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Category Archives: DIY

Steps to Making Healthy Lunches

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child-packed-lunchNow that summer vacation is coming to a close and the kiddos are headed back to school, it’s time to start preparations. Many have already done the school shopping, picked out their first-day outfits, and packed their backpacks with new supplies, but haven’t thought about those pesky little lunches that need to be packed. A healthy lunch provides sound nutrition to give students energy to do well in school and for the rest of the day. Healthy lunches are not just for kids, so these tips can be applied to all packed lunches, including the ones you take to work.

Here are some tips to take that lunch from blah to healthy in no time!

Reusable Containers Make Packing Lunches a Snap

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Use containers that have separated sections, like Bento boxes. The separate sections allow for more healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables and dips, with less waste from packaging. The box’s sections also allow for portion control, so you get to decide how much of each food is included.

Offer Nutrient Dense Foods

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Provide a selection of foods such as lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, that will give children needed nutrients. An added benefit of nutrient-dense food is that it makes you feel fuller longer.

Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference

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Switching from white bread to whole grain bread and opting for low-fat dairy products and organics can make a world of difference without noticeably changing the tastes of favorite foods. Also be sure to visit your local farmer’s market to buy locally grown produce!

Remember, Beverages Count, Too

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Giving children a healthy lunch, then packing a sugar-filled, high-calorie drink eliminates the efforts of the healthy lunch. Water is the best option for a healthy drink. Make the water more fun by picking a fun, reusable water bottle. (You can always pack a small low-fat milk or real fruit juice to add variety.)

Let Kids Choose Some of Their Food

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Allow your kids to pick some of the healthy foods they will be eating. Giving children the option will make them more likely to enjoy their lunches.

Enjoy those healthy lunches!

20 Simple Ways to Conserve Water

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The hot summer weather is here and it is creating a drought, making water conservation a must. This year California businesses and residents were asked to voluntarily reduce water usage by 20 percent to help save water. There are hundreds of things that you can do to help conserve water. Here are a few ideas that you can easily incorporate into your everyday life.

  1. Minimize the number of dishes used throughout the day by designating a drinking glass for yourself. This eliminates the need to wash multiple cups.7190209429_6d6b828104_z
  2. When serving dinner, serve right out of the pots and pans, as this will eliminate additional dishes.
  3. Soak pots and pans instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean.
  4. Wash your fruits and vegetables in a pan of water instead of using running water from the tap.DIY fruit and veggie wash 4
  5. Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap for cold water.
  6. Dishwashers can use less water than hand washing, especially new energy-efficient models.
  7. Collect water used for cleaning fruits and vegetables, drained from pasta, etc. to water your plants.

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  1. When doing laundry, wash in cold water, as it saves water and energy while helping clothes keep their color.
  2. Also, when doing laundry be sure to match the water level with the size of the load.
  3. Shorten your shower by a minute or two and save up to 150 gallons per month. If your whole family did this, imagine how much water your house could save!3761877701_a3858973a7_z
  4. Aim for 5-minute showers and you can save up to 1,000 gallons of water per year.
  5. Skip the baths, as a full bathtub requires up to 70 gallons of water.
  6. Turn off the water as you brush your teeth and save up to 4 gallons a minute. That’s up to 200 gallons a week for a family of four.
  7. Be sure to check all faucets for leaks, as one drip every second can add up to 5 gallons per day! Also check all pipes, hoses, toilets, and faucets inside and out for leaks.6502693313_54a02fb395_z
  8. Run your washer and dishwasher only when they are full. This can save up to 1,000 gallons a month.
  9. In your yard, be sure to plant species that are native to your area, as they require less maintenance to flourish.
  10. Start a compost pile or bin. Using compost in your garden or flower beds adds water-holding organic matter to the soil.

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  1. Wash your pets outdoors, in an area of your lawn that needs to be watered.
  2. Use a broom instead of a hose to clean patios, sidewalks, and driveways, and save water every time!
  3. When washing your car, use commercial car washes that recycle water. When washing your car at home, be sure to turn the water on only when rinsing.

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Try to incorporate as many of these as you can, and see what a difference a few little changes can make to reduce the amount of water you use.

 

Spring is in the Air…

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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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

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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.

What to do with Easter Leftovers

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When I think of Easter, I think of a big delicious Easter ham. This year, however, we are having a much smaller family gathering, and we will have so many leftovers! What do we do with them?

OMI tip: Try a farm-to-table approach and buy your ham from a local farmer. Or see if your local grocery store carries (or can order) no-nitrate ham.

Perusing the internet, I have found a meal for every part of the day, from a ham cup with scrambled eggs to a delicious ham, broccoli, and cheese pocket to a light, savory ham and lentil soup. (Veggies, eggs and cheese can be found at local farmers markets and artisan shops, as well.)

Try out these tasty recipes for the week after Easter and let us know what you think.

Ham cups

(Photo Credit: http://www.recipebyphoto.com/breakfast-ham-cups/)

Ham and Cheese Egg Cups

Ingredients:

6 free-range brown eggs

2 cups grated cheddar cheese (or any kind of cheese you prefer)

2 young organic green onions

12 ham slices, cut a little thick

salt and pepper

Don’t feel limited by these ingredients! You can add just about anything, from mushrooms to tomatoes to spinach to onions, etc. and even top them off with avocado!

Cooking Directions:

Grease pan with non-stick cooking spray; line with ham slices.

Sprinkle cheese inside ham slices.

Pour in the egg mixture (ggs, salt and pepper) beat well with a fork.

Chop small green onion tops and divide among cups.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 – 25 minutes

Broccoli Ham And Cheese Pockets 2

Ham, Broccoli And Cheese Pockets

Ingredients:

Pizza Dough (enough to make 2 large pizzas)

6 tablespoons grainy mustard (optional)

1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

2 cups organic broccoli florets, cut small

1/2 pound ham, cut into small pieces

2 tablespoons organic extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons italian seasoning

Cooking Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Lightly dust a cookie sheet with fine cornmeal or line with Silpat or parchment paper.

Combine mozzarella and cheddar cheese and set aside.

Divide pizza dough into 6 equal-size balls.

Roll each ball into a thin circle. Make sure to keep remaining dough covered with plastic wrap or a damp towel while working.

If using mustard, spread 1 tablespoon all over circle. Place 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese mixture on half the dough. Top cheese with 1/3 cup broccoli and 1/6th of the ham. Top with another 1/4 cup of cheese.

Fold dough over the top to form a pocket and press all the air out. Seal the edges using a fork.

Repeat with remaining dough.

Brush olive oil on the top of each pocket and sprinkle with Italian seasoning.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until light brown.

(A great option to freeze and eat later, or all week for lunches!)

(Original recipe courtesy of Serenabakes)

ham and lentil soup

 

Delicious Ham and Lentil Soup

Ingredients:

3 cups organic chicken broth

3 cups water

1 medium organic onion, cut into thin wedges

1 ½ cups chopped organic celery

1 ½ cups thinly sliced organic carrot

1 cup brown lentils, rinsed and drained

6 ounces cooked ham, diced

1 ½ teaspoons dried organic thyme, crushed

3 cups shredded fresh organic spinach

1 ounce Parmesan cheese, shaved

Cooking Directions:

In a 4-quart slow cooker, combine broth, water, onion, celery, carrot, lentils, ham, and thyme.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 7 to 8 hours or on high-heat setting for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

Stir in spinach. Ladle into bowls. Top each serving with Parmesan cheese.

(Original recipe courtesy of bhg.com)

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

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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

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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.

Organic Romantic

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I was looking for some new ideas for Valentine’s Day when I found this great article on how to be an “Organic Romantic”. From organic chocolates to locally, sustainably grown flowers- the options are endless for a more eco-friendly V-Day! Check out the article HERE.

A Razzle Dazzle Christmas from OMI

Have a Razzle Dazzle Christmas from everybody at the corporate offices of OMI and Lifekind.  We wish everyone a safe and happy holiday this year and a wonderful New Year.

(make sure you tune in after the credits for more holiday fun!)

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.

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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.

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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!

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