Archive for April, 2008

Baying Hound is expanding and wants some input on new products to offer. If you are want to participate, please send Rachel an email with your email address to be given an invite to our google group. We’d love your advice! šŸ™‚

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Wow! Earth day and news about BPA have sent the SIGG orders through the roof! We are working harder than ever to package and ship everyone’s new water bottles. We also have two more orders on the way from SIGG for replacements to our very depleted stock.

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Happy Earth Day!

What did you do to celebrate?

We took care of our little piece of the earth on this beautiful sunny day in central Ohio.

First, I pulled out the push mower for the first mow of the year. The mower is hard work, but our yard is small. I am pleased to burn calories instead of fossil fuels to power the mower. An added bonus of the push mower is that children can operate it at a much younger age because it is less dangerous than a traditional mower- here is a picture of Lil trying to mow today:

Next, we watered our vegetable garden with the hose from the rain barrel. Tending the garden takes a remarkable amount of water so we collect rain from the rooftops. The rain barrel water saves us money by not running up our water bill and saves resources at the water treatment plant. If you don’t have a rain barrel and live in Columbus, we recommend checking out the Rain Brothers, two local brothers making rain barrels from reclaimed barrels.

We hope you too will take a few moments to enjoy your spot on the Earth today.

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IDyeYarn is the winner of our Echo T-shirt contest!

Her tip was “We try to buy local products and produce as much as possible this cuts down on the waste for travel (ours and the makers) and it puts money back into the local small buisness economy.”

Thanks to everyone who entered. Another contest will start soon. Be sure to subscribe to the blog and/or our newsletter so you can enter the next one.

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Slew of News about BPA

National news media is reporting a number of stories relating to BPA:

1) Nalgene is phasing out production of BPA containing bottles
2) The government of Canada is banning the import of containers with BPA
3) The US National Toxicology Program declared that human risks of BPA cannot be dismissed

If you need to replace plastic bottles, we offer a few alternatives:

SIGG aluminum bottles are lined with a BPA free epoxy. The oval and hot and cool SIGGs are produced in stainless steel with no liner.

We are also ordering Guyot Designs stainless steel wide mouth bottles.

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It isn’t in my nature to ask for help. I prefer to do things myself. But marketing in the internet world isn’t something I can control myself. I noticed that I would have to reach out to services and networks to do some marketing for me.

It took some courage for me to stick out my neck and talk to manufacturers about sharing links. I was pleasantly surprised that SIGG and Guyot Designs were happy to add us to their ‘where to buy’ pages. We’ve already noticed orders coming in through those links.

Just goes to show that sometimes taking a risk pays off and is easier than you think.

Don’t forget that you have only a few more days to enter the Ibex Echo-T contest.

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So what’s all this hype about merino wool? In my outdoor pursuits (cycling, backpacking, general use) I’ve been wearing synthetics for years now. I perspire heavily, and I find cotton to be very uncomfortable, especially in the summer. I’ve been wearing synthetic underwear and shirts as I really like the wicking properties and comfort factor. The downside to synthetics is that they can be the cause of strong odor after heavy exertion. I find this to be true even of the high end products that are supposed to prevent this.

The one exception to my synthetic wardrobe are wool socks. I’ve been wearing merino wool socks from Smartwool since I was in high school with great success. Not only do they resist odor (more on this) but they are incredibly durable and last a good long while even under heavy use. I would estimate their lifespan is 5-10 times that of a comparable cotton product. Rachel has had a similar experience with her wear of wool socks. With this in mind, we decided to find a product made of merino wool that we could carry. After much research, we settled on Ibex Merino Wool clothing.

For product evaluation purposes, I decided to try out an Echo-T from Ibex. This is a basic t-shirt made with retro styling. The Echo-T comes in a choice of base colors with accents on the neck, sleeves and back in a contrasting color. The one I chose is Coconut Shell/Burnt Red.

The fit is very nice on me. While it is not a fitted garment, it is certainly not overly baggy. It has enough length to reach below the waist, and the quality of manufacturing is excellent.

Of course the highlight of the shirt is the material from which it is made. It is made in the USA from 100% New Zealand Merino wool. The weave is very tight, and the fabric has a pleasant natural stretchiness to it when worn. Like synthetics, it wicks perspiration away from the body. It also has very nice temperature regulating properties. So far I have found it comfortable in all temperature ranges I have worn it in (50 F – 75 F). It insulates in the cooler temperatures but breathes very well at the same time for wear in hotter temperatures. Being only April, I have not tried it anywhere very hot yet. I will update when I do, but I expect the same results. The shirt also has all of the anti-odor properties as advertised. Even after heavy perspiration and wear, there is no detectable odor. This fact was verified by family members (lucky volunteers) who happened to be close at hand after a long cycling session. The material wicks very well, but it does take a little longer to dry than a synthetic fabric. However, the thermal properties are unchanged when wet (unlike cotton).

My final opinion is that this is a really well made t-shirt that is comfortable, stylish and attractive for many different settings. Also, I expect that this shirt will last far longer than a comparable garment made of cotton or a synthetic material. The price is higher than you would pay for a regular t-shirt, but not much different from a high end synthetic made by Patagonia, Marmot or any other top end manufacturer. It is a nice way to try Merino wool clothing without the extra expense of the Ibex Qu-T.

Finally, this is a nice sustainable product. Merino wool is harvested from the same sheep year after year. Ibex certifies its suppliers as providing a quality product that also comes from sustainable, environmentally friendly and humane production methods. Synthetics can be made from recycled material, but the majority come from new production of fabric with fossil fuels (crude oil) as the base source.

Check out the Echo-T, I think you will be very satisfied.

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On Earth Day, April 22, we will give away an Ibex merino wool Echo T. If you want one of these great next to skin wool t-shirts, leave a comment below with an eco-friendly living tip. We’ll pick our favorite and announce the winner here.

Entries limited to one per person. Winner can select men’s or women’s model in any size and color in stock. Employees and family of employees are not eligible. Contest ends 11:59PM April 21, 2008.

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Items: Squishy Bowl Set and Travel Shots

Squishy Bowl Large Bowl – 3.3 oz, 4.7″ diameter x 3″ tall
Squishy Bowl Cup – 1.7 oz, 3.45″ diameter x 2.45″ tall
Travel Shot – 0.5 oz, 1.95″ diameter x 1.42″ tall
Made of food grade silicone.
Available in tomato red, tahoe blue, lime green, and slate dark grey.

Guyot Designs asserts that the squishy bowl series is flexible, durable, dish washer safe, and heat resistant. We submitted the Squishy Bowl set of Large Bowl and Cup ($15.15 together in our store) and Travel Shots ($7.55 for a set of two) to several (unbiased, but not entirely scientific) tests of these claims.

First up, flexibility. The large bowl and cup are easily turned completely inside out and returned to normal shape with a simple flexing of the sides. The travel shots were more difficult to turn inside out, but it is possible. We poured liquid in all three sizes to test whether this flexibility interfered with drinking. If you grip with one hand, the bowls form a little spout that is easy to sip from.

We also took the bowl and cup on a picnic. They packed easily and cleaned up well too. They nearly bounce if you drop them, so no worries about shattered plastic or scratches. The slightly matte finish on the outside does tend to attract dirt and hair which are easily brushed away.

For the durability test, we engaged our toddler and dogs. They were allowed to play with the bowls at will. The hounds even licked them clean and carried them around with no punctures or damage to be seen. Certainly a longer test range is necessary to say these are unbreakable, but from a few weeks use they pass our durability check.

The dishwasher safety was another easy one. All bowls went through the dishwasher a few times. There was no damage to the bowls, but water does tend to pool in them. If your dishwasher is as inefficient as the model we used, some of the pooled water may have food bits floating in it. Ick. Washing is so easy by hand that we recommend hand washing even though it is possible to throw Squishy Bowls in the dishwasher.

Finally, the fun one: heat resistance. First, we tried making hot tea by pouring boiling water over a tea bag in the cup. The squishy cup performed beautifully. The silicone is thick enough on the bottom and sides that little heat transfered to the outside of the cup. The tea stayed warmer longer than in our standard stainless steel camping cup. On a backpacking or camping trip, the boiling water test showed these would be great vessels to make instant meals or hot cocoa right in the bowl.

Next, we had to try baking in them. I was making bran muffins and poured batter into the buttered large bowl, cup, and travel shot. I baked these on a cookie sheet in a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven. After baking was over, I allowed the muffins to cool for about 10 minutes.

Then I squeezed the bowls from the bottom to release the muffins. The results:

Pretty cute, huh? The bottom of the cup one broke off a bit, which is why it is not quite spherical. The ‘cap’ on the top of the travel shot muffin could be prevented by adding less batter in the future. Both undersides were slightly overdone which could probably be prevented by baking in a bain marie.

As for the bowl and travel shot, they seem no worse for the wear after baking. Cleanup was easy because the inside of the bowls is smooth. It’s good to know that for special occasions I now have a way to make spherical baked goods.

Because we want you to try the Squishy Bowls, we will include a FREE travel shot (random color) with each webstore order between now and Earth Day, April 22. Let us know how you like it!

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The new pup Hawise needed a harness. I browsed at Etsy and found Annie’s Sweatshop, a maker of dog accessories from re-purposed materials. I measured Hawise and ordered from Annie’s website where she makes custom harnesses.

A few days ago the harness arrived in the mail. I am impressed with how well made and sturdy the harness is. The loop for leash attachment is double stitched and runs the length of the back. The whole harness is interfaced and lined. The harness attaches around the neck and chest with adjustable velcro thick enough that Hawise can’t escape by scratching or chewing at it. It’s hard to judge comfort seeing as how dogs can’t talk, but Hawise does not scratch or try to wriggle out, so I have to conclude it is cozy.

Annie was a delight to work with and sent a few extras with the package, including handmade treats for the dogs. If you find yourself in the market for a dog harness, leash, or collar, we heartily recommend Annie’s Sweat Shop.

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