Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Majesta Earth Day Makeover  

April 22nd is Earth Day!

One of the fun things I've been doing lately is participating in a Mom Central Canada blog tour and discussion group about Majesta. If you don't know Majesta, just take a quick peek down the tissue aisle. Past the expensive brands with cutesy mascots. Towards the eco-friendly end of the aisle, you will find Majesta products.

Don't think eco-friendly means rough and sandpapery. I had the chance to try out Majesta's facial tissue, bathroom tissue and paper towels. Here's what I thought.
  • The facial tissues are much nicer than the cheap store brands (softer and thicker), but not quite as soft and thick as the premium brands that you want when you have the worst cold and anything but the best will chap your nose. We found the tissues to be a good choice for the budget and for the everyday nose.
  • The bathroom tissue was way softer than I expected. It is not as thick, soft and strong as Charmin, but here's where things get interesting. One of the things we had the opportunity to do with this blog tour was a 'shake test', where we put a few sheets of Majesta in one bottle, and a few sheets of Charmin in another, filled both with water and shook them up. The Majesta disintegrated, just like it will in the septic system, breaking down quickly and not clogging pipes, or hanging around too long in the waste stream. The Charmin held up like fabric. So if you think about clogged pipes or what exactly happens to all that tissue that we flush away and forget, consider that little test. I think it speaks volumes.
  • The paper towels were good for small messes, but for me didn't quite hold up to big messes or long use. Again it's because they are designed to break down quickly. Pros and cons.
The discussion group has been fun. We've been talking about what we do to help the environment, what steps we might take as individuals to do more, and learning about what Majesta does in terms of environmental impact. In our household, we have already got a lot of 'green' going on. Here are some of the ways my husband and I try to stay green:
  • we have a programmable thermostat and lights on timers, to minimize wasted energy
  • our house is fairly new, and we had an energy audit last year as well. We upped our insulation in the attic and basement, and plugged a lot of small gaps, saving money and heat.
  • all of our appliances are high-efficiency models
  • we use reuseable grocery bags (even produce bags), food containers, and minimize plastic in our household
  • we have a backyard compost bin, as well as a green bin. Between those and the recycling bin, we throw out very little garbage.
  • We planted a tree last year in our yard, and are planting two more this year (I can't wait!)
  • We are vegetarian
  • I work at home (no commute), and my husband has a minimal 15-minute commute to work - for which he drives our small, efficient car.
Majesta does use 100% new materials (that means trees) - but the company plants three trees for every one that is harvested. That to me is definitely commendable. They also whiten their products without chlorine bleach.

Now if you need a little more incentive to check out Majesta, they have a contest going on right now where you could win $15,000 towards any 'green' home project, for example, landscaping or home improvement projects!
You can enter daily until June 27th for your chance to win!
(only Canadians are eligible)

Awesome! I can think of a few things I'd love to do around here with that kind of green. I would do a lot more landscaping in the yard, providing habitat for birds with shrubs and trees. I would love to put some bat houses up in the nearby woods. I think it would be a lot of fun to get trees for all our neighbours in this new subdivision and help plant them. I'd love to get some furniture for our nearly empty living room that is made of natural, sustainable materials. I'm not sure if that last counts, but it sure would improve things around here in a green way.

What are the things you do with your family to be environmentally friendly? What would you do if you won the $15,000? I'd love to hear your ideas.

Pad Thai's Long Lost Vegetarian Fraternal Twin (recipe)

This recipe is inspired by a few recipes I've seen online, notably at An Opera Singer in the Kitchen, on Recipezaar, and at Vegetarian Times. However, I've adapted it to include a few new ingredients and work with what I had on hand. We had this for dinner tonight and it was delish!

If Pad Thai had a fraternal twin (a vegetarian one that was raised in a different country), it might go something like this. The key is to prepare all the ingredients beforehand, so that the cooking is actually very quick. The rapini has a very distinct sour taste which I think balances nicely with the sweetness of the sauce, but if you're not into that just leave it out!

Pad Thai's Long Lost Vegetarian Fraternal Twin

1 package flat rice noodles

The veg:

5 stalks rapini, trimmed and chopped
4 mushrooms, sliced
½ zucchini, julienned
½ cup broccoli florets
1 green onion, slivered

1 Tbsp coconut oil for cooking

The sauce:
2 Tbsp brown sugar
¼ cup Mirin
3 Tbsp Tamari
3 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp lime juice
2 tsp chili sauce
2 Tbsp coconut peanut butter
1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, minced or pressed

The garnish:
lime wedges
chopped peanuts
  • Whisk together the sauce ingredients. If the peanut butter won't mix easily, just pop it in the microwave for 20 seconds, then mix and set aside.
  • Heat the coconut oil on medium-high heat. Saute mushrooms, zucchini and broccoli, stirring, until vegetables are tender and the mushrooms start to lose their moisture. Add in rapini and cook until it begins to wilt (just about a minute).
  • Add in the sauce and stir to combine. Cook one minute more (to take the edge off the garlic).
  • Add the noodles and toss to distribute the sauce.
  • Sprinkle with green onions and chopped peanuts, add a wedge of lime and serve! Serves 4.
Now - options. I rarely follow a recipe exactly, and certainly don't expect you to!

If you don't have...
  • rice noodles, try soba, fettucini, or even ribbons of zucchini lightly steamed.
  • any of these vegetables, try julienned carrots, snow peas, bean sprouts, slivered onion (red or white), tofu, fresh spinach or kale, green beans, bok choi, bell peppers - whatever you've got. You can certainly make this without vegetables too, for a very simple, saucy noodle dish.
  • Coconut oil, use peanut, canola, or your favourite mild cooking oil
  • Mirin (Japanese cooking wine), use vegetable broth, or half and half rice wine vinegar and water
  • Tamari (Japanese wheat-free miso-based sauce), use low-sodium soy sauce.
  • Ketchup, use a little more nut butter, or tomato paste and a bit more sugar.
  • Lime juice, use lemon juice or rice wine vinegar. In desperate times even apple cider vinegar will work.
  • Chili sauce, use red pepper flakes to taste and add just a touch more oil, or chop up a fresh chili or jalepeno pepper (to taste).
  • Coconut peanut butter, use almond or peanut butter (smooth or crunchy), or a bit of buttermilk or cream, or just leave it out.
  • Fresh garlic - well, just leave it out, don't use powdered (ick). You might add a minced shallot if you happen to have that on hand. Or some minced ginger.
  • chopped peanuts - try chopped cashews. You could also garnish with cilantro, if you like it.
This could be about a hundred different recipes, depending on what's in your pantry :)

BTW, I was using Tropical Traditions products here (among others, of course). I used their Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil, and their Organic Coconut Peanut Butter. The coconut peanut butter, by the way, is pretty yummy! I made granola with it the other day, but I need to tweak the recipe some before it's worth sharing (it was tasty, but it was too loose to be bars, yet too firm to be cereal). Anyway, I have been really happy with their products so far! And for those of you that read this far - keep an eye out for an upcoming giveaway of the Organic Coconut Peanut Butter very soon!

Hope you like it! I'd love to hear if you try it (and what you do with the recipe!).

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

EcoMom Review and Giveaway!

***This giveaway is closed***
Winner: CapitalMom!

Well – are you excited yet? I mentioned that I was going to be doing a review and giveaway for EcoMom, and today’s the big day!

EcoMom (formerly known as Sprout Baby) is an online store featuring eco-friendly products for the whole family. There is a focus on baby stuff, with natural products from skin care through diapers, toys, mealtime, bathtime and more – but there are also items for adults, whether they are parents or not!

One of the features they offer is a an EcoPass membership, where for a $99 annual fee, you get a 15% discount on every order, as well as free shipping with no minimum requirement. I’m sure you can imagine how fast the savings would add up.

I was thrilled to see a selection of beauty products that are toxin free. I’m kind of a girly girl (despite my lack of skill in the hair department), and wear makeup every day. I’ve started worrying about what exactly is in the makeup I’m wearing and it’s nice to know there are safer, more natural options.

I used to love having pretty painted toenails, but when I learned about the nasty stuff that’s in regular nail polish, I stopped. Now that I’m taking yoga again and summer’s on it’s way, I’ve been missing having painted toes! Luckily, you don’t have to compromise your health with the Priti Nails polishes that EcoMom has to offer.

I was sent the Priti nail polish in lambs-tail cactus, which looks like a deep grey with micro-sparkles in regular light, but really comes alive in sunlight – each tiny sparkle shoots off a rainbow of colour. It also dries really fast which is a bonus – I hate waiting around for nails to dry. It’s not a colour I would have thought to pick for myself, but I think I’m converted. I hope you can see in the picture how pretty this is (you can click it for a larger version).
(Let's all just pretend that my hands are photogenic and I'm not remarkably clumsy with a nail polish brush)

Another product that we can’t live without in this house is natural soap. Again, I used to use the big brand shower gels, but when I learned about the harmful chemicals in most of these products, I switched to handmade soaps with safe ingredients (I recommend the book Slow Death By Rubber Duck if you’re interested in learning about chemicals in ordinary household objects and products – you can read my review here).

I was happy to see some really nice soaps available at EcoMom! The Pangea Organics line contains all natural and essential oils to make a bar soap that is truly clean (and smells amazing!!). We were sent the Italian White Sage, Geranium and Yarrow soap bar, and it has a spicy, rich, and intoxicating herbal scent. It’s a very gender neutral kind of scent, one that my husband and I both will be happy to use. I also must comment on the packaging - recycled paper and oh, so stylish!
Of course, EcoMom has way more to offer. Loads of good stuff for little ones, and big ones too. I recommend browsing through their site - it's conveniently categorized by product and by recipient - you will be pleasantly surprised at the great eco-friendly products they have!

Great news - EcoMom has generously offered one of my lucky readers the same package that I got!

AND, here’s a coupon code for everyone – use SBBL220 to receive 15% off your first order, valid until May 31st!

The giveaway: Priti Nails Nail Polish and a bar of Pangea Soap.

How to enter: Head over to EcoMom and let me know one thing that catches your eye, OR one thing that you learned there. Make sure I've got a way to contact you if you're the winner!

Extra entries (please leave an extra comment for each):
  • Become a fan of the EcoMom Facebook page (please comment with your first name & last initial for verification)
  • Sign up for the EcoMom newsletter
  • Follow @ecomom on Twitter (leave your Twitter name!)
  • Follow me on Twitter (leave your Twitter name!)
  • Tweet about this giveaway for ONE entry, this is not a daily! You can use this if you like:
You’ll love this - win Priti polish & Pangea soap from @EcoMom at Emily's Latest @emilyisland US/CAN 5/5
  • Follow my blog (publicly) – 2 entries, leave 2 comments
  • Add my blog button to your blog– 2 entries, leave 2 comments (please leave a link to your blog)
  • Blog about this giveaway, linking back to this post and to EcoMom – 2 entries, leave 2 comments and please include a link to your post
I will be verifying comments so please actually do the things you say you do ☺

Please be sure to include your email address if it’s not public in your blogger profile! Anonymous comments without a way to contact you will be rejected. Canadian or US mailing addresses only, please. Giveaway ends May 5th at 11:59 EST. A winner will be drawn the next day, announced here, in a separate post and emailed! Prize will be shipped by the sponsor.

I was provided with products for an honest review and to keep, but was not otherwise compensated for this review. While a disclosure is not required for Canadian blogs, I see nothing wrong with being transparent!

Monday, April 19, 2010


I just wanted to say I'm so excited about some really nice review products I received from EcoMom (formerly Sprout Baby)! These aren't specifically "mom" products, either - and would make a great treat for a lucky couple (or just keep them for yourself!). One's for women, one's... well, for either women or men, but my husband has claimed it. Both eco-friendly and toxin-free. And that's all the hints you get.

Keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming review and giveaway soon!