Archive for the ‘Green Holidays’ Category


Holiday Guilt

Not at our house!

Not at our house!

I have a confession to make: we do not have a Christmas tree. In fact, of the nine Christmases my husband and I have been together, we have not once gotten a tree. Every year there is a different reason not to get a tree (we’re moving, we’re going to be out of town, the decorations are in the storage unit across town and I’d rather be baking cookies, etc.).

In the back of my mind I’ve always thought that once we had kids we’d have a tree. Well, it’s baby’s first Christmas, and we didn’t get a tree!

This year’s excuse, besides being incredibly busy and not having a place to put a tree, is that we’re spending the night Christmas Eve at Grandma and Grandpa’s house and they have a tree. In fact, Frances and I drove out into the woods to help them get the tree a week ago. All the presents are already under the tree at their house. So really, it would be duplicitous to have a tree at home too.

When the guilt sets in, I tell myself she’s too young to appreciate it any way. As if she doesn’t have an obsession over lights and wouldn’t stare at them for hours! The one year she can’t walk over to it and pull off all the ornaments, we don’t have a tree!

I think instead of being guilty, I’ll claim that it’s greener to skip the Christmas tree. There’s one more tree still growing in the local forest, or one less tree trucked in from Oregon. Next year, Franci, I promise we’ll have a tree.  (Just don’t hold me to it!)

This is my holiday guilt confession, what’s yours? Not engaging in Elf on the Shelf? Not baking any cookies? Not buying everything on their list to Santa? Or maybe you’ve decided to skip the Santa charade all together? Dish!

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  • Filed under: Green Holidays
  • Recipe: Rolo Pretzel Bites

    Rolo Pretzel Bites

    Rolo Pretzel Bites

    If you want to bring a homemade treat as a hostess gift or to a party but don’t have time to make anything, try this recipe! By the time the oven was preheated they were assembled and ready to bake.
    Rolo Pretzel Bites

    • Small pretzels (the square ones would work well too)
    • Rolos
    • Pecan halves, and/or red and green M&M’s
    1. Heat oven to 350F.
    2. Line baking sheet with parchment. Unwrap rolos. Place unbroken pretzels on baking sheet.  You can crowd them in real close. Place a rolo on each pretzel in the center.
    3. Bake for 3 minutes until rolos are soft but not melted.  Meanwhile, pick out a few intact pecan halves from the bag.
    4. Remove pretzels from oven and place a pecan half or M&M in the center of each and press down.
    5. Wait until they have hardened completely before storing. You can put it in the fridge to speed up the cooling process.

    This is another recipe that would have a bunch of great variations.  Try cooked bacon instead of pecans or M&M’s!  Use peppermint Kisses instead of rolos!

    Limiting Holiday Gift Giving

    Special Delivery!

    Special Delivery!

    Most of us have seen the blog post, A Ten-Month-Old’s Letter To Santa and boy is it true!  The tissue and ribbons and boxes are way more entertaining than any of the gifts at baby’s first Christmas.  Despite my best efforts at a recent party, I looked away for one minute and found Frances with magenta lips and fingers from the tissue she thought looked tasty.

    Some relatives are more respectful than others of adhering to the “one gift rule” or whatever request you’ve set for holiday gift giving.  Babies are meant to be spoiled, right?  But what happens when the toy chest is too full to close or you can’t make a trip to the bathroom without stepping on a toy or two?

    We asked Franci’s grandparents for specific gifts and no extras!  One cousin of mine has a good rule for her kids I plan to keep in mind: one toy in, one toy out.  That is, if her son gets a new toy he has to give away or donate one he no longer plays with.

    How do you deal with over-eager grandparents or a Santa that just can’t say no to those chubby cheeks?

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  • Filed under: Green Holidays
  • Recipe: Medjool Date Fudge

    Looking for a holiday treat that no one else will be bringing to the annual pot-luck?  Fudge is a classic choice, but this spin will have everyone grinning over how “healthy” it is.  There is no added sugar and it uses unsweetened chocolate, an antioxidant powerhouse.  No one will know that it uses dates, unless you tell them.  I’ll leave that decision up to you!

    It definitely is a seasonal recipe, since you can only find Medjool dates this time of year.  But you can get them just about anywhere, even Costco! Or if you are a Trader Joe’s fanatic like me, you can find all the ingredients (even the ghee) there.

    Medjool Date Fudge

    Dark Chocolate Fudge

    Dark Chocolate Fudge

    Adapted from Gluten Free on a Shoestring

    • 6 ounces chopped unsweetened chocolate
    • 6 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil
    • 1 pound pitted Medjool dates
    • 1/2 cup cream, heated
    • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
    1. Line 8-inch or 9-inch square pan with parchment and spray with coconut oil or other cooking spray.
    2. Put pitted dates in a food processor with a blade attachment. Heat cream and pour over dates. Melt ghee and chopped chocolate together in a microwave, mixing often until melted. Pour over dates. Add vanilla.
    3. Process until the mixture is smooth, which might take a couple of minutes. Scrape down the sides if necessary. Add cocoa powder and process again until smooth and shiny.
    4. Drop big spoonfuls into prepared pan, and then spread evenly with a spatula. Chill in the refrigerator until firm, about an hour.
    5. Pull fudge out of the pan using the parchment handles, and slice. Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.

    I’ve made this recipe with ghee and coconut oil, and both are great. I bet it would be easy to adapt the recipe for butter, but I haven’t tried it. The coconut version would be great with nuts, if you’re into that. I’d like to try the recipe again, using rum extract instead of vanilla. Add a little nutmeg and it would be a perfect accompaniment to eggnog!

    Homemade Presents for the Holiday

    owl-pillow

    Owl Pillow

    I started a tradition a few years ago to make gifts for my nieces each Christmas. I love to craft and sew and, since I can never get organized enough to make them birthday gifts as well, it’s my mission to send them Christmas gifts that I’ve made myself.

    This year, the project was Fleece Owl Pillows. My mom and I found a pattern at Jo-Ann Fabrics months ago, and when I told her a few weeks ago I wanted to make them for my nieces she said. “I was going to make Frances one for Christmas!”. It was destiny. So yesterday we got together and busted them out. They are so cute I should have made one for my self!

    Ever since I read Joy’s post about DIY Fabric Gift Bags, I’ve been using more and more fabric bags. So of course the owls are going in their own re-usable fabric gift bag. They are especially great for over-sized or oddly shaped gifts.

    Fabric Gift Bags

    Fabric Gift Bags

    If sewing isn’t your thing, there are a million other craft ideas. If you’d like to make your own holiday crafts, get thee to Pinterest now!

    Are you making your own holiday gifts this year? I’m always looking for good ideas so please share!

    Baby Proofing for the Holidays

    Yum!

    Yum!

    One of the stories re-told year after year involves my brother, a toddler at the time, eating a lightbulb off the tree. Despite my parents’ effort to place all the lights out of reach, he was still able to reach the bottom string and take a big bite out of one of the blue lights. This was when lights were the size of your thumb, not the little ones most trees have today.

    The holidays are a magical time for children, and the temptations run high. The flickering candles on the table, the blinking lights everywhere, not to mention all the colorful ornaments and tasty looking tinsel. Or even the edible popcorn and cranberry garlands that are perfect for snacking.

    Like my parents, I’m sure I will try my hardest to baby proof the house for the holidays, and then overlook one essential detail. I mean, there are just so many ways to be thwarted! Even if we erect a corral around the Christmas tree, there are still plenty of other decorations around the house. Aren’t poinsettias pretty poisonous?

    How do you make sure your space is ready for your curious tots?

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  • Filed under: Green Holidays
  • Black Friday

    Get in line!

    Get in line!

    Do you plan on hitting the shops today? Or were you lined up last night with a belly full of turkey waiting for the doors to open. Maybe you are in your slippers on the couch with your laptop open and credit card near by as you read this post.

    I’ve never been that interested in Black Friday, my self. I’ve been an off-peak shopper for years, since I have no patience for lines and I like to get my errands done as quickly as possible. I find the whole concept pretty fascinating, and I’d love to hear what you consider to be the pros and cons of Black Friday shopping.

    How do you feel about Black Friday? Are you boycotting the stores or are you trying to be the first in line to get the best deals?

    How can you make Father’s Day special for a new dad while you’re sleep-deprived and have no time to shop? Honestly, I don’t even really remember our first Father’s day celebration as a new family, but after consulting my husband, these are the things he was most wanting back in those early days of parenthood.

    Framed photos. Snap a couple shots of baby with dad (and grandpa too, if he lives close), print them out, and slip them into frames for an easy, but special, gift. If you have more time on your hands, make a bound photo book online.

    A personalized picnic. Whether it’s gourmet potato chips or homemade pasta salad, your fellow has a few special entrees that may not cross the dinner table on a regular basis. Pick them up, pack them up, and head out for a hike..or just an afternoon at the park.
    Date for father's day
    A date. Every dad (and mom!) deserves some time off. Create a homemade gift certificate for an afternoon or evening out. Do a babysitting trade or perhaps leave your tot with family so the two of you can hit all of his favorite pre-baby hang-outs. (The picture above is of a special date we had six months ago. We hiked the same trail we took on our first date!)

    An Ipad. My husband claims that this gizmo is extremely practical for fathers taking the 3-5am shift. Sitting in the rocking chair while watching sports highlights made those late nights infinitely more bearable. This seems to be the least sentimental and the most expensive item on my idea list, and yet it is the thing that my husband most adores.

    Do you have special Father’s Day traditions in your family? Any glorious gift ideas to share with the rest of us?

    This holiday season, I’ve been searching for the products that new parents are raving about in online reviews. It’s best to trust those currently in the trenches of early child-rearing for the gifts that children (and parents) will really love this holiday.

    The Itzy Ritzy Snack Happened Snack Bag is an overwhelming favorite. Families love that it zips shut (unlike other reusable bags that seal with velcro), that it can easily contain an entire sandwich, and that it holds up well after several trips through the washing machine. The product would be perfect for baby finger foods and would easily transition to preschool within a few years. It’s a great stocking stuffer for a child too as parents are reporting that kids love the designs on the bags.

    The Green Toys Fire Truck is another great value that parents rave about. It’s sturdy, adorable, made from recycled plastic and is currently on sale for just $20.22. (My son got the Green Toys Recycling Truck when he was two and is still playing with it as a six-year-old!)

    The Melissa and Doug 60-Piece Standard Unit of Blocks is on sale for about $53, and is a great gift that will provide years of creative play for children. Parents recommend the product because of quality, durability, and the flexibility of the design options. These blocks are recommended for children above three years, but I can imagine my kids would have been chewing on them in their first year.

    Chewbeads are a GENIUS gift for a new mother (and her baby!) The chic necklace is made from 100% silicone beads free from BPA, phthalates, cadmium, or any other scary stuff. The necklace can be tossed in the dishwasher to rinse off the baby drool and can be slipped over an adult’s head without having to deal with a clasp.

    What gifts are you planning on buying for baby or other new parents this year? Help us share great products with our readers!

    Somewhere in the midst of laundry, errands, and picky eaters, I have lost my love for preparing the family dinner. And yet I yearn for mealtime perfection…the image of my children eagerly crowding around steaming dishes of nourishment. Are simple, healthy family dinners even a possibility?

    The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time is on my Christmas list. It’s packed with tips, recipes, anecdotes and green tips for a better family dinner. Somehow the fact that Laurie David (producer of An Inconvenient Truth) manages to keep her teenage children at the dinner table is inspiration enough for me.


    Dinner: A Love Story is a lovely combination of reality and ideology. Jenny Rosenstarch chronicles how her and her husband make dinner a priority, no matter how crazy their family life becomes. The recipes she shares are tried and true and her voice is like that of a good friend, full of encouragement and lacking in judgement.


    My other favorite, simply because the humor and tone immediately seem to lessen my meal-making angst, is One Bite Won’t Kill You, By Ann Hodgman. The reviews are fantastic and seem to imply that both adults and children have enjoyed recipes in this book. It looks like it just might be a success with my picky crew!

    I know Deceptively Delicious is quite popular, but I didn’t have tremendous success with the recipes. The garbanzo bean chocolate chip cookies were a whole lot of work, and were rejected by everyone, including me. If you have younger children and are pureeing foods anyway for the baby, it might be worth the effort. Otherwise the pre-blending of cooked veggies seems unrealistic.

    What is your go-to family cookbook? Thanks for your ideas!

    The Eco-nomical Baby Guide
    Eco-nomical Baby Guide
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