The Big Green Parenting Experiment

raising a healthy family in a toxic world

bring it on 2013! my resolutions

Unbelievable. Here I am, on New Year’s Eve, wondering where 2012 went. This has been a remarkable year for my family and I and I am confident that 2013 will be even better. I am totally one of those people who is looking back, reflecting on the year and thinking of the changes that I want to make for 2013.

Yes, I make resolutions. I do believe that a new year is great motivation to make fresh starts and set goals. Some succeed, some fail. For 2013 I’m going all out and focusing on something that I have been neglecting: ME. These resolutions are important goals that I have set to help me feel like me again, more like a human. As a first time mom, I’ve been completely focused on the happiness and well being of my baby. And while I understand that this is completely normal, I also understand that my mood and energy affects hers also. By focusing a bit more on myself, I can be better for her and for my husband.

So, here they are:

1. Eat clean. (again). I feel so incredible when I am eating a totally clean diet. My biggest challenge is going to be conquering my sugar addiction. My plan is to go cold turkey and try to replace refined sugar with more fruits and clean substitutes. I plan to log what I’m eating and drinking, focusing on fresh, whole foods and plenty of water. I used to do this and I know I can. Also, contuining our crusade to rid our house of GMOs.

2. Scheduled exercise. I used to be fit. I so want to get back there. I used to weight train 4-5 times a week, run 9-10 miles 3 times a week and do yoga every day possible. My goal is to schedule 20-30 minutes of “me time” a day to do an intense workout. My body is really craving it and I know it’ll be the boost I need to gain my self confidence and energy back. I can’t wait to have that “hurts in a good way” feeling again. I am also running the Saratoga half marathon this year so I WILL be ready!

3. Work on time management. Routines work. It can be tough with a teething toddler who may or may not resist a nap and require my undivided attention. But much like she thrives on a routine, I think I will too. Allot time for housework, exercise, meditation, play, husband, blogging (of course) and rest. I would love to try and devote time to all of these things that are so important to me. All of the things that make me ME.

These are some pretty tall orders, I know. But I’ve done them all before and I CAN do them again. The better I am, the better I will be for my family and that is my motivation.

Better me = better us.

Let’s get this New Year started!

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recycled newspaper gift bags

We get sooo many newspaper flyers in the mail without even subscribing to any newspapers. It’s mind numbing. They go directly from the mailbox to the recycling bin, day after day. Well, not anymore! This is a very simple, crafty little way to give your newspapers new life! I am totally in love with this idea! I spotted it on pinterest and knew that there was going to be plenty of these in my future! The possibilities are endless. I just can’t wait to add personal touches onto these fab little gift bags.

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The original post on pinterest is from How About Orange who received a recycled newspaper shopping bag from a retailer. She was inspired to create one of her own. Now I am inspired! Let’s do this.

What you’ll need:

  • newspaper
  • scissors
  • card stock
  • glue stick
  • twine
  • ruler

I started out by following the directions for the bag from the link on Pinterest. She walks you through creating the smaller bag, pictured above on the right. Once I mastered that one, I was ready to try variations.

Today’s project: a wine gift bag for a birthday party.

Wine gift bags are a bit easier since they are square so there is little measuring involved. You can easily customize to the particular bottle if you’d like. Today I’ll be making a bag for riesling which is generally a taller, thinner bottle than most so I am customizing a bit.

Bottle diameter = 3.5″
Total newspaper width needed – 15″ (3.5″ x 4 sides + ~1 inch for seam)

Bottle height = 16″
Total newspaper height needed – 19-20″
(16″ + 1″ for top edge + 2″ for bottom of bag)

Lay out two sheets of newspaper on a table or flat surface. Measure out the size of the newspaper you will need, in this case 16″ x 19″. Cut out. Tip: I found it easiest to glue the two sheets of newspaper together before cutting.

Once your cut piece is laid out, you will start folding, as follows:

1. Make a 1″ fold on one of the side edges. This will be where you glue the seam of the bag.

2. To make four equal width sides, fold the opposite edge of the paper in to the fold that you just made.

3. Fold in half again in the same manner.

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4. Fold 1″ to 1.5″ on the side that will be the bag opening AND make a 2″ fold on the opposite edge, which will become the bottom of the bag.

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5. Next you’ll need to cut two pieces of card stock: 1″ x the width of the side of the bag, in this case 3.5″. Glue them along the top edge of the bag in the first and third sections. These will help support the top of the bag when opened.

20121207-083447.jpg6. Next you will glue down the entire ‘flap’ on the top side of the bag. This will hide the card stock and give the top edge a finished look.

20121210-193246.jpg7. Now to form the shape of the bag, glue the first fold that you made on the side edge to the interior of the other edge. You can start to see it coming together.

20121210-193440.jpg8. And now to create the bottom of the bag, you simply fold the opposite sides in as if wrapping a gift and then glue the two remaining sides down one by one. I failed to take pictures of this process since both hands are necessary to make it work. I did find it easiest to rest the bag on a table while doing this step. Here is the completed bottom:

20121210-193858.jpg9. To complete the bag, you’ll just need to add some finishing touches. Measure a piece of card stock to glue on the bottom inside of the bag for additional strength. Poke (or punch) two small holes in the reinforced top sides of the bag, insert twine and tie off to make handles.

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Tada! A recycled newspaper gift bag! (The bag was just tall enough, despite how it looks in the picture. Next time I’ll add that extra inch.) I added some lime green tissue paper for a splash of color. So cute! I visualize making these with Schy for holiday gifts, maybe with red or green stamped snowflakes on them and ribbon handles! You can even use different appropriate sections of the newspaper for particular people: sports, real estate, etc.
I am totally digging these bags. They’re super creative (super cheap) and can easily be personalized! And it’s a useful way to use some of that newspaper that everyone has laying around! Try it out and let me know what you think. I’d love to hear your creative ideas.

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Review and GIVEAWAY: Zenoobi.com

I was very excited to be contacted by Zenoobi.com to do a review of their fabulous site and one of their products. If you’re unfamiliar, Zenoobi is an eco-friendly and organic online retailer offering merchandise that ranges from baby and kids to furniture and household items. After exploring the site I was thoroughly impressed with the variety of merchandise that they have to offer.

At first glance, the site is very well-organized and offers a perfect balance of simplicity and variety. It is extremely easy to navigate and very user-friendly. It is apparent that the website is thoughtfully designed for a pleasant shopping experience. I had a very good first impression of the site.

I loved browsing the various products that they have to offer, from adorable organic baby clothing to my personal favorite, Aden + Anais swaddle blankets! (If you don’t already own at least one of these, now is your chance! Great gift, too!) There are a variety of natural bath & body products including the Earth Mama line, unique toys and crafts and even furniture for your little one or the nursery. And if that’s not enough for you, they also offer a large selection of natural cleaning products, bedding and household items.  Zenoobi.com carries an array of reputable names such as Happy Baby organics, Mrs. Meyers cleaning products, GreenToys, thinksport and many others.

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Zenoobi.com carries a fantastic selection of items for mama’s and mama’s to be. I received a bottle of Earth Mama Angel Baby Happy Mama Spray to try out. I haven’t tried many aromatherapy type products so I was eager to give it a shot. Described as ‘bliss in a bottle’, this spray is specially formulated with a blend of oils to be uplifting during stressful times and to curb pregnancy nausea. As the mother of a toddler, I used it for the former. The fresh citrusy scent is indeed uplifting! A spritz in the air or on the wrist and it really does give a refreshing feeling of calm. I’m sure the deep breath helps too! I obviously didn’t get to test the effectiveness on nausea. I have a hunch that it would depend on the woman as we all have very different aversions during pregnancy. I wouldn’t hesitate to give it a try if I should ever find myself pregnant again. I thoroughly enjoy this ‘bliss in a bottle’ and look forward to having it handy when we get further into toddlerhood and I need burst of serenity now!

Zenoobi.com is a great site for those, like myself, who like to support eco-friendly retailers. Based on my experience thus far, I would highly recommend giving them try. If we all did our part to select environmentally responsible products and support retailers like Zenoobi, the world would be a better place!

HOW ABOUT A GIVEAWAY???

Zenoobi.com is generous enough to be offering one of my lucky readers a $20 gift code for their site! Great time to pick up one of those sweet swaddle blankets I was raving about!

You will get one entry for each of the following:

1. Like Zenoobi on facebook and leave a comment about the giveaway. Bloggers be sure to ‘like’ from your personal FB page for it to be counted.

2. Like the big green parenting experiment on facebook and leave a comment. (Again, from your personal account.) if you already like the bgpe, leave a comment saying so to receive your entry.

3. Sign up for the Zenoobi.com newsletter and mention it in one of the above comments.

All entrants will receive a gift from Zenoobi.com, so please be sure to leave your comments so I can contact you! Who couldn’t use an extra $20 towards gifts right now? I know I could!

Zenoobi.com also states that they plant a tree for every order placed! How sweet is that?!

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handprint turkeys!

Who doesn’t remember making handprint turkeys as kids?? Now that Schy is a toddler, I thought it would be fun to make handprint turkey cards for our family. It was Schy’s first experience with finger paint and she loved it! Mama’s girl! This craft is so simple and there’s still time to whip some up for your family before turkey day.

You will need:
Card stock, a light color to paint and a dark color for matting
Non-toxic washable paints (brown, red, orange, yellow)
Paint brush
Palette
Sponge or damp towel
Glue stick
Pens for details (brown, orange)
One tiny hand

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I started by having everything ready. Knowing the attention span of a 14 month old, I wanted to be prepared to make handprints quickly and wipe the paint off right away. I spread a thin layer of brown paint on a plastic plate, had the card stock laid out and was prepared with a damp towel. Next, the toddler. I pressed her hand into the paint before each print, four per sheet of card stock.

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Once the handprints were dry, I used a dry brush to tap some colored feathers on each finger and a dab of red for the waddle. That coat dried pretty quickly so I could add eye, beak and leg details with the pens. I then cut the turkey’s out with scalloped scissors and framed them on orange card stock.

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For a finishing touch we wrote ‘I am thankful for my family!’ on the back of each person’s card with Schy’s name and the year. In future years it’ll be fun to have her tell us what she is thankful for. These came out super cute and I’m sure her family will just love them when she hands them out on Thanksgiving! It’s such a cute, personal little keepsake and one that took just minutes to make. Next year we’ll make our finger paints!

How do you involve your little ones in the holidays?

Wishing all of my readers a safe and Happy Thanksgiving with the ones you love!

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