Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Celiac Sprue Is Poo & Drinking Barium

Yesterday I rode my bike for a visit to the GI Doctor to check in on my Celiac Sprue, and since I never recovered properly on the Gluten Free diet they are now wanting to probe for the possibility of something called "Refractory Sprue". Bleh. Which meant a whole bunch of tests to be run - I gave blood and then was then given a huge BIO HAZARD bag with a milk jug sized container to collect poop in - WTF? Immediately I was like "Hey I don't have to fill this do I?" and the nurse was like "No , just everytime you use the bathroom you put the 'nun hat' on the toilet seat (she held up a plastic contraption) and you go in the 'cool whip bowl'." Uh, nuns and cool whip and poo all together made me queasy to think of.

But not as queasy as....... the appointment they made for me at the hospital for a Barium MRI. I was like "Isn't barium a metal?" and the nurse tells me "no", so I say "I am allergic to alot of meds I don't think this sounds good for me, is there an alternative?" and she says "we don't think you'll have a reaction". So I came home and used the trusty rusty internet to tell me what I already knew- they want me to ride my bike 3 miles to the hospital after fasting, then on an empty stomach drink a metallic milkshake that will dye my insides so they can take snazzy med pics and tell me something I may or may not want to hear. I am also the perfect candidate to have a bad reaction, reactions that can include going unconscious, migraines and vomiting.

So here's my list of ...

Terrible things I rather do then drink Barium! :::

1. poo on a Nun's hat (pun intended)
2. poo on a real nun (or be the recipient of nun poo)
3. slash a nice person's tires
4. kiss a clown (and/or be spanked by a clown) ....gawd I hate clowns!!!!!
5. rob an old man on crutches of $20
6. stick my hand in the piranha tank at the New Orleans aquarium for over 10 seconds
7. give my cat a cold bath
8. give Dr. Phil a hug and let him tell me what he thinks is wrong with me
9. have 20 roaches crawl on my naked body (or alternately be naked in a room full of mosquitoes)
10. have someone's vomit splash on my fav wool sweater
11. spray myself in the eyes with pepper spray
12. go on a blind date at night to a remote unlit area with no phone
13. put a slug in the sun to bake
14. watch Fox News 3 nights in a row
15. have sex with Morgus the Magnificent (with Chopsley watching).

Would you drink Barium?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Recipe: Gluten Free, Macrobiotic & Organic Wraps

Being diagnosed with Celiac Sprue (and various food allergies) was a pretty huge blow to my cooking skills- which were heavily cajun and super de duper delicious. To say I went into a food funk for the last 7 years is an understatement... and I seek outside inspiration, but rarely click with most recipes. My dream is to have a personal chef who comes up with cool new ways for me to work with a limited diet, keeping me out of the food allergy duldrums. Then along came my friend Evan, the master of food manipulation! With a list of the foods I could actually eat he tinkered away to come up with 3 solid recipes and totally succeeded- I feel like I've lost my food allergy virginity now because this first recipe I am sharing with ya'll is soooo yum yum I could have died. Thank gawd for Evan being a sauce genuis, here's the recipe in his words (in bold print)!
Basics : vinegar > salt > rice syrup > olive oil > pot of boiling water
Ingredients : whole lettuce or steamed/cooled cabbage leaves > radish (daikon if possible) > carrot > scallion > red onion > parsley > bean sprouts > rice noodles > protein (fish/tofu/tempeh) > whole lemon or lime ...
1.Pick whole leaves from lettuce or cabbage and wash. If cabbage, lightly steam to soften and then cool.
2.Shred to finger length pieces and place in ice water bath for 2 minutes. Then keep cold till using.
Carrot > Red Onion > Radish
Any crunchy veg can be used for this part.
Puree ¼ whole red onion + small handful of parsley + 1 radish + teaspoon vinegar + juice from ½ lemon or lime + pinch of salt + pinch of rice syrup
Dress shredded veg + bean sprouts and marinate for 5-15 minutes before serving (leave at room temp)
i. The end result is finger sized pieces of fish. You can do any variety of cooking like broiling/pan cooking/frying
ii. If you have a large piece of fish, steam and then cut into fingers.
i. Cut into 1” wide and 2” long pieces.
ii. Cook by frying/pan cooking/baking/broiling
i. However you like it, so long as it’s in large enough pieces.
Cook rice noodles according to package and immediately immerse in ice water for 5-10 seconds to stop cooking.
Remove from ice water and lay on a damp paper towel.

As you can see there are alot of variations, which is great when catering to food allergies - Evan gives choices of proteins and veggies and doesn't put exact measurements because it is something each person will have to make to taste.
These goodies in the pic above are the ingredients for the marinating sauce which was so yummy, that when I first smelled it in the blender my nose tingled and I felt like I couldn't stop grinning. Mmmmmm.
1. Lay out lettuce/cabbage leaf and place ingredients in lower 1/3, just below the halfway point.
2.Wrap bottom over filling and roll halfway up.
3.Fold in sides, tuck and wrap to the top
When I got to the end, I couldn't figure out whether I was supposed to put the wraps on top the noodles or put noodles in the wraps... I ended up with them on top (maybe cause I got lazy though!) Plus, I think I don't actually know the official way to wrap- I was tucking corners into an abyss of cabbage...then they'd slowly poke back out. Could this be related to the same affliction my mom told me I had with folding clothes? :)
How rockin' does this organic dish look though!?! Thanks Evan (of the Nerditry blog) for coming up with something so awesome, and where DO the noodles go?

Wolf Spider and Some Other Beast

It's too bad the size of these bad boys gets lost in the scaling of a photograph, because they are too big 2 be true!! This must be gigantic spider season here in Western North Carolina... so enjoy the influx of creepy beautiful pictures of them. This looks like a wolf spider up top, but the bottom pic, well he's just a ferocious BEAST!

Munch Munch! xoxo

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sewing With Local Organic Cotton Part 5

Here is my latest design in local organic cotton, although it is somewhat of a copy cat from another eco designer dress that was mistakenly sent to me by a customer. I really loved the loose fabric neckline and checked out how it was made to copy the pattern, but I added sleeves, elbow patches, and made the dress very tight (for showing off curves!) I used a stretchy organic jersey cotton for this which cost $17 for two yards, but I only used approximately $10 worth for this dress. A $10 locally woven organic cotton dress is a STEAL!!!
This is the first time I have sewn sleeves, and they made me so nervous I actually had sewn one of them inside out at first and had to rip it back off and re-sew it on again. Never-the-less sleeves are not as hard as I had imagined - I just made the dress sleeveless then made two tubes which I added in after the body was finished.
To make the body of the dress, simply take your exact measurements and make a tube going up and then form a tank top sleeve line. Continue the neckline upward by keeping the fabric very wide and long, like a giant cylinder that comes almost to the end of your shoulder.
The elbow patches were something given to me by a creative friend, who had a big collection of appliques she'd collected & made. These are handmade drawings of stripper playing cards printed on fabric, and I hand sewed them on, very tightly.
Yay for local & organic!!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Chemical Sensitivities And Giggles

If you are one of the many people who have Mutple Chemical Sensitivities you may not find it a laughing matter. You may be downright depressed and isolated... but if you are reading this you are also one of the lucky ones strong enough to tolerate being on a computer! That means you can have support, giggles, and good information at your finger tips - and that will improve the feeling of 'being crazy' that much more. That's why I love the new blog "Living With Chemical Sensitivities" by Lou Cheese. Lou's story brings uncensored humor & graphic accounts of his experience of going from a hard body weight lifter, to suddenly crashing out with MCS.
"I was diagnosed with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (also called Environmental Illness and Chemical Injury) in December of 2007. Basically, my health is fine as long as I don't breathe, eat, or touch anything inorganic. My respiratory system is by far the most sensitive to pollutants, and I generally cannot leave the apartment without a respirator. I have created several coping strategies allowing me to continue with work and occasionally venture out into the realm of the sprayers (people who wear perfume or cologne), although prolonged exposure to and any type of physical contact with sprayers is extremely limited."
Many customers of The Oko Box have issues with chemicals and I am happy to provide them with eco clothing that is more easily tolerated and is stored in a chemical free environment. I do this because I am one of many people who have become the canary in the mine, for the pollution we are causing on earth. Now go check out Lou's hysterical and off the hook blog about his life with MCS !!!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Holiday Shopping = Buy Organic

You've got parties to go to, gifts to give, people to impress ... or just like to dance around your fireplace in your organic undies. The holidays are already coming and this year it is not only hip to give green but it is also part of a greater shift to change the way we treat the planet we live on. When you shop for earth friendly products you are helping the lives of fairly paid workers, the health of farmers, the well being of your family and each little creature that breathes. That is some bad ass gift giving that goes full circle, so here at The Oko Box I am offering a FREE SHIPPING coupon for the whole holiday season, just type in "okobreeze" in the coupon box at checkout!

There are fantastic holiday gifts such as the Hemp Slippers pictured here (they smell so yummy), the Hemp Shopping Bag
Alpaca Arm Warmers
, Clare Bare Eco Lingerie, and adorable winter hats! Don't forget the cool Autonomie Project Sneakers in organic canvas with natural rubber soles and FSC certification... & did I mention they are vegan too!
Ladies can show your eco attitude by dressing up in swank & sexy duds like the Meadow Green Tea Dress, GDG Party Glass Dress pictured here, or Gaia Conception's Kiss Me Dress. Men, you can show your stuff in the way too sexy Organic Martingala Jean and Bello Uomo button down shirt.
Happy Shopping!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Banana Spiders Are Huge!

This is Mr. Big, not to be confused with the band... Mr. Big is a "Banana Spider" who spun a giant web in front my house making a grand display of his hugeness. If you are uneasy around spiders you will require medical attention upon sight of his web since he's the size of arachnophobic nightmares. Luckily I heart Mr. Big and he tolerated my obsessive staring.
Mr. Big is so awesome, I think I will dedicate Be With You to him ;)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Graph Jam: Abstinence Only Sex Ed

Ya'll know how I'm not into over populating the earth... this graph made me giggle :). Check out more graph humor over at Graph Jam!

Spider Eating Fly

This spider don't need no web, he just catches the fly straight up!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Grow A Fruit or Nut Tree

I confess that I have a bit of a seed saving obsession. Everytime I find seeds inside my organic fruits and veggies I feel like I struck gold...possibly this is some deep biological farmer instinct, maybe it's in my DNA, or most likely it's from reading lots of self sustained farming books. I love growing trees from seeds I save from my fruit and nuts- this little proud guy pictured here is a apple tree! I have planted bunches of trees everywhere I lived, cherries, pecans, peaches and a variety of apples. It's totally organic & easy to do: When you eat an apple, just pop out the seed and stick it in some dirt, keep the dirt moist & thinly mulched...and wait for the joy of your tree seedling to pop out! If you want to try a peach seed, then soak the hard hull in some water for a day then crack open with a nutcracker and plant the almond shaped seed loosely under the dirt. For nut trees, just stick some nuts in their shell down in the dirt (pine nuts and pecans grow really easily).
These are my favorite to plant because I know they will be giving back and feeding people later on. :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

Eco Birthday Wish List

My 31st Birthday is coming October 5th and this morning I was making an eco birthday wish list in my head, which I decided to share so that ya'll can partake in these cool discoveries too! Strange but true, even though I own an eco fashion store I rarely ever buy anything for myself and don't have even 1/10 of the amount of clothes & undies as most people (men and women alike). I am a reluctant shopper... but here goes my eco gift discoveries:

1. Hot Organic Skinny Jeans! - These are not so easy to find since organic cotton is already so rare, but also the skinny jean style is totally on it's way out the door. I still love it, especially in this purple color by Good Society which are just like the ones I had in 8th grade except without the zipper sides. They don't really have my size in the dreamy unicorn purple (I wear a 24/25 and the smallest they have is a 26, although I would sport them anyway.) So, my slightly more realistic wish is for these blue ones in dark vintage.

2. Eco Panties! - This is something I can never have enough of! I have mostly American Apparel panties and a few Blue Canoe organic briefs, but the AA ones don't seem to last longer then a year before stretching out and being...well not too cute or even functional anymore. I found these perfect bamboo panties over at Bo Belly on etsy! They are affordable, simple, sexy and in sultry colors. Another fab etsy store with eco skivvies too is Louella Bloom - with perfect cami's and nighties that are in colors like black & magenta...a sort of dreamy unicorn magenta. :)

Then check out this vintage looking set by Brooke There, too cute to be true and made with soy & organic cotton! (You can get it with black trim instead of white depending on what look you are going for.)

...While keeping with this theme, I wouldn't mind having a pair of Urban Fox's eco thigh high stockings too (but those are a bit pricey even for a birthday)! They are so awesome though, don't you agree? But for the less expensive not eco fiber version go to American Apperal (pictured here), suuuuuper sexy warm wintery socks.

3. Another 'wife beater' tank! - I wear tank tops like crazy, I LIVE in them, I stretch them out like a cheap pair of AA undies... and I have been sweet on this "dig deeper" SKIN ON SKIN tank for almost a year now. This shop donates to charity, supports equality of all people, and uses organic cotton to make these hardcore sexy tanks. (If you happen to be gay, lez, or bi this shop has some really sexy slogan tanks perfect for you!)

...So now I realize I just want the affordable basics that will function for years in my life... well except for this really expensive fabulous beautiful fair trade winter coat in PURPLE!

YAY ... share your eco wish list in the comments, whether your birthday is coming or not :)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Nature Calls

There is a wooded area downtown Asheville NC just a few blocks from my house that I really enjoy biking and walking in. It breaks my heart a little because I miss living out in the majestic boonies of Madison County in the tiny converted tobacco shed/house. (Note to Universe: Would like to get back to living in the woods ASAP...Thanks!)
Rotten trees make beautiful monuments and a snug home for a gazillion bugs & critters.

Wonder who lives in that hole!?!

That is my bike "The Cajun Knuckle" resting with the trees...

This bunny very patiently waited till I was finished taking a few pics of him before hopping along and chewing some leaves.
Do you prefer the city life or roughing it out in the woods- and why?

Eco Crochet With Natural Fiber Yarn

Yesterday I rode my bike to the local Yarn shop called Purl's to get some eco fiber yarns to crochet with. I am crocheting some cool + wacky leg warmers and other goodies for The Oko Box and wanted to use not only locally purchased but natural fiber yarn. I found a pretty good selection of alpaca, merino & organic wool, organic cotton, Llama, silk and bamboo fibers. I was wishing they carried the banana fiber yarn since it is soooo silky smooth and shiny but the owner said she doesn't like the quality (pulls apart too easy & not consistent).
This is a picture of the organic wool rack which had a really awesome color selection but was rather pricey depending on what your project is... each roll ran between $7.50 and $13.50 a piece. I bought some bright red organic wool, and also some merino wool silk blend that didn't go quite as far as I hoped for my project, it's puffy nature was deceiving. (And of course I don't know what all those numbers mean on the tag that tell you exactly how much you are buying ;) ...)
Oh but look at her cute little doggy in the window! ruff ruff!
Would be awesome if natural fibers were more in demand enough to bring down the price- so all you eco crafters get out there and start buying these yarns!!!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Preggers Praying Mantis

Meet Ms. Goopy (alter ego Ms. Switchblade), the 6 inch long pregnant female praying mantis chillin' on my porch. She caught my attention because besides being really huge, she had her swollen abdomen turned out with her wings exposed and was gooping some sort of stuff that an ant was happily eating off of her.

I was a little worried that this was an injury and not some egg laying goop, does anyone know for sure? Majestic non the less.
Here is a close up of the beautiful wing display, which I have never seen a praying mantis do before... in fact I am not sure I have even seen them fly much.
Yay for bugs!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Stick Bug

Or so I think, because this little bug fooled me into thinking he was a stick. It was on my paper I was painting on, and when I went to brush off the twig I realized it was all squishy! I picked it up and was amazed that it's back suction legs stuck to my finger and this squishy stick was ALIVE...
Oh NO! Mr. Sticky, I didn't mean to do it, it was an accident!!!! ....
Just Kidding :) ... he just happen to fall into to some Poke Berry paint drips from my non toxic paint project yesterday. Check out the cool way he can completely retract his front claws & face to look entirely twiggy.

I waited a while to catch him crawling - how cute is he now!? I heart Mr. Sticky.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Nature DIY Part 2: Cat & Human Hair Paint Brush

After making my Poke Berry paint (see Nature DIY Part 1) I realized that it had been so long since I actually painted that I no longer had brushes to paint with! Regular paints were too toxic for me, so I had skipped the whole painting medium of art the last 7 years and tried other less noxious endeavours. This turned out to be a great gift that forced my trained art mind out of the box... and on to discover things like this...

First you'll need to find some sticks, broken branches or strong vine for the handle of your brush. I cut mine from some dead vines hanging from a tree behind my house. You want the wood to be fairly easy to carve but not weak enough to break with pressure.

I then took a kitchen knife and shaved off the rough bark that was on the outside of the vine, from top to bottom. Doing this all the way to the top is optional, but is kind of fun. :)
You then will want to carve a point at the brush end of your stick, as pointy as you can get it. Above the pointy end I carved an indentation (as shown in the pictures here) as a place to wrap something around the bristles- because I did not use any type of glue or adhesives.

This is a ball of human hair, my hair to be exact. For a more uniform brush I would recommend cutting a chunk of hair out...but since I already had this giant ball of hair laying around (actually waiting to go into the compost), I just balled it up, and used scissors to snip off the ends. I tied a rubber band around the spot where the indentation was carved, to hold the hair in place.

Then I wrapped some scrap organic cotton over the rubber band and the loose hair very tightly.

Human hair makes an awesome paint brush!!!

And cat hair too! I got this hair ball from my neighbor since my cat wasn't shedding enough for my project :)

I put the cat hair on a Goji Berry branch and wrapped it with organic cotton too. The pointy carved tip under the hair can add some really cool lines when the right pressure is applied.

This is my quickie painting sample of what both the human hair and cat hair brushes combined can do. This is using the Poke Berry paint too (which only requires the berries, salt and water to make)! I think this is one super dee duper bad ass non toxic art project. YAY!

What other things could I use to make paint brushes? What other art tools can be made too?