The Mindful Merchant

Shop – Eat – Live – Mindfully

Resubscribe – Blog Chi Restored March 30, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — MindfulMerchant @ 9:03 pm

The Mindful Merchant blog has been experiencing technical difficulties. 

Changes were made to my weblog due to problems inadvertently created after I tinkered with widgets, favicons and plug-ins. (WordPress design features I have no business using.)   New posts and updates have not reached all MM subscribers. Thanks to some expert help, my fixed website has a new subscription link and a few other beneficial additions. Good blog Chi is once again flowing.

If you have subscribed in the past, please resubscribe to my new RSS feed.   The original feed no longer works.

For non-computer wizards (like myself) wondering what the heck I’m blathering about, subscribing is a convenient and easy way to receive updates from blogs, news articles and other websites you enjoy. Instead of searching for updates, information is delivered to an email or a reader of your choice.

The top right hand corner of the Mindful Merchant homepage now offers a few subscription options.  There are three round buttons in the top right hand corner; the orange button offers a variety of reading options.  The box below is a spot to type your email address to obtain posts in your inbox.  Either way, both options provide a simple way to stay updated.

Since I am pitching subscriptions…I might as well plug away.  Did you know the Mindful Merchant has a Facebook Page?  Here I share articles about the environment, climate change, health studies, eco-friendly products and more. 

Thank you for reading and commenting.

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The Big Reveal July 14, 2010

 

Ta-Dum!  The Mindful Merchant got a makeover!  What do you think?

 

Last summer my pal Chris handed me a birthday card. Inside were two words – start writing! He surprised me by setting up all the things I needed to start a blog; domain name, set up a site, accounts etc. Awesomely nice, isn’t he? This pushed me to stop talking about what I would like to do and actually try something new.

 

After geeking out, studying WordPress guides and blogging 101 books, I felt by mid-August I could give it a whirl. I wrote my first post, and nervously sent it out to a small group of friends and family. Thankfully, my peeps cheered me on with kind words and helpful feedback. I am grateful for their encouragement.

 

My computer/social media knowledge was…minimal. (o.k. – I am was technically challenged) The learning curve has been HUGE. I finally joined Facebook (told ya) and the magical world of Twitter. A shift in thinking about green, healthy, more earth-friendly living has grown into a fun hobby that I absolutely love. Now I have readers from different parts of the world – and they are not my relatives. Wow.  Through blogging, I have made new friends, met interesting/creative people and feel more connected to the Ottawa community.

 

Here we are a year later and it is time for a change. I have grown tired of the drab brown and green WordPress template. Thanks to Maria and Dawn at Sweet Blog designs for their creativity, computer tech-wizardry and “getting” my intentions and humour. I hope you like the new design – I do!

 

Thanks Chris for the inspiration and all the computer help over the year. Thank YOU for subscribing, joining the MM Facebook Page, sharing posts, the kind shout-outs, and taking the time to comment. I especially love the comments – so please keep ‘em coming. 

 

Here’s to another year making small changes for a healthier home and planet.  Cheers!

 

 

If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito. 

                                                                                                                                       African Proverb

 

 

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Cucumber Query July 9, 2010

Filed under: cleaning,eco-friendly,friendship,green,non-toxic,stupidity — MindfulMerchant @ 3:04 pm

 

I am one of those bad friends that never reply to FW: emails. You know, the ones that tell the recipient they are special and important. The kind that usually end with threats like seven years of bad luck if you fail to send it out to 20 of your bestest friends in 5 minutes.  No response = doomed for a life of eternal bad luck since not only do I never forward them…I rarely read them.  Delete. Delete. Delete.

 

There are exceptions to my reading though. When my friend Jen sent me a FW entitled “The AMAZING Cucumber”…how could I not have a peek? This forward was about 13 special ways this vegetable can enhance my life.

 

(Now do I have your attention?)

cucumbers No, it is not that kind of email. This one explains the health benefits of eating cucumbers that are full of vitamins and minerals. I did not know that cucumbers were that good for us. I thought they were mostly water and not much else.  Not so! <according to the life changing attachment> It also claims you can prevent a hangover, use it to boost energy and other AMAZING things. Jen sent it to me knowing I am interested in non-toxic cleaning options.  

 

The record-breaking hot temperatures this week meant I spent a lot of time with the kids indoors. Stuck for fun things to do one afternoon I found the old email in a folder and read it to them. We decided to play scientists and test some of the claims.  (Snopes.com says the claims are undetermined)

 

First, we tried to clean pen off the basement wall. No one owned up to writing on the wall with pen, but one of our girls names is Sarah. hmmmm   Here is the before, and the after. It did not completely take away the mark, but it is less prominent. We all agreed it was not an effective way to clean the wall.

 

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Next, we cleaned the mirror using the cucumber before the girls took their showers. It is supposed to eliminate the glass from fogging up. Unfortunately, the mirror was just as foggy after and I really had to work hard cleaning the smears off the glass.

 

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Finally, we took a pair of Daddy’s dress shoes and “shined” them with the cucumber. Let’s just say, my husband had to get the shoe polish out after we were done with them. He was not impressed with the results, nor our justification that his shoes made a significant scientific contribution.

 

I have not tested the rest of the claims because we gave up after those three failing results. I must say that I appreciate when people send me green suggestions, please keep those coming. In this case I recommend cucumbers are best enjoyed in a lovely salad, or covering puffy eyes at a spa.

 

If you receive a FW: titled “The AMAZING Cucumber”, do not get excited. You can delete. Delete. Delete!

 

You’re welcome.

 

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Respect July 7, 2010

Filed under: children,education,family,hate,parenting,racisim,respect,special events — MindfulMerchant @ 11:40 pm

 

This year was a challenging year for our kids at school. More independence, less coddling by teachers, homework and school yard dynamics. Oy!  Some of it we anticipated as part of attending a full day in the primary grades. There were issues with inclusion, speaking up,  hurt feelings and even and a bullying incidence. (which has resolved – fingers crossed)

 

Some of it, my husband and I were unprepared for.  Like the time our youngest had her pals over for a play date. Sitting around the kitchen table having a snack they sang a new rhyme they learned at recess. It was a derogatory song making fun of a specific ethnic group. Whoa! I cut them off mid song and we talked about the words and their meaning. They were unaware that the rhyme was so awful and felt badly afterward.

 

One of the biggest shocks my husband and I were not prepared for were questions about unfamiliar words they heard in the playground. “What does “gay” mean, Mommy?”  – “What does “retarded” mean?” Seriously?! Grade 1 and 2 children are running around calling one another these unacceptable words?   Yes.  Unfortunately, some adults are still use them too. 

 

Perhaps people are unaware that the words are full of hate and hurt.  Many of us grew up hearing the terms and think nothing of using them.  Recently, I asked someone not to use the word “retarded” with me and they argued there was nothing wrong with it – because it was a ‘legitimate clinical word’ and they didn’t say it in a mean way. Ooooh, that was an interesting conversation… 

 

One of the blogs I follow is Dave Hinsburger’s blog – Rolling Around in My Head. He has worked for over 30 years in the field of disability, is an author and travels the world as a lecturer. His writing makes me think and reflect, sometimes cry, and delivers a powerful message.   

 

Dave recently wrote about marching in the Toronto Gay Pride Parade with his organization Vita Community Living Services. He wrote, “We had determined we wouldn’t just ‘be’ in the parade, we wanted to ‘work’ the parade. As the parade is, in part, a celebration of diversity”. He had cards printed and with the help of co-workers and other groups marching that day, handed them out to the crowds. I thought they were so powerful I asked Dave if I could share them…he said yes.

 

 

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After the parade and the crowds dispersed, Dave noticed coming back up Yonge Street no cards were thrown on the ground. An encouraging sign!  I hope Dave’s cards will inspire sharing this message with family, friends and community.   At the very least,  invite discussion, which is always the beginning of change.

 

 

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Walkandtalkabout July 6, 2010

Filed under: Australia,blogs,holidays,Ottawa,travel — MindfulMerchant @ 11:04 pm

 

My friend Kathy is one cool woman. She is an inspiring spirit, full of kindness, fun and quiet strength. She is a wife, mother, a teacher devoted to children with exceptionalities, a breast cancer survivor and now a Canadian adventurer/explorer in the land Down Under. Kathy and her family have embraced the opportunity to experience life in Australia for a year…or so. She has started a blog chronicling her travels called Kathy’s Walkandtalkabout. I am looking forward to living vicariously through her posts. If you have a minute, have a peek and say “G’day” to Kathy.   🙂

 

 http://kathybobyn.wordpress.com/

 

 

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Number Knowledge July 3, 2010

Filed under: environment,heath and safety,recycling,safety,shopping,toxic — MindfulMerchant @ 9:49 am

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No matter how eco-conscious we are, it is challenging to get away from using plastic. Manufacturers use resin ID codes to help us with recycling making it easy to sort our household garbage. Did you know that these numbers can also help us determine the safer plastics and which ones we should try to avoid?  I tend to put more thought to the food/products I buy and less attention to the packaging involved. Now I am starting to reconsider after reading about the differences.  Here is some information about the most commonly used plastics.

 

Safer

#1 Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET or PETE)

You will find it in water bottles, shampoo and pop bottles. This might be the most commonly recycled plastic.

 

#2 High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

Most commonly found in cleaning product bottles, milk jugs, some water bottles, saline, medicine bottles and shopping bags.

 

#4 Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

Found in sandwich bags, some newer plastic wraps, grocery bags. This plastic is not as toxic to manufacture as other plastics, but it is not as commonly recycled.

 

Questionable

#5 Polypropylene (PP)

Yogurt containers and a variety of food and beverage containers. More studies are needed since research is unclear about chemical leaching. Researchers are unsure if the chemicals/substances pose a health threat.

 

Try to Avoid

#3 Polyvinyl Chloride (V  or PVC)

According to Greenpeace – this plastic ranks as one of the biggest environmental bad guys. PVC (also known as vinyl) contains vinyl chloride, a known human carcinogen. It is most commonly used in construction (PVC pipes in our homes) Found in some plastic wraps, cooking oil bottles and unfortunately many children’s toys. It is rarely recycled but plastic manufacturers still stand by its safety. Apparently many plastic wrapped foods like meats and cheeses in the grocery store are wrapped in polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

 

#6 Plystyrene (PS) Styrofoam

It is not commonly recycled. It contains benzene which is a suspected carcinogenic. Avoid consuming hot liquids, fatty foods or alcoholic drinks from Styrofoam containers since they may increase leaching. Transfer foods from Styrofoam containers to glass or ceramic as soon as possible.

 

 

#7 Other (often polycarbonate made with BPA)

This number covers any other plastic other than #1-6. This mixed bag is concerning since there is conflicting data about this plastic. Often marketed as “non-leaching” and sold as a good green alternative, it is often made using a highly toxic chlorine gas derivative and carcinogenic solvents. The data is conflicting about leaching of bisphenol A. Industry says even low doses would not be enough to hurt you, others suggest that even small amounts this hormone-disrupting chemical can be harmful. Found in microwavable plastics, eating utensils, linings for canned goods and beverage containers, sometimes baby bottles.

 

 

Eliminating all plastic packaging from our homes would be an extremely difficult task. Studies suggest that when plastics come in contact with food, certain chemicals migrate and may cause an array of health problems. Try to store food in glass or ceramic and transfer food out of plastic containers before reheating in the microwave.

 

I used to assume that all recyclable plastic was the same. After reading more about the number codes and what they represent, I am giving more thought to the type of plastics and the products I buy and bring into our home.

 

 

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Hockey, A Dog & A Complex June 30, 2010

Filed under: family,special events,stupidity,writers block — MindfulMerchant @ 5:18 pm

 

It took almost two years of debate, planning, pleading, flow charts and a few tears to wear my husband down. He was the last member of our democratic household to vote YES – a dog could join our family. Alice the cat had already cast her vote by responding with two blinks. F.Y.I. for those unfamiliar with cat speak, two slow blinks in a row means “yes” or on very rare occasion “little Jimmy fell down the well”.

June_2010_015 My husband agreed with the following conditions (1) It had to be a male dog since he is already outnumbered 4-1 and (2) He has to pick the name. For those that do not know our family or my husband, this meant only one thing. The dog was destined to have a hockey name.  Poor thing.

This sparked discussion arguments about names while we searched for the right dog for our family. Just to give you insight into my life, here were the top three names back in January:   Lucic ,  Chico Resch ,  Gordie.   Unfortunately, in this house hockey fans outnumber me 3-1.  Poor me.

Our girls suggested the name “Sidney Crosby” after one of their favourite players. Hubby shot that down citing many reasons. Then Olympic fever took hold of our house. For a family that rarely watches television, we had it on day and night. Caught up with patriotism and competitive spirit my husband once again caved and said he would consider #87 IF Canada’s men won the gold medal in hockey.

I suspect most of you know how that turned out. 7 minutes and 40 seconds into overtime…Crosby shoots…he scores…GOOOOOLD! I am not even a hockey fan and I admit that that was a spectacular moment in Canadian sport. We jumped around the family room high fiving and hugging our Olympic party friends. My husband put up his hands to quiet the room. Channelling the spirit of Charlton Heston he loudly announced, “We shall name him Crosby!” More whoops and cheers. Therefore, it was.

P1018102 In early May we welcomed little Crosby into our home. He is a sweet, gentle, puffy ball of fur with a big personality. We all love him…even Alice. Yesterday on my way home from a walk with The Cros, a man stopped me. He looked to be in his seventies, had a cane and a friendly smile. “Excuse me young lady – ” I stopped to chat somewhat pleased…Crosby attracts a lot of attention when we are out with his cuteness.  “Are you walking a pet skunk?” he asked me. Certain I heard him incorrectly I responded with “Pardon me?” “Did you know you cannot keep a skunk as a pet in Ottawa?” the man informed me. Horrified, I looked down at Crosby. He was busy sniffing a tree and luckily did not hear the man’s insulting words. “He’s not a skunk…he’s a dog…a PUPPY!” I explained. “Oh, really?” the man looked doubtful. I was flabbergasted. I scooped the dog up and whispered as we walked away “Don’t you listen to him…you’re so handsome!”  Poor Crosby.

I take away three things from that experience. First, it is important to have eye tests done on a regular basis. Second, there is a possibility our dog might not be the bestest looking dog in the whole world. Nah!  Third, I might look like the kind of woman that would own a pet skunk and walk it on a leash. (yikes)

Anyway, Crosby and I hurried home. I also felt the need to have a shower and give Crosby a good bath. What a strange day that was…

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