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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Chopsticks for dummies

Wondering how to train your precocious child in the art of chopsticks? Don't want him to make a fool of himself OR a huge mess when you're dining on Thai, Chinese or Korean food?

Introducing, baby's first chopsticks:

This was a farewell gift from one of my closest Korean friends, Chloe, who critiqued my chopsticks skills despite never having seen me use them -- we eat out a LOT together but somehow it's never Korean food!

With handy fingerholds and rubber grips, this makes using chopsticks a cakewalk. Would Winnie the Pooh steer you wrong?

Korea may rely primarily on eco-friendly metal chopsticks but considering how difficult they are to master, it's great to see this training set for the wee ones. For any of friends who are not chopstick connoisseurs -- if there's one thing living in Asia has done, it's perfected my chopstick technique -- I'm happy share these next time we eat at an Asian restaurant.


Unrelated to chopsticks, I recently watched Morgan Spurlock's fantastic documentary What Would Jesus Buy?. This funny and thought-provoking movie has stuck with me since first viewing and I want to watch it again with friends and family. It's absolutely hilarious at parts as it follows the Church of Stop Shopping, a performing political action group that encourages people to make conscious shopping decisions and cut down on America's rampant consumer culture.

"We don't question things. We don't think of the meaning of life enough," said one economic expert as he talked about corrupt corporations that use sweatshop labor and provide minimal benefits (if any) for their employees.

The message stuck with me so strongly that I suggested to my mom that for Christmas this year, we shouldn't buy gifts for each other. We all have SO much stuff -- needless crap, for the most part -- and there are so many other things you can give other people. Whether it's baking cookies, putting together an art project or just spending quality time as a family, these are gifts from the heart that mean more than any Williams Sonoma purchase.

To find out how the business practices of YOUR favorite store rates, check out Green America's Responsible Shopper guide. You can search by business name and quickly learn about a company's corporate responsibility practices. It's fascinating, easy-to-use and important to know. Do you want to support companies that pay 10-year-olds less than $1 a day to sew pockets onto sweaters?

Check it out. Be aware of how your money -- yes, every little bit counts -- can influence companies and force them to make changes.