I am SO excited to introduce my dear friend Tina Allen as the Pig Of The Month for October. Tina is AMAZING, and her story is inspiring. Those of you who are overweight, have heart issues, or suffering from cancer, you will relate to Tina's incredible story of transformation.
I first met came in contact with Tina after Jeff Davis from Go Green America TV connected us. Since then, we have developed a beautiful friendship with many phone conversations, and I dream of the day when we finally meet in person so I can give her a hug. I live in California, and she lives outside of Washington, DC in Stafford, Virginia. But we will find a way! I am spending a lot of time in NYC for the rest of of the year, so we are already plotting to meet half way on the train!
Tina is such a thoughtful, kind, humble person. I am struck by this every time I talk to her. For my birthday, she teamed up with some of her extremely talented artisan friends from Deb Soromenho Jewelry, Sweet Stella's, Summerfield Soaps, Atutudes, and Fancy Designs, to send me the most exquisite care package. I was really touched. Tina is SO talented, and innovative. Her eco green creations continue to amaze me. I LOVE my Tina Bag that I carry to the grocery store every time I shop. People always comment on it, and I LOVE to tell them it is made from plastic bags! SO cool :)
All of Tina's green designs - tote bags, purses and baskets are handcrafted with upcycled plastic bags known as "plarn." These plastic bags that Tina uses have resin identification codes that are the non-biodegradeable bags that clog up our landfills just about forever. By upcycling these bags into useful, practical items, they become fashionable statement pieces on saving the environment.
Tina's incredible creations are proving very popular with huge celebrities such as Zooey Deschanel, Keira Knightley, Tina Fey, Lauren Conrad, Kim Kardashian, Catherine O'Hara, Rachel Zoe and many others; and her Eco iPod/Camera/Phone Case was featured in the Earth Day Bag given out to trendy green celebs such as Ellen DeGeneres, Cameron Diaz, Courteney Cox, Drew Barrymore, Alicia Silverstone, Leonardo DiCaprio, Sting, Tom Hanks, and Woody Harrelson.
Tina puts a lot of love and work into every piece she makes by hand in her home. Her tote bags typically take 100 or more plastic bags to create. This time-intensive process includes folding, cutting, and tying the strips together to create a strong, double-stranded base. They are designed and crocheted into a beautiful weave to provide even more strength. The totes make wonderful beach bags, gym totes, pool totes, travel bags and more. They are easily cleaned by gently washing in cold water and hung out to dry.
But I predict that her new range of fused plastic clutches will be what launches her into the eco-chic stratosphere! Check them out. They look like snake skin (but are not) and are GORGEOUS!
Tina, what you are doing is AMAZING. I absolutely ADORE you. Much love and continued success my friend...
Hi Piggies! I’m Tina Dean Allen, a textile artist and owner of Tina Dean Designs, an eco-accessories company. I’m 45, and a survivor of renal cell carcinoma (that’s kidney cancer in layman’s terms). I met my wonderful husband of 19 years (this month) in Stockholm, Sweden (when I was 19 years old), and we have two awesome boys who couldn’t be more different from each other.
As a cancer survivor of almost 14 years, I started my journey toward better health when I found T-Tapp, a wonderful exercise program by Teresa Tapp. I then learned about the effect of high grade cold pressed alfalfa and began taking it regularly for all the health benefits that it provides. (Not all alfalfas are created equal!) Since cancer loves to grow in an acidic state, it’s so important to keep the body more alkaline. Alfalfa definitely helps with that. Not to mention that it was great for me during my second pregnancy for keeping my ankles from swelling!
Oh did I mention that I was also around 300 lbs? Actually, that’s the number when I stopped weighing myself. I suffered with tachycardia (heartbeat that exceeds the normal rate). On one emergency room visit, I was told that I was lucky that my heart was so strong; that my beats per minute were extremely high, and they were surprised that I didn’t go into cardiac arrest. I was placed on medication, but later had a cardiac ablation to “fix” the issue. I am here today because of my shift to healthy eating and exercise. We must always remember that the heart is a muscle that also needs to be fed properly and exercised!
I do believe that having cancer, being obese, and having a heart condition certainly helped turn around my way of eating. I was extremely fortunate in that, although my right kidney was removed when I was 6 months pregnant with my first child, I never required chemo or any other treatments that can be so harsh on the body.
Having been obese, I know the challenges that come with it. It wasn’t easy ridding myself of over 100 lbs. That journey took me about 3 years. I did it by eating healthier, watching my portions and exercising. My relationship with food has changed. It was a slow change, but the longer I eat healthier, the less I crave processed foods. Don’t get me wrong, I still do have some cravings. But over the years, I’ve found it easier to substitute something healthy. That, and the fact that after my oncologist released me from further check ups six years post-operation because I was healthy was a huge motivator!
I’ll admit, I’m not always good with my food choices, but I do make an effort. I’ll confess, too, I’m a meat eater, but after finding Tess and Healthy Blender Recipes, I’ve been secretly feeding my family healthy raw and vegan foods. We eat lots more vegetables. And, having one kidney makes you very aware of what you put into your body. Needless to say, I drink lots of water!
Getting a Vitamix is the #1 item on my wishlist! I can only imagine how amazing my favorite smoothies, the “Pistachio Ice Cream” Kale Shake and the Vegan Tropical Cooler Smoothie. I absolutely love the rich-tasting Creamy Vegan Butternut Squash Soup and the Raw Vegan Chocolate Fruit Balls. I’m slowly making my way through all of Tess's recipes, and am loving it!
One thing that I do love is my business! While I take care of my body, I try to do my part in taking care of the planet. I design accessories and home goods out of upcycled plastic bags (plarn). I’ve even incorporated VHS tape into some designs. It feels good to know that the 1000’s of plastic bags that I use won’t end up in landfills or waterways. I love designing items that are unique to the person ordering through custom orders. My website is still up, but will be relaunching soon with a whole new look, so stay tuned :)
Piggy Of The Month is a great part of the Healthy Blender Recipes community where we feature the inspiring story of a healthy piggy who has changed their life with the power of whole foods, or a gorgeous pig who is passionate about healthy living and cooking with natural ingredients.
Each piggy of the month will share his or her story and their favourite easy healthy recipe.