pen rainbow

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Wednesday—Good For You, Good For The Home: Cool Baskets!

A quick snapshot of
Michael's sensible shopping tote

Two kinds of eco-friendly baskets!

It's that time again...the holidays are just around the corner, and it's time to think about crafts and gifts.  I was at Michael's in Henderson (Nevada) a couple of weeks ago, and I was totally impressed with their shopping baskets!  

Yay!  Some smart shopping cart designer has finally come up with a really neat, sturdy, in-store shopping tote that takes the weight off of your elbow, doesn't dig into your forearm, and is easy to navigate around narrow aisles.  I charged all over the store with it, avoiding squirrelly kids rolling around on the floor, stuck-up teenagers who wouldn't move the hell out of the way, female friends shopping in pairs, and elderly folks in wheel chairs.  

The totes are wide enough and tall enough to fit awkwardly-sized craft items, and the basket grid is intelligently designed so that skinny items (e.g. paintbrushes or silk flowers) won't slide out or get stuck.  Like wheeled luggage in the airport, these little baskets are super-easy to maneuver.

I don't know if all of the Michael's stores have these neat shopping totes, but I love them, and I hope that other stores get with the program and order them for the convenience and comfort of their customers.

The second kind of really cool basket that I'd like to show you is one that I received as a gift a few years ago from the Tennessee Nelson girls.  I have used this spiffy workhorse-of-a-basket in a variety of ways, but beyond the practical and asthetic reasons why I like it, this particular line of basketry is as environmentally conscious and community supportive as they come.  I love products like this!

i ❤ bolga baskets
Bolga Baskets International™ is a fair trade company that imports sustainable Kinkanhe straw baskets from an area in northern Ghana called Bolgatanga.  The company (based in Oregon) works with African villages to provide pre-financed materials and wages that exceed the local rates so that weavers can produce and globally export their own goods.  As the company grows, its long-term goal is to develop a weaving center in Ghana so that Bolgatanganese craftspeople have in-house supplies, an on-site school, free transportation to and from the villages, and insurance benefits with health care and access to micro-loan programs.  

That is progress in the right direction.  These baskets are beautifully made and everyday functional.  I love mine!  It is currently being used to store bathroom linens, and last Fall, it made a dandy carrier when I walked around the neighborhood to drop off the latest batch of pomegranate jelly.  I've also used it at the farmers' market.  The prices are more than reasonable.  A medium rectangular basket like the one I have sells for $38 on the website.

These would make fantastic Christmas gifts for those who want to give gifts with a conscience and for those who would like to receive a gift that benefits others.         

Tuesday's Cupboard — Fit or Fat Country Pork Stew

Covert Bailey's Fit or Fat Target Recipes
An oldie, but a goodie!  Easy, healthy, cheap & delicious!

This is my all-time favorite stew recipe.  I love this dish served with Cholula chipotle hot sauce &/or Tabasco green jalepeƱo hot sauce!

TO PRINT THIS RECIPE:  Copy the url; go to printfriendly; paste the url, edit & print.


Adapted from Covert Bailey's original Fit or Fat Target Recipes © 1985

•  1 lb. lean pork, cut into 1" pieces
•  3 medium-sized Russet potatoes, cleaned & unpeeled, cut into 1-1/2" pieces
•  Half of a small bag of whole baby carrots
•  1 green, yellow or red bell pepper, cut up into strips
•  1 medium onion, sliced into rings, then halved (I use Vidalia or Maui sweet onions)
•  1 medium tomato, sliced & halved
•  2 beef bullion cubes or envelopes
•  1 c. water
•  1 T. whole wheat flour
Cholula chipotle sauce on top!

Trim the excess fat from the pork pieces.  Combine all of the ingredients, except the flour in a 3-quart casserole.  Sprinkle the top of the mixture evenly with the flour.

Cover and bake at 350°F, stirring occasionally for 2 hours or until the pork and vegetables are tender.

Calories per serving:  260; fat 7g