Tag Archives | green moms

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? This is the one time of year I wish I didn’t live in Florida! 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?

7 Green Tips for Reducing Your Carbon Footprint this Autumn

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Fall is almost here! Last week my family had to evacuate for Hurricane Irma. It took us 2 days, but we finally arrived in the North Carolina mountains. The leaves were just starting to change colors and every front porch was stacked high with pumpkins. We stayed at a cute little cabin and stayed toasty by snuggling up by the fire, sipping hot cocoa, and hopping in and out of the hot tub.

The mister and I chatted about buying a little mountain cabin in the next couple of years when Eben goes off to college. But WOW – it is chilly here. I haven’t had to think about winter proofing since we have lived in Florida for so long and decided to write up a little post on ideas for reducing your carbon footprint this autumn.

Fall is a great time to give your home and car an energy audit. Nothing is worse than finding out in at the beginning of winter that your home’s heating system is faulty, or the tread on your tires isn’t ready for snow. So spend the next few weekends taking a closer look at your home and vehicle to make sure that they both are ready for those cold, winter months ahead. Get started by reading on for 7 tips to prepare for colder weather while reducing your carbon footprint.

#1 Keep the Heat Low
As the temperature outside begins to drop, we tend to turn the thermostat up. Before you reach for that dial, try layering with sweaters, thick socks, and extra blankets on the bed. It’ll save energy and heating costs, and you can save the toasty heat for winter.

 #2 Give Your Heating System a Checkup
Before the cold sets in for the rest of the year, have your heating system inspected by a professional to see if any tune-ups are in order, filters need replacing, or if it’s time to exchange your older furnace for an energy efficient model. It’s best to do it now while the weather is still tolerable – having a heater go out in the middle of a freezing December night is no fun!

 #3 Turn Down Your Water Heater
Many water heaters are installed at a default setting of 140 degrees, which can pose a scalding risk and waste energy by heating water much hotter than you’ll need it. Turn your heater down to 120 degrees to save energy and bring the water down to a safer temperature. You can save additional energy by wrapping your water heater in a blanket to keep heat in.

#4 Save Baking for the Cold Days
Fall is a transitional season, so some days feel like summer while some foretell winter’s coming with a bite in the air. If you’re planning to use the oven for cooking your favorite pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, save the recipes that need to cook in it for colder days. Chances are the oven will heat your kitchen enough that the rest of the house will raise a few degrees in temperature, too, and avoiding baking on hot days will prevent you from having to crank the AC.

#5 Check Your Tire Pressure
When the temperature drops, tire pressure lowers and brings fuel efficiency down with it. Check your tires and inflate them to the proper setting. Fall is also the perfect time to have the tread on your tires checked – if you need new tires, get them put on now before you find yourself stuck in the driveway the morning of that first snow storm.

 #6 Check Windows and Doors
Check the weather stripping around your windows for leaks and caulk or replace where necessary. Check for drafts under doors and use a draft snake or replace the threshold if necessary.

#7 Arrange Furniture Warmly
Many older homes have at least one wall that lacks proper insulation, allowing the cold to seep in and taking too long to heat up in the day time to prevent the room from feeling freezing at night. Line up heavy furniture like sofas and armoires or use decorative quilts to help insulate the room.

How does your family reduce its carbon footprint when cold weather rolls around?

 

 

The Perfect Green Cocktail for Summer: Frozen Organic Gin Lemonade

Looking for the perfect drink for your 4th of July pool party! The mister whipped up a batch of his famous Gin Lemonade recently and I was reminded how much I love it this time of year! Be careful though, they are strong – one is all you need. Ha!

What you will need:
  • juice from 5 organic lemons
  • 1 1/2 cups organic sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup organic gin (you can also use vodka)
  • 8 cups ice

Directions:

Whisk the lemon juice and sugar together until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the gin and whisk again. Then, add the 8 cups of ice to a blender with the gin-lemon-sugar mixture and blend until smooth. Add lemon slices for garnish and enjoy.

Happy 4th of July weekend!

4 Reasons to Eat Seasonally and Locally This Summer

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If you shop at the farmer’s market, are a local CSA member, or frequent the “local” section of your grocery store’s produce aisle, you are well aware that fruits and vegetables come into and out of season. Depending on the climate where you live, you may have a wide variety of fruits and veggies to choose from year round, or you may notice that summer is truly a more abundant season for produce. Wherever you live, eating seasonally has its benefits. If you’re not already doing so, here are four reasons to eat seasonally.

#1: Fresher, More Nutritious Produce
Produce that doesn’t have to travel long distances to get to you will be fresher when you purchase it because it’s been harvested more recently. Also, since seasonal fruits and veggies are harvested when they’re ripe and grown outside, in their natural environment, they’ll contain far more nutrients and flavor than produce that’s grown in greenhouses or prematurely harvested and required to ripen off the parent plant.

#2: Supporting the Local Economy
Farmers harvest and sell what’s abundantly in season. By purchasing seasonal, local food, you’re supporting local farmers and therefore your local economy (you’re supporting yourself in many ways, when you think about it!).  By supporting local farmers you’re not only helping people but also encouraging sustainable, green farming practices because local farmers will plant and grow only what is suited to the soil and climate where they live.

#3: It’s Cheaper
Fruits and vegetables that are in season are more abundant and therefore end up being cheaper than foods that aren’t in season. Buying foods out of season means paying a higher price to cover the transportation of the food and growing fruits and veggies in artificial conditions.

#4: It’s Eco-Friendly
Buying produce that doesn’t require transportation means that less gas is being consumed and less exhaust is being emitted. Additionally, fruits and vegetables that have to travel long distances (like strawberries traveling from Mexico to Wisconsin in January) require far more chemical-ridden sprays and treatments in order to stay fresh long enough to make it to the grocery store. By becoming a member of your local CSA or buying at the farmer’s market, you’re buying directly from a local farm where transportation and preservation time is minimal—many times you’ll purchase produce that was harvested the same day as you pick it up.

As you can see, eating seasonally and locally has some amazing benefits! I love sampling seasonal fruits and veggies when I travel because chances are I’m visiting a state or country with a different climate, ecosystem, and sometimes season—there’s so much variety to be experienced!

YOUR TURN: What’s your favorite local, seasonal recipe for summer or fall?

4 Eco-Friendly Spring Activities for Teens

As inquisitive as kids can be, they will drill you with dozens of questions on a daily basis to understand your every decision, every move, and every choice you make. And if they are growing up in an eco-friendly family, they will slowly adopt and comprehend the benefits of such a balanced lifestyle, when explained properly.

However, teens are a whole different story – many of them are rebellious by nature and they are eager to be different from everyone and not follow the herd. As a mom of two little nestlings, I’m striving towards instilling an eco-friendly mindset into my kids throughout their adolescent years with the help of these simple activities, but even if you’re a newbie in the green world and wish to pass this wisdom onto your teen kids, these could be true life-savers!

#1: Contribute to cleanliness
I’ve noticed that our little rascals are eager to help around the house, especially when we make things interesting with some music and healthy snacks. Suddenly, cleaning up the room and washing the dishes no longer feel like chores, but like fun family time! Kids have also been asking me where I spend my Saturday mornings, and when I explained that I go to clean the local riverside with a few other people, they actually yelled: “Mommy, we want to come, too!”

Since modern societies still have much to learn in order to build this awareness as a norm, you have a chance to encourage your teenagers to take part in causes that matter to them and that will allow them to make a difference and thus, be different. You don’t have to chaperone them, but treat them as responsible adults and support them in their search for the right local activities to keep your community clean.

#2: Green exercise and transportation
Our little nestlings can spend hours playing in the garden, helping their dad make a birdhouse or playing with our pooch, but teens yearn for independent activities that will reflect their core beliefs and every choice they make is a statement. My husband and I have been using eco-friendly Gitane ebikes to work out and ride across town, and our kids have noticed that these bikes are different from the majority of those they see on the streets.

It’s natural that teens have increased self-awareness about their looks and their values, and supporting their efforts to be fit, healthy and confident with the help of an eco-friendly method will help them stand out in the crowd even more. Plus, they will reap the rewards of a healthy lifestyle and start early with maintaining their green habits.

#3: Green fashion
If our little girl already knows she adores green tees and absolutely despises yellow skirts, then I can only imagine the level of detailed commitment a teenager is willing to invest in their wardrobe. What they wear is yet another form of authentic self-expression, and they wouldn’t be caught dead in something they find ordinary or conformist.

And what better way to appeal to their inner rebel than by introducing them to an eco-friendly line created by none other than a teenage girl? Maya Penn is a young entrepreneur with tremendous ambitions to create sustainable, fashionable clothes. Although not many youngsters will be eager to make their own line of clothes, you can encourage them to design their new spring outfits by using sustainable materials and thus support the local economy.

#4: Everyday choices
If my kids are proud of me for hosting lectures on eco-friendly choices in our community, and the global teenage population prides themselves on individuals such as Ann Makosinski and her energy-efficient inventions, then your adolescent kids certainly do not lack sources of inspiration in this day and age.

Not only can you help them stay informed and learn about their peers who are literally changing the world, but you can also lead by example in your own home without imposing your beliefs. Small deeds such as shopping in your local market for locally grown goods, or more involved ones such as organizing green food drives for the homeless, hosting seminars and volunteering are more than enough to inspire your kids to make a difference and have fun during spring.

Paying It Forward (to Local Wildlife) this Holiday Season!

Disclosure: I am an ambassador for Stonyfield Farm, all opinions included here are my own.

For many, the holiday season is a time to celebrate and come together with friends and family. However, for many others it can be a painful and difficult time depending on their circumstances. I like to try and do something for others and the planet each holiday season, to give back. I find it makes celebrating with my family all the more special, when we know we’ve done a good deed or donated to a good cause as part of our holiday time together!

As an ambassador for Stonyfield Farm, I’m partnering with them this holiday season for their giving back campaign. Stonyfield wants all of us to take some time with our families this month to spread good fortune in the form of a charitable act—in the hopes that our compassion will inspire others to do the same! I think it’s an admirable idea, and am excited to share with you what I chose to do this year.

Stonyfield gave me a $50 Visa Gift Card to donate towards a good deed or a charitable organization of my choice. I decided to match their donation and added my own $50 too, for a total $100 donation. The charity that I choose was our local wildlife sanctuary, Busch Wildlife Sanctuary, who have done great work that we’ve been privileged to witness firsthand! Since most folks I know choose to make donations to help other humans at this time of year (which is of course a wonderful cause), I worried that the animals would get skipped over! It’s easy to forget that the other creatures we share the planet with need help, too.

Helping animals is a family activity
My family is all about animals, and I’ve put effort into saving them for my whole life. Just ask my husband about our bunny rabbit Peanut—While we were dating, I overheard at the pet store that they were going to feed a bunny to a snake because he had an injured leg! Nope – Peanut came home with him. Ha! You’ve probably seen me post about Olive the French Bulldog, who was a rescue, and Noodles the Pug, they are our sweet little snuggle bunnies. They’re important members of the family, too! So we thought it would be great to remind people to help our furry friends at this time of year.

My dad is super passionate about helping animals, too. When I was a kid, we had a Great Horned Owl and a Bat, both of whom my dad found injured, and brought home to nurse back to health. This was before there were places that would help with injured wildlife. He instilled in me a strong sense of care and responsibility for the other species on our planet. As a teenager, I was driving home from visiting my parents, and at the end of my hour-long car ride, I saw an injured duck in traffic. His wing was broken and he wasn’t looking too good. I scooped him into a box and called my dad, who told me to bring him right back to their house. My dad set his wing and built a pond for him in the backyard. He nursed him back to health, and then when spring come around, a flock of ducks flew by and my duck joined them. Hooray!

Our great experience with Busch Wildlife Sanctuary
Just recently, Eben and I found a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk, injured in the bike lane of a major road outside our neighborhood. He was so hurt he couldn’t move, but an injured animal can be dangerous when they’re scared. I called my favorite local wildlife rescue group, and they came out to pick up the hawk.  I wasn’t going near those talons! The great people from Busch Wildlife Sanctuary rushed out at 10:30 at night to rescue him. They rushed him into surgery, and he was later released to the wild.

I found that the experience with the hawk was a great chance to teach Eben about how to handle a situation involving an injured wild animal. It’s so important to teach our kids how to help injured wildlife, and what the best practices are when you find a hurt animal. If you want to talk to your kids about this, try using these points for discussion:

  • You really shouldn’t try to touch the animal. They can lash out when they feel threatened and are hurting. You could get an infection from them if you aren’t careful with how you handle them and wild animals have sharp teeth and claws.
  • It’s best to call for help. Always get an adult who can assist you with helping the animal and keep your distant.
  • Let the professional rescue organizations take over whenever possible. Look up your local wildlife sanctuary and contact them when you find an injured animal. They’ll know what to do and give you instructions.

Another thing I love about Busch Wildlife Sanctuary is that they offer a bunch of educational programs, weekly activities, and special events that are fun for the whole family! If you’re located in South Florida, definitely check out their programs and see if there’s one or two that would be good to take your kids to. They offer everything from wildlife encounters, large animal feeding shows, story time, snake and bird of prey introductions, exhibits, to nature tours and nighttime walks at the sanctuary. We have been visiting the sanctuary since Eben was little, it’s fun for the whole family!

I hope that your family gets the chance to do something charitable this holiday season. It’s a great bonding experience and I think it’s so great to impress upon our kids the importance of helping others and the planet. Plus, doing acts of generosity or good deeds really helps you get into the holiday spirit of giving! So whether you choose an organization to make a financial donation to, or one to volunteer some of your time with, try giving back this holiday season. I guarantee it’ll make you feel as jolly as Santa himself!

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!

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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!

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