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Monday, June 28, 2010

{Motivation Monday} 5 Modern products to help you go Green

completely un-related picture of a visitor in my garden
{I am incapable of posting a blog entry without including a picture!}

The "green" movement is often known for emphasizing ideas such as "returning to basics" and doing things the way our grandparents would have. And while I absolutely support the idea that newer does not always mean better, I also believe that people will not take steps toward being green if the supplies are not readily available, moderately convenient to use, priced appropriately and actually work. Here are my top 5 items that are either already in your home or inexpensive to purchase:

1. Dishwasher: Of all of the water your home consumes, it is estimated that 20% of is in used in your kitchen. This is one modern machine that actually helps you consume less water and energy than old-fashioned handwashing: according to a recent study, a modern dishwasher can use one-half the energy, a sixth of the water and even less soap than rolling your sleeves up and getting your hands wet. Of course, the same rule applies to dishwashers as the washing machine-always use when running full loads to maximize the effectiveness.

2. Microfiber towels: I will say from the beginning that this one could be controversial. Microfiber is not a natural fiber and the the fibers that do make up microfiber are produced from petroleum: a non-renewable and non-biodegrable resource. However, the life length of a microfiber towel is extremely long making the need to continually purchase new cleaning products almost obsolete. In one study, the life of a microfiber mop is almost 10 times that of a traditional cotton mop and are proven more effective at removing not only dust/dirt but allergens and bacteria! Microfiber towels are so effective at cleaning that almost remove the need to use a cleaning agent and replace displosable dusting devices such as a Swiffer (for floors or furniture.) Lastly, microfiber towels are proven to use less water and energy to clean after using them. While they are not ideal, they are a very cheap way to get a long lasting product that helps you get effective, chemical-free cleaning done in your home.

3. Steam cleaner: More and more steamer cleaners (like this floor-cleaning one from Bissell or this complete home-cleaning version from Shark) are coming onto the market place. With more competition, the prices of these products are becoming more affordable. For people who live in areas with very hard water or other cleaning issues that discourage them away from natural cleaning products, switching to a chemical-free steam cleaner can keep their homes and the envinronment clean.

4. Water Filter: Filtered and bottled water is still very popular, even among my eco-friendly friends. Whether you are motivated by the convenience or concerns about pharmaceuticals in our water supply, a water filtering system along with a BPA-free water bottle can make heading to work with your morning dose of H2O convenient and clean. It is estimated that the most common of filters, a Brita can replace between 300-750 standard sized water bottles (depending on whether you are using the filter picture or the faucet filter.) The filters are made with Number 5 plastic, which is not accepted by many recycling locations however, Brita has drop-off recycling locations (or a mail-in option) for their filters.

5. The Internet: This one if not something you physically use around the house but the green possibilities that exist online are endless. Besides being a wealth of knowledge about green living, you can save countless trees (and often money) by recieving/paying bills online, opt out of paper catalogues and recieve sales/coupon notifications in your inbox instead, or read a book online instead of purchasing a physical paper copy. Of course, it is important to remember that computer usage does use energy so, if you are purchasing a new one, look at Energy Star certified models, utilize power saving modes, and watch your paper data output (think twice about whether you need to print those directions every time you Mapquest something!)

While we all can be challenged to do more, it is important to not get burnt out by ineffective efforts and products on your journey to a more sustainable way of life. Sharing what works for you and trying new ideas can make the difference in whether you continue your journey or not.
What modern-day inventions help keep you on track in your green efforts?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

{Wordless Wednesday}

Monday, June 21, 2010

Welcome, summer!

1. Take 1 cupcake
{minus one mama bite}

2. Give it to a completely sun-screened grease monkey two-year old

3. Take pictures!

Looking for ways to capture some memories (with or without a camera attached)? Check out this great collection of ideas for summer from Willette Designs!
How are you enjoying the longest day of the year?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

{Best Intentions} Happy Father's Day!

{Pretend this one says "Father's"}

What? You want me to sit still and hold something?

How is this pose?
{Son, put your head down}
Like this? You want my head down?

Wait! Where are you going?

Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 18, 2010

{Around Town} local art...

As I mentioned yesterday, we recently spent some time at our local farmers market...and I soaked up all of the beauty, art and culture that was present...

Fruits and vegetables were not just raw ingrediants...they were color and potential.

Even in seemingly obsecure and common items, beauty can be found...

A local Etsy artist had a booth set up and it was beautiful. Her jewelry was gorgeous-full of natural color- and her display was perfect.

Tallulah Jewelry at Etsy

Even in architecture, color and structure can be art...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

{You Capture} Water

It has been hot around here lately...

During a weekend trip to the farmer's market, we almost melted and had to seek out a little cool water...

It was so refreshing...
{and for the furry farmers market visitors, there were plenty of these pit stops}
You Capture Assignment: Water


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

{Share with me} A dilemma...

"Share everything. Don't take things that aren't yours. Put things back where you found them." -Robert Fulghum, All I Really needed to know, I Learned in Kindergarden

As we prepare ourselves to welcome a new child into our home {as much as you can when you don't know age, gender, or even when!}, we have been doing our best to get our son to understand about sharing his toys, home and parents with a new kiddo. But our efforts to teach our son to share freely seem to be backfiring.

And it has got me thinking...

You know the situation: your child has a toy that he brings to a playdate. Another little one takes it out of their hand and your child gets upset. The other mother gives you that look: are you going to encourage your child to share with mine? Each week, we go to a preschool swim time at our local pool that allows pool toys and it is "understood" that all toys are essentially communal for everyone to use. And, to be honest, the whole "forced" sharing thing going on has me thinking twice about whether I want to make my child share his things.

Let's be clear: I want my children to learn to be generous, charitable and giving. I strongly believe that we would have alot less political disagreements on social issues if we all were personally a little more giving. And, for me, my faith encourages me (and I aim to teach my children) to be giving of our time, talents and resources to help others. But I struggle to accept that teaching our children that they have to share all of their stuff takes away the biggest part of obedience: your attitude. I have seen my son become less and less willing to share since I have made a specific emphasis on it. He seems to hold on tighter to his things out of fear of losing them

{oh, how I relate to this as an adult...}

To add an extra dimension to this issue, as a future parent (temporary or otherwise) of children that have been removed from unhealthy home situations, I want to be particularly understanding that they may be sensitive when it comes to physical goods, including food. I have friends with adopted children that have hoarded food, refused to allow their clothes to be removed to be washed (out of fear they wouldn't get them back) or developed unlikely attachments to odd items around the house that reminded them of things back home. I fear that adopting a policy of sharing everything could potentially hurt a child that is coming from a background of neglect (or simply has been through the tragedy of being removed from the only home they have ever known.) While I recognize that "sharing" is done to teach a good and beneficial character trait, I am afraid that when a child comes from loss, a parent or guardian making a child share, no matter how well-meaning, could be causing more harm than good.

So, I ask you to share with me...what are your thoughts on the subject?

Does your child have certain objects that they are NOT encouraged to share? How do you deal with this when it comes to other people's expectation that we should be teaching our children to share and not be selfish?

If you are a foster and/or adoptive parent who has dealt with issues of loss and attachment, what advice can you give me to a) help future children in my home feel safe and stable and b) how to prepare my son to the transistion?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

{You Capture} Fun

The pool is open for the summer.
Toes are getting wrinkled and little boys are learning to hold their breath under water.

And it is some major fun.


{Tasty Treats Thursday} Strawberry Lemonade

The perfect summer treat...a little sour, a little sweet. A lot of perfectness.

lemons and sugar

Nothing but strawberries...
made into this amazing puree
{which I now want to drizzle on everything...waffles, oatmeal...everything}

2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 cup lemon juice
zest of 4 lemons
1 pint strawberries (hulled)
2 cups ginger ale
1. bring water and sugar to boil, simmer on low heat until sugar has completely disolved. Remove from heat.
2. juice and zest lemons while sugar water cools. Add juice/zest to sugar water. Cool completely to room temparture.
3. Place strawberries in blender/food processor and puree.
4. add strawberry puree to cooled lemonade.
5. add ginger ale to strawberry/lemonade mix
6. chill completely
7. pour yourself a glass, garnish with mint and more strawberries as desired.
8. enjoy!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

{How-To Tuesday} Pillow Craft

Remember how I asked for your feedback on what fabrics to use to decorate our new bright aqua bedspread? Well, I totally disregarded all of your advice and went with some great Kaffe Fassett prints, mixed it with some Amy Butler Love and started cruising through flickr for some inspiration!

The inspiration print that made me change direction:

I also got inspired by the amazing pieces seen over on this flickr pool and decided to try my hand at English paper piecing some hexagons.

While done completely by hand, they whip up easy when sitting on the couch watching Glee!

I appliqued then onto some silky navy linen fabric, added a simple patterned ruffle around the outside...

...and have the first (of many to come!) throw pillow for our bed!

I am in love with my new pillow and can't wait to try some new crafty techniques to make a couple more to fill up the bed!

Motivated to whip up a pillow for a special corner of your house?
(Seriously-pillows are amazingly simple, quick and very fulfilling to put together!)

Pillow tutorials to get you started:
Super simple knit ruffle pillow (this is definitly on my to-do list!)

Monday, June 7, 2010

{Babywearing} Vacation Edition

I have wanted to write a babywearing post for a while now and after seeing the article "Incorporating the Art of Babywearing into Summer Travel Plans" over at Simple Organic, I figured I would elaborate on the ideas they presented and give some tips that have made babywearing our prefered way to be on the move as a family.

Our family's top 3 reasons to babywear on vacation:

1. Most limitations are removed and you can go and do alot more. While on a 7 day cruise with a 19 month old that visited 4 ports of call, we were not limited to riding elevators or to certain excursions. We did a 5 mile hike to some amazing falls in Jamaica, visited a "no strollers allowed" museum in Mexico and traveresed deep sand beaches with no problems. We have also enjoyed hiking on trails back in the US that would not be possible if we were limited to stroller-usage.

2. Better perspective-literally and cognitively. When an alert and curious child is allowed the chance to be on the same visual plane as the adult, communication (even if it is pre-verbal pointing, etc.) and discussion can occur. In situations where large groups of people congregate to see exhibits or performances (zoos, amusement parks, etc.), a kid in a stroller can't see much of anything and can't share the experience with adults standing two feet above them. Yes, most parents do pick their children up for the Disney parade or special elephant exhibit at the zoo, but we have found that the simple act of walking around a vacation spot (when a special event is not going on) can present special moments in themselves such as your child being able to share a colorful leaf that catches their eye or seeing scampering animals.

3. Ease of use.. For anyone who has had to remove a child from a stroller, collapse it, send it through the x-ray machine at the airport while balancing themself to remove their shoes, let me say that babywearing can make the experience alot easier. Beyond not needing to check additional baggage, we found that amusement parks can be enjoyed more "swiftly" by not needing to park your stoller, take out your child, struggle to keep mobile children contained while in line and then repeat the process in reverse after the ride is over. For us, mei tais and buckle carriers (our favorites are the Bamberoo and Ergo!) are super easy to get off and on, so we simply lifted our son out, went on the ride and fastened him back in after riding. For times during his nap time, he stayed in a front carry and napped through rides, eliminating the afternoon crankiness that can occur when kiddos get off schedule. While cruising, he slept in a ring sling (in his PJ's!) while we enjoyed the after-bedtime shows.

{10 weeks, Smoky Mountain National Park}

3 tips to make babywearing on vacation easier:

1. Figure out what works for you and your situation. Do you have an infant or a toddler? Are you traveling by yourself or with another person? Where are you going and what are your needs? Research what might be best for you, see carrier reviews and purchase quality used carriers at great prices through places like

2. Know your limitations. I love using a ring sling in summer because of its coolness in hot weather, easy of use, and how it looks (ha!) but I accept that I cannot wear a toddler in a ring sling for an extended period of time. I also know that I cannot hike a very strenuous two hour climb with a toddler by myself-the hike has to be split between two parents. If you are new to babywearing and want to use babywearing for an upcoming vacation that will require all day wearing, start off first with a 30 minute walk then move up to a half-day outing to a local park.

3. Give yourself a break and your child a chance to explore. I have been very involved in babywearing communities for almost three years now (both online and locally.) I have met moms that feel like they need to wear their child all the time because they have fears of allowing their child to explore new situations/environments. While babywearing does help with both parents and a child's fear of coming into new experiences, allowing your child to get down and experience nature (and I even venture to say some germs!), large groups of people and other adventures can be great learning experiences. I have a child that loves to run away and my frustration (and fear) over experiences that we have had because of his running away can tempt me to limit his time on his own two feet while in public. However, he needs to learn not to run away and he can't practice the skills of listening and staying within an appropriate distance while strapped to my back. While I may not choose an over-busy street fair for this learning experience, in certain situations (that allow for minimal escape routes!), he and I are learning how to stay together, but not attached, in public.

{2.5 years old, Smoky Mountain National Park, same trail/stream as above!}

Friday, June 4, 2010

{Aperature and Actions, Oh my!} Photography Resources

Thank you to all that commented and offered to help when I shared that I was wanting to learn all about taking better pictures. I have been reading about shutter speed, aperature, what all the buttons on my camera do and about using Photoshop correctly...
{my brain is a tad bit swampy after taking in all that information!}

I have fallen in love with using different "actions" to correct my shoddy photography and have even been playing around with the camera on the Manual settings. {Oh my!}

from my first mini photo shoot on manual (and unedited!)...

Look Ma, I figured out to change the shutter speed and capture water splashing!

Now if someone could just tell me how to get a rapidly-approaching-3 year old to sit still or atleast face me when I try to take pictures, I would appreciate it!

Favorite photography resources {so far!}:

The Pioneer Woman "What the Heck?" series: aperature, shutterspeed and more

The Pioneer Woman Photoshop Action Downloads

Coffee Tea Photography Blog: home of my favorite "Little Perk" action (to just add a little bit more color) I want this UNmanual for digital photography so much!!!

Laura Evans/photography: my favorite fine art photographer of the moment {She is a fellow military wife, runner and has an amazing eye for everyday things in life. Love her!} This print is my favorite today!