Thursday, March 02, 2006

My Favorite Things

A friend of mine emailed me to say that she liked my "rant" about The Cutting Edge, and because I didn't realize I was being ranty about a film I actually love, that email made me take another look at my blog entries of late. Surprise, surprise, I have been ranting a lot lately. So to inject a little variety into this thing, I figure it's time for a positive post.

In honor of my temporarily turning over a new and positive leaf, here's a list of my ten favorite things at the moment. Because if Oprah can do it, we can, too.

1) Dagoba chocolate--The name of this fabulous organic chocolate is pronounced "duh-GO-bah," not "DAAA-go-bah" like the swamp planet Yoda lived on in Empire Strikes Back. It's a Sanskrit word meaning "temple," but whatever. The chocolate is awesome, particularly the dark chocolate, which as we have all recently learned, has health benefits. My favorite are the bars, many of which are made with a surprising mix of ingredients, from the Roseberry bar, which is dark chocolate with raspberries and rosehips mixed in, to the Chai bar made with chai tea and bits of crystallized ginger, to the Lavender bar made with dried blueberries and bits of lavender. Dagoba also offers organic drinking and baking chocolate.

2) Mineral makeup. Believe it or not, the US federal government doesn't require health studies or pre-market testing on personal care products, including makeup. The safety of these products is almost exclusively looked into by an industry-controlled panel. Consequently, “89 percent of 10,500 ingredients used in personal care products have not been evaluated for safety by the [industry panel], the FDA, nor any other publicly accountable institution,” says the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG). “The absence of government oversight for this $35 billion industry leads to companies routinely marketing products with ingredients that are poorly studied, not studied at all, or worse, known to pose potentially serious health risks.”

Therefore, I wanted my makeup to be as healthy as possible, seeing as it's becoming more and more necessary as I get older. So I tried mineral makeup, which contains more natural ingredients than standard makeup products. Not only is it more natural, but for me, mineral makeup works better at evening out my complexion and hiding weird things like zits or broken capillaries. (Wow, I'm making myself sound so attractive.) At the moment, I use Sheer Cover mineral makeup (Yes, the kind that Leeza Gibbons hawks on TV. She caught me at a vulnerable moment.), but when I run out, I'll probably switch to a company listed at The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. These companies have pledged to eliminate over 400 potential toxins from their perosnal care products and to continuously work to eliminate all potential toxins.

3) Don't believe me about the toxins in your makeup and other personal care products? Enter the ingredients of one of your favorite foundations, moisturizers, or lipsticks in the chemical database at, which is run by the nonprofit Environmental Defense. If the chemical in question is a potential or known toxin, Scorecard will let you know, and it will link you to the federal organization or scientific think tank that said so.

4) Burt's Bees diaper cream. With two daughters in diapers/pull-ups, I think a good diaper creme is a must. The one offered from Burt's Bees is not only all-natural, but it works better than anything else I've tried when it comes to clearing up a bad diaper rash. If you want to avoid having putting synthetic chemicals and potential toxins on your little one's skin (see #4), Burt's Bees products are wonderful. I also like the Shampoo Bar, the Baby Bee soap and lotion, and the Baby Bee powder, made from corn starch--not toxic talc. And for me, the Avocado Hair Treatment and the Almond Milk Hand Cream are awesome.

5), a self-described “reading group that knows no boundaries,” encourages people to leave books they love in public places for others to read and enjoy. In exchange, they get to track their favorite book’s whereabouts, as well as other people’s responses to it, via the BookCrossing Web site. How it works is this: participants register a book they love with the Web site, which assigns them a BookCrossing ID number. Then, they either download a pre-printed label from the site or handwrite their own and place it inside the book. They then leave the book in a conspicious public place until serendipity strikes and someone picks it up. The recipient will find a note on the label encouraging him/her to visit and write a brief online journal reporting the book’s ID number and location, as well as any thoughts about the text itself.

6) My Preserve toothbrush from Recycline. Basically, the Preserve is just your run-of-the-mill, designed-by-dentists toothbrush--with one important exception. Recycline toothbrushes are made from recycled plastic from Stonyfield Yogurt cups. If we want to keep on having plastic, and also perhaps a PLANET, in the future, we need to buy from companies that close the waste loop like Stonyfield and Recycline do. Plus, when your toothbrush is all frayed and nasty, you can actually send it back to Recycline, and they'll recycled it again into plastic lumber. Recycline also makes recycled plastic razors, tableware, tongue cleaners, and flavored toothpicks. Hey, every little bit helps.

That's all for now. I may add more later.

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Tracy Montoya writes romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue.

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