Archive for the ‘Giving’ Category

7 Dog Factoids

April 24th, 2009 by Amy

I’m not much of a dog person, but I love my dog Rosie.


Abused as a puppy, Rosie is now a dog who absolutely thrives on loving glances and gentle petting. She doesn’t ask for much, yet I get the distinct feeling that she’d save someone’s life if she needed to.


Since Rosie adopted our family a year ago I’ve been continually amazed by her sensitivity, intuition, and intelligence.


Every dog is naturally incredible; here are just a few of the ways:


1.  A dog can hear sounds 250 yards away that most people cannot hear beyond 25 yards. The human ear can detect sound waves vibrating at frequencies up to 20,000 times a second. Dogs can hear sound waves vibrating at frequencies of more than 30,000 times a second.

2.  A dog’s sense of smell is more than 100,000 times stronger than that of a human.

3.  Dogs have two times as many muscles to move their ears as people.


4.  Dogs are able to see much better in dim light than humans. This is due to the tapetum lucidum, a light-reflecting layer behind the retina. Because it functions like a mirror, it also accounts for the strange shine or glow in a dog’s eyes at night.

5.  Dogs judge objects first by their movement, then by their brightness, and finally by their shape.

6.  A dog’s mouth exerts 150-200 pounds of pressure per square inch … with some dogs exerting up to 450 pounds per square inch.

7.  Dog’s nose prints are as unique as a human’s finger prints and can be used to accurately identify them.  

More than 1 in 3 American families owns a dog … do you have one yet?

7 Ways To Say Thanks

April 10th, 2009 by Amy

Photo credit  perchpapiers

“Saying thank you is more than good manners.
It is good spirituality.”
Alfred Painter

1.  Apoplectic
For the times when you just want to thank a friend for being unabashedly themselves … go ApoplecticThese surreal cards feature wordy lists of thanks for things like “not seeking employment as a ruthless CEO of a criminally psychopathic multinational company” and “having an interminable nagging sensation that Bill Gates may have more than his fair share.”  

2.  Gesture
Thanking can be complicated, but The Gratitude Campaign encourages folks to do it from the heart. As the movie says, it’s not about politics, it’s about acknowledgement of service.

3.  Lasting
A simple token of thanks becomes something special when given in a Gratitude Bag from Paloma’s Nest (at right). Package of seeds? A special rock? A ring? The bag is sturdy, yet delicate, and the beauty of it is you can re-gift it without an ounce of guilt … just gratitude.

4.  Namaste
Rhode Island artist and designer Maeve Donohue created this sweet print of a kokeshi – a Japanese folk art doll traditionally given as a token of appreciation – and captured the spirit of thanks (below).

5.  Signage
Reach everyone at once with this big show of thanks … so cute it’s sure to become a keepsake. The cheerful photo above is from perchpapiers.

6.  Simple Is Best
Based in the Netherlands, this understated and inspiring Thank You site is filled with well-chosen words of appreciation. For 3 euros, they’ll send yours.

7.  Write Right
Grasping for words? This article will help you construct a heartfelt Thank You note that hits all the highlights.

7 Vintage Postcards For Easter

April 6th, 2009 by Amy

I thought these vintage postcards were priceless!


Who better to convey your Easter greetings than a smoking rooster or a small circus chick in a pink tutu?


Printed between 1908 and 1912, these lovely little bits of history are all for sale at Moody’s Postcards.

(click to enlarge)

7 Quotes That Create Historical Context

April 2nd, 2009 by Amy

As the G-20 Summit begins in London, it feels like we are at a historic crossroads.


Or are we?


1.  Aristotle

All who have meditated on the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth.


2.  Mohandas K. Gandhi

The Roots of Violence:
Wealth without work,
Pleasure without conscience,
Knowledge without character,
Commerce without morality,
Science without humanity,
Worship without sacrifice,
Politics without principles.


3.  Hubert H. Humphrey

It was once said that the moral test of Government is how that Government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.


4.  Thomas Jefferson

The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government.


5.  Martin Luther King, Jr.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.


6.  Plato

An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.


7.  Eleanor Roosevelt

When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?

7 Companies That Sell Safe Body Care Products

March 17th, 2009 by Amy

I love taking hot, hot bubble baths.


That is I used to, until I read this.


Somehow marinating myself in a steamy carcinogenetic cocktail seems less relaxing than it did when I was ignorant.


The good news is that while the Environmental Working Group’s Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has exposed the offenders, it has also drawn welcome attention to smaller, value-driven companies who have been doing good all along. Many have signed a Compact for Safe Cosmetics, pledging to make safer products and provide higher levels of transparency to consumers.


Here is a sampling of just some of the many companies who swept the “Best Of” lists with their impressively pure products. Before I fill the tub again, I plan on shopping around.



1.  Earth Mama, Angel Baby

Earth Mama, Angel Baby cares for its customers during the most natural process on the planet – pregnancy and birth. Their lotions, soaps, and salves seem both practical and luxurious.

2.  Garden of Eve

Garden of Eve’s sampler kits are a great introduction to the company’s products … not to mention a wonderful gift idea.

3.  Healing Scents

Healing Scents is dedicated to pure, natural ingredients without ever cutting any corners – a true labor of love.

4.  Nurture My Body
Started as a personal quest for all natural products, Nurture My Body has grown into a lovely online store that has its customer’s best interests at heart.

5.  Poof’s Closet
Poof’s Closet’s wonderfully unscented baby products don’t mask the naturally cute smell all babies are born with. Fun lip balm flavors, too.

6.  Tom’s of Maine
Tom’s of Maine opts for full disclosure, freely discussing what they put – and don’t put – in their products on their website. Tom’s is widely available at grocery stores and pharmacies.


7.  A Wild Soap Bar

These colorful natural soaps are handmade near Austin, TX and incorporate super-fragrant organically grown botanicals. Wild, indeed!

7 Retro Children’s Toys That Aren’t Sexy … Just Fun!

March 11th, 2009 by Amy

Barbie is turning 50 and little Dora is getting a sexy pre-pubescent makeover to appeal to the pre-school crowd.


All the talk of the appropriateness of breasts, provocative outfits, and come-hither hair has made me a bit weary. Frankly, the social development, identity formation, and pretend play empowerment arguments seem like thinly-veiled justifications for toys we know aren’t really an improvement over a corn husk doll


I’m not proposing banishing Barbie or dumping Dora – that feels a bit too much like blaming the victim – but I am thinking that if parents simply steered their children in a different direction, we’d get our priorities back on track.


As the economy drives everyone back to basics, consider the toys below. All are priced under $20, save one which is priced under $30. These are toys you can build with, hop on, and hug. They are universally appealing, shockingly educational, and wildly creative.


These are the toys you might remember playing with way back when.


And, look how well you turned out!




1.  Erector Set

The ingenious Erector Set set the standard and remains an amazing example of what kids love if you let ‘em!


Since 1913, these classic build & play toys have been challenging builders of all ages. Inspiring creativity, observation, deductive reasoning, logical thinking, principles of mechanics, physics & problem solving. Erector Sets are an impeccable example of a “child powered toy” offering wholesome play possibilities.”  


2.  Lincoln Logs

Invented by the son of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, these little logs still captivate with their “realness.” I love that my kids’ overly-stylized and achingly cute Little Pet Shop posse currently live in a humble log cabin. When they aren’t raisin’ hell on pirate ships in the bathtub.


3.  Pogo Stick

In the 1920s, Pogo Sticks were all the rage as people bounced, danced, and jitterbugged their way through the raucous Roaring Twenties. Can you even imagine letting your child use such a contraption without head, wrist, elbow, and knee gear? Might be time to throw caution to the wind, stare danger in the face, and hop on a Pogo Stick!


4.  Raggedy Ann and Andy

Created by writer Johnny Gruelle for his daughter, Raggedy Ann and Andy were created between 1915 and 1920 and popularized through a series of books and dolls. What makes The Raggedys rare and so great is there are two of them – a girl and a boy. When is the last time you saw a pair of doll siblings?


A little known fact: When his young daughter died after being vaccinated for smallpox without his consent, Gruelle allowed his characters to be used as part of a growing anti-vaccination movement. Interesting.



5.  Slinky

Another classic crowd pleaser, the Slinky isn’t only clever and fun, it’s super inexpensive. Ever notice how a Slinky is almost always just a couple of dollars? Turns out, that’s by design. The wife of the inventor, who was also president of the company that made Slinky for decades, purposefully kept prices low so that the toy would be affordable for all families. Pick one up as a gift … it’s too perfect to pass up.



6.  Tinker Toys

The inventor of Tinker Toys got his flash of inspiration while watching children play with pencils and spools. Duh! Based on the “Pythagorean progressive right triangle” (oh … I don’t know either!), the toy has also been a popular plaything for scientists some of whom used it to build a computer capable of playing Tic-Tac-Toe!



7.  Top

A top seems so ridiculously simple now its hard to imagine today’s children sitting down and watching something go round and round and round. But this old-school toy is a classic for a reason – kids love hypnotizing themselves. Older kids will enjoy upgrading to a gyroscope. More complex, just as hypnotic!



Nostalgic for more retro toys?


Check out what the guys at Retro Thing have to say about various old-school toys and fall in love all over again.

7 News Ways To Appreciate Crochet

March 5th, 2009 by Amy

According to Joana Vasconcelos, an artist who wraps mass-produced objects in lacy, crocheted webs (see right), “Today, there are objects … that anyone can appreciate as being cool and trendy … There are objects that have changed status in this way. Status of people—of objects—changes; it isn’t static. Things that are banal today might belong in high culture tomorrow.”

So it is with crochet.

Do things become more beautiful, interesting, or amazing?

Or, do we just grow to better see how beautiful, interesting, or amazing they are?

Think back to the doilies and afghans of yesteryear.

See the beauty now?

1.  Stitch Diva

The cool ladies at this hipster site dream up sexy and sassy crochet creations (right) that raise the hook to new heights. Since not everyone can make the Bay-area classes, Stitch Diva has plenty of helpful video tutorials, downloadable patterns, and nifty products online to help get you started.

2.  Posie

The crochet patterns at Posie are so adorable you want to scream. Pretty, pretty, pretty! As you can tell from her press page, we aren’t the first to enjoy this inspired website and blog, but we’re still entirely smitten. (Note: Sewers are bound to love the fanciful “memory-keeping projects to sew and share” found in Posie’s Alicia Paulson’s brand new book, Stitched in Time.)

3.  Micro-fiber Militia

The crochet enthusiasts at Micro-fiber Militia have been wrapping public objects in endearing little cozies for some time now. Turns out, when confronted with a bit of crochet where they least expect it – like a sign post, bike rack, or telephone pole – people’s first reaction is to reach out and touch it. It’s an amazing form of graffiti. No laws broken, no property damaged, and no hurt feelings. Just a soft bit of yarn dangled forth to challenge the public’s impulse control. And, make them smile.

4.  The Portland Beanie Company
The Portland Beanie Company crochets outrageously delightful baby and children’s hats, scarves, and slippers (below) in fresh, fun patterns, colors, and styles. Support handmade, buy some on etsy!


5.  Carina’s Craft
Carina is a talented Dane living in England who puts a thoroughly modern twist on an old craft (right). Scrolling through her blog, I couldn’t help but think “stop the sherbet colors I’m already blinded by love!” Photo after photo of pure cheerfulness! I wish she’d crochet me something. Anything. 

6.  Crochet Inspiration
Knitter Sasha Kagan’s latest book focuses on her love of crochet. She’s been called the “grande dame of colorwork” and her bold designs, creative spirit, and technical prowess make her the well-known fiber artist she is today.

7.  Dania Taimina
Ok, seriously! I have always believed that crafts are an artistic expression of math. As a child, I spent hours and hours in front of a sewing machine. I’d turn half-finished doll clothes around in my head and hands, trying to grasp just how sewing them inside out and backwards made them come out perfectly. Thanks to all that practice, high school geometry was a breeze (Algebra, however, was a different and much less uplifting story!)

Then there is Professor Taimina. This lovely lady crochets the Hyperbolic Plane (above) in her free time. It just occurred to her one day to do it. Woah!

7 Steps to a Sincere Apology

March 4th, 2009 by Jane

When I was a tween, Love Story was the most romantic movie I could imagine. Ollie and Jenny were the perfect couple and love meant never having to say you’re sorry. As an adult, I know this is an extreme load of bunk. In response to some recent events, both private and global, I am starting a movement that is based on what I think is a collective need to hear a simple explanation and a heartfelt apology when a screw-up, a mix-up or a gaffe has occurred.  People do not want groveling, we just want to be treated with respect.  I am convinced that we, as a country, would not be so litigious if this would occur more often. So, to kick off the Sincere Apology Movement (SAM), I am sharing a few helpful hints that I have found.

1. Definition
Apology defined is: a written or verbal expression of sorrow or regret for having wronged another.
Note this does not mention anything about intent. I believe most people have the best intentions most of the time. Call me Pollyanna, but I do.

2. Acknowledgement
The person who feels she has been wronged wants to be acknowledged. We all do. But most especially when we feel we have been slighted or offended. We want to know that our feelings matter. Find out how to craft the perfect apology.

3. Write It or Say It
You can deliver an apology in written or verbal form, although more serious issues might require both. A lovely card will do the trick in most situations. Or try a funny e-card.  At a loss?  Just say, “My apologies. How might I make this up to you?” Don’t want to leave that open-ended? Then extend an offer of how you will make up for the incident. Offer to dry clean the tablerunner you just stained. Say you will go back and correct some misinformation you dispersed. And then do it.

4. Listen
When it comes down to basic human interaction, it seems we all just want to be heard. Sit down and listen to the injured party’s concerns and feelings about the matter. Invite her to lunch and make it more meaningful.

5. Humor
I always go for a tone of self-deprecating humor when I am red in the face because I have found that laughter diffuses most scenarios and forms a connection between individuals. Take a cue from Ashton Kutcher and try mixing sincerity with charm.

6. Flowers
Send flowers or a small gift with a little note and everyone will feel better. Look up the meaning of specific flowers to convey the perfect message.

7. Acceptance
If you are the person who has been given an apology, it is important that you be able to accept it or let the person know that you cannot. If you have offered apologies and done your best to make amends, but the injured party cannot move on, then you must.  Make some space and time to let the other person process her emotions. Everyone makes blunders, but being a grown-up means being able to say you’re sorry when you do. 

Seven Thoughts On Sisters

March 3rd, 2009 by Amy

I didn’t grow up with a sister, but later in life I found out I had one and – later than that – she found out she had me.


The first time I met her I knew. She is so entirely familiar, yet so entirely different, and when I’m with her I always feel so entirely myself … only better.


“A sister can be seen as someone who is both ourselves and very much not ourselves – a special kind of double.”  Toni Morrison



1.  The Sister Project

Women have a way of weaving a web of connection and this new site captures the complex variations of sisterhood perfectly. The Sister Project, started by a pair of sisters and women they’ve come to see as family, is an insightful collection of blogs, essays, and art tightly focused on the touching timelessness of sisterhood. (The artwork above is Waiting for Wednesday by Camilla Engman as seen on



2. Shutter Sisters

Visual and visionary, Shutter Sisters is a collaborative blog of women photographers. Simple, yet stunning, Shutter Sisters is all about sharing – equipment lists, technical tips, and images so exquisite you can’t stop marveling at the wonder of it all. (Photo is by Kate Ingles as seen on



3.  Sisters Morales

There are countless sisters making music together, but I’ll highlight just one pair here. What I love about Sisters Morales is that their southwestern twang crosses over childhoods, cultures, and countries in a way only kin can. There are roots in their music … and wings.



4.  Secrets From Your Sister

Unfortunately for me – and very fortunately for the Canadians – this bra fitting boutique is located in Toronto. If Secrets From Your Sister was located in my town I would run – not walk – there with my aging collection of faded and frayed WalMart sports bras and beg them to help me. After all, that’s what sisters are for!



5.  Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence

You don’t necessarily need to be female to be a sister. In San Francisco, the Sisters Of Perpetual Indulgence have made it a habit to challenge authority, promote diversity, nurture tolerance, and give grant money to the like-minded. Too much of a good thing? These ladies think not!



6.  The Motherhood

Nothing makes you a sister quicker than motherhood. Online, The Motherhood has created these great “circles” – a technological twist on the old, old-fashioned quilting bee, sewing circle, or coffee klatch – where mothers can meet to share and care. Home with babies and can’t get out of the house? Take a virtual stroll around The Motherhood and run into a sister or two.



7.  Three Sisters Ink

Three Sisters Ink captures the spirit of sisterhood bound together by creativity. A fresh, modern take on classic graphic design, these adorable bits of whimsy are available on etsy – a great gift for a sister. (Tweet by Hannah Bureau of

7 Products For A Lead-Free Lunch

February 26th, 2009 by Amy

Economical … Ecological … and Lead-Free.


Looks like the new power lunch is the one that comes from home!


The silver lead-free lining?


See how much money you’ll save by packing a lunch.



1.  Fish Food

These lunch bags cost a little more than most, but when you consider how much you’ll use them – oh, maybe a billion times – they are a terrific investment in both function and fun.


2.  Laptop Lunch

A bento-style lunchbox you don’t need a PhD in Engineering to assemble! An array of wonderful, colorful, and thoughtful lead-free lunch gear makes this product more of a lunch system than a simple lunch box. Their website even includes menu ideas!


3.  Lunchbots

I haven’t tried this new product yet, but my first reaction is “Thank You!” Seriously, how many times have I hoped for something like this?  Affordable, durable, and toxin-free … The fact that it’s stylish is gravy!


4.  Magic Box

This sleek, lead-free lunchbox by Aladdin comes complete with its own custom ice pack. Well-designed and well-made, this lunchbox rocks both the cafeteria and the office.



5.  Snack Taxi

A wonderful alternative to plastic sandwich/snack bags, these cute little pouches transport snacks for everyone from toddlers to teenagers … and beyond. Easy to clean, use, and label and unique enough that your goodies shouldn’t get “accidentally” eaten by anyone else. Handmade in Massachusetts by a small company with a big heart.  


6.  Stackable Stainless Steel

In a word … Brilliant! Wondering about those little containers in the picture? Those are for sauces! Again … Brilliant! Lightweight and lead-free, this amazing product is from To-Go Ware, an innovative company in India that puts its money where its mouth is. Read all about their story here.


7.  Zippy Zoo

Though my 5 year old son reported that he was told his Lefty Munchler was too “pre-school,” his quirky 9 year old sister happily brings her Benny Munchler to school everyday. The ingenious design unzips flat, making for much easier cleaning. Though priced practically the same as the ubiquitous lunchboxes at the Big Stores, this one is lead-free, with whimsy to spare.

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