Tag Archives | green projects

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?

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

7-simple-eco-friendly-fun-ways-to-spend-fall-with-your-family

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?

6 Time Saving and Eco-Friendly Back to School Organizing Tips

bux

As a parent, I feel that one of the most important tips for back to school is being organized. I have shared a lot of my tips in the past, however, there are still so many other tips that I haven’t mentioned. Most of these tips are very simple and will save you time, energy, money – and in the long run will save the environment too. Read on to learn my 6 favorite back to school organizing secrets – get organized now so the first day of school will run smoothly!

#1: Get Yourself Ready First!
Tip number one is the most important tip that I can give you – get yourself ready first! If you try to get your children and yourself ready at the same time each morning – you are going to be overwhelmed. When Eben was younger, I would get up a couple of hours before he did – while it may seem early, I was able to exercise, tidy up the house, shower and get myself ready – all before he woke up. I never felt stressed when something popped up – because I was ready, and I could jump in to help fix any of the morning mishaps. (and believe me, over the years, there were plenty!)

#2: Build Chores In!
All children should have chores. Chores are great on so many levels, they teach children responsibility, pride of ownership, it builds character, and what Mom couldn’t use a little extra help around the house. It doesn’t have to be a long list of chores, instead it can consist of making their bed, feed and take care of animals, tidying their bedroom and packing up their supplies for school. After school, you can add in a few more – walking the dog, unloading and loading the dishwasher, setting the table and helping pick up the house.

#3: Snack Station!
Giving your child easy access to the best, healthy snacks for school is easy when you incorporate a snack station in your pantry and refrigerator. When Eben was younger,  we had a pantry snack station and a refrigerator snack station (you can see the lunchbox packing station here). It helped a lot too – because now that Eben is a teenager, he is pretty good at picking healthy snacks on his own.

#4: Breakfast is Ready!
Eben is not a cereal type of kid – he doesn’t like cereal, any cereal. Period. However, we don’t always have time or feel like whipping up a hot breakfast in the morning. Our solution, we make them ahead of time and either refrigerator or freeze them. This way he always gets his choice of his favorite breakfast items (these items are always healthier than a boxed cereal anyhow) and it makes for a quick and yummy breakfast time, with foods he will actually eat. And of course I also keep the refrigerator stocked with his favorite fruits and organic yogurt to go with breakfast too.

#5: Lunch is Ready!
If you have a lot of lunches to pack in the morning and find yourself spending too much time on it, consider packing your lunches the night before. Consider making a little more dinner, and packing the leftovers for your child’s lunch. Eben always loved this because he would have much rather had shish-ka-bobs, or a homemade soup for lunch over a sandwich any day! It is also a great way to give your child’s lunchbox menu a lot of diversity, the lunch is ready to go and your child is more likely to eat their lunch everyday.

#6: Bag the Equipment!
When Eben was younger, he had swimming as his P.E. activity – instead of running around every Friday morning looking for his swimsuit, swim shirt, goggles, sunscreen, and towel – I packed everything together in a bag and it stayed there. When he brought home the wet clothes on Friday afternoon, I would toss the entire bag in the laundry room and wash and repack the swimming bag for the following week. Then, it would go on a designated hook in our mudroom and would be ready to go. This same tip can be used for any sport or activity that your child has particular clothing for – just pack it and forget it.

What eco-friendly and time-saving secrets do you have for back to school?
Please leave your comment below – they support us all in living a greener lifestyle.

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.

green kids gardening

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!

Probiotics on a Budget: How to Make Homemade Sauerkraut

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(Note: Day 1 is with green cabbage, and Day 3 is with Red. Take a look at how the cabbage “breaks down” – it’s the same amount in each container!)

Homemade sauerkraut is incredibly easy to make, is inexpensive compared to buying it in a store, and is great for you! All cruciferous vegetables (radishes, cabbage, broccoli, bok choy, etc.) naturally contain the beneficial bacteria lactobacillus, which is also found in yogurt and other fermented and cultured foods. Sauerkraut is then made by a process appropriately called lacto-fermentation, where the cabbage is submerged in a salt water solution, called brine. Then, as the sauerkraut sits, the bacteria begins to convert sugars in the cabbage into lactic acid, which is a natural preservative to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

Over the course of a few days, the cabbage becomes less crunchy, and the probiotics start to flourish and multiply, thus creating an amazingly tasty fermented probiotic you can eat whenever your heart desires! Here’s my recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 small head of red or green cabbage, about 8 cups
  • 1.5 Tablespoons of sea salt (Make sure to get sea salt and not iodized salt!)
  • Between 2-3 cups of chemical free water (spring/distilled water should be ok) If you only have tap water, let it sit out in an open container for 6 hours, and the chlorine and other chemicals will escape. Then you can use it without any trouble!

Supplies:

  1. Large knife, long enough to cut through the entire head of cabbage
  2. Cutting Board
  3. Large pitcher
  4. Several smaller mason jars, or another similar glass container with a wide mouth
  5. Cheesecloth(s) or microfiber washcloth(s) that air can easily pass through, but bugs can’t
  6. Rubberband(s) or elastic(s)  large enough to fit around the wide mouthed container(s)
  7. Cup, plate, or other object that fits inside the wide mouth container to use as a press (optional, but makes life easier)

How To:

1. Clean your cutting board, knife, and containers thoroughly, then wash your hands. It is very important to make sure that the lactobacillus bacteria have as clean of an environment as possible in which to grow. If there is a bit of bacteria on your hands when you prepare the sauerkraut, it is possible that the batch will be bad, or may even grow mold. Yuck! The salt does help prevent this, but why not give the cabbage a little boost?

2. Chop up the cabbage into pieces about as large as the nail on your pinky finger. If they’re a bit larger, that’s ok, it just helps get all of the pieces into your containers more easily. I recommend cutting the head of cabbage into four, starting with your first cut directly through the center of the stalk. Then cut those pieces in half, and then slice in small slivers until you get the size you need. This can get messy!

3. Place the cut up cabbage in a large bowl or pot, preferably not plastic. Add enough water to cover about half of the cabbage, then add the salt. Massage the cabbage with clean hands for 5-10 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the texture of the cabbage starts to change. This is to start the fermenting process, and to dissolve the salt, so it can start it’s job of preventing the bad bacteria from flourishing.

4. Place water and cabbage into the containers, and position your press so that it pushes down the sauerkraut, and the water completely covers it. This can be a little tricky, depending on what you’re using, and may take a bit of maneuvering at first. It is very important that the water be covering the cabbage during the entire process, or the cabbage starts to rot, and you will see a moldy film appear! If you choose to not use the press, proceed with the directions, but check the containers every few hours for the first day or so and make sure that no cabbage is poking out of the water.

5. Cover with the breathable fabric, and place the elastic around the mouth of the container. Set in a room temperature spot (65-75 degrees F) for three days, and check the taste. This is when the cabbage is considered sauerkraut, and this is when you can start to jar it and put it in the fridge. If it’s not sour enough to your liking, let it sit for up to 3 weeks, and taste test along the way.

When it comes to sauerkraut, I am super impatient and eat it on day three. Maybe I’ll get my assembly line going so I can try some that has fermented longer!

Overall, my batches of sauerkraut probably cost around $1 per jar. Compare that to the pasteurized jars in the grocery stores, that’s a 75% discount, not to mention the amazing probiotic benefits! Compare it to the completely raw stuff you’ll find at your local health food store, it’s a steal!

If you’re still not set on making sauerkraut, or just don’t like the taste, I understand. We just started making water kefir, another type of probiotic drink, and I’ll show you how to make kefir soda once I have mastered it myself!

Happy Sauerkraut-ing!

3 Simple Eco-Friendly Halloween Costumes Tips

Carmen Sandiego

by Briana

Halloween is right around the corner, are you and the kids ready? Time to take out the spooky decor and start thinking of awesome costume ideas. Personally I love Halloween, it’s that time of year when you can be silly and let your creativity run wild. When I was a kid growing up my mom always made my Halloween costumes.  There was no costume idea that I came up with that she couldn’t do. Honestly she still helps me make awesome costumes not only for myself but for my husband and son, we always have a blast! Now let’s get into it. Here are 3 simple ways to keep your costume making eco-friendly:

1. Hit Up Your Local Thrift Shop
Not only do I love to shop at thrift stores for my everyday fashion pieces but it is a Halloween costume cave of wonders! A couple of years ago I wanted to be Carmen Sandiego, so I hit up my local thrift store in search for my costume.  Before going into the store I already had in mind what I needed to find. There were three must-have items, her famous red coat, a black hat, and a yellow band. I found an 80’s bright red oversize blazer so I used that for the coat. The final product is the photo above – what do you think?

2. Rummage Through your Closet
Last year was the first Halloween my husband and I had with our son. You can only imagine how excited I was to come up with the cutest family Halloween costumes! We decided on Mario and Luigi for my husband and son (How cute right?!). Their costumes were the easiest thing to put together. For Donavon, we needed jean overalls (yes he had a pair of jean overalls, don’t ask me why) a green t-shirt, a hat, extra green t-shirt(to cover the hat) and a hat. For my son, a red tee,  jean overalls, and a red baby hat. We used white paper we had at home and added the L and the M to the hats as well.

3. Costume Swap with a Friend or Relative
Think your past costumes are going to sit in your closet forever? Think again! Instead, call up a friend or family member and ask them if they kept any of their old Halloween costumes, not just for you but for the kids as well. When I was still pregnant I bought his Halloween costume ahead of time because I couldn’t help the excitement of purchasing this tiny little baby costume. However, when Halloween rolled around it no longer fit him, needless to say it is still sitting in a drawer and has never been used. I’m sure this is the case with many of our friends and family, so save some money and the environment with a costume swap!

What other ways are you making your Halloween costume eco-friendly?

 

 

 

Save the Planet, One Upcycle at a Time

upcycle

by Beth

I love recycling. It makes me feel like I’m doing my little part to help save the world. I also feel a little guilty whenever I drop my recycling off because I’m always thinking of ways to reuse things. A great spin on reusing your recycled and no longer needed goods is “upcycling” which you may have heard of before. Upcycling is upgrading something that would otherwise just be recycled. It’s so simple, saves money, and turns anyone into an artist!

I am an avid upcycler, and love to reuse anything I can get my hands on. A few years ago, I found an old, 70’s or 80’s style coffee table, and turned it into an ottoman with about $15 worth of supplies. It was super fun, and I got so many compliments! I also upcycle clothes, since I’m a huge thrift shopper. When I find something I can’t wear right off the rack due to size, I whip out my sewing machine, and get to work. All it takes is a few stitches to turn an old skirt into a dress, or make a quilt out of a bunch of T-shirts. Now, you don’t have to do anything complex to upcycle, all it requires is creativity and an ever-inspired mind.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to upcycle:
1. Turn old pallets into furniture, wall gardens, and more. I’ve even seen pallets turned into movie theater styled seating, how awesome!
2. Take an old rain barrel and turn into a composter for your biodegradable scraps and use the compost as fertilizer for your garden.
3. Wine glasses and glass bottles can be used for so many things. I used mine as wall decorations and a night light for my bathroom.
4. Turn bottle caps into tea lights with shoe lace and wax from used candles.
5. I’ve never done this one, but have always wanted to – turn an old TV into an aquarium!

I hope I got those creative juices flowing – it’s only a matter of time before you’ll be thinking about what you can do with all that stuff left on the curb on garbage day.
Have you upcycled before? If so, tell me your favorite or most memorable upcycling project in the comments section above!

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