I am not a big fan of Valentine’s Day. It is one of those holidays that I believe everyone deep in their hearts dreads. There is the pressure to make the perfect reservation at the perfect restaurant for the perfect overpriced, under-portioned meal. The stress of finding that perfect piece of jewelry, that no doubt will get lost or shoved to the back of a drawer some day. And the stress of having someone to share the holiday with, agh!!! (Although, go to any restaurant and look at the crowds, slow service and long lines, and there are plenty of people to share your pain with.)
I thought Valentine’s Day was supposed to be about romance, not about out-doing the Jones, which is what it has become. To me romance is quiet, is relaxed, is unpretentious, is a beautiful, yet simply prepared meal shared with someone you adore, and is a gift that comes from the heart, not the pocketbook. Simple foods that speak for themselves, just like love itself, abound at the Market in February. Fresh fish, pasture raised beef and chicken, lettuces in every color shape and size, citrus bursting with flavor and color, exotic tasting fennel, crispy cauliflower, earthy beets, and (my new personal favorite) Jerusalem artichokes. An elegant meal can be prepared in under 30-minutes with just a few ingredients and a little planning. (You can find a Valentine’s Day Dinner in our recipe file at www.studiocityfarmersmarket.com)
But I always talk about food, and what I really want to talk about here is the gifts that we give to one another on a day dedicated to professing our love and adoration. Yeah, I love beautiful jewelry, but honestly, I have a few favorites, and really don’t need more than those. (A poll of those around me confirms that I am not alone in my jewelry habits.) Candy is like jewelry, we all have our favorites, and honestly, a little dab will do ya’. And really neither candy nor jewelry takes much thought to purchase. They also don’t do much to make my life easier, and these days, that’s what really makes me happy, anything that makes my life easier.
When someone gives me something that makes my life easier I know that the gift came from the heart. Gifts like this let me know that the people who have given them to me truly care about me and have put some serious thought into who I am, what I do and what I need. I like being cared for and cared about.
What makes me feel loved? The soap that makes my skin soft so that I am not constantly having to apply lotions, the lavender eye cover that soothes my tired eyes and makes it easier to sleep, and the all-purpose peppermint cleaning powder that makes everything easy to clean and doesn’t make me gag in the process, that makes me feel loved. Yes, you heard me right, all-purpose peppermint cleaning powder - truly one of the most thoughtful gifts I have received in a long time. But this is no ordinary scouring powder, and I know that the person who gave the powder to me gave it a great deal of thought before giving it, which makes it all that much more special. The all-purpose peppermint cleaning powder (I just realized how much I like the name too, sounds very Lucille Ball) was part of a gift basket from our own Poppy’s Naturally Clean. Victoria Kheel, owner of Poppy’s has been selling her award winning (her products won best of show at the Natural Products Expo West - the largest natural product trade show in the country - her first year in business) line of chemical free, non-toxic, biodegradable products at the Market and making our lives easier for the past 2 years. (See, I’m not crazy!)
So this is my Valentine to Victoria, who has a special place in my heart because not only does she care about me, but because she cares about all of us and wants us all to be able to live a life free from the stress and threats that chemicals bring upon us.
Now I suppose you are asking yourself, how did Victoria come to be the cupid of cleaning products? I’m glad you asked, because it is a pretty great story. Once upon a time there was a single mother of two boys who was also an artist and competitive archer. One fine afternoon, while attending an archery tournament she consumed an evil hot dog (okay, not evil, I like hot dogs too, but it makes for a good story so humor me a little here) that made her tired and fussy. Hoping to regain her strength so that she could continue the competition and bring honor and victory to her family, she confided in a fellow archer, who suggested that she eat some Skittles (you know, the brightly colored candy that tastes like sweet and sour taffy) to help perk her up. Needless to say, the Skittles were a bad idea, and our heroine . . . . Well, she didn’t fall into a deep sleep and have a prince charming kiss her and wake her up, but she did wake up, to the realization that she, and most of her fellow archers were not doing themselves any favors eating the way that they did.
This realization compelled Victoria to enroll in a holistic nutrition program so that she could become a certified holistic nutritionist. (I know, not the standard fairy tale ending, but just bear with me here, the ending is better than any fairy tale ending I know of.) About half way through the program, Victoria took a class on toxins in the home. Horrified by what she was learning in the class about the poisons we unknowingly subject ourselves to everyday, she began a wholesale purge of all of the cleaning and personal hygiene products in her home. Needless to say, it left her cupboards looking like Old Mother Hubbard’s.
In a quandary as to what to do to keep her home and herself clean, she began to experiment with various essential oils, aloe vera, salts, glycerin, juices, vinegars, and oils. After more than a year of testing she came up with a line of all-natural, 100% chemical free, non-toxic and biodegradable cleaning products that she offers for sale at the Studio City Farmers Market. “Oh”, you say, “Lots of products claim to be ‘natural’ and ‘biodegradable,’ but really, what does ‘natural’ mean and how can you prove it?” You’re right; there are currently no laws that govern the labeling of products that claim to be natural. However, any person or company that is serious about their products and serious about their claims can obtain certification through an organization known as Natural Verifiers. Victoria, being the conscientious soul that she is, has gone to the trouble, and expense, of having her products certified. After a process that takes three-months, during which the origin of every ingredient is researched and the chemical make up of each ingredient is scrutinized, her products have passed all tests and have been officially certified as 100% chemical free, non-toxic, and biodegradable. If that doesn’t confirm her passion for a better world, I don’t know what does. (For more information about the verification process go to http://naturalverifiers.com/About_Us.html.)
Committed not only to a healthier environment, but also to women run businesses, Victoria has filled out her line of retail products with other natural products made primarily by women. When you visit her booth you will find dog and cat toys that are handmade from wool, puppy poopy bags made out of corn starch that dissolve when you flush them down the toilet, reusable wood pulp towels that will last longer than 15 rolls of paper towels, handmade rugs made from recycled soda bottles and plastic bags, and seed “bombs” that you can randomly throw anywhere and in a few months will cause the surrounding area to erupt into a blanket of flowers and herbs. There is not one item in her collection that doesn’t have a story and a real person attached to that story.
Victoria will have Valentine Gift baskets available for purchase on Sunday, and will also be taking special orders if you don’t see exactly what you want. So, if you really want to show someone how much you love them give them a gift that will make their life happier and healthier. Give them a gift from Poppy’s Naturally Clean. (Oh, and definitely include the all-purpose peppermint cleaning powder.)
For more information on Poppy’s Naturally Clean’s full line of products go to: www.poppysnaturallyclean.com. Happy Valentine’s Day and see you on Sunday.