Ways to Start the School Year Off Eco-Friendly

7327146800_b2e65d6bf3_oSummer is coming to a close. That means it is time to prep for the new school year. which means back to school shopping for supplies, backpacks, lunch pails, clothes, and the list can go on and on. Before you head out to the store to purchase everything, here are some great tips to keep those back-to-school purchases as eco-friendly and sustainable as possible.

  1. Take Inventory

    4588535631_486542047c_oClean out those desk drawers, dressers, and closets and you may find hiding treasures like packs of pencils, notebooks, or clothes you bought on sale that haven’t even been worn yet. Now that you have gone through all that you have, you can make a list of what items are needed. The list will guide you. When you hit the stores, so you won’t buy duplicate items or spur or the moment purchases.

  2. Reuse What You Can

    5093615082_3df15d285f_oLook through what you have to see if any items can be reused. Often there are many items that are still in good condition and can be used for another year. The backpack from last year may be in great shape and just need a quick cleaning to be school-worthy.

  3. Healthy Lunch Options!

    9350757417_4bf3167767_oA bento box makes a great reusable and waste free lunchbox option- no plastic baggies required! Many bento boxes have multiple dividers or containers that allow you to pack a healthy and fresh lunch. If a bento box doesn’t suit your needs, there are many other great reusable containers that allow you to pack delicious and nutritious options.

  4. Reusable Bottles

    6959989243_b5a94e95a5_oRather than packing bottles of water or juice boxes daily, send your child to school with the healthy drink of choice in a reusable bottle. There are many great designs; no need for juice boxes!

    There are many great options when it comes to reusable containers, bbut be sure to check that they are made with recycled material and are BPA-free.

  5. Buy Recycled or Sustainable When Possible

    creative-desk-pens-schoolMake your list so you know the school supplies you need, now it is time to buy. Most retailers now offer many options of recycled and sustainable materials, such as pencils made from certified sustainable-harvest wood or pens, paper and notebooks. made from recycled materials. Every little bit helps eliminate waste!

  6. Eliminate Paper Waste

    apple-desk-working-technologyRather than having many pieces of paper float around ask to be emailed important notices from the school. Every bit helps and this will save many sheets of paper that get lost in the bottom of backpacks. This also allows you to put important dates in your digital calendars rather than keeping stacks of paper around the house.

Here’s to another great school year!

Make this Thanksgiving Special and Memorable!

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While Thanksgiving is a holiday when families come together to celebrate and give thanks, it is also a great time to make lasting memories. Here are some ideas to incorporate into your celebration to make more amazing memories!

1. Ditch the technology

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Put those phones, tablets and laptops away and enjoy the company that surrounds you.

2. Make dinner from scratch

13979780940_572de3d1dc_zDig deep into your skills and make that delicious dinner from scratch. A homemade meal can be healthier as well as fun. Get messy and make some yummy food!

3. Put everyone on the spot

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Have everyone go around the table and tell something that they are thankful for. You can even have everyone name a good quality about the other guests, such as caring, beautiful, understanding, etc.

4. Take a walk

Walking sticksBefore the turkey is done or after you have stuffed yourself, get outside and take a walk. Enjoy the day and the beauty of nature.

5. Volunteer or Donate

7501683_6b61f9dc17_zRemember, this holiday is about giving thanks, and a great way to do that is to help others. Volunteer at a local shelter, food bank, or your favorite charity. If you can’t volunteer on Thanksgiving, talk with your family about what you would like to do in the future and make a plan.

However your family gives thanks, be sure to have a happy Thanksgiving!

Fall is Here-Bring on the Great New Pumpkin Recipes!

With the crisp Fall weather here, it’s time for all the delicious Fall favorite treats! I love all things pumpkin, but I needed to add a new recipe to my usual lineup. So after searching high and low, from the Internet to good old-fashioned cookbooks, I came across this delicious Pumpkin and Bourbon Cheesecake recipe. The original recipe comes from Epicurious, but I changed the recipe slightly to make an organic version. This cheesecake was such a hit with my family and friends that I will be making it again!

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Pumpkin Bourbon Cheesecake

Makes 12 to 14 servings

Ingredients

For crust

1 1/2 cup organic graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup packed organic light brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated organic sugar

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) organic unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For filling

1 can (15 oz) organic pumpkin

3 large organic eggs

1/2 cup packed organic light brown sugar

2 tablespoons organic half and half

1 teaspoon organic vanilla

1 tablespoon bourbon liqueur or bourbon

1/2 cup granulated organic sugar

1 tablespoon organic cornstarch

1 1/2 teaspoons organic cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated organic nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground organic ginger

1/2 teaspoon organic salt

3 (8-ounce) packages organic cream cheese, at room temperature

For topping

2 cups organic sour cream (20 ounces)

2 tablespoons granulated organic sugar

1 tablespoon bourbon liqueur or bourbon

Preparation

Crust:

Stir together crumbs, sugar, and butter. Press in a single layer on the bottom and up sides of a springform pan. Chill in the freezer for at least 15 minutes.

Filling:

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

Whisk together pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, cream, vanilla, and liqueur in a bowl until combined.

Stir together granulated sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt in large bowl. Add cream cheese and beat with an electric mixer at high speed until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, then add pumpkin mixture and beat until smooth.

Pour filling into crust, smoothing top, then put springform pan in a shallow baking pan (in case springform leaks). Bake until center is just set, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool 5 minutes.

Make topping:
Whisk together sour cream, sugar, and liqueur in a bowl, then spread on top of cheesecake and bake 5 minutes.

Cool cheesecake completely in pan on rack, about 3 hours.

Chill, covered, until cold, at least 4 hours. Remove side of pan and bring to room temperature before serving.

Enjoy this yummy Fall dessert!

A Salty Halloween Snack

Halloween is fast approaching and I am getting my house ready for trick-or-treaters. My simple Sea Salt Seeds are the perfect treat to enjoy while carving Jack-o-lanterns. Make them yourself using the seeds from carving pumpkins.

 Carved Pumpkins

Sea Salt Seeds

1. Cut the top off your pumpkin and scoop out the insides. Clean all the pumpkin goop off the seeds and rinse them well in warm water.

2. Bring about 4 cups of water to a boil, add a pinch of salt, and place seeds in boiling water for 10 minutes. This will help soften the seeds and make them easier to digest. Also, the steam inside the seeds will cook them more thoroughly.

3. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. After boiling the seeds in water, place them in a colander, then gently pat dry with a paper towel (they don’t have to be completely dry, but shouldn’t contain too much excess water).

4. Place the seeds on a baking dish with olive oil and sea salt to taste. (Use 1 tbsp per cup of pumpkin seeds).

5. Cook for approximately 10 minutes. Stir seeds on baking dish and cook for another 8 minutes.

6. Take out of the oven and enjoy!

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For some great variations, during step 4, replace the olive oil and salt with: 1. Cinnamon, sugar and butter

2. Fresh garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper

3. Ginger, clove, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg (for pumpkin-pie-spiced pumpkin seeds, mix with a little bit of butter)

4. Seasoning salt and olive oil

Soupy Decisions

With the weather getting cooler and the food getting warmer, soup is the first thing I start to crave. Favorites like chicken soup and tomato soup are always great, but this fall I wanted to try something new. There are so many great ingredients that you can throw together to make a delicious-tasting (and healthy) soup! These great recipes are sure to broaden your soup horizon.

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From Top Left to Right:

Chicken Pot Pie Soup

Carrot Ginger Soup

Butternut Squash Soup

Asparagus Soup

Broccoli White Cheddar Soup

Mushroom Chestnut Soup

Creamy Broccoli Basil Soup

 

 

 

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.