As weather is heating up, I’m reminded of one of my favorite guest pampering tips, the “Refresher Station”. Upon arrival, guests love to be made comfortable, and I think it’s always a great idea to offer fruit-infused ice water and maybe a house-made lemonade before the ceremony. Because many guests have traveled a distance to get to the event, and this easy DIY water station will help to cool them off before they are seated.
If you don’t have the budget to have it maned by a bartender, place mason jars out with hanging tags so guests can write their names and hold onto their water glass for the night. Don’t forget to get a wooden crate, or wine box to lift the water jugs off the table in a stylish way. It’s important to raise the spouts up far enough off the table to make it easy for the glasses to fit underneath. Handmade chalkboard signs are a great way to finish off the look.
With summer upon us, I’m planning on hosting a lot of BBQ picnics. What suggestions do you have to make it a family and earth-friendly day?
BBQ picnics are a great way to gather friends and family for a great time, but many people are unaware of the environmental tolls these events have on our planet. The thousands of paper plates, plastic forks and vinyl table cloths that get trashed each year is a huge waste of resources and takes itâ€™s toll, unnecessarily, filling landfills. Here are some things to consider when planning your special event this summer:
- One of the most important things you can do is stay away from charcoal lighter fluid. It is full of volatile organic compounds (VOCâ€™s) that evaporate into the charcoal and help get it started. But then when you cook your food over it those toxins go into the food and then eventually into your body. This causes health problems, especially in children, but when the VOCâ€™s escape into the atmosphere they become one of the primary contributors to the creation of ozone, trapping heat in our atmosphere, aiding in global warming. Instead consider a charcoal chimney, which uses newspaper to heat your coals instead of lighter fluid. And of course propane BBQâ€™s are a better way to go as well.
- Eat organic, and when you canâ€™t, buy local! This reduces the amount of pollution causing pesticides and promotes healthy soils and agricultural practices, and reduces pollution caused by shipping your food from locations far from your home.
- Eliminate paper napkins, plastic garbage bags, cups and cutlery. Cloth tablecloths, silverware, and glasses always add a touch of class to your event, and can be taken home and washed â€“ always the more environmentally responsible choice. But if you must go with disposable, why not consider purchase biodegradable bags, plates, cups and cutlery made from cornstarch and can be composted after your picnic. These new eco-innovations can be purchased online at GreenHome.com and the price is coming down all the time!
- Keep the bugs away with non-toxic insect repellants this summer. Toxic repellants have endocrine disrupters and powerful chemicals which have long term effects in the human body. Choose new improved natural repellants that donâ€™t make you sick, or harm your body like Orange Guard, or
Whether you BBQ just over a holiday weekend or at anytime of the year, these tips are universal. And if you feel you just can’t get to all of this, just bringing an environmental awareness to your event by not over purchasing and keeping waste of resources to a minimum will contribute a lot. Just donâ€™t forget to enjoy your green event and your summer!
Iâ€™ve noticed a new trend in organic wines, but I donâ€™t know why they are better or where to get them. What do you suggest?
Most events arenâ€™t complete without wine, and today organic wines are ripe for the picking and easy to find. With grapes at the top of the list of most chemically â€œsprayedâ€ fruit (University of California reports over 2 million pounds of herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, and other chemicals used on
So what exactly makes wine organic? Basically the farmers that grow organic grapes today practice old fashioned principals for organic production; using materials and practices that enhance the ecological balance of natural systems. Organic grapes are grown without artificial fertilizers or synthetic chemicals, encouraging the natural pest/predator balance, and according to the farmers, stimulates healthy plant growth and enhances the overall flavor and quality of the fruit.
Organic grape growing includes an approach developed in the 1920â€™s called biodynamic farming. This method encourages plant and animal diversity for the overall success of the product. Farms like Bonterra Vineyards in
The success over the last six years of industry leaders like Bonterra has paved the way for a crop of new organic options for the modern wine consumer. Unfortunately a lot of these wineries arenâ€™t promoting themselves as organic and biodynamic, mostly because of the hassle of becoming certified. Because the USDA does not allow the use of sulfides in a certified organic wine, some vintners are out of luck, but others like Coturri Winery who offer one of the purest organic wines on the market, donâ€™t want the USDA stamp â€œbecause they simply want to be known as a traditional fine wine.â€ (SF Gate, 2006)
So here is a short list to help you with your next party wine selection. For a more comprehensive list, go check out The Organic Wine List:
- Coturri Winery (
- Snoqualmie Vineyards, Naked line (
- Grgich Hills (
- Bonterra Vineyards (
- Frog’s Leap (
- Frey Vineyards (
- The Organic Wine Company – Key importer of Organic French Wines
- Organic Vintners – Importers of internationally produced Organic Wines