The holidays are all about celebrating acts of giving, making it the perfect opportunity to make your gift giving smarter this season. There are so many amazing businesses out there that give back when you purchase one of their products. These companies are tied to doing good somewhere in the world every time a purchase is made. Read on for my 4 favorite gifts that give back – and if you hurry you can still get these goodies by Christmas.
1. Warby Parker Glasses Eben and I both wear glasses and love the stylish, affordable frames from Warby Parker. For every pair of glasses that you buy, a pair is donated to a person in need. If you don’t wear glasses, that is alright – Warby Parker also offers fantastic sunglasses.
2. Feed Bags I have been familiar with FEED Bags for a very long time – I remember first seeing them in Whole Foods back when we lived in Georgia! FEED Bags come in a huge selection of styles and sizes and with each purchase a portion of the proceeds go towards feeding the children of the world.
3. TOMS Shoes Most likely you are already familiar with TOMS shoes – for every pair you purchase a pair is donated to a child in need. With a great selection of shoes for everyone on your list, TOMS is the perfect holiday gift!
4. Bogo Brush Every year I stick a toothbrush in the holiday stocking – this year I will be stuffing a brush from Bogo Brush! Bogo Brush is another company that donates a product to a child in need – in this case, an eco-friendly toothbrush made from waste – because a healthy smile is a happy smile.
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!
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!
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.
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?
I love oatmeal on cool, crisp fall mornings! Am I the only one? You can make your own organic instant oatmeal packed with flavor in a few simple steps taking your regular oatmeal from ho-hum to yum-yum. Read on to learn how you can make organic instant oatmeal and wake up to a better tomorrow.
Step 1: Bake It! Preheat the oven to 350°, spread 4 cups of organic old-fashioned rolled oats on a baking sheet. Bake until lightly toasted, about 15 minutes. Let cool.
Step 2: Pulse It! Pulse in a food processor until coarsely chopped.
Step 3: Mix It! Mix in a cup of your favorite oatmeal add-ins such as; almonds, walnuts, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, brown sugar, and coconut.
Step 4: Store It! Store in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks.
Step 5: Boil It! Stir boiling water into a cup of your organic instant oatmeal until you reach your desired consistency.
Step 6: Enjoy It! Oatmeal is my favorite on a cool, crisp fall morning – top with honey too!
I love fall – it is my favorite season and my favorite time of year! What’s not to love? We are at our mountain home in North Carolina right now and it is fall perfection! The cooler weather, morning hikes, snuggles by the fire, chai tea, cozy sweaters, and pumpkin everything. Looking for some fall inspo?
Here are 7 simple, fun 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, the chirping of the birds, or to watch leaves quietly wafting to the ground. It is 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 hike right out our backdoor. It’s quiet and there are always a ton of deer and turkeys around every corner. I also LOVE to take my tea and blanket and head out to the back porch to snuggle by the fire table while listening to the bubbling of the creek.
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. This is why during the fall months, we really take extra consideration to slow things down at our home. 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 yardwork – he loves to get outside in the North Carolina fresh air and work in the yard. For Eben, this means a hot cup of cocoa and a really good book on the back deck (it’s his happy place!) For me, I like to snuggle down with my iPad to pin my favorite eco-friendly things (usually on the back deck with Eben when he’s here with us!) or end the day with a soak in the hot tub!
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 the fall. I include all of our traditional fall family activities, as well as new ideas that I can run by the guys (when Eben is home from college). The idea is that if I plan these activities ahead of time, we spend the time we have together doing fun things together without much thought – since everything was planned 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 always schedule a trip to our mountain home during the fall season. I HAVE to visit the pumpkin patches! 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. Our best friends are visiting us next week while we’re still here in North Carolina. We have all kinds of fun things planned: bike rides, hikes (of course), visiting our surrounding small town, and peeping all of the leaves (they are already starting to turn colors!)
In what ways do you plan to spend fall with your family?
There are many ways to make your home more sustainable this spring and summer. You can remodel using eco-friendly materials and appliances, grow native plants, cook more food at home, cool your home without using the AC all the time, and upgrade appliances. Below are some ways to make these changes.
Remodel Using Eco-Friendly Options
Did you know that over 10 million kitchens are remodeled every year? When you decide to remodel your kitchen, look for Energy Star appliances rated for saving water and energy. Use sustainable materials for your cabinets, countertops, and backsplashes. Wood, stone, and tile are all materials that are natural and recyclable. Use wood materials free of toxic materials in your home. Install low-flow faucets in your sinks because they reduce water usage by about 30%. Paint your walls with paint and finishes that are low in VOC or harmful chemicals. These paints are safer for your whole family. Visit antique stores and salvage shops near you to find furniture, accessories, outdoor fixtures, crafts, and art you can put in your home.
Choose Native Plants To Grow in Your Garden
Native plants grow best and adapt to your geographic area better than other plants. They are often easy to care for and you can find them at your local garden center. You can purchase native flowers, vegetables, and herbs already growing and transplant them into your garden. Native plants will attract birds, butterflies, bees, and local wildlife. These plants provide food for local wildlife to help them survive. Finding out about native plants means visiting your local garden center or clubs to learn what is grown locally. These plants will save you money and are usually easier to maintain.
Make More Food Products at Home
Start by buying a sheet pan and parchment paper to cook more fresh vegetables for your meals. Wash and cut the carrots, potatoes, squash, peppers, cabbage, add olive oil and salt, and roast in the oven. Roast at 350 or higher for 20 to 30 minutes. The vegetables should be soft and slightly browned and you can roast them individually or mix them. Learn to saute greens, spinach, swiss chard, or cabbage. Look for recipes and follow instructions. Rice is easy to make in the microwave and is a great side dish with meats, seafood, stir fry, and stews. Learn to use beans in chili and soup recipes. They add protein, vitamins, and nutrients to meals. Try whole wheat or gluten-free pasta they have more nutrition than white pasta.
Prepare more food at home and skip frozen and prepared dinners. Over the last 7,000 years, people have fermented plants and grains to make alcohol. Learn to make healthier meals and cut down on alcohol, as too much is bad for your health. Other easy recipes to prepare at home are pasta dishes, homemade salad dressings, sandwiches, eggs, salads, and sauces. Start with simple recipes with fewer ingredients when learning to cook new dishes.
How to Cool Your Home Without AC
You might want to cut down on using your air conditioner and find ways to cool your house without it. Place box fans in the windows to run at night or a ceiling fan to make your air conditioner more efficient. Many evenings you will find the ceiling fan cools the room enough so you do not need air conditioning. Use cotton or bamboo sheets that breathe and do not trap heat and moisture. Open the window and slider door in the late evening and let some cool air come in. Shut shutters, blinds, and shades during the day to keep heat and the sun out. Wear comfortable lightweight clothing at home; shorts, tee shirts, and comfortable shoes. Try taking a cold bath or shower before going to bed. Cook meals outside on the grill or prepare early in the morning when it is cooler.
Update Older Appliances and Features
Did you know that 85% of the homes in the US were built before 1980 and need improvement and updates? Start slowly to replace old appliances with new models one at a time. Look for Energy Star appliances that save money on water and electricity. Buy a smaller-sized refrigerator or a dishwasher that saves on water when you wash dishes. Buy sustainable products for flooring or wood paneling or even recycled materials that can be reused. Install low-flow faucets and a shower head to save on water use or use LED lightbulbs to save energy. Paint your cabinets or stain them instead of installing new ones.
Finding ways to make your home more eco-friendly and sustainable will improve your health and make it more comfortable to live in.