Archive for the ‘Living a Healthy Lifestyle’ Category

One-Day Tuesday Mystery Item - Only $4.97

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Click http://www.chinaberry.com to see today’s specially-discounted item. Hint: It’s a Chinaberry Exclusive!

Was $26.95, Today (8/31/10) Only $4.97.

Price goes back up tomorrow (09/01/10). Shop Now! One per customer.

It’s a boy! And a girl!

Friday, June 18th, 2010

After nine long months of dreaming, planning, building, and decorating, we’re finally ready to announce our big news: Chinaberry had twins!

Meet Jake & Ella, the newest addition to the Chinaberry family. Created by the original Chinaberry kids, Elizabeth and Evan (some of you may remember them from our earlier catalogs way back when), Jake & Ella brings our mission of raising children with love, honesty, and joy to a new generation of discerning parents.

When Chinaberry launched its first catalog almost (gasp!) 30 years ago, our message and values attracted a community of people who were decidedly noncomformist. From vegans to homeschoolers, homesteaders to tree-huggers, our customers back then didn’t exactly swim with the mainstream. But over the years, as “Chinaberry babies” started having babies of their own, we have happily witnessed a slow but meaningful culture shift among parents. “Tree-hugger” is a badge to be worn proudly, and urban-dwellers are planting their own backyard organic farms. “Unschool” play groups are popping up across the country, and everyone seems to be talking about making healthier, more conscious food and lifestyle choices. It would seem, Chinaberry parents, that we’ve all done something right after all.

Now, catering specifically to those with babies and toddlers in their lives, Jake & Ella offers distinctive, sustainable toys, wellness products, and resources for nurturing creative, compassionate children. With a focus on environmental and social responsibility, Jake & Ella draws on three decades of Chinaberry’s experience to help the new generation of parents make natural, conscientious choices for their littlest ones.

Beyond its online boutique, Jake & Ella’s blog and social networks are building a community of unconventional and thoughtful parents, ones who wish to give their children the knowledge and inspiration to make the world a healthier, more wholesome place for all of us. From the latest news in environmental health to alternative thinking on child development, Jake & Ella’s online communities cover topics often ignored by the mainstream but essential in navigating the increasingly complicated business of raising a healthy family today.

Celebrate with us! Stop by our store, peruse our blog, connect with us on Facebook for interesting news bites, special offers, enticing contests, and banter with like-minded people. And if you like what you find, please let your friends know! Now through July 31, 2010, we’re offering a special deal for our Chinaberry family: Spend $50 or more at Jake & Ella and get $10 off your order. Just enter the code CBFAMILY during checkout to receive your discount!

We know you’ll be as smitten with our exciting new bundle of joy as we are…

Chinaberry’s Quest for Safe and Effective Sun Protection

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

AOL News released an article today saying that many sunscreens may actually be accelerating cancer. Chinaberry Inc. couldn’t agree more. For over a decade, our company has been researching safe and effective sunscreens for our two catalogs, Chinaberry.com and IsabellaCatalog.com. We were on the anti-oxybenzone, retinol, and paraben bandwagon when just about every sunscreen label included these ingredients.

A few years ago, when more and more companies began using nanosized titanium dioxide without having to disclose it, Chinaberry decided it was time to oversee the production of our own private label sunscreen, Perfect for the Sol. Janet Kelly, a licensed esthetician working for Chinaberry, says, “It had gotten to the point where even once-reliable vendors were utilizing nanotechnology to help their sunscreens appear more like the mainstream chemical sunscreens people were accustomed to. The problem with that is we haven’t even begun to understand the serious health implications related to nanotechnology. To be on the safe side, we developed our own natural sunscreen that is guaranteed to be free of synthetics, retinols, and nanotechnology. We feel it’s the best natural sunscreen available.” So if you’re ready to throw in the beach towel, along with your sunscreen, after reading the latest research on the dangers lurking in your tube of sun protection, know there IS a safe and effective alternative.

Years of research went into creating Chinaberry’s Perfect for the Sol. Its SPF 25 offers full-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays, it’s biodegradable, and it’s great for both your face and body. It’s not too greasy, doesn’t appear chalky-white, and the very subtle smell of essential oils of vanilla and lavender makes it perfect for men, women, and children. In addition to the active ingredients of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, it includes an abundance of anti-aging and moisturizing ingredients such as rose hips oil, green tea, and shea butter (all organic). While it is water-resistant, it is not waterproof because it doesn’t contain petroleum (that’s a good thing!).

To read more or to place an order, go to the Perfect for the Sol page on the Chinaberry website.

To contact us with any questions or concerns please email Janet Kelly at PublicRelations@Chinaberry.net.

I Think it’s Time

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

”I think it’s time,” my friend Kathleen said as she looked at the wilted tangle of vines hanging from the basket on my patio. Last summer, they were a lush tumble of bright blue morning glories. The thought of now chucking the whole shebang into the compost bin felt a little harsh to me. After all, I had known these vines from the time they were little seeds in a packet!

I know I’m not alone in sometimes hanging on to things that no longer add any value to my life. Some of us stay in relationships way past their shelf life, others stubbornly refuse to lose the spare tire ’round our middle, and others fiercely hold on to our big hair like it’s 1987. Instead of making way for the new, we rationalize our resistance with all kinds of excuses: ”If I lose weight, I won’t be able to wear all my beautiful clothes.” ”If I rip out these dead vines, I will admit defeat as a gardener. (Besides, it’s not like the whole plant is dead. Every morning, there’s one blossom that looks great.)” But for someone who has always followed William Morris’ words ”Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful,” since when is 99.9% dead a keeper for me?

Mother Nature’s got it down with spring. There are no stuck places in Nature. Everything runs its natural course, so there’s a beautiful flow that ultimately results in new life, new beauty. But what do we do? We hold on, even when what we have is 99% ugly. We hold on to our pain, anger, and resentment, and we wonder why we experience headaches, depression, and possibly even cancer?

We need to welcome spring into our beings. As Kathleen says, ”I think it’s time.” Let’s ask ourselves what it’s time to let go of. Spring is the perfect time to say goodbye to everything from that volunteer job that no longer brings joy to that 4-year-old jar of capers left over from the company picnic.

My hanging basket is once again an object of joy and beauty, this time with orange nasturtiums and blue and white allysum. I don’t miss the 1% of beauty my one lone morning glory blossom brought me. My basket reminds me of the importance of letting go and clearing space for the new. And if I feel this good after replanting a hanging basket, cleaning out my bedroom closet could very well catapult me into nirvana. Wishing you all a springtime of release and renewal!

Choose Love, Not Fear

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Recently, I stayed at the house of some friends to take care of their animals while they were on vacation. I was working away when I heard their cat’s cries coming from the garage. The garage is Muffin’s private place where she can eat in peace and not have to worry about the family’s two dogs wanting to sample any of her feline fare. She was now signaling me that she wanted to rejoin ‘the family’ in the light and warmth of the house.

Of course, I happily came to her ‘rescue’ and opened the door for the now nearly frantic cat. Judging by her plaintive cries, I expected her to leap into the house the moment I opened the door. Instead, she stopped crying and just sat there in silence. ‘Come on, Muffin,’ I encouraged her. But it was a no go. So, I shut the door and returned to my work. Within minutes, the cries began again; this time, even more fervent. Once again, I stopped what I was doing and went to open the door. And, once again, Muffin just sat there, motionless, not making a sound. I began feeling annoyed, but not as annoyed as when we had done this dance perhaps another four times. There seemed to be no logic to the steps in this dance. Clearly, the cat wanted to be in the house instead of in the garage. Who wouldn’t? The garage was cold, dark, and musty smelling. The house was warm, cozily lit, and a virtual haven for any self-respecting cat in need of an honest catnap. After the third go-round, it became apparent that Muffin’s reticence was due to her fear of the dogs. Mind you, she lives with these dogs day in and day out; they have never harmed her in any way (well, except for their innocent curiosity regarding those little cans of Tasty Trout Dinner). But the point is these were not wild dogs from the Barrio — they were family.

Finally, Muffin made a run for it and settled down on an easy chair in the family room. The dogs hardly even acknowledged her entrance, and I thought, ‘All that time wasted on an irrational fear!’

I can’t tell you how many times I experienced the ‘Muffin Dance’ this past week. There was the woman in my support group who had been complaining about her job since I joined the group six months ago. The scenario seemed all too familiar to me: to remain in the cold garage and complain about it or to take some action that would enable her to experience light and warmth. Amazingly, like Muffin, this woman chose to stay in the garage. Her wild dogs came in the form of ‘not being able to deal with rejection right now,’ which might occur if she were to look for another job.

With the New Year approaching, I began exploring the musty garage experiences in my own life. What ‘wild dogs’ are holding me back in fear? And, more importantly, what choices will I make in response to my fears? What thoughts will I choose to enter my mind? What thoughts will I choose to release? And, more importantly, what action will I take in hopes of enhancing my life experience? I can choose to be a victim in the dark or I can choose to live abundantly in the light. One thing I know for sure is that when doors open before me in 2010, I’m leaping inside at the first opportunity.

Safety or Insanity: What the Press Didn’t Tell You

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

Remember the lead-in-toy-paint scare during the Holiday season of 2007? While we all remember the recalls, the most significant offshoot of the situation is a law known as the CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Information Act) which Congress passed the following year - an election year. A well-intentioned but deeply flawed law, it has resulted in the demise of many small businesses and cottage industries and economic hardship for all but the most enormous of companies.

As written, this law made felons out of handcrafters of one-of-a-kind children’s items, including organic and natural wooden toys and baby afghans sold at craft fairs (unless the finished item had been tested — often redundantly — by one of a handful of accredited labs in the US at a cost of several thousand dollars or sent to overseas labs, both of which typically result in the destruction of the item itself). Incredibly, the law also has the potential to make criminals of anyone having garage sales and reselling anything (clothing, bedding, toys, books printed pre-1985, etc.) for children 12 years old and younger if any item is found to be out of compliance with this law. For a short while, libraries and schools were anticipating having to dispose of, in hazardous waste fashion, all of their books for children 12 and younger. There are still storerooms of boxes filled with books printed before 1985, which are currently banned as children’s products.  Schools and libraries are no longer planning to dispose of post-1985 printed books, but science programs are still being held hostage by the rigid regulations, resulting in at least one school using posters to teach geology rather than using real rocks, and leaving others without access to items like microscope bulbs due to the necessary lead solder used to make them. The absurd fact is that CPSIA law covers virtually anything — not just toys — for children 12 and under — even shoes. Using the logic that made CPSIA a law, we should never let our kids go barefoot outside because the lead content naturally found in dirt could easily exceed the legal allowable lead content for anything intended for kids 12 and under.

Keep in mind that there were already laws in place concerning lead in paint in toys when the 2007 situation occurred. What we were seeing and hearing about at that time were toys that were not compliant with existing laws and should have never ended up in the U.S.  What would have made sense to ensure child safety with regards to lead paint would have been to enforce these existing laws. Instead, in a knee-jerk and politically-driven reaction to public concern, our legislators passed a law that has been, and will continue to be, tragically, the undoing of many makers of the very best and safest in children’s products. What started out as a law with bipartisan support has now become good ol’ politics. Congress has continued to push back scheduled meetings about the CPSIA, leaving everyone involved scratching their heads and guessing how to best move forward to comply. (There are more interpretations of this law than you can shake a stick at.)   On top of all this, there have been 11 proposed amendments that are going nowhere.

This is a law that is so monumentally extreme and cumbersome and, in our opinion, misdirected, that it will benefit few but huge retailers and toy manufacturers, and most importantly, not parents and children. Ironically, many of the toys we want for our children - those that are lovingly hand-crafted, inspire creativity, are made with the purest of materials, and won’t end up as landfill after several months of use - are now unavailable to us because of CPSIA. Ironically, what will make a toy CPSIA-compliant are expensive material and component testing that is cost-effective only in vast quantities — which brings us back to toys “made in China” in most instances. A bizarre turn of events, eh? And while European toy safety standards have typically been recognized around the world as the most stringent, many of these toy manufacturers have discontinued doing business in the U.S. because this law is so clumsy and unnecessary, safety-wise. It is a sad day when Grandpa in Minnesota, who crafts wooden toy trains in his garage, has been put out of business because he can’t afford several thousands of dollars of component testing, while factories in China the size of football fields - many with questionable regard for workers’ health and the environment — spew out toys made of plastic because they can afford the testing.

While this law has squandered literally millions of people-hours of those interpreting it, researching it, communicating about it, and attempting to be compliant with it, it has little to do with safety. Ineptly reported by the media, and passed in knee-jerk fashion by Congress, CPSIA is changing the landscape of items we can offer our children. Our legislators have created this mess and parents should be aware that their choices for items they purchase for their 12-and-under kids are being drastically reduced.

For more information about CPSIA, please visit the following sites:

http://www.cpsc.gov/about/cpsia/cpsia.html

http://learningresourcesinc.blogspot.com/

http://www.whatisthecpsia.com/

For the Salad Days of Summer, a Couple of Our Favorites

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

Try out a couple of summer salad recipes from our Eat, Drink & Be Chinaberry cookbook (sorry, out-of-print).

SUMMER IN THE MEDITERRANEAN SALAD
This makes enough for an army of hungry eaters or for a few days of yummy salad eating.
-Patti Pitcher; Seattle, Washington

1 lb flaggolet beans (the small greenish Italian bean-very yummy)
3 giant tomatoes, diced
2 large cucumbers, peeled and diced
1 red pepper, diced
Small handful of each: basil, dill and oregano-mince
1-1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled (I use sheep feta-Valbreso)

Cook beans until deliciously tender. Add minced herbs, diced vegies and crumbled feta. Dress lightly with equal parts of:
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Add:
One clove garlic, minced (or more if you love garlic)
Salt and pepper to taste
Stir and eat.


CURRIED CHICKEN SALAD
A perfect choice for a cold buffet; not peppery.
-Joan Barasovska; New Orleans, Louisiana

1 chicken, cooked, meat diced
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1 cup chopped green grapes (seedless)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 T lemon juice
2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp tumeric
Salt to taste
Chopped parsley to garnish

Cover chicken with water, bring to boil, skim foam, reduce heat, simmer one hour, remove from pot, cool, remove chicken from bones and skin, dice and place in large bowl.
Add celery, scallions, grapes.

Mix mayo, sour cream, lemon juice, curry, spices in a small bowl until smooth. Pour over salad, mix gently, refrigerate several hours.

Multi-Tasking Mama Syndrome - It Can Happen to You

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

I had 2 leg injuries last year from falls (and I’m only 45). The female doctor said injuries are actually quite common among busy moms. I decided this “disease” needed a name so I named it Multi-Tasking Mama Syndrome. Do you have it too? I think we need a support group — the meetings should take place at a medical facility. Make sure to bring along your laptop, cell phone, kids, diaper bag… 1-800-555-MTMS

Super Sports Disks

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

Why are these sports disks one of my top five favorite toys of all time? For one, they encourage kids to get outdoors and get physical! I’ve used them with my 4-year-old grandson as well as with my own friends, and we’ve all had a blast. The foam-ringed disks have a high-strength mesh net that makes the ball catapult off it, enabling you to catch and throw balls up to 150 feet. They’re perfect for the beach or pool since they won’t sink, and on scorching hot days, use them with water balloons! Both sizes are suitable for 4-year-olds and up, but the larger ones are easier for younger ones to use (I actually prefer them myself!), progressing to the smaller ones after a little practice. Each size comes with 2 disks and a 2-inch rubber ball. Winner of the 2007 Parent’s Choice Award. (Colors may vary.) 4+; $39.95. Mini Sports Disc also available.

Review by Janet at Chinaberry

Keeping an Open Heart in the Presence of Pain

Friday, July 10th, 2009

I can remember my father sitting at a restaurant table, years ago, quizzing my husband and me about current events and voting issues. We were young and absorbed in our new life together, and keeping up with the news was the last thing on our minds. More accurately, we’d made a somewhat conscious decision to not keep up with the news because it all seemed to be bad and what’s the use and how could our votes really count, anyway? Much to my poor father’s horror, we actually articulated this opinion to him, sending this very politically knowledgeable man into a tailspin of incredulity and, I would guess, disgust.

Since then, in fits and starts, I have become more politically aware and attentive to the news. I know enough of what’s going on to be conscious of the fact that there’s a lot more going on than what we’re being told. I don’ t think anyone would argue that unless a sensational spin can be applied to the latest current event, it’s generally not considered to be newsworthy. It ’s that ratings thing, you know. For some weird reason, the bad news, not the good, tends to get our attention and so we’re dished up even more and more of it. A twenty-minute dose of current events is sometimes enough to make you want to crawl into a hole and wait out whatever it is we, as humans, are collectively going through right now. Or would it be saner to just opt to remain ignorant of these happenings over which we have no direct influence?

I don’t know for sure, but I do know that lately I don’t have to turn on the news to hear of sadness. It seems as if there are tragedies hitting closer to home and to loved ones than ever before. And I know that I’m not alone in my opinion. Friend after friend expresses the same sentiment. There is just a lot of grief not only “out there,” but “here” as well. It’s strange. And I often find myself struggling to stay balanced enough to keep on keeping on. If I allow myself to linger under whatever dark cloud is floating above me, I somehow find myself merged with that dark cloud, which then, I believe, in some way gets bigger because I am now part of it.

In the midst of what seems like a steady barrage of stories that could break my heart or make me angry, I have found that being active is so much more helpful than being passive. The bottom line is that I must make a conscious decision every day - sometimes every few minutes - to soften my heart and refuse to partake in judgment and hate. I’ve always known - but have to remind myself more often now, it seems - that I have a choice. I can just dwell on what is horrible. Or, I can be aware that there indeed are unspeakable tragedies going on even at the other end of the block (not to mention on the other side of the world) and keep my heart open and light and always ready to find joy, no matter how small that joy may seem.

I don’t know why I’ve changed. Maybe it’s because my children are older now and I have seen some of the ways life has challenged them, and I’ve seen how strong they are when they stand up to face these challenges. Or maybe it’s because life has changed me through trials of my own, honing me, polishing me, and gentling me in the process. It’s hard to tell. But what I do know now is that when all else falls away, one thing remains: the fundamental human need we all have to be connected to each other. And through consciously seeking this connection, I am learning to make space in my heart to hold the pain I meet in life and to embrace every ounce of joy that comes my way. My goal is now to enlarge my cup, so I can hold all that the world has to offer and greet each experience with compassion. The larger my heart gets, the more I can experience. It puts me at risk (for the world does hold tremendous pain), but without that risk my ability to seek and choose joy is severely limited. And without joy in my heart, how can I face the day?

A Billion Simple Acts of Peace

Peacejam: A Billion Simple Acts of Peace

Peacejam is an inspiring book/DVD about young people who teamed up with Nobel Laureates to create projects of real change and healing for the world.