Thursday, March 31, 2011

Help Plant Trees

I was recently contacted by the Nature Conservancy to help get the word out about their campaign to plant a billion trees. Every $1 donated plants 1 tree in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil.

This is a great option for those of us (like myself) who have plenty of trees in our own yard, but still recognize the need for more around the world. I know all each dollar is precious and we are stretching them as far as we can, but please think about making a difference in this way if it works for your family.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Art As Wrapping Paper

My boys have gone hog wild for water color lately. With each masterpiece I ensure that they use both sides of the paper before moving on, yet I am still left with lots of colorful scraps headed for the recycle bin.

Except for these. They instead became the wrapping paper and birthday card for a little girl's birthday party this week. If you ask me, it's far more charming than anything one could find in a store.

How do you get creative with artwork?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

It's the Little Things

"4 days mom!"

"Down to 2 days mom!"

"It's tomorrow mom!"

"Today's my hot lunch day!"

That's my oldest, Tucker, counting down every week to his hot lunch day at school. We let him have one hot lunch a week. He gets only one mostly because we feel we can provide healthier food and less waste from home. The added benefit just happens to be that, because it is rare, it is something he really looks forward to every week and doesn't take for granted.

This week Tucker made me realize that I often loose my excitement and gratitude in a pile of over-indulgence. I am going to start taking a page from his book.

I'll take excitement and gratitude any day!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Earth Hour: Lights Out

Tonight (March 26th) from 8:30-9:30 pm (local time) is Earth Hour. Please take this small step in helping our planet and think about using it as a launching pad to do even more. Mother Earth and I say, thank you!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Crazy Sexy Book Recommendation

My self-designed course in Food for the Eco-Conscious continues. This week I got Crazy Sexy Diet: Eat Your Veggies, Ignite Your Spark, and Live Like You Mean It!by Kris Carr. It's a great compliment to the other books I've been reading and has given me more ideas in how to shake up my eating habits and make life healthier.

I was already a fan of Ms. Carr after seeing her documentary Crazy Sexy Cancer. She is beautiful, talented, and (most importantly) energetic about empowering people to change their lives and our planet.

I have never had cancer, but I do have a family history and I am interested in making a difference in my life and the world. This book is for me, and anyone else looking to become educated on what they are chowing down.

You may not go gung-ho on the crazy, sexy, diet. I'm not yet. But there are plenty of helpful tips that one can adopt slowly over time, from skin brushing to becoming a green juice goddess.

I am going to combine this with The Kind Diet to customize it for my life. So green smoothies and alkaline foods here I come!

Also, check out Crazy, Sexy, Life where there is an active community of do-gooders, eat-wellers such as yourselves.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Treat is in the Bag

This week I treated myself to a new handbag. The previous one (yes, just one) served me for about 7 years. When my (fashion challenged) mother is making disparaging remarks about the state of my purse, it's time for a change.
I found my new beauty through a Facebook recommendation to try a friend of a friend's Etsy shop. I drooled over all the bags on Fantella, but finally settled on the Irish tote.
Perfect...for me. There's a good chance if you check it out there might be something perfect for you too (if you are in the market for a handbag/diaper bag), plus you would be supporting a entrepreneurial woman.

As for me, I will feel much better carrying this at the derby/wedding/spring break trip that is my adventure in a couple weeks.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Happy and Free

"May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life today contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all."
English translation of the Sanskrit prayer Lokah Samastah Sukino Bhavantu

Sunday, March 13, 2011

If You Don't Got It...

The further I travel down my environmentally friendly path, the more aware I become that it's not just about what I can buy/use, but the biggest impact will ultimately come from my changes in thinking.

Which is why a lightbulb went off for me when I came across an Improvised Life post this week about cultivating resourcefulness. The post mentions the common West Virginia Appalachian saying, "If you don't got it, you don't need it."
Does that strike anyone else as brilliant? I realize I write this as someone with much. But isn't there a lesson for all of us in this resourceful reminder?
Sometimes the best way to come up with a solution is to limit the possibilities. My goal is to take this thought and use it daily to help me give thanks for what I have and do more with what is here.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Great Mattress Hunt

My hunt for our perfect green mattress has begun. Let me tell you, I am overwhelmed. The options appear endless. As I research I am trying to be really wary of green-washing and mindful of our budget.

Looks like we will need to go to our nearest natural/organic mattress dealer (3 hours away) to test what's out there. For me a mattress is just too big and personal a purchase to make online with no more than customer reviews as a basis.

I am currently compiling my list of questions to ask at the appointment towards the end of April.

Does anyone out there have experience with this? Has anyone purchased something this big and personal online? Or bought a green mattress in the past?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Handkerchief Comeback

Handkerchiefs are not just balled up pieces of material in one's pocket.

For me they charming memories of my grandparents.
They are an elegant way to deal with a rather inelegant problem.

They can be be beautiful and, in a way, comforting.

My heart smiles when I hear my littlest guy call out, "Mom, I need a hanky." And I see him put his little white one embroidered with a donkey cart in his pocket and use it throughout the day.

Lesley Blume agrees with me as she included them in her darling book, Let's Bring Back: An Encyclopedia of Forgotten-Yet-Delightful, Chic, Useful, Curious, and Otherwise Commendable Things from Times Gone By.They are a gift to Mother Earth and, in my opinion, a little gift to oneself with each use.
Easy to find, affordable (especially over the alternative), and great gifts to a friend on hard times or a hurting child...I am advocating a handkerchief comeback. How about you?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Cultivating Gratitude

This morning I am giving thanks for this beautiful sunrise out my window.

And the fresh fallen snow that beautifully coats the trees in the last few quiet days of cuddling in front of the fire before the business of Spring.

They are just 2 of the (at least) 5 things I will jot in my journal this morning on my gratitude list. Tonight I will write 5 more. At every meal I will give thanks for the food I have, remember, and pray for those who have little or none. Tonight at dinner each member of my family will take a turn saying something for which they are grateful.

Cultivating gratitude is one of the tools to living simply. Focusing on gratitude for what I have allows me to take my focus after what I "want" and "need." More importantly though, it gives my family something we always have in common, frees my soul, and sets my feet on a happy path.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Kind Cupcake

Some of you may know that I have been vegetarian for a while now (about 3 years). Lately my body has not been happy with me and I have had the feeling that it is time to step it up to being vegan (again). Because I don't do much without doing research first, I went to my local library and checked out "The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet" by Alicia Silverstone.
I love this book. I love it because she presents the information in a completely accessible way. I love it because it spoke to many of the health problems I have been experiencing. But today I love it most for the vegan cupcake recipe.

I am kicking refined sugar and hopefully desserts most of the time. And yet it's a journey and at this point in the journey, I still need sweets. Enter this cupcake sweetened with agave nectar. Yum!
It may not be a supermarket cupcake-but that's the point. It isn't so sugary sweet that I am going to get a headache and guilt-trip. In fact, it's just sweet enough to satisfy the urge and keep me happily marching down the vegan path.
Have you tried any great vegan recipes lately? Have you thought about going vegetarian or vegan?

P.S. For more information, Ms. Silverstone has set up a great resource for all things kind/green/vegan at The Kind Life.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Spring In My Step

To fight the winter doldrums, we pulled out the Spring decorations last night. We don't have many, just the few things that I picked up over last summer at garage sales. Yet, it never ceases to amaze me how such affordable little trinkets, bought second hand, could brings such joy (especially in the mucky winter/spring transition).
These eggs were .75 cents each. I only wish there were more.
This candle and wreath cost $3 together. The candle very closely resembles one I have seen in Pottery Barn if I do say so myself. I think that one runs a little more than $3.
Pottery Barn

Sometimes in the middle of the summer, it's hard to think about what might bring you joy at the end of winter. But if something sparks your fancy at a garage sale, chances are it will bring you a smile when the appropriate season arrives. Just make sure you have proper storage so you can easily access it when the time comes and look forward to seeing it again.

I think Elizabeth Gaskell had it right when she said, "Anticipation was the soul of enjoyment."
What is putting a spring in your step these days?