Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bring Out Your Inner Nymph!

Confession... I am one of those seemingly rare and elusive creatures known as, Woman Who Hates Clothes Shopping.  I do not delight in adding new pieces to my wardrobe, or in finding the 'perfect shade of blue to match my eyes'.  Racks upon racks of  newly arrived stock do not inspire endless possibilities for self expression, but a sense of being utterly overwhelmed.  I can practically hear my neurons short-circuiting when confronted with this scenario.  And the sizing - how can I be a "petite extra-large"?  Why must the cuffs of my sleeves reach my knees in order for tops to properly fit around my, uhm...upper torso?  Illogical. Crazy-making.

With this in mind, you can imagine my astonishment at discovering clothing that instantly inspired joy, curiosity, and admirationMahaDevi Design (Vancouver, BC) offers locally created, sustainable clothing made from natural fibres including hemp, bamboo, wool, and soy.  The clothes are, in a word, magical.

Freyja, founder of MahaDevi Design, and her business partner, Jules create pieces "inspired by patterns from nature and goddess energy".   Yoga enthusiasts and dancers will find many of these pieces fashionable, comfortable options to wear.  For the men in your life, a line of hoodies and tanks.

Adorable baby clothes are made-to-order by Freyja from the softest bamboo blends and merino wool.  Check out the unique accessories, particularly if you have a flair for the whimsical or dramatic! You can find MahaDevi pieces at select retailers in British Columbia and the United States, or orders can be placed through their website.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Earth Elementals Soaps

My teeth hurt.  Earlier this year, I became painfully aware that neither the sensitivity I was experiencing in my teeth nor my receding gums were going away any time soon. Following some online research, I set out to find a Canadian company that sold a natural, fluoride-free "tooth soap" product, similar to those I saw available on several American sites.  To my surprise - and disappointment - I was unable to find one.  Making a list of the tooth soap's basic ingredients, and began emailing various soap makers here in Canada.

I felt like I'd hit the jackpot when Lynn Cummings, owner of Earth Elementals Soaps in Hammonds Plains, NS, responded to my inquiry.  Not only did she not think I was nuts for requesting a soap suitable for brushing teeth, but she did have just the soap, with the pure, non-toxic ingredients I was looking for.  (Coincidentally, the soap is called, "The Basics"!)

Containing nothing more than saponified oils of olive, coconut, and palm and distilled water, this seems about as pure as a soap can get.  It even smelled remarkably clean. A redundant thing to say, I suppose, when describing a cleaning agent!  What I mean is there was a pleasant and distinct lack of the chemical scents I usually associate with soap.

I encourage you to visit Lynn's lovely website.  In addition to offering a wide variety of scrumptious smelling soaps ("Harvest Moon Pumpkin" gets rave reviews), she carries lip balms, eco-friendly biodegradable laundry powder, scented spritzers, coco butter bath melts, body creams, and even a 100% natural dog shampoo, inspired by her black Labrador retriever, Raoul!  All Lynn's products are simply and tastefully packaged.

Other fab things about Earth Elementals Soaps...
  • Earth Elementals Soap use only plant-based oils and butters, essential oils, herbs, and botanicals.
  • Absolutely no synthetics, dyes, petroleum-based products or artificial scents are used
  • Soap labels are printed on 100% recycled paper
  • Two varieties unscented soap and a laundry detergent are available, suitable for very sensitive skin
  • $1.00 from the purchase of every dog shampoo bar goes to the Nova Scotia SPCA. 
  • $1.00 of every bar of Treehugger soap (pictured here) will be donated to the Hope for Wildlife Society
  • Products are available to purchase through the Earth Elementals Website, shipped across Canada and internationally.  Customized gift baskets are available.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, I have been using The Basics as my tooth soap since March.  I won't ever ever love the taste - after all, soap tastes like soap!  The benefits, though, have been worth it.  There has been a definite improvement in tooth sensitivity and my gums appear healthier since starting to brush with The Basics.   My dental check-up this summer went smoothly, and I was told, "Whatever you're doing, keep it up!"  I had a bit of a giggle imagining my hygienist's reaction had I sprung my secret on her.

Note: This is NOT a recommendation that anyone toss their usual toothpaste and start foaming at the mouth with soap instead.  Please do your own research before deciding whether to try alternative dental care methods.  Better still, consult with your naturopath or dentist.  And NEVER use standard commercial soap for this purpose.

More toothy goodness in an upcoming blog....

Monday, October 25, 2010

Chocolate Bliss in The Maritimes

Ahhh, chocolate....  I simply must begin by blogging about one of the most divine substances on earth.  Where would we be without chocolate to make life's sweet moments sweeter and to help lift us out of our blues?

The Appleton Chocolate Company, based in Wentworth, Nova Scotia, produces my hands-down favorite chocolates on the planet.  These nuggets of Heaven, double-dipped in French or Belgian chocolate, are literally the first things I buy when I am in NS visiting family (usually either at Jennifers of Nova Scotia, on Spring Garden Rd, or Sweet Retreat in Park Lane Mall).  A variety of flavors are lovingly created by hand, featuring sweet ingredients that are abundant in the province (e.g., wild blueberries, cranberries, and maple syrup).  They are wrapped in colourful foil and sold in packets of 6 or 8, enough to share with your very best friends, or squirreled away to savor later by yourself, if you prefer. (And I often do. With a piping hot cup of tea.  Did I mention I'm a Maritimer?) They are also available for purchase through the company's website loose, in charming decorative tins, or elegant boxes, perfect for gift-giving. And who wouldn't be thrilled to receive a gift of these mouth watering sweets!  Upon request, customized wedding favors can also be created for your special day.

Do take a moment to read the "Who We Are" section on company website.  My family knew Alan, the founder of Appleton Chocolates, when he was still making chocolates as a hobby!  It has been wonderful to see his business flourish, and though I haven't seen him in almost 15 years, I remain a loyal and satisfied customer.

For an alternative chocolate experience, try "raw" chocolate.  I discovered Rawthentic Chocolate last summer at the Historic Keith's Brewery Farmers Market last summer. Co-owner Reynard Bockart, decked out in snazzy Willy Wonka attire (including top hat), handed out product samples, answered questions, and genuinely enjoyed every minute of interacting with the public!  Part of the attraction of raw chocolate, in addition to the intense, pure taste, is that it is made without milk, making it a suitable treat for the lactose intolerant.  It's main ingredient, cacao, is said to be one of the highest sources of antioxidants and is a good source of magnesium.  Cacao is often reported by raw chocolate enthusiasts to induce a mild, natural "high".  Could just be hype.  All I know is, after eating the Rawthentic Fudge (it's made with coconut butter, and is my favorite of his products), I felt a fantastic surge of energy.  Not your average sugar buzz, which always seems to have an edge to it, but a feeling of bliss and well-being.  I'm not kidding. This is good stuff.  

Other Rawthentic Chocolate products include chocolate bars, Sun bars (including ingredients like sunflower seeds, goji berries, honey, and cacao nibs), Kapowie bars (which consist of a plethora of raw, nutrition-packed ingredients), heart-shaped chocolates, and macaroons.

Rawthentic chocolate can be purchased at the Halifax Seaport Farmers Market at pier 21 and also at the Historic Keith's Brewery Market (Halifax).  Please contact Reynard through his website or by calling (902) 455-5153 with inquires re: online purchasing and shipping.