Shed Some Light on the North Pole with New Book: The Arctic

October 26th, 2016

Let’s be honest: Not many of us know much about the Arctic! It can feel mysterious and far away. This book, The Arctic, changes that, but in a good way.


The Arctic: Reflecting the Landscape, Wildlife, and People of the Far North was written by Sven-Olof Lindblad with Elizabeth Warner. It gives the reader 200 amazing color photographs, along with stories about the land and sea, native peoples and wildlife.

Giant icebergs along the coastline of east Greenland before sunrise.

Giant icebergs along the coastline of east Greenland before sunrise.

Greenland, Disko Bay, Ilulissat, wooden house with large iceberg in background

Greenland, Disko Bay, Ilulissat, wooden house with large iceberg in background

Right now, the Arctic is transforming rapidly. A lot is happening in the North Pole, including the swift melting of ice caps and glaciers, and the disappearance of sea ice. All those things mean rising sea levels. But The Arctic isn’t a book that only focuses on climate change or other issues like mining rights.

Adult Brünnich's Guillemots, Uria lomvia, on ice at Cape Fanshawe, Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Norway

Adult Brünnich’s Guillemots, Uria lomvia, on ice at Cape Fanshawe, Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Norway

So, what is The Arctic all about? It helps you discover the magical Arctic for yourself with incredible images that will make you want to grab the next flight to this wild spot full of natural beauty. It’s a place like you’ve never seen or even imagined. Expect incredible images of animals like the polar bear, walrus and guillemot, along with unbelievable landscape photographs and portraits of Inuit people going about their lives.

CXRCR6 Dogsled guide, dog sledding trip to Ilulissat Fjord, Greenland flag, Greenland, Arctic North America

CXRCR6 Dogsled guide, dog sledding trip to Ilulissat Fjord, Greenland flag, Greenland, Arctic North America

 The Arctic also allows the reader a window into indigenous Inuit communities. Remember: The Arctic has a frozen ocean, but the land is more inhabitable. The Inuit people maintain their traditional way of life inside the stunning, yet harsh Arctic.  

Atlantic Walrus (O. rosmarus rosmarus) and blue ice berg, Franz Josef Land, Russia

Atlantic Walrus (O. rosmarus rosmarus) and blue ice berg, Franz Josef Land, Russia

Do these images inspire you to explore the Arctic in real life?

Practical Info about The Arctic

All images featured in this post are © The Arctic: Reflecting the Landscape, Wildlife, and People of the Far North by Sven-Olof Linblad, Rizzoli New York, 2016.

Christmas with Terra Cotta Pots

September 21st, 2016

I didn’t make this Santa and elves, but I did take the image while leaving a restaurant last year.

Also meant to take a picture of a similar terra cotta nutcracker I’d always see on walks, but you get the idea.


While I haven’t laid eyes on terra cotta snowmen, gingerbread men, reindeer or Christmas trees,  I know you can make them too!

The truth: I’ve never made one of these. I’m a lazy admirer of the terra cotta arts. Yet, I’m also a lazy holiday decorator. It has something to do with having two cats who attack anything that can be broken.

If you’d like to tackle the terra cotta arts this year, here’s where you can go for inspiration and directions:

Snowman Candy Jar

Terra Cotta Santa and Terra Cotta Snowman

Terra Cotta Pots Wreath

Flower Pot Reindeer Bell Ornament

Before you get to work, make a pot of hot chocolate, and enjoy. Seriously, make hot chocolate, not hot cocoa. You’re celebrating the holidays, after all.


Image by Jason James flickr

Bonus inspiration: Make non-holiday themed terra cotta projects to give as gifts. Look at what you can make:

Garden Mushrooms



Wind chime

Merry making of stuff.

Blog Action Day 2013: Human Rights at Work

October 16th, 2013

Human rights is a big issue. That’s part of what makes it such a great topic for Blog Action Day 2013. Human rights issues have always existed in the world. We know about many of them, and I have no doubt that they’ll be covered by all of the 2013 Blog Action Day posts. But I’d like to talk about human rights in a different way.


Human rights are often violated in extremely subtle, yet widespread ways. You may not recognize that you’re causing a problem, or that your rights have been violated. And it’s all about us taking a closer look at our lives, our American culture as it exists in 2013. My inspiration for this post is Article 24 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Here’s the text of Article 24: “Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.”


In many countries it’s obvious that human rights violations are taking place when workers are forced to labor for long hours under the threat of termination. In America, those types of situations don’t often happen, or do they?


via flickr Sean MacEntee

via flickr Sean MacEntee


The culture surrounding work in America is sometimes a dangerous thing. Many businesses and corporations expect their salaried workers to work very long hours, often at the expense of their personal lives. It’s also the norm that many workers are expected to check their work emails and even take part in conference calls while on vacation. Workers who want to get ahead in America are expected to work late on a regular basis, and once those workers are promoted to top positions, the expectations for hours devoted to work grows even more.


I’m not promoting the idea of a lazy, too leisurely America. But what I am promoting is the idea that rest is a vital thing. We can only take care of ourselves properly when we’re allowed to rest. And not feel guilty resting. Rest and leisure can mean many things, but mostly it’s about not working. And that includes not stressing over work while not working. Americans shouldn’t be afraid to go on vacation, and we certainly shouldn’t be working on vacation. Is it a stretch to say that our American work culture violates human rights? I don’t think so. Do you agree?


While we’re discussing The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, I believe that it’s important to note that right now our elected members in Congress are violating Article 1: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” Who out there thinks that our members of Congress are acting with “a spirit of brotherhood?”


They are, I believe, acting very selfishly at the expense of the American people, and their actions may have a worldwide impact. The government shutdown of 2013 will be studied by economists for a long time, but it takes no amount of research to see that our members of Congress aren’t acting brotherly toward anyone.


Can you think of subtle ways that human rights are violated each day? Share your human rights thoughts on Twitter with #BAD13. And participate in Blog Action Day 2013.

Vegetarian Summer Lunch: Tomato and Hummus Sandwich Recipe

June 25th, 2013

If you’re like me and you have about 30 tomatoes sitting around your kitchen anytime during the summer, then you may appreciate this quick lunch idea, an update on the standby tomato sandwich.

I’m not a vegetarian, but I’m trying to incorporate more meatless meals into my diet. With my recent attempts to follow the Mediterranean Diet to lower my cholesterol, this sandwich is a natural.



Tomato and Hummus Sandwich

  • One nice locally grown ripe tomato
  • Two tablespoons of hummus (make your own hummus, or buy one like Fountain of Health)
  • Two slices of whole wheat sandwich bread
  • Black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Two small slices of reduced fat cheddar cheese (optional)

It’s this easy: Toast your bread; spread hummus on one or both slices; slice tomatoes and add on top of hummus; top with cheese if using; grind some fresh black pepper on top; finish with a few drops of extra virgin olive oil.






This isn’t an open-face sandwich, unless you want it to be. To reduce your carb consumption, just use one slice of bread. And, yes, you can use hummus instead of mayo on your sandwiches. It tastes great!

How do you use up your fresh summer tomatoes?



Tree Free Paper Towels from Ology

March 4th, 2013

Yay for tree free!

I try to minimize my usage of paper towels, and only buy recycled. This week, I wanted to opt out of tree-made towels altogether, so I tried my first treeless paper towels from ology by Walgreens.



And I love them. Not only are they softer than most recycled paper towels, but they are also very absorbent.

So, if they aren’t made of trees, then what’s inside? Bamboo and sugarcane husk! The sugarcane husk would have been otherwise disposed of, and the bamboo is very renewable (ie, much easier to replace than a tree).

What a lovely idea. I must say, I didn’t have high hopes for these treeless paper towels, but I found them to be better than regular paper towels. Plus, the ology paper towels are whitened with a non-chlorine based bleach. However, they are made in China.

I paid less than $4 for a two-pack of these treeless paper towels at Walgreens.

Have you tried ology paper towels?

Have a Very Cherry New Year

December 28th, 2012

Please don’t scream at your screen (or me) for making you hungry, but I had to share an image of  my cheesecake with homemade cherry topping!

I’ve made a bunch of cheesecakes from scratch, but this year I decided to try a new recipe, and a new topping! I’ve never made a cherry topping before, but I’m amazed at how easy it was. I hated the idea of using canned cherries. Who thinks that tastes good?

I found a recipe for cherry cheesecake topping using fresh cherries at Smitten Kitchen. It was so easy, but I do have to warn you to be careful when taking the pits out of the cherries. I stained my counters with cherry juice. (Any ideas on how to remove this?)

So, if you’re out to make this topping, plan on about 7 minutes to wash, de-stem and de-pit your cherries, then about 5 fives to make the sauce on the stove. After that, you need only let it cool down before serving on top of your divine cheesecake.

I haven’t tried Smitten Kitchen’s cheesecake recipe. I had already baked my cheesecake using the Joy of Baking New York Style Cheesecake recipe. It was so creamy and wonderful!

Ok, now that I’ve got you hungry with all these photos and links, remember to have a wonderful New Year. And if you set goals for yourself (such as making a cherry topping!), remember to be kind to yourself. PsychCentral has some tips on Setting Nourishing New Year’s Resolutions!

A special thanks to my husband for taking the photo for me, though he’s “not really into cherry toppings.”

Happy Autumn Feasting

November 22nd, 2012

Despite the wintry Christmas decor everywhere, it is still fall, after all. We kind of rush away autumn, don’t we? (Pumpkins still sit on my doorstep.)

Whether it feels like fall or winter to you, here’s hoping you have a lovely Thanksgiving feast, be if made of tofu or turkey!

Be Thankful. Be Happy. And if you shop, be careful!

And please don’t forget to make room on your Christmas list to give to your local food bank.

How are you celebrating Thanksgiving this year?

Can buying green make you more comfortable?

July 9th, 2012

What are your thoughts on this infographic from elocal exploring the differences between “acting green” and “buying green” today?

Do you still practice some of the habits on the “acting green” side even though you “bought green” and now have a more efficient toilet or washing machine, etc.?

Like it? Get the code to embed.

How to Use Vintage Candy Displays

June 1st, 2012

I don’t know how I’d use this vintage metal Life Savers candy display from the 1930s or 1940s.

But I did think it was retro-cool enough to take a pic in the antique store. But still, aside from using this on a movie set, what would you do with it? Please tell me.

Some possible ideas for reusing vintage candy displays like this:

  • Mount it on the wall to hold office supplies at work
  • Hang it up simply as eye candy in some cool loft
  • Put it in the laundry room to hold supplies

Pre-measured Bags of Detergent Here to Stay? Let’s explore all mighty pacs.

May 9th, 2012

A few months ago I noticed all mighty pacs at Target and immediately thought the product wasteful, but maybe I was wrong.

What are mighty pacs?
all mighty pacs are little pre-measured pouches, or pacs, of liquid laundry detergent – one for each load, or two if you have a huge load. The pacs dissolve in the wash when placed in the drum, and are safe for all machines.

What’s that film made of?
The second time I saw these mighty pacs gazing at me from the shelf I decided to do a bit of research. Just what on earth is that film made of anyhow?

According to the all product website, the film is made of polyvinyl. I immediately thought of the yucky polyvinyl chloride, but that couldn’t be it. This film is supposed to be biodegradable. I asked a contact from Sun Products Corporation if the mysterious film is composed of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA). And, indeed, it is. PVA is nontoxic, but I’m not a chemist, so if anyone out there has some interesting facts to throw at me, have at it.

Are mighty pacs green?
We could talk all day about green detergents from companies like Seventh Generation, etc., but what I’m focusing on here is whether this new type of packaging from a very popular company is eco-friendly.

The pre-measured pacs can help you avoid laundry detergent overdosing, so they can prevent waste. All detergent contains no phosphates, and is biodegradable. The free and clear version of all detergent contains no dyes or perfumes, and is often recommended for allergy sufferers.

According to the manufacturer, mighty pacs use 88 percent less water, and on average 64 percent less plastic packaging than their standard liquid detergent. Sun Products Corporation also says that they can ship 200,000 more wash loads per truck compared to their standard liquid detergent.

So, it’s clear that the pacs involve less plastic compared to the detergent bottles, and that the company may save fossil fuels during shipping. What’s not clear is whether the production of the PVA film negates the green benefits noted.

Does the pac actually dissolve?
Yes. I used the free and clear version in a front-loading he machine, and there was no evidence of a film after the wash. While it was handy to not have to measure and to know exactly how many loads I had left, it did take some time to re-zip the bag, which is supposed to remain closed. You also have to avoid touching the pacs with wet hands, or they may dissolve on you.

Will I buy all mighty pacs again?

Sigh. I haven’t decided. I’d love to get a conversation going on whether these mighty pacs are actually more eco-friendly compared to laundry detergent in a sturdy plastic bottle.

What do you think of pre-measuring laundry detergent in water-soluble pacs?