Blue Orange Games Make Excellent Holiday Gifts + A Giveaway

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Are you getting excited for the holidays? I know my family is! We all love the extra time we get to spend together, the fun seasonal activities, and delicious foods that come along with the holiday season. Of course, there are some additional stresses at this time of year—party planning, attending events or taking your kids on various outings, finishing end-of-year tasks, preparing to host family, and gift shopping, to name a few.

If you’re anything like me, coming up with gift ideas ahead of time takes away some of the pressure surrounding the holidays and makes everything more enjoyable. With that in mind, I thought I’d share a great gift idea for the kids or other families in your life! You may have seen me talking about Blue Orange Games before, because they’re a great company and their games are always a hit with Eben and Mr. Sweet Greens. With a chance to win a game from them in this blog post, hopefully they’ll become a favorite with your family, too!

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Why Blue Orange Games Make Great Gifts
These games get my seal of approval for gift giving for many reasons. The games produced by Blue Orange are heirloom quality, so you can pass them on to younger generations in the family when your own kids outgrow them. These games are also eco-friendly, made from high-quality materials that gets replenished by the Blue Orange Games commitment to plant 2 trees for each one used in creating their products. That kind of commitment to sustainability and keeping the planet green for our kids and grandkids makes you feel good about buying their games as gifts.

Beyond the basic facts of sustainability and good design, these games are my favorite ones to play with my family. They’re fun, they make you think, and they’re a convenient length to squeeze in between homework and dinner, or in between activities on the weekend. Many of the Blue Orange Games are also designed with families in mind, being fun to play with a small but flexible number of people; often 2-4 makes for a great gameplay experience (it’s great too because Eben and I can play together when Mr. Sweet Greens is at work!) Plus, they work on your cognitive skills, memory, creativity, fine motor skills, and more, so you’re getting some real benefits from playing!

I purchase a handful of these games every year to gift to Eben and Mr. Sweet Greens as our family gift. I always pair it with some of our favorite organic snacks and hot cocoa. It gives us something new and fun to play as a family during winter break, and is a really positive way to spend some of the extra time we have together. This year, I am also giving Blue Orange Games as gifts to my sister’s family, I’m hoping that her and her family will love them as much as we do!

flash

Enter the Giveaway
Want a chance to win your very own game from Blue Orange Games? I’m happy to be able to give away a copy of Flash! to one lucky winner. Flash! is a super quick and exciting dice game with multiple play variations and 8 challenges to complete. It has a fun element of competition and is great for all ages, from 7 to 97! It is a huge hit in our home and it will make a great holiday gift for your family.

Leave a comment below to enter. Tell me which game you’re most interested in, or what your family enjoys doing together over the holiday break.

For extra entries, follow Sweet Greens and Blue Orange Games via your favorite social media platforms and leave a separate comment for each!

Blue Orange Social Media Channels:

Facebook: Blue Orange Games USA
Twitter: @BlueOrangeGames
Pinterest: Blue Orange Games
Instagram: @blueorangegames

Sweet Greens Social Media Channels:

Facebook: Sweet Greens page
Twitter: @SweetGreens
Pinterest: Sweet Greens
Instagram: @SweetGreens

 

US winners only, please. Sorry to my international readers! Winner will be announced on December 13th!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Hello Friends!

Can you believe the holidays are officially here? I am super excited! We kicked off the holiday season last night making pies as a family and watching a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. So fun. Today, Eben and I spent the morning getting our home ready and putting together the tablescape. We think it turned out pretty great! We are calling it a success.  The mister does all of the cooking and we are drooling over all of the amazing smells and sights coming from the kitchen. Yay!

I hope you have an amazing Thanksgiving Day full of family, friends and amazing food! I hope you get to spend the weekend doing whatever makes you smile (relaxing, sleeping in, reading a great book, shopping or like us, heading to the beach!)

Happy Thanksgiving!
Sweet Greens

5 Budget and Eco-Friendly Holiday Gift Shopping Tips

5 Budget and Eco-Friendly Holiday Gift Shopping Tips Sweet Greens
While this time of the year is the most wonderful  – it is also the busiest. You may feel like there are so many things that you need to prepare and buy and deciding where to start can be overwhelming. Instead of getting things done ahead of time, many of us tell ourselves we will get everything done when the holidays get closer. Then, the next thing you know the holidays are upon us and we end of spending too much money, getting completely stressed out, and not making the best choices – not exactly the feelings that you want to experience. It happens to the best of us, right?To get your holiday shopping off on the right foot, I thought I would share my favorite budget and eco-friendly holiday shopping tips. These are all tips that I use every year to make sure that this time of the year is definitely the most wonderful without breaking the bank or losing my head!

1. Make a List – Check it Twice
Every year, I create a simple holiday gift list in my iPhone. It includes the name of everyone on my holiday shopping list, gift ideas for each of them and my spending limit per person. Since my list is on my phone, I can consult and update it at anytime. Then, I mark off each person as I finish their holiday gift shopping. This has saved me a lot of time and money and I never have to ask myself – did a buy a gift for so and so? Or, how many gifts did I buy for Eben or the mister? I just check the list and I am done!

2. Start Early
The earlier that you start your holiday shopping, the better. Just think, if you finish all of your holiday shopping early, you can spend the day after Thanksgiving at home, snuggled up with your family and a yummy warm beverage. I can’t think of anything more stress-free then having all of the holiday shopping done before December even arrives. It really frees up all of December to focus on making fun memories with my family. This is another place that #1 comes in, if you shop early picking up items when you find them on sale – you save a ton of money.

3. Shop Locally
Instead of hitting the closest big box store this holiday season, consider supporting small, independently owned businesses. Many towns have a shopping area that is filled with adorable shops that focus on the work of local artisans and many have eco-friendly options. In my opinion, a handmade gift is the best gift! You could also give a gift from your local farm, such as; fresh vegetables, fruits or dairy items. Another option is to check out Etsy for fantastic handmade goods, you can click here to shop Etsy shops located in your local area.

4. It’s All About Quality
Each year, I like to focus on purchasing the mister and Eben quality gifts that they will enjoy for years and years to come. I focus on items that I think they will really enjoy and steer clear of items that are disposable, or would only be enjoyed temporarily. My favorite items to purchase for them include; books, experiences (see below), heirloom quality items that they will keep forever and gifts that focus on their favorite hobbies.

5. Give the Gift of Experience
I am a huge fan of giving the gift of experience, some that I have given in the past include annual passes to local nature and science museums, state parks, botanical gardens, art centers and even scuba lessons. I think gifts that allow the recipient to learn something new or go to place they have always wanted to see builds memories and brings much more happiness long-term than any material gift could ever could. Plus, it’s just another excuse to spend more quality time with my family – and that is the best gift of all.

What are your favorite holiday shopping tips? Please share them in the comments section – I would love to hear! 

6 Ways to Get the Most Out of Organic Stone Fruit While It’s in Season

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It’s stone fruit season! Wondering what stone fruit is? Stone fruit is any type of fruit that has a single seed or pit – for example; apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums, and cherries. Any time a particular type of fruit is in season, it’s a great idea to buy in bulk and stock up. There are several great ways that you can get the most out of the stone fruit that you purchase. It just takes a little creativity and a few different ways to preserve the stone fruit and you can enjoy it all year long. Read on for my 6 favorites ways to get the most out of these sweet fruits.

#1: Bag It!
We recently purchased a large quantity of organic stone fruit – however, there were several pieces that were not ripe. To ripen them up quickly so that we could use them, we put them in a paper bag for a couple of days. Works like a charm.

#2: Grill It!
It’s grilling season too and a fantastic way to enjoy stone fruit is fresh off the grill. Peaches grilled quickly on each side and then topped with organic vanilla ice cream is an amazing fall treat. You won’t be disappointed and it is a super fun dessert for those get-togethers.

#3: Add It!
Stone fruit isn’t only good on it’s own, or as a dessert – it tastes amazing when added to the main course. I like to add cut up stone fruit to salads, salsas, and side dishes during the summertime. It’s adds a ton of flavor and a pop of color to our meals. The possibilities are endless!

#4: Can It!
While purchasing stone fruit in a large quantity while it is in season is a great idea, what if you can’t use it all before it spoils? Can it! Stone fruits can be used in jams, syrups and salsas, so why not get to cooking and preserve some of that sweetness for later in the year. Can you image a yummy stone fruit syrup, salsa or jam during fall, winter and spring?

#5: Dry It!
Who doesn’t love dried fruit? What could be better than dried peaches or apricots. You can either dry the fruit in the oven at 200° F for three hours or use a food dehydrator to get the job done. Dried fruit lasts a long time and will be perfect as a lunch box snack during the school year.

#6: Freeze It!
Whatever stone fruit you have leftover should be frozen before it spoils. Frozen stone fruit is amazing in smoothies and desserts, just remove the amount that you need from the freezer and enjoy!

5 Eco-Friendly Ways to Plan for Thanksgiving Dinner

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Hello, Friends! November is finally here – Hooray! Which means Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Are you hosting the big dinner this year? There are many eco-friendly ways to green your Thanksgiving dinner – all of which are easier to implement if you plan ahead. Many of these ideas will save you money and time while cutting down on the amount of waste that can accumulate from a big family dinner. Read on to learn my 5 favorite eco-friendly ways to plan your Thanksgiving dinner and start planning today!

1. Decorating 101
You don’t have to spend any money when decorating for Thanksgiving, instead use items that you already have or consider bringing natural items indoors. We always have a handful of pumpkins leftover from Halloween that we use as Thanksgiving decorations. And Eben and I like to take a nature walk to collect natural elements (pine-cones, acorns, branches and leaves) to display as our Thanksgiving table centerpiece.

2. How Much is Enough?
It is really easy to go overboard when planning the Thanksgiving menu. Consider the dishes that you will be serving and ask yourself if you are making more than is necessary. Choose a few dishes that you are sure your guests will love and skip the rest. Also, consider which parts of Thanksgiving dinner you want to or can afford to purchase organic and whenever possible, avoid pre-packaged items.

3. Consider the Table
Do you have enough dinnerware for everyone in your dinner party? If not, consider borrowing place settings from close friends or family members instead of purchasing new. If you aren’t a china and tablecloth kind of family and choose to go with disposable place settings, choose a great compostable version that is made from 100% recycled materials.

4. Think Seasonal
When choosing fruits and vegetables for your Thanksgiving menu, think seasonal. You want to avoid purchasing produce that are imported from far away. You may consider joining a local CSA for the holiday season – not only will you have delicious, local foods to serve this Thanksgiving, but you will be supporting a local farm too.

5. Plan for Leftovers
What do you plan to do with the Thanksgiving dinner leftovers? If you are planning on sending goodies home with your guests, have glass resuable storage containers ready to go. If you made more than your family can consume, you could donate some of the leftovers to a local food bank, freeze them for later or have a menu plan for the days after Thanksgiving so all of the leftovers will be used.

How do you green your Thanksgiving dinner? I would love to hear – please share your thoughts in the comments!

7 Simple Eco-Friendly Fun Ways to Spend Fall with Your Family

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I love fall – it is my favorite season and my favorite time of year! What’s not to love? There is cooler weather, chai tea, cozy sweaters and pumpkin everything. But my favorite part is spending time with my family. Here are 7 simple, eco-friendly ways to inspire you!

1. Take a Listening Hike
One of my favorite fall activities is hiking! And one of my favorite ways to enjoy a hike is when we take what we like to call “a silent hike.” A silent hike is just that – we hike together as a family in complete silence. It’s amazing how the act of simply being quiet and listening can have a huge impact on your hiking experience. There have been many times that we come upon an animal grazing or fish swimming in a creek – it’s amazing. We also like to stop along the way to listen to the rustling of the trees, chirping of the birds or to watch leaves quietly wafting to the ground. It a great time to reflect within too, while still being with the ones you love.

2. Take It Outside
Fall is the perfect time to take whatever you are doing – outside! The mister and I start every morning by taking the dogs on a walk around the lake in our neighborhood. And Eben and I like to sneak away after dinner to take the dogs on another walk. It is my favorite way to start and end each day.

3. Slow It Down
Now that school is back in session, you have to admit that you are much busier than you were all summer. I know that if something isn’t on my schedule, it probably isn’t going to happen. Which is why during the fall months, we really take extra consideration to slow things down at our house. We like to schedule extra time in the morning and afternoon, just to be. We usually spend this time snuggled up chatting about our upcoming adventures.

4. Get Centered
Along with slowing down, fall is a great time to get centered. Spend time each day doing whatever it is that makes you feel connected and centered. For the mister, this means swimming – he will get up early everyday to swim his laps before heading to work. For Eben, this means a hot cup of cocoa and a really good book right after dinner. For me, I like to snuggle down with my iPad to pin my favorite eco-friendly things or end the day with a relaxing yoga session!

5. Plan Ahead
One thing that I have definitely learned along the way is that it is super important to enjoy the moment. To ensure that every moment of fall is enjoyable for my family, I like to plan ahead. I sit down with my journal and jot down things that I really want our family to do together during September, October and November. I include all of our traditional fall family activities, as well as new ideas that I can run by the boys. The idea is that if I plan these activities ahead of time, we spend the months doing fun things together without much thought – since I planned it well in advance.

6. Find an Adventure
One of my favorite parts of fall is the cooler weather – which always equals more time outside. We usually do the bulk of our camping and sailing trips during the fall months. We really enjoy the cooler days spent outside, followed by the crisp nights roasting marshmallows over the fire!

7. Get Cozy
Fall is a great time to reconnect with family and friends. We like to plan long dinner parties with friends, have family stay for extended weekends and plan unexpected get together with close friends. Last night, I kicked off my fall cravings by having a close friend over for a glass of wine at 8 pm. It was the perfect way to end a busy day, we were able to relax, sip wine and giggle about how hard it is to get into the back to school routine – it really made my week and will definitely become a tradition!

What ways do you plan to spend fall with your family?

4 Fall Inspired Eco-Friendly Art Projects for Green Kids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love fall – it is my favorite season. Have I mentioned that before? Ha! I love the colors, textures, and find myself crafting with Eben more during the autumn season. With that being said, the artwork really piles up around here. Many pieces get photographed and recycled, however there are pieces that we love so much we want to keep and display. Here are 4 fall inspired art projects that we have enjoyed over the year and thought they might inspire you this autumn:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Baker’s Twine Apple
Whenever I work with baker’s twine, it seems like I am left with a few scraps that I keep for craft projects. I recently came across an amazing baker’s twine apple project that would be perfect for those leftovers. I adore it!

+ Baker’s Twine Art
+ Domestically Speaking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Button Art
If you have a large button collection – this is the project for you! I love the different colors and sizes – I think it would be fun to do a set of four, one for each season, arranged on a wall together. This would be a perfect project for children of all ages too!

+ Button Art
+ Diane Payne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Leaf Prints
Eben loved this project because it incorporated a nature walk and pigment paints. This is a project that we tend to make over and over again each fall. It’s easy, a fun way to get our hands dirty and the perfect excuse for working together after school.

+ Leaf Prints

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Alphabet Leaf Animals

Again, this is the perfect fall project for kids! It gets their creative juices flowing as they arrange the leaves into different animal shapes. I have to admit, Eben is much better at this than me – he is fantastic as seeing things that I never would. Are your kids like this?

+ Leaf Animal Prints

What fall inspired art project are you and your children working on?

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