Sunday, August 19, 2012

Keurig Takes Over the World... and All the Landfills

There is one recent American consumer-based fad in particular that sufficiently demonstrates just how lazy we have all become. Let me introduce you to the Keurig, although I highly doubt you need introduction. Have our personal and professional lives really become that urgent that taking an extra five minutes to brew a pot of regular, old-fashioned coffee is out of the question? To me, coffee is more than just a means of kicking my body in gear for the day. It's a ritual. I cherish taking those first thirty-or-so minutes of my day to sip on a mug of freshly brewed coffee and savor a hearty breakfast. It's the one part of the day that I happily allow to transpire in slow motion. Do we honestly need our lives to happen at fast-forward like speeds for every waking second?

North American consumers go through roughly 2.5 million Keurig singles daily... daily! And almost 2 billion cups have been brewed since the company first started doing business in 1998. You can listen to them boast and brag about these statistics right here in their corporate profile. Also adding to the carbon footprint left by Keurig are the production and shipping processes that are required to deliver the machines and single coffee cups to households around the nation. 

In comparison, old-fashioned ground coffee can be composted, along with those paper coffee filters. Coffee beans make an excellent addition to compost for acid-loving plants like hydrangeas, blueberries, and azaleas. By reverting back to old fashion brewed coffee, you're not only saving on grocery bills but preventing thousands of those plastic-squandering Keurig cups from making homes out of landfills.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Spicy Black Bean Burgers

I love a good homemade veggie patty. It allows me to use my creativity in the kitchen, and I also love being able to throw in whatever I happen to have on hand. Which in this week's case happens to be spicy peppers. I've got jalapeƱos and chili peppers dropping by the dozen in the garden, and I decided they would make a great addition to a black bean burger. These patties are hearty, healthy, and have a nice kick to 'em.


-1 cup dried black beans
-1 cup chopped onions
-1 cup chopped peppers
-1 cup bread crumbs
-1 egg
-3 cloves garlic
-1 Tbsp ground cumin
-1 Tbsp chili powder
-olive oil, for frying


1. Cook the black beans according to the package. They will make about 3 cups cooked black beans.

2. Mash the cooked black beans and mix together in a bowl with the chopped onions and peppers. Add the spices. Whisk the egg, then add to the dry mixture.

3. Form 6 individual flat, round patties.

4. Heat a lightly oiled pan or skillet over med-high heat. Cook each patty for about 4-5 minutes on each side, or until slightly browned.

Enjoy in a pita pocket with spinach and guacamole, atop a bed of lettuce, or whichever other way floats your boat. You can also add a crumbly cheese like feta or goat cheese to the recipe to give it a little extra oomph. Leftovers can also be frozen for later enjoyment, so don't be afraid to make a big batch of them.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Summer Love List

(one) soy based 'mimosa' candle by KOBA (two) wood-framed shades by Shwood (three) marigold yellow organic tee by Loomstate (four) driftwood side table by Crate & Barrel (five) a fun DIY idea I found on pinterest (six) I finished this light, summer read in less than a day & a half... needless to say it's worth reading ;)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Des Artistes- a collaboration between art and sustainable fashion

The brand Des Artistes presents a fusion of art and eco-consciousness by collaborating with contemporary artistes to create unique and interesting graphic tees. Des Artistes uses organic and sustainable fabrics with "low-impact water-based" inks, and donates to a different charitable organization each season. The company operates out of Munich, Germany but is sold in Anthropologie stores in the United States.

1. Read My Mind by Kasia Jackowska // 2. Hanging Man by Ai Weiwei // 3. Miss Thang by Franco Mondini-Ruiz // 
4. Blank Canvas tee

Check 'em out:

Friday, August 10, 2012

Green Tip of the Day

It's no secret that we Americans consume far more sugar than is needed or healthy. I make no strides to hide my unrelenting sweet tooth, but I try my best to keep it under control and to choose the more sustainable options when choosing sweeteners. Sugar production is responsible for more loss in biodiversity than any other crop, and America and Europe are the two biggest culprits for excessive sugar production. Sugar farms use harmful amounts of pesticides and are accountable for the resulting polluted wastewater.

In my opinion, honey is the most sustainable option when it comes to natural sweeteners because it can be purchased locally almost anywhere. Honey produced from clover and wildflowers leave essentially no trace on local ecosystems. Clover is actually beneficial to the environment because it naturally fixes nitrogen in the soil. Although honey is higher in calories than white sugar, it is sweeter so you don't need to use as much of it. It also has added health benefits such as improving immunity, blood sugar control, helping with allergies, and is effective as a cough suppressant.

Next time you run out of that bag of white sugar sitting in your pantry, stop by your local farmer and pick up a jar of honey and use it to sweeten your tea, stir into your oatmeal, and substitute in the kitchen when making baked goods.

Other (more) sustainable options:

1. Coconut palm sugar
2. Brown rice syrup
3. Maple syrup
4. Agave nectar

Just keep in mind that most of these sweeteners are not produced locally for most of us, so the fuel it requires to have them shipped all around the country leaves a pretty hefty carbon footprint. It's not necessarily the process that makes them less sustainable options than honey, but the need for them to be transported after they have been produced.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Green Tip of the Day

Readers, allow me to introduce you to 'Green Tip of the Day.' From now on I will be posting daily tips that will help you lead a more sustainable lifestyle. Green living may seem a daunting lifestyle change when tons of information is shoved down your throat all at once. The reality is, just making small individual changes really do add up. Taking baby steps and making small tweaks to your day-to-day routines will ultimately impact the environment for the better.

Alas, the first Green Tip of the Day.

I thought this tip to be especially appropriate in the midst of these beautiful summer months. 
I understand, you're just trying to do favors for your waistline when you pound out a six mile run on the treadmill at your local gym. However, you're most likely going through gas to transport yourself to the gym and then using up electrical energy on those cardio machines. A treadmill averages 600-700 watts of energy. By taking your cardio to the outdoors for 150 minutes per week, you are saving an annual 110 pounds of carbon emissions... Even more if you factor in the televisions that many cardio machines come equipped with these days.

Even if it's just once or twice per week, try to run or walk outdoors whenever the weather permits. The Vitamin D fix will boost your mood and you can fight boredom with frequent changes in scenery. The website Map My Run allows you to search for popular running routes in your local neighborhood, as well as track your mileage and calories burnt. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Banana Nut Bread

I'm really not much of a baker- cooking is my more thing. A good 70% of my baking attempt are total flops. However, I needed to do something with our overripe bananas that were quickly en route to the garbage can, so yesterday I whipped up a loaf of banana nut bread. This bread (which is really more like cake) is by far the biggest success I've experienced in the world of baked goods. It's perfectly moist and just the right amount of sweet. I used this recipe, but doubled the amount of chopped walnuts (what can I say?... I like it nutty!) and substituted pure stevia for splenda. 


The best thing about this recipe is that it's not even all that bad for you! The use of plain yogurt and mashed bananas are what make it so moist, and when you use calorie-free stevia extract, it's less than 200 calories per serving. The ultimate non-guilty pleasure.


I enjoyed a warm piece of bread, fresh out of the oven, topped with some creamed cinnamon honey that we picked up from a local winery on the way back from Walkins Glen on Thursday. My taste buds probably think they died and went to heaven.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Walkins Glen State Park

I'm counting down the days until I officially relocate my life down to Charleston from upstate New York. I'm beyond psyched, but it's somewhat bittersweet to think that I'm forever leaving behind the place that holds 18+ years of memories for me. I may rag on Rochester for its less-than-ideal climate, but the truth is there is really a lot of beauty that upstate NY has to offer. People travel from all over the world to gawk at the Niagara Falls, wine & dine on the Finger Lakes, and hike the glens and gorges of the area. I love that you can drive ten miles in one direction and find a plethora of fantastic restaurants and boutiques, yet if you drive ten miles in the opposite direction you run into acres of farmland, lakes, and sweet, serene emptiness.

My mother and I drove down to Walkins Glen State Park today for a hike up the gorge and lunch on the water. Walkins Glen holds a special place in my heart for several reasons; I grew up going to the races in Walkins Glen with my Dad back when he raced Formula Continental cars. His car was yellow with polka dots and was always the easiest (and most exciting) one to pick out from the sidelines where we camped out for days. The state park offers one of the most beautiful hikes I've been to, which is what my mom and I decided to occupy ourselves with today on our days off of work.


After working up a sweat climbing the 800+ stone steps to the top of the glen we walked through town, perused a few of the antique shops, then stopped for lunch on the water. We each enjoyed a delicious salad- mine was topped with chicken, grilled apples, pecans, and almonds. An excellent combination that I will definitely be recreating in my own kitchen soon. 

I look forward to spending my last week home saying goodbye to all of my favorite Rochester-specific restaurants and hot spots. Hope you all enjoy another lovely summer weekend!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

IKEA's Mini Greenhouse

IKEA is now making it even easier for those city-dwellers to exercise their green thumbs... indoors. The new SOCKER mini greenhouse offers the perfect environment for starting seeds and housing established plants, with a mod-chic visual appeal. These little plant dwellings are decorative, functional, and economical... and only $19.99! Triple whammy. Here are some ideas for what you can do with a SOCKER greenhouse.

{images via IKEA website}

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Shrimp & Pesto Pizza

After coming back from four months of studying in Italy, I was forced to wean myself off of a diet that revolved around pizza, pasta, and gelato. This wasn't too difficult a task because, quite honestly, the pizza over here just does not compare. My all-too-tight jeans were also begging for a break from the carb overhaul, and my broke ass couldn't exactly afford to buy new pants. Now, I love pizza with just about every ounce of my soul and being, but I have come to the acceptance that it is something to be savored and enjoyed in moderation.

Every now and then I like to take a crack at baking a homemade pizza but the crust always seems to be too soggy/ thick/ chewy, etc. I've tried countless different dough recipes, all to no avail. Little did I know, it wasn't (totally) all my fault, it's really just a matter of how the dough is cooked.

Today while my mother and I were out shopping we picked up a pizza stone, which is said to cook a crust that is comparable to those baked in a wood fired oven. And let me tell you, it really makes a huge difference! I finally got the perfect thin, crunchy pizza crust that I've been striving for. So tonight I whipped up a whole-wheat pizza with pesto, cherry tomatoes (fresh from the back deck), roasted shrimp, and creamy goat cheese. For the pizza dough, I used a recipe from Moosewood Classics cookbook, which made enough for two 12-15 inch pizza crusts.

Pizza Dough


  • 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups warm water (100-120 degrees)
  • 3 cups unbleached white bread flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 to 2 cups unbleached white bread flour for kneading

Stir the yeast and sugar into the warm water and leave for 10-12 minutes until it starts to foam.

Stir the water mixture in with the flours, salt and pepper, and 2 tsp of the olive oil. If the dough is sticky, add more flour. Knead the dough for about ten minutes. Next, place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a damp towel, and set aside in a warm place to allow the dough to rise. It should take about 40-60 minutes for the dough to double in size. This will yield enough for two 12-15 inch pizza crusts. You can freeze leftover dough for later use.

You're now ready to make some pizza!

Shrimp & Pesto Pizza


  • 1 serving of above pizza dough recipe
  • 1/2 cup prepared pesto
  • 6 oz. goat cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled, deveined shrimp
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

1. Place your pizza stone in the oven then turn the oven on to 450 degrees and allow the stone to preheat for 15-20 minutes. This prevents the stone from cracking- you don't want to put it through any drastic changes in temperature.

2. Meanwhile, roll out the pizza dough until you've reached your desired shape and thickness. For tonight's dinner, I made two long, skinny pizza crusts (morel like a flatbread pizza). Once the stone has heated, place your dough on top and bake in the oven for about ten minutes.

3. Mix the shrimp and cherry tomatoes in olive oil with a dash of paprika and some garlic powder, then roast in the oven for twenty minutes (you can do this at the same time that you have the dough in the oven).

3. Take the pizza crust out and top with pesto, goat cheese, and the roasted shrimp and tomatoes. Put back in the oven and allow the cheese to melt, for about 5-7 minutes.


{my cherry tomato plants that have found a home on our back deck}

Peace, love, and pizza. Now go invest in a pizza stone, my friends.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Lauren Conrad's XO Eco for Blue Avocado

This girl really has come a long way since her Laguna days. Ok, so she may not be the most exciting person to watch on reality television (that title belongs to Snooki) but I have so much respect for her as a young female entrepreneur and a role model for tweeners and aspiring fashionistas across the country. After hearing about her collaboration with eco friendly bag-manufacturing company Blue Avocado, my heart swelled with pride and joy for the young lady. Not only does she have a superb sense of style, but she cares about the environment too and is taking steps of her own to help preserve it.

Be sure to check out this awesome new line of bags here.

Where's my Team Lauren shirt at?!

Nail Art {The Safe Way}

This past summer, the beauty scene has been rampant with some outrageous nail art that puts conventional artists to shame. When visiting my younger cousin in Indianapolis this summer, she begged me to let her perform manicurist duties on me and I happily obliged. She adorned my finger nails with leopard print, spending way more time than I would ever have spent on myself, setting the gold background then carefully drawing white specks perfectly outlined in black. She then extended the jungle theme down to my feet, where my toenails were christened with zebra print. Who needs a manicurist when you've got the Pablo Picasso of nail art in the fam? I've seen tuxedo print finger nails, chevron nails, even all-out miniature paintings on the ends of women's phalanges.

While I'm all for this trend, it's important to be selective in what types of polish people are using; many of them contain harsh chemicals that could potentially be cancer-causing. The three active ingredients in many nail polishes which are cause for concern are Dibutyl phthalate, Toluene, and Formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a carcinogen and DBT has caused speculation for causing reproductive and development issues (including infertility). When choosing a nail polish, look for ones that say they are "three-free," which means they do not contain any of these three toxic chemicals. Good news is, many of our most beloved brands are safe. Essie, OPI, and Butter London are all 3-free. The brand Scotch Naturals is also free of ethyl acetate, butyl acetate, nitrocellulose, acetone, and heavy metals, making it "truly non toxic."

While these brands claim to be safe and "eco-friendly" it is still important to note the amount of waste that goes into the production of nail polish. All of those glass bottles go to waste because they obviously cannot be recycled... Just something to keep in mind when coming home from ULTA with the hottest 12 new OPI's of the season.

Raise your hand if you think I should walk into the salon and ask for one of these looks?

{images via}

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

{Color Inspo} Seafoam & Mustard

In just a couple short weeks I will be moving to one of my favorite cities in the entire world- Charleston, South Carolina. Going to school at the University of South Carolina in the city of Columbia, my friends and I found any type of excuse to make day/weekend escapes to this cherished city. I cannot wait to finally call Charleston home, as well as to move back in with my best friends/ former roommates. In other exciting news, there will be an addition to the household with a brand new Boxer puppy named Laney- I can't wait to meet her!

While moving can be, gently put, a complete and utter pain in the arse, I love an excuse to redecorate. I've been brainstorming color palettes/ themes for my new bedroom and right now I'm loving the combination of seafoam and mustard yellow.

Charleston- I will see you soon!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

snapshots from D.C.

Last week I visited D.C. for the first time. One of my good friends Molly got an internship with the mega-successful PR company Ogilvy, so I decided to grace her with my presence for her birthday. I arrived on a Thursday morning at the butt-crack of dawn (my flight took off at 5:40 a.m.), so I was able to spend a full two days exploring the city and checking out the major monuments and museums while she was at work. 

Molly lives in the Dupont Circle area and is footsteps away from awesome parks, restaurants, and shopping. What I really really loved about the city was its dedication to environmental sustainability. Many of the restaurants served their food with compostable plates and silverware, with compost and recycle bins just as plentiful as garbage bins.

As always, we had a great time sharing our love of food and getting a taste of the D.C. nightlife. 
On Sunday (Molly's actual birthday) we had the most incredible brunch of our lives at 21 M Lounge. The amount of food served to us was absolutely absurd. It included an appetizer, entree, dessert, and bottomless mimosas. They also started us off with a basket of baked goods (muffins, bread, pastries). I ordered a vegetarian quiche to start, lox benedict for an entree (like eggs benedict, but with smoked salmon), and chocolate mousse for dessert. The food was phenomenal, and our tummies were content for the rest of the day.

Before heading to the airport I joined Molly's two roommates for a free yoga class in the park directly across the street from their apartment. How cool is that? And apparently they do this every Sunday evening in the summers. I need to find a city like this to live in! It was a totally refreshing way to end my long weekend away. D.C. has my approval and I'm crossing my fingers that Molly will stick around there so I will have more excuses to go back ;)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

Let's all give a loud and proud shout-out to America the Beautiful on her (his?) birthday. Here are a few things you can and should do on this holiday.

1. Sip a bloody mary. Or a brewski from a local brewery. Find one that's close by entering your zip code on

2. Bake something with fresh, locally picked berries. This morning I made this incredible baked oatmeal, courtesy of Heidi Swanson.

3. DIY a pair of American-inspired cutoff shorts, like these featured on Free People's BLDG 25 blog.

4. Soak up some sunshine. But make sure to protect yourself with sunscreen! Try out this all-natural eco-friendly sunscreen made by Badger.

5. Wear something totally over-the-top, gaudy, and outrageous. I mean, this is America. Perhaps these American flag sandals by American Apparel. Even better, find something manufactured right here in the U.S.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

summer snapshots

To me, summer is all about exploring the outdoors, eating great, fresh, seasonal food, and taking time to rejuvenate and recharge. I had a fun, relaxing weekend with my friends and family. My mom and I went to a paint-your-own-pottery place on Sunday and spent a couple hours letting our creative juices flow. My mom's creative juices are, truthfully, more at the pace of molasses than... let's say... apple juice, but hey we had a great time and I can't wait to see how they turn out.

Today my dad, brother, and I drove up to a place called Chimney Bluffs on Lake Ontario for a lakeside hike. We had lunch at a waterfront restaurant and then made a pit-stop at a u-pick farm on the way home. As i always say, food tastes much better when you had to work for it. Which is why I love coming up with dishes that use local, fresh ingredients- and if you're the one that did the picking then that's even better!

On last weekend's menu:
Peach frozen yogurt using my new Cuisinart ice cream maker :)

Happy 4th to all my fellow Americans out there!

Friday, June 29, 2012

chai rice pudding

I am a total tea girl. Green tea, white tea, black tea, chai tea. In addition to drinking the stuff, I am drawn to pretty much any food that is flavored like some type of tea. Chai tea is usually something that gets me through the cold, winter months. I love drinking a huge mug of it with a splash of soy milk before crawling into bed at night, or while snuggled up on the couch watching movies.

Well I finally figured out a way to incorporated the spicy zest of chai into my summer cuisine. This rice pudding is the perfect blend of sweet and spicy, and a delicious way to cool off on a hot summer night. This recipe makes a big batch that can be stored in the fridge so you have a sweet little something at-hand for the next few days.

2 chai tea bags (I used Tazo Tea brand)
3 cups non-dairy milk (I used a mix of almond milk and soy milk)
1 cup water
1 cup jasmine rice, dried
3/4 cup light coconut milk
1/4 cup honey
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon


1. Bring 3 cups of non-dairy milk and 1 cup of water to a boil. Steep the chai tea bags for 4-5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, cook the jasmine rice according to the directions on the box.

3. After rice is cooked, add the chai tea, coconut milk, and honey, and bring to a boil. Add the spices, then simmer on medium-low heat until the rice thickens to your liking (this should take about 30-40 minutes).

TEA-licious. And easy as pie. Hope you enjoy!

Friday, June 8, 2012

{Fashion Brand Spotlight} Etrican

A few weeks ago I had the honor of speaking with Dragos Necula, co-founder of the responsible fashion brand Etrican. Etrican is the pioneer of sustainable fashion for its local community in Singapore. All clothing is made from 100% organic cotton or recycled materials. The company is also involved with local projects that raise awareness about environmental sustainability, and donates a percentage of its profits to similar initiatives. The current collection of women's apparel is fun, light-hearted, and most importantly wearable. They offer both men's and women's apparel, as well as bags and wallet. 

What really sets Etrican apart from other socially and environmentally conscious fashion brands is its reasonable price points, and thus its accessibility to consumers of many income levels. Dragos really struck a chord with me when he said 'environmental responsibility should not only be accessible to the rich. All consumers should be given the option to make ethical choices.' I have always found this somewhat disturbing- that in several instances only the higher classes have accessible means to contribute towards environmental sustainability. Recycling shouldn't cost money, and blouses shouldn't cost $300- organic or not.

Etrican's tagline- 'Change is Simple'- could not be more fitting. In the company's beginning stages. it accepted lower profit margins and a slower rate of growth in knowing that it is doing what's best for consumers and what's best for the environment. This attitude and the founders' passion and hard work are paying off, too. I'm excited to see what the future has in store for this brand and I can only hope that other fashion brands will follow suit.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Natural Beauty

photo credit of Nicola Odemann

suds that smell like luxury// bare minerals loose powder// tarte 'smart' mascara// say yes to tomatoes exfoliating daily cleanser// pureology shampoo + conditioner

The Graduate

Last week(end) was a complete whirlwind. My four years of undergraduate studies came to a close and I spent my last couple of weeks making the most of what little time I had left with my friends. Many spirits were had last weekend (what's a Cinco de Mayo without tequila?) and tears were shed on that awful fourteen hour drive back home to upstate New York. While I'm excited for what's next to come and I'm ready to start pursuing my dreams, it's tough to say goodbye to my little clan of buddies that have become almost like family. Cheers to all you recent graduates who are going through similar experiences, and best of luck to all.

Here's to:

*new chapters
*working hard and playing hard
*pursuing passions
*infinite friendships
*staying continually educated
*mistakes that you will laugh about five years from now
*memories that will stay with you fifty years from now
*balanced, healthy, happy lives

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

CCG Potluck Lunch

In celebration of the end of Carolina Community Garden's first (and uber-successful) season, we held a potluck lunch and encouraged our fellow gardeners to bring in dishes that utilized produce from their gardens. All twenty of the plots produced to no end all season long, so we obviously needed to help them eat all their food.

roasted beets// tabbouleh salad// swiss chard frittata// carrots// broccoli salad// pesto filled crescent rolls

After the gardeners harvested the rest of their plots, we sat down to lunch and enjoyed the fruits of everyone's labor (or vegetables). I'm a bit distraught that I will be leaving after just the first season of the CCG, but I have big plans to build one of my own back home in upstate New York. 

Great season, CCG gardeners!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

eat well guide

I just discovered this website called Eat Well Guide. It's a super useful tool for finding restaurants that use locally-sourced foods. It also shows you all of the farms, farmers markets, and food organizations in your area. Some of my favorite organic restaurants in Rochester are listed on there, but now I'll be able to easily find sustainable restaurants wherever I go.

You're welcome :)

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