Friday, October 22, 2010

Washington D.C. Green Festival This Weekend

One of my favorite green festivals is this weekend at the DC convention center. There are lots of green vendors as well as environmental/green organizations, as well as speakers. You can also get discounts for admission (see their website: if you buy a ticket, you can get 'green festival bucks' and use them as a discount for vendors. Also if you are a student, senior, ride a bike or took public transportation you can get a discount and the GF bucks too), or free admission (for free admission: if you shop at MOM's organic market and bring a $25 receipt from october, OR if you become a member of Green America--which is one of the non profit environmental organizations that sponsors the green festivals--you can get free admission).

Next month (in November) there is also one in San Francisco.

There are others in other cities around the country, but these are the last two of the year.

Check out the green festival website for more information for both the Washington D.C. and San Francisco green festivals

Link to Green America's website

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Coconut Bliss: Ice Cream with agave (Hypoglycemic/Diabetic and Vegetarian/Vegan Info and Foods)

I have not had ice cream for several years (I am hypoglycemic and nearly all brands have sugar in them which makes me feel sick). But this year I found a brand that I can actually eat without setting off my symptoms too much.

I just found a coconut milk based ice cream earlier this year called 'Coconut Bliss'. It is soy, dairy, and gluten free and sweetened with just agave. It is also vegan! It just has coconut milk, agave, and things like cocoa, vanilla, pineapple, etc (depends on the flavor). And it's organic and made with fair trade ingredients!

It is so rich and creamy, and delicious. The chocolate one tastes like this coconut chocolate pudding that I make sometimes (just started making that last year sometime). So far I've tried the coconut bars, dark chocolate, and chocolate hazelnut fudge (which is especially yummy). Even if you don't have blood sugar issues, I recommend trying it because it is really good!

PLEASE note that most of the flavors do not contain any cane sugar but at least one of them does (Mint Galactica, because it has chocolate chips that are made with organic cane sugar. So if you have blood sugar issues you may want to avoid this one). I haven't tried one with fruit in it (not sure if it will be too much fructose for me but I am going to try a fruit one next). I am very excited to have found it since (as mentioned above) I have not had any ice cream or many sweets in YEARS. I found mine at Whole Foods.

I still can't eat a full serving of it though (too much agave makes me feel sick though I can tolerate small amounts) so I eat only 1/3 to 1/2 serving. I also have to eat it after a very protein rich meal (can't eat it on an empty stomach) and I usually don't have any other complex carbs in that meal (so when i eat ice cream I don't eat fruit or whole grains in that meal, only lots of protein and also some veggies--so only low amounts of carbs). Other hypoglycemics or diabetes may be able to eat a full serving and may be able to eat it with other complex carbs (I'd still advice to eat it with lots of protein though). While others may not be able to eat it at all :( (some hypoglycemics and diabetes can not tolerate any amount of sugar, even a piece of fruit or a small amount of agave). So if you have blood sugar issues, you will need to see how you personally react to it.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remembering Sept 11th

I remember where I was Sept 11th; I was working/interning for National Park Foundation at the time (which is in Washington D.C.).

We saw it on television at work, and it just didn't really click in my head at the time what happened--I was in semi-shock. (NPF was in North West part of D.C. back then).

My company let everyone off, and we all tried to scramble to get home.
For a couple hours I thought I could not get out of the city, and get home (I live in Northern VA) because I had heard on the news that they had block the main highways out of the city. Luckily after a while it was reported that the roads were not blocked or unblocked so I was able to get home.

It wasn't until I got home and watched the news more that I got over my initial shock and finally understood. I remember crying when I saw people in the smashed buildings jumping out of the windows of the towers, and hearing more about the pentagon, and then the crash of last plane in PA.

My sister at the time lived in NYC--you could imagine what she must have went through. Traffic was blocked for days, some people walked miles to get home.

I knew two people from my undergrad college that worked in the world trade center. One of them was sick so didn't go to work that day. The other one was running late since she had stopped to get coffee.

I remember in the weeks afterwards, military with huge guns on some of the street corners of D.C. just standing guard. I thank those soldiers for their presence in the aftermath. Their presence made me feel safer.

Through all the pain, I remember the good things too. How we all got together and stood as a people.

I was in Chicago recently for my grandfather's funeral, and on one of the days there my aunt and uncle showed us around their area. There was a sept 11th memorial. There was a flame burning, a flame as a reminder to remember those events.

Many swore on that day to never forget. Please take a moment with me to pray to all those that we lost.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Larry Hagman solar energy video

I have a lot of things to blog about (it's been a super busy summer, especially crafting for myself and also my business). But I just thought I'd post this link since I thought it was awesome.

I don't know much about the background of this solar company (Solarworld) aside from what I've read on their own website (they are supposed to be one of the biggest solar energy businesses). But they have an ad with Larry Hagman (I used to watch Dallas with my mom when I was a kid, and also loved watching reruns of I dream of Jeannie too).

Here is the link to Hagman's video on solarworld's website. I thought it was clever getting him to do their ad (because of Dallas and the character he played) to inform the public about solar energy.

I think that 'Shine baby shine' is much better than 'drill baby drill' ;P

I'm not a home owner yet, but I want to get solar panels on my house when I buy one in a few years so need to research about them more (not really about the basics of solar energy and how it works--I've studied that in school--but I need to eventually research more on best options on buying solar panels for houses etc).

New eco living post

My newest eco living article is up on anb mall's site. This month my article is on summer skin care tips for sun burn, sun protection and hydration.

Last month's eco living article was on laundry and also paper tips.

Hope you enjoy! :)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Eco Living Papaya Mask (All Natural Cosmetics/Make it yourself)

My newest Eco Living article was posted a few days ago! It is a recipe for a papaya mask (I was talking to S on garden of wisdom's forum about papayas recently, so decided to do this month's eco living article on a papaya mask). This mask will leave the skin soft and smooth! I hope you enjoy the recipe :)

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Comments on brown sugar scrub shelf life; freezing aloe; and testing cosmetics for bacteria/fungi (All Natural Cosmetics/Make it yourself)

So it's been a long time since I've answered comments. (I have about 80 comments to sort through, most of which are spam, though there are a few real comments in there). Below I have answered the most recent (if I have time I will sort through the really old ones, but some of them are many months old, so not sure if I post the answer if the original poster will see it, though it may be of interest to new posters). If you previously posted a comment and I did not answer it, thank you and I am sorry.

Here is a comment from my old brown sugar scrub post

Question on brown sugar scrubs:

I've made a body scrub and have used dried herbs and vanilla extract and peppermint extract (food grade). Do you know what the shelf life would be for these? Thx.

All the ingredients used are:

1) Raw Sugar
2) Grapeseed Oil
3) Olive Oil
4) Aloe Vera Gelly
5) Maple Syrup
6) Fresh Rosemary (dried)
7) Chamomile Flowers (dried)
8) Peppermint Extract (food grade)
9) Vanilla Extract (food grade)

My answer

Hi NH, thanks for posting :) Shelf life would only be a few days (maybe a couple weeks if you are careful, though it could go bad in days) since you added aloe gel and maple syrup. The food extracts contain a little alcohol (which is a natural preservative) but you'd have to use A LOT of alcohol (much too much for a scrub) to preserve it, so the amount of alcohol in the extracts (used in low concentrations) would not be enough to preserve it. Please be sure to use a spoon or spatula to scoop it out of the container to keep it fresher longer. In addition, do not store in the bathroom or a humid area (which will decrease shelf life even faster). For a good shelf life, you may want to add a broad spectrum preservative (like Geogard Ultra, which is an eco cert approved preservative). Or just omit the aloe gel and maple syrup next time. If you still wanted to use aloe in a future scrub, try aloe oil (which is aloe that has been infused in an oil). Hope that helps!

Question on freezing aloe vera:

This comment was posted under the Herb info: Aloe vera (Natural Skin Care)" entry.

I would like to know how freezing aloe leaves affects the plant and its properties. Can they be thawed out and used topically with the same results?
Thanking you.

My answer:


Thanks for posting :)

I am not sure, I have never frozen an aloe leaf before. I think it would be best to take the gel out of the aloe leaf and then refrigerate the gel or freeze it to prolong shelf life. You can add potassium sorbate to it, but that is only a good anti-fungal and a poor anti-bacterial, so it is not a broad spectrum preservative (most companies add this to packaged aloe. Personally I would add geogard ultra or another preservative (geogard is a broad spectrum preservative so would protect against a wide range of bacteria and fungi, and shelf life would be at least a few months or longer)). Aloe (when you buy it from a company) is packaged in clean sanitized conditions and for several weeks/month can sit on the shelf unopened, but once the consumer opens the bottle and handles the aloe, the potassium sorbate won't be able to preserve it for long. So if you prepare/process the aloe yourself, and add potassium sorbate to aloe, it may or may not be able to keep it fresh for a long time (and it would only protect against fungi and not bacteria).

Question on testing cosmetics:

This comment was posted under the current blog update.

I've been a long-time reader of your blog, and I've gained so much from it, not least discovering AV-AT (and their amazing essential oils) and Monave - thank you for your wonderful blog!

Congratulations on starting up your business!! So exciting! I'm de-lurking because I'd love to know more about something you mentioned... in your post on the Earth Alchemie blog about Geogard, you wrote that you do your own simple bacteria and fungus tests at home - I'd love to know more about how to do this myself! Can you point me to a reference? I was wondering, do you just use the Chek-It tests from Snowdrift? I come from a science background too (though not a lab science), and I understand it's not as good as a challenge test in the lab - but I'd love to be able to collect a bit more data myself before forking out the $ to send a batch to a lab!

My answer:

Hi P

Thanks! You're very welcome :)

I do not use Snowdrift Farm's check it kit, I buy the supplies from a biology supply company (less expensive), but their kit is a good way to start out with (gives you everything you need, with instructions). These tests would only indicate if there is bacteria or fungi in a batch. It would not tell you what kinds of bacteria or fungi, or how much is in it. Also I'd imagine there may be some kinds of bacteria and fungi that may not grow very well on the plates, though a wide range of bacteria or fungi will grow on agar plates (depending on the types of agar used). So it not as good as what a lab can do, but I still do them anyways because it is still a good indicator if an ingredient or product has gone bad. Many small companies do not even conduct basic tests). If you didn't want to do the tests yourself, Cindy Jones from Sage script does them for a reasonable fee.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Recycling information (Environmental Issues)

Someone asked about recycling on my forum, so I thought I would post the information I wrote there on my blog too (slightly edited).

Recycling not only saves energy but it reduces waste. Though recycling takes some energy and water use (to melt the plastic or glass down etc; everything has an impact), less energy etc is used when recycling compared to making new materials from scratch. In addition, less waste goes into the landfill (many landfills do not have much room left, and there isn't much place to put things).

Everything makes an impact, but the goal of recycling and being 'eco-friendly' is to create less of an impact.

Here are some links from governmental, school, and organization websites.

The EPA's (Environmental Protection Agencies) information on recycling

Recycling information from Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

Energy Quest is a site for kids but there is a lot of good information, eco living tips, and also some stats on this site. Also contains good links to many other sites. It is by the California Energy Commission.

A bit of info about recycling from Stanford university. Contains information on how much energy is saved.

This was from a magazine. I am not sure how accurate some of the stats are (not sure who wrote it) but it was interesting since it showed how much energy is saved. Super interesting is that it's from Popular mechanics magazine

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Eco Living article updates (Environmental Information, Green Living)

I haven't posted about my Eco Living articles in a while!

My last Eco Living article was posted on anb mall's website earlier this month. It is on a few quick eco living tips (just in time for Earth Day!). I love the concept of Earth Day but I think that everyday should be Earth Day ;P so these tips are good steps to live a more green lifestyle every single day :)

My february article was on simple ways to donate. I wrote it after the aftermath of Haiti.

My March article was a recipe for a simple apple mask. I love apples in skin care, they mildly exfoliate and provide the skin with lots of nutrients!


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Chinese New Years! (Chinese astrology information)

Happy Valentine's Day! Also Happy Chinese New Years! Xinnian kuai le!

Today is the start of Chinese New Year, and this year it falls on Valentine's Day :) This year is the start of the year of the metal tiger!

One of my interests is chinese astrology (I am an amateur when it comes to Chinese astrology. My sister is very advanced in western astrology though). I think it is very interesting and I am getting better at guessing what year people are born. Though astrology is about potential and not set in stone, it amazes me how eerily accurate it can be at describing the personality traits of people. Here are the websites of some of my favorite Chinese astrology authors.

Shelly Wu's is a chinese american astrologer. She just updated her site, so has many horoscopes for the year of the metal tiger :) She also has a new book out called 'The definite book on chinese astrology", which I need to get!

Sabrina Liao also writes Chinese astrology books (but as of this writing, she hasn't updated her website for the new year yet. Hopefully she will update it soon).

I also like Suzanne White. She has chinese astrology and western astrology books; and she has a book where she has combines both Chinese and western astrology(to me it makes sense in combining them). Her site is updated for the new year too! :)

Man-ho Kwok's book 'Chinese Astrology: Forecast Your Future from Your Chinese Horoscope' goes a little more in depth than most other astrologers. I don't know if he has a website or not.

Theodora Lau's book Handbook of Chinese horoscopes is one of the first books on Chinese astrology I read. I only have the older editions of her books though so may get the updated version soon but some people on amazon mentioned the older editions are more in depth. Not sure if she has a chinese astrology site or not (I found a website that I think is hers, but it is only an index page and mentions that her book is in the newest print).

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

My store: Earth Alkemie!

I am so excited!

My skin care and mineral makeup company is finally open! :) Please check it out!

I have named my company Earth Alkemie, which I think is accurately describes my philosophy and how I feel about plants!

I won't be posting about my cosmetic line on this blog (since Solarkat's Eco Blog is my personal blog, and I am keeping my business and personal hats separately ;P), but I just created a blog for Earth Alkemie, where I will be posting sales and news etc. (I am having a sale right now so read EA's blog for more details!) :)

Last EA link: Earth Alkemie also has a forum

Hope you like my aromatherapy & herbal based skin and hair care, and mineral makeup!



Edited: April 18th, cut and paste from my 'current blog update': I got a couple of comments on the entry about my skin care business; thank you for the comments :) I am sorry :( but I can't make product suggestions for my line on Solarkat's Eco blog (that is also why I did not allow those comments to be posted), because I don't want blogger to close down this blog (a few crafters on a forum mentioned that blogger closed down their personal blogs with no notice, when they plugged their own store and had a lot of pictures to their lines on their blog). I do not want this to happen to my Eco blog (I love blogger and want to keep using it!). If you have questions please post on Earth Alkemie's forum or email me (using my business email, which is listed on my website). Thank you for understanding!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Eco Living article on a simple yogurt cleanser/mask (All Natural Skin And Hair Care, Make/Do it Yourself Cosmetics)

A week and a half or so ago, my new Eco Living article was posted! This month's article is on a super simple, multi-purpose yogurt based cleanser or mask for the facial skin, body, or hair. I love this recipe, it makes the skin and hair super soft! Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Eco Living article: Soapnuts

Happy New Year!

I forgot to post about my December Eco Living article!

I wrote an article on soapnuts! I love soapnuts for skin care and also house cleaning (laundry, etc). In my article I have a recipe on how to make an all purpose liquid decoction (but for laundry you can use the whole nuts and don't need to make it into a liquid unless you want to).

I still need to write and post my January article. I am not sure what I'm going to write yet but I was thinking maybe a skin care recipe since I haven't written an Eco Living article just about skin care in a while (though the soap nuts recipe can be used on the skin).

Enjoy! :)