Maybe it’s not Maybelline

June 28, 2009


A lot of the girls I know always say they don’t wear much makeup other than lipgloss and mascara, or concealer and mascara, or a tiny bit of blush and mascara — but for whatever reason, the mascara is a must. I’m not sure if this is a North American thing, or if the need for dark, long and voluminous lashes has been ingrained in my generation, but this product has definitely become a staple of the average woman’s makeup kit. Personally, I’ve never been a huge fan; coating these teensie, fragile hairs that are supposed to protect my ability to see with dark guck that will probably smudge or work its way into my eyes somehow just doesn’t seem right. If it’s a special occasion, sure, I’ll use it, but I tend to rely on the classic pink and green tube of Maybelline Great Lash mascara that I’ve had since high school, which has pretty much dried up completely. This does the trick, but it gets a mediocre score of 5 on EWG’s Cosmetics Database, which makes my nose crinkle a bit.

However, the fine folks at one of my new favourite online green stores, Green Cricket, just sent me a few beauty products to try out, and while I normally don’t like to write posts that sound like advertorials, I just need to say that I am fully sold on this sugar-based Suncoat Natural mascara. It gets a much more respectable score of 2 from EWG and there’s a lot of suction power when you pull the brush out, which means less of the stuff gets used each time, and if any of it does end up in my eyes, it’s not really toxic enough to do any harm.

It’s still not something I’d use every day, but it makes me happy that I can finally say: My makeup kit is 100% complete with as-natural-as-it-gets cosmetics. If you want to get this stuff, you can find it online here or most likely at your nearest health food store.

In the mean time, speaking of avoiding toxins in our everyday products, check in at Green as a Thistle soon for my interview with Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie of Environmental Defence — they just released a fantastic book called Slow Death By Rubber Duck and I asked them all about the evils of non-stick frying pans, flame-retardant pyjamas and estrogen-mimicking hormones in our baby bottles. Stay tuned!

Image yoinked from this here blog.


From nothingness comes fruit crumble

June 25, 2009

Do you ever come back from a huge grocery run, restock your fridge and cupboards, then try to make a great homemade meal and find that nothing you bought actually goes together? This is an ongoing problem of mine, which explains why my dinners are technically healthy but usually consist of bizarre combinations (asparagus and avocado on red lentils, hummus with raw veggies and a side of pasta, etc.). And breakfast — well, that’s even worse. My breakfast every single day is usually granola and yogurt with some kind of fruit because I can’t be bothered to cook eggs, but I feel like toast on its own is insufficient, and I don’t know how to make a proper oatmeal.

Anyway, this culminated in a visit from Meghan, in which she scavenged the depths of my pantry and made use of some fruit I’d just acquired from this guy named Ezra who runs a company called Fruit4Thought, which delivers apples, plums, nectarines and bananas to busy Bay Street lawyers and collections agencies up in the suburbs where there are no decent restaurants within walking distance, so employees have a healthy alternative to food courts and vending machines (I was interviewing him for the Post, so he gave me a box full of about 25 different fruits).

Meg managed to make a fruit crumble, which was delicious — although I sneakily added some butter and maple syrup after she left — and it’s a recipe I think I could replicate and even tinker with pretty easily. You can see her post for the details; in the mean time, here’s the video:

Foot-in-Mouth Disease

June 18, 2009


Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear… I totally spoke too soon. For some reason, I figured offering free copies of my book to other bloggers would result in three, maybe four emails. And, um… I got about 50. On the one hand, THAT IS SO AWESOME! Knowing there’s that much interest in my book makes me incredibly happy. But on the other hand, it KILLS ME that I can’t give a book to every single one of you. Maybe one day I will record some sort of visual-audio-book of me wearing a cardigan and fake glasses and reading from Sleeping Naked is Green in soft-spoken tones and I’ll upload it to YouTube so that you can all listen to it for free.

Sadly, until then, I will have to forcefully shove my grimy foot into my mouth (see above photo), hop onto my bicycle and back-pedal, back-pedal, back-pedal (which will probably be a rather awkward process, what with one foot being in my mouth and all).

Anyway, PLEASE forgive me! For all who have emailed, expect a reply soon — I will choose five bloggers to receive a copy of the book; the others will hopefully receive some other kind of green freebie (I get sent a lot of those from eco-friendly companies), but as of now, the offer is closed. However, keep in mind there will be contests and giveaways throughout the summer here at Green as a Thistle, so stay tuned. And finally, for those in the New York area, I’ll be speaking in Bryant Park and having a mini-launch in Brooklyn on July 15th, so if you’d like to come to either event, email me about that and I’ll give you the deets.

P.S. I took this photo late at night, when I was still in my schleppy working-from-home attire. Hey, at least it’s organic cotton!

P.P.S. To all the foot fetishists — get outta here! That’s gross.

Got a green blog? Want a free copy of SNiG? Done!

June 17, 2009


For all those green bloggers out there (or even health bloggers, mommy bloggers, Toronto bloggers, etc.), I’ve got some excellent news: You can now get a FREE copy of Sleeping Naked is Green. All I ask is that you write to me at and let me know what your blog is all about and how many visitors you tend to get; then, all my publishers ask is that you write up a review on your site when you’ve finished. It doesn’t have to be long and smart-sounding — heck, it doesn’t even have to be positive — it just needs to tell everyone that you’ve read my book and, subsequently, that you have an opinion on it.

Not sure you have time to read?
It’s summer! Of course you do! Besides, my book is short and quick and funny; you’ll be done in no time.

Think it’s just going to be a rehashing of my blog?
Wrong again! It’s 100% original content, with everything from an apartment nearly burning down to worms crawling all over my living room; there’s even a love story that would make Jane Austen weep!

Want more proof?
Read some of the candid reviews on — except for one dude, who doesn’t seem to approve of books in general, and some other girl who thought I was “trying too hard” (note to self: try less in future) — they all reinforce the fact that this isn’t another “How to be green” tome with boring tips; it’s an account of all the mental, emotional and spiritual ups and downs I went through in trying to lighten my footprint in 366 ways; how this affected my work, my relationships, and even my cat; and what I ultimately learned about the importance of hypocrisy and blurry lines in today’s environmental movement. And did I mention it’s funny?

So write to me today!

Aaaaand, even if you don’t have your own blog, fret not — I’ll be holding contests all summer to give away signed copies of Sleeping Naked (because you know my signature is worth at least $10,000).

Stay tuned!

Gardening highs and woes…

June 12, 2009

As many of you know, my lovely boyfriend bought me a Meyer lemon tree for Christmas last year. I just thought I’d update you on how he’s doing (the tree, not the boyfriend), now that it’s sunny and lovely outside.


In a word: Not much has changed. We moved him into a bigger pot, threw some organic fertilizer on top of the soil and are now putting him outside whenever it’s sunny and warm (he doesn’t like much water or temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius). He’s got about five flowers blossoming, as well as three or four lemons, one of which is pretty big:


But he’s not growing much. I think this is maybe because all of his energy is being directed into the lemons rather than creating new branches and leaves. Am I right? And is this a good thing or bad thing? Should I be pruning or picking off the buds?

Also, there’s a bit of a mould problem — his soil is looking mighty furry:


Is this due to over-watering? A bug infestation? What am I doing wrong?!

Sigh… gardening can be stressful. I can’t imagine actually having children to look after! Anyway, my other plants seem to be thriving, which is a good sign. I’ve got a shallow ceramic bowl of lettuce, which I’ve learned LOVES lots of water (it was totally wilted and dying until a big thunderstorm revived it overnight):


Then there’s my organic tomato plant, given to me by my editor and his wife as a congrats present for Sleeping Naked is Green:


Some spring onions, which Jacob wanted:


And finally, a wee blueberry bush (if you can call it that, which I don’t think you really can at this point). It might not produce anything edible until about three decades from now, but at least it’s still alive! Oh, and that’s a little Cosmos flower sprouting beside it.


That’s about it for my rooftop gardening experiment… in my actual garden down below I have some lavender, chives and a bucket full of herbs that my mom gave me. What do you have growing? Any disasters? Any lessons learned?

My Name is Potato

June 11, 2009

How on this sweet earth will I EVER thank Glark for calling my attention to this amazingly starchy music video?

She really gives it in the second refrain.

More to come.

From the Pantry to the Bathroom: NOTHING! (Or, Listen to Your Boyfriend)

June 7, 2009

OK, so this doesn’t exactly conform to the format of FTPTTB in that I’m not about to reveal a moisturizer recipe that calls for olive oil and honey (although I’m sure you could use those ingredients for moistening purposes). Instead, my skin care tip of the day is: Nothing!

Remember, a few months ago, when I was complaining of that weird rash I had under my eyes after I stupidly used my diluted-vinegar-and-cinnamon concoction — originally intended as a hair conditioner — in place of toner? Yeah, a word for the novices out there trying to tackle homemade beauty products: cinnamon and delicate regions of the epidermis do NOT go together. Anyway, I was trying a bunch of different remedies to bring my under-eye area back to normal, including almond oil (nope), safflower oil (nope), vitamin A and E (nope), jojoba oil (nope) and my ever-beloved coconut oil (nope), and while most of these would kind of work temporarily, all it took was one shower or face wash (with or without any soap) for my skin to freak out again.

Now, my approach when it comes to health or skin problems is to try a natural remedy first; if that doesn’t work, I come crawling to my mother for some good ol’ Western medicine. Of course, I could have tried reconfiguring my diet — eliminating coffee, alcohol, yeast; introducing more antioxidants, lycopene and whatnot — but to be honest, I’d rather have rashy eyes and a glass of shiraz in my hands than a flawless complexion and nothing but water after an eight-hour day of work.

So my mom gave me some Cortate cream she had lying around the bathroom. Actually, it was lying around my sister’s bathroom, because she apparently applies this stuff liberally for no medicinal reason other than it gives off a nice “glow” (if you’ve read my book, you’ll know this is par for the course in terms of her logic … and, actually, it does leave a healthy-looking sheen, regardless of how fake it may be).

Now, although cortisone can be kind of sketchy in high doses, this stuff was only 0.5%, so I figured a few short-term applications of it wouldn’t kill me. And the result: It worked! Well, sort of.

It worked temporarily — I applied it at night and the next morning my skin looked great; even washing and towel-drying my face didn’t seem to hamper its efficacy. But the problem was, as soon as I tried to wean myself off the cortisone, the rash came back within days. Now, technically, I could keep using this cream on a daily basis for the rest of my life, but my gut kept saying, “Your eyes were fine six months ago and they didn’t require any drugs!” This was driving me crazy.

The funny thing was, every time I complained about this rash and went about applying yet another new oil or ointment, Jacob would say, “Why don’t you just leave it alone? If you didn’t put anything under your eyes before, why are you doing all of this now?”

He had a point, but I was sure that if I went to bed at night with rashy under-eyes and didn’t do anything about it, I’d wake up the next morning looking as though I’d contracted some horrible disease.

But the other day, out of exasperation, I decided to give it a shot. I had no plans to go out the following morning and, even if that changed, I had some concealer that would at least hide the redness.

Well, guess what? The boy was right. My eyes felt a little dry, but otherwise looked fine other than a few spots. Another few days of this, and they’re practically back to normal. See for yourself:


(This is right after I woke up, so I don’t have any makeup on and look kinda tired, but still — no rash!)

Moral of the story: Our bodies don’t NEED lotions, potions, creams and exfoliants. Sure, applying some type of oil every now and then (especially in the winter) helps against dryness, as does drinking plenty of water; and of course, if you have psoriasis or eczema, that will probably require some treatment, whether drug-based, food-based or both. But on the whole, it’s always better to opt for a minimalist hygiene routine — this benefits both yourself and the environment.