Still Waters is Pure Magic!

Certain places lay claim to your soul as though you were revisiting a beloved home from a previous life. Still Waters Retreat Center was like that for me.

Coming from the city the first thing that is clear is that the air quality is something entirely different- a luxurious and potent entity being exhaled by ancient woods and deep earth: pure, rare and endangered.

When I alit from my generic faceless rent a car Amy came rushing with her two rescue dogs (a Lab and a Poodle) to help with my luggage trailing vapors of spent smudged sage and geranium essential oil, full of hugs and good will. After we deposited my 20 plus pounds of Produce and raw/vegan snacks (one can never be too prepared) in my cottage she gave me a tour.

Several rustic/chic cottages surround a large pond and verdant lush woods.

One can easily imagine idling away an afternoon kayaking, meditating by the stream or perfecting a headstand on the outdoor yoga platform while the wind chimes lull one into a deep trance.

It is obvious that two artists own this place and their aesthetic sensibility informs every room and vista in this 100 acre paradise.

Amy is accessible and engaging in a sincere manner that puts you right at ease.

You know that you could say practically anything to her as though she were an old friend. She led me to her kitchen where we sampled her delicious well water and discussed the merits of various supplements she was taking. We marveled over the reishi mushrooms that she had foraged on her property. Her large kitchen in the main house is a chef’s dream and the adjacent dining room with it’s large fire place was a magnetizing gathering place for all that weekend.

It happened to be Amy’s birthday and she had arranged for Brandon Burns to perform a sound healing ceremony that evening which as it turned out was the perfect way to kick off the weekend.

Amy’s husband Tao brings a strong design sensibility to all of his modifications and designs on the property. It is clear that this is an ongoing life project. I have no doubt that each year will bring more cottages, consciousness and great art to this land.

One of the great surprises was coming upon Tao’s (and his friends) art on our nature walks. I particularly loved the Rose’s Thorns and also The Alice In Wonderland plundered tea party that resembled Miss Havisham’s wedding al fresco.

The following day mycologist Ryan Bouchard presented a lecture on the treasures of the forest: mushrooms- benign and otherwise. Afterwards we went in search of the funky fungi and what was truly impressive was the sheer vastness of the property that belongs to Still Waters. We also found a very large Hen Of the Woods mushroom but unfortunately bugs had found it first so we left it behind.

Our evenings ended around a huge bonfire that leapt in the crisp October air and made one supremely happy to be alive.

With two large spaces for yoga (indoors and outdoors) it is just a matter of time before the yogini stampede begins in earnest… and lucky and happy they will be to have found this place.

The cottages are well appointed and spacious with fully equipped kitchens and comfy porches that invite you to wile away the afternoon reading that book that has been collecting dust by your bedside for the last few months.

Random seating areas around the pond present the perfect day dreaming/meditating spaces to fall in love with all of god’s creation. This place was designed for the perfect zen moment and if you string those all together you have a pretty stunning day.

On a more practical note: Another detail that was a welcome relief was Amy’s willingness to eschew using any fragranced products in my room prior to my visit.
She also expressed an interest in learning more about how to be truly green and I applaud that and think that that will create another demographic to appeal to. The person who wants to vacation in a place that is as non toxic as their own home.

It is always amazing to me that in the closets of so many eco-resorts, health spas, yoga ashrams and health food establishments are still the toxic standbys of Clorox, Windex, Ajax, Tide, heavily fragranced soaps and various pesticides…

Didn’t they get the memo? This stuff is bad for the individual and the environment and there are safe and effective alternatives that have no negative impact at all.

Come on, hippies! Let’s get it together.

The very beautiful Still Waters is open from May to October for groups and individuals.

I will definitely go back.

Amy & Tao are excellent hosts with a glorious space in a dramatically stunning location. Dare I say it is a spiritual mecca, a vortex of sorts and a very cool place to spend time!

Plan to stay for at least a few days to truly unwind!

If you pass Fairfield, Ct on your way here be sure to stop at Catch A Healthy Habit which has superb raw vegan food.

Also nearby but I didn’t get a chance to visit is G-Zen in Branford, Ct which was just voted Connecticut’s Most Sustainable Restaurant. Next time..G-Zen!

to check out Still Waters: www.retreatcenterct.com

nearby goodness: http://catchahealthyhabit.com/
http://www.g-zen.com/

IMG_3824

Evolved Cuisine is Coming to a Town Near you

In the past when I’d visit Los Angeles the first thing I’d do after alighting was to head straight to Cru, Silver Lake’s premiere raw food restaurant, for a hardcore theobroma fix- their rich,creamy chocolate shake and cashew raviolis with pesto…or any number of the other addictive entree offerings. ( you would think that an ecstatic live chocolate shake would be easy to come by but no one in raw NYC can make one that can touch the shakes at Cru or Juliano’s. )
The menu was small but brilliant with none of the usual missteps that other raw restaurants make. Everything on the menu was fully conceived and delicious using the finest quality produce and ingredients that the bountiful world class L.A. farmers markets have to offer. Quality not quantity being the idea..
At the helm was chef Rachel Carr, who in a few short years distinguished herself from the pack of aspiring raw chefs who were popping up everywhere like mushrooms after a storm, by putting her unique stamp on all of her creations. Like so many truly brilliant people she is totally self taught and like all excellent chefs she is obsessed with quality. Nothing is greater than the sum of it’s parts. Every dish is a celebration of the best of the season’s largess.
Not only was she creating a sophisticated version of living foods for a burgeoning audience hungry for something more exciting than gloppy green soup she was offering weekly food prep classes that were an hour and a half power crash course in her unique take on menu favorites from the world over. She is by far the best, most organized, knowledgable, generous and reasonably priced (!) person I have seen teaching the craft.
Rachel stayed at Cru for six years and then packed up her ceramic knives and moved to Sun cafe for another couple of years.
This past winter her Facebook page announced a move to Chester, Connecticut where she was opening her own restaurant.
Chester? Connecticut?
Initially appalled thinking NYC needs this great talent the logic became more evident when photos of a grand room in a former bank appeared and news of the nearby organic farm in Old Lyme that would be supplying the restaurants formidable kitchen. Nearly every raw foodie wants their own farm and to live in nature. She was getting both and she deserved it even if NYC would be the worse for it.

Well surely my foodie cred improved exponentially this past weekend when my friend and myself made the two and a half hour pilgrimage to Chester and I fully expect a phone call, a hand shake or a commemorative plaque from someone at the Food Network any day now.
No longer catering to a strictly raw crowd Six Main has live food, cooked vegan and vegetarian options also. Which means that pretty much everyone can be happy there. (unless they need to have a half pound of charred animal flesh on their plate to sate them but actually her portobello au poivre should shut even them up )
Admittedly the Raw Loon Factor is rather high with everyone’s endless list of allergies and ability to grok the past lives of every flax cracker so embracing the greater vegetarian population is probably a relief.

In the cooked arena she rises above the fray with ease bringing her clean sensibility to cooked standards. She manages to create comfort foods like lasagna and pasta without it taking a bath in a trough of oil.
Her ratatouille showcases the best of late summer squashes on a bed of delicately seasoned lentils that would make uber food critic Anton Ego whimper with delight.

Her salads are in a league of their own. Always made with the freshest and often exotic greens ( no dried out earthbound meslun for this lady) she evokes thrilling complexity with so few ingredients that it will leave you baffled as to why your own salads at home don’t come within a football field of it for flavor (hint- take her weekly class and find out why!)
Every table was given a fragrant pistou with homemade bread which was a meal in itself and should be listed as a controlled substance. (Pistou is pesto without the nuts and cheese just basily goodness- which is good news to raw heads as we often eat too many nuts)
Her famous raw raviolis are a sure crowd pleaser with its creamy cashew filling and juicy red marinara as is the live pesto linguini.
The beverage menu is equally creative- indulge in a dreamy tangerine, chamomile and ginger mocktail that gets you blissfully high on pure life force energy as does the basil lemonade.
For those needing higher octane treatment lots of organic wines/ cocktails are available.
All of the desserts are raw and the famous ganache has made the cross country trek and is a must for hard core cacao addicts. This dense, super rich confection is guaranteed to keep you awake for the long drive home.

The sundae seems simple,not buried under the motherlode of super foods that some raw places pile on, until the salted chocolate sings an aria to the balcony that raises the hair on your arms.

Yes folks. She has done it again. All strata of foodie can be happy here in the tiny hamlet of Chester. I hope the good folks of Chester realize the greatness in their midst and if they don’t then NYC will be more than thrilled to roll out the red carpet for this talented chef.

Other things to do in Chester. This IS a great day trip by the way.. Visit Gillette Castle built by the actor William Gillette whose fortune was made playing Sherlock Holmes thousands of time on stage. Made entirely of stone atop a glorious hill with views of the Connecticut River. All the furniture and doors are hand carved and astounding.
We also took a swim at a local lake which was so refreshing after hours in the car.

Buy a yummy raw chocolate bar from chocolatier Lisa Sobolewski at the Health food store across from Six Main called Just Beets.

Six Main Street Chester, CT 06412

1- 860- 322- 4212

www.sixmain.com

Organic Essence Shea Cream

I have been a huge fan of shea butter for a very long time. Barely a day passes that I don’t recommend it as a cure for everything from dry hair, cracked heels, scars and lip balm to eczema! I am never without it and find that as a stylist it is my go to product to reduce fuzziness and to create texture in every manner of hair.
I have tried countless shea butters and find the Organic Essence to be my absolute favorite.
The integrity in this product is matchless and the groundbreaking 100% biodegradable packaging should be setting an example for the entire cosmetic industry. Actually the entire packaging industry for that matter.
Many products claim to be organic but in reality have only one or two organic ingredients in them. Every single ingredient in Organic Essence is organic . Many competitors who claim to reiki and fill their jars with love won’t commit to buying organic ingredients! You only need to have one organic ingredient in a jar to claim it is organic so that is why I read labels carefully and never assume that manufacturers share my high standards because sadly they are usually just thinking about a bottom line. This company also uses high quality essential oils in their line and they aren’t cheap with them. Each jar is beautifully scented with non toxic essential oils that aid in the healing process of all manner of issues physical and spiritual.
I love Organic Essence Shea Butter and think there are countless uses for this product in everyone’s life! Buy it and be a part of the solution! Support the good guys who are  making a difference by lightening the footprint on this planet.

Eco Chick Starre Vartan Visits Grace Heaven Salon

This is reproduced from Greenopia’s website.
Be sure to check out Starre Vartan’s Great New Book The Eco Chick’s Guide to Life-How To Be Fabulously Green
*******************************************************************
Super Natural Hair Color: NYC’s Grace Heaven Salon
by Starre Vartan News Archives

I’ve been dying my hair red since I was 16, and I’m twice that age now. I started with semipermanent haircolors (both traditional drugstore fare and the 90′s stand-by, the bright and fantastic Manic Panic) and moved onto permanent, experimenting my way through the mid- late 1990′s. Forearm-thick blonde chunks over bright red was one of my fave looks of all time, and went great with my giant jeans made more voluminous with the addition of fabric panels I inserted in the sides. Throughout college, post-college travels, and my first job in 2002, I held onto increasingly more ‘natural’ red hair (though thankfully my wardrobe style evolved as well).

But when the superlong hair trend came along in the last few years, I found that I wasn’t capable of growing my naturally-curly locks to follow along and I was bummed. Before I had started dying, my (boring brown) curly hair had easily brushed my waist. But now my hair was beat-up; straightening and years of dying had taken their toll, and I couldn’t grow my hair past armpit length before the ends started looking like something the cat dragged in. I had been using Aveda color for a few years, but even that was too harsh (and twice I even had a minor allergic reaction to it, and I’m not allergic to anything!). After all, the rest of my life was super-green (disclosure, I’m web editor for Greenopia); but my obsession with having red hair had kept me on a chemical haircolor path. (Yes, I had tried henna in the past, several times, and for some reason my hair wouldn’t pick up the color). So I decided to go more natural, and looked through Greenopia’s NYC Hair Salon listings. All green businesses in the listings are independently vetted for their ecofriendliness.

And that’s when I found Jane Webb, who owns Grace Heaven Salon, in the East Village in Manhattan. I took her my abused locks and she kept them red- but using natural herbal color. She chopped off all my destroyed ends (to my horror, natch) and gave me a lovely haircut to boot (in the picture above). And since then, I’ve been back twice, and each time my red is restored (with no weird sneezing or itching fits like I had previously), and it is in better shape than ever before. Seriously, I am growing my hair and the ends, even after two dying sessions and (some) straightening, have maintained their health. Overall, my hair is shinier, bouncier, and happier.Jane’s been doing the natural thing for about twelve years, so she’s not only an expert in herbal color and a great stylist, she’s also proven that her dedication to healthy, nontoxic haircare is long-standing; she’s not just following the trend now that organic and natural is the new hot thing. Her cozy salon on 3rd St. smells like nature’s steam room when you walk in; all products used are incredibly natural and let the lucky Jane gets to work around aromatherapy all day. (An example: Instead of the typical silicone-based de-frizzer, Jane uses a mix of delicious-smelling essential oils to finish my hairstyles- it works beautifully!) There’s always interesting folks in and out of the salon, from magazine editors to vegan chocolate makers to young women who are pregnant (or looking to be) who know that natural is the only way to go when expecting, or expecting to expect!

 

Grace Heaven Salon is located at 226 E. 3rd St.

No Bathroom Should Be Without One

My most recent visit to that wackiest of fests know as the New Life Expo yielded a great discovery in the form of a very interesting artist named Matthew Fraser who lives in Brooklyn and turned his considerable sculptural talents to making the very practical Miracle Step.

The Miracle Step is used to lift the legs 7 inches off the floor creating a posture akin to squatting which is the natural position for the body to vacate the bowel entirely. It fits perfectly around the toilet to be unobtrusive and is ergonomically constructed with bamboo. You will notice a difference immediately in how your body reacts and wonder how you could have ever lived without one. A great bonus is that it is esthetically very pleasing.

You can contact Matthew at 1-917-664-0372

or at his email address: matthew@miraclestep.com

http://www.miraclestep.com

Elimination Is Good!

Elimination Is Good!

Sivananda Juice Fast: NY and the Bahamas

2010 Bahamas Update: As it turns out there is organic produce to be had in Nassau, Bahamas at Good Fellows Farm which I have been told is near the airport. Hopefully Sivanada will forge a relationship with the farm to provide organic produce for the juice fasts and ultimately for all/much of their produce needs.

After my last visit I was assured by several staff members that Sivananda will be switching to eco-friendly cleaning products and abandoning their use of Lysol, Fantastick, Chlorine Bleach and heavily fragranced products. Baby steps but certainly in the right directions. March Forth!!

****************************                                                                           *************************************************                                                                            ******************************

I have attended the juice fast at Sivananda both in upstate New York at the Yoga Ranch and in the Bahamas at their Paradise Island ashram this year. Upstate New York offers an organic juice fast and the Bahamas does not.

Manu Dawson, a nutritionist from Integral Yoga, designed the ten day detox which incorporates three juices a day for seven days with raw food meals provided before and after the fast. Upstate New York in the summer is idyllic. At the ranch you can meditate and do yoga twice a day in the bucolic bliss of the Catskills or relax under a tree and take it easy noting the benefits of the juice cleansing your sluggish organs. The stone sauna on the property is the perfect place to speed up the detox process.

Having done dozens of juice fasts I think that more attention could be paid to making the juices delicious. Just because they are alkaline green juices doesn’t mean they have to taste like puddle water. I would also advise bringing your own lemons as they used organic lemon juice from a bottle (pasteurized for sure) if you are concerned about staying 100% live/raw.

Despite the taste factor  you do start to feel better. To add to your understanding of the detox process Manu lectures daily on subjects ranging from nutrition to supplements and various health practices. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of herbs and vitamins and is always handy with a remedy for a juice faster who has a nagging detox symptom.

The same can not be said of Sivananda Bahamas Juice fast. I went in knowing that the juices weren’t organic but had heard somewhere that most of the pesticides remain in the pulp and that it is better to juice with non-organic than not at all. I no longer believe this to be true.With each passing day I felt more and more tired and congested.I bailed about day 5 with a bad tooth ache and total exhaustion and just ate the salads provided in the main kitchen. Sivanada in the Bahamas does not maintain the property using eco products so you are inundated with the smell of bleach and lysol and fabric softener everywhere. Upstate new York has done an excellent job of greening all of their household/laundry cleaning products.I wish that the Bahamas would follow suit and practice ahimsa, the sanskrit term for doing no harm. It is a small eco system on Paradise Island and at the moment Sivananda is leaving a pretty big footprint on the pristine landscape.

Their excuse for not providing organic vegetables for the juice fast is that it is too hard to get to the island. They manage to get incense and peasant shirts from India to sell in their boutique so it seems that acquiring organic produce from the USA can be done if they plan for it. The setting otherwise is exquisite.Beautiful beach, rustic but comfortable rooms and plenty to keep you busy with the ever changing roster of guest lecturers and musicians arriving almost daily.

If you are looking to jump into the cleansing process I highly recommend the upstate Sivanada yoga ranch 10 day juice fast and would seriously advise you to skip the Bahamas version until they figure out how to get organic produce to Paradise Island

http://www.sivanada.org

Great Basics- Organic Clothing

Here are a few links to my favorite organic clothing companies.

For the basics I love the organic cotton leggings and perfectly fitted tees from Sust.

available at http://www.getsust.com

also i always check for sales at the Greenloop’s website.They showcase dozens of

eco-designers making it one stop shopping for the fashion savvy set.

http://www.thegreenloop.com

Rubber Fetishist

When my friend Heike arrived I could not help but notice the very cool rubber belt she was wearing. I had bought one years ago, a different style and had worn it out.Any bicycle/vegan or fashion enthusiast will love these belts made from inner tubes that has the hipness factor of black leather without the creepy karma of it. Her brother makes these belts in germany and you can check out the various styles at his website. She mentioned that shipping is free but you better check. The euro price translates to about 40 dollars US.

http://www.schlauch-shop.com

Exquisite Taste Meets Green Living

 

THIS IS SCOTT O’BRIEN IN HIS BEAUTIFUL NEW SHOP THE GREEN LIFE ON 
MAIN STREET IN SANTA MONICA.
THE GREEN LIFE HAS A COMPREHENSIVE LINE OF SUPPLIES FOR CREATING A 
PERFECT GREEN LIFE.
THE SHOP STOCKS BABY CLOTHES, BEDDING, CLEANING SUPPLIES AND ALL 
THE LITTLE IN BETWEEN CHOICES THAT MAKE
LIFE FAR LESS TOXIC.
http://www.thegreenlifeco.com

Juliano Has The Last Laugh

 

A YOGA POWERED JULIANO PLANS WORLD DOMINATION

A YOGA POWERED JULIANO PLANS WORLD DOMINATION

      JULIANO’S RESTAURANT RAW IN SANTA MONICA HAS SOME OF THE BEST LIVE FOOD IN THE COUNTRY. DON’T MISS AN OPPORTUNITY TO SAMPLE THE RESULTS OF 15 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE IN THE KITCHEN. HE IS A LIVING LEGEND AND DESERVES ALL OF THE ACCLAIM AND RESPECT HE GETS. IT ALL STARTED WITH HIM.

   http://www.planetraw.com