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Spring is in the Air…

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Spring is finally here! After an unusually bizarre winter with the “polar vortex” swirling around the east and the dry skies in the west, we’re all ready to enjoy the pleasures of springtime. The sun is shining, maybe a little rain is still falling, but warm weather is here, hopefully to stay!

 

Here is a list of 10 things to do, get outside… enjoy the weather and your family and friends.

1. Read outside on a blanket in the sun

2. Go fishing with your buddies

images-13. Do some spring cleaning to fun music

4. Make these beautiful spring centerpieces, using simple glass jars and lemons for a touch of color!

20893414909de221e35e3b2d0ff7b1fa-15. Fly a kite on the beach

6. Plan a “staycation” with these cool ideas

7. Take pictures of wildflowers

5847087633_598af01050_z-18. Make this delicious “dirt cake”:

6309663259aac1a07cbdb3f4d3e9cf879. Walk barefoot on cool grass

10. Make a fairy garden like this one!

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Conscientious Fall Clothing

It’s almost time for the sweaters and the boots to make their way to the front of our closets and to send back the shorts and tank tops. Maybe you are in need of a new pair of boots or want some cute new tops to go along with your favorite pair of jeans. This year try to shop a bit more consciously.6905011699_7462d1f2fc_o

Try shopping at a second-hand store. Consignment stores are a great option for purchasing designer clothing (at a great price) or even clothes that are in excellent condition that someone else didn’t want anymore at a great price. Thrift-store shopping is also a wonderful option because many thrift stores use proceeds to help non-profit organizations, such as Goodwill. In addition to shopping at either consignment or thrift stores, remember you can also donate your unwanted clothing as well.

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While looking to add to your closet but not wanting to over-purchase, try an eco-conscious 5-in-1, skirt or dress. Sold in stores across the US, you can find many different styles to fit your needs. Thieves Boutique has a beautiful drape-style dress that can be worn as sleeveless, halter, long, medium or short to get the most bang for your buck. They also have a beautiful selection of clothing by sustainable designers.

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Another way to shop is trying an organic or eco-conscious brand for your everyday clothing. Threads 4 Thought is a personal favorite. Not only do they use organic cotton, but they give to large charities as well as promoting a cleaner environment by recycling. It doesn’t hurt that their clothing is absolutely adorable as well.

Remember when shopping to bring your own reusable bags to reduce waste and carpool with friends for fun and to reduce your carbon footprint.

Take Your Summer Vacation from Forgettable to Memorable

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DSCN0407 Summer weather is finally here, and with the days staying lighter  longer it gives us more time for fun activities.  Planning those activities can feel daunting at times, however here are some ideas that will help you create great summer memories while being eco-friendly.

  1. Take a Hike

    Bidwell Park - Chico, CA

    Bidwell Park – Chico, CA

Connect with nature by taking a walk in local park or nature trail.  Take time to check out the trees, wildflowers and birds.  Allow the kids to get exercise while enjoying the beauty of nature.

  1. Go for a Bike Ride

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Biking is a great exercise, and can be really enjoyable, especially in the evening after dinner.  Work off that meal you ate while peddling along with your family and friends.

  1. Visit a Local Farmer’s Market or Street Fair

    MarketJuly11

Search for hidden treasures at street fairs, or find great locally grown produce to incorporate into your menus for the week.

  1. Plant a Garden

Work on making a small garden for some fresh homegrown treats.  Gardens come in all sizes from window box gardens to large producing gardens.  Find an area for your garden and plant some of your favorite produce.

  1. Host a Potluck Dinner

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Invite friends over for an evening of fun. Potlucks allow guests to bring a dish, so this cuts back on energy used for cooking.  Pick a theme for the dinner, such as Italian, finger foods, etc.  The themes will keep your dinner options varied and allow for some creative cooking.

  1. Cool Off

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Escape the summer heat by visiting a local lake or community pool.

  1. Volunteer

Find a local organization such as a local food banks or animal shelter, and offer some help.  These organizations are always in need of a few extra hands.

  1. Plan A Mini Vacation

    Fisherman camping at a wilderness lake

Just because you can’t get a whole week off this summer does not mean you can’t take a mini vacation.  Plan a weekend trip to an area within driving distance and enjoy being away from home.  You don’t have to stay at an expensive hotel, but you can camp in a campground by a lake or river.  Just give yourself time to relax and “unplug.”

Whatever you decide to do this summer, remember to have fun, make some great memories, and as always, think about what you can do to keep your summer eco-friendly.

Spend This Earth Day Outside

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When the sun is shining and the signs of spring are all around enjoy the day outside with Mother Nature.  Pick your favorite local area such as a park, river or lake and enjoy the day with your friends and family. Here are some ideas of Earth-friendly activities that you can enjoy on Earth Day:

  1. Pack a picnic

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Pack a delicious lunch of locally grown food and keep it natural by using biodegradable or reusable tableware.

  1. Clean Up Litter

    E00001

After your lunch spend an hour picking up trash around your favorite area to keep it clean and enjoyable for all.

  1. Take A Walk

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Enjoy a leisurely walk or hike to explore the wildlife.  Bring along a field guide so you can learn about the different plants, tree and animals in the area.

  1. Make a list of Resolutions

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Discuss ways you can lessen your impact on Earth and make a list of resolutions that you would like to incorporate into your everyday routine, such as recycling, energy use, volunteering, cleaning up litter, shopping locally, buying organic, and more.  For a list of possible green resolutions see our previous blog, “Top 10 Ways to Keep Your Green Year’s Resolutions.”

However you spend your Earth Day, be sure to enjoy and appreciate the beauty of Earth.

10 Eco-Friendly Solutions to Start Your Spring Cleaning

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It’s that time of year again when we all get out the cleaning supplies and start our spring cleaning.  Rather than using harsh chemical cleaners, here are some more eco-friendly options that I use for my deep spring clean.

1. Make Your Own Surface Cleaner

Surface cleaner comes in handy all around the house, and is super easy to make. Combine 1 cup rubbing alcohol, 1 cup water, and 1 tablespoon white vinegar in a spray bottle. This natural all-purpose cleaner quickly kills germs and evaporates, making for a clean and clear finish.

2. Lift Stains with Lemons

Lemons in White Bowl

Getting that tomato sauce stain off your countertop or cabinet is easier than you think. Simply wet the stain with lemon juice, let sit for 30 minutes or so, and then sprinkle baking soda on the abrasive side of an all-purpose kitchen sponge and scrub the discolored area. Most stains will vanish, and your kitchen will smell fresher.

3. Clean Your Kitchen Drains Without Harsh Chemicals

Not all drain cleaners need to be made of toxic chemicals.  The chemistry between baking soda and vinegar is so powerful that this combo can flush grease out of kitchen drains. Just pour ½ cup baking soda into a clogged drain and follow it with ½ cup white vinegar. Cover the drain for a few minutes as the chemical reaction dissolves the grease — then flush the drain with warm water.

4. Clean Windows Without Leaving Streaks

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To make those windows and mirrors shine without awful streaks, use newspaper! The paper leaves behind virtually zero lint. Just spray the glass with a 50/50 mixture of water and white vinegar, rub the glass with a dry cloth, then go over the surface with a piece of newspaper.

5. Freshen Up the Air Naturally

Even the worst odors can be eliminated with fresh lemons. To get rid of strong odors such as garlic, fish and other tough smells use half a cut lemon or some fresh-squeezed lemon juice. To freshen indoor air, simmer lemon peel on the stovetop, adding water as needed.

 6. Eliminate Smells in Your Fridge  

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There are many different and unexpected uses for coffee, but one of my favorites is to absorb odors in the refrigerator. If you have some stale coffee grounds just place them in a bowl in the fridge for a day or so.

7. Clean Your Oven Without Killing Your Arms

baking soda

Ovens can be the worst mess to clean, but with this trick you can clean your oven without having to scrub until your arms feel like they’re going to fall off!  Baking soda makes it as easy as it gets, and your next batch of cookies won’t taste like chemical cleaners. Sprinkle it liberally all over the floor of the oven, spray it with water until it’s well dampened, and leave it for a few hours. Then just wipe out the mess and use vinegar to remove the film of baking-soda residue left behind.

8. Use a Little Lemon and Water to Clean the Microwave

Microwaves can be a pain to clean with all the stuck-on food residue, but the citric acid in lemon juice can loosen even the crustiest food.  Place lemon wedges in a small bowl of water and microwave for two to three minutes. Leave the door closed and let sit for approximately 10 minutes, then wipe out the inside. If there are any odors or food residue left behind, use a paste of baking soda and water to scrub it right out.

9. Polish Your Wood with Olive Oil

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Add a teaspoon of olive oil to a quarter cup of lemon juice for a non-toxic, gentle furniture polish that will remove dust and bring wood surfaces to a brilliant shine. Due to its natural ingredients, this furniture polish will not build up a dull finish.

10. Turn Your Mismatched Socks and Old Towels Into Rags

If you lose the battle of the socks to your dryer like I do, then you probably have a few unmatched socks gathering.  There’s no need to throw them away these socks can be used for cleaning!  Put one over your hand like a glove and use it to dust surfaces around the house.  If you don’t have any mismatched socks, towels that are no longer soft can provide you with a dozen or more new, totally free cleaning rags. Just cut the towels up and you’ll have a whole new supply.  This is a far better option for the planet than using disposable paper towels.

7 Natural Remedies to Fight the Flu and Seasonal Colds

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This year I have seen my share of germs and viruses attack our house, the majority of which are courtesy of my 5-year-old and her adventures at school.  So with all these colds and flu viruses flying around all over the place, I have gathered quite a list of great home remedies that help pull my family through the sick patches. Here are some of the best that I have found, and I want to share them with you!

Homemade Cough Syrup

Take a red onion; cut into quarter inch slices and restack with a dollop of raw local honey  in between each layer.  (The local honey will also help prevent allergies in springtime.) Allow to sit overnight.  In the morning you will have a syrup that not only helps get rid of the tickle in your throat but also helps you rest easy about not adding chemicals and medications into your system that you don’t need.

Garlic Tea

Cloves of garlic have been used for YEARS to help alleviate cold and flu systems. Garlic is naturally antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial. Simply cut 2-3 cloves of garlic, place into boiling water, and allow to steep for 10 minutes. For added taste use lemon juice, raw honey or ginger.  Ginger is also a great way to naturally help soothe tummy aches and digestive issues.

Onion Juice Earache Relief

One of the most effective remedies I have found for an earache is onions.  Take an onion and bake for about 15 minutes at 425° F (be sure to leave the skin on the onion, as it helps keep the juices inside while cooking.)  Let the onion sit until cool enough to touch then crush it in a bowl to extract the juice.  Using an eyedropper, place the warm juice in the ear.  This will usually help relieve the pain within a few minutes.

Warm Salt Water

Add a generous amount of salt to lukewarm water and mix well.  Gargle with the lukewarm salt-water mixture to help soothe your sore throat and promote healing.

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Hot Washcloths/Ice Packs

If you have sinus congestion, a great solution is to apply either hot or cold around the congested sinuses.  Take a damp washcloth and heat it for about 50 seconds in the microwave (be sure to test it first too make sure it is not to hot).  For a cold pack, you can use frozen vegetables/fruits or place a damp washcloth in the freezer for approximately 20 minutes.  Chose hot or cold, whichever feels more comfortable.

Water, Water, Water

Drink it, steam it, and soak in it! Keeping the fluids in is the best way to flush out toxins when you are sick. A comfortable way to help clean out your head is to run a hot shower, since the steam will help moisten the air around you, especially good for dry coughs. Lastly, when you are feeling body aches or muscle pain from the flu, try a nice hot bath to soothe aches and pains. Try throwing in some oils like tea tree or eucalyptus, to help speed up the healing process.

SLEEP!

Sometimes the thing that best helps beat the flu is time and rest. Allow your body time to rejuvenate and bring itself back to its usual healthy, energetic state.

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Stay healthy this germy season!

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, just a mom, so be sure to check with your healthcare provider before using any of these remedies.

Home for the Holidays

This is a great time of year, when families get together and celebrate the holidays.  Here are some eco-friendly tips to get your house ready for the festivities.

Have old ornaments that don’t make the cut to be used on your tree?  Use your vintage or extra ornaments to create a sparkly wreath for your front door. ChristmasWreath1

Centerpieces on your table are a great way to add decoration with a variety of materials.  Let nature be your guide.  Use things your can find in your own yard such tree branches, oranges, apples, pinecones, and more.

Creative-Eco-Friendly-Christmas-Decorating-Ideas-Green-Orange

Or you can use edible treats in clear vases to add color and fun to your tables.

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Are you getting a Christmas tree? Rather than getting a tree that was grown on a tree farm or one made of plastic try making one out of reclaimed wood to add a unique and fun look.

upcycle-eco-friendly-christmas-tree-fun-cute-rustic-decoration-idea-wood

Even the holiday cards you receive can be used as decoration, by simply hanging them on some ribbon.

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So whatever you chose, have fun decking your halls!

Fall Changes Bring GREEN Decorations

There’s no need to spend money on elaborate centerpieces when you can find beautiful décor in your own backyard. Pinecones and fall leaves, or even evergreen branches can be used to add holiday color and fragrance. Here are my top 4 favorite tips:

1. Gather things to make a wreath that can be placed around a candle or vase, then reuse it by hanging it on your door for the holiday season. If you have never created a wreath HERE is an easy tutorial.


2. While shopping for holiday meals at a local farmer’s market, keep an eye out for edible items such as colorful squash and gourds, apples, pears, berries and much more. These can be used as centerpieces, or if you cut out the center and place a candle inside, can be used as candleholders.


3. A clear vase is great for centerpieces! Since you can change its contents to fit any holiday, you can find many items around your home to add to it. This Thanksgiving, try adding fall leaves or some citrus. Simply cut up and set in water with a floating candle. Add cranberries for a bit of that holiday red!

4. Round discs cut from large tree logs can make unique pie or cake plates, candleholders, or even chargers. When cutting firewood, my husband slices ½-1” thick discs off the end of a log for me. And if they get spilled on at dinner, I just toss them back in with the firewood.

Make your holiday as eco-centered as possible this year by using what nature provides. Have a colorful and conscious holiday!

How to Create an Eco-Friendly Halloween

Going green doesn’t mean you have to compromise the funny or yum factory of Halloween. Make your holiday fun, unique and an Eco-Friendly event.

  1. Participate in a Costume Swap

Gather a group of your children’s friends or parents from school and bring costumes to swap and trade. Your kids will be excited over having a “new” costume without having to purchase a whole new one and it will  eliminate waste.

  1. Give Out Healthy Candies and Treats

Pass out candy without harmful ingredients that still taste yummy and wont get your house egged.  See the Trick Or Treat OMI Blog from 2011.

UNREAL Candy offers chocolate treats that taste as good as major commercial brands but without the articial colors, dyes, sweeteners, preservatives, hydrogenated oils and GMOs.  Check out their goodies HERE.

Surf Sweets offers a variety of gluten-free, organic gummies, sour bears and jellybeans.   They even have treats in spooky spider shapes for Halloween!

  1. Use Reusable Bags for Trick-or-Treating!

Any bag can hold goodies, from baskets to bags to old purses and more.  Old pillowcases make great bags to collect candy and can be easily decorated or customized for your child.  A simple white pillowcase can be turned into a “ghost bag” by drawing, sewing or gluing on eyes and mouth.  Or simply add your child’s name.

  1. Decorate with Nature

Use natural items to decorate this year, such as hay bales, leaves, branches, gourds, pumpkins, mums and more.

  1. Light up the Night

If you string up lights to keep your walkway safe for trick-or-treaters, be sure to use LEDs or solar-powered lights.  LEDs use less energy than conventional holiday twinklers.

  1. Let Kiddos Decorate

Forget store-bought window sickers and skeletons. Help your kids cut out bats from recycled paper or make hand print spiders for walls and windows.  Carve or paint pumpkins for more decorations. White sheets can be hung as ghosts.  Get creative!

How will you keep your Halloween more Earth friendly?

No More Plastic Water Bottles

Plastic water bottles are seen everywhere from grocery stores to schools.  Many people are unaware that there is so much waste created in the production and use of the plastic water bottles. According to National Geographic, “Americans drink more bottled water than any other nation, purchasing an impressive 29 billion bottles every year. Making all the plastic for those bottles uses 17 million barrels of crude oil annually. That is equivalent to the fuel needed to keep 1 million vehicles on the road for 12 months. If you were to fill one quarter of a plastic water bottle with oil, you would be looking at roughly the amount used to produce that bottle.” For more water bottle pollution facts visit the National Geographic website HERE.

Concord, Massachusetts has tackled the issues surrounding water bottles and has become the first U.S. city to ban the sale of bottled water. Concord residents voted to ban the bottle citywide in an effort to promote sustainability.  The debate of the issue occurred in a Concord town meeting, and after nearly 2 hours of debate, attempted amendments and a recount, the vote was accepted.  The ban is for the sale of single-serving PET (polyethylene terephthalate) water bottles of less than 1 liter (34 ounces). The State Attorney General approved the bylaw, therefore the ban will be finalized on January 1st, 2013.

Using reusable bottles for water can save you money while reducing your impact on the planet.  There are many options for replacing plastic water bottles, from glass to stainless steel.  Choose the best option for you and enjoy.

Enjoy this video and follow the marching water bottles all the way to the recycling bin.

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