Doll companies I’m happy to support

At the time we lived in Southeast Asia there was a growing but tiny industry of local crafters that made blocks, stuffed animals, kitchen sets or doll houses, and other toys. We spent a lot on those, but they were locally sourced and well-crafted. Coming back to NY was a different story. Options, wow. The pop culture focus of the toy industry, a profit-over-people corporate ethos, the consumerist culture - it's over the top after several years abroad. My little girl hit the doll phase this year and has been asking for one. But finding a toy company I'm happy to support is hard enough; Barbie, American Girl, and other chain store brands whose company values hew to the mainstream for profit's sake won't be getting my business. … [Read more...]

Alleyway kitchens

Extensive mazes of alleys cut through the heart of large city blocks. Outside the doors are these clay planter-type contraptions which are used for cooking. You can place a grill on top or set a pot or wok on it. They'll make extensive meals with one or two of these. We have one too but it's been sitting unused with a small healthy weed in it which needs no apparent nutrients from soil or water, because I coudn't find an eco-friendly alternative to deforesting Cambodia (they cut the hardwoods down to make charcoal). But I recently found a great NGO, Ceres, which makes char-briquettes from biomass waste. They develop alternative fuels and stove technologies. Three kilograms of these briquettes cost 9000 Riels ($2.25). Family members … [Read more...]

for Intl Women’s Day: women-owned beauty biz

It's still International Women's Day in Cambodia (holidays falling on weekends are observed on the next working day), and today's topic is natural beauty. About the time I got married 5 years ago, I was on an organic / natural makeup and skincare kick. I don't normally use makeup, but around a year ago people started asking if I were tired, since I've started to develop dark undereye circles. Yikes-- back to those companies I used for my wedding makeup! Here's a list of my favorite women-owned small-business eco-friendly natural makeup and skincare lines: Markey has a lot of raw materials for the do-it-yourself skincare enthusiast. In recent years she's begun to offer finished formulations, and now she opened a storefront location … [Read more...]