Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What’s a Kilowatt? The First in a Series

The mobile solar unit that will power our Family Festival (yay!)

Generously donated by RA Power & Light.

Think Solar!
When Enron was in its heyday, Los Angeles was experiencing 'brown-outs' due to their trading shenanigans, that's when I resolved to go solar. Either that or stop using electricity…
It has been a long term goal, one that I was uncertain of when I could actually cross off my to-do list. The cost is high. Even with the rebates that are available through local utilities, there is still the red tape to cut through, and yet, what I found the hardest and the most confusing was dealing with the contractors that sell and install the panels. Ever see the movie Tin Men by Barry Levinson? ;)
I have tumbled through the rough waters of the solar world, so hopefully, your ride will be a smooth one. I will be talking about my experience and what I learned and providing you with some tips.
Lots of new info to absorb, it's not complicated, although it sure does seem that way...
Luckily, I was put in touch with a solar contractor that does things right; he doesn't feel he has to shade the truth, nor was he in a rush to get the contract signed—unlike the other Tin, ahem, Crystalline Men, I encountered.
Michael Campbell is the owner of RA Power & Light (shown here giving me a cauliflower ear by downloading his extensive knowledge of alternative energy), is now known as My Solar Guy. He was dropped in my lap by one of my guardian angels, my friend Gregg.

Long story short, generating solar power is a reality for California Baby, and I'm happy.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Best Veggie Burger - EVER!

I was a strict vegetarian for over 15 years, and I've eaten a lot of veggie burgers. Buddha Burger is the best I've ever had!

Here's why
So many veggie burgers get their flavor from garlic or onion powder, which leaves a kind of after taste--not to mention garlic breath... Buddha Burgers rely on the ingredients and herbs like sage, thyme and parsley. The flavor is subtle and fresh. The best part is that they are made with ingredients that serve a purpose and are health enhancing like quinoa, a grain that is a complete protein. If you aren't familiar with this grain, make a note of it and give it a try. My kids were raised on a diet of quinoa, pink lentils, black beans and arugula.

I now eat meat occasionally (I'll explain why in future blogs), but only in small quantities and it must be organic, preferably grass fed and expertly prepared.

Chrissie Hathor, the owner of Buddha Burger sent me a complimentary container of burgers, with a note and product literature that explained that her veggie burgers are shipped fully cooked, so one can eat them straight from the package. I prefer to give mine a bit of heat in a cast-iron skillet with a few drops of olive oil.

My kitchen started to fill with an appetizing herbal aroma. Good sign.

The Set-Up
I added a dollop of vegan (made with organic canola oil) mayo, a thick slice heirloom tomato and, my one-a-day vitamin: avocado. Yummy!

The burger doesn't overwhelm the other ingredients, in fact, it complements them. Adding humus or pesto would be a very nice combo too.

I have eaten a Buddha Burger everyday since they arrived at my door step (they were shipped packed on ice).

Drop by the Buddha Burger station for a taste
Buddha Burger will be offering mini-veggie burgers at our Family Festival event; be sure to stop by and have a taste. Chat with the owner, Chrissie, whom I have a feeling will have lots to say on the subject of nutrition and how her ingredients are processed (or not processed).

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Goodie Bag Addition: Ecojot Notebook

Made with 100% recycled paper!

I am fanatical about reusing paper. It feels wrong to throw a good piece of virgin paper into the trash without using it up completely.

That means that at work we use both sides of a sheet of paper and trim junk mail into note-sized strips to jot down quick notes. Post-It's Notes® are in my mind a huge waste, although I agree they have their place-they are way over used by the folks that haven't internalized the three R's (reduce, reuse, recycle).

At our office, I've gotten some strange looks from new hires upon learning that it's not okay to print off every email or add a post-it to document their every fanciful thought—and yes, I'm serious when I say that the life of a sheet of paper isn't over the until we have used both sides, and only then may it land in the recycle bin. It's an ongoing project and requires a big handful of 'stick-to-it' and 'don't forget' vitamins.

Ecojot has generously donated their 3"x5" notepads for inclusion in our Family Festival goodie bag.

Come on down, have some fun and leave with a bagful of eco-friendly booty!

Kids go through a lot of paper

They draw, they color, they write stories, they scribble. Do they care if they are doing it on virgin or recycled paper, I think not. I love the look of recycled paper and am suspicious of bright white…Enter Ecojot a wonderful line of journals, notebooks, sketchbooks, giftwrap and notecards made from 100% post-consumer waste. Love it!

Here is the eco-friendly low-down, or as we say at California Baby®, The Eco-Profile.

Ecojots are:

  • acid-free, processed chlorine-free paper & board

  • all inks & glues are vegetable based, making them bio-degradable

  • no new trees are used to make the paper

  • the paper mill is powered by biogas harnessed from a nearby landfill

  • protective packaging is corn-based

Value of this item: $4.33
Ongoing tally goodie bag : $35.72

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Cooking Personality for Kids?

Absolutely, and the man is Chef Gino! This big lovable Italian from Parma, Italy knows his stuff. But more importantly, he has the charisma to convey the joy of cooking to kids with a passion that is totally contagious.

I first heard about Chef Gino in a brain storming meeting in Santa Monica with my friends from the Garden School Foundation. In talking about what food to offer for our Family Festival, a simultaneous cheer of: “Chef Gino” rang out across the beautiful wooden dining table that serves as the meeting area in Nancy’s, the founder of the GSF and garden designer extraordinaire, office. Not knowing anything about Chef Gino, but trusting the taste level of the GSF board and staff implicitly, I looked up Chef Gino on Vimeo, and bada-bing: I fell in love instantly!

Hurry and buy your ticket to the California Baby Family Festival (the goodie-bag itself is worth more than the price of admission), and be sure stop by Gino’s cooking station for a hands-on cooking lesson or just sit back and watch him go, go, go! Gino says, “I'm going to make Tortellini with the kids and families at the event....easy, fun and sophisticated.” Whole Foods (where Gino’s pizzas will be debuting soon) will be providing the organic ingredients. If you are looking for me at the event, chances are - you’ll find me loitering around Chef Gino’s station :)
Click here to buy your tickets!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Making of an Awesome Goodie Bag!

I have this philosophy, if you’re going to have an event (as a company), the goodie-bag better be good! I’ve been to store openings where all one leaves with is a dinky product sample—or worse, nothing at all. Naturally, the California Baby goodie-bag that comes with your paid ticket at our Family Festival is going to be great! Check in to my blog daily to as I will continue adding to the goodie-bag as the goodies keep on a coming!

Here is the California Baby booty:
Organic shopping bag: $5.00

13 ounce bubble bath: $13.99

Sunglasses: $12.00

Cooler bag: $12.99

Current goodie bag value: $31.39

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Garden + Kids = Important

California Baby's Partner in Charity


I believe change comes from the everyday little things that you and I do that make a difference.

That means instead of being annoyed and muttering to myself when I see a kid littering, I take the time to stop for that moment and say, "hey, please don't litter, it's not cool." I know it may be old-fashioned and corny, but I also know it can make difference. Sometimes people just don't know, or need to be reminded... My thought is if we all just took one passing moment from our busy lives to make a difference in one kid's life, sharing what we know with them, it can be big for them. The payback may not be immediate or tangible, but it's out there and your good deed will land on the flower that needs pollinating.

The trick?

Slow things down. Catch a flash in time, stop it, and share the wealth of knowledge that is locked up in our heads, hearts and souls. Kids learn by example and the best lessons are 'caught, not taught.' Easier said than done, I know. That's why organizations like the Garden School Foundation are important, they make it easy for us to step in and help out without causing too much disturbance in our super busy lives.

For me, when I need to slow things down, I head to the garden; my imagination fires up and suddenly I'm floating, dreaming, creating, breathing… I can't explain it, but it works.

Let's get kids into the garden!

They don't have to dig, plant or weed if uninterested. Instead, they can simply watch the ants haul their booty (to who knows where); marvel at the humming birds whirling from flower-to-flower with single minded alacrity; or dig down and scoop up a handful of soil in search of earthworms. The magic will take care of itself.

The Garden School Foundation is a prototype that anyone is free to copy. In fact, it is the goal. So if you want your school to install a garden, The GSF is doing the heavy lifting by figuring out what works and creating a blueprint for others to follow.

Every school needs a garden!

It should be an extension of the playground. What if when a child misbehaves in class, they were sent to the garden instead of the principal's office? After all, it's about redirecting energy, not bottling it and waiting for it to explode.

I'm excited to work with The Garden School Foundation, a dynamic group of change-makers, whose sensibilities are right in line with California Baby's goals and our philosophy of"what's good for the environment is good for families."California Baby and the Garden School Foundation will put our heads together, get our hands dirty and have a good time doing our part to change the world, one step at a time…