Wednesday, January 30, 2008

We're filled with chemicals.

This article in Newsweek is just a tad depressing, but also deserves to be read.

It talks about a new study in which people's blood and urine were tested for chemicals found in common household products...and every person tested positive for three types of chemicals.

The tricky part is that at this time the effect on overall health is not known. The companies that produce the chemical-laden products insist the amount of chemicals is safe, but researchers aren't so sure. Lab mice filled with chemicals aren't faring so well, but we don't have enough research yet to change things.

By the way, the common household products refer to soap, shampoo, tin cans, and shower curtains. Yeah, common and practically unavoidable.

I just blogged about The Green Book, a great resource for finding products that are chemical free. You can find that post here.

If you're still not convinced something needs to change, I'll leave you with one more quote from the Newsweek article: "And in 2005, the Environmental Working Group found an average of 200 chemicals in the cord blood of 10 newborns, including known carcinogens and neurotoxins."

Newborns! Scary.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Spiral Plant

I bought this plant because I liked it's funky spirals. It's official name is water sedge, or spiralis.

It really grows like this!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Book Review: The Green Book

Ah, more tips on going green!

The Green Book is a nifty little paperback with simple tips for how to go green and be friendly to the environment. The chapters cover everything from going green at home, to dealing with money and finance, sports, entertainment, and travel in an environmentally-friendly way. It also has a comprehensive reference guide at the end of the book which covers all the topics mentioned in the book with more information, like where to buy specific products.

The website is listed in the book as a reference, and I think this website is even better than the book. Very user-friendly, you can click on a category, such as "laundry detergent", and find a huge, thoroughly researched list of "best", "good" and "unscented" products to buy. They also offer great information on "greenwashing"---meaning that just because a company says it's product is natural or green, it doesn't mean it is, since there are no legal definitions for these terms. The website lists toxic ingredients and explains what they are and how they are easily hidden in the ingredient list of products.

Happy researching!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Book Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns

I couldn't wait to read this second book by Khaled Hosseini, the author of The Kite Runner.

Whereas The Kite Runner focuses on the lives of two boys growing up in Afghanistan, this book looks at what life is like for girls and women. We start by getting to know Mariam as a young girl, and watch her face one challenge after another that dictates what her life will be like. We are then introduced to Laila, who as a young girl is filled with optimism and hope for the life she envisions ahead of her. You wonder if Laila will have the same fate as Mariam, and how and if their two lives will intersect.

I liked this book, but it's pretty depressing. It's really difficult to read how these women are mistreated and beaten. Although this book is a novel, I think it accurately portrays the culture and the atrocities going on in Afghanistan. Like I said, it's pretty depressing...

This book also very much has the feel of a Hollywood movie...I wonder if there is already a movie deal?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

coyote blog

I stumbled upon this blog written by a woman who has a pet coyote. The photos are gorgeous! Check it out:

Friday, January 18, 2008

Book Review: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

I picked this book up and couldn't put it down until I finished it.

The book takes place in China in the 1800's, and follows the lives of two friends, Lily and Snow Flower. Lily is the main character, and the book starts with her looking back on her life as she turns 80 years old. It's a fascinating account of what life was like for girls and women, from how they were treated in the family, to the secret language they wrote with to one another. The chapter of Lily, her sister and her cousin getting their feet bound (at age 7) is heartbreaking.

I'm interested in reading other books by this author now. Her style of writing and her historical account of life in China reminds me of the many books by one of my favorite authors, Gail Tsukiyama.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Book Review: The Kite Runner

The mere fact that I read the majority of this book on public transportation is testament to how good this book is.

Standing on a crowded bus, hanging on to the rails for dear life, and I was still totally engrossed in this story of friendship, family, love and deceit. It follows the friendship of two young boys growing up in Afghanistan in the 70's. We see how their lives are affected not only by the war but also by a tragic event that profoundly affects their relationship.

I didn't want it to end.

The author Khaled Hosseini has written a second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns. Find that review here.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Easter Island?


I saw this cool cat when I was walking around San Francisco yesterday.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

tigers and polar bears and snow leopards, oh my

Oh no, it looks like the San Francisco Zoo has done it again!

Two more animals almost escaped this past week.

I really hope the zoo can get it's act together for the sake of the animals.

In the meantime, I'm prepping my backyard just in case a wild animal finds it's way there...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Blackberry Wine

Last year we all pitched in and bought my father a wine-making kit. It collected dust in the basement for about a year. Finally my dad opened the box, had all the grandkids over, and had a blast making blackberry wine.

Unfortunately, it didn't taste as good as it was fun to make.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Vicente Street, San Francisco

Good to know if you live close to the beach.


Monday, January 7, 2008

Ocean Beach

A beautiful day at the beach. And it looks like most of the oil has been cleaned up.

This birdie survived it. Run birdie, run.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Panda Bear Tree Stump

Look who I found in Stern Grove the other day!

Friday, January 4, 2008


When I was visiting my folks for the holidays, I heard my dad yelling at the computer from another room.

He's always yelling at the TV, so I thought for sure this could not be a good thing.

So I went to see what the problem was, and it turns out he was playing a vocab game at

You gotta check it out. It's challenging, wildly addictive, and for every word you get correct, they donate 20 grains of rice to the United Nations.

Good fun. I've been playing it a lot, but come to think of it, I haven't been yelling at my computer like my dad...

Duckie PJ's

Who in the world is wearing pajamas with ducks on the butt?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

San Francisco Zoo

I'm morbidly obsessed with the news of the tiger escaping from the zoo.

I live close to this zoo, and went to see the tiger exhibit last year.

It's all so surreal. I'm sorry for the boy that was killed.

And I'm sorry I missed the candlelight vigil for Tatiana at the beach.

Sheep Note Cards

I got some lovely sheep note cards as a gift. You can find them at

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Dedham Sheep

I was in Dedham, MA for the holidays, and came upon a sheep in Dedham Square.

I love his boots.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Play-Doh People

I got some play-doh as a gift for Christmas. What fun!