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Living Future Conference 2012 ~ Portland, OR

I am so exciting to be driving down to Portland for another important conference on sustainability.  Not only is this sold-out event dedicated to, Women Reshaping the World, but it is being held in such a vibrant city that embraces a green lifestyle.   The conference is being hosted by the International Living Future Institute allowing  for brilliant minds in the green building movement that are creating and seeking solutions to the most daunting global issues to come together.  This incredible forum for learning and networking formats will  provide visionary design methods, innovative technical information, and the motivation needed to achieve meaningful progress toward living aware.

Many of you may remember that we went down last autumn for the amazing EcoDistrict Summit which is one of the world’s premier annual conference dedicated to urban sustainability.  During that awesome event we were not only able to listen to inspiring speakers like Denis Hayes, CEO of the Bullitt Foundation, but we were also able to network with city officials, designers, innovators and an array of other like-minded people who are pushing boundaries for greener cities. In turn all of those amazing individuals and no doubt, the attendees of the Living Future Conference, are creating a greener way of life for  communities spread around the world and link us together. 

During our last visit we stayed at The Nines Hotel, a lovely and luxurious LEED Silver Certified property in the heart of Portland.  We dined at their amazing organic/local/sustainable restaurants Departure and Urban Farmer, as well some others around town like Pok Pok and Bamboo Sushi which are some of my favorite restaurants to-date.  On this trip we are resting at Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco, just a block or so from, The Nines.  While the property is not LEED Certified, its service is spectacular and it offers a plethora of luxurious green amenities.  For shopping, the Pearl district was full of amazing boutiques like Woonwinkel that we will be sure to stop in on during this trip, as well as search out new shops on the scene. 

Stay tuned, we will have a lot more coming on the Living Future Conference and being green throughout Portland.


Lip Balm ~ LuLu Organics NYC

Loving LuLu Organics Ruby Mint lip balm.  This ecofabulous lip balm is USDSA & Oregon Tilth Certified organic.  It leaves your lips refreshed with their combination of spearmint and peppermint oils and just a touch of ruby color.  If you prefer they also have an exotic cardamom flavor that also has mint with a hit of tangerine.  As you may have assumed its formula is free of nasty ingredients like petroleum and paraben.  You can pick yours up at these various boutiques nationwide or through their website for $12.

Poppy ~ Seattle, WA

Last week, a good friend and I dined at another cute establishment in the Capital Hill neighborhood during Seattle’s Restaurant Week, called Poppy. We walked into a busy restaurant at 6:30 (always a good sign) and  sipped on a glass of Delille Cellar’s Syrah/Cabernet blend called Doyenne AIX (2008) from Washington’s famous Columbia Valley while we waited for our table at the bar.  First, DeLille may be my new favorite wine, it’s local, they have a ecofabulous sustainability policy for producing their wines (more to come on this winery).  Anyhow, back to Poppy. 

We sat at a two top table by the window and our meal was quickly underway with some fabulous appetizers.   The appetizers were probably one of my favorite parts of the entire meal.  We split between the two of us a salmon, avocado, heart of palm, and chevril salad – perfect, fresh, light, delicious.  The other one we chose from the other four options was the white sausage with prunes, shallot, and arugula that was also amazing.  The white sausage was far from typical tough to chew sausage, it was also light and seemed to melt in your mouth.

For dinner we ordered the sea scallops with a carrot vinaigrette, that came with a plethora of sides; naan, cauliflower, saffron, and rosemary soup, radish and grilled spring onion salad, asparagus with sage and lemon, gingered burdock ribbons.  The other dish was the herbed ricotta dumplings with nettles that was accompanied by the same provisions as the other dish.    The main dishes and the naan were splendid, not large at all, but very well done.  My only complaint was that the several small sides seemed to be pickled in some way or another and that was a tad too much on your palate. 

The thing I do love and loath about restaurant week is that all the meals come with a dessert.  I never order dessert when I am dining out and these 3 course dinners twist your arm into trying some amazing dishes.  Both sweets at Poppy included some amazing ice cream.  We couldn’t decide which one was better, the rhubarb and cookie or the hot date cake with brown butter ice cream, butterscotch and pecans.  

Another thing I do adore about this restaurant is their on site garden.  Herbs and other greens are plucked steps from the kitchen.  It cannot get anymore fresh or local than that.

Ecofriendly Luxury ~ The Spa at Four Seasons Seattle

The Spa at the Four Seasons hotel is the definition of luxury and natural beauty.  You walk into their zen reception area and you feel the weight of the world fall off your shoulders.  A soft-spoken team member welcomes you and glides your tired body back to settle you into your new home for the next few hours.  She opens a large locker stocked with everything you need to relax and gives a quick overview of the amenities their sanctuary includes: saunas (yes, plural), large private shower, toiletries, tea, orange water, cold compresses, and a changing area to name a few.  After I snuggled into my robe and slippers I sat in the hot dry sauna to relax and open my mind and pores up for the organic treatment I was about to indulge in.  If you prefer, you can also choose their beautiful tiled steam room to unwind and bask in humid air.   

 Ten minutes before my organic Amala facial (my absolute favorite facial to-date) I relaxed in their interior lounge with a cup of hot tea and snacked on complimentary dried fruits.  If you so desire you can also enjoy a lunch from room service in this cozy, dim room.  Before I knew it, I was quietly escorted off to my organic, 80 minute Amala Amala Rejuvenating Anti-Aging facial (a lot more to come on The Spa’s Amala Facials). 

 After my facial, I retreated back to the gorgeous and simple locker room for a splendid warm rinse in their shower with low-water technology.  The shower was stocked with PABA-free shampoo, conditioner exactly like the famous L’Occitane Verbena fragrance.  I wrapped back up in the cozy robe and pampered myself with the body lotions and other toiletries they make available for their patrons.  I lingered and primped probably longer than anyone else ever has, but I just had to get my fill of the serenity they offered.

 If you are visiting the fabulous spa as a guest of the hotel or purchaser of one of their spa packages, you are welcome to all amenities that the property has to offer, like the Energy Star rated equipment and televisions in the Fitness Center.  Afterwards, take a dip in the rooftop infinity pool with its spectacular views of the Puget Sound.  Perhaps enjoy a fresh lunch from the restaurant with ease, knowing that any morsel left behind will be composted. 

 The Four Seasons Hotel and The Spa masterly operates green and luxury simultaneously and fluidly.  Approximately 70 percent of the energy consumed within the hotel is renewable and it uses steam produced from Seattle Steam Co. for heating and for their hot water, to help reduce their environmental footprint.  Who ever says luxury can’t be green, hasn’t had my experience….yet.

White Linen Jacket ~ Stewart + Brown

Stewart + Brown just added this eco-fabulous soft white linen cargo jacket to their weekend sale.  This safari style coat  is incredibly chic and is perfect over any outfit for a cool spring night.  It is made for 100% natural european linen in the USA and can be delicately washed in cold water (no toxic dry cleaning).  Stewart + Brown have this ecofriendly jacket on sale for $98 and are offering and additional 20% off this weekend by using coupon code “TWENTYOFF”. 

If you haven’t heard of Stewart + Brown you’ve been missing out.  They are on a mission similar to ours:  

Stewart+Brown believes in optimizing their designs and lives to attain the highest standards of quality and functional style while extracting the bare minimum from the Earths precious capital. Stewart+Brown practices and promotes a symbiotic and harmonious relationship between business, community, and nature. We aspire to apply the wisdom of sustainability to everything we do while inspiring others, just as we have been inspired, to do the same.  Stewart+Brown donates a percentage of all sales to non-profit, non-governmental environmental and social welfare organizations

Cellulose Cleaning Cloths ~ Full Circle Home

Full Circle Home sells these eco-fabulous cellulose cleaning cloths to replace your old dated and wasteful paper towels.  These reuseable cloths are plant-based and biodegradable, but sturdy enough to be freshened up in the dishwasher or in boiling water.  I use them in my office kitchen to wipe up annoying coffee spills and to do the dishes.   We use them at home too on the counters, for spills, wiping dishes down, everywhere.   They are sold in pack with three cheerful colors; sun, sea, and a scarlet.  The cloths dry like any sponge but with a dab of water they come to life again.  Be green and save green, these handy cloths are only $6 on Amazon.

Ba Bar ~ Seattle, WA

Ba Bar, is a fabulous restaurant serving up flavors of southeast Asia’s street food.  Ba Bar believes, and we have to agree, the best food is simple and made fresh daily.  Chefs Eric Banh and Dung Doan bring big flavors  from the sidewalks of Siagon to Seattle with fresh, local ingredients from the Pacific Northwest.

We arrived at the restaurant around 8 PM on a Saturday night and had a short wait for a party of six.  We hung out in their bar area that overlooks the restaurant and sipped on a pleasant, dry, and reasonably priced white wine from the local O’Shea Scarbourgh winery called, Rebel.   It wasn’t long before we were kindly escorted to our table by the window and our meal was underway.

Our large party dined on two of the specials they had that evening, the Banh Cuon and the Halibut Collar and both exceptional.  The unbelievably delicate and delicious paper-thin noodles of the Banh Cohn  filled with ground Carlton Farms pork, wood ear mushrooms, minced shallots and fresh herbs with a side of  a fresh noodle and bean sprout salad.   The Halibut Collar was perfectly light, flaky and flavorful.  Also on our table were their crispy frog legs that were delicious and didn’t taste like chicken, they tasted better than chicken.  The Combo Vermicelli is overflowing with local, sustainable ingredients like grilled Draper Valley chicken, white prawn, grass-fed beef, crispy imperial roll, cucumber, rau thom (Vietnamese herbs).  The food and every encounter with the knowledgable and attentive staff was exceptional.

The restaurant itself is on the south end of 12th Ave in Seattle.  The building is well done with big windows letting in great natural light to highlight the industrial, but cozy interior.   No one can figure out when these guys sleep either, the restaurant is open from 7 AM to 2 AM Sunday-Thursday and then 7 AM to 4 AM on Friday and Saturday nights.  We have yet to try their morning coffee and pastry bar, but it is on our immediate list of things to do as well as their Kung Fu Karaoke nights and Friday night movies.  Go, support this fabulous restaurant, their friendly staff and the purveyors of Ba Bar’s local ingredients.

Petal Accents Blush ~ Aveda

We are big fans of eco-friendly Aveda’s Shimmer Shell blush and bronzer in their new Sea Blossoms line for summer.  The warm pink and golden tones are a great cheek highlighter for any skin tone.  The palette has light scents of organic lavender and is mineral oil and talc free.  You have to love that Aveda stays true to the details too, the packaging is 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) clamshell and paper sleeve.  Pick yours up at the Gary Manuel Salon or at any Aveda store  for $24.

Happy Earth Day!

We hope that everyone outside enjoying nature in celebration of our favorite ‘holiday’.  Use today to make a difference in your home, your routine, and your community.

  • Plant a tree.  If you don’t have room for a tree, plant a small edible organic garden
  • Choose green cleaning products for your home and office.
  • Add aerators to faucets and low flow shower heads to reduce water use.
  • Grasscycle your lawn to keep your lawn healthy and reduce the need for irrigation.
  • Choose fresh organic food at the market and when dining, remember You Are What You Eat.
  • Reduce consumption, but if you must by something new support eco-friendly and socially responsible fashion
  • What you use on your skin is just as important as what you eat, be a Natural Beauty.
  • Turn off the water while brushing your teeth, every little bit counts.
  • Switch to CFL bulbs and turn off lights when not in use.
  • Turn off and unplug electronics not in use. (coffee maker, toaster, that cell phone charger).
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Have an ecofabulous day.  Be GREEN!

Dinner ~ Inn at Langley

Recently, we made the short trip up to picturesque Whidbey Island for an overnight adventure at the beautiful Inn at Langley.   We were so lucky to not only be staying at this beautiful hotel nestled up to the Puget Sound, but to enjoy the famous dinner at their restaurant, operated by the talented Chef Matt Costello.   This Whidbey Island restaurant is so cozy with its double-sided river rock fireplace, warm woods, and expansive windows.   You are able to enjoy acclaimed Chef Costello work is magic as he prepares a splendid six-course dinner in the open kitchen.  The seasonal and local ingredients from the rich lands on the island are finessed into unique and unexpected creations that leave you in absolute awe.  

If you choose, you can complement this culinary experience with the pairing menu from the Inn’s extensive wine collection.  The Inn at Langley’s Restaurant serves dinner every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night year-round and Thursday through Sunday nights during the summer months, beginning in June.

When we arrived at the restaurant as sun was starting to set and the restaurant was aglow and filled with energy.  We were treated to a glass of tantilizing bubbles and seated at a large table communal table positioned parallel to the kitchen with 4 other couples.  Honestly, I probably  wouldn’t have chosen to sit with other couples I didn’t know, but in the end I’m absolutely pleased that it happened the way it did.  Matt Costello, gave a gracious and welcoming speech about the meal that was in store for us and the ingredients he choses to use from around the island.  You could see the grins from our every table in the restaurant as this romantic story of dinner unfolded. 

Before we new it our meal had started and first up was an amazing amuse bouche that melted in your mouth and then an oyster expertly prepared with cucumber and lime.  The meal continued on with a baked pretzel with goat milk butter that was simple and delicious.  Next up was the a halibut with a streak of marshmallow and then a creamy risotto with asparagus and fava beans.  Then to a goose confit, that was soon followed by the first of the desserts which ended up being one of my favorite items of the evening, a toasted hay ice cream and  a triple cream dish.  After this simple cheese dish there was a green apple and celery consomme, and then to a playful whipped chocolate that consisted of ‘pop rock’ toffee. 

We closed out the night full of food, wine, and laughs.  The setting and ambiance of the Inn and the charms of the Island will alway be a fond memory in my mind.