Green Gift Ideas...

If you know someone who has been thinking about going green however hasn't quite made it, why not help them out this holiday gift giving season. There are endless possibilities of gift ideas. How about:

* 10 reusable shopping totes and produce bags holding fresh local fare. Yummm...
* A rechargeable battery pack complete with the charger
* Reusable wine totes carrying a bottle of local organic wine or beer
* Organic fair-trade chocolate or coffee...whatever their choice of stimulant ;)
* eco-friendly clothing
* handcrafted toys made from sustainable toxin free wood.
* Got more ideas?

Or, rather than adding to the mountain of stuff that everyone already has, how about helping others less fortunate by purchasing a necessity item in the name of a family member or friend. How about donating a:

* Cooking stove to help empower displaced women
* Bicycle, a sturdy, inexpensive, nonpolluting form of transportation
* Plant 100 trees in someone's name

THOSE, in my opinion, are the best giving gifts. And, isn't giving the reason for the season? Or is it the tilt of the Earth?

Eco-Friendly Holiday Decorations


Be Evergreen with Your Decorations this Holiday Season...

* When decorating this holiday season, don't forget your winged and four legged friends outdoors! If you are blessed with trees in your yard, make cranberry and popcorn garland to wrap around them, complete with birdseed covered pine cones. The animals will love them and they will contribute to your beautiful daylight decorations, naturally.

* One could definitely argue that chopping down trees for any occasion is not exactly eco-friendly. However, when purchasing your holiday tree from a locally owned organic tree farm, you're not only helping out the local economy.

You're also keeping artificial trees out of the landfill, supporting organic farming practices (some tree growers use over 40 harmful pesticides, which you then bring into your home!), and, for every tree cut down this year, that's at least one more tree planted for next season, if not more.

* Go for all the sparkle you want this season, using LED holiday lights. Decorating your tree and home with energy-efficient LED lights will help reduce your energy bills and, since they burn cooler, they are also safer to use indoors. For outdoor lights, there are some awesome solar powered lights that you can decorate the outdoors without all the wires tracking back to the house, draining your pocket book! Plus they can go anywhere, allowing you to light up even hard to reach areas of your yard.

* When it comes time to take the tree down, before you toss it out with the trash, visit eco911.org for local recycling services and pick up dates. Most cities have recycling programs that turn used trees into mulch and other materials. Or, if you are an avid gardener, you can put your tree out back to be self mulched for garden paths. Doing this not only keeps the tree in the cycle of life, birds and other wildlife will enjoy the additional spot to hide and rest in your backyard during the upcoming winter.

Fun Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping Ideas

It's almost time to pull that wrapping all-nighter again. And of course every green mama out there will be asking herself the same question: at what expense to the planet?

Shinny metal details on even the cutest wrapping paper is toxic. From of the runoff at production to time, to Grandpa tossing it into the fire emitting toxic gasses into the air, holiday wrapping can be quite ecologically expensive.

Good news, though! There are endless eco-friendly ways to wrap your gifts this holiday season. All it ever takes is a little ingenuity and creativity.

And the best part of using alternative wrapping is that you get to use your creativity. And involve the kids. They especially love being the artists who decorate gifts.
  • Wrap gifts in your child's art work. Have them finger paint and glitterfy some paper, like from those big floor art pads they have, and let them know it'll be used as gift wrapping. They'll be so proud :)

  • Use part of the gift itself, like a scarf or silky, to wrap whatever else you've gotten the person.
  • I love putting together my gifts to friends and co-workers in a green reusable shopping bag.
  • Reuse gift bags, boxes, tissue paper, and ribbons from presents past (and save all that you can this year too!)

  • Once a friend gave me a gift inside of a old wine box that she got from a local wine store for free. Often tossed out, the wooden boxes are great for decorating gifts and reusable.

  • Using a yard of fabric, wrapped with a satin bow is not only special, it's also reusable!

  • Wrap it in a T-shirt, scarf, basket, quilt, duffel bag, reusable shopping tote.

  • Find festive wrapping paper made from recycled paper, hemp, bamboo, and other sustainable resources.

  • Old maps! I saw this idea at a party recently and I fell in love with it! Maps get outdated so quickly, why not use them as wrapping? Brilliant!
Obviously, mamas, the possibilities are endless...!

Just think to yourself when scheming up new ideas: Is it reusable? Can it be recycled? Is it made from a sustainable eco-friendly resource, reuses post-consumer waste?

Consider these eco savvy alternatives and have a fun rockin' time coming up with your own green holiday alternatives!

:)

The Great Christmas Tree Dilemma...

Ok, so we just got a fresh tree this year. For the first 7 years we used my Grandmother's old fake tree...but it shed more than any real tree could ever and I had no idea if it was full of lead or what! So we freecycled it - still had all it's pieces and it kept the tree from going in the landfill.

For the past three years we've gotten fresh trees. The first two years from a family farm - the organic tree wasn't as nice as the non-organic, but it was organic! and local! like winning the jackpot...

This year we ran out of time and went to a tree lot...in the dark...bought a tree...didn't realize the tree was spray painted until a few days later when I noticed the tree trunk was green as well...

So we can't very well compost that tree in the backyard...and it was expensive...hence the debate.

The hubby says buying a fake tree makes more $$$ sense. I say buying a real tree from a family farm is good $$$ for the local family, especially if they are raising the trees in an eco-friendly manner...

What is your take? What do you do? And how do you justify it as a good GREEN choice?

I'd love to get a plant-a-tree tree that I could plant after we use it to decorate it, but we don't have any land on which to plant it. I know there are other options...but which ones are the greenest?

Aside from having no tree at all, what do you do?

...

How Do You Celebrate this Season of Too Much???

I know how I'd like to celebrate this season of too much. Go to Colorado, hunker down in a cabin in the snowy mountains, sip hot tea in front of a roaring fire, and cuddle with my hubby and kids.

The End!

I don't want to do the presents thing or the deck the halls thing or the running around for four straight days thing. Call me a hum-bug (my husband already does) but for me the holiday season is getting more and more stressful every year! It's getting to be too much!

Too much money. Too much waste. Too much energy. Too much!

So for me, the holidays - this season of too much - poses a challenge that I take on each and every year. How can I spread holiday cheer and enjoy this season with my family WITHOUT going overboard?

And here's what I've done so far to streamline...
  • gifts for the kids ONLY - because, let's face it. Adults have jobs. Have money. They can buy whatever they whenever they want all year round.

  • experience gift - last year we sent our niece to see Brittney Spears in concert. This year my nephew is going to see an NFL game. A few years ago we took all our nieces and nephews and our own kids snow tubing for a day. Memories last longer than interests in toys.

  • avoid the mall like the plague!!! I'm not much of a shopper anyway, so this one suits me just fine.

  • Online shopping is great when you want to find gifts that are eco-friendly, fair-trade, and made local!

  • Have a holiday party with friends AFTER the holidays are over. There are so many family and work related shindigs slammed into an already crowded month. Get together with friends casually somewhere between Christmas and New Years, or after even better! There's not much chaos in January.

If anyone has other ideas, please share in the comments section! I'd love to hear how you enjoy your holidays the anti-chaotic way.

How to Grow Fresh Air...Inside Your Home!

With the cold winter months just ahead of us, most of us moms will be spending more time indoors. Which means the kids most likely will be spending more time inside as well. And we all know what that means...kids, confined in the home + toys + food + etc...more messes for us moms to clean up!

However, there is something that we can make and keep squeaky clean inside our homes that the kids can't destroy the moment we turn around.

The air we breathe! :)

How to Grow Fresh Air by B. C. Wolverton shows how
50 house plants can purify our homes. And with people, in general, spending upwards of 90% of their times indoor - where the air is more polluted than the air outside - its essential that we moms clean up our children's environments as best we can.

How easy to filter out pollutants and make fresh squeezed oxygen that with a couple beautiful house plants!

With an easy to follow growers guide, purifying your home's air with houseplants will be simple.

See...being green is easy!

:)


Remember to Thank Your Mother!

I am a spiritual person and feel a connectedness with Mother Earth. I feel her wisdom in the breeze. The dance of the leaves. The rhythm of the day.

And although I can't be in constant contact with her as much as I like, I do make sure to meet up with her at different moments throughout my day.

Digging in the Earth helps me stay close to her. You can feel her goodness in your hands.

Watching a garden grow and die, knowing the old plants and fruits will help sustain next years harvest.

If you feel used up. Exhausted, plant your hands into her and feel her strength given back.

Mother Earth is all about the life cycles of all our relatives: the trees, the streams, the animals. We're all connected.

We all rely on our Mother.

Phil Lane, Sr. of the Yankton Sioux Nation once said, "We're sitting on our blessed Mother Earth from which we get our strength and determination, love and humility, all the beautiful attributes that we've been given. So turn to one another; love one another; respect one another; respect Mother Earth; respect the waters-because that's life itself!"

In this season of giving thanks, remember to thank your Mother. Our Mother. She provides everything we need. And because we respect her, we live in harmony with her, protecting her resources, sharing our bounty with one another.

May you be blessed with a knowing loving relationship with Mother Earth.




Baking is in the air

I find myself looking for things to do during rainy days or days when it's too cold to go outside. Although I live in a climate that the weather is typically 70degrees and sunny, I can't help but long for the feeling of Fall and Winter. This past Sunday I had two of my sisters over for a day of baking. One of the many reasons I LOVE to bake is because I can control what goes into my food, I know every single ingredient that my family and I are consuming. Not to mention the fact that I can ensure that my goodies are 100% organic!

It isn't until this time of year that I can bring myself to make cookies and breads, for me they're just not items I can typically eat year around. Not to mention it's sort of become a tradition to have family baking days. So on Sunday we pulled out our favorite recipes from the year before and started making a mess of the kitchen. I love trying new recipes and sharing them with others to add to their repertoire, so I will share with you one of my favorite recipes for a simple cookie.

Molasses Cookies
3/4 Cup butter
1 Cup Sugar
1 egg
2 Cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
Cream butter & sugar. Beat in egg, molasses & everything (except the Flour). Blend in flour 1/2 cup at a time. Roll into balls and roll in sugar.
Bake at 350degrees for 8-12 minutes.
This recipe makes 16 large cookies, although when I make the cookies I like to make them about the size of half dollar which if you make them that size it makes about 30 cookies.


Mama Needs A New Scent...Organic Perfume


My husband bought me perfume on our honeymoon ten years ago. If you know me well, you've heard the story behind where he fell in love with the scent in the first place. Initial reasons aside, I fell in love with the perfume. Never thought about changing.

Then I had babies.

What does perfume and babies have in common? Well, if you breastfeed and wear perfume, you run the risk of confusing your baby's milkie radar. Babies know your mommy's scent the moment they are born. And your milk has an aroma all it. Wearing perfume can get in the way of the breastfeeding relationship getting off to a good start.

Plus, some perfumes are toxic. Since your skin absorbs anything you put on it, the toxins will make their way to your breastmilk. Even change the flavor or smell of it. Babies don't get too excited about anyone messing with their milkies.

However, if you are at the tail end of your breastfeeding relationships, love to 'stink nice' as my children say, or are going out for a special evening and want to wear a nice sent - it always feel nice to play adult for a couple hours here and there, isn't it? - are there healthier green options?

Of course ;)

That's why I'm so excited about searching for a new sent. I'm making my wish list!
  • Red Flower Roll-On Champa Organic Perfume
    "A pure flower and herb distillation. Apply over wrists, neck and pulse points. Created to offer a subtle gesture of the self and to touch the essence of the individual. Stainless steel roller ball applicator for smooth, sensual delivery. Box is 80% recycled paper produced and printed at 100% wind-powered plant in USA.

  • Amka Eau de Toilette by Jo Wood Organics
    "Using the finest grade organic and natural oils extracted from organically grown ingredients, Amka Eau de Toilette has been officially certified organic by ECOCERT."

  • WHOLEARTH just created the first ever USDA certified organic perfume spray. All natural, it contains no synthetic ingredients or dyes and is made with organic alcohol, fragrance and water. Comes in a wonderful variety of aromas like lavender, vanilla, ginger and orange. A little out of my price range, maybe I'll ask Santa this year.

  • More in my price range is Aubrey Organics Ocean Waters Eau De Parfum (Aubrey-Organics.com) Made with a minimum of 95% certified organic ingredients, their fragrances are free of synthetic aldehydes and petrochemicals and formulated for the woman with sensitive skin. How cool is that?! And they also have men's fragrances too ;)
Not having gotten a new perfume in years, I'd be happy with any of the above.

Here's to hoping my hubby sees this post!

:)

Green Treats for Halloween

I just got back from my son's kindergarten Halloween class party...and OMG! The candy and 'juice' that were supplied... I know the teacher specified that only healthy treats - aka, no candy - should be brought. But I don't think some of the parents read the directions...

Since sugar does a negative number on our immune system - decreasing it's effectiveness for 24-48 hours - I'm not looking forward to all the sweet treats my kids are going to come in contact with in the next few months. I mean, let's face it. This time of year we are bombarded with candy and cookies and cakes and chocolate. More than enough reasons to smile and, sadly, get sick...

And I know, I know. It is fun to indulge from time to time. But colds and the flu also come around this time of year too. Could there be a correlation? Probably. Maybe. I wish there weren't - I love those DOTS candies! But maybe there are some naturally-minded green alternative treats that we can make and buy.

Here are some of my fall favs:
  • Pumpkin Nog - a friend of mine got me hooked on this savory-sweet drink! So yummy...

  • Organic Lollipops - we get these by the bag full at our local natural market. Great to have on hand especially when we go to the bank or the doctor's office (so I can trade the HFCS sucker for an organic cane juice one)

  • candy apples - except I use rice syrup. It dries super fast, so read the directions on how to heat and, while it's still warm/sticky, sprinkle with chopped nuts or dried fruits

  • apple cider - I grew up on this drink in Michigan. I don't know anyone who doesn't love a cup of hot apple cider. And if you like, add in some rum for mom and dad ;)

  • pumpkin pie cup cakes - make it the same way you'd make the traditional pie, except do it on a smaller scale. The kids love these after school as a snack and it's always the perfect portion.
To me, Halloween is more of a Happy Harvest Day, but I do dig getting dressed up and trick-o-treatin' with the kids. And this year, like in the past, after the kids pick out their handful of candy that they want to enjoy, we're donating the rest. This year our family picked Operation From The Heart - an organization who ships care package items like candy, socks and whatnot to soldiers overseas.

No matter what you do for the holiday, stay safe and have fun this Halloween!

And if you have any treat ideas you'd like to share, please do!

Can't have too much fun, right ;)

What To Do About the Flu...

With everyone stressed out about all the hype pertaining to the various cold and flu bugs going around, I don't know about you, but I'm not sure what to believe anymore!

I know that every fall we amp up our hand washing behavior to practically obsessive and avoid hanging out with anyone who looks suspicious (aka: sick). But since you can't always tell who is sick and who isn't, in our family we also increase our probiotic intake: kefir for breakfast, a probiotic chewable for lunch. And always eat vitamin C rich fruits in mass!

The other day I saw this list of links concerning different questions that pop up concerning the flu and found the info helpful in refocusing me on what information is really important. The media would want you to worry a hole in your heart about every health threat out there! But that is a health threat in and of itself.
I try to always save worrying for when the time comes to worry. And since negative vibes and worry can hurt your immune system, staying on top of your family's health should never involve running around like a crazy person.

Stay calm. Stay informed. And wash your hands.



Soup time is here....

I love Fall, specifically the food and weather of Fall. My husband and I get so excited when the weather finally changes and we can start enjoying our favorite soups. Of course living in San Diego the change in weather isn't as drastic as other parts of the country but for us it's all we know and when the evenings get darker earlier and the air has a chill in it we know it's time to find celery root in the store and start concocting new soups to add to our repertoire.
A new one that was passed to me by a good friend is a Maple Parsnip Soup. So I decided I had to share this amazing recipe.



Maple Parsnip Soup
3 Tablespoons butter (can use part olive oil)
Melt in a heavy bottomed soup pot until beginning to brown

1 pound parsnips (chopped)
2 medium onions (chopped)
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
Add and saute until onions are translucent but not brown

6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Add and bring to a simmer. Cook until parsnips are soft, about 40 minutes

1/2 cup evaporated milk
Add and remove from heat. Pour into blender and puree until velvety smooth.

1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons dijon mustard (or more for spicer taste)
salt to taste
Stir in. Serve garnished with 3/4 cup toasted pine nuts or other nuts

I know that we will be trying this as soon as our weather becomes Fall, it's October 24th and still in the mid-high 70's. I'm not complaining just excited to be able to try my new recipe and need the weather to cooperate.

Making the Most of a Rainy Day...

It's been freezing and raining for three days now and looks like the forecast for tomorrow is the same. And usually by day three is when my kids start getting board of the same old toys, games, books, routine...so what's a green mom to do when you can't go outside?

I fondly remember all the games and activities my brothers and I came up out of necessity when we lived overseas. We had one TV channel, one radio channel, and sometimes no books or toys to play with since our military family was always on the move and most everything was packed up.

The most interesting and long lasting memories came from days like these where we had to come up with our own ideas and games to pass the time. Some of the best were:
  • Make a Movie
    Using our parents video recorder (remember the BIG ones? They weighed a ton!) and a blank tape, we put together some of the most hilarious skits and plays. We'd have a director, actors, lines, and costumes. The scenery had to be made - couches had to be moved, tables turned into caves, sheets into tents. Of course we'd put the house back together again...but in the meantime, our imagination was the limit and boy did we have a great time!

  • Fashion Show
    I know my little fashionista would love to do this one! Pull out all those crazy accessories, shoes, and fancy clothes and dress up as a family - or just the kids - and have everyone strut their stuff down the catwalk, uh, hallway into the living room. Take some pics, print them out, put them online, especially if you have most of your family living far away. Doing this is not only a blast, you might actually get around to cleaning out that closet and, after the fashion show is over, bag up and consign what you can live without!

  • Put on a Play
    My brothers and I would do this for guests all the time...it was fun! We'd perform all sorts of short odd ball plays that were definitely akin to making our movies, just shorter. Have songs, dances, action scenes! The kids can help write the script, pick out the costumes, choreograph the dances, and make up the songs. Tonight: a little family dinner theater in the living room!

Are Vaccines Safe?

Really...are they?

If you ask your pediatrician, more often than not, they say yes. If you ask the growing number of families opting to forgo vaccines all together, the answer is no.

But what's the truth? Is it YES or NO? Or somewhere in between?

* Are some safe? And others not? If so, which ones?

* What schedule is safe? Can I use an alternative schedule?

* And what exactly is in the vaccines? How are they made?

There are an increasing number of mothers asking these questions and more. Unfortunately, unless you have an open-minded/open-mouthed doctor, you're not going to get anything but pharmaceutical company and government scripted responses.

So then, how are we - mothers, fathers, families - supposed to make an informed decision based on informed consent when none is being given?

I came across Dr. Sear's Vaccine Book and found freedom in its pages and unbiased approach to all the questions I have concerning vax's:
  • Detailed information about the ingredients in each vaccine.
  • How different manufactures create their vaccines.
  • Which vaccines have mercury. Which don't.
  • Alternative vaccine schedules.
  • Lists of questions to ask yourself and your doctor.
  • Pros and Cons of each vaccine.
Because, let's be honest here - there are both pros and cons when it comes vaccines.

It just depends on which vaccine your talking about, which manufacturer makes it, what ingredients are in it, and in what order it's given to your child...not to mention what other vaccines should and shouldn't be given along with it.

Everyone should educate themselves about what they are injecting into their child BEFORE they get one.

And if you have questions about the H1N1 vaccine, Dr. Sears has detailed information about the ingredients and creation process of each on his website.

Check your local library for a copy of Dr. Sear's The Vaccine Book. That's where I found mine.


Pumpkin Soup with Sausage

My kids loved Green Mama Amanda's Pumpkin Pancakes so much that I thought I'd try adding pumpkin into another meal: dinner!

I was totally skeptical at first. I don't know why. I guess I've just never had pumpkin in a savory dish before. But the end result was not only a good for you soup - with all the nutritional ingredients that help you stay healthy and strong as Mother Earth puts on the chill - it was also very delicious!

And the kids loved it! Very important ;)

As always with my recipes, this is cooking...NOT baking. Therefore both the ingredients and the amounts can vary. That's why I love cooking...it's all about plus-n-minus ;)

What you need...in the order you need them
  • olive oil - enough to cover the bottom of your soup pot, and then some
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 onion chopped (your choice - yellow, white, red)
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 carrots chopped
  • 3 celery stalks chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves (more if you like, less if you want)
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 6 cups water (or chicken stock if you have it)
  • 10 baby red potatoes quartered (I bet sweet potato would be good too!)
  • 4 sweet Italian sausage links sliced or crumbled
  • black pepper to taste
  • crushed red pepper flakes to taste
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp black strap molasses (very good for you, adds depth of color and flavor)
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup (high in iron & calcium, my super most secret ingredient ever!)
  • pinch of salt to taste
  • yes, it's a lot...it's soup!!
What to do...
  1. Saute onion, carrots, celery in olive oil and butter for 5 minutes
  2. add pumpkin puree and allow to mix-n-mingle for 5 minutes
  3. add water, potatoes, sausage...and everything else into the pot
  4. bring to a high boil for 20 minutes
  5. lower to a low boil for 30 minutes
  6. serve with Parmesan cheese, buttered bread, anything you like ;)
As always, have the kids help out in the kitchen and out back dumping the kitchen scraps into the compost.

Hope you have some chilly weather your way to try out this wonderful fall soup...enjoy!

:)

In the Mix! Kids & Kitchen Compost

You're making dinner, trying to get everything on the table in time, and your little one's, been brought into the kitchen by the wonderful aromas you're creating, just won't get out from underfoot...they're starving!!!

Sound familiar?

Most time I hand out little nibbles to these food crazed monsters, but by the time dinner rolls around, they aren't really hungry anymore. And when you work really hard on a meal, you just want to see everyone enjoy it, right?

Well, that's the inherited trait from my mother's Italian side of the family anyway...

If there is some way they can help with the cooking, that is always a welcomed treat. But sometimes there aren't many small jobs for small hands. So, instead of shooing them away - unsuccessfully - over and over again, I've come up with another plan. And it's something that has to get done, too, so it doubles as a time saver trick.

Instead of doing it all myself, I employ my three year old to fill up our kitchen compost bin with all the scraps that I've created while cooking. Then as a team, my five and three year old take it out back to our compost pile and deposit the soon-to-be black gold on top.

If they are in the mood to turn the pile...wow...great! Thanks kids! ;) But if not, no biggie. The task of taking kitchen scraps out to the compost pile not only takes outside, they also learn how to work as a team, and it helps to instill the truth that just because we're not eating certain parts of the veggies and fruit, that doesn't necessarily make them trash.

Taught to them young and kept as part of their daily lives, kids will see the benefits of living green first hand. Therefore they will be more apt to incorporate them later on into their own life as they grow older.

That's really good because, as we all know, it's our job to raise them greenies :)

Pumpkin patches popping up all over the place!


I'm sure you've noticed the pumpkin patches starting to open up around your town. This is just yet another reminder that soon the weather will start to cool, the evenings will be darker and best of all we get to enjoy the fabulous flavor of pumpkin! So to get you started here's two of my favorite recipes.


Pumpkin Pancakes

In a bowl combine:

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg


In a separate bowl mix:

1 cup organic milk

1 egg

1/3 cup organic pumpkin (I typically add more and adjust the flour for consistency)


Now mix wet and dry ingredients together, let stand for 5-10 minutes. Cook pancakes.

We like to add extra garnishes as we cook them some of our favorites are chopped walnuts, bananas, dried cranberries, pecans...etc.


Pumpkin Gingerbread

1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour

2 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

2 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger

2 large eggs

1 large egg white

1/2 cup canola oil

1/2 cup molasses

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup organic pumpkin


1.) Combine flour, cinnamon, ground ginger, baking powder, nutmeg, baking soda & salt. Stir in crystallized ginger

2.) Whisk eggs, egg white, oil, molasses & sugar. Whisk in pumpkin. Fold into dry ingredients until just combined.

3.) Pour into bread pan and cook @ 350degrees for 35-40minutes.

Done with your Fuzzi Bunz? Now what to do with them???


Did you make the decision to use Fuzzi Bunz on your baby and now wonder what to do with them? I have found the perfect solution. You can donate your Fuzzi Bunz and they'll be sent to orphanages in underdeveloped countries. I cannot think of a better way to retire your Fuzzi Bunz.
Just visit Mother of Eden and it will give you all the information you need to be able to donate your Fuzzi Bunz.

Cooking with Kids...



Kids are interested in so many things. One of which is cooking! The preparation of the food. The chopping. The stirring. Adding spices. With all that goes on in the kitchen, what's not to get excited about!

My husband and I love involving our little sous chefs in the kitchen, whether it be breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack...you name it, they want to be in the mix ;)

My mother used have each of us kids be the cook one night a week, where we got to choose what was for dinner and be the main chef in the kitchen. I have yet to institute this tradition in my own family, as my children are 3 and 5. But very soon I think I'll have them start picking what's for dinner once in a while by flipping through cook books, picking out items at the farmer's market, and helping me in the kitchen that night. The foodies they are, I know they will think it a great treat.

And even if your children are young and you know they will loose interest quick, you can still involve them in measuring, pouring, and helping set the table. And why not make all these ordinary daily tasks special and fun, right? :)

When we cook with our children we are helping them see where their meals come from - whole healthy ingredients, made at home. So many kids think that the only place food comes from is a box, bag, or some other packaging with a multitude of unhealthy, unnatural additives. What a great lesson to teach our children that the best tasting food is made with our own two hands at home, with our families.


Be Really Green... Have a Diaper Free Baby!

When my son was 14 months old, I started to have a hard time keeping him dry all night long. Even using cloth diapers with two inserts and a doubler, it still wasn't enough for my super soaker. And I felt so bad putting him to bed at night with such a huge poofy diaper. Plus we sleep as a family, so...

So I went to my favorite naturally-minded online community of mothers to ask around for some ideas on how to help keep all of us dry at night. I went straight to the diapering area of the forum and was about to post a question when I saw the Elimination Communication forum. I assumed it had to do with questions concerning elimination, right? So I entered and asked my q...

And the responses I got?

That must be uncomfortable for your baby to sleep in so much padding.

Why don't you just have him potty during the night instead of using diapers?

Potty? At 14 months? No diapers?

What?

I hadn't even thought to start introducing the potty to my toddler let alone have him diaperless. What were these women thinking?

So I started asking questions in this strange Elimination Communication forum...

And the information I started seeing was very intriguing. Turns out Elimination Communication - EC for short - is a method of following your baby's cues, placing them on the potty when you can see that they are about to eliminate, and thus having a diaper free baby!

Diaper free baby?

Oh, boy, I thought. I've got to try this!

And we did. I still used cloth diapers on my son but instead of waiting to change him when I could tell that he had eliminated (aka: He was wet or not so sweet smelling anymore...) I started to watch for his elimination cues.

I started to take note of what his body language looked like or what he did when he was about to eliminate. I also taught him the sign for toilet that he could use when he thought he had to use the potty. Although it wasn't fail proof - hence the reason for continuing to use cloth diapers - it turned out to be quite easy to follow his cues, place him on the potty, and subsequently still have a clean diaper on his bottom!

By the time he was 15 months we were EC'ing him during the day almost flawlessly, dropping the number of diapers he soiled during the day considerably. I also got to use the potty once during the night which helped with the super soaking!

So what started as an accidental turn in an online forum turned out to be a very educational adventure!

When my daughter was born two years later, I knew I wanted to EC her too. When she was 3 months old, I started and she loved it! I'd hold her upright on the potty, she'd pee or poo (oh, aren't those newborn poos so cute!), and her diaper was still clean to use again! By the time she was 2 years old she was a potty pro, never needing a diaper at night, never having an accident at night, and learned how to use the potty on her own.

Many EC'ers don't use diapers at all, while others use woollies and very thin diapers. Every family finds their best way to EC. I loved it because it kept my kids mostly dry since they rarely used their diapers to eliminate in, AND it cut down on my water and energy usage.

If you're interested in trying EC'ing out, go for it! There is tons of support out there. Even if you are a mom who works outside the home and have your child being cared for else where, you can EC when you're with them at home and at night. And moms who EC have reported that because of it, their children have learned to use the potty all on their own at a very early age. Besides, this whole EC thing is nothing new. For eons moms have respected their baby's cues and responded to them.

So go ahead and be really green...have a diaper free baby!

;)

A Word About Recycling... The Courtesy Rinse

As easy as 1, 2, 3, giving your cartons and containers a quick courtesy rinse will not only keep your kitchen smelling squeaky clean, but it will also make recycling that much more pleasant.

What's a courtesy rinse, you ask?

Simple.

A quick rinse of your recyclables before adding them to the recycling bin.

I know I keep my recycling bin in the kitchen, so having it not smell like trash (where everything is tossed in and starts smelling up the place instantly...yuck!) makes for a much more pleasant kitchen environment in which to cook and eat.

Now, I know what you're thinking. If everyone was expected to rinse what they recycle - milk cartons, meat trays, apple sauce containers - no one would ever recycle! And maybe for some of the population that assumption would be correct. That's why most recycling plants are now asking you to forgo rinsing and cleaning.

But...

If you're like me and you don't want a stinky kitchen - #1 reason I try to be as trash free as possible - giving a quick courtesy rinse to anything that needs it before tossing it in the recycle bin isn't something I cry over.

It's actually something I take joy and pride in!

I know, I know...I'm a green geek...but then again, maybe you are one too!

;)


When a Child Looses a Friend... Bereavement for Kids


A few years back my beautiful sister-in-law sent me a book, The Fall of Freddie the Leaf, to help me with the loss of someone very special. Although it was a child's book, I did find it sweet and welcoming in my time of need. And when I had my own children, I kept the book around as part of their ever growing collection books.

I've read the book to my children numerous times. It's a tale about the life of a little leaf, Freddie, and how he comes to terms with finding purpose in his life, enjoying it, and then finally accepting death as a part of everyone's circle of life.

It's always been one of those books that I pull out from time to time, a simple reminder that although we don't know how long we have on Mother Earth, we all have time to make the most of it. Unfortunately, this summer we witnessed a horrible tragedy as a family: the death of a little boy.

A sweet little friend of my children. Practically a member of our family. A soul never to be forgotten...

My children were there and saw the unthinkable. Understandably, they still talk about it to this day. My three year old even says she can see him and talks to him frequently. Just today I thought I could hear his little voice in the wind while we were at one of his much loved parks..."Come on Juli...let's play!"

And although it doesn't make things better, it doesn't help us know what happened, this little book about Freddie has helped us remember that life is not only short, but precious. We all have a purpose. Andrew, someone who was only on here for such a short time, had a purpose. He showed us that we should enter all situations with the best intentions. That there is cause for smiling and laughing-out-loud all times of the day. That we shouldn't take another minute to hug those we love, and to tell them so...

If you know of a child who has experienced a loss, The Fall of Freddie the Leaf is a very good companion to all the words and hugs of sympathy. It's also a good book to have to help explain to kids that we all have a purpose for our lives. That even though a leaf is small, it's part of a great big tree. And that everything living is part of the same cycle of life.

Quick Update...and labor story

Introducing Anella Paige Green!
I haven't been on in a while, the last few weeks of pregnancy were quite eventful and I wasn't able to make time to get on and blog. Here I am though sitting next to my two week old (she'll be two weeks tomorrow) beautiful baby girl! Yes I had a girl.

I was blessed with the labor of my dreams. My husband and I had taken a Hypnobirthing class and we were both very determined to have a completely drug free labor. 12:20am on Thursday August 20th, my water broke. My husband called the OB to let him know and he told us to call back when my contractions were 5 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute for 1 hour or call back when we headed to the hospital. My husband and I planned on doing the majority of our laboring at home as neither of us wanted to spend all day the hospital. Around 1:30am, I decided to wake my husband up so that he could start timing my contractions, I decided I felt like getting in the shower to relax some. After getting out of the shower I noticed my contractions were quite a bit stronger than they had been. Every contraction I would have to take a moment and focus on relaxing. We headed downstairs at about 2:15am I got myself some water and asked my husband if there was any pattern to my contractions, he said "Not really they're between 2-4 minutes lasting 30seconds-1 1/2 minutes." I'm not sure why but I told my husband that I felt like we needed to go to the hospital. So we packed up our stuff and headed out. We live 5 minutes from the hospital so we arrived by 3am. They had me back in a room at 3:30am and were examining me. The nurse told me I was 3.5 cm and 90% effaced, this might sound good to some people but for me it was very disappointing, I had been 3.5cm & 90% effaced for the past two weeks. I was quite discouraged but knew that with my water breaking and the contractions at least things were happening.

After being on the monitor for 30 minutes the nurse let me know that my Dr wanted me to walk around to help progress labor (this was my plan all along too, the last place I wanted to be was lying in bed). After getting up I did my best to find a comfortable position, I tried the birthing ball, this definitely was not comfortable to me, I then was leaning against the end of the bed slow dancing. At this point I felt like my water broke again, when I asked the nurse she stated that most likely I had a "fore bag" (I'd never heard of this before). After this second bag of water broke things definitely picked up, I decided I wanted to get in the shower for some relief. After spending 30minutes in the shower I got out and was doing everything in my power just to find a comfortable position. I finally decided after all the water I drank I should try to empty my bladder. I sat down on the toilet and realized this was a really comfortable position. I sat here for 5 minutes completely relaxed I don't even know how many contractions I had while sitting on the toilet. I just know that I finally found a position that I could relax in. I then had a contraction that was so strong I jumped off the toilet and held onto my husband, he was holding the majority of my weight. At this point I told him that I just didn't think I could do this without drugs, he told me I was doing a great job and that he loved me. I spent the next few contractions squatting, and then decided to get back on the toilet. Once I sat down I felt a lot of pressure. I mentioned it to my husband and he immediately pulled the emergency cord in the bathroom. The nurse ran in and asked me to go and lay back down on the bed so she could check me.

As I lay down on the bed, Wayne said "I see blood." I knew this was either a really good sign or a bad sign. The nurse checked me and said "We're ready to have a baby." At this point her voice gets a little panicked as she says "I need immediate assistance in labor room 104, page Dr. Biter and let the Dr on call know he may have a delivery." I said "I'm waiting for Dr. Biter!" My Dr arrived less than 10minutes later, I remember the second I heard his voice I felt such relief. He sat down at the end of my bed and said "I planned on getting more sleep, you progressed really fast, let's have a baby." At this point I realized I'd only been at the hospital for 1 1/2 hours, it was just 5:15am, I progressed from 3.5cm to 10 in 1 1/2 hours...WOW! I pushed for a short 45 minutes and at 6:01am on August 20th, 2009 Anella Paige was born. It was amazing to say the least, as she was coming out my Dr told Wayne and I to reach down and the three of us delivered here onto my chest.

From start to finish my labor was 5 hours and 41 minutes. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that as a first time mom I would be lucky enough to have such a quick completely natural labor!

When Being Green isn't So Easy...


Have you ever felt like you were on conservationalist's overload mode? That no matter how many plastic water bottles you save from the trash, that you use all local organic food, or that you barely used the AC all this smoldering muggy summer to conserve dollars and help with pollution...that it's never enough?

What about the crude oil industry? What about people who don't have clean water to drink? What about all those schools and companies and hospitals that trash everything on a continual, day-in-day-out, basis? What about the oceans? What about the polar bears? The wolves? The forests? My kids? My kid's kids?

There is so much to do, so much to be done, I just want to...scream!
Being one person against a whole world of problems can sometimes kill the very passion out of you. You start to feel as though you are drowning in the toxic waste that fills your air, water, food.

The need is so great, how on Earth can we ever do enough?

Easy...don't give up!

Even though you are just one person, you can make a difference. Just think about your kids watching you take care of Mother Earth: watching what you put into her, making sure not to add to her hurt. You're raising greenies! Little green ones that will grow up to be big powerful green movements. That is something to be proud of!

And if you have kids that go to a school or you work somewhere that doesn't recycle, why not help them implement a system so that they can? Or show them how easy it is being green by packing a lunch box using reusable containers, napkins, and water bottles.

I sometimes get so bogged down with the insurmountable task of greening my family's life and what I can't do - buy solar, get a electric car, grow all our food - that I feel like I'm not doing a good enough job. But then I go out in the real world and see that I am not alone. That my seemingly small efforts are being compounded by everyone else's greeness...

There may be a lot for us to do...but there are a lot of us...

Keep up the good fight...
Italic

"If it's Yellow, Let it Mellow...If it's Brown..."

Flush it down!

Not a hugely complicated water conservation method, right?

And when you look at the statistics - instead of flushing the toilet after each and every use (12-15 times a day), and wait for a a brown addition to flush it all down - you can reduce the number of times you refill your toilet with fresh new water to 4 or 5 times a day. And at 1.6 gallons per flush, that's a savings of 5000 gallons per year of water!

And when I saw our water bill the other day, I realized that we use on average 10,000 gallons of water a month. I don't know about you, but I think this to be an outrageous amount!

Imagine if I had to walk down to the local stream, collect that much water a month, and carry it back to my house. 10,000 gallons? Insane!

So, I'm on a quest to reduce our water consumption. Although my husband takes 2 minute showers and I try to stay under 10, I'm certain we use/waste much more precious water as a family than we should. That's why we have instated the "if it's yellow let it mellow" rule to our household.

And if I could find a way to purchase this sign, I'll have it hanging up behind the toilet in no time!

"Crude"...A Must See for Eco-Activists Everywhere


I love how movie makers are using their abilities for the greater good...with movies such as CRUDE: The Real Price of Oil showing us just how significant of a threat this pollutant is to the people living in constant contact with the careless practices of oil industries.

Out in theaters this Fall...

Supporting Breastfeeding-Friendly Businesses...

In celebration of Breastfeeding Awareness Week and breastfeeding-friendly businesses everywhere, I met with LLL Leader Suzy Provine and asked her a few questions about her groups latest outreach program...the sticker campaign...

TGM: What is the sticker campaign?

Suzy: Have you ever been out and about with your breastfeeding baby and been offered a comfy place to sit or a glass of water? Found a place that really, truly welcomes moms and nursing babies?

Then let's thank those businesses where we have found ourselves comfortable nursing by giving them a card and free sticker with the International Breastfeeding Symbol to display in their window. Let the next nursing mother who visits their establishment know right away that she can be comfortable there with her child.

La Leche League of Northern Anne Arundel has created a friendly card that you can carry with you to give by hand or send by mail to any business you would like to THANK for helping you and your baby have a comfortable visit in their establishment.

TGM: What brought about starting this campaign?

Suzy: One of our group mothers was told she could not feed her baby in a local business that caters to children. Rather than try to change the policies of that business, we decided it would be more productive, and more positive, to recognize the good places rather than the bad.

TGM: How do others obtain stickers?

Suzy: Anyone who makes a donation to La Leche League of Northern Anne Arundel of $5 will receive a sticker and card set. Contact any of our Group Leaders for stickers.

TGM: Can anyone participate?

Suzy: Absolutely! We would love to see this sticker on business windows everywhere!

TGM: So far, where can we see these breastfeeding-friendly stickers?

Suzy: We just started. The first stickers went up at the Bruster's Ice Cream store in Glen Burnie, Maryland.


Be Green...The "Go Trash Free" Challenge!

We all have a very hard time tossing anything knowing it's final destination will be a landfill, inevitably polluting our water, air, and Mother Earth. We breath the air. We drink the water. We grow food in the land. So, why on Earth would I want to pollute it?! However, everyday we see it happening. Trash left in piles and heaps waiting for the trash truck around our neighborhoods. Litter tagging along on our walks through our communities and even out on remote hiking trails.

Don't you think it's time we all do something about it?

The "Go Trash Free" Challenge Now is the time we all start moving in that direction: Go trash free. Yep, that's right! Totally and utterly trash free.

What does that mean, you say? Well, that means you leave nothing out for the trash man on Monday or any other day. You compost everything you can, reuse, recycle, or just don't buy it (aka: reduce consumption). It's pretty simple on the surface. However, when you take on the challenge, it gets a bit more complicated.

You see, we've been born and raised in this materialistic polluting society:
  • You go out to eat, you take home your food in Styrofoam containers that can end up in the landfill.
  • You are religious with the 3 R's in your kitchen, but you forgot about the waste basket in the bathrooms, laundry room, garage.
  • You have guests over and they don't take heed to your cute little signs above your recycle and trash containers and toss out everything.
Ok, so you see where I'm going with this. If you want to take on this challenge, it's a full-time commitment. You can't just use the "I'll do it next time" routine. You have to commit mind, body, pocket book, and spirit to the cause.

So, are you ready! Are you stoked! Here are some ways to help you stay on your game. And remember, no trash means nothing to the landfill. You can recycle till your heart turns, well, green. But no trash. No toss. No more ;)

1) Vow to never use Styrofoam again.
Whether you are buying meat at the store, taking leftovers home from the restaurant, or picking out a nice pair of new pumps, remember: Styrofoam cannot be recycled. If you can't recycle it, can't reuse it, reduce it. Just don't use it. Instead, bring your own containers for food leftovers. You'll be out to eat with other greenies, so you won't have to worry about looking like the crunchy hippie you are...you'll fit right in ;)

2) Compost everything!
I have a nifty-difty little sign above my, now empty, garbage can in my kitchen. It reads "No veggie scraps. No egg shells. No fruit peels. These go in the compost bin! Thanks, Management :)" Don't toss out that soon-to-be black gold for your garden. Make sure everyone in your home is on board with this one. And if that means being a compost police for a while 'till they get the hang of it, so be it. Why would you want put that in a plastic bag to stink up the house anyway? Get a kitchen counter top compost bin, fill it up with all your kitchen scraps (minus the meat, bones, and milk products) and toss it on your compost heap every few days.

3) Remember the 3 R's.
When you are out shopping, before adding something to your cart, ask yourself, "Can this be recycled? Can it be reused? Do I have something already like it?" The bottom line for all purchases should be that if it doesn't fit in the 3 R's, you really need to rethink the item. Chances are, yes, with a little ingenuity and creativity you can find another way to satisfy your need...or want...craving...just gatta have it!!! Yes, we were born into this compulsive consumpting society, but if you are going to be trash free, you have to "be the change you wish to see in the world". Go Gandhi!

Now, having said all this, there are some things that I have yet to figure out how to fit into the 3 R's, compost, and not buy. I eat meat, so there are the bones from food that can't go in the compost and can't be fed to the dogs (mine are rather small dogs). So what about those? There are a few items that people will struggle with finding alternative ways, so let's open up a forum to find some solutions. What about Styrofoam?!??! What do we do with this stuff? How can we reuse it? What if it was bought with meat from the grocery store? Oops. What then? Can you really reuse it?

Here is the question to ask yourself, if you want to enter this challenge...Are there really certain things that just HAVE to be tossed? I think we can find alternatives to all of these items that we've been sold on having to toss out. That's where the NO TRASH challenge comes into play.

So, let's jump in and start the challenge!!

Start with a week. One week. Go trash free. Then add another week. Once you get the hang of it, be daring. Go for a whole month. Let me know how long you can make it and what made you break. What are some of the great alternatives you have come up with? Did you find the secret? Can you share it with the rest of us?!

I think this is a great thing for us to do. Why do we need to add to the landfill. Our ancestors (yep, I'm pulling out the oldies) made it just fine without trashing our Mother Earth. Now we're destroying it for our children and our children's children.

Make the commitment. Test yourself. See how far YOU can make it. Be green! Be trash free :)

The Story of Stuff...

How much stuff is too much stuff? And where does our stuff come from? Or maybe more importantly, why do we feel we need so much stuff?!

Annie Leonard - who spent 10 years tracking how our stuff is created and then disposed of - presents with clarity how stuff creates the excessive amounts of pollution and problems we now have for all people and our beloved planet.

The Story of Stuff...

Watch it. Have the kids watch it. Pass it along to all those skeptics in your family...





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Cloth Diapers...Really?!?!?!?!











I have found the reaction to my decision to use cloth diapers quite shocking. Even before I planned on getting pregnant I knew that I would use cloth diapers, there was never even a debate. Why would I use disposable diapers and add to our landfills? I knew the statistics, disposable diapers are estimated to take 250-500 years to decompose. How on earth would I feel comfortable putting something that takes that long to decompose on the most precious thing in the world, my baby's butt!

We've come to live in a disposable world, we want the easiest quickest product and that product almost always is a one time use product. Look down the aisle of the grocery store, you'll see fruit packaged in a nice convenient plastic container so you can have fruit in your lunch, well isn't fruit already in the perfect package? It's own skin! Then there's the drink aisle where you can get yourself a 30 pack of bottled water, last time I checked water was free. Why not just buy a reusable bottle or canteen and fill it everyday for yourself. Then there is the baby aisle, not only can you find disposable diapers, there's also bibs, spoons/forks, bottles, sippy cups the list goes on and on. What a great lesson to teach our kids from the moment of birth, we're too busy so just buy something use it and throw it away.

My decision to use reusable diapers wasn't hard and I didn't think twice, so why is it that everyone who finds out I'm using cloth diapers is in total shock and disbelief? I can't believe the reaction I've been getting, it's actually quite disheartening. The first reaction I get is "I didn't know those still existed," and then I get "well that's just going to be way too much work you're not going to be able to keep up with all the laundry and a newborn." Now I can't speak from experience seeing that this is my first baby, I can only speak from what I've been told and what I expect to happen. From what I know though you do quite a bit of laundry when you have a baby and a family for that matter. And when did laundry become such a big deal, you put everything in the washer, add soap hit start, when it's done you put it in the dryer. That's what 5 minutes of my day? Not to mention the bigger irony here, this is coming from people who never once considered anything other than disposable diapers, it's like their trash happy alter ego has taken over control of their mind and body.

I found a great company that has reusable diapers of all kinds, and have great customer service. I personally went with Fuzzi Bunz. Mama Lia had already used them and loved them. If you're interested in reusable diapers and don't know where to go to get information and want to see your options I recommend Nurtured Family.



Fuzzi Bunz - www.NurturedFamily.com

We're Back!


Sorry Mama Lia and I have been MIA we've been on vacation...together. It's been a little while since we've seen each other and Lia flew out to CA for my baby shower which was last Saturday. It was so great to see each other. We had such a great time and realize how much we wish that we lived closer together.

We're back, her on the East Coast and me on the West.

I am less than a month from my due date and cannot believe how close I am to holding my little one in my arms.

Join me on my journey from pregnancy to motherhood.