Saturday, October 31, 2009

Oh No - It's Frankenpug!

Mom thinks I'm the cutest Frankenpug ever and I would have to agree with her. This is me hanging out by Dad right before the fun began. Mom was going crazy with the camera on her phone and she even took some videos of me. Luckily, none of the videos look good so I don't have any movies to show you of Frankenpug in action.

Unlike last year when I had a few incidents with some trick-or-treaters, this year I had no problems. Even though it was only in the 40's and crazy windy, we had a pretty steady stream of ghouls and goblins.

Lots of trick-or-treaters took my picture. Mom didn't even have to pose me because my costume doesn't allow for much movement. Mom even got in some of the pictures, much to her dismay. Two people even told me they posted the pictures of me they took last Halloween on their Facebook pages. Baby, I'm a star!

I love all the pets I got from all the kids. Most of them said 'awwwww' when they saw me. Mom even left the door open and I could hear the kids shouting "Hi Frankenstubby!" from across the street. Everyone knows me in the neighborhood and everyone stops by to see me. It's like I have my own fan club.

Handing out candy and visiting with my fans is really hard work. I am so exhausted! I told Mom that I want to sleep in tomorrow, but she told me that I have to be up at my regular time because we are going to a bonfire. A what? What's a bonfire? She wouldn't tell me but she did tell me that there's going to be lots of food there. Food? I'm there!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Help Community Gardens

The season for giving isn't really a season, is it? It's really a year round effort and some companies are getting very creative in their efforts to reach out and get people involved in their causes.

One such company is Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi. Even if you're not a wine drinker, chances are you've heard of Robert Mondavi wines. After founding a successful winery in Napa Valley in the 1960's, Mondavi opened Woodbridge in 1979, outside his childhood hometown of Lodi, California. Fast forward to today and Robert Mondavi is one of THE names on the California wine scene.

Giving Through Growing is Mondavi's way of giving back to the community, specifically community gardens. If you're not familiar with community gardens, these little pieces of paradise in the middle of urban sprawl are what brings people together and gets them involved in their community. By teaching people to garden and grow their own food, the community feels not only a sense of pride in their surroundings, but also a sense of purpose. They are contributing to the success of the community while contributing to the success of themselves.

Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi is partnering with the American Community Gardening Association (ACGA) through their Giving Through Growing program. The mission of ACGA is to build community by increasing and enhancing community gardening and greening across the United States and Canada. This non-profit works with professionals, volunteers, and supporters to turn the dream of a community garden into a reality.

You can help the cause by sending an eseed. Eseeds are virtual seeds you grow in few clicks. Simply go to and enter your date of birth (you have to be 21years of age to send an eseed). Enter your name and e-mail, and the names and e-mails of people you wish to send eseeds to. Then pick the type of seed you would like to send. Mom chose basil because it smells so sweet. This is the message that is shown next to the seed packet:

With this little eSeed I’m helping grow entire communities. For every virtual eSeed I plant, Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi will donate $1 to the American Community Gardening Association, a nonprofit group that supports community gardens around the country. And I think that’s a great cause – community gardens encourage neighbors to work together to grow fresh produce and flowers in unused outdoor spaces.

$1 is donated just by sending an eseed. How easy is that? Participating in this program is a great way to help out communities without even leaving your house. Mom calls this virtual volunteering at its best. I call it a great idea.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wednesday Wag Out!

Nut Perfume

Mom doesn't wear traditional perfume anymore due to the chemicals they contain. These days she wears essential oils but she was really interested when I showed her this nut perfume.

This nut perfume comes from the Creme Perfume Company. They work with perfumers and local artisans in France to develop nature identical oil blends using certified organic ingredients. By using pure plant and fruit extracts, they create perfumes that are phthalate free and that contain no sulfates, petro-chemicals, synthetic dyes, etc. The bottom line is that there isn't anything harmful in the perfumes.

The perfumes are also cruelty free which means they weren't tested on animals. Yeah! Animals don't wear perfume and I can't believe that everyone doesn't know this. We have a nice, natural odor that is way more stinky than any old perfume.

There are many delicious scents to choose from and Mom is putting the one shown above, Forest Terre, on her Christmas list. Can you believe that you can get this cool perfume at Sephora? It's true. Mom tells me that they're getting lots of eco-friendly products and this makes her very happy.

Recycled Rubber Purse

Mom's Christmas list just keeps growing and growing. I guess I am partly to blame for this because I keep finding cool things for her.

In the past couple of years, Mom has been limiting the amount of leather she buys. She still has a few pairs of leather shoes but she doesn't carry leather purses anymore. This great looking purse may look like leather but it's made from used inner tubes. What a great way to upcycle!

The idea behind the handbags at English Retreads came when Heather English, owner and designer, was floating down Boulder Creek in an inner tube. Heather was a vegetarian that needed a new handbag, but she didn't want another leather bag. This is when the light bulb went off and the next thing you know, she's making handbags.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that this company is based in Boulder, Colorado. There are so many eco-friendly businesses in Colorado that it makes Mom want to move there. Wait. Didn't they just get a foot of snow in Denver? Knock yourself out Mom because I'm staying here in Chicago!

The coolest part about these handbags, besides the style, is that the inner tubes come from truck
stops in the Boulder area. Heather says it the best when she talks about the inner tubes.
"Just think of all the places these tubes have been," she says. "Now it's your turn to add to their miles and adventures." I couldn't have said it any better. Head on over to to get a handbag that has been around the block

Dog De-funkifier

I try not to take it so personally when Mom tells me that I smell. Of course I smell! I have a very unique pug odor that the chicks dig. This is why I never want to take a bath. It was not my idea to add this item to my list today, but Mom insisted that dog owners everywhere would be interested in it. Whatever!

Who would ever think that there would be a Dog De-funkifier? The name alone makes you want to check it out, that is unless you're a dog. This light cleansing mist doesn't cover up odor. Nope. It actually helps remove odors by using plant extracted essential oils. A couple sprays and your coat will be shiny, fresh, and conditioned.

The company that makes Dog De-funkifier, Dancing Dingo, is based in Austin, Texas and they are committed to giving back to the community. A percentage of all of Dog De-funkifier profits go directly to organizations dedicated to caring for homeless and in-need animals.

I'm not sure if any dogs out there want this Dog De-funkifier, but I bet their parents will. If so, they can buy it at, an online retailer that also gives back to the community. This Boulder, Colorado company lets you choose which non-profit organization will receive up to 10% of your purchase. How cool is that? A double win-win for everyone!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Meet Baxter!

Mom picked this book up from the library yesterday and it's already making her cry. She's going to read it to me but I don't think I will cry. At least, I hope not.

Isn't Baxter cute? He's a therapy dog that visits hospice patients and this book is about his adventures in that role. He's also a rescue dog and the book talks about how he got into the therapy business and how he got certified through Therapy Dogs International. Mom grabbed this book as soon as she saw it because it reminded her of the days when I was a therapy dog.

Baxter become a therapy dog when he was 14 years old. I became one before I was a year old. I didn't visit hospice patients but visited residents in a nursing/ rehabilitation facility. Some of the residents were only in the facility for a short time but some of them lived there for a long time.

I was part of therapy group that visited the same facility every month. Our group consisted of a Great Pyrenees, two Yorkies, a Beagle, a Cairn Terrier, two Old English Sheepdogs, and a Cocker Spaniel. There were lots of residents that were afraid of the bigger dogs, but no one was ever afraid of me. Whether I was walking down the hallways, sitting on a lap, visiting residents in the tv room, or laying on a bed, I loved every moment of my therapy work.

There was one resident in particular that I remember quite well. His name was Steven and he was 20 years old. He was in the military and was the designated driver of a car that was hit by a drunk driver. Steven was paralyzed and could only blink his eyes when I first met him, but he made lots of progress and was soon sitting up in bed moving his fingers. He couldn't speak but eventually could use a computer via a special device.

Steven's accident caused such problems for his family that his parents ended up getting divorced. His mother was at the facility every day taking care of him. She was completely dedicated to him and his care. She was an amazing woman.

I visited Steven every time I was at the facility. The nurses would always tell me that Steven was waiting for me and I would walk into his room and Mom would put me on his bed. Even when Steven couldn't pet me I would just sit on his bed and visit with him. I think I made him feel good just by being there.

Steve had progressed to the point where the facility had done all they could for him, so he was going to be moved to another facility far away. The last night I visited him Mom put me on his bed as usual. By this time, Steven could move his fingers and pet me. He pet and pet me as Mom talked to him and told him that she was going to miss him. When it was time to leave Steven's room he wouldn't let me go. He kept shaking his head and holding on to me because he didn't want me to leave. Mom had tears in her eyes because she felt Steven's pain. He was so comforted by me and he didn't know what the future held for him.

Steven finally let me go and we said our last goodbyes as we walked out of his room. Mom was crying by then and I was walking just a little slower than usual. Steven needed us and we would never see him again. I think about Steven a lot and I hope that he is doing okay.

Mom doesn't have any pictures of me doing therapy work, but this book is full of pictures Baxter visiting his patients. Pictures that tell the story of an extraordinary therapy dog and the joy he brought into the lives of those he touched. His story is told in a collection of moments, 36 of them in all. I love how each chapter is a moment because that's how life is measured, in moments.

I can't wait to hear Baxter's story because I know I will love it. I can't promise that I won't cry as Mom reads his story to me. I know that Mom will cry because she knows just how important therapy dogs are to patients in need. I know how important dogs are to everyone they meet because I have touched many lives. I'm just a pug that loves people and loves to be loved in return.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Shop Independently Owned Businesses

This past Saturday was International Day of Climate Action. The purpose of this day was to raise awareness of the climate change happening around the world and to introduce the number 350 to people. 350 is the most important number in the world and it's what scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. But don't think of 350 as simply a number because it's really more like a symbol of what we need to do as a planet.

Parts per million is simply a way of measuring the concentration of different gases, and means the ratio of the number of carbon dioxide (CO2) molecules to all of the molecules in the atmosphere. We need CO2 in our atmosphere because without some of it and other greenhouse gases, our planet would be way too cold for us to live on. It's a delicate balance this CO2 stuff. We need some, but not too much or problems happen like they are today.

According to, our atmosphere contained 275 parts per million until about 200 years ago when things started to change. All of sudden we started burning coal, gas, and oil to produce energy and goods and the amount of carbon in the atmosphere started to rise. We were taking millions of years worth of natural resources that had been stored underground and releasing it into the atmosphere. Fast forward 200 years and today there are 390 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere and this number is rising. So the number is higher, but is it too high? Scientists say yes and they claim that today's climate change is the effect of this high number. We need to lower this number to 350 to get things back in balance.

Lots of people gathered on Saturday and the number 350 was spread all over the world. More people than ever were made aware of this number and its impact, and hopefully they are making changes in their lives to help reduce this number. While Mom and I viewed pictures of celebrations, listened to reports, and watched video highlights all centered on 350, there was another 350 that we were introduced to. This other 350 is something we had thought about but hadn't realized a movement was started to do something about it. Do you know about this other 350?

The 3/50 project is very different from the 350 project. Where the 350 project raises awareness about CO2 levels in the atmosphere and changes you can make to help lower this number, the 3/50 project raises awareness about shopping independently owned businesses to help the economy. Started just seven months ago, this movement has been slow to catch on but is starting to gain momentum.

The 3/50 project's motto is "Saving the brick and mortars our nation is built on". They ask the question "What three independently owned businesses would you miss if they disappeared?" Mom started to think about this and the more she did, the more she realized that things have really changed since she was a child.

Back in the day, say the 1970's, you shopped for groceries at an independent grocery store or at a local chain grocery store. You bought food, paper goods, cleaning supplies, etc. at the grocery store. This is very similiar to today except you probably shop for these items at a big chain store. Even our local grocery stores, Jewel and Dominick's, were acquired by large corporations a few years ago.

If you needed medicine, you visited a pharmacy that was independently owned. You knew the pharmacist and probably spoke to him each time you visited his store. This was the case in Mom's neighborhood. The pharmacy was on busy corner in the neighborhood and it was really the only place to go to buy your medical needs. Dad even worked at this pharmacy when he was in high school. Despite the fact that Walgreens started in Illinois, not too far from Chicago, Mom cannot remember going to a Walgreens until the 1980's.

When you wanted to eat out, which wasn't very often, you dined at an independently owned restaurant. There were many in Mom's neighborhood, including diners, pizza parlors, and taverns. In the 1970's McDonald's even moved in the neighborhood, but you only went there occasionally. Mom says it was a big deal to go there and back then they didn't have drive thrus. Huh? No drive thrus? I'm glad I wasn't around back then.

The bottom line is that every time you needed something, be it a product or service, you shopped at independently owned businesses because that really was your only option. Today the number of these businesses is rapidly dwindling. Is this because the large corporate stores and big box stores moved in forcing the little guys out? Yes and no. Why did people stop shopping at the independently owned stores and taking all their business to the big guys? Better product selection? Better prices? Convenience? All of the above? Yes and no. There really is no single answer.

Back to the 3/50 project. The 3 is for the question about the 3 stores disappearing, but what is the 50 all about? According to the 3/50 project website, if half the employed population spent $50 each month in locally owned independent businesses, it would generate more than $42.6 billion in revenue. That's a lot of money! That would really help the economy and keep independent businesses in business.

But there's another number to this project and that's 68. For every $100 spent in locally independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll, and other expenditures. If you spend your money at a chain store, only $43 stays local and if you shop online nothing goes to the community. This is really eye opening and again you can see how this affects local economies. This idea conflicts with what we have been taught about shopping online and how it is better for the environment to do so, but this model only really works when there is no alternative.

It's time to really think about what you buy and where you buy it. Let's say you want to buy a book. Where do you shop? What about electronics? Shampoo? Wrapping paper? School supplies? Dog food? Light bulbs? Toilet paper? Jeans? I'm betting that most of us buy these items at the big stores like Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart, Office Max, PetSmart, Home Depot, and Old Navy.

So what to do? We live in the suburbs where there are hardly any independently owned stores in which to buy your day to day needs. There are some local grocers and Mom does shop them, but for the most part if you need what you need you go to the big guys. But there are ways to support local businesses aside from shopping. Most dry cleaners are independently owned. That's a good thing. Mom and Dad both get their hair cut at independently owned salons. Dad gets the cars washed at place that is independent. I think you guys get the idea. There are ways to spend money at independently owned businesses without shopping.

But this movement is really about shopping independently owned businesses. It's not about not shopping at the big guys but about committing $50 each month that you normally spend at the big guys and shopping at the independently owned businesses. You may have to go out of your way to find these little guys, but hopefully they are out there. And they will remain out there if you shop them. Pick 3, spend 50, and save your local economy.

This movement is about raising awareness of the need for independent businesses and how vital they are to our local communities. Without these little guys our foundation is unstable. Like the motto says, these stores are what are nation is built on. Without a stable foundation, a building will collapse. Without a stable economy, our communities will collapse. Both 350 projects are vital and more important today than ever before. These projects need us to get involved, spread the word, and take actions to ensure the future. Think 350 and 3/50 and be part of the change.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Puglet's No-Contest Contest

Remember my friend Puglet from the Hansen's soda contest? Well he didn't win that contest and then he entered another contest, but things got ugly. Puglet is not one to give up very easily so he decided to create his own contest.

Puglet's No-Contest Contest is his way of getting back at the man. Contests are suppose to be fun free for alls and that's exactly what this contest is. This is a cute photo contest and all you have to do is send Puglet the cutest photo of yourself. That's it. Winners will be chosen randomly by Puglet and he will even post of video of the selection process.

But what would a contest be without prizes? Puglet thought of everything, I tell you. There is a prize for first place and also for the three finalists. Puglet has even so graciously offered up a prize for a the best non-dog winner. Isn't he the best?

Puglet has received so many cute photos already and he even received an entry from Romania. I don't know where that's at but it sounds like it's far away. You will be amazed at how many times you say "awwwww" when viewing the online gallery of contestants. This is the photo I submitted because I think I look really cute in it.

This photo was also made into an Andy Warhol-esque canvas that I gave Dad for Christmas a few years ago.
Head on over to to enter the No-Contest Contest today. The contest closes on Halloween at the stroke of midnight (PDT) with the winners being chosen the following day. Good luck!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Levi's - Caring For Our Planet

Mom is kind of old school when it comes to jeans. She isn't into the fancy designer labels because she is more concerned with fit and comfort than fashion. She still loves Levi's after all these years and wears them more than any other brand. When I told her about this new program that Levi's started she told me that I should tell you guys about it.

Levi Strauss is teaming up with Goodwill to educate consumers on how to lower the lifecycle impact of their jeans. What does this mean exactly? It means that Levi's wants you to take care of your jeans so that they last longer. They also want to offer you options on what to do with your jeans when they have worn out their welcome. The longer you (or someone else) have your jeans, the less impact they will have on the planet. The idea is to make them last as long as possible. I know this sounds counter intuitive to a successful business model but caring about the environment is good for business.

The new initiative, A Care Tag for Our Planet, includes online and in-store messaging and beginning in January 2010 will include new care tags on all jeans. The tags will encourage you to wash your jeans (as well as all your clothes) in cold water, line dry them, wash them less frequently (using common sense of course), and donate them to Goodwill (or any other type of store or non-profit) when you no longer want/need them.

Cold water washing is a hard option for most people to undertake, so Mom suggests washing every other load in cold water at first. Heating water for use in your washing machine uses a lot of energy and isn't really necessary. Soon you will wonder why you ever used warm (or hot) water in the first place. Washing clothes less frequently ensures your clothes will last longer because washing takes a real toll on most clothes. According to Levi's, washing in cold water and line drying can reduce the lifecycle climate change impacts from jeans by more than 50 percent.

Levi Strauss has been in the jean making business for over 155 years. They are committed to sustainability and were the first in their industry to set labor and environmental requirements for the partners who create their clothes. We all remember reading a few years ago about sweatshop labor practices that some labels employ. These practices are worse than you can imagine and it's great to see companies not give in to this way of doing business.

They've also set standards for water quality in their manufacturing locations. Worldwide, manufacturing uses more water than any other business and what is in the used water and where it end up is anyone's guess, but not Levi's. By setting forth sound business principles, they've shown the rest of the world that they care about what happens to the water onces it leaves their facilities. Not only what where it goes but what's in it. This is water that people will drink, bathe in, and water their crops with. This water must be clean and it is the responsibility of the manufacturers to ensure that it is.

By being committed to achieving carbon neutrality, they are reducing their energy consumption, thus moving to the use of 100 percent renewable energy. Yeah! Renewable energy is where it's at!

The cotton industry is the most pesticide laden industry in the world and three years ago Levi's came out with an organic cotton line of denim called Levi's Eco. The cost of these jeans is slightly higher than traditional cotton jeans, but they are better for the environment overall. Think about it this way, all those pesticides that are used to grow the cotton are still in the fibers of the jeans you are wearing. Pesticides on your clothes means pesticides on you.

As if all this weren't enough, Levi's is also piloting projects in which they recycle old jeans to use as building insulation and other materials. Mom and I have seen old jeans being used as insulation in houses on HGTV and we both thought it was a great idea but we didn't know who was behind it. Kudos to everyone who thinks outside the box to reuse and repurpose everyday items.

Okay, now for some quick facts from the Levi's website:

The average person in the US throws away 68 pounds of clothing and textiles a year. 68 pounds! That's like 3 pugs! Why is it that people throw out so much? Why don't they give it away or recycle it? One man's trash is always another man's treasure, so please think twice about throwing your clothes away.

Almost half of the water that is used throughout the life of a pair of jeans takes place after you bring them home from the store. This fact shocked Mom because cotton is the most water intensive crop that is grown. In fact, growing cotton accounts for 2.6% of the world’s yearly water usage. Just for cotton! According to, it takes around 1,800 gallons of water to grow enough cotton to produce just one pair of jeans. The bottom line is, you are using more than 1,800 gallons of water just by washing your jeans.

Even if you don't wear Levi's, this information is for you. It's for everyone because we are all in this together.

Monday, October 19, 2009

North Carolina Takes A Stand!

A few weeks ago, North Carolina banned plastic bottles from their landfills. Yeah! This is great news that will hopefully propel other states to take the same action.

What is behind the ban? It's simple - North Carolina wants to up their recycling. They have a statewide goal of recycling 2 million tons of stuff by 2012. They currently recycle 1.3 million tons so they have quite a lot of work to do and that's where the ban comes in. In a state where only one in five plastic bottles gets recycled, this ban will be a great help.

Having a ban is great, but how will they enforce it? This is always the hard part. It's one thing to say you're going to do something and another thing to actually do it. The ban will be enforced at disposal facilities such as landfills and transfer stations by the N.C. Division of Waste Management. Enforcement will not take place at the actual point of disposal, like homes and businesses, so everyone will have to do their part to ensure that plastic bottles don't end up where they don't belong. Since most garbage is placed in bags prior to being picked up for disposal, I wonder how physically the ban will be enacted. Will the disposal facilities rip open every bag looking for plastic bottles? I think not.

So with all those plastic bottles getting recycled instead of landfilled, what is North Carolina going to do with them? Great question! They are building the nation's largest facility to recycle PET bottles (PET is most commonly used to create water and soda bottles). When completed, the facility will be able to process 280 million pounds of material per year and one of their primary partners will be carpet manufacturer Shaw Industries Group. Shaw will turn recycled PET into polyester for use in carpeting. How cool is that? DAK Americas is also a partner in the recycling venture and they will sell their shares on the open market. The joint venture, Clear Path Recycling, brings together the world's largest carpet manufacturer, Shaw and the second largest PET resin and largest Polyester Staple Fiber producer in the Americas, DAK.

So how big of an impact will recycling 280 million pounds of plastic bottles have on the environment? Would you believe that more than 1 million cubic yards per year of landfill space will be conserved? It's true. That's a lot of space. Also, the energy savings related to the Clear Path Recycling operation is equal to enough energy to power 18,000 U.S. homes for a year. Approximately 100 jobs will also be created and that's really great news.

There are so many ways to use recycled materials. I'm glad that manufacturers are getting creative and starting to use them. By saving precious resources and using what is already available, the cost savings to manufacturers really adds up. The cost savings to Mother Earth is huge as well and she appreciates every little bit she gets.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Have You Met Alice?

I met Alice on Sunday and then she came over on Wednesday. If you haven't met Alice yet, you are really missing out.

So who is Alice? Well, Alice is not a person but a team. A team of people that are changing the way you shop for everyday items online. Their mission is to make your home run smarter, to give you extra time to spend on the important things in your life, and, of course, to make sure you never run out of toilet paper again. Sounds great, right? But what exactly is Alice?

Alice is a new way of shopping. You buy what you need, at great prices, and with free shipping. Manufacturers sell directly to you, via Alice, providing you with the best prices available. Alice also helps you manage your everyday items. You simply tell Alice what you buy and Alice goes to work - literally. Alice organizes the products, finds coupons and deals, reminds you when you are running low on items, and of course helps you order only what you need. Like their website says, everyone needs an Alice.

Okay, by now you've probably figured out where the name Alice comes from. Yep, she was the housekeeper on The Brady Bunch. There were so many times when Mrs. Brady would say "Oh Alice, I don't know what we would do without you." Alice kept the household running in tip-top shape. She was the big toe. Without her the family would have fallen apart.

But, let me back up a little. I found Alice for Mom because she was looking for new laundry detergent and one of the only places to get the brand she wanted was Alice. After logging on to Alice, Mom found what she was looking for and then looked around to see what else they had. Admittedly, Alice doesn't carry a lot of what we use in our house but I'm sure that will change as Alice grows.

Mom placed her laundry detergent order on Sunday and it arrived on Wednesday. "Ding-dong, Alice here!"

I've never seen Mom get so camera crazy with a delivery box before. I guess Alice will do that to people.

Alice even sent some free samples in this cute little bag. Again, Mom was so excited about the bag. What is the big deal? I won't be surprised if she uses this bag as a gift bag. Please don't be mad if you get this 95% post-consumer fiber, printed with water-based inks, printed in the USA bag. You may even get the samples that came with it.

Mom wonders how Alice chose these samples for her. She's convinced there's some crazy mathematical algorithm behind the sample selection. Right. That would explain why she got laundry detergent and moisturizer. Mom is not familiar with either product, but checked them both out to determine if she would try them.

Mom couldn't find the ingredient list for the laundry detergent on the Dropps website. The website advertises the pacs as having a smaller footprint, no waste, and 6X concentrated. That's all fine and good but there is waste, like in the package the pacs come in. She likes the convenience factor of the pacs, but she will not try them until she finds out what's inside them.

Mom looked up the moisturizer on the Skin Deep website and its score was 5 out of 10, with 10 being the worst. She will not be using this because she is diligently trying to use only products that fall into the 0-2 range. Sorry Derma-e.

How smart is Alice to use EarthAware air pillows instead of packing peanuts? These little pillows are made from recycled plastic and are fully recyclable - #4. They could also be recycled via using them to send a package. Again, don't be surprised if you open a box from Mom and these little pillows tumble out.

But this is the reason Mom likes Alice. She had been reading about Vaska laundry detergent for the past month and when she started running low on her normal brand Ecos, she finally ordered it. Ecos has worked great on our laundry, but Mom likes finding and trying new products. A load of laundry is currently in the washing machine, hopefully getting nice and clean with Vaska. Mom so wants to give it two thumbs up, so keep you paws and fingers crossed.

As for Alice, Mom gives her two thumbs up. Shipping was super fast and did I mention it's always free? Ya gotta love that! Mom's shipment arrived pretty quick because Alice is based in Middleton, WI, which is right outside of Madison in the heart of Badgerland. Check out Alice today and see if she can help you simplify your life. Everyone needs an Alice, right?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wednesday Wag Out!

The Anti Bottle

Mom always tells me that she can never have enough water bottles, so when I found this anti bottle, I knew she'd want one. Or two. Or three.

This anti bottle is so cool because it doesn't take up any space when it's empty. Unlike a traditional water bottle, the anti bottle is made to be rolled, folded, or flattened when not in use. How cool is that? The neat carabiner means that you can clip this little guy on anything you like. There's even a place to write your name on it so that everyone knows it yours.

Made from BPA-free ploymer, the inside is odor, taste, and stain resistant. How many bottles can make that claim? You can even put it in the dishwasher. Mom can't do that with her bottles so the anti-bottle has one up on those. Dad will also love it because you can fill it with water and then freeze it. He needs his water really chilled unlike Mom who will drink hers at room temperature.

Since the anti-bottle ships flat, it takes up 90% less space and uses less fuel to transport than traditional bottles. The packaging is even printed using wind power on 100% post-consumer paper. It keeps getting better and better! These guys even participate in 1% for the planet so you know they are committed to doing the right thing.

This would be the perfect gift for everyone on your holiday list so start your holiday shopping today at

Soap Hope

Most of you know that Mom is a bar soap fanatic. She loves the fact that there are so many great, natural scents on the market and that most bar soaps involve little to no waste. I found this cool little soap company last week and it is now Mom's favorite place to buy all the soap she needs.

Soap Hope is your one stop shop for all things soap. The mission of the company is simply stated on their website: "Every purchase goes toward helping women in poverty. We invest 100% of our profits into microloans for underprivileged women." What a great idea! Their website goes on to state that they believe a business can accomplish all of the following goals:

Provide high quality products that are truly good for customers
Offer competitive pricing to customers
Provide excellent customer service
Give employees a positive, healthful working environment
Be responsible for, and continually improve, environmental impacts
Leverage profits and business activities to improve the lives of others

They call their program "Good Returns" and they hope to invest 100% of their profits for a period of one year into several antipoverty organizations. And since you can buy great products at great prices, it just makes sense to buy them from Soap Hope. But it only works if we all band together and use our purchasing powers wisely. We market the company by telling our friends and neighbors, posting it on our blogs and Facebook, and literally screaming it from the treetops that this is THE place to buy soap. We do our part by buying great products and Soap Hope does their part by changing the lives of those in poverty. A true win-win for everyone!

I got so caught up in the company that I almost forgot about the soap. Soap Hope does all the research on the brands they carry so that you can be guarantee the soap you buy is free of bad stuff that you don't need and don't want on your body. Pangea soap is one of Mom's favorites and she can't ever remember seeing it for $3.99 before. That's over 1/2 off to smell good and feel good about buying something that will change the lives of others. Head on over to to buy some great soaps today.

Recycled Speakers

Mom takes her music with her everywhere she goes, but for some reason she never bought speakers so that she could share her music with others. Not that she's not into sharing, I just think she never found a cool enough pair of speakers until now.

Not only do these speakers fold up for handy transport, they're even made from recycled material. You don't even need external batteries or power to use them and that makes Mom doubly happy.

These handy speakers deliver 1 watt of power each and are compatible with any device that has a headphone jack, like an ipod or iphone. Mom likes this design because it beachy and she plans on taking these speakers to the beach on her next vacation.

OrigAudio, the origami of audio, is a company committed to giving back to the community. They are partnering with Music National Service, a nonprofit enterprise that supports and expands the use of music to address important civic and social needs. All businesses, big or small, should give back, not because they have to but because they want to. Helping out is what we all do and it makes you feel good to support a business that supports others.

Mom is putting these speakers on her Christmas list, but hopefully they will be here before Christmas so Mom can take them on vacation. If you know someone who loves their music and wants to share it with the world, check out these cool speakers at

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Get Your Pumpkins Ready!

I've been MIA for a couple of days due to a family emergency. Everything is okay now, but for the past few day things were kind of scary.

Dad had been experiencing shortness of breath on and off for the past couple of weeks. On Wednesday it got worse and by Thursday it was really bad. He called the doctor and long story short, ended up in the emergency room at Lake Forest Hospital. They did a CT Scan on his chest and found 2 pulmonary embolisms - blood clots. Pulmonary embolisms typically (90% of the time) begin in your legs and travel to your lungs. Sometimes they keep traveling and if they make it to your heart, well I think you know the rest. Dad's mom died from a pulmonary embolism that traveled to her heart causing cardiac arrest, so Dad was freaking out.

Dad was admitted to the hospital Thursday night and came home yesterday afternoon. They wanted to keep him for 5 days but Dad told them he needed to get home because I missed him. The doctor would only agree to let him go home if he could administer his own meds via shots in the stomach - yuk! He needs to rest for a couple of days and go back to the doctor tomorrow to make sure that his blood is thinning. Dad resting means Stubby is resting to keep him comfortable and keep him company.

Mom is getting antsy with all this resting and she wants to go get some pumpkins. I don't know if she's going to carve the pumpkins, but I found out about this contest last week and I think she should carve my picture into a pumpkin so she can enter the contest.

The contest is from ModCloth and you enter by posting a picture of your carving on their Facebook group by midnight, October 31. You can create one of your own ModCloth inspired designs or use one of their pumpkin patterns. The only pattern that comes up when you click on their patterns is the one at the top of my post. That's Winston and he's cute, but I'm cuter.

The winner of the contest will receive a $100 gift certificate and ModCloth Halloween Prize Pack, but the real winners are animals. For every photo submitted, ModCloth will donate $5 to The Washington Area Humane Society. How cool is that?

So get your pumpkins ready and get carving!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wednesday Wag Out!

Breast Cancer Awareness Beauty

Mom loves Jane Iredale makeup. Mom doesn't wear a lot of makeup but the makeup she does wear doesn't contain any of the icky stuff that traditional makeup has. This Breast Cancer Awareness lipstick and lip gloss are, of course, right up her alley since she loves supporting a good cause and she loves anything pink.

The Christina lip stick is named in honor of Christina Applegate who was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. After undergoing a double mastectomy, Christina is cancer free and is now the face of breast cancer awareness.

For every lip stick sold, Jane Iredale will donate $2 to Living Beyond Breast Cancer, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering all women affected by breast cancer to live as long as possible with the best quality of life.

This is truly a feel good and look good splurge. The lip gloss shown, In The Pink, was last year's product and is still available. Buy the lip stick at and the lip gloss at Show your support for breast cancer and go pink with either (or both) of these great products.

Jimi Wallet

They call this the wallet for people who hate wallets. I don't carry a wallet because I wear my id around my neck and I don't need money. But if you know someone who doesn't like to carry a wallet or who needs something a little different, this is the thing for them.

Not only is this non-wallet compact and water resistant but it's also made from recycled plastic.
It comes in lots of cool colors and it's just big enough to fit the essentials like your id, a few credit cards, and some money. Did I mention it's also made in the good old U.S.A.? And that the company that makes them invests 1% of their revenue in the environment via 1% For The Planet program? You couldn't ask for more!

Head on over to to get a cool Jimi wallet or as I like to say non-wallet. I think this would make a great Christmas gift for Dad so don't tell him about it.

Water Bottles

When I read about these bottles this morning I was immediately drawn to their catch phrase - fill, chill and go! Love it!

These cool 16oz bottles are BPA free and come in a set of five with their own tray that slides into your refrigerator. Just fill, chill and go. These little guys are even dishwasher safe so they are very eco-friendly. No more excuses to buy bottled water when you have these around the house.

If you aren't so keen on plastic, they also come in aluminum. If you need smaller bottles for kids, they have those too.

With these bottles you will always have a perfectly chilled drink to go, so check them out at

Monday, October 5, 2009

Vote For Puglet!

This is my friend Puglet. This photo of him drinking soda won him $500 in the Hansen's Loves San Francisco online photo campaign (week 2). He is now a finalist for the $5,000 grand prize which pits all the winners from the four weeks against each other in a head-to-head online voting extravaganza. His human is going to give him a share of the $5,000 grand prize if he wins and he is going to donate it to the Pug Rescue of Sacramento.

Puglet lives in San Francisco with his brother Dutch and their human. Puglet and Dutch are both recycled dogs and their human says they are better than new dogs. Puglet goes on great adventures, is learning to fly, and has had several near death experiences. His human takes awesome pictures of him every day and I am surprised every time I visit his blog because I never know how his human is going to get him to pose. It's amazing what a pug will do for a few Cheerios!

This little dude is only one year old and is already a star! Please vote for Puglet to win the grand prize so he can help pugs in need. You can vote three times during a 24-hour period and it doesn't cost you a thing to vote. In addition to awarding cash prizes, Hansen's is also donating 10¢ for every online vote (up to $10,000) to San Francisco school gardens through the National Garden Association.

Voting started today, so head on over to Hansen's to vote for Puglet. Voting runs through October 11th, so like we say in Chicago, vote early and vote often!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

It's Fair Trade Month

There are so many causes this month that it's hard to choose just one to blog about. A lot of my blogging friends have posted about Breast Cancer Awareness, so now that we have that covered, I've decided to write about Fair Trade.

October is Fair Trade month and as tells us, there are 31 days, 31 ways to make a difference. I'm not suggesting purchasing a different product every day, but acknowledging that you could makes all the difference. But what exactly is Fair Trade?

The Fair Trade system ensures that people along every step of a product's supply chain receive fair wages, that workers and communities are treated with dignity, and that artisans and producers take steps to preserve the environment. Sounds easy, right? Unfortunately, not everyone in the business world plays by the same rules, but fortunately, as the word spreads about the Fair Trade way of doing business, lots of people are starting to realize that is the right way to do things.

The supply chain for most products is really long and most people don't even know where their products come from. The conventional supply chain works something like this:

A producer creates a product. This product is sold to a middle man who then sells it to an exporter. The exporter sells it to a U.S. broker who turns around and sells to a big company. The big company sells it to a distributor who sells it to a store where you buy it. Whew! That's a lot of hands touching just one product. It's anyone's guess where all the raw materials originated that make up the product come from, so you as the consumer are even further removed from your end product. Acres of rainforest are destroyed every day to provide raw materials for the most basic of items. The conditions that producers work under are generally unhealthy. From pesticides, to biohazards, to sweat shop labor, no one should be exposed to sub par working conditions. The overuse of pesticides is not needed in order to get the results that people want.

Compare all of that to the Fair Trade supply chain:

A producer creates a product that is sold to a distributor. The distributor sells it to a store where you buy it. No middle man. No exporter. No big company. By offering a fair price to the producer, you are buying into a system that respects the true cost of doing business, rather than seeking the lowest costs at the expense of workers and the environment. This is really at the heart of Fair Trade - trading peoples lives and livelyhoods to create cheap products for consumers to buy. Why not buy a product that doesn't support these ideals?

There are lots of Fair Trade products in the marketplace. Most people have heard of Fair Trade coffee, chocolate, tea, and jewelry, but are you aware of Fair Trade flowers, sports balls, and wine? Fair Trade flowers have been for sale in the U.S. since 2008. These flowers are grown and harvested under healthy working conditions for the farmers. Fair Trade soccer ball production began in 2002 and this means no child labor is involved in producing these balls, in addition to fair wages and a healthy work environment for the workers . Fair Trade wine has been imported to the U.S. since 2007, primarily from South Africa, Chile, and Argentina. In South Africa, the vineyard workers maintain a 25% interest in the winery.

By developing relationships with producers, consumers know exactly where their products come from. They know that the people who create the products are able to live a decent life because they are paid wages that enable them to provide for their families. These people are treated with respect and work under conditions that promote a healthy environment. The raw materials used to create the products are harvested in a sustainable manner, thus preserving the environment for generations to come. Communities thrive where Fair Trade is practiced.

I encourage all of you to explore the many options of Fair Trade products. Simply look for the Fair Trade label to ensure the product is certified Fair Trade. Try some products this month in order to promote Fair Trade ideals. Get involved in the production of the products you purchase. Know where the raw materials come from. Understand and support the people that produce the items. Do the right thing and learn about Fair Trade. There has never been a better time.