Grandma’s Hands

Wow!  What a busy holiday season we’ve had here!  I’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen lately, getting orders ready for holiday presents to put Sustainable Shanti goodness under trees and in stockings all across the world.  It occurs to me, as I measure and melt, watch and tend to all of the little details of each recipe and each batch of products how much it reminds me of my childhood.

My mom’s mom, Lillian Young, used to make 5,000 cookies every Christmas and she was unsurprisingly quite famous for it.  She didn’t make just the standard chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin, though they were always included in her selection.  She made treats like pecan tassies, gooey butter, chocolate macaroons, snickerdoodles and sugar cookies, each individually wrapped and counted by my grandpa who was coerced into playing helper.  Her cookbooks are crammed with her lists of what she made, her recipe changes, and a record of everyone’s favorites.  They are an incredible story of her holiday seasons through the decades.

Emily and Grandma

As a child, I spent a great deal of time growing up with my grandma, learning to bake perfect pies, cookies, strudel, cakes, and frosting, always in awe of the transformative powers of an oven.  My grandpa countered these kitchen adventures with equally exciting adventures in his woodworking shop and crawling under cars.

These days, my time spent in the kitchen is a little different than those cookie days.  However, I find myself making my products using the same industrial Pyrex measuring cups and bowls which I inherited from my grandma.  When I stop to wash a dish, I think of how many times her hands touched these same tools and how fortunate I am to be able to use them for my business, something of which I know Grandma would have been unspeakably proud.

Holidays for me are hard for me without my grandma by my side, but I know that she is watching me from afar.  Through time and space, her hands are moving with mine as they did when I was little and still learning how to perfect a pie crust or shape a new cookie.  In this season of holiday shopping madness, where commercials tell us to buy bigger, shinier new cars and more powerful power tools in our quest for happiness and “the best Christmas EVER!”, let’s remember what really matters: the people in our lives who remind us how to live, how to laugh and show us the true joys of life.  Be grateful these people who love you, and thank your lucky stars for the opportunity to love them.

May your days be bright, and now, more than ever, be well, do good, and share the love.


Let’s Talk Plastic

In recent newsletters (Sign up here if you’re not already in the know), we have been asking the Sustainable Shanti community to look seriously at their daily habits and choices with the understanding that each of us impacts the planet with every decision.  I remind people I meet that we do not have a Planet B; our daily actions have a collective momentum, but we need to consciously choose in which direction it moves.

I’m going to fess up to a pet peeve: plastic bottles.  Soda bottles, water bottles, beverage bottles in general.  They are ubiquitous, seen all across the world: a symbol of convenience.  They also happen to be incredibly destructive to our planet’s health.  You’ve heard the spiel to get a reusable steel water bottle: they’re good for the planet; they save you money; they’re convenient to have around.

So why do I see people still using plastic bottles as if there’s an unlimited supply and no consequences to their use?

If you’re still attached to your plastic bottle habit, consider this: In 2006….

  • Producing the bottles for American consumption required the equivalent of more than 17 million barrels of oil, not including the energy for transportation

  • Bottling water produced more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide

  • It took 3 liters of water to produce 1 liter of bottled water.

(Data from Pacific Institute)

Is our planet’s health worth those resources?  Is it worth two liters of water just to have one liter of bottled water?  Think you could try switching from bottled water to tap water in a reusable steel bottle?  It’s one more step towards reducing your daily oil consumption.

Every choice we make, every dollar we spend is a vote and has an impact.  Your power lies in how and where you vote.

Small changes, big impacts.  It will take everyone–governments and businesses included–working together to find new solutions to our climate crisis.

Hester Street Holiday Market

This upcoming weekend (Saturday, December 22nd and Sunday, December 23rd) is Sustainable Shanti’s last holiday market!  Our favorite present this year, besides gorgeous organic skin, is definitely going to be sleep and some much needed lounge time with down comforters, perhaps by a fire…but before that, we will be there with bells on at the Hester Street Holiday Market (11am-7pm, 233 Mott St. at Prince).

We will also be joined by friends from Bittersweet NYC to tickle your tastebuds with handmade truffles and other goodies, and We Are Here, beautiful handmade jewelry by Emilie Shapiro.  This event is a not-to-be-missed weekend!

See you there…!

Musings on a Rainy Day

A little over two years ago, I had a crisis of sorts.  I was working five jobs to stay afloat on Martha’s Vineyard and was miserable.  The feeling that I had more to give, more to say nagged me constantly, but what was I truly meant to do with my one and precious life?  Who was I supposed to be when I grew up?

A friend suggested I write a personal manifesto: a statement of what I wanted to accomplish in my life.  I found this brief manifesto in my journal the other day:

My goal is simple: Leave this world having made a mark for the better–kids leading healthy happy lives in a safe environment, a few less people who go hungry at night, more schools and less bombs–these are the makings of a better world.  These are the ideas that make me tick.  Speaking foreign languages and finding a common bond in differing cultures makes me happy and feel free.  So what do I do with all these blessings?  How do I make an impact on the world and allow myself room for creativity?  I wish I had an answer.

As Rainer Maria Rilke once told his friend, I found my answer by living my questions: Sustainable Shanti, a company which places the highest value on protecting and nourishing people and the planet.  Happy holidays to those of you who celebrate them.  I know my life is already overflowing with gifts every day and for that I will eternally be grateful.