every day from now until the end of the year. Get some family together and make it a group project.
If you like it enough, make it a part of your annual tradition. Keep them, and watch how they change, or stay the same. You'll find that five may not be enough, and that you'll want to make more than one. Happy holiday of your choice!
Here's my list:
My Hair Straightener (yeah... I know)
Song of the day
Monday, November 22, 2010
"The Magician and the Prince"
Once upon a time in a faraway kingdom there lived a bright young prince who believed in all things but three. He did not believe in volcanos, he did not believe in princesses, and he did not believe in God.
One clear summer day, under a sky as blue as corydalis, the prince took his horse on a long, long ride, beyond the boundaries of his father's vast dominions. Near the summit of a high mountain he met a strange old man. This foreigner spoke to the prince of his own homeland, near the volcanoes, among gentlemen and beautiful princesses.
The prince did not believe these stories, so he demanded to see proof. With the old man, he traveled for another day until they passed a pair of princesses on the road, and later climbed to the rim of a volcano.
The prince hurried home on his steed, and ran straight to the king. "Father! I have seen volcanos! I have seen princesses! I have seen God!"
"But son," the king replied, "volcanos, princesses and God do not exist."
"I saw them!"
"Tell me what God looked like." So the prince described the long beard and the unusual hat as he remembered them. The king sat back and laughed. "You have described a magician. You did not meet God. You were fooled. The princesses and volcanos were simply illusions."
Disappointed, the prince hopped right back on his horse to cross the hills and find the old man. "You lied to me," he said. "My father is the king and he has explained your tricks. There are no volcanos and there are no princesses."
"Aha," said the old man. "I haven't tricked you. There are volcanos and princesses in your kingdom as well, but you can't see them because you are under your father's spell. For he is a magician as well."
When the prince returned home again, he looked his father in the eyes and asked him, "Is it true, father, what they say? That you are not a real king, but just a magician?"
"Yes, son, I am only a magician."
"So the man in the faraway land really was God."
"No son, that man was just another magician."
"But I must know the real truth, beyond magic."
"But there is no truth beyond magic," said the king.
At this the prince sunk his head in despair and declared, "I will kill myself."
So the king used his magic and called on Death to appear. The prince trembled in fear. His thoughts then returned to the incredible volcanos, and especially to the beautiful princesses.
"Alright then," he said. "I can bear it."
"Very good, my son," said the king. "You too are becoming a magician!"
(based on a story by John Fowles)
May all your holiday dreams come true this year! Best wishes from Bambu Batu, where fashion and philosophy converge.
Friday, November 19, 2010
I was watching an episode of Thirty Rock the other day. Tina Fey's character had just purchased a pair of jeans from this high class hipster store, promoting fair trade and green-o-nomics. Her punch line about said pants, was that they would "make up for all the times I took a long hot shower because I was bored!" (As it turned out, the store was owned by Haliburton, and the 'hand made in usa' on the label meant that the jeans had been made by a community of people called the hands, in country who's name was pronounced 'oosa.')
This hits the funny bone of most people, I think, because most of us live a day to day give and take of conservationism. After all, we can't all live textbook minimalist lives, so we balance our green consciences sort of like our checkbooks. We ride our bike to work one day, to make up for leaving the lights on the night before, or we make sure we use reusable grocery bags, because we just can't go without our daily coffee in that hypnotically appealing and wasteful to-go cup. It's these little hypocrisies that make us human. (I'm currently eating a vegan sandwich out of a disposable plastic container. )
We are creatures of habit. I'm sure we all have a few good habits and a few destructive ones. With that in mind, I thought I would offer up on ongoing discussion to you bloggers out there.
Name three good green habits you have, and three you might be afraid to confess to the hippie nearest you. In the spirit of approaching New Year's Resolutions, perhaps we can exchange some ideas, and inspire each other to try, just a little bit more, to keep the world around longer. I'll kick it off, and expose my dirty laundry. (Which I am about to run through a water hogging washing machine, and energy sucking dryer.)
- Water Bottle Addicted- I have a problem, in plastic form.
- Hot Showers- long ones. Can't get enough, sometimes twice a day.
- Paper Towel Insanity- Haven't made that leap of buying cloth napkins and cleaning rags. It's silly, but I can't' make a decision on ones I like.
- Reusin': Taking old butter, peanut butter, Tahinni, and any other sturdy disposable plastic or glass container, and making in to my new Tupperware. It may be cheap, but it's also pretty good for the environment.
- Buying locally grown, organic produce: Easy on the pocket book, fun, and environmentally friendly. You avoid putting more pesticides in the air, and create less of a need for large, polluting trucks to drive 300 miles to bring you a head of broccoli, if you walk down to your local farmer's market or co-op.
- CAR-bon: Carpooling, biking, walking, and public transportation. It's good for you, your community, and the earth. (It's okay if the real reason for it, is that cars are really FREAKING expensive. No one has to know that. )
If you find you come up short on your good deed list, come in to Bambu Batu for some green living ideas. We have everything from compost pales, to reusable sporks, to help you get to that next step. We can do it. Together. Oh, we have reusable water bottles on the way? Check.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Alright kids. Settle down.
While on one end of the country, we have McDonald's representatives giving McSeminars to little kids about how to eat healthier...at McDonald's... we have, on the left coast, San Fransisco BANNING the sale of Happy Meals. Maybe, in Oklahoma, McDonald's serves up reasonable portions, uses fresh ingredients, and operates more like an In-N-Out. Not good for you, not bad for you...
Anyway. It's all happening... in San Fransisco. This week, across the Golden Gate, they have successfully curbed the Golden Arches' youth marketing. The San Fransisco Board of Supervisors has approved an ordinance that effectively bans the Happy Meal. The guidelines of the ordinance give specific nutritional qualifications that all restaurants must meet, if they want to include a toy with a meal. This comes as an effort to combat childhood obesity.
The parameters of the ordinance include maximum sodium, fat, and saturated fat levels, calorie guidelines, and require that either fruits or vegetables be sold with a meal if a toy is to be included.
Theoretically, this doesn't eliminate the possibility for Happy Meals in SF, but it does drastically change the face of the childhood treat.
McDonald's has voiced a protest on the grounds that the ordinance not only restricts businesses, but also takes away parental control.
Personally, I say go forth, SF, and fight for your kids. I understand the concern about freedoms being taken away from America's consumers. But we have ourselves an epidemic. An epidemic of children who can't run more than ten yards without wheezing, and not because of respiratory problems. No one has banned the Big Mac. No one has outlawed the Hamburgler. It's just a step to make sure that tomorrows children can, well, take steps.
If it's just a toy you're after, come in and see us. We have some pretty cute and PC toys, without the grease!
Song of the Day Soul Food- The Goody Mob
Friday, November 12, 2010
Okay. We all know enough about nutrition now to know that McDonald's is on the bad guys' team, right? Morgan Spurlock, Eric Schlosser, and Micheal Pollan have made that clear enough, right? We don't want McDonald's in our kids' faces twenty-four-seven, right? We wouldn't have them teaching our kids about nutriti....what?
Yup. Not a joke. Not fiction. Reality. McReality. McDonald's is hosting nutrition workshops for elementary school kids. That's like having a convicted predator teach a class on self-defense for women.
It would be one thing if this was just some cheap ploy to improve their image in the nutrition community. No matter who it is dispensing the sermon, it can't be a bad thing to have kids learn about the merits of vegetables. After all, this is what McDonald's representatives claim to be the point of their seminars.
But little 11-year-old Shannon Mulligans claims to have "learned that McDonald's can be very healthy for you if you make the right choices. I usually have lots of cheese, but I had less cheese and more lettuce, and I had chicken instead of hamburger because it has fewer calories," according to a local paper.
Yup. The merits of vegetables.
The "learning" doesn't take place at schools either. It takes place at a McDonald's location: in Stratford, CT, where over 25% of high school students are overweight or obese. Interesting. Hmmm, divide that number, by the number of calories in an Angus Deluxe (750) and add what percentage of sodium and fat is recommended for an adult's daily maximum intake (about two Big Macs) and it equals... oh yeah, one reason kids shouldn't be taking nutritional guidance from the guru of gluttony.
Well, I guess this is just one more notch in the belt of big companies fighting to keep our kids fat. We already have soda companies funding school text books and lockers, in exchange for monopolies in vending machines, and dairy lobbyists making sure that kids drink milk with their lunch. What next? Are corn lobbyists going to dress up like stalks of corn, and hand out pamphlets about the benefits of HFCS (sorry, corn sugar?)
Think I'm kidding? Just consider Coca-Cola's virtual monopoly on Cal Poly campus. As of last year they gained exclusive rights to sell soft drinks (Coca-Cola, Red Bull, etc.) everywhere but the campus food court. That meant elbowing out Pepsi, Mountain Dew, and even organic, fair-trade and locally developed Guayaki. Of course, you probably remember how dutifully the Cal Poly president bowed down to corporate influence when Michael Pollan came to speak last year.
Thanks to change.org for the information about this. Want to send your kids to school with a sustainable way of eating lunch? Come in and get some to-go ware and a handy bamboo spork!
Song of the day
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
I was at the grocery store the other day, with my better half. We were trying to pinch some pennies. We were in the produce department when the following happened. I swear, I'm not making this up. I went to grab a bundle of spinach, and no joke, out of my significant other's mouth, came "Oh, that's organic, that's too expensive."
Now, he was right. That was just more money than we had to spend on spinach. I had to think about that statement though. There's a reason income is the closest linked factor to obesity and health.
Then again, I know plenty of people, who will contest the merits of buying organic based on the price tag, only to drive to the nearest gas station after, and fill up their suburban or unnecessarily large truck with gas, and spend fifteen or so dollars buying candy and sodas at the convenience store.
What can we do to save money, the earth, and our bodies all in one? Organicitsworthit.org has the answers. I decided to bring them to you.
- More Is less: This may be obvious, but it's good to have a reminder. Many products come at a better price when bought in large quantities, so buy in bulk when it makes sense.
- Tis The Season: It takes a lot less effort to get something to the consumer that is in bloom NOW, so buy things that are in season.
- Grandmama Tried: While it may be irritating to get stuck in line behind a little old lady wielding paper and scissors, remember; she didn't make it to a hundred and four spending all of her dough. Clip those coupons to save the planet without going bankrupt.
- Hometown Goodness: Farmer's Markets are a fun way to support your local farmers, eat organic, and save money
- Good Ol' Home Cookin': It's not only better for you, but it saves money. It always has, and it always will. Cooking organic vegetables at home is no exception to the rule.
- Choose Your Battles: If you have to narrow it down, chose to buy organic versions of the products that you go for the most often, thereby reducing your exposure to harmful chemicals, and lowering your impact on the environment. Hooray for moderation!
- The Ace of Clubs: Joining a buyer's club is rapidly becoming an effective way to save money on produce.
Song of the Day: Amish Paradise- Weird Al Yankovic (He's a local!!)