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Author Archives: Danielle

A design student at SCAD and a Fall intern here at Daily Grommet.

  • How do you "green" up your plate?

    I've been trying to pick away at my environmental impact (and therefore improve my health) for a couple years and food has been one of the things I've tried to improve upon. Last summer I was all about eating locally and was a farmer's market fiend. In November I decided to become a "weekday" vegetarian. It was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be, so I'm still at it. This summer I am all too excited about it being farmers' market season again so I can combine my locavore and vegetarian efforts. I'm still a newbie at both, so I'm always looking for inspiration, advice, and recipes. I hit the jackpot with all three when I found Sprouted Kitchen.

    Sprouted Kitchen is full of delicious recipes using local, seasonal, healthy ingredients. The recipes are all made and written about by Sara Forte, and beautifully photographed by her husband Hugh. Both of them shed light on the details of food and cooking that make it an artistic and delicious experience. They have killer content! Sara's voice is bright and personal, and she gives excellent tips and tricks along the way. She revels in the experience of cooking and eating together and her posts serve as a reminder to enjoy the simple goodness of food, friends, and family. Hugh's photography is more than just eye candy. He manages to get right into the nitty gritty of the process of creating the meal and produces clean, raw, gorgeous images. The blog is steeped in their love of each other and the projects they work on and the care shows. Every once in a while their personal lives make an appearance, but it's neither annoying or filler as it can sometimes be in the blogosphere (lovely photos of their wedding were posted, congratulations!). I can tell they're the kind of people I'd want to bring fresh eggs to when our chickens give us more than we can eat.

    Strawberry, Leek & Goat Cheese Quesadilla. This recipe will definitely be on my list of things to cook when I make goat cheese!

     You can get the recipe here and try yourself.

    I'm willing to bet there are some Daily Grommet fans that can share advice about becoming a vegetarian and working towards more eco-friendly eating habits. If that's you, I'd love to hear about what you do to green up your plate. Kudos to all of you that put in the effort, including Sarah and Hugh!

  • Kick off your shoes for a good cause

    This Tuesday I'm pretty excited, because it's my birthday. I'm quite possibly even more excited for next Tuesday, April 5th, because it's One Day Without Shoes. ODWS is a TOMS Shoe's event to create awareness about the millions of people who don't have a choice whether to wear shoes or not. Lucky for me, they have some excellent tools for spreading the word about this event, including this video!

    I am most certainly going barefoot next Tuesday because I know from experience that it has a bigger personal impact for me, beyond being aware of the lack of shoes millions of people face everyday. Last year I plastered my studio (and social media) walls with ODWS posters and sign up sheets and information. About 30 people ended up going shoeless with me, and it made for a great day. Here are some possibly unexpected things to expect if you decide to participate.

    Being barefoot in places you normally wouldn't be is guaranteed to make people ask questions. No surprises there. (Be prepared to explain why you're going without shoes for the day, and why it's important to you!) You might, however, be surprised at what these chats will lead to. I loved that a simple lack of shoes inspired such complex conversations and ideas.

    I was completely wowed at what I was missing under my feet every day. Walking without shoes is like riding a bike down a road you usually drive on; you experience so much that you are usually protected from! It's a year later and I still have very clear memories of a particularly unpleasant parking lot I never knew was so spiky, and realizing how warm the floor next to computer towers is. Getting to experience little things I completely missed on before was pretty eye opening.

    People will want to join you! It's fun to see the positive influence you can have, and how fast a good idea can spread. Last year at least three or four people I met during the day took their shoes off after I'd explained why I wasn't wearing any, in addition to the bunches of people I knew who had planned to participate. I'm sure they spread the foot freedom during their days as well. My family wasn't really interested in going barefoot, so instead they donated a whole lot of shoes to a local shelter. One good thing seems to inspire another, which is always nice.

    If you can't go without shoes for the whole day, think about doing it for few minutes, maybe for your walk to lunch or the trip from your door to your car. Maybe bare feet are just not your thing. Consider donating some of those shoes you never seem to wear. Local shelters are a great place to donate. If you're worried about people being offended by your shoeless feet or getting the stink eye in public places, carry around some Aftersoles in your back pocket! Most of all, spread the word! TOM's One Day Without Shoes website has a whole lot of information and promotional material for you, from banners and posters to installation ideas. Put them up in your school/work/dentist office/nearest telephone pole! You can also register as a barefoot-er with a local event. If there aren't any events close to you, make one! Or join us!

    Let us know if you're going without shoes, and how the day goes for you!

  • Surprised by Paper Art

    One of my favorite professors used to say "What is a blank piece of paper? An opportunity."
    These artists certainly make the most of every paper opportunity they're given.

    Yulia Brodskaya was born in Russia, and now lives in the UK making her incredible Papergraphics. I love keeping up with what she's been up lately to in the News section of her website (especially when she posts process videos!).

    I thought this one struck a Dailly Grommet chord.

    Yup, that's all paper.

    Continue Reading
  • BCA "One Product Challenge" follow up

    Back in October after a bit of breast cancer awareness in the form of pink hair I challenged myself, the Daily Grommet team, and our great community out there to replace one product they use with a product free of chemicals linked to cancer. This One Product Challenge was initiated during national breast cancer awareness month but has lasted much longer. This challenge has turned out to be a great learning experience, and a means to make connections with people much more versed in safe products than I. The advice and bits of wisdom I've gathered as a result of the challenge are valuable and worth sharing with you.

    Chemical Free Beauty Products

    When I was doing research about chemicals in everyday products I admit being overwhelmed. I'm not the only one! Joy Wicks was also overwhelmed when she started looking at what was in her cosmetics. Joy was on the search for the best beauty products that were also chemical free.

    best beauty products - chemical free

    This is Joy, presumably rocking all natural makeup!

    She's come a long way, and has done a lot of research as to what is safe to use and what is not. She uses her knowledge for her shop, Natural Joy Beauty, just outside of Salt Lake City, UT. She has compiled a list of ingredients to avoid and has strict standards for what she carries in her store. She also would like to offer a deal to all of you! Use the code DG15 for a 15% discount, now until 5/31/11.

    find the best beauty products - chemical free

    Here's Danika with her daughter!

    Danika, a representative for Miessence, also reached out with some excellent resources for checking up on what's in your products! She suggested looking into the Organic Consumers Association's Coming Clean Campaign, Good Guide, and Skin Deep as resources to find clean, and not so clean, products. She warns not to use these as your sole resource, however, because of the lack of data available to some ingredients. The best way to be sure a product is safe, she advises, is to check for a USDA or ACO Organic Certification.  Soleil Organique also commented, suggesting the Environmental Working Group as another good resource!

    Look for USDA Organic Certification!

    I went to visit The Natural Market in Groton, MA to get some face-to-face advice. Dottie was very helpful there, and told me that her favorite natural beauty product was organic coconut oil. Shari, a Daily Grommet reader, agreed in the blog comments. They both said it is the best moisturizer they've ever used, and use it every day.

    organic skincare products

    evanhealy skin care

    Here at the offices Kate and Wendy replaced their skin care routines, using evanhealy skin care products. Once they tested it as a Grommet they were hooked, and still use it every day.

    Safe laundry detergent

    Charlie's Soap

    Wendy also uses No More Dirty Looks by Siobhan O’Connor and Alexandra Spunt as her natural skin care bible.  Julia Elmer, a good friend of Daily Grommet, told us that she gets her natural beauty products at Whole Foods. (Whole Foods has a great video about all natural body care products, by the way!) The challenge reached out to our California team, too. Tori switched out her laundry products with Charlie's Soap, another loved Grommet. Tori reported that after the switch to chemical free detergent her family's sensitive skin was oh-so thankful. She noted "No more itchy or irritated skin, and it works just as well as the chemical-laden detergents! I like knowing I'm not drenching our clothes in toxins."

    One of the best experiences I've had during my natural body care experiments was making a connection with Blaire Kessler, the creator of Pristine Beauty products, and getting to try out some of her amazing hair products! My favorites were definitely the shampoo and conditioner.  I only used them for a couple weeks and I saw a drastic improvement in my hair. My frizz was gone, (my Dad sometimes calls me Mufassa in the morning... having less frizz is a big deal for me!), and my hair got really soft and shiny. On top of that, it smells amazing! After trying a couple other natural shampoos, I am definitely going back for more Locks of Fame and highly recommend Pristine Beauty products.

    Blaire Kessler, the super woman behind Pristine Cosmetics

    Best shampoo I've ever used!

    What really made trying Blaire's products special, though, was that she created them after getting a breast cancer diagnosis. She couldn't find any products that could live up to the standards she was looking for, so she created her own! How's that for determination? A portion of each Pristine Beauty sale is donated to the Young Survival Coalition and the Cancer Prevention Coalition, too. Blaire's story is really inspiring and she also knows her stuff! She gave me some great tips on how to best use her products, and pretty soon you'll be able to watch her giving tutorials about them on the Pristine Beauty YouTube Chanel.

    After trying out a bunch of organic and natural products in the last couple months I have a bit of advice of my own to give. The first thing I can suggest is letting yourself get used to it for a couple days before assuming they won't work! When I tried new deodorants it took a couple days for me to feel like they were working, and for the first few days of trying natural hair products my hair got a little greasy. It does, however, get better.  After getting used to natural products regular ones smell like chemicals and feel harsh. Getting used to natural products was easy, but the opposite isn't true. I don't think I'll be able to go back! The last bit of advice I have is to reach out to experts. They are always more than willing to share their knowledge and can be most helpful.

    Have you tried switching over to cleaner, safer products?  Do you have your own advice to share? Let us know with a comment!

  • A dash of creativity and a pinch of fun

    One of the best things about the Daily Grommet world is the input and interaction we get from all of you! It's especially great when you come back to tell us how the Grommets in your life are doing. That is exactly what Julianne (Juli) Rowland often does, and we love it!

    babycakes mini cupcake maker recipes

    Here's Juli making cinnamon buns with her Babycakes!

    Juli had purchased a teeny cupcake maker and loved it so much that she decided she needed something a little bigger. She found the Babycakes Mini Cupcake Maker on Daily Grommet and it was exactly what she was looking for.  She loves it because it's a time saver, and because of the bite-sized proportions it makes. She suggests the Babycakes for anyone who lives in a small space or only has to cook for a couple people (like college students and newly weds). Juli uses hers as much as she can, and has come up with some  creative, mouth-watering recipes for it. She shares many of them in the Babycakes comments, and we wanted to share some of them with you!

    Juli's (baked, not fried) Crab Rangoons

    Juli's scrumptious looking mini pecan pies

    Mini cheesecake ala Juli!

    Crowd pleasing Gooey Pumpkin Butter Cakes

    Chicken (or Turkey!) Pot Pie

    What a great way to use that leftover Thanksgiving Turkey. Juli likes this recipe because you get crust with every bite!

    1 Pie Crust, Chicken or Turkey, 1 can Cream of Chicken Soup, Potatoes, Peas, Corn

    To make the filling, mix the turkey, soup, and vegetables together and add salt and pepper to taste. After rolling out the pie crust, cut out pieces to fit into the wells of the Babycakes. Spoon the filling into the wells, and top with crust. Cook for nine minutes.

    Mini Meatloafs

    One of Juli's favorite things to make in her Babycakes!

    1 lb Ground Beef, an Egg, 1/2 cup Salsa, 12 finely ground Saltine Crackers, 1 cup Shredded Mexican Cheese

    Leaving the cheese aside, mix everything together in a bowl. Make small round "meatloaf" balls, and place one in each Babycakes well. After cooking for ten minutes, top each meatloaf with cheese, and cook for another two minutes. Juli makes this a meal with peas and mashed potatoes!

    Gooey Pumpkin Butter Cake (pictured)

    The holidays call for parties and lots of finger foods. Juli's family and office friends loved these, and I think your party guests would too!

    For the cake crust: 1 package Yellow Cake Mix, 1 Egg, 1 stick butter

    Melt the butter, and add it to the cake mix. Add the egg, and mix together. Form small balls (about the size of a large grape) then flatten into the bottom of each well.

    For the filling: 1 8oz package of Cream Cheese, 1 15oz can of Pumpkin, 3 Eggs, 1 tsp Vanilla extract, 1 stick butter, 1 16oz bag of Powdered Sugar, 1 tsp Cinnamon and 1 tsp Nutmeg

    Melt the butter and mix all ingredients together. Pour the mixture over the crust in each well. Cook for ten minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

    If you want to know more about the Mini Cupcake Maker, check out the Babycakes page! And to see more of Juli's recipes (cheesecake, crab rangoons, corndogs and more) stop by the Babycakes comments page.

    Thanks so much for sharing with us, Juli! We hope you keep coming back to keep us up-to-date with your newest creations!

    Juli and I have a request for you! Do you love your Babycakes as much as she does? Have you made some enticing treats of your own with it? Share them with us!

  • Incorporating passion into your fashion

    The most addicting thing about fashion, or so it seems to me, is that one can identify with a piece of clothing or an accessory.  "That skirt is so me!" If it's not something to identify with, it's something to strive for. "I want to be the kind of person who carries a briefcase." I don't at all mean that all people who carry briefcases are the same, but you know what I mean, right?   Your clothes don't dictate who you are, but they can communicate something about you.  They are an outlet for personal expression.

    One of the most telling things to find out about someone is what they care about, what they have passion for. It gets right down to their heart strings. Can you really express something so important in what you wear? Of course.

    The humanitarian will buy fair trade fashion.  That means no sweatshops, no child labor, and the kind of payment that is deserved; buying fair trade ensures no one was taken advantage of. Another good choice for good neighbors is to buy from companies who make it a point to give back with every purchase. Need some more examples?  There are plenty in the Good Deeds section of Daily Grommet!

    Fair Trade FashionAnimal lovers can sleep easy buying vegan and cruelty-free pieces. In addition to being void of animal products, it's a good idea to double check for no testing on animals either (think Keeki nail polishes). If the piece you're lusting after does have animal products in it (wool, for example) you can check in with the company to make sure they regulate whether the animals are being treated well.

    eco friendly fashionMore and more options are becoming accessible for environmentalists. Buying pieces made from organic and renewable materials is important, and there are some great eco friendly fashion options.  (Naturally Knotty scarves are made from bamboo, a renewable resource that creates a beautiful, durable fabric which feels incredible.)  The downside to the increase in eco-friendly is an increase in greenwashing; check the certification! If you tried, you could be eco-conscious all the way down to your PACT Underwear (shown above).

    Let's get to know each other a little bit better; what do you really care about? How do you incorporate that passion into your fashion?

  • BCA One Product Challenge

    Last week I wrote about awareness, and how having pink hair was a great way to bring awareness to the fight against breast cancer. I stand behind my word; awareness is a powerful tool. However, combine awareness with activism, and you can pack a real punch. As I was doing research for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) I was delighted to find a bit of backlash (I think a healthy dose of skepticism goes a long way). The buzzword of the backlash is pinkwashing. I found the pinkwashing protests to be completely valid and worth mentioning.


    Picture via Breast Cancer Action

    I think it's fair to say these protests boil down to two main points. First, is the importance of checking up on the pink purchases you make to be sure they are in fact benefiting a  breast cancer related cause. The second point is to be aware of what ingredients are in the pink products you buy to avoid chemicals that could increase the risk of cancer.  Think Before You Pink, has a checklist to keep in mind when you're buying pink!

    It's that second point that makes me the most concerned. It's true, our lifestyles include carcinogenic substances. So... what's a carcinogen-concerned person to do?

    Know what to avoid.

    Find out which chemicals are guilty and why.  Our friends over at Organic Authority care about pinkwashing, too, and one of their posts includes a list of cosmetic chemicals to steer clear from.  Breast Cancer Action, the grassroots organization behind Think Before You Pink, has a whole host of information about healthy alternatives and breast cancer in general.  Have any other good resources? Post a comment!

    Speak up!

    Once you're oh-so-informed about what kind of chemicals to avoid, let the companies that still use them know that you object! Write a letter, an email, a tweet, a blog post (or a vlog on YouTube!)... they'll hear you! You can also join the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. There are also prepared letters and petitions you can sign.  Many of these chemicals have been banned in other countries, so don't stop at the corporate level; forward that email to the your governor, state representatives, the FDA, etc.  Remember to keep your family and friends in the know as well... including us!  Share your favorite "clean" products with us in our new Citizens' Gallery!

    Start eliminating.

    This is a task that could seem pretty daunting. There are four women in my family... if your bathroom counter is anything like ours, it's jam-packed with hair and cosmetic products.  Going through them all at once would be effective, but overwhelming.  Start with one thing at a time.  Next time you run out of something and you have to buy a new one anyways take the ingredients into consideration and make an educated purchase. Skin Deep has a huge database of products, you can search for yours to see how they're rated.

    That's exactly what I'm going to do. I need a new deodorant! So my mission for the next couple weeks is to find a deodorant that does its job without the use of risky chemicals. I'll write a post on which ones I tried and how they worked.  Hopefully my office-mates will be honest about how effective they are (Sorry, Jeanne!) and maybe I can save you from going through the same troubles.  I've also convinced a few others on the Grommet team to join the challenge with me and search for the best beauty products - chemical free of course!

    Unfortunately we can't try all kinds of products at once.  Here's where you come in. I'm challenging you to chose one product you own to replace with a safe alternative, and report back how it goes and what product you replaced it with. Maybe you've done this and are an expert already... let us know what you've found!

    Want to be featured in my next blog post? Do the challenge and email me your experience!  Make sure to include a picture of you and the following information:

    1. What you're replacing:
    2. Bad chemicals in it:
    3. Better option you're trying:
    4. Better ingredients in it:
    5. How it worked/review:

    Keep in mind what a difference you're making. Can't wait to hear your responses!

  • Making (pink) waves

    Awareness is a powerful tool. A month of awareness has the potential to make waves, and this month is the 25th National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. That's 25 years worth of bright pink waves.

    I've been sporting bright pink waves of my own but I was unprepared for the impact it would have. It's been a great conversation starter and an ever-present reminder of the reason it's there.

    I'm referring a couple of pink hair extensions from the Pink Hair For Hope campaign. The extensions are really fun, and work overtime to create that awareness. My sister Emily put mine in at Mode Salon, one of over 375 participating salons. You'll get a hair extension for each $10 donation.  Check out the pics to see how it works!

    Pick a color... or two!

    The tools of the trade.

    Me before getting my extension. 

    A plastic piece is used to protect the scalp and separate the hair that will be bonded.

    There's a piece on the end of the extension that is bonded to your hair with a heat tool.

    Once the extension is in the stylist will cut it and style it to match your hair. Here's my mom and my sister rocking their pink!

    Having pink hair was a great way to create awareness.  I've gotten a lot of comments and compliments about it, and it's sparked a few good conversations.  The fight against breast cancer is close to my heart;  my grandmother is one of over 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society.  The most important thing to do, I've learned, is to celebrate victories no matter how big or small they might be. Remembered your self exam this month? Celebrate. Got a mammogram with a friend? Celebrate.  Been cancer free for 14 months? Celebrate! (That's you, Memere!)

    I scored tickets to the Patriots game this weekend... there was pink everywhere!  And I was pretty impressed with the "Pink" House last week. Have you seen anything else noteworthy this month?  Or maybe you've done some awareness rallying yourself... share with us!

  • "Fall" into Daily Grommet

    Hello Grommet family!

    I'm Danielle, the new intern here at the Daily Grommet offices. I've been given a warm welcome here and I'm excited to be working with such an inspiring and motivated group of people. Although I've only been working here for a short time I can already feel it's having an impact on the choices I make.

    Like Claire and Julia, I majored in industrial design at SCAD; I hope I can live up to their good example! Savannah is a beautiful city  full of Grommets (think Savannah Bee Honeycomb and The Charles Collection Clock) and one of the only drawbacks to living there for four years was missing out on Autumn in New England.  In addition to the beautiful weather and scenery, Fall always seems to be a great time for a fresh start.  What a great time to start at the Daily Grommet! I've decided to focus my fresh-start efforts on being more "Grommety". Here are a few Fall activities that are just that.

    Pick your own:
    An apple picking trip is always a good time.  You get to spend some time in the fresh air, most likely with friends or family, picking (ok, and eating) fruit right off the tree. Lots of places that offer apple picking will also have little petting zoos, hayrides, and tours of the orchard.  On the tours you can learn more about the different kinds of apples, and how they're grown and picked. It's supporting local farms, and picking them yourself eliminates the need for shipping, handling, and packaging. You can make your trip even more eco-friendly by bringing your own expandable reusable bag to tote home your apples! Another plus... delicious apple baked goods!

    Attend a Fair!
    Autumn is host to all kinds of fairs which are all kinds of fun. They're a good place make connections with people, support local craftsmen and vendors, and try some homemade treats... a Grommet-lovers heaven (We have been on some very successful fair trips recently - like the Limelight Marketplace). You can also save some pieces from a landfill by browsing antique and vintage finds.  Usually with a little bit of love you can bring a unique piece back to life.

    Temperature control  (or lack thereof):
    It may be starting to get a bit chilly in some places, but Autumn weather is usually nice enough to turn off the AC, throw open the windows and wait a while to put the heat on. Getting a little bit cold is just a great excuse to have an impromptu dance party to warm up. Need a little extra coziness? Slip on some organic socks, brew a steamy cup of Adagio Tea, or have a campfire!

    I hope this inspired you to go out and get the most out of Fall! What Autumn plans are you making? Are any of them Grommet-inspired?

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