The Big Green Parenting Experiment

raising a healthy family in a toxic world

A river for you, Newtown.

Today I cried. I cried a river. With every reporter that I witnessed choking back tears, the river grew deeper. The moment when it was revealed to Lester Holt that the gunman attacked a kindergarten classroom and he uttered ‘kindergarten’ with tears in his eyes and a shudder in his voice will forever be burned into my memory. I don’t really watch television, but at the first buzz of the horrifying words ‘school shooting’, I had to turn it on. I shared the thought that so many others expressed: ‘oh please no. Not again.’

This is the most horrific thing that I have ever witnessed in my life. 9/11 was awful. This feels worse. Perhaps it’s because as I sit, staring at the television with tears rolling down my face and a hand covering my mouth which just will not close, I am also looking at the image on a small monitor. The image of my own little angel, sleeping soundly. This beautiful image usually makes me feel at peace. It makes me smile. Today it makes me cry harder. It makes me question my ability to keep her safe in a world filled with hate, violence and tragedy. It forces me to wonder if I can ever prepare her, or myself, for the unimaginable. And if I will be there in her greatest times of need.

I am so sick today. Sick with sadness, grief and anger. Sick of humans taking lives, innocent lives that could have changed our world for the better. Sick of excuses. Sick of waiting for the next tragedy and wondering which one will be the last straw. What the hell are we waiting for?

What has happened to America? The world? Why am I dreading the day that I send my child to school, the mall or the movie theatre? Why do I suddenly feel guilty for bringing new life into this world? For fear that some mental defective will mow her down without batting an eye if she happens to be in his path of destruction? Is this really the world that we live in? I feel so sick.

I am sorry, Newtown. Like, really, truly, whole-heartledly sorry. I am sorry for your pain. I am sorry for your loss. I am sorry for what your children have witnessed, for innocence lost. I am sorry that your school, your town, your lives will never, ever be the same. I am sorry for the gifts that will go unopened. And for the sorrow that this date will forever bring. I am so, so sorry.

Please know that we are grieving for you, with you, Newtown. Your children are our children. Your hearts are our hearts. Your pain is our pain. And while things may never, ever be the same, may your souls feel the love and find strength in this river. A river we are all crying for you.

Rest in peace, sweet angels. Rest in peace.

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one day on earth project: 12/12/12

This is so amazing that I just had to share! I am really not sure how I didn’t know about this before.

Tomorrow is 12/12/12. The last repetitive date that we will see. Ever. (Alright, until 1/1/3001, anyway.) And there is this project called One Day on Earth which, on 12/12/12, will rely upon filmmakers everywhere to document just that.

Excerpt from One Day on Earth: “On December 12th, 12.12.12, across the planet, documentary filmmakers, students, and other inspired citizens will record the human experience over a 24-hour period and contribute their voice to the third annual global day of media creation called One Day on Earth. Together, we will create a shared archive and a film.”

This film will document the ordinary and extraordinary and showcase what people of the earth, living in vastly different worlds can create, together. What an amazing project. There is still time to sign up and bring a piece of your community to this project! I hope that some of you will consider it. This is truly inspiring and I can not wait to see the finished project!!

To learn more and/or participate, sign up here.


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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.

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.


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.

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.

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.


Like me on Facebook blog Hop!

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for December 12th


Julie Marling

Blog // Facebook // Twitter

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the four gift rule

Christmas is fast approaching and there’s one thing that is on everyone’s minds. Gifts. So, what do you think of this four gift rule? Do you think that gifts and wish lists have gotten out of hand?

I don’t ever ask for much, nor have I ever, really. But I guess I do remember feeling jealous over other kids who had been completely spoiled for Christmas. I usually try to go the thoughtful or handmade route and this year will be almost exclusively due to the ol’ budget.

Schy is only 15 months old and doesn’t watch television, so we haven’t yet had to deal with the child who wants it all. But that time will come. And, man, kids want so much crap! I had no idea how much plastic bull$@*# my house would be filled with. Combine this with the ridiculous amount of packaging… ugh. It’s an aspiring green parent’s worst nightmare. So wasteful. All they really want is pots and empty paper towels tubes anyway.

So I read this four gift rule somewhere and I thought it was awesome! People go so overboard and totally miss the spirit if the holidays. Parents literally trample each other on black friday Thanksgiving for the hot toy of the minute, only to be tossed aside as soon as the next thing comes out. It’s madness. Shameful, really.

I’m really considering this rule for our family. I haven’t spoken to the husband about yet, so we’ll see what he thinks. I think it’s a good guide to keeping the gifts in check. And there’s still room for just a little spoiling since those wants can get pretty expensive. (Thanks Apple!) Christmas isn’t about how many gifts you get. It’s about giving, family, spending time with the ones you love. Oh, and cookies!

I’d love to hear some thoughts on this! Do you practice a ‘rule’ for gift giving? How do you help your children understand what the holidays are about without going overboard with gifts? Please share!


day 30 of 30 days of thanks!!

Wow! November flew by! I can’t believe that tomorrow is December. Eek! So without further ado…

(drumroll please)

I am SO thankful that November only has 30 days! Seriously. Although the month flew by, it feels like I have been thankful foreeeeeeeeever. Kudos to everyone who stuck with their 30 days of thanks because believe it or not, it is challenging!

After having this month to really reflect on what I am truly thankful for, I realize how fortunate I am. It has opened my eyes to do my best not to take things for granted. I know that sometimes I am guilty of just counting on people or things being there without much consideration. My new goal is to be more thankful for them every day of the year.

In conclusion, I am thankful for you, November, for giving me 30 days (and only 30 days!) to focus on the many things that I have to be so thankful for. Until next year…


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day 29: 30 days of thanks

Today I am thankful for being able to cook. I love cooking and I really wish I could do it more often. Schy is starting to take interest in what’s going on in the kitchen these days. I get so excited when I think of her helping me prepare dinner or bake cookies. I can’t wait to teach her what I have learned over the years.
I have to admit that all of those years in the restaurant business really helped. I owe most of my knowledge and confidence to experiment to some of the great chefs that I have worked with over the years. On the other hand, I also learned a lot of ‘what not to do’!
I’m thankful that I have always (for the most part) been pretty successful at concocting healthy and delicious food. It is so fascinating and fun to learn as I go and I hope my mind will always be open to learning new and interesting things in the kitchen.
Oh yeah, and this…


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avoid getting sick with one simple step. true story.

So, you don’t feel like getting sick this winter, eh? Alright, great! Neither do I. Especially when I have an active toddler to chase around. Well, you’ve come to the right place. And I have to warn you, if you haven’t ever tried this you may be skeptical. But, trust me on this. This is a tried and true way to avoid getting sick.

I have one word for you. Garlic.
Ok, here’s a picture, too.

If you’ve been following along, you already know about my recent discovery of garlic as a natural bee sting relief. Seriously, is there anything that garlic can’t do?? This super food has unbelievable healing properties and is much easier on our systems than antibiotic medications.

Garlic is the ultimate super food. When garlic is crushed or cut, it releases a sulfur compound called Allicin, a powerful amino acid. Allicin boosts and stimulates the immune system when ingested. It is also gentle on the digestive system and does not disrupt the natural balance of bacterial flora like typical pharmaceutical antibiotics do. Not to mention that garlic is proven to have more powerful antibiotic properties than penicillin and tetracycline. Really.

So, does it work? Yes. It works. I have been taking garlic at the first sign of illness for months now. Whether I wake up with a sniffle or a slight sore throat, garlic practically stops the illness dead in its tracks. I have just started to take it preventatively. Right now I am taking one clove a day with a tall glass of water. In the past, if I woke up feeling a bit ill, I would generally take it three times a day for a couple of days to give the ol’ immune system a super boost. Worked every time.

Sound gross? It’s really not. You don’t need to chew a clove of raw garlic, although if you’d like to, by all means. Have at it. You may just want to avoid any conversation for the remainder of the day. I chop one clove into pieces that I can easily swallow, about half the size of a vitamin. They can be larger, but just remember that the edges aren’t all smooth and rounded so it may hurt a bit going down. Just swallow your garlic chunks like you would swallow pills, with a big swig of water. I try to drink a nice tall glass per clove.

I have never experienced any stomach sensitivity afterward, but it is possible. My husband fully chewed the clove the first time he ever tried it and it bothered his stomach. When he started swallowing chunks, he didn’t have any further problems. If your stomach is on the sensitive side, you may consider taking it before or after a meal. I’ve never experienced any odor ‘side effects’ either, though that is also entirely possible. The swallowing method does seem to eliminate the strong garlic breath.

So there you have it! How to avoid getting sick in one super simple step. I will follow up after winter and fill you in on how the preventative method worked out.

What do you think? Have you tried this? And if you haven’t, would you?

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day 28: 30 days of thanks

I am so thankful that my family and I have always had access to health care when we’ve needed it. I know that there are plenty of people in the world who have not been so lucky. Tomorrow is Schy’s 15 month appointment and I am thankful that she is able to see her pediatrician regularly. It gives me comfort as an overly paranoid first time mom that her doctor is just a phone call away, no matter the time of day or night. I’m thankful that this is something that my parents were always able to provide for me and that we can now provide for our little one. Here’s hoping we’ll only ever need routine visits.


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day 27: 30 days of thanks


That’s right. Today I am thankful for trees. Trees are just amazing. They are fun to climb, they bear delicious fruits and they make the earth beautiful and interesting. And, hello, photosynthesis?! I mean, come on!

We are so lucky to have so many grand trees on our property. They really make it feel like home.

I have also been thinking a lot about Christmas and how much Schy is really going to enjoy the tree this year. We always have a real tree since they are renewable and all. We have a little family ritual of thanking our Christmas tree each year. We give it thanks to welcome it into the house. We also give thanks when we remove it. Sounds corny, I know, but it’s just something we do and something I plan to teach Schy. Trees are such an essential part of life in so many ways and it is important to teach love and respect for them.

There are just so many reasons to be thankful for trees! Now go hug one!

Today’s thankfulness for trees was inspired by the ‘tree’ prompt for #fmsphotoaday. I got up close and personal with one of our stunning trees, seen in photo. I mean, look at that thing! Isn’t it just amazing?!

(If you are into photo-a-day or would like to try one out, I’d love to invite you to participate in the big green 365 challenge, starting January 2013! Feel free to contact me for more details.)

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