Monday, July 25, 2011

Summer camp at home: Week 7 -- Racing cars

With Cars 2 out this summer -- and also because my boys just love cars -- we had to have a week about car racing in our summer camp at home. Last time we went to Disney World, we had to visit Ridemakerz in Downtown Disney to check out the kinds of toy cars we could custom make. My preschooler made a ... well, a rescue dump truck. How's that for customization?

Anyway, this week will be about cars and racing. One thing I'd like to do is count the number of toy cars my kids have -- honestly, I have no idea. We will put them in rows of 10 for a real-world, hands-on visualization of numbers and counting. We can sort them by color, too. Other things on tap this week:

- Have a racing playdate. Invite friends to a park to have races. Everyone is a winner for participating!

- Dress up as race car drivers and pretend play/role play.

- Have kids draw pictures of cars they would like to drive. (I know mostly it will look like scribbles; that's OK.)

- Make a racing flag (perfect for the racing playdate!) and maybe even a craft trophy.

- Make a cardboard race car to play in (great for pretend play!).

- We might see Cars 2. Again.

- Read R Is For Race, World’s Fastest Cars, Hot Rod Hamster, If I Built a Car, Little Racing Car and other books from our public library.

I had wanted to take the kids to one of the local speedways (there are two about an hour away, one north and one south), but nothing is going on this week. Probably because it's too darn hot! If there is a speedway near you, a visit might be another fun activity.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Uhma Spa: The Miami Beach eco-chic urban sanctuary

There are spas all over Miami -- many of the beach resorts have spas -- but Uhma Spa is one that was designed and built to be environmentally friendly as well as naturally relaxing. I got a chance to visit this spa on the Chevy Eco Chic Tour last weekend and experience how being "green" is the perfect choice for a spa.

Uhma Spa uses bamboo flooring as well as domestic wood and low-VOC paint on the walls, so as soon as you enter, you are enveloped in a more-natural atmosphere. HEPA air filters and the scent of essential oils and soy candles even make the air more breathable. The owners, from Brazil, filter their own water so no plastic bottles are used, and all their products are organic and cruelty-free. The spa's shop sells nontoxic and all-natural products.

In addition to Uhma Spa's "green" factor, the spa treatments are top notch. On the tour, I had a mini massage -- definitely the most relaxing 10 minutes of my week! This was my spa room:

They also do facials, scrubs, masks, wraps, acupuncture and water therapy, including a Vichy shower, which originated in Vichy, France. A uniquely designed shower head arm streams jets of water over your body while you relax:

The bathtub is designed so that each jet has its own pipe, so there are no worries about contamination. Uhma Spa really has thought of everything, including a quiet waiting room where you can comfortably sip complimentary tea or water.

It's hard to believe all this natural goodness is right on the street in Miami Beach and definitely worth a visit when you are in town.

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Chevrolet provided a day of visits to green Miami businesses including Uhma Spa and transportation to and from them. They also provided a gift bag with items like a tire gauge/pen set. Uhma Spa gave each person on the Chevy Eco Chic Tour a gift bag with items like sunscreen and samples of Jane Iredale makeup. Opinions and silliness are my own.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ecoist handbags and accessories reduce trash and help families

You've probably seen those bags made out of candy wrappers and chip bags -- they've been in lots of fashion magazines. I had heard about them, too, but had no idea the company that sells them, Ecoist, is right here in Miami.

Last weekend when I went on the Chevy Eco Chic Tour, I got to visit the Ecoist office and learn more about how the fun bags are made. Our group went to an upstairs room in the Wynwood Art Gallery area and found several shelves displaying the colorful bags of all sizes.

Total eye candy!

Candy for real -- many of the bags are made out of candy wrappers like M&Ms. Other bags are made out of chip bags or soda labels, all what's called post-industrial. See these rolls of labels?

Ecoist gets these from companies that would normally throw them away because they are changing the label. So they get saved from landfills or incinerators.

The label manufacturers in Peru hand them over to workers there who are skilled at folding the labels just right and sewing them into shape to create the Ecoist bags. Some of the workers, all working by hand, are mothers with young children. Ecoist is certified Fair Trade, so you know that these moms and others are getting good pay and not working in a sweat shop.

Saving items from landfills + paying workers a good wage = win/win for the environment and society.

And, of course, the bags are just plain cute.

I love this little leafy clutch.

But I also love the newspaper tote too.

The Ecoist office is full of other items made from wrappers. Take a look at these lamps! And the mannequin's hat!

The workspace is so open and funky that I imagined designing and creating there ... not sure what, exactly, but oh, I did imagine....

Want to win this Ecoist Diet Cherry Coke change purse? (valued at $22)

To enter, please comment below about your favorite item from the Ecoist site. I'll randomly select a winner next Friday. (Also check out the $20 Bloomingdale's gift card giveaway here.)

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Chevrolet provided a day of visits to green Miami businesses including Ecoist and transportation to and from them. They also provided a gift bag with items like a tire gauge/pen set. Ecoist gave each person on the Chevy Eco Chic Tour an Ecoist bag, and I have decided to give it away to generate more interest for the company. Opinions and silliness are my own.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Driving to green Miami hotspots with Chevrolet and GreenerMiami

Last weekend, I got to drive the new Chevy Volt, an electric/gasoline sports car. My husband is a Big Car Guy, and I was excited to drive a vehicle he hadn't driven yet! (Score one for the wife!) I texted him this picture of me so he would be extra jealous. I also got to ride in the hybrid Tahoe, a Chevy SUV. Both rides were great.

The folks at Chevrolet and GreenerMiami organized a "crawl" of places in Miami that are environmentally minded -- and fun! The Chevy Eco Chic Tour led a handful of influential {cough cough} eco-minded bloggers to green hotspots in Miami (Ecoist, Uhma Spa and Metro Organic Bistro). We took turns driving and asking questions about the Volt and Tahoe in between stops, and the Chevy folks pointed out ways that drivers of any vehicle can increase fuel efficiency. (For example: Did you know flags mounted at the top of your car doors can ruin the aerodynamics of your auto and cause it to use more gas?)

The Volt uses electric battery power up to about 50 miles per hour, then switches to gasoline. If you have to travel more than about 35 miles in a day, then gas takes you the rest of the way until you can charge again. To charge the battery, just plug it in a regular outlet with a regular extension cord, like we did at a car wash:

The Volt is fun to drive, and I think my kids would like the backseat with the hatchback that lets in lots of natural light overhead. I do wonder about the effects of electromagnetic radiation with a large battery that rests between the two front seats.

The hybrid Tahoe was plenty roomy and seemed like any regular SUV. If you're going to get an SUV, I think getting a hybrid is a great idea because it is more fuel-efficient (costing less money in gas) and has lower emissions -- better for the greenhouse gas problem.

Both the Volt and Tahoe come with OnStar, which is a service that helps drivers with navigation and emergencies like unlocking car doors when you've lost your keys or, way worse, someone steals your vehicle. (OnStar is free for the first three months after buying the new vehicle, then you pay for the service.) All of us on the tour tried out calling OnStar to ask a real person to send turn-by-turn directions to the car's navigation system. (That was just what I needed, because I'm sadly not that familiar with Miami.)

I'll post highlights of my visits to Ecoist, Uhma Spa and Metro Organic Bistro in upcoming posts -- watch for a giveaway!

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Chevrolet provided a day of visits to green Miami businesses and transportation to and from them. They also provided a gift bag with items like a tire gauge/pen set. Opinions and silliness are my own.