Thursday, April 22, 2010
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Even though Earth Day itself did not hit my radar, plenty of things that equal “being green” or “earth friendly” sure go back as far as 1980 for me. My hometown in Massachusetts was an early recycling town, and that doesn’t mean curbside recycling! We actually hauled our paper, glass and aluminum to a central location twice a month where trucks picked it up from us. My mom started Household Hazardous Waste Recycling in our town in the 1980’s as well. From there the list could go on and on and on for another twenty years. Now THAT would be a really BIG post. So, to keep it current, I thought I’d do a round up of some Earth Day related things I’ve done the past couple of months. Some Earth Day related kids stuff. I’m also going to throw in some new things that are being kicked off in honor of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. My Earth Day Post:
For the past two years, I have been invited to attend the Go Green Expo in Los Angeles which is a convention featuring all different types of green products and initiatives. One product that I had been considering and was featured by several companies at the expo this year was artificial grass. No, not astroturf, this stuff looks like real grass. At first I didn’t understand how fake grass would be considered “green” other than in color. Then I got it. You don’t need to water it! And in California, where water is constantly an issue, that is huge. I met some nice people from an artificial grass company at the Go Green Expo and through their referral, I hired a local landscape designer who installed some fabulous artificial grass in my backyard and turned off my sprinklers.
I know many of you will remember Planet Earth (a BBC/Discovery co-production) that aired on The Discovery Channel in 2007. In celebration of Earth Day’s 40th anniversary, the beloved and award-winning 11 episode BBC Earth series Planet Earth is now available on iTunes with a special, one-time free episode download (“Pole to Pole”) from April 12 – 26, 2010. So head on over to iTunes for your free download! Planet Earth is a perfect precursor to Life which is now airing on Discovery and you may recall my story of my attendance at the premiere. Life is coming out on DVD in June. Both Planet Earth and Life are the ultimate in TV viewing for Earth Day.
There are some kid’s characters that are sending the go green message to the preschool set. I’ve received a couple of DVD’s recently that Chip and Lulu both really love to watch. In Wubbzy Goes Green, a DVD from the Nick Jr. preschool series, many situations are presented that give kids a chance to see how decisions can impact their environment. To help celebrate the new release, and Mother Earth, Anchor Bay Entertainment has partnered with the Alliance for Community Trees (ACT). For every Wubbzy Goes Green DVD sold, Anchor Bay will donate $1 to ACT to help support the planting of trees in playgrounds and schoolyards across the country. The special tree-planting initiative continues through May 31, 2010. In Explore The Earth, Dora the Explorer and her compadre Boots globetrot to beaches, the South Pole and rainforests. What better way to start to explain that we are on this place called Earth than by pulling the globe off the bookshelf as we watch Dora and try to figure out where she is?
Guess what? I have not seen the film Avatar. I have two toddlers and trips to the movies are not easy to come by. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment is releasing Avatar on Blu-ray Disc and DVD on Earth Day in the US. (Internationally the release rolls out between April 21 – May 6) Yay! This means I will get a chance to watch it! “This is the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, and we felt it a fitting day to release a film with such an eco-friendly theme.” says, Elysia Yeary of the Avatar Media Relations Team. Avatar grossed over $2.6 billion dollars theatrically worldwide, making it the biggest film of all time. To add to the launch date theme, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment has teamed up with the Earth Day Network to plant 1,000,000 trees worldwide in celebration of the BD and DVD release of the film.
Earth Day Network will spearhead the initiative and collaborate with its international partners to plant the one million trees, indigenous to each region in 15 different countries, by the end of 2010. The organization is committed to caring for and nurturing the trees to maturity, as well as considering natural disasters such as fires and landslides during the planting process. "I am pleased to have the opportunity to share the environmental messages from AVATAR through the efforts during the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day and with Earth Day Network,” said James Cameron "Earth Day Network's commitment and actions to promote a healthy, sustainable planet go hand-in-hand with the themes of AVATAR.” People who purchase the film will be given a unique access code that allows them to go online and actually adopt one of the million trees being planted, charting its location and progress.
I want to say that every day to me is Earth Day. I don’t modify my behavior just on one day and I truly hope no one else does either. Rather, I would hope Earth Day is more a day to spread the word about new ideas, initiatives and advances. Every single day I make an effort to minimize my “eco-footprint” by recycling, re-using or re-purposing. I bring cloth bags to the supermarket. I recycle so much household plastic, paper, metal and glass that our recycle bin is often full in advance of trash day and I have to run around in the morning to see if my neighbors have space in theirs. Meanwhile, my trashcan always has room in it. I only run full loads of laundry and dishes. I have trained myself to think: is this the most eco-efficient way to do this? Before I embark on something. It’s a constant learning process. Everyday I try to keep myself open to learning something new about making life more simple, safer, healthier and greener. We are all inter-related. Happy Earth Day!
Monday, April 12, 2010
I’ve been intrigued by the FJ Cruiser ever since they arrived on the roads about four years ago. My first car, meaning the first car I actually bought on my own, was a Jeep Wrangler. The second car I bought after that was another Jeep Wrangler, then I bought my BMW. You know the rest. I like the up-high-military-tough-utility-vibe you get from the Wrangler and I also was getting that from the FJ Cruiser. So, when Toyota was kind enough to give me the opportunity to test drive an FJ Cruiser for a week recently, I was thrilled to have the opportunity. The FJ I received was Army Green in color, which was beyond awesome to Chip. He kept calling it the “Army Guy Car”. I was able to install both kid’s convertible car seats in the back seat fairly easily. There is not a huge amount of room to maneuver in the back seat but it was sufficient. I think that also, as I became more familiar with the car it would become easier. There definitely was not room for a third car seat or another person in between the two kids. The rear cargo area, 27.9 cubic ft. was larger than a typical sedan trunk and more than what I needed for my daily use that week. With the rear seat folded down, you get even more space. Visibility is very good because you are up high. Windows are overall, smaller than the typical car, with a wide yet vertically narrow windshield, although not distractingly so. Everything from the controls to the cup holders to the rubber floor mats feels very utilitarian. The front seats are comfortable and upon climbing behind the wheel, I felt like I was in a really, really tough, solid vehicle. Seating materials are not only water-repellant, but also provide excellent ventilation. Seats are covered with a fabric backed by a special breathable resin coating to enhance the material's ability to shed liquids, making it easy to wipe down the seats. Even the stitched seams of the seat covers are treated with sealant to prevent liquids from penetrating. The FJ Cruiser's floor surfaces are covered with an easy-to-clean rubber-type material. When you look inside the FJ, you kind of get the feeling you could hose the whole thing down. [And if you’ve ever had a kid throw up inside your car, that could be a nice option].
The FJ handled really well on the city streets and the highway. The turning radium was excellent which I find typical of Toyotas. One thing that I absolutely loved about my Wrangler was being up high and the visibility that gave me. The FJ definitely delivers on that. I definitely had some challenges when going in reverse in the FJ. Now, to be fair, in my minivan I have both a back up camera and sonar, so I’m spoiled. However, being up high and having the small rear window did require me to be extra vigilant going in reverse. Rear passenger visibility is not ideal with the smallish windows. My kids were happy and and liked to wave to the guys in the trucks who were now at their height. However, I don’t know how long that would have lasted and keep in mind they are toddlers. The height to climb into the FJ was fine for both myself and the kids because of the body side steps. I did have to make sure I helped them getting out, something I don’t worry about in my lower minivan. The FJ is powered by a 4.0-liter V6 engine that provides 258 horsepower. I found the cabin to be fairly quiet and fairly well insulated from road noise while on a forty minute highway drive. The FJ is offered in both 4x4 and 4x2 models, I drove a 4x2 which only comes with a 5-speed automatic transmission. EPA Estimated Fuel Economy of the 4x2 is 17 mpg (city) 22 mpg (highway).
There are some unique things I’d like to point out. Although the FJ Cruiser looks like a 2-door it really is a 4-door: The FJ uses side access doors that open 90 degrees in clamshell fashion for easy rear-seat ingress and egress. Additionally, a swing-up glass hatch is incorporated into the side-hinged rear door. The glass hatch opens independently of the rear door and helps accommodate longer items. Finally, the windshield wiper uses three arms to provide nearly complete coverage of the wide windshield.
In summary, the Toyota FJ Cruiser is a cool car with a solid Toyota Land Cruiser history and lore behind it. Do I like the car? Yes. Here is who I might recommend this car for: a single person in their 20’s-30’s who wants a sporty SUV but usually doesn’t need to have someone in the back seat. A family that lives in a snowy climate that already has two cars and would like a 4x4 as a third car. For me, with the two toddlers, I just can’t give up the minivan yet, but if I had a third garage, I would not be opposed to having an FJ Cruiser in it. Chip, for his part, would like the “Army Guy Car” returned as soon as possible and is greatly dismayed that I only had it for one short week!
Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. provided me with a 2010 FJ Cruiser to test drive for one week. I received no compensation from Toyota in relation to this post.
Friday, April 9, 2010
So, I had met all the Private Chefs of Beverly Hills, most of them privately, and the sun was setting over Beverly Hills. The Food Network Team took the stage to welcome us and introduce the series. In The Private Chefs of Beverly Hills, The Food Network peeks into the high-demand world of culinary glamour. Premiering Friday, April 9th at 10pm ET/PT, this delicious docu-soap follows six gifted cooks from Big City Chefs, Beverly Hills’ premiere
http://www.foodnetwork.com/privatechefs . I do believe I learned a new term that that night: Docu-Soap. So, my friends and I settled into a poolside cabana as all the tv’s set up around the pool and in the cabanas began to show the premiere episode “In The Dog House”. The episode shows the six chefs on three different assignments, each of them very, very funny. We were laughing out loud. Can I just take a moment to say I was sitting in a cabana at The Thompson Hotel in Beverly Hills, with The Private Chefs themselves all nearby, while I watched their show. Kind of funny on its own. The show is laugh out loud funny. I will watch this show. I am telling people to watch this show. I am telling you to watch this show. I met the chefs. I like the chefs. I like their food, them and their show. Premieres tonight on The Food Network.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Rockin mama, for taking all the fabulous pictures you see here on my post and sharing. My camera is on the fritz and she is my photographic hero.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Every day you will be able to attend complimentary demonstrations by culinary experts and celebrity chefs including Guy Fieri, Cat Cora and Robert Irvine. There are also seminars that feature, wine, beers and spirits. All these events take place at various locations throughout Disney’s California Adventure in locations that are easy to find and with ample seating. There are also “wine walks” that allow you to taste several different wines along a walkway. I did that with some friends last year and had a lot of fun. I went to a couple of cooking demonstrations which also allowed us to taste what the chefs demonstrated—a fun bonus! I highly recommend the signature events for special occasions like a birthday…Coincidentally, mine is April 16th, the first day of the festival! Maybe someone will give me a signature event ticket for a present? One of the times I went last year was with four girlfriends and we had so much fun going on the rides at the park as well as doing a couple wine walks, two cooking demonstrations and we finished off the day with a signature event. It really gave me a totally different appreciation for a way to take in Disneyland. With Disney’s California Food & Wine Festival running for six weeks, there is absolutely no excuse not to attend this year! For full information please visit www.disneyland.com/foodandwine
If you are traveling to the Disneyland Resort, be sure to check out Uptake.com for their compilation of reviews, sites and info for travelers.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Since for many people, seeing is believing, The Real Food Project features a series of entertaining how-to tutorials – starring Flay (one with me!)– to give parents the tools and techniques to prepare great-tasting, at-home meals for their families. The videos are available at www.Hellmanns.com. Lori Loughlin says that her kids have unadventurous palates which is something that I think pretty much every parent can relate to. It was something Bobby and I talked about at our shoot. One thing Bobby and I agreed on is that you just keep offering new things to your kids and if they don’t like it, try it again in a week or so. I know it’s tough to get shot down by your kid, but it’s something I try to do, just put a piece of whatever I’m serving on their plates and not make a big deal about it if they do or do not eat it. The recipe Bobby showed me how to make is Green Onion Potato Salad. One of of the really cool things about this recipe is that it uses Hellmann’s Light Mayonnaise. It didn’t even taste like it was light because it had so much added flavor with all of Bobby’s ingredients here is a link to the video of me cooking with Bobby and here is a link to the recipe both of which are on the Hellmann’s website. In the Sunday paper last week, I saw an ad for Best Foods Mayonnaise (because I live West of the Rockies) that featured Bobby and MY recipe (well, Bobby’s, but you know)!!! I was so excited I cut it out and scanned it for my blog post. One really fun aspect of the shoot was that during a break I got a chance to whip out my flip video camera and ask Bobby some questions. Here, exclusive to my blog is some footage from that Q & A. Bobby is a really fun guy and I feel really lucky I was given the opportunity to cook with him and learn all about the Hellmann’s Real Food Project.