Have A Red And White And Blue (And Green) Fourth Of July!

It’s just another week until the Fourth of July, and we’re sure everyone’s going to celebrate it in the grand American style to which we are accustomed: namely, we’re going to chargrill a bunch of food and set the sky on fire. Don’t get us wrong, we love the pomp and circumstance of Independence Day, but we like to think you can make your celebration a little more eco-friendly without losing the ebullience and exuberance the holiday embodies. Here are some tips on bringing a little green into your red, white and blue. Image source: Annamariaislandchamber.org If you want to go out and enjoy a local fireworks show in person, there are plenty of ways you can get there without driving yourself. The BeachHouse in Bradenton Beach will have their annual fireworks extravaganza on Thursday, July 3rd, while their sister restaurant The Sandbar in Anna Maria will host the finale of the two-night fireworks show on Friday the 4th.These are popular events, but you can skip out on the frustration of sitting stuck in traffic (and cut back on your carbon emissions) by catching a ride on the AMI Trolley instead. Sure, you might still have to wait in a line of cars, but at least you can kick back and relax with your friends and enjoy the gorgeous views. Image source: Pizzazzerie.com Would you rather avoid the crowds and the loud noises of a public gathering? You can have a totally chill 4th of July celebration right in your own home. Make it fresh and fun by serving local foods with a patriotic color scheme. On a hot summer night, there’s no dessert more perfect than creamy, homemade vanilla ice cream topped with tart local blueberries and strawberries. And, because you know we think every party should be a cocktail party, we’ve got some super-creative drink recipes for you to try. First, there’s this adorable red white and blue sangria that gets an extra-clever festive touch with star-shaped pieces of pineapple. Next is a chic layered shot made with grenadine, blue curacao, and either vodka or cream (depending on just how much of a punch you want it to pack). And of course, there’s our personal favorite: cocktails rimmed with Pop Rocks instead of sugar. You can have a blue drink or a red drink – whatever you prefer, and rim the glass with an opposing color, and then feel the fireworks exploding in your mouth. It’s kind of amazing. Image source: Recipegirl.com Whether you brave the crowds, throw a soiree, or just sit at home with your cats and watch awesome fireworks celebrations from around the country on YouTube (it’s okay, we don’t judge) be sure to have a happy and safe Independence Day!

Wines of Summer

This week we will have Jenn Foye of Premier Beverage with us tasting 6 wines of summer. We will sample some refreshing whites and some barbeque worthy reds that will pair nicely with grilled foods.

Save The Bees, Save The World

“If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live.” – Maurice Maeterlinckin “The Life of the Bee” Last month in our article on eco-friendly food trends, we noted the increasing prevalence of urban beehives. These colonies are great for foodies who want access to locally-grown honey even in the middle of a bustling city: however, they are about far more than just providing a tasty treat to connoisseurs of local food products. The bee population has been shrinking for several years, now. And, just like when any population grows or shrinks dramatically, it has a major effect on the surrounding ecosystem. Bees are integral in crop pollination: without them, the crops that sustain us (and the animals we use as protein sources) will suffer, causing a global food shortage. It’s difficult to imagine that an insect so small could have such a big impact. But it’s become increasingly apparent that the same people who are committed to the sustainable food movement must also focus their time and talents to addressing what scientists are calling “colony collapse disorder”. Locally, we’re already making strides: when Mike Coleman noticed that some of the plants in the Pine Avenue Edible Community Gardenswere struggling to survive, he did some research and thought that bees might be the solution. Now Pine Avenue is home to over 300,000 bees which tend not only to the Edible Community Gardens, but also to gardens in a one-to-three mile radius of the hive. Bees are fascinating creatures. Even the great fictional detective Sherlock Holmes was preoccupied by them: when he wasn’t solving mysteries, he found time to pen The Practical Handbook of Bee Culture with Some Observations upon the Segregation of the Queen. Of course, fictional tomes won’t help us address this problem, but there is a very real documentary called More Than Honeywhich explores the worldwide decimation of the bee population and posits potential scenarios to explain why it might be happening. Perhaps with increased public awareness, we’ll solve the mystery of why the bees are disappearing. In the meantime, we must do our best to bring bees to our own local communities and see if we can’t eventually build a new worldwide colony of our own.   All photos courtesy of www.islander.org

Support Local Artisans At The Super-Cool Atomic Holiday Bazaar

A big part of living sustainably is keeping your consumption local. When you support small, independent craftspeople you are greatly reducing your carbon footprint by minimizing the need for mass production and shipping. Even better, you’re putting money into your local economy and helping allow small businesses to flourish. On December 14th and 15th 2013, you can have the opportunity to support several independent artisans   all at once by attending the 8th annual Atomic Holiday Bazaar. This offbeat, irreverent craft show is a family-friendly event that showcases the myriad talents of local artisans. It’s a great place to pick up some one-of-a-kind Christmas gifts or even just splurge on some unique goodies for yourself. You can even support a great local organization by purchasing raffle tickets to win supercool swag from many of the featured vendors – all proceeds will go support Cat Depot, a favorite charity of ours. The event runs from 12pm to 5pm on both Saturday and Sunday the 14th and 15th at the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium. Kids 12 and under get in free: otherwise, admission is $5.  Here are some of the vendors we’re looking forward to seeing: Image Source: Craftorganic.com 390 Design It’s no secret that we’re big fans of Mark Nodeen at 390 Design – we’ve blogged about his work in the past. We have the inside scoop on some of the new product lines he will be unveiling at this year’s Atomic Holiday Bazaar: we won’t spoil the surprise, but we urge you to come check them out before they inevitably sell out. Diamonds And Coal Even the most glitzy girl sometimes likes a little grit with her glamour.  At Diamonds and Coal you can get pendants made of gemstones and repurposed bullet shell casings, sugar skull-inspired cameos, and leather and spiked bracelets that manage to be both elegant and edgy. Lolablue We have long been fans of Lolablue, the North Port-based business that specializes in handmade eco-friendly soaps and other bath and body products. Their natural and raw ingredients are carefully sourced to be fair-trade, wildcrafted and/or organic. Right now they’re featuring zingy seasonal aromas like Holiday peppermint and Fir Needle Mistletoe, in addition to their regular scents like Grapefruit with Rose Geranium and Lemon Lavender (all of which feel great, and smell totally delectable). Q Star What’s cuter than a baby? A baby dressed in super-colorful retro mod clothes. Q Star handcrafts the cutest clothing and accessories for children out of a wide array of vintage-inspired prints and patterns. The only downside? We wish some of this stuff came in adult sizes, too. Smash Art Studio Got someone on your shopping list that would proudly sport a wrist cuff made from repurposed aluminum cans? What about a comic book fan who would love drink coasters featuring her favorite superheroes? You can find these whimsical wonders and many more at Smash Art Studio. This is eco-conscious pop art at its finest. Two Mad Fish Do you have a beloved tee shirt that’s too frayed to wear but you can’t bear to trash it? Do you still hold onto your collection of beautiful neckties even though you work from home and don’t need them anymore? Instead of tossing these treasured items, you can have the artisans at Two Mad Fish create beautiful and unique pillows, throws, quilts, or purses from them. This year, don’t give Dad another necktie – take all the ties he doesn’t wear and get them turned into a wacky pillow for his office couch. It’s a cool way to keep the tradition alive, with a fun twist.