Joy and Peace to the World
Have a wonderful New Year!  
with love, Allen and Elizabeth Fiend

Enjoy the Holiday Edition of my photography project 
LIGHT ON GLASS: Photographs taken through glass,
a series of photographs featuring reflections 
and interesting things behind glass. 

Click on an image to see it full screen, 
leave a comment, or to share on social media.

 

LIGHT ON GLASS 
Photographs taken through glass, by Elizabeth Fiend.  
A series of photographs featuring reflections 
and interesting things behind glass. 
Click on an image to see it full screen, leave a comment, or to share on social media.
Learn more about this collection at the end of the post.
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CHRISTMAS TREES, NAUGHTY OR NICE?

Written By Elizabeth Fiend

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Christmas causes cancer. You knew it would come to this sooner or later.

 

Okay, OK, Christmas doesn’t cause cancer, but Christmas trees might, and I’ll get to how both real and fake ones might lead to cancer. But the real point of this column is: If you have a real tree, don’t throw it in the trash! Recycle your tree. Recycle your tree. Recycle your tree.

First, which is kinder to the planet — a real Christmas tree or a fake one?

 

FAKE TREES: No Vinyl, That’s Final pretty much says it all.

Fake trees are made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride). It’s bad stuff. These faux trees are made from nonrenewable sources and are petroleum based — and, uh, we’re running out of oil, have you heard? PVC is also considered one of the most environmentally damaging plastics on the market.

PVC is a plastic that keeps on giving. The trail of destruction begins in production, where dioxin, dichloride, ethylene and vinyl chloride are all generated by the making of PVC. These chemicals pollute neighborhoods around PVC factories — many of which are located in China, where there is the added factor of no environmental controls, and poor and unregulated (read: unsafe) conditions for factory workers handling hazardous chemicals.

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Lead: not just for toys!

Lead is used to stabilize PVC products, to make them more rigid — like your child’s brain will be if she inhales any dust from your lovely faux tree that might happen to settle on her lead-painted toys as they lay wrapped under the Christmas tree. You’ll actually see a warning label on fake Christmas trees that warns you not to inhale or eat any of the tree (kinda funny if it wasn’t so sad). And hey, don’t forget the lead on the strings of PVC-coated holiday lights! They have warnings too.

The chemicals used to make PVC, and the added lead, have been linked to neurological, reproductive, liver and kidney damage, and yes, cancer. And they’re not just bad for you, they’re toxic to the environment, too!

Although these faux trees can last for centuries, they rarely become family heirlooms passed down thorough the generations. Statistics show most people discard their tree after only about nine years. That means the last 291 years of your fake tree’s life is spent slowly leaching out nasty stuff in a landfill.

 

Option Two: A live tree.

There is the trendy, greenish option of buying a live tree, complete with root ball and all. The plan is after enjoying the tree indoors as your Christmas tree you plant the tree outside. And presto you have a new tree, producing life-giving oxygen — a beautiful and elegant solution to the real-or-fake dilemma.

Problem is, January’s not the time of year to plant trees. This activity is most successfully done in the fall or spring. Plus the tree you get for Christmas might not be suited to your locale. So in reality, this scheme which sounds so good is mostly doomed to failure and is just a ‘feel good’ kind of solution. That is, until you’re constantly aware of your ex-Xmas tree that now sits dead and brown along your driveway, and then you feel pretty crappy.

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A Diet Diverse is a Diet Divine —

Eat My Brussels Sprouts and Cranberry Pasta Salad
Article and Recipe By Elizabeth Fiend

Prehistoric peoples are thought to have dined on 1,500 different wild plants. And throughout history, humans have consumed 80,000 different edible species. Shockingly, today we stick to eating about 30 different plants with only four – wheat, rice, corn and soybeans – accounting for 75% of our calories!

Adding cranberries and Brussels sprouts to your diet helps promote food diversity which is a corner stone to healthy eating. They also taste great and are loaded with goodness.

Make this easy, fantastic cranberry and Brussels sprouts pasta salad to bring to that Holiday Party you’re going to.

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Brussels Sprout, Cranberry Pasta Salad
Recipe by Elizabeth Fiend

I designed this recipe as an introduction to Brussels sprouts for those that have vegetable resistors in their house. One strategy I used was to cut the sprouts in to small pieces. Another was to add some sweetness, in the form of dried cranberries, to balance any perceived bitterness from the Brussels sprouts. And finally, it’s pasta…

If you have any funny or frightening stories regarding Brussels sprouts write a comment here.

A Waldorf-like pasta salad, serve hot or cold
Serves 4; Preparation time: 30 min.

Category: Vegan / Vegetarian Recipe

Tip: The green vegetable and red fruit featured in this dish makes it a festive, and easy one-pot dish to bring to a holiday party.

Ingredients
½ lb Brussels Sprouts (reserve ¼ cup cooking water)
½ lb Whole Wheat Linguine
1 tbs Tahini (sesame seed paste)
¼ cup Pine Nuts
½ cup Dried Cranberries (aka craisins)
Salt to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)

Method
Prepare linguine as directed on package (or, if you have it, this is a good recipe to use leftover pasta)

Wash Brussels sprouts with warm water and remove any scary looking leaves
Cut the bottom stem off, keeping the mini-cabbage intact
Quarter each sprout, then cut each quarter crosswise (if some leaves fall off it’s okay)

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add Brussels sprouts
Reduce heat and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until tender but still slightly crispy (taste them) DO NOT OVERCOOK!

Drain, reserving ¼ cup cooking water

In a small bowl or tea cup blend until smooth reserved cooking water and tahini

Put pasta in serving bowl and coat with tahini mix

Gently stir-in Brussels sprouts and dried cranberries

And pine nuts right before eating

Season to taste with salt and cayenne pepper (do NOT overdo the salt, please)

Why a Diverse Diet is Important and Health Info on Cranberries and Brussels Sprouts:

Having diversity in your diet is an often overlooked way to remain healthy. Within each food category lies a cornucopia of nutrient-rich foods. And each one of these foods contains hundreds of unique substances — the good, like antioxidants and phytonutrients, and the not-so-good toxins. By eating a diverse diet, you increase your chance of getting the good and decrease your chance of consuming too much of the bad.

Increase eating the good + Decrease eating the bad = Decrease your risk of disease.

Prehistoric peoples are thought to have dined on 1,500 different wild plants. And throughout history, humans we have consumed 80,000 different edible species, with 3,000 of those in widespread use. Shockingly, today we generally stick to eating just 30 different plants with only four – wheat, rice, corn and soybeans – accounting for 75% of our calories!

Think about it? How many different kinds of fruits did you eat this week? You did eat some fruit this week, right?

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School lunchboxes: How to make them eco-friendly?
The trick is finding a container that’s green as well as easy to use.

Written By: Heather John     Source:  Los Angeles Times Posted By: Elizabeth Fiend

I can’t hear the word “plastics” without thinking of “The Graduate.” When the film was released in 1967, plastics may have represented the future, but today we’re faced with the past — what to do with all those used wrappers, bottles and baggies.

It turns out a lot of that plastic is finding its way into the cafeteria trashcan. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average school-age child generates 67 pounds of lunchtime waste each year, much of which comes from packaging. That translates to an estimated 110-million-plus pounds of waste a year in Los Angeles County schools alone. We spend a good deal of time talking about what goes into our kids’ lunchboxes — the organic, the sustainable, the healthful. But what about the lunchboxes themselves?

Because I am what my friends politely call “obsessive,” I spent hours researching containers for my preschooler’s lunch, polling parents about practicality and e-mailing manufacturers about BPA, or Bisphenol A, a chemical that can be found in many containers and that some researchers believe may have adverse health effects.

The conclusion? Most eco-friendly containers are a pain in the neck. Many can’t be put in the microwave, or they require hand-washing. What working parent has the time? And so, I began my quest for the ultimate lunch solution: low-maintenance, waste-free containers that were reusable, functional and BPA-free. No plastic baggies.

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EVEN ALICE LIKED THE TEA
A Primer on How to Dry Herbs and Make Homemade Tea Blends

Essay and photos by Elizabeth Fiend

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Recently BiG TeA PaRtY threw a Sustainable Living “Tea Party” at Playa Del Fuego (an East Coast Burning Man) – hundreds of people stopped by to read our posters and share their own ideas on sustainability. Our homegrown and home-blended wormwood iced tea was a hit. Many asked for the recipe and how-to for homemade herbal iced teas. Here’s the low down:

I grow my own herbs, if you have some earth I recommend this sustainable pastime. Gardening and growing some of your own food (and beverages!) is a rewarding endeavor. Otherwise, dried herbs are available for sale on the internet.

GROWING HERBS:

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•    Herbs are easy to grow. Know your climate and soil — choose plants accordingly. Herbs will be perennial (long lasting), annual (just one season) and sometimes in-between like biannual and short lived perennials.

•    Make sure you really know what you’re growing because you’ll be ingesting these plants. Purchase plants and seeds from reliable dealers. Often, plants will be mislabeled at lesser garden centers.
•    In my experience it’s best to purchase perennials as plants; annuals are usually cheaper to grow from seed.

HARVESTING AND DRYING HERBS:
•    When possible, harvest herbs on a dry day in the morning to get the most impact from the plants natural flavoring – their oils.
•    Always leave at least one third of the plant intact when harvesting (except annuals, eat it all as frost approaches as it’s going to die soon anyway).
•    Since my herbs are home grown and I don’t use any chemicals in my yard, I don’t wash my herbs (as drying them is the goal) instead I dust off any dirt with my fingers and inspect for dead bugs, feathers etc. which I remove.
•    Tie the herbs in small bundles and hang them upside down in a dry and aerated location away from direct light until they’re dry.

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What to do with A Sh*t-Load of Vegetables

 

or

 

How I Ended My Summer Vacation

Article by Elizabeth Fiend

Upon returning from my vacation I was greeted by my two charming 20-something house sitters. They did a great job holding down the fort and loving my big orange cat Hurricane. They bashfully asked me if it would be okay if they left the remainder of their CSA Farm Share in my fridge. Like many people, seems they’re trying hard to eat right but are at a loss as to how to actually pull it off.

Can you image asking ME if it would be okay to unload a bunch of organic fruit and vegetables?

I made them squirm bit and then hastily accepted. In my book, there’s only one thing better than a fridge full of organic produce, a fridge fill of free organic produce.

I quickly went through the bonanza. In the crisper tomatoes tightly wrapped in a plastic bag were immediately removed to a plate and set on the counter.

Fresh corn was out on the counter seemingly left there for days. What were they thinking, pop corn? That had to go to the composting heap. But everything else was salvageable.

The two pints of blackberries were on the verge of extinction. To save them I popped them in the microwave for three minutes. I added a touch of maple syrup to remove the tartness, which I’m assuming is why the house sitters didn’t eat them. I drained some of the dark purple, almost black actually, juice off and drank it right then. The blackberry compote would be perfect for weekend pancakes.

Giant bags of beets and carrots did seem a bit daunting as they were still covered in farm dirt. But not to worry, I have a vegetable scrubber.

There was also a bag of Swiss chard as big as a house, eggplants, tomatoes, tomatillos and the obligatory oodles of end-of-summer-zucchini.

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CHEW ON THIS! [15 minutes]
Chew On This! is full of Philly food facts and fun fur hats, plus a visit from one of America’s greatest thinkers (and eaters) Benjamin Franklin. Part game show, part food show and all parts fun, this episode is a feast of eye candy and an earful of information.

We create our own quiz show by playing the games Dicey Dinner and Tic Tac Tofu in which host Elizabeth Fiend tests contestants’ knowledge of nutrition and food. Yes, there’s jumping up & down, there are hugs and an audience screaming out encouragement. But there are also velvet-lined pizza boxes, fuzzy dice thrown from a KFC bucket and a game board of cartoon food held by men with green hair. This show is bound to amuse as well as inform you about the value of a vegetarian diet, what color foods have the most antioxidants and much, much more.

Even special guest Ben Franklin learns a thing or two from Elizabeth while he charms her into making him a sandwich – a sandwich on a soft pretzel!

The following essay will be included in THE BOOK OF WEIRDO (a ridiculously number of years in the making) to be published in 2017 by Last Gasp. It includes the testimonials and recollections of a majority of the contributors to Robert Crumb‘s 1980’s/early ’90’s comics anthology, WEIRDO, as well as reprinting a number of stories. The three editors — R. Crumb, Peter Bagge, and Aline Kominsky-Crumb — are interviewed, also included are features on many different aspects of that important magazine, as well as a thorough and comprehensive history. – Jon B Cooke, author

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What Makes Luna Tick? or How I got to Weirdo. 
By Elizabeth Fiend (the artist formerly known as Luna Ticks)

My first comic was three frames. A cop says “nice ass” to a punk. She kicks him in the groin; he says “I won’t be able to get it up for a week.” She reaches into her leather; pulls a gun; shoots him, remarking “You’ll never get it up again.” A few months later Mumia Abu-Jamal was arrested and charged with killing police officer William Faulkner. Philly 1981, was a time and place where a cop could be threatening to arrest you and checking out your legs — at the same time.

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Employment for punks was scarce and I spent a lot of time drawing. I took a pen name, Luna Ticks, and named my comic strip The Young and The Frustrated: A Continuing Strip Tease. I distributing Xerox’s at punk shows. I gauged success by how many sheets littered the ground at the end of the show – many.

My housemates were a dwarf, a black woman, a gay Mexican American, and the son of a police chief, along with my husband. The cop’s son stole our rent money and we were evicted. At times like this there’s only one thing to do. We started a band.

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In the punk sea of non-conformity we were the weirdos. Five color hair; a silver space suit; pink floral over-top polka dots. We had a big presence. We walked everywhere because we had no money, paying for a bus would have been an extravagance that would never have occurred to us. Our style was so new and so alienating, once a man jumped out of his car in the middle of an intersection and start beating on us. A reporter described my appearance as having “both a sense of atmosphere, the bizarre and an inexplicable range of covertness.”

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SUSTAINABLE LIVING TiP: Put a Lid On It.

Save Energy When Cooking by Elizabeth Fiend

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When cooking soup, stew or boiling water for pasta or rice put a lid on that pan.
By keeping the heat in you’ll use less energy to cook your food.
Bonus: you’ll get to eat sooner. Love, Elizabeth Fiend