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.


A BeaverTail is a Pastry January 25, 2010

Filed under: Canada,Ottawa,shop local,shopping,Uncategorized — MindfulMerchant @ 1:42 am


Killaoe_Sunrise[1] My family looks forward to February because in Ottawa it means Winterlude, lots of visitors, skating on the Rideau Canal and Beavertails (Queues de Castor). Have you ever had a Beavertail? For those of you who have not, it is a pastry not a sexist remark or an actual animals tail.  Outside of Ottawa they are sometimes called Elephant Ears, Flying Saucers or Whale Tails.


BeaverTails are flattened whole-wheat dough deep-fried in canola or soya oil and served piping hot with butter and different toppings. There is no point in knowing the Weight Watchers points involved (30?), but once in a while it is worth a splurge. Our favourite topping is cinnamon and sugar although the chocolate with banana slices or maple butter are also winning combinations.


Did you know a Hooker popularized the BeaverTail? Yes, Grant Hooker opened a small booth in the Byward Market in 1978 and 32 years later the BeaverTails family business is thriving and an Ottawa institution just like the Parliament Buildings. The Hookers still have a booth in the Market and also license tails to over 130 outlets in Canada and other countries too. According to their website they are now sold it Saudi Arabia too.




The ObamaTail is the newest addition created in honour of President Barack Obama’s first visit to Ottawa in February 2009. The ObamaTail is a maple syrup and chocolate drizzled “O” on top of cinnamon sprinkled pastry. The President made an unscheduled stop in the Byward Market just pick up souvenirs and BeaverTails. So far, I am unable to reach The White House for comment…but I am confident the President LOVED it.


BeaverTails go best with freezing temperatures and a skate on the Rideau Canal. Who am I kidding?  I eat them in the summer no problem and they are just as yummy. Like it or not, the BeaverTail has become a part of our cultural fabric. When you visit Ottawa I highly recommend you add “Eat a BeaverTail” to the list of things to do…it is a Canadian tradition. 



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can Canada’s capital compost? January 5, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — MindfulMerchant @ 8:49 am


I am excited about the new Green Bin composting program that began yesterday in Ottawa. It will be interesting to see how many homes will participate since it got off to a bumpy start with complaints, opposition from residents living near the composting facility and other issues.  I think it is a positive thing for the environment and the city.  It is about time since many other municipalities have been composting for years.


The last few weeks we use the small kitchen container to collect organics and empty it into the big green bin at night. I am surprised at how quickly our family of 4 is filling it.   My frugal side is reluctant to spend almost $6.00 for 10 small food paper waste bags, (the City will not allow biobags/plastics in the compost) but  I am not willing to use the small bin without some type of liner. Green Bin Ottawa provides an economical alternative. Here is a short video on how to make easy origami bin liners out of old newspaper.  Do not worry the urge to wear it around as a hat wears off quickly.





I find the origami liners work only if you monitor the contents. The more liquid, the quicker it requires a dump and lock. No one wants to scrape up chicken chilli, dryer lint and coffee grounds off the garage floor. Trust.  I have a few friends experimenting with newspaper liners and the results are mixed. If you would like to compost with a liner this might be worth trying, especially if you want to save some money.


For more information visit the Green Bin Website where you will find instructions, teacher and parent guide and video, children’s activities and other helpful tips.  Click here for the 2010 pick-up schedule.


Have to be honest…I am not excited about cleaning and maintaining the green bin in the humid Ottawa summer. I look forward to reducing the garbage we set out on the curb and helping the planet. We all have a responsibility for our garbage. I hope the new composting program is a success.


How is your composting experience going?




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Little House on the Prairie Babble December 30, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — MindfulMerchant @ 6:58 pm


prairie3 Eventually I had to talk Prairie talk…it was only a matter of time.

I discover through years of friendship (and sometimes-red wine) that I know many people who grew up watching Little House on the Prairie and are closeted fans. This kinship runs deep, not obvious by our wearing of bonnets, lemon verbena perfume, or our distain for the name Nelly. It is our ability to quote verbatim Charles Ingalls and an odd yearning to write with chalk. We also share fears of falling down a well or waking up yelling, “I can’t see Pa!” If you did not grow up wishing you lived in Walnut Grove then you probably will not appreciate this post.

Planning my New Year’s resolutions for 2010, I decided to turn to the Little House for my inspiration and ask the question “What would Ma or Pa Ingalls do in our home?” Here is what I have come up with….

  • I am going to use a broom and sweep more instead of hauling out the vacuum for every little mess.
  • I will use cloths to clean and wipe up spills. I think I can fashion some out of old clothing too worn to donate.
  • I will try to cook and bake things from scratch and move away from buying processed stuff.
  • We are going to plant a vegetable garden this spring and live off the land. Actually…from whatever we can grow in containers on the patio.
  • We will try to eat seasonally and support local farmers and merchants.
  • We will make more effort to help in our community.
  • Lastly, I want to learn to “air fiddle” just like Charles. By golly, that man could play a mean fake fiddle! I hope my family will dance around and clap while I air fiddle after dinner on Fridays. 

  Well those are my thoughts as this year ends. All silliness aside, I do want to live a simpler, greener life in 2010. Who is with me?


I wish you a very happy and healthy New Year!


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Happy Holidays to you! December 20, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — MindfulMerchant @ 1:36 am



                             I wish you all a peaceful and joyful holiday.




                               And a healthy and prosperous New Year!



                       Looking forward to making 2010 a little greener…together.





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It’s all in the Bag November 26, 2009

Opeaongo farm 004 I have finally trained my brain to bring my own reusable bags when shopping. It only took about two years. Now that most grocery stores charge for bags, it is rare to see someone walk out the store with a cart full of plastic. Green thinkers and frugal shoppers are now on the same page. It’s a beautiful thing. 

Today I stood at the end of a long line at Loblaws. A woman at the front had full cart of groceries and forgot her bags. The cashier in a booming voice said, “Do you need to buy plastic?” The woman sheepishly whispered yes. I have been in her shoes feeling judgement ooze down the line.  Moments like that reinforce the need to bring my own bags… and why I own about 30+ of the suckers. Avoiding the dreaded plastic = no panic sweats and red flushes. (Oh…and it helps the planet.) It is not a good environmental story, but there is a bit of truth to that.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. throws away 100 billion plastic bags each year and less than 2% gets recycled.  Planet Green writes “The petroleum to make 14 plastic bags could drive a car 1 mile” and “Over 100,000 marine animals die every year because of plastic bags”.   Disturbing statistics.

It has always bothered me that I use plastic bags to buy loose produce like beans, mushrooms, and fruit. I discovered a store here in Ottawa called Nayla Natural Care that sells reusable produce bags and ordered a few to try. Turns out, they were an excellent purchase.

Steward Bags makes 100% organic cotton reusable produce bags in various sizes. Located in Cornwall Ontario, it is a growing Canadian company. Their strong mesh bags have an easy drawstring closure and are washable too. Steward Bags’ mission is to support fair trade labour, and help fund regional environmental projects.

You can find a retailer near you buy clicking here or order directly from the company. Ottawa residents can buy them this weekend at the Nayla Natural Care Open house Saturday Nov.28th from 10 am-2 pm. I will be going to pick up more to ‘wrap’ holiday gifts. (act surprised Mom) 

If you are concerned about reducing the amount of plastic in the landfills, I recommend trying this product.  Happy shopping!




One Minute. Make a difference. November 17, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — MindfulMerchant @ 4:09 pm
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“For the sake of all the worlds people, economy and environment, we need an effective global climate treaty now.”    earth

     Dr. Tim Flannery (Scientist, Author, Chair of Copenhagen Climate Council)


Are you the kind of person to attend protests or lend support to groups taking political action for important causes? I am not…until I started reading about climate change. The more I read the more I feel compelled to get involved. My motivation is selfish. I do not want my children and their children to inherit an unfixable disaster. It is that simple.

In Canada, many consider climate change to be just an environmental problem. Not true! Climate change is an all-encompassing threat. It directly affects you, your family,  the environment, economy and the health and safety of the world.

Getting involved is easy. Take a minute to send a message to Stephen Harper and other party leaders that you want Canada to sign an ambitious, fair and binding agreement at the UN Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen this December.


    Click here to join millions of people around the world demanding a global response.

If you would like to read more about climate change and the organizations campaigning for solutions here are some links to check out.


Canada’s Action on Climate Change

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

David Suzuki Foundation – Climate Change 101

The Sierra Club of Canada  – Ten Popular Myths about Climate Change


Please act.  Send a message to our leaders.  Your voice counts.