Thursday, April 28, 2011

New Acai necklaces and a great video

The Andean Collection has already been a great line for us and we think it's the perfect summer jewelry collection! We just got in these gorgeous five strand Acai necklaces in four colors- tangerine, sea green, light gray and multi and they are only $55! The colors are gorgeous and it is such an easy necklace to wear with a tee shirt, tank top, shirt or a simple summer blouse.

Acai (pronounced "ah-sai-ee") seeds come from the Acai palm which is found in the lush rainforests of South America. These trees grow predominantly in swamps and in floodplains and reach heights of approximately 45-90 feet tall. Small dark purple berries grow in dense clusters on the palm and each contains a single seed about .25-.4 inches in diameter. The fruit is harvested for food and is most often served as a beverage. It has gained global fame in recent years due to its high antioxidant and energizing properties. In addition, Acai leaves are used to make various handcrafts such as hats and baskets and Acai wood is often used in construction.

We found this video that beautifully shows the process of harvesting, carving and dying the seeds. You also see the making of the jewelry by the local artisans and then the end result of supporting and educating the community. There are no words but it is easy to see the joy the artisans feel in being able to support themselves. Learn more here. It's a lovely video that tells a wonderfully uplifting story. The more I learn about this company and Amanda Judge, the founder- the more I love it!

The Andean Project from Guru on Vimeo.

Chan Luu spring collection and cool video

We are heading to a tradeshow in NYC on Monday and thought you'd enjoy this fun video showing the set-up and breakdown of the Chan Luu booth. They are always one of the busiest booth and they have so many pieces to choose from, I can't imagine how exhausted everyone is after a show. It is pretty amazing.

We are also thrilled with the spring collection. They offered their well-known leather wrap bracelet but in new gorgeous colors - like turquoise, olive, white and bronze leather.

We loved the mixing of stones and gem colors. There are so many beautiful combinations, it's quite hard to chose! We love the wrap bracelet look with a plain white tee shirt or white button down shirt and shorts or jeans in the summer- simple and sexy. We also love their new fabric wraps with silver and gold nuggets.

The color combinations are perfect for summer and the lightness of the bracelet is so appealing. We of course could not resist the beaded bracelets in these three yummy colors. They look like candy, no? Coral, turquoise and jade. The beads are sewn together into a three rows that sit beautifully on your wrist and tie underneath. It's a modern, clean way to wear colorful faceted stones. We love!

And check out this great "behind the scenes" video of their spring 2011 photo shoot. It makes you want summer right now, right? It's right around the corner!

Jonathan Adler's new melamine tabletop!

Oh how we love Jonathan Adler's new melamine and outdoor entertaining tabletop- let us give you 5 reasons why we think this collection is quite fabulous!

Food Blogs, our mouth watering favorites!

Rarely do I have time to watch TV cooking shows but I do remember how much I loved them; cooking is truly an art and really enjoyable to watch. I also love perusing a good cookbook with beautiful photography and my favorite activity recently is reading food blogs. There are so many good ones; I picked 5 of my favorites. They are great to inspire you before a weekly shopping trip or before you plan a party. Because it's a blog, the writer has plenty of space to not just explain the recipe but also the memories the recipe stirs up of her childhood or of a family gathering. Food is such an important part of our culture and history and many of the blogs really express that. For the recipe choices, I focused on healthy dinners because that is when I do most of my cooking and I included one dessert that is perfect for May. Click on the photos or recipe titles to get step-by-step information on the recipe.

1. The Parsley Thief:
I met Katie, last year, working next to her at our school carnival's bake sale that she organized. Her blog has amazing recipes that are not only interesting but look delicious like her Guiness Beef Stew or Cranberry Bean Hummus and one of my favorites is Rigitoni with Zucchini, Sausage and Goat Cheese. Not only a great cook, Katie also has a design background so her photography is amazing. Her close-up (and beautiful) shots are so helpful. This blog also has a very easy to use index and printable recipes. I'll be making this Spring risotto this week!

2. Green Kitchen Stories:
I am not a vegetarian but I aspire to be one someday! I have certainly made in effort to drastically reduce meat (red meat especially) consumption in our home for health reasons but it sneaks in here and there. Green Kitchen Stories is written by a couple, David and Luise who love vegetarian cooking and who choose to refrain from eating gluten, dairy and sugar (not because of allergies but because it makes them feel better). I do believe that reducing these three types of food can help a person's health. I personally love bread and cheese way too much to be successful at that kind of diet! Luise focuses on the healthy eating, David is the vegetarian, food stylist and photographer. This a gorgeous blog with really delicious recipes. My favorite is the Morrocan Quinoa Salad. Talk about a hearty vegetarian meal!

3. Kitchn:
Yes, it's spelled without the "e." It is an amazing food blog (1 of 5 on the well-known Apartment Therapy blog). It was founded by Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan, wife to Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, founder of Apartment Therapy. This blog has great recipes, beautiful photography, kitchen tours, wine articles and articles on the proper tools needed for cooking. I go to this blog often. The recipes span from basic to fancy and in between. I cook a lot of fish (especially salmon) and I love this recipe, Salmon with Couscous and Cilantro Vinaigrette. I love their mission statement: It is for those who care about the quality of their food, and how it affects the health of themselves and the planet. It is also for those who want to cook more, but are shy in the kitchen. It’s a place to dive in deep, and embrace the joy of one of our basic needs: food.

4. Oh Joy Eats:
Joy Deangdeerlert Cho is the ultimate arbiter of taste! Her blog Oh Joy is just a delight to the eyes. She writes about interior design, stationery design, fashion, photography, jewelry and food. Her newish blog called Oh Joy Eats is dedicated to all things delicious (and pretty). She writes about restaurants she's been to, recipes she's made, great design found in the kitchen and my favorite, what she is currently snacking on. Her photography and recipes are fantastic. I was most interested in the Mini Spinach Dip Bowls as a great appetizer for a party (certainly not low-fat) but yummy looking!

5. Smitten Kitchen:
The creation of witty and intelligent Deb Perelman has received numerous acclaims since 2007 and I am equally smitten with this beautifully written and photographed blog. She is definitely fond of baking so if you have a sweet tooth, this is a great site for you. She is also quite ambitious with her kid-friendly cooking with her homemade pop tarts, oreos and whole wheat gold fish to name a few. I was most interested in this Strawberry Shortcakes Recipe because when I think of spring and summer, this is the kind of dessert I crave. Also, my husband cannot eat chocolate (a horror, I know) so this is a great dessert for him. Smitten Kitchen also has a very easy recipe index to use that is categories by food, cuisine, season and "freezer friendly" among others. Click on the pictures to see the whole step-by-step recipe.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

John Derian's blooms are popping up all over!

John Derian's decoupage designs definitely have an identifiable "look." I love when he uses exploded or close-up images of flowers or shells. It looks so modern and fresh and reminds me of a Georgia O'Keeffe painting. Two of his new round floral plate designs were featured in Elle Decor and Martha Stewart this spring. His Poppy 11" plate was in Elle Decor and this beautiful pink 8" Papaver Simplici plate was just featured in Martha Stewart. What a beautiful wedding or mother's day gift these plates make! Flowers that truly last forever! We also have several other floral pieces from John Derian in prices that range from $70-$100, click here to see the whole John Derian collection.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Get to know the Andean Collection: chic, ethical and natural!

I was struck by the fun colors and beauty of the Andean Collection's jewelry at a recent tradeshow. This is the kind of jewelry I look for in the summer when I have a simple white tee or blouse and just need that added pop of color. What's even better is that they are a really interesting company. The jewelry is made with sustainably harvested seeds from the rainforests and lowlands of South America, primarily Ecuador. The commercialization of these seeds allow both farmers and artisans to earn livable wages. Designed collaboratively by NYC designers and indigenous artisans in Ecuador, the Andean Collection's on-trend and socially conscious designs are made of:

Acai (ah-sai-ee): known for its high antioxidant and energizing properties
Huayruro (why-yoo-roe): naturally colored deep red or black
Jaboncillo (hab-own-see-yo): the fruit of this tree was traditionally used for soap
Pambil (pam-beel): the wood from these trees is often used to construct houses, lances and bows, its leaves are woven into roofs of native huts
Tagua (tahg-wah): also known as "vegetable ivory," it grows from regenerative pods that emerge from the Ecuadorean Ivory Palm trunks and the seeds are dried for 3 to 5 months before being able to be carved into jewelry

This is the part we really love- the Andean's Collection's non-profit "arm" is the Andean Project (AP) where they focus on providing supplemental services to their local artisans and their families. The collective mission of the two organizations is to promote the economic, cultural and social rights to basic human needs, such as housing, food, decent employment, cultural identity, health services and education. Currently, the AP pays secondary school fees for the artisans and their children who live in poverty stricken coastal and mountainous regions of Ecuador. The AP is also providing the artisans with comprehensive training programs and they will develop subsequent program areas over the next year.

They create to encourage change. The Andean Collection was founded to bring sustainable change to impoverished communities in South America. They offer artisans the opportunity to participate in the global market while inspiring their customers with access to the elusive world of the rural Andes. Amazing!

They were just on CNN! It's a beautiful video. Watch it if you can- it's quite inspirational!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Pinterest- a great discovery!

We love Pinterest. It's just a "web crawers's" dream. It is a great way to neatly save all your favorite images of homes, clothes, jewelry, bags or just really gorgeous photos. I'm really a visual person and beautiful pictures make me happy. One of my favorite ways to relax is to read magazines and I have several folders of my favorites finds. In the retail industry, we call these "tear sheets" or just simply "tears." This is a great place to save all your "tear sheets" virtually (without the clutter). "Pin" what makes you happy or enjoy browsing through other people creations or saves. They are so creative and fun. It's like a "virtual" pinboard which I need because my huge "physical" pinboard is already full (with kid's art mainly)! In the words of Pinterest, "You can also follow collections created by people with great taste. People use Pinterest to collect and share all sorts of things -wedding inspiration, favorite T-shirts, DJ equipment. You name it, people are pinning it."

When we discovered Pinterest, we were pleasantly surprised to see how many people "pinned" images from Click here to see what we found. We are quite flattered!

So check it out and get pinning!

April is Earth Day Month!

Did you know that approximately 175 countries now recognize some form of Earth Day making it one of the largest secular holidays? What a wonderful holiday to celebrate...a sustainable earth!

Earth Day started over 30 years ago in 1970 when more than 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks and auditoriums for a peaceful demonstration for a healthy, sustainable environment. The day's founder, Sen. Gaylord Nelson, said the idea of Earth Day evolved over a period of seven years after spending too much time troubled by the state of the environment.

One of the most popular ways to celebrate Earth Day is to plant a tree. We say, why not celebrate Earth Day every day and purchase eco-friendly products and use recyclable bags when packing your child's lunch? At Orange and Pear we have several products that we love that are eco-friendly and we hope to find more. Check back to our blog throughout the month of April to see different people that have made it their life's career to help the environment.

The Megan Auman cozy cuff will save thousands of cardboard sleeves used to protect your hands from hot coffee cups...and it's stylish, too!

The Twirls & Twigs baby blankets reuse beautifully colored t-shirts to create whimsical appliques.

Use the Roost water bottle at your desk or home to keep plastic water bottles out of landfills.

Reusable fabric wrap is a beautiful way to present your gift to the perfect someone. These are designed by the fabulously talented Viola Sutanto of Chewing the Cud and she gives some great ideas as to how to wrap just about anything with her fabric wraps here.

We love lunchskins for packing our girls' lunches! They come in a variety of gorgeous colors and designs and are really easy to wash. They actually go in the dish washer.

We also just discovered these adorable "lunch bots" in cool colors and so easy to hand wash or put in the top rack of the dishwasher.

Search by the Eco Elitist on this blog to find some other articles about how to make a difference. There will be more on this topic (one close to our hearts) this month. We also give 1% to non-profit environmental organizations that we feel are making a major difference. In 2010, we gave to the NRDC and the Alliance for Climate Protection. The deterioration of our environment, waters, open spaces and natural resources is upsetting and yet hard to comprehend and grasp. It's hard to change, we know that. We just say: "Stay open minded and learn as much as you can." Watch Leonardo DiCaprio's movie The 11th Hour- it's eye opening. Talk to your kids. It's amazing how much they understand. A great book to read to them is Dr. Seuss's the Lorax. Click here for some more ideas.

The Earth Day 2009 graphic above was created for and is being used by the Environmental Council of Sacramento, California for its Earth Day activities. [Graphic property of and courtesy of Environmental Council of Sacramento created by Dana Gray, a local Sacramento artist.]

Arugula- in season in April and just divine

I never really had a real understanding of how good arugula could be until my husband and I traveled to Italy almost 7 years ago. We stayed in this gorgeous bed and breakfast called Relais San Pietro in Polvano. It was on top of a hill, 20 minutes outside of Cortona and overlooking a stunning Tuscan valley. They grew their own olives and countless other vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs. There were also fragrant rosemary bushes everywhere. We always ate breakfast (which consisted of a daily fritatta, various amazing cheeses, fruit and yogurt) there before our daily excursions and indulged in several of their dinners which took place outside, under soft candlelight overlooking the valley. I mean, it was just amazing. It was at that dinner that I fell in love with their fresh arugula. I have always admired Italian cooking for their love of good quality, simple foods and this is a perfect example. They served it only with a perfect balsamic vinegar (from Modena I'm sure) and with shaved parmesan. To make this simple salad work, the ingredients all have to be really good. Especially the cheese- sharp and a little nutty and shaved on to the salad. This was the most amazing salad I have ever had and from then on, I became an arugula lover!

I've listed one of my favorite arugula recipes from Martha Stewart (found here) and links to a few others.

I also love arugula pesto. This recipe from Gourmet, found here, is simple and really good. You can substitute the pecans for walnuts also. And doesn't this sound amazing? Arugula and fava bean crostini! Click here. And better yet arugula is a great source of bioflavonoids and vitamin A, which is known to help build immunity. It also has potassium which is good for muscles and can prevent muscle cramps. And most people don't know this, but arugula also has calcium, about 32 mg of calcium per one cup. The body absorbs calcium in arugula (along with kale and broccoli) more readily than from milk according to They also say that "for those cutting back on milk-based dairy products, this makes arugula a very nice vegan source of calcium."

Friday, April 1, 2011

Happy April Fool's Day!

I'm a newbie to the blogging world and since I have been working with Jennifer here at Orange and Pear, she has tried to convince me to here goes! Jennifer and I both have daughters and we love to cook with them...though sometimes it's hard to find recipes that are appealing enough to them to want to be involved..."Pasta and Veggies, Mom? Really, that's boooooring."

So, in an effort to find something creative to have my daughter help out with in the kitchen, I searched for April Fool's recipes. My favorite, and by far will be the most fun to prepare is Family Fun Magazine's Chicken Not Pie.

She and I are both candy fanatics, so shopping for the brightly colored candies to mold into carrots, peas and corn was a treat in itself. Enjoy your April Fool's Day and the time spent in the kitchen with your children...they are memories that will make you smile and you are preparing them with a skill that can last a lifetime.