Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Free Yoga


Saturday February 28th is Yoga Day Canada. In support of this glorious event, many yoga studios across Canada are offering FREE yoga classes. If you've never tried yoga, but have always wondered what it's all about, this is your chance to find out. There are many types of yoga, (Hatha, Ashtanga, Moksha/Hot or even laughing yoga) and the purpose and benefits will vary depending on which type you practise. Some yoga classes are focused solely on a physical workout, while others are purely for meditation and relaxation. Try out different types of yoga and different teachers until you find the right fit for you.

To find a participating studio near you, visit the Yoga Day Canada site, or contact your local yogi and ask if they are offering free classes.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Obama Loves Canada


The amount of Obama themed merchandise is off the chart. A quick search on Google will yield Obama purses, chia heads, underwear and comics. Well it appears as though the Obama mania has migrated north. In honour of Obama's first visit to Canada, a beavertail stand in Ottawa has started selling Obama tails, a fried pastry topped with a chocolatey O. There's no word yet on whether Obama himself likes the dessert, but Obama did say today at the Ottawa press conference today that he "loves this [Canada] country," and that's good enough for me! Enjoy your visit, Barack!

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Using Up Fabric Scraps


How many of us have heaps and mounds of scrap fabric just calling out to be used in some way? I'm always trying to think up new ways to make use of this fabric supply. One of my recent projects was this quick and easy fabric bookmark. Here's what you'll need:

  • Scrap fabric
  • Cardboard (cereal boxes are perfect)
  • Grommet punch (optional)
  • Ribbon (optional)
Fold the fabric in half. Cut out a rectangle with one long edge on the fold. The size doesn't really matter, just eyeball it. Fold right sides together and stitch 2 sides (depicted by the black lines on the right) leaving one short end open. Cut out a piece of cardboard the same size as the fabric rectangle. Cut out a small square (as seen on the right) in the top centre of the cardboard. This will make way for the grommet hole later. Next, insert the cardboard into the fabric sleeve you have just made. Make sure the end with a square cut out is inserted first. Turn the raw edges inside 1/4 inch and top stitch closed. For added decoration, cut a small hole in the top centre of the bookmark (there should be a space in the cardboard, so you only have to cut through fabric). Using a grommet punch, insert a grommet hole. Then thread a thin ribbon through the hole using a slip knot.


Caution:  This becomes very addictive after you've made a few. I made 7 bookmarks in one sitting!

Monday, 9 February 2009

Vegan/Vegetarian Fast Food


Like most healthy eaters, I don't frequent fast food joints. I'd rather support small businesses who offer a variety of vegan and/or vegetarian options. But let's face it, sometimes there just isn't a lot of restaurant options when you're out and about. Case in point, tomorrow I'll be travelling on the highway, and I know there won't be any vegan cafes in any of the service stations. Below is a summary of my observations on this subject:

  • HARVEY'S - I didn't even know Harvey's offered a veggie burger until a few days ago. The sandwich itself is not bad, and they'll serve it on a whole wheat bun if you ask. You can also ditch the fries for salad in the combo.

  • KFC - After buckling under pressure from PETA, KFC now offers a simulated chicken sandwich at most of their Canadian restaurants. Great news for chickens everywhere!! However, not so great for those of us who eat their faux chicken sandwich. I thought it was quite bland (the bun was more palatable honestly), but I don't mind buying it if I'm in a pinch.

  • QUIZNO'S - I like their veggie sub because it has guacamole on it (a topping not found at most sub places). Ditch the mozzarella and it's vegan! They do offer a few soups, but none of the sales people seem to know if they contain an animal based broth, so I've never tried any of them. It's probably a better bet to purchase a sub on whole wheat.

  • STARBUCKS - Great place for a latte made with soymilk, however they are lacking big time on the food menu. The last time I visited this chain, the salesperson offered me an egg sandwich. She said she'd take the cheese off to make it vegan (eeeek!). I ended up getting a yummy Asian inspired cold noodle dish with sesame and edamame. I was pleasantly surprised by how delicious it was, but I'm not sure if it's available at other branches. Apparently they are offering oatmeal now as well, but I've yet to try it.

  • TIM HORTONS - Not my favourite place since the lines are always so long and they don't offer soymilk as an option for your coffee. However, in a pinch you can ask for a veggie sandwich on whole wheat. It's usually not on the menu, but they will make it for you if you ask. Ditch the cream cheese (they always give me a weird look) and it's vegan! The mushroom soup (not vegan) is pretty good as well. Make it a combo with a multi-grain bagel and it's enough to fill you up.

  • WILLIAMS Coffee Pub - I like their veggie panini, although its pre-made, so you can't opt out of the cheese. Their soup of the day is vegetarian sometimes. DO NOT purchase a green tea here (the worst tasting tea I've ever had)!

Saturday, 7 February 2009

5 Gifts for Your Green Sweetie


Okay, so Valentine's Day is kind of a sham holiday, but this year why not support a green company and make it mean something?
  1. Dark CHOCOLATE from Green & Black's Organic Chocolate
  2. Organic ROSES from your local flower shop
  3. Fairly traded JEWELRY from Ten Thousand Villages
  4. Send your love electronically with an e-CARD from Care2
  5. Make your sweetie an organic, locally sourced DINNER with farmer's market finds

Thursday, 5 February 2009

DIY #2: Beaded Bracelet

 

Like many of you, I have a lot of leftover beads from different crafts and projects. This bracelet is a fast and easy way to use up some of those beads and create a custom piece of jewelry.

You will need:

  • handful of beads
  • 1 jewelry closure
  • 120 cm of beading wire
To make the bracelet:
  1. Fold the wire in half and insert one side of the jewelry closure. You should now have two separate ends of the wire. 
  2. Thread one bead onto both ends of the wire (you can also use a cripping tool if you have one). 
  3. Next thread two beads onto each separate wire. 
  4. This step will form the middle decorative part of the bracelet. For mine, I used one plain bead, followed by a larger blue glass bead, and then another plain bead. Thread these 3 beads onto one wire. 
  5. Then take the other wire and thread it through the same 3 beads in the opposite direction (the wires should crisscross inside the beads). 
  6. Gently pull and tighten up all the wires. 
  7. Thread two beads onto each wire separately. 
  8. Continue with another 3 beads for the decorative part crisscrossing the wires. 
  9. Continue in this pattern until you reach the desired length. 
  10. Finish with the other end of the jewelry closure. 
I wanted an eclectic look for my bracelet, so for the middle bead I used different glass beads, but all in the same colour, blue.  I think this would be an excellent project using sea glass, but since people don't litter as much any more, it's practically impossible to find real blue sea glass (not that I'm complaining). 

I can't wait to show off my new bracelet this weekend!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Organic Tip #2: What is GMO?


Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are plants and animals that have been Genetically Engineered (GE). GE'ing changes the genes and DNA of crops and animals by inserting foreign genes into different crops. For instance, in order to create a tomato that can withstand cold temperatures, scientists may select a gene from a cold water fish and insert this gene into the tomato's DNA. The result is a tomato that can grow in the winter. These crops are sometimes referred to as franken-food.

Unfortunately, the long term effects of eating GM foods are unknown. There have been questions of the risks and stability of experimenting with the delicate nature of the food we eat and is supposed to nourish us. People with allergies are also at risk of reactions if they eat a seemingly harmless food that is spliced with DNA from their allergic source. GM processes requires much more research from impartial and unbiased sources.

Corn, soybeans, cotton and canola are currently the most common GM foods. If you read the labels of your favourite salad dressings, cereals and other prepackaged foods, you will find these four crops are more ubiquitous than you think. The concern is that in Canada there is a voluntary system for labelling food as GM, and the vast majority of companies that use GM products have opted not to label it as so. This means you may be ingesting GM products and not even be aware.

Getting scared yet? Well there's no need to be! In Canada, certified organic products CANNOT be genetically modified. So if you want to steer clear of GM food, eat organic. It's delicious, nutritious, better for the environment than conventionally grown food, and GMO free.

source: www.cog.ca

Sunday, 1 February 2009

International Development Week 2009


International Development week takes place each year on the first full week of February. It is intended to increase awareness of the world's most critical issues in international development, and educate people on how to become active global citizens. Here are a few stats:


  • Zimbabwe's cholera outbreak is one of the world's largest ever recorded. More than 60,000 people have been infected and more than 31,000 have died since August 2008.
  • Every 30 seconds a child dies from malaria. In Africa a child has on average 1.6-5.4 malaria induced fevers each year.
  • In 2007, there were more than 2 million people displaced in Darfur, Sudan.
  • Water scarcity affects 4 out of 10 people.
  • More than half a million women die every year from complications during pregnancy. The majority of these deaths could be prevented with quality health care before, during and after childbirth.
  • In 2002, nearly 11 million children died under the age of 5. Almost all of these deaths (98%) were in developing countries.
  • More than 70% of all cancer deaths occur in low and middle income countries.
  • Approximately 1 billion people are affected by neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), which are named so because they exist only in the poorest regions. Treatment for some NTDs costs as little as two cents USD.

source: http://www.who.int/en


To find an event near you search the Canadian International Development Agency's (CIDA) calendar of events.

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