Author Archive | Jennie

Starbucks Gets Real: Real Food for a Healthy Planet

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Starbucks is giving their top selling Pumpkin Spice Latte a makeover this fall, marking a positive change for the environment. The coffee giant is updating their recipe to include real pumpkin, and they’re making other changes too, like eliminating the artificial caramel coloring from their drinks. The change comes as part of the growing real food movement and bodes well for both our health and the environment. Jump over to The Keeper Blog for the whole story!

FEATURE: Get the Most Out of Compost with American Home Shield

Composting Tips

Composting isn’t just for the people living off the grid anymore. Organic recycling can benefit any household, regardless of whether you’re in a brownstone or barn. Still not convinced? I am super excited to have been asked to share my tips over at American Home Shield, check it out.

9 Tips for Keeping your Family Safe from Sharks this Summer

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As you already know, my family loves the ocean. We spend the majority of our free time sailing, paddleboarding, swimming, snorkeling, scuba-diving, surfing and free-diving. Our love for the ocean includes everything that lives in the ocean. There are many creatures that inhabit that ocean that humans may find dangerous – especially after all of the media coverage surrounding some recent shark attacks in our state. While I understand that some people may find sharks to be terrifying, the ocean is their home and we are simply visitors. However, as a family, we have a realistic view of these animals and follow the rules of the ocean to help ensure no harm comes to the sharks or our family.

Eben learned how to swim before he could walk or talk, he was almost 6 months old. He is a natural in the water – it is the one place where he feels completely at ease. When it comes to the ocean, he has no fear – he has been stung by jellyfish, bitten by countless creatures, stepped on a sea urchin and even tore his leg open kneeling on the ocean floor. However, all of these incidents have not changed his view of the ocean, it is still his favorite place on Earth.

I am not as adventurous as Eben or the mister, I am the cautious one – the one always on the lookout for possible dangers. We have swam and snorkeled with sharks many times and we have never felt threatened by them. In fact, we have nothing but love and respect for these amazing creatures. Since I am so cautious and a natural planner, I have tips that I live by to keep my family safe in the ocean. I am not trying to scare you, you are more likely to be hurt by a toilet, than a shark! However, if you are hitting the beach this summer, read on and take note, these tips can help to keep your family safe.

#1: What’s Going On?
The first thing to consider before even getting into the water is to stay on top of what is happening in the ocean in your area. A great place to start is at the lifeguard station – they will have a sign that will outline any dangers for the day. Check the news, have there been reports of whale migration, bait fish or seals in the area? If so, stay out of the water. Also, if sharks are migrating through the area, it is a good idea to steer clear of the water too.

#2: It’s All in the Sky
Waters tend to be cloudy at dusk and dawn – and if you can’t see well through the cloudy water, a shark won’t be able to either. Many causes of shark bites happen simply as a case of mistaken identity. Also, if it is overcast or stormy, going in the ocean isn’t recommended – again the water is usually cloudy and incoming storms can stir up bait fish, the last thing you want to do is get between a shark and its prey.

#3: Watch for Fishermen 
I don’t recommend being in the water any where near fishermen. Whether the fishermen are simply fishing, cleaning the fish in the water, dumping fish guts into the water, or chumming, it’s a good idea to steer clear of the area. Sharks have an amazing sense of smell and taste and fish guts in the water may attract them to the area. Some sharks have been known to hang around areas where fishermen fish, snatching the fish from their lines too. So as a rule, we do not swim near anywhere near a fishing pier.

#4: Stick Together
As with many things in life, there is safety in numbers when in the ocean too. I don’t recommend swimming far off shore or even hanging out in the water by yourself. Sharks come into all depths of water. We have seen them in knee deep water and 30 foot waters – swimming or playing in the water as a group is a much better option. Stick together.

#5: Skip the Shiny
Shiny or metal objects can attract sharks – they are curious creatures, they may just want to check out your bling. When heading out to the sea, remove all of your jewelry – and skip swimsuits with any shiny metal embellishments.

#6 Keep Noise to a Minimum
Stick to playing Jaws at the swimming pool only! Splashing around, yelling and thrashing about may attract sharks to the area. They may think you are a struggling prey or may just be curious to see what all the ruckus is about.

#7: Keep a Safe Distance
Most of the times that we have encountered sharks have been on a reef. We always respect their space, put a lot of distance between us and them, stay close together, all the while remaining calm and still. They have always just swam past or under us – never giving us a second look. Again, I don’t recommend snorkeling or diving at a reef alone and. when you do see a shark, don’t freak out and frantically try to swim back to the boat. Stay calm and still, and most likely the shark will just swim by.

#8: Pick a Guarded Beach
If you are on vacation, not familiar on how to read the ocean or just want a little more protection, hit the guarded beach. The lifeguards are not only there to keep us safe from drowning, they will alert you as soon as they see sharks, bait fish or other dangerous creatures or weather conditions. As soon as you hear that whistle blow, get out the water until the lifeguard says it is safe to go back in. Also, when you arrive at the beach make sure to read the signs at the lifeguard station, if there are bait fish in the area or they have a red/no swimming flag – follow their recommendations.

#9: Don’t Feed the Fish
There have been documented cases of people being bitten by sharks after feeding them. Sharks are highly intelligent creatures, if you feed them once they will remember it and come back to the area for more. What happens when someone else swims in that spot and doesn’t have a treat to offer them? They may bite someone on accident simply looking for food. As in all cases, do not feed the wildlife, it isn’t a good idea for you or for them.

How do you keep your family safe from sharks at the beach? Are there tips I may have missed?

5 Tips for Going Green While on Your Summer Cruise

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A Note from Sweet Greens: This post wasn’t written by me – thank you for supporting the companies that support Sweet Greens.

As the world becomes more aware with climate change and other environmental problems, various industries are searching for ways to reduce their carbon footprint and follow greener practices. This includes the cruising industry. These days, a lot of companies who offer cruise trips to the Mediterranean are taking big steps to greenify their operations. But of course, it’s also important that the passengers participate in the movement to create a bigger positive impact to the environment. Read on to learn how you can start an eco-friendly summer trip while having fun at the same time.

  1. Reuse, reduce, and recycle
    This should always be practiced whether you are travelling by land or by sea. For starters, you should reduce the number of water bottles that you use. Instead of buying water from the grocery store all the time, you can bring your own refillable container instead. Cruise ships offer food and drinks onboard so you can probably find a clean drinking water somewhere. If you see specially marked recycling trash bins, make sure that you throw your garbage in the appropriate bins.
  1. Reducing carbon footprint
    You can’t stop a cruise liner from using fuel. However, you can still do your part in reducing the carbon footprint of your journey.  First, turn off the lights in your room if you are not using them. If you are not extremely dirty, only take quick showers at night to conserve water.
  1. Eat right
    Sometimes, we get so excited with the buffet on the ship that we take more than what we can eat. Reduce excessive food waste by controlling yourself in the buffet line. Not only is it good for the environment, but it’s also good for your health as well. Tip: use a smaller plate so that you won’t overeat.
  1. Use the stairs
    Climbing the stairs seems like a very daunting task. However, it can be beneficial for reducing electricity consumption. This is also effective for burning off the excess calories that you acquired at the buffet table.
  1. Say no to plastic bags
    If you are buying souvenirs from the gift shop, always say no to plastic bags. Trinkets like magnets or key chains don’t need to be wrapped in a bag. Shirts, meanwhile, can be jammed in your suitcases. If you are planning to buy a lot of souvenirs, opt to bring your own reusable bag instead.

What other green travel tips do you have? Feel free to join the discussion in the comments!

5 Simple Eco-Friendly Ways to Green Your Bathroom

If you are just beginning your green journey – a great place to start is your bathroom. It is amazing how many toxic chemicals, harmful personal care ingredients and disposables items can be found there. Not to mention, the insane amounts of water that literally go down the drain. While greening your bathroom may sound like a huge undertaking, when you break it down into 5 simple areas – you will find that your bathroom is eco-friendly in no time, read on to get started.

#1: Ditch the Chemicals
We all know what we eat is super important to our health – the same is true for what you put on your body. After all, our skin is the body’s largest organ and it absorbs everything that is put on it. I suggest slowly removing all of the chemical personal care products from your vanity, if you can’t do it cold turkey. Replace those items with toxic-free products, while they may cost a little more upfront the impact they have on your health and the environment over the long run is worth it.

#2: Ditch the Disposables
It is easy to purchase disposable razors, cotton balls, tissues, menstrual products and facial wipes – they just seem more convenient. However, the cost to both the environment and your budget are huge. Instead, choose a razor where only the head is disposable, choose reusable (washable) cloths and menstrual products instead of tissues, wipes, pads or cotton balls. Those small changes alone, add up over the course of a year.

#3: Ditch the Air Fresheners
We all want our bathrooms to smell clean and fresh. However, those toxic air fresheners may smell nice, however they poison the air. I would highly recommend making your own all-natural air freshener instead and avoid the chemicals.

#4: Green the Cleaners
Great cleaners are eco-friendly, toxic-free and many work just as well as their chemical counterpart. The best part many are just as affordable as the chemical version and you can make them at home using common household ingredients that are all-natural and super affordable too.

#5: Switch to Low-Flow
Over 2.5 gallons of water goes down the drain each minute – a 15 minute shower easily equals 37.5 gallons of water. Yikes! The simple act of installing a low-flow shower head can save up to 1 gallon a minute, saving up to $900 annually on your water bill. They literally take a minute to install and you’re done. Bonus!

Teaching Your Green Kids to Love Gardening

Gardening with Children

Gardening has many advantages, and is known to benefit your children’s health and well-being. Teaching the kids to love gardening will get them outdoors, allow you to spend some family time together, and make them more rounded characters. Do some research or search online for gardening guides which will give you more information and tips. Here are five ways to help get the kids involved;

Give Them Garden Space of Their Own
A great way to get the kids out in the garden is to allow them to plan a section for themselves. Giving them the freedom to plan, build and enjoy their own space will not only leave them feeling invested in the garden, but will also allow you to spend time together, helping them create their space.

Create a Wildlife Garden
Building a garden to attract wildlife is a brilliant way to excite the kids. Wildflowers are great for attracting plenty of insects, which will encourage other wildlife such as birds and hedgehogs to your garden. Once the children have their first sighting, they’ll be invested in helping you improve the space to attract more animals! If you have enough space you could even build a pond which will almost certainly increase your sightings.

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Teach Them to Grow Their Own Food
Teaching your children how to grow their own produce will leave them with a skill for life. Let them pick the fruit and vegetables that they like, before helping them to build grow boxes and sow the seeds. The responsibility of nurturing their plants before harvest will teach them a valuable skill, and could be a precursor to a family pet!

Create an Indoor Garden During the Winter
Getting the kids interested in gardening during the winter months, will leave them excited and ready to hit the garden in spring. You can start small with a herb garden, before you start germinating your seeds in anticipation of planting.

Teach Them How to Compost
Although perhaps not the most exciting of topics, teaching your children how to make compost will give them a greater understanding of consumption, waste, and their effect on their natural surroundings. Start by educating them on the importance of recycling, before moving on to composting.

Hopefully the above tips will help you to get the children interested in gardening, not only will they reap the benefits; so will you.

Image via bass_nroll and theloushe used under the Creative Commons license
This post wasn’t written by me, thank you for supporting the businesses that keep Sweet Greens running!

Mumzy Helps Entrepreneurial Moms Launch their Big Ideas!


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Becoming a mom has a way of helping you focus on what’s important, what’s necessary, and what’s brings the most happiness. Motherhood can bring out the worst in us—when we are sleep deprived and clutching at the last vestiges of our former identity as we slip into a whole new life—but mostly it brings out the best in us. As a mom, you don’t have time to waste, and what’s really important in life becomes clear: health, happiness, family, and supporting all three financially and communally. This new-found focus pairs well with a mother’s innate intuition and real-world skills, and the result is that a lot of moms come up with great business ideas! Whether it’s an idea for a baby product, a community organization serving families, charitable cause, or all-around innovative new idea, as a mom your experience, wisdom, and huge heart give you insider information about what’s really helpful to others—especially other moms.

Our guess is that if you’ve read this far then the above description sounds a lot like you. I can almost hear the voice in your head saying, “Yes! Exactly! My idea would make millions! If only I had the time/money/support/my old 9-5 back/networking skills/a new haircut and clothes free of baby puke stains.” Working independently is a dream career for many moms who don’t want to return to their 9-5 job, or who have already had to return but crave a better work-life balance—making more money in less hours worked doing something enjoyable and energizing.mom baby img

Moms are some of the greatest innovators and entrepreneurs out there and are the perfect people to start small businesses, but many moms lack the necessary resources to turn our business visions into a reality. Generating a business plan, prototype, or any other logistical piece of an emerging business idea is tough enough without having to worry about soliciting the idea to investors and banks, especially when many moms don’t have any “credible” backing for their idea aside from their insight as a parent (something we think is priceless!).

If this sounds like you, you are in the right place! At Mumzy.com, they believe in you! Mumzy was created for moms like you, and is a place where Moms bring ideas in search of funding, help, and support in turning those ideas into a reality. Whether you dream of patenting a new invention, starting a small business or nonprofit, or any other idea that has momentum but lacks capital backing to take it to the next level, Mumzy is there to provide solutions to get you to the next level. Can you image the possibilities for your big, eco-friendly business idea?

As a crowd-funded site, Mumzy gives you a platform to pitch your business to other moms and small business supporters, including how much you need to get running. You are in the company of moms like yourself who understand the visionary power and sheer strength unique to hard-working moms like yourself and who want to support fellow mom-preneurs. Mumzy is also a place where you can peruse the baby businesses of other moms and offer funding and support to the ones you really believe in.

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Like your business idea, Mumzy is a new company in its infancy. MUMZY is the first and right now only viable crowdfunding platform for moms. Their goal is to support and serve the entrepreneurial mom community to the best of their ability! They welcome your wisdom and feedback, and if you would like to provide input or ask questions, please contact them at info@mumzy.com. Take a few minutes to explore their site and see what other moms like you are working on, and how they’ve been supported so far. The first 100 people who post a project for funding on Mumzy will have a chance to win $1000 back towards their project’s funding goal.

Happy launching!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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