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Fair Trade Christmas Decorations
It's time to start getting ready for the holiday season! Whether you are planning to attend a fancy festive event or host one yourself, there are plenty of ways to spread a little joy with fair trade, eco-friendly, healthy and organic gift, fashion and decorating ideas. Here are just a few!
Look fabulous in Fair Trade Fashions
Thanks to websites like Novica, fair trade fashions come in a wide range of styles, from funky and bohemian to sleek and classic. Visit our Fashion and Fair Trade pages for lots more in clothing and accessories for men, women & children.
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Candles are such a comfort in the cold season, and by choosing non-toxic varieties you can create a cozy atmosphere without health risk. Delicious scents are a great guilt-free way to indulge ;) Look for other healthy ideas for your home on our Lifestyle page.
Organic Cosmetics by 100% Pure & Physicians Formula Organic Wear; J.R. Watkins lemon hand & body cream (an all-time favourite - smells like lemon cake!)
It's also the perfect time to introduce loved ones to healthier makeup and skin care brands - there are so many to choose from! See more on our Health & Beauty and Made in Canada pages! Products range in price from what you would typically pay in a pharmacy, to more luxurious brands to suit any preference.
Everything you need to host a beautiful holiday celebration
I am such a fan of buying Fair Trade for gift-giving as well as personal use. Why not explore options which support real artisans around the world and have a better idea of where your money is going? Throughout this website we promote both international and Canadian artists and companies that offer healthier, more sustainable products for wonderful gift ideas and easy ways to swap out more toxic items that you use every day. Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season of comfort and joy. Thank you for visiting :)
Ah, all the colours of Fall. I am looking forward to some wonderful walks in Vancouver this year, and some photography. I have been remiss on both counts this summer as my health has felt precarious and I sometimes get quite sick in the heat. After several months of hiding out in my basement suite, I am hoping things let up a little this season.
Although I did not have a garden this summer my fridge and pantry are fully harvest-stocked thanks to Spud.ca, a fabulous local food delivery company. I have had numerous medical tests done and ruled out fears of Lupus and thyroid issues. I was recently privileged to attend a concert by the lovely Simrit Kaur (along with my BF and BFF) - yet another reason to appreciate life in this city. There is a lot to be thankful for.
One has to attempt to find meaningful ways of passing the time while living like a recluse, and I have signed up for online photography classes, as well as revisited my permaculture course and continued to follow numerous programs on Gaia. I have also purchased and downloaded a couple of photo editing programs which promise to provide many hours of learning and fun. I have also been shopping regularly at the websites I promote, for natural health & beauty products, pet stuff for Cleo, and a rebounder mini-trampoline (one of the top recommended forms of exercise for supporting lymphatic clearing).
Having faithfully followed the Immune System Recovery diet for several months, I have lost a few pounds and made further progress on getting my digestive distress under control - hurray!!! I am slowly learning the exercises by Donna Eden and hope to have more good health news to report as the year continues.
My blood sugars are feeling a little volatile and the battle with the bloat is still a work in progress, but here are some good news updates from the week:
1. I am thankful as always for food alternatives, and at the moment this includes gluten-free waffles and vegetable chips.
2. To date, I have not yet had any success with making my own sauerkraut. However, I found several healthy varieties, along with coconut yogurt, at the lovely Choices Market. If you are not friends with fermented cabbage you might try the variety made with beets :)
3. Dining out is particularly challenging but I think I made a reasonable choice with a donair rice plate.
4. In part due to my waistline issues I was inspired to embark upon a thrift store shopping spree with my best girlfriend, and with her 30% off coupon was able to buy a whole head-to-toe wardrobe refresh for about $100.
5. My partner and I have started a tentative exploration of the unreal Vancouver area real estate market and found an absolute dream property right away - what?!! - but are not quite ready to make offers. It is a challenging process and brings up interesting issues in terms of poverty consciousness vs abundance (never in my life did I think I'd be considering spending this much money). However the "paradise property" made me realize a level of willingness to commit to a goal beyond my typical comfort zone. I came up with some pretty creative ideas, including the possibility of operating a bed and breakfast designed for other HSP's (highly sensitive people) - artists, writers, exhausted people in need of a quiet retreat - and became even more enthusiastic as I brainstormed increasingly creative options for the guest accomodation, including a treehouse; a "glamping" tent; or maybe a gypsy caravan... what do you think? ;)
6. Free Fun: have you made any playlists on Youtube? I am compiling 'the ultimate artsciencespirit' playlist and it is so much fun! I am doing my best on this one to choose only songs that help raise my energy, or just make me feel good (previously I have always been prone to choosing any song that I like, even if they are actually rather depressing). What a great way to remember how much you love music, and how much it can influence your mood.
Did you know? A component of your problems with bloating might be low stomach acid?? Learn more with the Immune System Recovery Plan, or follow The Body Ecology Diet on FB.
Having moved back to BC while experiencing a resurgence of health challenges, I am taking advantage of some free time to focus on wellness. My acupuncturist's advice regarding autoimmune conditions struck a cord, and while I do plan to seek some form of professional assistance, I have started by doing some work on my own with a book called The Immune System Recovery Plan, along with the Anti-Inflammatory Eating cookbook, and a guided meditation by Dr. Joe Dispenza on Gaia (based on his work You are the Placebo).
The recipes and advice in both books have been great so far, only a little bit different from the Body Ecology Diet that I typically turn to, and offer hope to anyone struggling with illnesses including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease and more. The link between my digestive problems and other health issues has become increasingly obvious in my own life, and unfortunately over time my reactions to food only seem to have increased. The Immune System Recovery Plan helps to make sense of it all, with step-by-step instructions on how to proceed from here, including specific food and supplements to include, and what to avoid.
With Dr. Joe, I am working on long-held limiting beliefs around health and money (you can choose your own areas to focus on).
I will be honest with you: I am kind of a hard nut to crack. My health issues have been ongoing for more than 20 years, and that includes pain and digestive problems as well as mental health struggles with anxiety and depression - lots of stress, negative thinking and old patterns to overcome. Truly mind-body-spirit stuff. Since my 30's, a fondness for alcohol has also developed which helps me cope with current stressors, but anyone can figure out that a chronic drinking habit is going to do long-term harm (and what effect does it have on a spiritual level? I also came across an interesting article on that topic). Until now I was reluctant to give it up, but choosing to do so in solidarity with my BF who is quitting smoking has helped. I also chose a few herbal teas and Bach flower remedies to support the changes I want to make (and you know, the feeling of taking a magic potion) ;)
I have also finally invested in some earthing supplies (a long-time item on my to-do list)! Earthing (or grounding) is another alternative approach to dealing with inflammation in the body and is quite fascinating. Naturally, my first reaction to sleeping on the grounding sheet was to feel worse! Somehow it managed to zero in on the areas where I have arthritis and cause quite an ache! However the full-length book that came with my kit mentions this as an occasional reaction in people with chronic illness. Since the first night things have calmed down and there have been a few mornings where I woke up much earlier than usual on my own - a promising sign.
In all, I have not yet experienced dramatic improvements after the first two weeks on my new program, however, it seems reasonable that long-term issues take a bit of time to resolve. My headaches - though initially worse as well - seem to have decreased somewhat at least. My swollen glands have days where they seem to be getting better. And as usual, when I get inspired to make changes I implement too many things at once (not scientific!) which probably throws a person for a loop :) I accept this about myself and just do my best.
Cutting out bread products (again) has been hard too, but thankfully the variety of gluten-free foods has exploded in recent years, and substitutes are encouraged in order to avoid feeling deprived! The diet is quite varied, and I have had a couple of extra-large grocery bills as I stock up on all the vegetables, beans and nuts required but if you factor in the savings on alcohol it helps a bit. Let the adventures continue!
Well, the time has come and the road trip and journey from one home to another is complete once more. A change of jobs, houses, provinces and climates requires a period of adjustment and I am trying to be patient with my pain and fatigue and take some time to settle in. We have ventured out for organic groceries and natural cleaning supplies but it has otherwise been a week of unpacking, reorganizing and trying to catch up on sleep. Arthritis is acting up with the return to a cooler, damp environment and our business plans require a couple of weeks to launch, so I am thankful for a period of downtime. Financial uncertainty is my nemesis always, but I will continue to draw on my go-to resources for positive thinking and am doing my best to make this a mindful time of transition.
It is interesting how moving house stirs up emotions and memories. I have tried to really go through and let go of a bunch of "old stuff" this time. We had an enclosed burning barrel on the farm, so it was a good opportunity to release old documents, and even some photos that no longer bring joy. Books are harder to let go of, and I am truly grateful to my devoted helpers for carrying those heavy boxes, as well as moving my grandmother's piano for the first time since the early 1950's. I hold on to the things I truly cherish.
And so begins a new chapter, my significant other of 6 years and I finally setting up a home together and embarking on a business endeavour in the construction sector, a change for me but not him. I am thankful for the things that accompany me throughout the other changes, including my web projects and little Cleo. Although prompted by events beyond my control, this move is largely by my own design and we are truly fortunate to have the choices available to us. Let it be a time of growth and gratitude :)
Here we are, another holiday season passed and new hopes emerge for the coming year... We live in strange, sometimes desperate times, and I am among those who believe, now more than ever, that we must work to keep our energies high. Here are some of the ways I am trying to do that:
I subscribed to Gaia.com for $10/month where I have been watching an endless stream of documentaries, short films, and talk shows dedicated to conscious living. Good stuff!
I have purchased some books and music as a treat to help me stay focused on positivity, as well as furthering my knowledge on things that are important to me. These include:
Tom Petty - Anthology: Through the Years
Howard Jones - Best of Howard Jones
Thompson Twins - The Greatest Hits
Carlos Castaneda - The Teachings of Don Juan
Carl Greer - Change Your Story, Change Your Life
Jonathan Fields - How to Live a Good Life
Ben Angel - Flee 9 to 5
My coworkers and I have traded out our afternoon coffee for green tea; I have received a number of compliments on my gray hair (it has been a gradual process since I first wrote about going gray, but it looks like I might stick with it this time); and I have a new kitten :) 14 months following the disappearance of my dear Avzer I decided it was time. Meet Cleo:
She has been a welcome, if mischievous, addition to our little family. Life has had its ups and downs lately, with my family thinking about selling the farm and thus changing the course of my future, but I have decided to choose happiness now (in spite of uncertainties) and do a few small things that I can "take with me" however things may go. Happy New Year to us all!
Just when you think you finally have a plan... life sometimes has other ideas. It looks like time for another shake up in mine, as we are in discussions to sell the family farm. Even if I hadn't been living here for the past 3.5 years this would have been earth-shaking news, as the farm has always been my safety net and my backup plan if things get really rough out in the world. I find myself quite at a loss, as this means things are on hold in numerous areas of my life and plans for the future. My life partner is affected too, as he has had to return to BC for work and this dissolves the likelihood of him coming back anytime soon. It will also mean actually having to deal with all my family's "stuff," for real this time, that we have conveniently managed to leave there over the decades. A monumental task in itself! (and a symbolic one?)
But with challenges come opportunities. A division of assets could mean an inheritance that I never expected to receive, a possibility that requires a lot of soul-searching. I feel like I've reached a point of no return in some ways, not able to return to the life I was living before I returned to my rural roots. I can't imagine living in a high rise and taking the train to a busy office job again; plus I have pets now! What about my permaculture dreams?
It is an interesting process to sort out priorities. And what of passions? Have I actually been following mine, or have I slipped into yet another routine - one that I am now being abruptly shaken out off?
I have to admit, coming back for "round two" of life in my hometown has not really strengthened my bonds with a birthplace I was desperate to escape as a teen. Sure, I can appreciate some of the benefits of a small town more than I used to - and proximity to family is nice, especially for holidays and special occasions - but most of my time has been gobbled up by my job, and spare time spent just trying to recoup my energies in solitude. My gardening adventures have been slow to develop; there is no room to advance at work; and out of the aforementioned 3.5 years I have spent here, my partner has managed to spend a scant couple of months with me. Are these all signs that we are struggling too hard for too little?
I moved back because my dad had passed away at the age of 69 from cancer that took his life very quickly. I wanted to be a support to my mom, as well as my brother who was suddenly running the farm on his own without a lot of help. I also did it for myself, as the farm - in spite of turbulent emotional times growing up - had always represented my most peaceful memories - the lingering dusk and sunsets over the prairies especially. And with no one living in our childhood home, I almost felt like the house was calling me, drawing me home for a break from that hectic city life I had become accustomed to. I found a job opening for something in my field (!), applied and interviewed via webcam, and started the day after I arrived.
It seemed it was all meant to be, and in spite of this current limbo, there are lots of reasons I don't feel it has been a waste of time or a wrong move. The fact is, sometimes things don't last forever - and shouldn't last forever. Jobs come and go; sometimes relationships too! And I probably have 20 years before I can officially retire, so I guess the game is not over yet. Perhaps this was a necessary chapter, a bridge between past and future that has allowed me closure that I wouldn't have obtained from a distance. I've had to be a driver again, although city driving is something I still avoid like the plague. I've been privileged to encounter friends of my grandmother's, as well as get to know my only niece while she is still young. And I've had lots of precious quiet time on my beloved farm before having to say goodbye.
Well, here we go...! I`ve decided it is worth trying another diet, this time focusing on Leaky Gut Syndrome. I have not been definitively diagnosed by a doctor but have enough of the symptoms that I figure it can`t hurt (other than the initial financial outlay for the gluten-free baking supplies). In my case, these include:
- food sensitivities
- acne-like skin problems
- mood disorders
- severe bloating
- chronic pain issues and fatigue
I have also ordered Dr. Axe`s LGS supplement blend and will report on that later. You can find out more about leaky gut and Dr. Axe here.
Shopping list to get started on this diet:
- xanthum gum (16.95)
- ground flaxseed (10.20)
- amaranth (10.85)
- sesame seeds (3.39)
- brown rice flour
- organic coconut milk (4.55)
- psyllium husks (13.75)
- grapeseed oil (5.99)
- large oats
- organic maple syrup (7.40)
- organic quinoa (14.29)
- potato starch (5.99)
- tapioca flour (5.99)
- canned pumpkin (4.99)
- rice crackers (3.59)
- millet (4.70)
- sorghum flour (5.80)
Fortunately I have been able to find everything I need locally at either the IGA or the neighborhood pharmacy. With the products assembled, I am taking baby steps. This weekend I baked muffins (gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free) from the cookbook (below), with just the small variation of using fresh raspberries instead of applesauce - pretty tasty, good texture too. I also made the chicken skewers but turned it into a stir-fry (as I do not have a barbecue). For breakfast I have been making a protein smoothie (Vega, $22.75) with L-glutamine added ($16.95 - until my Dr. Axe product arrives, which is costing a cool $72.97 as I had to order from the US. I am considering switching to Sun Warrior next time, as I can get it from Upaya Naturals in Canada and it appears to me to be somewhat similar).
The bloating is not yet under control, but I have noted some small improvements, and as always it feels good to at least have a plan of action. I feel fortunate to be undertaking this treatment plan at a time in my life when I can afford the extra groceries, and will report here on how it goes...
I have to say it: being bloated is SO GROSS! It gets hard trying to disguise a bloated belly, not to mention feeling uncomfortable almost all the time. It makes me wonder about people struggling with belly fat, and whether more people just need to learn more about digestion? It is a frustrating, sometimes expensive battle; thankfully there are resources available to help. If you have any experiences or advice to share, please do!
Ah shoe shopping, retail therapy at its finest :) As so much of my website relates to online shopping, I thought I would share a few experiences and stories of my own. I have to admit, shoes are one category in which I don`t yet adhere quite as strictly to the organic and fair trade guidelines that I promote elsewhere on this site. Hopefully this will change with further research! However, there are some good news stories within the companies I promote (and the purchases I have made).
Top Right: a pair of Taos shoes, purchased at SoftMoc.com - a Canadian company. Shopping was a breeze, with prices in Canadian dollars, and free shipping! Will not ship to PO Box, and don`t advertise any special eco-friendly brands or corporate responsibility practices.
Top Middle: purchased at Planet Shoes, located in the USA. LOVE the brands they carry, but are a bit pricey once you`ve switched currency to Canadian, and added duty and shipping. The red flats were on sale for $55.50 (USD) but ended up costing me $118.25 (CDN), so I would advise shopping here more as a special treat. They will ship to post office boxes however (in Canada but not internationally). Planet Shoes also offers a whole ``Eco-Logical`` department, as well as carbon-free shipping options, and attention to sustainability in both footwear and packaging. I promote them on my Fashion page for these reasons, and because they approved me for their affiliate program (others did not). They do have some pretty good sales, as well as a rewards program, so if you are a true shoe fanatic it is possible to do okay. I am really happy with this cute pair of Mary Janes, and the cork footbed which is designed to neutralize odors (as well as being really comfortable).
Top Left: beautiful Blowfish sandals from Shoes.com (now Shoeme.ca). Sale price of $46.32 became $67.77 with taxes and shipping (free shipping didn`t apply as order was under $100). Blowfish is another brand I really like, comfy and casual yet unique. This pair has a stacked heel that you hardly notice.
Bottom Left and Bottom Right: my prized pair of Poetic License flats, and a sweet pair of Rocket Dogs (black) purchased from Shoeme.ca - a great Canadian option. With sales and discounts I ended up getting both pairs for the same price as one pair ordered elsewhere. Free shipping, and can deliver to PO Boxes. I love Poetic License and was happy to find an option without heels - their sizing is European, but if you follow the charts you should have no problem.
Finally, my `Bordo` oxfords by Naya (Bottom, Centre), also from Planet Shoes - this one goes back 5 years :) I thought these were one of the most stunning pairs of shoes I`d ever seen but foolishly let that emotion sway my judgment and I ordered a half size smaller than usual (as that was the last pair left). I can wear the shoes but don`t do so very often due to the lack of wiggle room. The courier also had problems delivering to my apartment building and the order got sent back once (one of the reasons I prefer PO Box delivery) - perhaps I should have taken it as a sign... ;)
Shoes... you gotta have them, right? The above shows several years of purchases, and for the most part I wear them until they are worn out and try not to get out of control with my shopping habits. Since I`ve moved back to the farm the nearest shoe stores are an hour away which I hope partially offsets the environmental impact of shipping. It`s a bit of a cliche, I know, women`s love affair with shoes, but it does help to lift my mood just a little when I wear each carefully chosen pair - the compliments don`t hurt either ;) A small indulgence in the lighter side of things.