December 2010


Tonight we say goodbye to 2010, while ringing in the coming year! The ancient Babylonians used to believe that how you spent the first day of the year would affect the rest of your year. This is the reason many gather with friends and family and merrily bring in the first few seconds of a new year! And a merry celebration wouldn’t be complete without some drinks. Champagne is the traditional drink, but we thought we would put a fun twist with an organic cocktail! The Lanesborough is really just a fancier version of a mimosa, but with a little more citrus and a lot of taste! Make sure your first day of the year is filled with happiness and Happy New Year form all of us at AP!!

The Lanesborough

.66 oz Grand Marnier
.66 oz Organic Passion Fruit
Add the champagne to a nice champagne flute. In a shaker add the Grand Marnier, organic cranberry juice, organic passion fruit juice. Fill the rest of the shaker with ice. Shake up and add to the flute. Garnish with organic orange spiral twist.
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The most anticipated holiday has come and gone, and now you are left with a dried out tree in your living room. It always seems a bit gloomy to throw out your dried up tree, that was once so decorated and brought holiday cheer!  Luckily, you don’t have to throw it out, like discarded wrapping paper.  There are some really creative and interesting ideas to reuse your Christmas tree! Of course, if you are completely exhausted from the season and are not looking forward to the clean up or any new projects,  you should check with your local city or county for appropriate ways to discard your tree. Or you can go to Earth 911 and type in “Christmas Trees” and your zip code to find out how your city’s recycling program works.  Just please don’t put it out with your regular trash or it might end up in the landfill, not quite the proper end to its noble service over the holidays.

If you are looking for a neat and interesting way to reuse that dried up decoration, we have compiled three really neat ways to do just that. Send off your lovely tree with well deserved style.

1) Return to Nature: It might seem a little harsh to chop up your cherished holiday decoration, however, it is a great way to return your tree to nature. You can do this one of two ways if you have a yard or fireplace. The first, is to turn your old tree into mulch for your garden. You can either chop it into little bits yourself or bring it to a store to have it run through a chipper. The mulch will help with soil erosion during the winter months and the fauna in the gardens will appreciate it! The other way to return your tree to nature is to chop it into logs and use as firewood. Fireplaces are a great way to heat your house in during to cold winter and a chopped tree will provide you with plenty of fuel!

2) Eat That Tree: You read that right! There is a new trend out to actually eat your Christmas tree! Chef René Redzepi suggests we use our trees in a number of dishes. He lists a ton of great uses in food such as drying the needles to make a spice and add it to cookie dough, rice, or even in main courses. He also suggests using the branches much like rosemary and thyme to add to any dish or making spruce butter! He stated a poignant argument for his reasoning: “Nature takes enormous time and effort to produce something that we use only briefly. Why don’t we make greater use of this living tree, as we make use of so many other kinds of plants on earth, by eating it?” We have to agree!

3) Make Arts & Crafts: Wood is a wonderful medium to create art with. When Christmas is over you will have an abundance of materials to make arts and crafts out of.  Plus, woodworking is a terrific way to pass the dull and cold winter months that lie ahead.  There are many creative things to make out of wood including coasters, candle holders, even ornaments for next year! You can get a head start on next years gifts, by simply reusing your Christmas tree.

After reading through these fun ways to reuse our Christmas tree, we are excited to try a few out! We, at the AP office are going to try a few of those recipe suggestions above and spruce up our winter meals. Pun definitely intended. What will you do with your Christmas Tree?

With only a few more days left until Christmas, everyone is scrambling to finish their shopping and get every detail ready for the holiday!  In my family, we used to bake a ton of goodies and deliver them to our extended family and friends on Christmas Eve. One of our favorites to bake were sugar cookies! They are so much fun and can be really creative. It is also a great activity to do with the whole family.  As a child, I used to spend hours designing and decorating my sugar cookies. Below we have a recipe for vegan sugar cookies, as well as frosting and suggestions for other decorations.  Happy Christmas and Merry Baking!!

Vegan Holiday Sugar Cookies

Cookie Recipe

Prep Time: 20-60 minutes    Bake Time: 8-10 Minutes per sheet

2 3/4 Cups Organic Flour

1 1/2 Cups Organic Evaporated Cane Juice (or other sweetener)
1 Cup Organic Earth Balance
3 Tbsp Warm Water
1 1/2 Tbsp Ener-G Egg Replacer
1 Tsp Organic Baking Soda
1 Tsp Organic Vanilla Extract
1/2 Tsp Organic Baking Powder
1/4 Tsp Salt

Frosting Recipe:

2 Cups Organic Wholesome Sweetener Powdered Sugar
1/4 Cup Hot Water
1/2 Cup Earth Balance
1 tsp Organic Vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small mixing bowl, beat the Ener-G Egg Replacer and warm water until the consistency of an egg and set aside. Combine and sift all dry ingredients together: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another mixing bowl cream the Earth Balance and sugar. Beat in “egg” mixture from earlier and vanilla into the Earth Balance and sugar. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Once they are combined, you can make the cookies! If you are making simple round cookies, roll about a tsp worth of cookie dough and place on cookie sheet. If you are making fun holiday designs: santas, reindeers, trees etc, on a cutting board sprinkle flour and roll dough out to thin layer. Cut out shapes and place on cookie dough. Make sure to give enough room for each cookie to rise. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cookies have risen and are golden. Let cool for 10-20 minutes and decorate!

While the cookies are cooling, in a mixing bowl combine the Earth Balance, vanilla, and hot water. Slowly add in the powdered sugar (use Wholesome Sweeteners, they are confirmed vegan). Beat with electric mixer until smooth. This will make a standard frosting. If you want chocolate add in about 1/3-1/2 Cup vegan cocoa powder and mix. If you would like different colors you can add in food coloring (at your own risk). Be careful of chemical dyes, especially red as they may not be vegan and can include harmful ingredients. Seelect Food Coloring and Nature’s Flavors are all natural and vegan dyes. You can also find vegan sprinkles! Now it is time to decorate your sugar cookies however you would like. Trust us this is the best part, well aside from eating the cookies that is!

When it’s cold outside and my lips are chapping, and my skin’s whining for some lotion, I found that Tracy Perkin’s vegan, handmade bath and body products provide much relief! During her college years, Tracy—like Autonomie Project’s founders Anne and Gina—found the lack of ethical, vegan options frustrating. Tracy began making 100% vegan soaps for family and friends, and eventually Strawberry Hedgehog was born. She runs this tiny business from her home in Arizona, where she makes all her luxurious soaps and other body products by hand in her kitchen! All of her products are free of preservatives, chemicals, animal byproducts, artificial dyes and fragrances. Also, they use all recycled and minimal packaging as well as being BPA-free and containing some organic ingredients.

Recently I had the opportunity to try eight different products from Strawberry Hedgehog: Pure Lavender, Tea Tree-Rosemary, Blueberry-Lavender, Creamy Complexion, Apple Cider, Green Tea-Lavender Hydrating Mist, Blemish Treatment, and Lavender-Tea Tree Moisturizer. My overall impression? I am completely blown away!

The Tea Tree-Rosemary facial soap is definitely my new must-have product. I love waking up and immersing my face in its luscious scent! It leaves my face feeling soft and rejuvenated. When I gave my housemate, Natalie, the Tea Tree-Rosemary facial soap to try out with me, she explains, “I’m very careful with the products I choose to use on my face since I have eczema. A lot of face wash irritate my skin.” She found that the Tea Tree-Rosemary, however, “didn’t irritate my face at all, it was really soothing.”

Another facial soap, Creamy Complexion did a very noticeable job at softening and detoxifying. It lathered incredibly well, considering the fact that it contains no sulfates whatsoever (the cancer-linked ingredients in conventional bath products that create suds). It produced a rich creamy lather that I probably could have left on as a mask if I wanted to! However, Natalie and our other housemate, Emily, found that Creamy Complexion slightly dried out their skin (though it wasn’t drying at all for my combination skin).

Next, the Pure Lavender and Blueberry-Lavender body soaps are just oh-so heavenly! Their scents are absolutely amazing; I find them practically therapeutic in the shower—very soothing after a long day. Normally my legs get really itchy after showering, especially during this cold, dry time of the year. After switching from my Dove liquid soap to these lavender soap bars, I immediately noticed a HUGE reduction in the itchiness! Plus, the lavender buds on one side of the bars act as a great exfoliator.

All of these soaps, including the cinnamon-smelling, Christmassy Apple Cider body soap, left me feeling squeaky clean and smelling lovely. Natalie pointed out something I eventually noticed as well: “With the liquid soaps I buy from CVS, I feel like they kind of just sit on top of my skin, like when I rinse it off there’s stuff still on my skin, but with these they felt very cleansing.”

I felt the Lavender-Tea Tree Facial Moisturizer was just the right density compared to thin drug store moisturizers and Lush’s SUPER heavy moisturizers. I applied it only once in the morning and I was set for the rest of the day. It worked wonders on all dry patches of my skin; I am definitely going to buy a full size one.

I gave my Blemish Treatment to Natalie since she has eczema, and she could probably rate it better than I could. She wrote this to me: “The Blemish Treatment worked REALLY well surprisingly; because of how soothing it was, I wouldn’t have the tendency to pick at my skin, and therefore it dried blemishes fairly quickly and the next day I was able to use cover up or go out without it showing almost.”

Lastly, the Green Tea-Lavender Hydrating Mist was a fun product—I sprayed it on my face and neck when I felt tired and sore, and I sprayed it on my pillow before I slept. It’s basically aromatherapy in a sleek bottle, perfect for when I’m in need of a quick pick-me-up.

I began using all these lovely products during finals week, and I really have to thank Tracy for creating these amazing all natural and vegan products because they really kept those stress zits away and made my showers so rejuvenating and refreshing. Thank you, Tracy!

-Michelle Thai

Let the War on Christmas begin!  Happy Holidays, everyone!  So, you’ve already bought all your large-ticket, “from Santa,” 8th-day-of-Hanukkah items (or not) and a dreadful little void has yet to be filled in all the debit card merrymaking: stocking stuffers. Or, any little gift you might want to give to a co-worker, in-law or conveniently not assign to anyone in particular and joyfully re-discover a few days after Christmas.  This ballpark of gift-giving can be the most fun of all, and it’s so easy to make it vegan that you really won’t have any excuse, you flag-hoisting neo-hippy!

Go Max Go Candy Bars

Yo, vegans: In case you haven’t seen them yet, you can now relive your simple yet exhilarating childhood moments of getting to pick out your favorite candy bar at the store, thanks to Go Max Go, a Portland-based company that makes a few select and dead-on replicas of the mainstream candy bar heavy-hitters such as Snickers, Almond Joy and Three Musketeers.  I’ve tried them all, and loved them all.  Buy them at the mall (or not).  Another sweet favorite:  Candy Tree organic lollipops!  Perhaps the only lollipops you might be able to justify giving to small children with delicate, virgin teeth and years of potential dentist bills ahead, these tasty guys will actually dissolve in your body and not stain your insides with all the colors of the rainbow.

So, it’s cold out, and perhaps very, very, very cold out depending on where you’re wintering, and certain body parts easily get chapped.  That’s why Eco Lips Bee Free Vegan Lip Balm and The Merry Hempsters Vegan Hemp Lip Balm have your lips’ back, providing ethical, soothing relief after the big snowball fight with your creepy uncle.
Did you know that the Kiss My Face bath and beauty company is almost entirely vegan?  Yep, except for a few products that contain beeswax and honey, all of them clearly marked.  Soaps, lotions and all bathwares make great double-whammy gifts in that they’re totally practical and useful while maintaining a refined and even sentimental gift status. And Kiss My Face’s product line is so various, from foot scrubs to toothpaste to bug spray, that the website is pretty much a one-stop shop.  Try the Trail Size Spearmint Breath Blast.

Gama-Go Bling Bonsai From AlternativeOutfitters.com

I’ve seen my fair share of Costanza wallets lately; many people you know and love may be suffering from one as you read this. Thus, a wallet is always a perfect small-sized gift, and many of the vegan persuasion have small-sized price tags. Check out the variety of both conventional and inventive styles at Alternative Outfitters vegan boutique.  Mighty Wallet makes them out of can’t-bust-it Tyvek in awesome prints and patterns, such as the NYC subway map, with a DIY look and feel.  And I don’t care how middle-school-girl it is, I kinda want the Gama-Go Bling Bonsai Vegan Zip Wallet.

Praise Seitan Button from HerbivoreClothing.com

It’s a bit sad, but the 1″ pinback seems to be disappearing from lapels, jackets and backpacks everywhere; how does such a timeless and versatile bit of flare go out of style?  Or, am I just hanging out at Alameda County Superior Court every day? Regardless, buttons are always well-received as little token gifts and add-ons to things like vegan wallets.  For those of you with vegan friends who enjoy a subtly outspoken expression of their lifestyle, check out Herbivore Clothing‘s button section.  With artful design, the slogans vary from the diplomatic “herbivore” to the straight-up “fur is fucked” to the best vegan pin of all time: “somebody give the vegan corndog a handclap.”  Splash.

I just saw a holiday card online that says “Soysons Greetings.”  Say that out loud to a few people tomorrow and see if they understand what you just said the third time.

-Jeremy Pearson

Christmas is fast approaching and gift buying is getting down to the wire.  We wanted to compile a great list of Fair Trade gifts for just about everyone on your list. Below is a list of our favorite fairly traded gifts for the 2010 shopping season:

For the Entertainer: We all have those friends or loved ones who just love to through dinner parties and plan every holiday. Check out this terrific Fair Trade serving trays for all their entertainment needs. You can add to this gift with a beautiful after dinner tea set and some Fair Trade certified tea.

For the Fashionista: Fair Trade fashion is definitely cutting edge. With Fair Trade USA’s new garment certification program, the US will now have it’s own certification. Luckily there are many great options for gifts for those in your life with a love of fashion. Check out Fair Indigo, Marigold, and of course our lovely Autonomie Project for all your fairly traded fashion.

 

 

For the Pet Lover: Fair Trade fashion is not just for humans anymore! For all your loved ones that like to dress up their furry friends, they can now do so with Fair Trade doggie sweaters with matching leashes. You can also find dog and cat toys made fair trade or in the USA.

For the Tech Savvy: So your loved one loves their gadgets, including computers. Check out this Fair Trade wrist rest for those long days and nights using our mouse, luckily it is shaped just like a mouse!  Or maybe they love their smart phones so much they would hate to lose them. If that’s the case, look no further than these fair trade and eco-friendly cell phone cases made from recycled wrappers.

For the Stress Case: Have any friends that are over-worked and could use some relaxation? What better gift then to give them a basket of relaxation with ethics! Check out these gift baskets filled with bath goodies and soothing lotions. Many include tea and candles just to set the mood right. You could also add in a bottle of wine just to be sure your loved one is actually taking the break they need.

Kids around the country are just putting together their Christmas lists and behaving on their best behavior. As you read through their wants you see countless plastic toys, maybe an Iron Man or a Barbie, but where and how are these made? Unfortunately many children’s toys are made with conventional plastics and in questionable factories in countries where labor standards are low.  However, explaining to the children in your life, they can not have certain toys due to ethical standards can be pretty tough and complicated. Why not set a great example early on and purchase them ethically minded toys! The name brands may use poor standards but you can still buy some awesome gifts that your mini greenies will love!

We put together the following list to give you some great ideas, however there are tons of ethical children’s toys on the market!

Fair Trade Kites: Every kid loves to fly kites, no matter what there age. Luckily you can definitely find ethical kites. There are a number of Fair Trade certified kites out on the market. These come in great shapes for a variety of tastes such as butterflies, dragons, and beautiful feathered birds. These make terrific gifts and can be enjoyed all year round.

Recycled Fire Truck from Green Toys

Green Toys: You may have heard of this terrific brand: Green Toys.  All their toys are made in California (a state known for strict toy safety and environmental laws) and are made of recycled plastic milk cartons. All their production from milk carton collection, recycling, and toy production is done locally. Not only are their standards high but their products are terrific! They have construction trucks, jump ropes, tea sets, tool sets, and gardening tools. They also make a great line of dishware for children in great attractive colors.

Fair Trade Musical Instruments: Maybe your little one is trying to be the next John Lennon and you want to encourage their development! Luckily there are a number of fair trade instruments for purchase from around the world. You can find flutes from India, drums and maracas from Peru, and more flutes from Bolivia. What a great way to encourage your child’s musical instruments and their ethical development.

All Natural Paints: If your child is more of a Picasso than a Lennon, check out this great eco-friendly and sustainable paint! Glob it On makes all their paints totally safe and eco-friendly. They are made with natural ingredients such as plants, vegetables, spices, and flowers. They still come in great kid-friendly colors such as red, orange, blue, and of course green!

We hope these ideas will help you give your children a bit of ethical spirit to go with their Christmas one! If you didn’t see anything on this list, you can always check these great sites for ideas World of Good, eConscious Market, Fair Trade Marketplace, and Global Exchange.  And of course, don’t forget about our lovely line of baby and children’s clothing and shoes!

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