Green Kids’ Gifts on a Budget

I was at a birthday party last night and one of the gifts given to the birthday boy was a Green Art set. I thought how great that was, the consuming part of it maybe not so great but the fact that the art supplies were non-toxic, kid safe and environmentally friendly makes it a great gift for children.

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Adorable Sock Monkey from Maggie's Functional Organics

Well over at Eco Child’s Play they have a long list of Eco-friendly presents and stocking stuffers for under $30. Which is such a huge help in these economically hard times.

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Natural Paint from Clementine Art

From Art Supplies to Stuffed Animals and Blocks. You can find a plethora of Eco-friendly children’s gifts in this list, they haven’t missed a think. Check it out for yourself and you are sure to find what you need.

Halloween Costumes in a Box

bildeIf you have run out of ideas for kids costumes this halloween, check out these costumes in a box. Yesterday I found this great article in the Statesman Journal newspaper, in the Life section, about Costumes in a Box.

Trying to be green this Halloween requires that  I try to reuse and recycle and with these box costumes I think it would be fairly easy to do. With just a box, some paint and some clothing match ups you can be on your way to making a great costume. And as a bonus its on the cheap too!

bilde1Costume Ideas:

  • The Tin Man
  • Lego Block
  • Sponge Bob Square Pants
  • iPod

Click here for the complete article and instructions. And if your looking for an adult verion of any of these you would just need a bigger box, ask your local furniture or appliance store for boxes.

How To Grow Your Own Coffee Tree

coffee-trees-growing-01As I am sitting at Starbucks writing this blog, I’m thinking about how many times I’ve come here in the past few years and how much money I have spent buying coffee and other products. While Starbucks seems to be one of the leaders in green and healthy drinks, as well as contributing positively to the environment and world, I thought I’d give us all a tutorial on growing your own coffee plants.

As a fun project, or to spend less money at starbucks, coffee plants are fairly easy to grow in the home as a potted specimen, which should be moved outdoors for the summer if possible.

They do best in filtered sunlight, with night temperatures in the lower to mid 60s and day temperatures of 70F or higher. Plant them in any good commercial, fast draining potting soil . The soil should be kept on the moist side, but never soggy.

Coffee plants will produce fruit without any fertilizing whatsoever, but for best results and maximum yield, they should be fed every 2 weeks from March to October, and then monthly from November through February. You can find seeds for coffea and other rare and unusual plants online from The Whatcom Seed Company

The plants will grow to about 10 feet if given ample root room, but can be pruned if this is too big for the allotted space. Pruning may involve simple pinching to produce a bushier plant, or you may go as far as cutting it way back…. Right down to where only two branches near the bottom are left on it.

The fruit are red when they ripen in the fall, with a sweet pulp surrounding the bean. Each coffee berry has two beans. The coffee tree’s fruit does not all ripen at one time. In fact it will have blossoms and berries in various stages of ripening. Only the ripe berries can be picked. The berries cannot be picked when green since they will not ripen once picked.

So give it a try and let us know how it goes!

All Natural ‘Green’ Baby Swing

Its Friday, you know, casual Friday? TGIF? The most looked forward to day of the week? Well for me Fridays are the best day of the week and I look forward to the weekend. So to kick off the start of the weekend I decided I would post a picture of the day.

Glenn Beck posted this as their picture of the day, today, March 27, 2009. I love it.

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All Natural ‘Green’ Baby Swing!

Happy Friday!

Green Your Birthday Party

Getting older isn’t something adults enjoy, you hit a certain age and you no longer look forward to the day of your birth. In fact most adults will try to hide the fact that its their birthday. Little children, on the other hand, look forward to their birthdays all year long with great anticipation and always lots of reminders to those around them when the day is getting close.

Well I have some green suggestions that will hopefully make you look forward to your next birthday young or old.

Stay away from throw-away decorations, napkins, plates and cups and have friends and family come over for dessert, using your best dishes and cloth napkins. Save money and the landfills by staying away from throw-aways.

Give Back. Email a Give to Foundation/Charity of Your Choice list to your friends. Have them give to a foundation on the list instead of buying you a gift. Giving back is so much better. For the little ones that wouldn’t be happy without some gifts, make sure and put in the email invitation, that you want your guest to bring lightly-used gifts.

Make your own Birthday Party Favors and decorations. You will enjoy the look and you can reuse them over and over again. Here are links to some of my favorite party favors and decoration tutorials. Bunting Tutorial, Crown, and Party Favor Box. Or you can hand out Mini Lucky Bamboo Plants to your guests. Or bring the outside in and decorate with some flowers from the yard, sticks, rocks, etc…

Send an email. Don’t waste trees by using paper or put more garbage in the landfill with your birthday invitations. Instead send out an evite invitation.

Do you have any Green Birthday Party ideas? Please share them in the comments below.

10 Homemade Valentines

I love homemade valentines. I love anything homemade, not only is it eco-friendly and saves you money, but it also means so much more when it has been homemade with love.

1. Make your own little Valentine Book. AE has a tutorial, perfect for your favorite Valentine, aliedwards.typepad.com

2. The Purl Bee has some lovely fabric window Valentines. These would be perfect for your little ones to give to their friends, even great for adding to the top of a Valentine gift. I love the simple sweetness of these.

3. For a kid-friendly Valentine craft, try these Woven Heart Baskets from mothers of inventions.

4. I love these fun Felt Fortune Cookies from Martha Stewart. There is a video in case the written instructions aren’t enough.

5. People come up with the most amazing projects. I love these Valentine Vermin from the Junior Society.

6. Moms in Business have a “That’s Amore! ~ A Valentine’s Day tutorial”. Great for hanging on the door. Homemade with items you already have around the house.

7. For the little girls in your life, decorate their hair with these cute Valentine hair clips. These look fairly easy and oh so cute!

8. Wise Craft has a tutorial on how to make a Rice Pillow for your Valentine. The perfect thing for those sore necks and backs after a long day at work.

9. Ok, I know this tutorial isn’t for Valentines Day but I thought this Fleece + Liberty Scarf tutorial would make a great Valentines gift. Use some pretty floral or whimsical fabrics, and it would be perfect.

10. The Stitching Room has a Thread Holder Tutorial but instead of holding thread these would be great for putting some Hershey Kisses or other chocolates in and giving them to your Valentine.

I know there are so many more Valentine tutorials and craft projects out there, these are just a few to help you get started on your way to a Happy Valentines Day! Enjoy!

10 Kid & Pet-Friendly Edible Christmas Tree Ornaments

Countdown to Christmas54 Days!

If you have young children or pets running around the house, edible tree ornaments may be the answer to keeping them safe this holiday season. Making these treats are not only just for beautifying your tree, but they can be a great family bonding time. Also they make great Christmas favors when friends & family come over. Check out the recipes below and share your edible ornament ideas with us.

1. Popcorn Balls – Follow the directions to your favorite popcorn ball recipe, wrap in cellophane and tie a ribbon around the top. Make a loop out of the ribbon to hang on the tree.

2. Dried Fruit Ring Ornaments – Materials: Dried Fruit, egg & ribbon. Thinly slice apples and pears into rings and pop them into a low oven and allow them to dry out. Once dry, you can simply tie a ribbon through the hole or you can brush egg white onto the fruit rings and sprinkle them with coarse sugar before adding the ribbon.

3. Rice Krispie Treat Ball Ornaments – Follow the recipe for the original rice krispie treats but instead of smashing them in the pan, make 3″ balls, wrap in cellophane and tie a ribbon around the top, making a loop to hang on the tree.

4. Gumdrop Ornaments – Materials: Toothpicks broke in half, Gumdrops, 2-3″ styrofoam balls & ribbon. Insert one end of a toothpick into a gumdrop and the other end into the Styrofoam ball. Repeat until the ball is covered with gumdrops. Tie the ribbon around the ball to hang it on the tree.

5. Angel Ornaments – Materials: Sugar ice-cream cone, Three-ring pretzel, Royal icing (blend 1 egg white with 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar), Colored sugar, Tootsie Pop, Life Saver and red candy heart. Using scissors, cut off 1/2 inch from the cone’s point. Ice the cone and pretzel, then roll them in colored sugar. For the head, insert the lollipop’s stick into the cone. Using the icing, affix the Life Saver to the head and the pretzel to the back of the cone. Add icing features and a candy heart.

6. Candy Glass – Materials: Cookie Cutters, Hard Candies & ribbon. For a mold, wrap the bottom and sides of a cookie cutter with foil. Set on a baking sheet and coat with cooking spray. Fill each cookie cutter with a single layer of candies. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes, or until melted. Add sprinkles, cool for 2 minutes, then use a chopstick to poke a hole near the top for hanging. Once cool, remove from the mold and hang with a ribbon.

7. Pretzel Garland – Materials: Pretzels dipped in white chocolate & ribbon. Thread one pretzel onto the ribbon and tie the end to the pretzel. Continue weaving on pretzels until the ribbon is full. Secure the ribbon to the last pretzel and hang.

8. Life Saver Wreath – Materials: Shoestring licorice & life savers. Use scissors to cut a piece of shoestring licorice 12 to 15 inches in length. Next, carefully string on about 15 Life Savers. Gather the ends of the licorice together and tie them into a bow to form a wreath.

9. Snowball Bundles – Materials: White chocolate covered malt balls, plastic wrap & white ribbon. Cut pieces of the plastic wrap in six inch squares and lay flat on the tabletop. Place approximately a half dozen of the malted milk balls in the center, gather the edges of the plastic wrap around the candy, twisting at the top to form a pouch of milk balls. Tie a length of ribbon around the gathering to close it, leaving a good length of ribbon left trailing from one end (a total length of about 6” of ribbon should do). Loop the remaining ribbon and tie off to form a hanger for the ornament.

10. Gingerbread Men – Follow the directions to your favorite gingerbread men recipe. Poke a hole in the head before baking with a straw. When the men are completely cool, add a ribbon through the hole and hang on the tree.

If the thought of decorating your tree with edible ornaments doesn’t appeal to you, you can always just hand edible ornaments on the bottom area, where the kids and animals can reach.

Some of these recipes and crafts were found at FamilyFun.go.com, and essortment.com.

Decorating with Leaves


One of my favorite things to do in the fall is to decorate with the colorful leaves. You can do this really easily by dipping leaves into paraffin wax. This makes a very beautiful yet simple autumn touch to your home. Plus it is putting the fallen leaves to good use!

You will need to gather these materials: Paraffin wax, a pan (one that you don’t mind melting wax in), parchment paper, a tray to cool the leaves, a large bowl full of cool water.

Step 1: Gather the best pick of leaves you can find outside, you want them to be bright and in good shape. Make sure they are not torn or wilted. How many you gather is up to you.

Step 2: Arrange a tray lined with parchment paper in order to cool the leaves after they have been dipped. Then set up a large bowl filled with cool water.

Step 3: Melt the wax in the pan on low. Caution: paraffin wax is highly flammable.

Step 4: By the stem, submerge the leaf all the way into the wax. Immediately pull the leaf out, let any excess wax drip off into the pan. Then dip it into the bowl of cool water for about 5 seconds. This sets the wax. Let the water run off and then gently place the leaf onto the parchment paper. Then repeat.
They should last for at least a week, most likely longer.

Decorating ideas: If you have guests over for dinner they look really nice scattered throughout the dinner table and then add some candles to help them shine. This is a great idea for Thanksgiving dinner. Or you can place them on a mantle, on shelves or anywhere in your house or office that has room for them. You could also tie a clear string around the stem and hang them from an archway in your home. They should last for at least a week, most likely longer.

Green Question: I know that burning candles made from paraffin wax isn’t as safe for the environment as soy candles, but for this activity has anyone used a different kind of wax? Feel free to leave a comment.

What Do You Think About Thrift Store Shopping?

I was reading an article from IsItNormal.com and was shocked at what I read. I feel that thrift store shopping doesn’t have to be for the poor but is many times for those who enjoy wearing more than just the normal every day duds that every single person you see is wearing. I agree with IsItNormal that its fun and is like treasure hunting. I have found the most amazing treasures, leather belts, leather purses, scarves and boots. All great quality and fun to wear.

I also was shocked that IsItNormals friends were making fun of him. True friends wouldn’t do that. Would they? Mine wouldn’t.

Reasons why you should re-think thrift shopping: Its Eco-friendly, environmentally friendly and budget friendly. By supporting thrift stores you are helping the environment by reducing the amount of clothing that ends up as waste in landfills, reducing the need for manufacturing new clothes, which also reduces the amount of carbon emissions used to truck those clothes allover the country. For statistics check out EIA.doa.gov/environment.html.

So all that to ask the question: What do you think about thrift store shopping? Is it only for the poor? Do you find that it can be fun or is it a bore?