Help Japan!

After the devastating earthquake and tsunami and now the fear of a terrible nuclear meltdown, my husband Carlos was creatively inspired to create this beautiful (yet sad) poster to promote awareness into giving help to Japan.   I am aware of a few donation sites out there in cyberspace, but not too sure of their credibility.  So please be careful where you make your donations.

I took this directly from a site where Carlos has shared his poster.

A bit of a segue this week from iPhoneography. I’ve designed a poster to help raise funds for the relief efforts going on now in Japan. I had spent some time Friday sketching – took a break and continued yesterday – or wait -Sunday – it’s already Tuesday – aye. So I finished it up and modified my site a bit to facilitate the purchase of this poster – All proceeds from the sale of this poster will go to help the people in Japan.

If you’ve already made a donation – great! If you are thinking about it, and maybe would like to get a cool poster for your efforts, here you go. :^)

Here is a link to his site.  All of the proceeds of the sale of his poster will go to Global Giving Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief fund. You can also make a donation on the site also.  Thanks for helping!

Recycle yourself!

Recycle plastics, recycle batteries, recycle paper, recycle…kidneys

While walking home from the post office, this is what I saw!  This is my first time seeing this so I had to snap a picture.  I love this so much and favor organ donation.  If I have viable organs that can help others in need, then take ’em. Don’t let them rot and go to waste. I know they’ll be feeding the bacteria and other organisms as I am decaying in the ground, but they would be better off in someone who needs them!

This is a controversial subject and some object to organ donation.  I’ve come across opponents who believe there are ambulance chasers who pay top dollar for organs and bid for them as you are being “cared for”.  I believe in the best in people and hope that everyone has good intentions.  I just don’t believe the doctor would stop trying to save the patient!  It just doesn’t make sense to me……

I would love to know what you think!

My Vegas souvenirs! One’s environmentally friendly and the other eh…not so much!

Souvenirs, souvenirs, souvenirs!  I always have fun picking out special gifts for my family when I go on vacation.  2 of the 4 gifts are not pictured above. Not that they aren’t worthy of a photo op, but they have nothing to do with the substance of this post. The 2 missing are t-shirts.  Ana was happy to get a Spongebob t-shirt, and Max smiled when he got his red Vegas t-shirt! Max loves red and Ana adores Spongebob.  Who doesn’t love Spongebob?! Anyone?

The other two gifts are on opposite ends of the environmental spectrum.  The mini slot machine/bank is Carlos’s gift which has now turned into a  family gift. This was the best $29 spent.  Yes, I said $29!  I was in a Vegas Haze (lol) and didn’t look at the cost when I was shopping. When the clerk rang up my total, my jaw dropped.  $29 for a bank!?!? That’s crazy, but I was toooo tired to return it or even speak or moan or groan!  My jaw just remained open in shock as my credit card was being swiped!  When I got home and gave Carlos the gift, he put in a quarter, pulled the arm and I was transported back to Vegas!  This One Armed Bandit rang and lit up like it’s big brother! Wooohoo way to go Vegas Gift (trap) Store!  I know this toy will lose it’s attraction as all toys do and will end up in the landfill as another abandoned toy!  But who knows?! I hope to keep it for a long time ….. uh huh, yeah right.

The reusable shopping bag from Envirosax is so cool!  During our day at the Canyon Ranch Spa, we were given a $20 voucher to use at their spa and clothing store.  My girlfriends picked this out for me while I was busy basking in the steam room!  I am not a shopper what so ever and let them use my credit.  They came back with the bag and some lotion.  Unfortunately, I have no idea where I put the lotion (sorry biatches).  In my haste to catch my flight with an hour of “sleep”, I think I left it behind along with my over played Usher cds..boohoo!  (Carlos is happy though).

I am very happy to have packed the shopping bag.  I have many, many reusable shopping bags, but this one is the prettiest and the most functional.  As you can see from the picture, it folds up to the size of a fist and can be placed in a purse.  This is a cool feature because it’ll always be handy when shopping…..Unless you are like me and forget to put it back into your purse when you are finished unpacking your goods! Hey, life happens…..

Reusable shopping bags are awesome.  They are more durable than paper and plastic bags.  You can always sew any rips or tears, but that hasn’t happened to me.  My bags are over 2 years old, and they look as if they are brand new.  They are also washable which is another cool feature!

I am in favor of the ban on plastic bags.  There are many other options.  My girlfriend Kristi is sewing her own reusable shopping bag!  Little a has made her own shopping bag!  All it takes is some durable fabric, needle and thread.  A sewing machine would speed up the process, but if your watching a movie you can always whip one up in less than 2 hours!  Give it a try!

So these two gifts are cool, functional and fun!  I think I’ll have the most expensive reusable shopping bag in Bend and the most expensive, plastic bank too!

Is it possible for a Vegas Spa to reduce it’s carbon footprint?

Last week, to the day, I was off to Las Vegas with some really awesome girlfriends from college. Yes, we whooped it up…BIG TIME.  Those times will be stored in my “Absolutely Fun Time” section of my brain.  Everything worked out perfectly!  We had the ultimate Vegas experience, including a show, great dinners, great drinks, great clubs, and a fabulous spa!  We visited old, historic Vegas and the bright, glitzy new Vegas.  We saw the chapels and even a commitment ceremony!  Yes, there were crazies and people soliciting naughty things, but that’s all part of the experience.

We laughed so hard…some of us peed.  We danced so hard…many of us got blisters.  We drank so much…some of us spilled drinks on each other.  We talked so much…some of us had “smoker’s voice”.  We embarrassed ourselves….one of us had toilet paper hanging from their bathing suit on the way to the hot tub!  We gambled so much…one of us bought a Gucci bag!  It was a perfect 3 day vacation.

The highlight was our 6 hour Spa Event.  (Yes 6 HOURS, and you’ll realize why in just a moment)!   After two nights of dancing, we were all looking forward to our day at Canyon Ranch which is shared with The Venetian and The Palazzo.  Our massages were scheduled for 1 so we made sure to get there 30 min early to get settled in. Upon arrival, we knew we were in for a treat!  The colors leading to the check in desk were amazing.  Hughes of the rainbow drenched each wall.  It was wickedly cool.

I can’t go into every detail of this Breathtaking Spa because I would be writing a post with no end.  It was just freakin’ amazing. Here’s a tidbit of what’s offered!

•  one fabulous hot tub with a volcano floor, yes a volcano floor

•  six heated loungers by the hot tub, unbelievable

•  an Herbal Lanconium, basically it’s a really warm room with 4 heated chambers pumping Eucalyptus!  Incredible

•  an Igloo room, yes an igloo room!  Amazingly chilly showers pumped with 4 different aromas

•  a sauna, eh really not into that

•  a  steam room, even the tile was HOT!

•  a Salt Grotto, a relaxing room with tiles benches and salty air

•  a Wave Room, a quiet room with water being reflected on the ceiling, while you are in awesome recliners…we didn’t last too long in there cause you had to be silent.

•  2 experiential showers, totally over they top!  I was whisked away to the Caribbean and then to a tropical rainforest!

So yes, this Spa is excessive in every single way possible, but they are working on many ways to reduce their carbon footprint while keeping up with the Vegas experience.  Here are the ways.  This is taken directly from Canyon Ranch Connection Winter 2011 Edition.

At Canyon Ranch SpaClub day spa in Las Vegas, recycling is the norm, while larger sustainability efforts are driven by The Venetian and the Palazzo (the hotels that house SpaClub).  The company that own the hotels is considering installing solar panels to offset energy demands.”

The Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona has the largest solar installation and sits on top of the Spa.  They have reduced the resort’s carbon footprint over 9,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a month.

After seeing the savings in Tucson, I do hope they follow suit in Vegas….Yes Pun intended!

One step at a time

I am not a girly, girl for sure.  I have my moments where I dress up and put on some extra make-up, wear some heels and go out on the town.  For the most part though, my daily make-up routine consists of some blush and mascara.  If I am going out to dinner, I may add some lip gloss and a touch of eyeliner and call it good.  Honestly, I don’t know how to wear makeup and frankly I don’t care too much for it!  It takes time and a steady hand to put it on, and it takes a lot more time to get it off.

Oddly though, I love the spa.  At first, I could take it or leave it, but after my facial at Jinsei Spa I crave it often!!!! Jinsei is literally right down the hill and within walking distance. In September, I finally used my facial gift certificate from my super loving Carlos and kids.  They were so awesome and gave me this treat for my birthday in June.  I was holding off until the kids went back to school so I could spend a lot of extra time enjoying the amenities without having to rush to pick them up or drop them off.   I arrived about 30 minutes before my appointment and was escorted to the locker room.  I changed into a super, comfy robe and headed to the steam room.  That was heaven and definitely a mind and skin cleanse. After about 15 min, I drank some delicious cucumber and lemon water in the Relaxation Room while waiting for my facial person to arrive.  The music was calm and the lights were dim.  I was truly relaxed. Summer arrived and we strolled to the facial room.  Boy, when she opened the room, the aroma was delightful. Again, I was in heaven and wondered, “Why don’t I do this more often?…then I answered myself “Cause it costs a lot of $$”

I hopped up on the super, comfy massage table and assumed my position. Summer began by shinning a bright ass light on my face to do her pore examination.  She then asked, “What types of products do you use?”  I started to laugh inside and began my quick internal monolog “Products?! I don’t use products” …..I then told Summer I use Ivory Soap and body lotion.  She took the news really well and schooled me on those products and of course recommended the Arcona line.  Internal monolog…..”yeah, yeah, I am sure this costs a butt load of money.  I am fine with my 99% pure Ivory Soap and Oatmeal lotion”.

But as she started her facial routine, I noticed she was taking some time on my cheeks and schnozzzz.  She told me she was going to do some extractions to unglogg my pores.  Not that I have zits or anything, but I have noticed the pores on my nose were rather large.  As she was squeezing the heck out of my nose and as tears were streaming down my face, she explained what was going on.  Basically, the soap has dried my skin and the lotion has clogged my pores.  She recommended the “Arcona Basic Five for Normal Skin”.  She explained all of the ingredients, but unfortunately there are too many for me to remember so I copied this directly from the website…..

We believe everyone’s skin can and should look beautiful at any age regardless of their history. We believe lasting beauty comes from within and understand that whatever you put on your skin, goes into your body. Therefore, we use only the finest quality, all natural ingredients in products that penetrate deep into the cellular layers of the skin to effect real change, resulting in glowing, healthy skin at any age. We at ARCONA are dedicated to offering the highest quality, most effective skin care for both home and professional use. Enzymatic-based ingredients in ARCONA products include high concentrations of antioxidants, plant lipids and extracts, sea vegetables, essential oils, vitamins and minerals. Our ingredients are processed and products manufactured according to state-of-the-art, chirally correct technology. ARCONA products do not contain petrochemicals, binders or fillers, chemical stabilizers, parabens, sodium lauryl sulphates, perfumes, dyes, or any other caustic, toxic ingredients. There is no scientific evidence that such additives support more than a brief, cosmetic change in the skin, and there is proof that these substances clog the pores and block the restoration of healthy, balanced skin.

After she completed the facial, I got myself dressed and met her in the lobby.  During that time, I debated about the Arcona line…..”should I or shouldn’t I?, yes or no?…is it worth $80? my skin worth $80? Yes it is!”  So I decided to go for it!   Well now after using this product for 4 months, I am hooked!  I love the aroma, the routine and the results.  My skin does look clearer and my pores less clogged!  I am happy to recommend this product because there are no parabens, dyes, or perfumes. I am trying to embrace a more natural lifestyle with my household and food products.  I have also embraced the fact that I am somewhat of a girly, girly when it comes to my facial cleansers.  I am willing to spend the time on the routine to make my skin smoother and my pores less clogged.

What are VOCs?

Little a loves to paint, sew, draw, cut, glue, run, skip, hop, sing, skate, snowboard, twirl, run, skip, hop, paint, sew, paint, run, bike, and paint some more.  She could possibly do all of these activities in one day.  No joke, this kid is on fire every single day of her life.  She has more energy in that little body than….I will sound a bit cliche here…but more than the Energizer Bunny!  So for a while now she has asked to paint her room.  We finally dove into the project a week ago and are still doing some minor touch ups.  We let her have full reign of the colors…not one color but two.  Carlos, the creative one, has a Pantone color book and let Little a flip through to pick her color.  She decided on a very, very bright blue and green!  I kept my mouth SHUT.  They left to get the supplies while I moved the furniture.  I had confidence in her selection because she’s Little a, the mini creative one!

They came home rather quickly with a bunch up supplies.  I realized they went to the local hardware store rather than the mega one.  Carlos was pleased to show me his selection of paint.  Pure Performance by Pittsburgh (Go Steelers…was rooting for the Jets..NY baby…but went to Penn State so will support the Steelers) Paints is in their line of Ecological Solutions.  I was happy to see this because painting stinks, and sometimes the smell gives me a terrible headache.  As you can see on the can, there are Zero Vocs and minimal odor.  So off they went to tackle the room.  Little a was so excited she could barely talk.  Carlos told me later, while painting she said, “Dad, I am so happy to have you!”  Dang that little girl can grab your heart and squeeze it!

Max and I worked on the closet doors in the garage (even those were painted!)  While in the garage, we listened to some music and chatted about Science and paint and video games and Science and molecules and video games and the song on the radio and video games.  Max loves video games!! I love Max!

The room wasn’t completed that night so Ana got to sleep on the camping mattress on the floor in our bedroom.  She was cool with that!  The next day while the kids were at school, Carlos and I finished the room!  It looks cool!  The walls are blue and there are green shapes on one wall… to follow.  I actually love it sooooo much!

So…..What are VOCs and what’s the deal?  VOCs are Volatile Organic Compounds!  Yuck that sounds awful.  I did some research and this is taken directly from the EPA’s website…

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors.  VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands. Examples include: paints and lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, office equipment such as copiers and printers, correction fluids and carbonless copy paper, graphics and craft materials including glues and adhesives, permanent markers, and photographic solutions.

The website lists the side effects in more detail but basically it effects your eyes, nose and throat and can make you dizzy.  Check out the site.

Some paints are plant based and all natural.  I’m not completely sure about Pure Performance.  It is made from 100% Acrylic Latex.  Doing the research on line, a lot of the sites mention the resin within the latex could be plant based and some say they are synthetic so I am still researching this fact…..very vague.  I would highly recommend this paint not only for the low odor and no VOCs, but for it’s high quality!  It covers well and cleans up without a problem.