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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Green Promise: Benjamin Moore Aura BzzCampaign review

I was pretty excited to be selected for the Benjamin Moore Aura BzzCampaign this month. I’ve been known to paint some rooms (alright, a LOT of rooms) and I love to get creative with color. I’m just not really a neutral kind of girl. Our new house has been making me twitch since we moved in last year. There couldn’t possibly be any more tan and beige in this place. Blech. There’s nothing wrong with that… it’s just not for me. Not to mention, all of our furniture is neutral since it’s used to having a bold, vibrant wall behind it.

As I read about the product that I was about to sample, I was excited to learn about the Benjamin Moore Green Promise. Benjamin Moore promises to meet or exceed environmental standards by assuring that their products remain low or zero-VOC after the tinting process. Benjamin Moore Aura is considered a low-VOC paint. It’s no secret how much I love products that are better for the environment. Let’s do this!

So, my least favorite room of all has been the pale yellow kitchen. Now, I’m not a lover of yellow to begin with but then there’s the jaundice-like glow that is captured on every face in every photo that we’ve ever snapped in the kitchen. Enter exhibit A.

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Don’t get me wrong, she looks adorable, but her color is just a little, well… off.

We have some pretty dated, rustic, panel-esque cabinets in the kitchen which I have been planning to overhaul by painting white. And for quite some time I’ve had my heart set on vibrant apple green walls which would look so yummy with crisp white cabinets! So, now is my chance! I received my BzzCampaign kit with a coupon for one FREE gallon of Benjamin Moore Aura paint (retail $67.99 + tax!) and couldn’t wait to get started. As I flipped through the lovely color palette that they sent along with the coupon, my nerves started to get the best of me. I began to fear that the shade of green that I so loved would have the same effect as the yellow. After some contemplation and browsing the lovely color selection that Benjamin Moore has to offer, I decided to go with Thunder. It is a nice, light shade of grey (dare I say neutral) and will be a beautiful backdrop for black framed kitchen art and pops of bright apple green.

Here’s a before shot of the pale yellow kitchen. The picture actually makes it appear less horrifying than it really is. Trust me.

After picking up the paint, I was super anxious to get started. I was actually quite surprised by how strong the paint odor was. Other BzzAgent reviews had given the impression that the paint was nearly odorless. I do not agree. I actually thought that it was a bit on the harsh side for a low VOC paint. Maybe because I have been using ZERO VOC paint for so long? Fortunately the weather was on the mild side so I was able to open up a couple additional windows. (Note to self: November in Upstate New York is not the best time for painting.) I was under some time constraints with the BzzCampaign, so the painting must go on! Actually, the odor aired out very quickly and within an hour or two you couldn’t even tell that I painted.

And, the after. Much better, but now I am really anxious to paint those cabinets!

The paint itself was fantastic. I noticed right away while I was cutting in that it covered extremely well. The paint appeared much thicker than other less expensive brands that I have used. It went on smoothly and the color was just as expected. Typically I would expect to do 2 or 3 coats of cutting in, but, honestly, with this paint it isn’t even necessary. Other brands are much more watery and fall short in the coverage department. After one coat I was definitely not disappointed by this paint. I do plan to do a second coat since I still have a half-gallon of paint left. I imagine the second coat will impress me even more.

So, bottom line, this is an awesome product that Benjamin Moore has to offer. The coverage is amazing and I have never seen such a fabulous color selection. It does bear the Green Promise, which I love, although the odor is a little more harsh than I expected. This wouldn’t have even been an issue if I was painting in warmer weather and had all windows and doors open. This would not likely deter me from considering this paint in the future. Finally, there’s the price tag. The $70 price tag is pretty hard for me to swallow for paint, no matter how spectacular. I did love the results, but for a single income family the added expense is just not realistic. Of course, home improvement projects in general are not realistic right now. In a different financial state, I would probably consider using this product again.

Overall, Benjamin Moore Aura is a great product that anyone [who can afford it] should consider. I’m glad that I had a chance to try it. Thanks BzzAgent and Benjamin Moore! Job well done!

(Along with my BzzKit I received multiple coupons for $5.00 off a gallon of Benjamin Moore Aura. If you’d like to give it a try, let me know and I’ll send one your way!)

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