• Compression pants are sort of sexy. And maybe healing

    Date: 2014.04.15 | Category: fitness, product reviews | Response: 0


    I recently got a pair of Saucony AMP PRO2 running pants to try out. These high tech compression pants are made with a fabric called Celliant, which claims to increase oxygen in the body and give you more energy.

    John J. Phillips is the innovator behind the use of Celliant in clothing. Phillips used to own a bedding store, and was intrigued by mattress protectors made from Celliant. He teamed up with a California-based company called Hologenix, whose founder wanted to develop fabric that improved blood circulation using Asian healing techniques. Together, they launched the use of Celliant Energy Textiles. Press materials claim that Celliant is “the first fabric that converts the body’s own energy inwards to heal itself.”

    Whoa. Let me take the pants into my lab and check out these claims.

    Okay, my only lab is the gym and the running track. I have no way to evaluate whether these pants are harnessing my body’s healing energy. But I do like them quite a bit.

    First, they’re silky soft. Second, the compression is light and pleasant. I was worried they’d feel like a girdle, but they’re totally comfortable. Also, they’re flattering. I don’t usually wear such form-fitting pants. But judging from the hooting and whistling of my class when I wore them while demonstrating a butt exercise, they look okay. And if you’re running errands post-gym, you can pull a skirt over them and wear them like tights.

  • Humane Advisor: One Woman’s Fight to Save Strays at Travel Destinations

    Date: 2014.04.08 | Category: vegetarian travel | Response: 0

    Diana Webster is on a mission: She wants the world’s stray animals to be cared for humanely. Of course, this is a huge goal. So she’s focusing on tourist areas and enlisting the help of tourists and travel professionals around the world to find a humane solution to the sad problem. She’s formed an organization called Humane Advisor to consult on stray issues, and is also the driving force behind the growing LinkedIn group Business Professionals for Animal Welfare.

    Diana took some time out of her campaigning efforts to answer my questions about her work.

    Teresa Bergen: Tell me just a little about the dog in Mexico that started it all.

    Diana Webster: In 2006, during a vacation in Cancun, I met a female dog that was very obviously starving to death. She came up to me and nuzzled my hand. I believe she was telling me in her own way, “See how I’m suffering? Please find a way to help me and the millions of other dogs like me!” It was very frustrating being in a foreign country and not knowing how to save her. I still get teary about it. So I got involved with helping strays and telling people like me how to help strays because of her, the little white dog I call Nova.

    Teresa: How did Humane Advisor come about?

    Diana:  I wanted to let tourists know how they can help strays because there was no information available about what to do when I met Nova. I also wanted to tell the stories of people like Ricardo Pimentel of Tierra de Animales sanctuary near Cancun, and Sue Silva of Playa Animal Rescue in Playa del Carmen, who save hundreds and hundreds of animals in the Yucatan every year. Raising awareness and educating people on the challenges and the solutions is crucial for change to happen and that’s what Humane Advisor is all about. And very importantly, I wanted to offer tourist destinations, hotels/resorts, and travel companies some ideas about what they could do to help, too. To that end, I created a Hotel and Resort Guide to Feral and Stray Management that is being referenced by several large tour operators and hotel chains in Europe and that is available for download at Humane Advisor.com.

    It’s been an amazing journey from the first few blogs I wrote sharing my personal experience with Nova. I’ve had the honor of interviewing many dedicated animal advocates and business people. My website and blog has received thousands of views from visitors located in nearly 100 countries so it’s clear that there are a lot of people out there who have had experiences like mine with a stray that deeply affected them, not only just at the time of the encounter but also long after they returned home from their vacations. At Humane Advisor, we encourage anyone who has had an encounter to contact us and share their story and also share on social media. Sharing your story could inspire other people to get involved and help.

    Teresa:  How do you find people to connect with and promote your cause of better lives for strays?

    Diana:  I’m currently conducting a campaign to bring data from my 2013 Humane Research Council-funded research report and survey of tourists who encountered stray cats and dogs while vacationing, to the attention of the tourism industry. Travel businesses need to know that their customers care about animals at tourist destinations. Especially because the survey showed that 34% of tourists surveyed were upset by seeing stray cats and dogs while a whopping 41% were less likely to return to tourist destinations with strays, numbers that clearly present what could be a substantial economic impact on tourism. In my campaign, I’m asking travel companies to sign a letter to tourism offices at destinations where strays are common, asking them to partner with local animal welfare groups, and provide resources to fund sterilization campaigns, rescue and rehabilitation, and education programs for strays. Another great solution that tourist destinations could invest in would be cost-effective new technologies like Spay Food™ which is a non surgical sterilization formula being developed by 600 Million Stray Dogs Need You. The campaign asks for help for the strays not only because it is the right thing to do but also because it affects tourism’s bottom line.

    Teresa:  What has been the response to your campaign so far?

    Diana:  Non-U.S. travel companies have been surprisingly more receptive but the initial response from several tour operators in the U.S. is promising and has already led to several exciting new programs. It would be great if a tourism industry leader (or leaders) would step forward to champion this campaign. Someone high profile like Richard Branson or influential like TripAdvisor President Stephen Kaufer could get the attention of the tourism industry to get on board for helping strays. That would be awesome!

    Teresa:  What is your background in the tourism industry?

    Diana:  I worked with a major airline for twenty years where I was in sales and marketing—outside sales to travel agencies and corporations and reservation sales to passengers. Recently, I have done marketing consulting for travel industry vendors, in between going back to school to become an attorney and trying to save all the stray dogs in the world. J

    Teresa:  I’ve noticed an attitude like people in the developing world have bigger problems than worrying about animal suffering. Do you think this attitude is changing?

    Diana:  Definitely. At the spay/neuter clinics in Mexico that I’ve volunteered at, hundreds of local people in some of the poorest neighborhoods, would wait for hours in the hot sun to bring their beloved family pets or the village dog for surgery. I’ve seen pillow cases full of stray kittens that locals gathered up to be sterilized and cardboard boxes full of puppies brought in to be fixed. It’s obvious they want their animals to be cared for along with their families because not only do they love their pets but also because strays present health and safety issues for communities in developing countries. Which is why when I get the question “why don’t you work to help people instead of animals?” my answer is “helping animals helps people.”

    Teresa:  Any big successes you’d like to share?

    Diana:  Yes! Humane Advisor recently began working with tour operator AdventureWomen, to take their groups to visit animal welfare groups at destinations they travel to like Tanzania, Uganda, and Bhutan to raise awareness and encourage support. The program is also now going to be offered to tour operators at many other tourist destinations around the world.

    Teresa:  Anything else you’d like to say about your work?

    Diana:  I’d just like to say that if every tourist that cared about animals told their airline, hotel, tour operator, and favorite travel review sites that tourism needed to step up and support saving animals, it could change the world for strays. The uproar over the Sochi dogs was huge and made a lot of people take notice and take action. Keep the outrage going! There are mass killings of strays like Sochi happening at nearly every major international sporting event and routinely at your favorite tourist destination. Heck, we euthanize millions of healthy stray dogs here in the U.S. every year. Use your buying power and let any business that you patronize know that you will vote with your wallet by buying from companies that are committed to animal welfare and share your commitment with your network of family, friends, and colleagues. Get animal welfare on every business agenda. Start now because one person really can make a difference. Your voice could be the tipping point for saving strays.

  • A Roundup of Newish Wellness Books

    Date: 2014.03.23 | Category: fitness, product reviews | Response: 0

    Wellness books have a way of piling up in my house. While I value wellness books and often agree to review them, when I get the chance to read I’m somehow more prone to pick up a thriller or to see what’s going on in the world of tween vampires. So I’ve been a little tardy turning my attention to these four newish books. Here’s a quick look.


    Your Mind is What Your Brain Does for a Living

    By Steven Jay Fogel with Bruce Rosin


    This is a useful book that starts out simplistically. The author claims he lived most of his young life not realizing that feelings aren’t facts or that much of what he did was unconsciously influenced by early programming, especially of the parental kind. Duh. But if you’re either 1. entirely non self-reflective so this is news to you, too, or 2. patient enough to keep reading, better stuff awaits past the intro. The author talks about what happens chemically in the brain to keep unwanted behavioral patterns in place, such as hormones secreted when we please our parents. A scary thought, that. Much of the book focuses on how to override our programming. Fogel also likes frog in hot water stories. That is, the apocryphal idea that if you heat a pot of water very slowly, a frog will acclimate until she’s boiled alive. If you’ve spent too much time in soul-sucking, dead end relationships, this might not seem so apocryphal. Fogel and Rosin concoct an engaging, conversational tone, with lots of personal stories of Fogel’s marriage and family to illustrate his points.


    The Happy Life Checklist: 654 Ways to Find Your Bliss

    By Amy Spencer


    This bright little book will find at least one way to cheer up just about anybody. Spencer, a writer, felt a certain satisfaction finishing everything on her to-do list. But did that make her happy? No. She realized she wasn’t making time for all the little things that make her happy because they weren’t on her list. So she started adding them. The more she thought of small ways to be happy, the longer the list got. Her book is divided into 10 sections on subjects such as vitality, love, grace and confidence. A few examples I like:

    Try a sport you’re certain you’d be terrible at.

    Make up a secret handshake with someone you love.

    Learn to say something positive in another language.

    Be the welcoming face in the crowd.


    Your Best Brain Ever: A Complete Guide and Workout

    By Michael S. Sweeney with 58 brain health boosters by Cynthia R. Green, PhD


    This is a really fun book about the brain and how to improve the functioning of yours. It starts out with some basic explanation of the brain. Most of the book alternates between exercises to improve your brain power – such as memories games, activities where you race a clock, eye exercises – and anecdotes about cases of people with weird brain problems. If your brain has a short attention span, this book is great because you can pick it up in the middle and read a self-contained page. And who doesn’t like a story about weird brain-related experiences?


    Whole Health: A Holistic Approach to Healing for the 21st Century

    By Mark Mincolla, PhD


    This is an in-depth book by a man who does natural healing based on Chinese medicine and EMF, which is Electromagnetic Muscle Testing. It’s full of information on Chinese medicine and energy healing. This would be a very valuable book to someone wanting to gain this knowledge. At this point in my life, having to learn these entirely new organizing principles of health makes my eyes cross, so I can’t really judge. But if this is your thing, I suspect it’s quite a good resource. The appendixes are full of interesting items, such as a long list of recommended supplements and dietary restrictions for everything from HIV to PMS to preventing your hair from turning gray.


  • Door County in Winter

    Date: 2014.03.05 | Category: vegetarian travel | Response: 0

    Door County barnscape


    Snow has never been my friend. In fact, I’ve lived a remarkably snow-avoidant life. So when I got the opportunity to visit Door County, Wisconsin in the freezing winter, my first thought was, that’s crazy. But I’d heard it was a beautiful place – at least in summer – and I found myself considering. Maybe it was finally time to befriend snow. Or at least make its acquaintance.



    I had two deathly fears of spending time in snowy Wisconsin: one, I’d die of frostbite (or at least lose several digits); or two, my comrades would do me in because of my incessant whining about the cold. So I took full advantage of a massive sale at the Columbia Sportswear Outlet  Store before leaving Portland. I got several pieces of their thermal reflective omni-heat gear, which is supposed to reflect your own body heat back to you, thus retaining it. The hat and long-sleeved top worked pretty well. But the gloves were useless for somebody like me with Raynaud’s Syndrome, a circulatory problem in the fingers and toes. However, I did find the most awesome concept in boots: heated by a rechargeable battery! You can recharge them via wall socket or computer through a USB. I chose the wall socket as these boots would probably make my laptop explode. With 200 grams of insulation, I hardly needed to turn my heated boots on at all. I borrowed a long, padded North Face coat from my cousin. That coat was a lifesaver!

    Once I got to Wisconsin, I learned the secret to keeping my hands warm was pairing those weird chemical hand warmers with mittens. But they don’t work so well with gloves. The mittens allow the warmth to spread up to your fingers.


    Door County is a 75-mile peninsula that sticks out into frigid Lake Michigan. I managed to get up and down the peninsula quite a bit in my long weekend. Here are a few highlights.

    I stayed three nights at the Country House Resort. It was mostly deserted in winter. Check out the cold lakeshore!

    view from Country House Resort

    But they had the perfect set-up for me: A warming tank right beside the bed. And a super comfortable pillow-top mattress.

    Country House Resort jacuzzi tub

    When I’m in a cold place – or anywhere else – I always crave coffee. Door County Coffee & Tea provides the region with some of its finest caffeine. I visited twice during my stay. It was the only place in Door County that I dared to ask, “Do you have soymilk?” And the answer? Yes!

    Door County Coffee & Tea


    I took a tour of the coffee operation. It was very educational. I learned about decaf processes, saw how flavored coffee is made and witnessed the machine that bags the coffee. But I also stumbled upon an intriguing secret: Toucans and parrots deliver the coffee beans to Wisconsin, as pictured in this back-room delivery diagram. I hope Customs doesn’t read my blog!

    Door County Coffee painting


    I went snowshoeing in two places, both very beautiful, the Ridges Sanctuary and Whitefish Dunes State Park. It was my first snowshoeing experience. Since I managed to retain all my digits and even stay upright, it was a raging success. But was that wind off Lake Michigan ever cold! I heard all too much of those three dirty words: wind chill factor.

    Ridges Sanctuary with frozen Lake Michigan in the background

    Ridges Sanctuary with frozen Lake Michigan in the background

    My snowshoeing expedition at Ridges. Photo by Tamra Bolton.

    My snowshoeing expedition at Ridges. Photo by Tamra Bolton.

    The second day I learned to walk up and down hills at Whitefish Dunes State Park.

    The second day I learned to snowshoe up and down hills at Whitefish Dunes State Park.

    Here I show off my winter gear beside a recreation of a wigwam. Nomadic people lived in similar structures about 700 years ago.

    Here I show off my winter gear beside a recreation of a wigwam. Nomadic people lived in similar structures about 700 years ago.


    I also went for a snowmobile ride. John Zettel, owner of Zettel’s Sales and Service, has been renting, fixing and selling snowmobiles for about three decades. One things his years of experience have taught him is that when somebody comes in and asks for the fastest snowmobile, he’d better give that guy the slowest. He was full of good cautionary tales about wipeouts and expensive damage to snowmobiles. Moral of the story? Stay on the trail and obey the speed limit, which is 55 on most trails. Slower in places where snowmobilers share trails with cross-country skiers and snowshoers.

    John Zettel, a font of snowmobile stories and wisdom. His snowmobile club is responsible for the upkeep on 31 miles of trails.

    John Zettel, a font of snowmobile stories and wisdom. His snowmobile club is responsible for the upkeep on 31 miles of trails.

    Snowmobile suits are not sexy, no matter how I try. Photo by Rob Klepper

    Snowmobile suits are not sexy, not matter how I try. Photo by Rob Klepper



    Will I Starve?

    If you’ve read this far, you’re probably wondering if there is vegetarian food in Door County. I was immensely relieved to learn that yes, most restaurants have a vegetarian dish or two. And some even feed vegans.


    Vegan black bean chili at the Inn at Cedar Crossing in downtown Sturgeon Bay.

    Vegan black bean chili at the Inn at Cedar Crossing in downtown Sturgeon Bay.

    House-made veggie burger at Shipwrecked Brew Pub. With sweet potato fries, to get your Vitamin A and grease quota at the same time!

    House-made veggie burger at Shipwrecked Brew Pub. With sweet potato fries, you get your Vitamin A and grease quota at the same time!

    Bread pudding made with Butterfingers at Shipwrecked. I only thought about eating this. Took a photo instead. Still wondering if I made the right choice.

    Bread pudding made with Butterfingers at Shipwrecked. I only thought about eating this. Took a photo instead. Still wondering if I made the right choice.

    Wild Tomato has tons of choices for veg folks. Even vegan cheese and sausage for pizza toppings.  This is the wood-fired vegetable Cobb salad.

    Wild Tomato has tons of choices for veg folks. Even vegan cheese and sausage for pizza toppings. This is the wood-fired vegetable Cobb salad.

    Bruschetta with eggplant from Neighborhood Pub and Grill in Sturgeon Bay. Open till 2 am.

    Bruschetta with eggplant from Neighborhood Pub and Grill in Sturgeon Bay. Open till 2 am.

    Door County Art

    Much as I enjoyed snowshoeing, temperatures were falling. Going inside started to seem like a good idea. So I spent an artsy afternoon. First I visited the Peninsula School of Art in Fish Creek, a nonprofit art center that offers classes to adults and students. Winter is pretty quiet at the school. About the only thing that was going on was a watercolor miniatures class. But in warmer months they bring in teachers from around the country. Peninsula has a gorgeous round main building plus outbuildings.  Every summer they host a plein air painting festival. Now in its eighth year, 40 artists will come from the US and beyond beginning July 20 to paint Door County landscapes.

    Peninsula Art School

    This dragon was part of a kids' art show at Peninsula School of Art.

    This dragon was part of a kids’ art show at Peninsula School of Art.

    Next came the really fun part of the art afternoon, a visit to the Hands On Art Studio. Artists Cy and Karon Turnbladh own this amazing complex of drop-in art studios. Even with no training or special aptitude, anybody can show up and make a metal sculpture, jewelry, pottery, mosaic or fused glass piece.

    Cy bought the abandoned farm about 17 years ago. The 100 year-old farmhouse lacked electricity and plumbing. The couple has done wonders with this place. It appeals to kids and adults of all ages. “Even the sullen teenagers get into it,” Cy said. He loves walking into a room full of families working on art and finding it pin-drop quiet with concentration. He thinks most adults haven’t done art for so long, they’re scared of it. Hands On gives them a friendly atmosphere, access to tools, materials and guidance, and lots of encouragement.

    You can choose projects of varying sizes and prices, from a piece of jewelry for a few bucks all the way up to big sculptures that will set you back a few hundred.

    This is the fused glass studio, where I spent a fun part of my day.

    This is the fused glass studio, where I spent a fun part of my day.

    A glass artist at work on a bowl.

    A glass artist at work on a bowl.

    Hands On makes things really easy. You assemble your piece, they stick it in the kiln. If you’re local or going to be in the area for a while, you can pick up your work. Or if you’re a tourist like me, they’ll ship your work when it’s ready. I made the piece below, which should be showing up any day now via UPS. After firing in the kiln they’ll put it in a metal stand. I plan to use it as yard art. If it comes out good enough, perhaps I’ll be inspired to weed!

    my fused glass

    A good place to make pottery or get your cat fix. I saw three of them. Cats, that is. I saw about 300 pieces of pottery.

    A good place to make pottery or get your cat fix. I saw three of them. Cats, that is. I saw about 300 pieces of pottery.

    But these cats have ambition. So they might not be sticking around the pottery studio for long.

    But these cats have ambition. So they might not be sticking around the pottery studio for long.

    This beautiful silo covered with art tiles is a tribute to Cy's late mother.

    This beautiful silo covered with art tiles is a tribute to Cy’s late mother.


    So, are you convinced yet? Door County is well worth a visit.

    Snow and I will probably never be BFFs. But despite my curiosity to see Door County in the spring with its dragonflies and dwarf irises, or to take a summer dip in Lake Michigan, I really enjoyed the quiet of the quiet season. I suspect it’s a pretty nice  place to visit any time of year.




  • My Search for Fitness Fashion Continues with the Chilly Jilly Duelette

    Date: 2014.02.26 | Category: fitness, product reviews | Response: 0

    This accessory called a duelette doubles as a bracelet and hair holder. It’s made for people like me, who throw their hair in a ponytail when they go to the gym, then later suddenly realize their hair would look better down, or their scalp feels stretched to headache proportions from being pulled back too long. They take off the hair holder and either throw it down on their desk, if they’re home writing, or on the passenger seat, if they’re driving. Or they put it around their wrist, which both looks stupid and cuts off circulation.

    Enter Chilly Jilly hair holder. This elastic band is decorated with gold and/or silver-plated beads. The knotted ends have an additional sliding bead for adjustment. It’s a great idea. But the execution isn’t quite there.

    Granted, it looks better than a regular hair holder. But it’s not that pretty, especially the white one I received as a sample. And the ends that stick out are kind of scruffy looking. To avoid cutting off circulation, it’s much looser than a regular hair elastic, which is good from a bracelet point of view. However, this backfires when you put it in your hair. I wrapped it around my ponytail three times. My hair is fairly thick but very straight, which might partially account for why the duelette wanted to slide off. Really, it has that feeling of a sad old stretched elastic that’s on its last leg, bound for the trash bin. I kept trying to tighten it by pulling on the beads. It survived a weight lifting class, holding my hair in a very loose ponytail. But I had to jettison it halfway through Bombay Jam. Don’t even think about jumping rope in this.

    Now if you want to use this accessory for a low, non-athletic ponytail at the nape of your neck, it might work okay. The duelette comes in black or white with gold, silver or a combination of the two beads. Chilly Jilly also makes lounge pants, gloves and jackets. All can roll up and fit into tiny drawstring bags.

  • Interview with Nandog’s Naturals, San Diego’s New Artisan Granola

    Date: 2014.02.02 | Category: vegetarian, vegetarian travel | Response: 0

    Nandog's NaturalsOne of the delights of travel is trying products you can only get regionally. So on a trip to San Diego around Christmastime, I got a couple of containers of a new local granola brand. It’s made with ingredients like wildflower honey, sunflower seeds, maple syrup, shredded coconut, almonds, walnuts, cinnamon, pumpkin seeds, flax meal, blueberries, sea salt and other things folks like me eat. Now I hope Nandog’s Naturals widens its distribution so I can get it in Portland.

    I was able to e-interview Nancy Peritz, owner of Nandog, to get the story behind starting an artisan granola company in San Diego.

    Teresa:  When did you start Nandog?

    Nancy:  Nandog’s was unofficially started in May, 2012, but officially in June, 2013.

    Teresa:  Why did you decide to make granola?

    NancyI have always liked to bake and cook. I started making granola about eight years ago when I needed to bring something for “healthy snack” to my daughter’s first grade class. I also showed them how to make it and it was a huge hit.

    Fast forward six years and my other daughter needed a way to fundraise for a high school community service trip to the Dominican Republic. Her friends were always stealing her granola out of her lunch, so I told her we could make it and sell it to friends and family. People bought and bought, and I think I ended up making 200 pounds of granola that summer. Once she had reached her fundraising goal, we closed the “factory,” but people still kept asking me to make it for them.

    Teresa: How did you come up with the name?

    NancyMy best childhood friend, Penny, called me Nandog, and I called her Pendog. Unfortunately I can’t remember how or when it started. One day my kids asked me what I would call my granola business if I ever decided to do it for real and the name “Nandog’s Naturals” just popped into my head.

    Teresa:  Where do you sell your granola?

    Nandog boothNancyRight now I am only selling at two local farmers’ markets in San Diego: the Tuesday Pacific Beach market and the Saturday Little Italy Mercato. Little Italy has grown a lot and is now one of the largest and best markets in San Diego.

    Teresa:  Any chance you’ll sell it online for those of us outside San Diego?

    NancyI am working on getting it online, but for now, people just email me (nandogsnaturals@gmail.com)or message me via Facebook and I can ship it anywhere  in the U.S.  I am also working on getting it on sites such as Etsy and Jackeez.com. I also work as a teacher, so it is a huge juggling act trying to find time to do everything. I never knew how much work running even such a tiny little business such as this can be.

    Teresa:  What do you like about being in the granola biz?

    NancyI love working in the commercial kitchen I rent. I just get into a groove and bake. I also love all of the people I have met at the farmers’ markets–both the customers and the other vendors. And finally, I like knowing that I make a product that is both healthy and delicious and that makes other people happy. I like to feed people, so this is one way to do it. I guess I could have dinner parties or brunches at my house, but then I’d have to clean my house!

    Teresa:  Hopes for the future, business-wise?

    Nandog parfaitNancyI have tons of ideas, but not sure which ones will take off. On a small, short-term scale, I would just like to get a website up and running where people could order online. I would also like to sell wholesale to local cafes and perhaps markets such as Whole Foods, but that would require a whole different business plan and some investment dollars. Bigger picture, I would love to have my products in airports because I always feel like healthy breakfast and snack options in airports are so terrible. Lunch and dinner items have improved a lot, but breakfast choices still tend to be bagels and muffins. I have this vision of little Nandog’s kiosks in the airports selling granola-fruit-parfaits and Acai bowls.

    Teresa:  Tell us a little more about your product and flavors.

    NancyGo Nuts (oats, almonds, walnuts, honey, maple syrup, etc.); Seed You Later: Blueberry (oats, organic chia, organic flax, pepitas, sunflower seeds, organic agave, honey, etc.). All are naturally gluten free and veganish (vegan lite?), but I do not use certified gluten-free oats. High in fiber, no cholesterol, good source of Omega-3s, Omega-6s, magnesium, manganese, etc.

    12 ounce bag is $9.75 or 2 for $18.

    I am working on developing new flavors. Stay tuned!

  • Compression Socks that Don’t Sacrifice Style

    Date: 2014.01.29 | Category: fitness, product reviews | Response: 0

    VIM & VIGR compression socksCompression socks, long used by people with vein conditions, have recently become more popular with athletes. Many studies have shown good results from squeezing your legs into these tighter-than-normal socks. Some possible benefits include increasing blood flow to the heart, preventing injury, perking up tired muscles, minimizing vibration during exercise and improving blood lactate removal during exercise. One Australian study even found that athletes jumped higher when wearing the socks.


    I recently tried some out for the first time. They were definitely tight. But I’m not sure if they enhanced my performance or not. However, “performance” is hard to define when you’re jogging two miles on the treadmill, taking a step aerobics class or teaching Bombay Jam. If I pursued more hardcore feats of athletic derring-do, perhaps I’d be better able to assess the socks.


    But one thing I do know: Some compression socks are cuter than others. VIM & VIGR launched a new line last September of 12 cute patterns/colors. This line is designed for women, with the different sock styles named for goddesses: Eos, Athena and Artemis. They come in wool, cotton and nylon. My new black and purple argyle Artemis socks are wool and match lots of my workout outfits. Another thing I know: They definitely compress. When I take them off, I have argyle skin!


    VIM & VIGR recommends their socks to workers who sit a lot or stand a lot, claiming that excessive hours in either position can harm leg circulation and oxygenation. I know that some folks wear compression socks on airplanes to avoid deep vein thrombosis to minimize inflight swelling of feet and ankles. I checked out a vein treatment forum (yes, I do weird things in my spare time) and this practice seems to be endorsed by vein doctors. Now I’ll have to plan a travel outfit that looks good with argyle.

  • Wholesome Holidays at LA Times Travel Show

    Date: 2014.01.21 | Category: fitness, vegetarian travel | Response: 0

    LA Times Travel Show GuatemalaLast weekend I went to the annual LA Times Travel Show. This big event in the LA Convention Center includes travel companies and visitor bureau reps from all over the world. Even Azerbaijan had a booth! And yes, I did have to look at their map to pinpoint exactly where that country is (north of Iran).

    Being a bit of a health nut, I was interested in wholesome destinations involving natural beauty, exercise, yoga, relaxation, quiet, and vegetarian food. On travel trade day, I attended a presentation about medical and wellness travel. Diana Wright of the Global Spa and Wellness Summit gave an especially interesting talk about the components of wellness travel, which were pretty much the things I just listed above. Ah, I thought. I’m in the right place.

    According to Wright, about 14 percent of all tourism dollars go to what could be considered part of the wellness tourism economy. However, this doesn’t mean 1 out of 8 people attend a yoga retreat for vacation. No, she’s counting what’s called secondary wellness travel. That is, a person might go on an ordinary vacation but be looking for healthier food, spa services, yoga classes, or other activities that fall within wellness. Spa services account for 41 percent of wellness tourism spending. Top five countries for wellness tourism? USA, Germany, Austria, France and Japan. But Wright predicts more wellness tourism in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East by 2017.

    Linden Schaffer, the founder and director of Pravassa, a NYC-based tour company, organizes trips around wellness. Pravassa takes travelers on domestic and international trips in line with its five-point philosophy: physical activity, stress reduction, good food and nutrition, spiritual connectedness (often involving nature) and cultural/community involvement. Sign me up!

    LA Times showWalking through the exhibition hall made a travel lover’s head spin. Tour companies from every continent detailed their packed itineraries. I want to go there! No, I want to go there! Wait, can I go there, too?

    Life is unfortunately too short to go everywhere. Plus, there’s always the question of $$$. Here are just a few places/groups/ideas of interest I stumbled upon at the LA Times Travel Show.

    Muddy Shoe Adventures

    Michael Bennett, founder and managing director of Muddy Shoe, takes travelers on combination adventure/life coaching trips. With Muddy Shoe Adventures, you might surf, go rafting, hike and eat dinner with a local family. This sounds like a good bet for people who think travel should change their lives.

    Tours By Locals

    Do you want a local tour guide to show you where to get vegetarian food in the Azores? To introduce you to the architecture of Dubai? Book through Tours By Locals, based out of Vancouver, and you can find a local guide to design your own special tour. Independent guides set their own rates. Tours By Locals started in 2008. Judging from their website, they cover a lot of the world already.

    LA Times Travel show FijiTourism Fiji

    Sure, I wanted to go to Fiji anyway. But these folks were so sweet and friendly! And I loved their booth full of flowers and tropical plants.

    Literary Sisters

    While I was walking between sessions, I met Ruth Bridges, who runs Literary Sisters. Ruth is a librarian in Chicago who organizes tours for book club women. Focused on African American, faith-based literature, past and future trips include San Francisco, Alaska, Washington DC and an extra special Senegal-Zambia-South Africa journey. What a cool idea!


    29 Palms Inn

    I love the desert. This hotel in the town of 29 Palms, on the edge of Joshua Tree National Park in California, really appeals to me. Guests stay in old adobe or wood-framed cottages. Some are painted pink or purple which to me is a plus. You can hike the nature trails and look for tortoises and migratory birds. At night, the stars are supposed to be phenomenal. I hope to visit 29 Palms Inn soon.

  • Harlow is Crowded and Delicious

    Date: 2014.01.11 | Category: vegetarian, vegetarian Portland | Response: 0

    Harlow interior

    I took this picture just before closing time. That’s why it’s not crowded.

    My friend and I thought that by meeting for lunch at the abnormally early hour of 11:30 a.m., we could avoid the crowds at Harlow. No such luck! When I arrived, I found her in a long line waiting to place her order at the counter.


    This newish restaurant opened last summer. Karen Pride and Brittney Galloway, the force behind health-conscious Prasad in the Pearl, founded Harlow, too. It quickly caught on with people from SE Portland and beyond. Harlow is where gluten-free meets shabby chic. The space is one big open room, which looks very modern, but filled with repurposed old tables and a charming old cupboard at the self-serve water station. A row of mismatched chandeliers hangs over a long, communal table. But you can also choose your own four-top or two-top.


    peanut stew

    peanut stew

    After planning to visit Harlow for months, I finally ate there twice in one week. Once with a friend for lunch, once with another friend for dinner. During my crowded lunch experience, I had an excellent African peanut stew with quinoa and greens. The quinoa was light and airy. The stew was rich and probably full of fat. My friend ordered a breakfast dish called The Maverick, the cashier recommended. It’s described as “mustard maple roasted vegetables, garlic herb polenta and steamed kale with choice of bourbon bbq tempeh or two poached eggs.” She chose tempeh. It looked so good I wanted to eat both lunches. But my stomach is only so big, and not wishing it to grow even bigger, I stuck with my stew.


    The "raw onion bread" is those dark strips in the lower right corner.

    The “raw onion bread” is those dark strips in the lower right corner.

    When I returned a few days later for dinner, I chose the bourbon barbecue tempeh plate. It comes with “garlic herb polenta and steamed greens served with jalapeno cashew cheese, house pickles, scallions and raw onion bread.” The tempeh was definitely a success, flavorful and plump, if I can call tempeh plump. The greens were also good. But the polenta was flavorless and the raw onion bread was the most oniony thing I’ve eaten in all of 2013 and the first week of 2014 combined. The “raw” refers to raw food, and the “bread” to something more resembling a flat strip of pepperoni. It tasted pretty good – though nothing like bread – but I was awakened by my own onion breath at four a.m. and had to get up and gargle with industrial-strength mouthwash before getting back to sleep. Only eat the raw onion bread if you can live with the results! Be forewarned!


    Tanuki bowl with added greens

    Tanuki bowl with added greens

    My friend made a better choice with the tanuki bowl, which is rice noodles and seasonal vegetables served hot in housemade miso broth with sea vegetables, scallions and black sesame seeds. She ordered a side of greens and mixed that in, too. I only had a bite but the broth tasted good and probably allowed her to sleep through the night.


    Harlow has an amazing menu of smoothies, juices, cocktails, teas and espresso drinks. I have not tried any yet. But here are a couple that look intriguing: The tempest, which is mango, spinach, coconut oil, avocado, date and cayenne. And the warrior, consisting of strawberry, avocado, maca, date, vanilla and hemp seeds.


    You can get breakfast until two p.m. on weekdays, three on weekends. The lunch menu goes into effect at 11 a.m., the dinner menu at 5 p.m. Most entrees cost about $10.


    Harlow chandelierDespite my brush with raw onion bread, I am ready to return to Harlow for any meal. I especially want to breakfast on their lemon poppy quinoa pancakes with blueberry compote. Judging from Portland’s response to Harlow, it looks like this restaurant will have a long and happy run.


  • My New Dynablend Horsepower Plus Blender

    Date: 2013.12.22 | Category: product reviews, vegetarian | Response: 0

    Dynablend Horsepower PlusI have to admit that before I got my Dynablend, I had one of the grungiest old blenders known to humankind. I just tried to Google my blender to see what decade it sprang from and found a similar one on eBay sold as vintage with the selling proposition, “Own a piece of kitchen history.”

    So, in short, I might be easily impressed.

    The Honeymoon Period

    At first, I loved my new blender. But our story did not turn out to have a happy ending.

    The Tribest Dynablend Horsepower Plus is a good looking and powerful piece of kitchen equipment. It’s a high-power blender that features a glass pitcher and both pre-programmed buttons and a variable speed dial.


    It was easy to use right out of the box. The only mystery were a couple of silicone seals. I couldn’t figure out where they went, if I needed to attach them or if they were just spares. So I followed my favorite tactic in such a situation: ignored them. And the blender worked fine without them.

    The blender comes with a nifty little recipe book that details how to make soups, salsa, rice porridge, puddings, tapenades, nut patés and baby foods. To clean the blender, you fill it 1/3 full of water and add a few optional drops of dish soap, then run it for a minute or so. Dump out the dirty water. Refill 2/3 full with clean water and run again. Seemed like a very simple way to clean a blender. The only problem was water came out from between the lid cap and the lid when the blender was that full. It was just water, so didn’t really matter. But if I were making soup, this could be an irksome mess.

    You also get accessories, including a lovely stainless steel utility scoop. Also, a blade opener for when you get food stuck beneath the blade.

    Tragedy Strikes

    I used my blender a few times in the first weeks I got it. But then I let it sit on the counter top, unused, for a month or two. When I eventually plugged it back in to make a smoothie, it gave one great cough — just enough to make a mess of my ingredients — then died. Resuscitation attempts failed.

    I called Dynablend headquarters, hoping there was an obvious fix. Maybe I hadn’t screwed the top on right. Maybe the silicone seal was actually a vital piece of equipment. But, alas, the customer service rep had no idea why it had failed on approximately its fifth smoothie ever. Since I’d received it as a demo unit for reviewing, she wasn’t sure what to do about it.  She said someone would call me back later. But I never heard from them again. Of course they’re not obligated to replace a demo product for a reviewer. But it’s unclear why the blender failed, and how a real customer would be treated in such a case.

    Now I wish I hadn’t given my vintage blender to the Goodwill.



    Here are a couple of smoothie recipes you can make in your blender. Dump the following ingredients in your blender and mix till smooth.



    pumpkin smoothiePumpkin Smoothie


    ½ cup pumpkin

    1 frozen banana

    1 cup unsweetened soy milk

    ½ cup ice

    1 tsp vanilla

    ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice

    1 tsp molasses



    blackberry banana smoothieBlackberry Banana Smoothie


    ¾ cup unsweetened soy milk

    1 banana

    ½ cup ice

    ½ cup blackberries

    ¼ tsp nutmeg

    ¼ tsp cinnamon

    ½ tsp milled flax seed