Baked Dough Christmas Ornaments

Brace yourself for an eco-confession: For the past several years, my husband and I have made homemade ornaments for each other out of Fimo dough, a weird plastic-ish concoction that can’t be eco-friendly.

This year it dawned on me to use a few simple recipes for dough that can be baked into homemade Christmas ornaments. They make beautiful, sentimental gifts and cost just pennies apiece! Plus their easier for my two-year-old to work with, completely non-toxic and better for the planet.

My favorite spot for salt dough ornaments was DIY Alert.com, where I found this wonderful picture and step-by-step instructions for salt dough ornaments. I’m not sure I have the craft skills to produce such lovely finished products but the simple directions give me hope.
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Spoiling Your Child with Thrifty Green Living This Holiday

When my son’s eyes light up as he opens a Christmas present, I delight in his happiness.  But thrifty, green living has shown me a whole new way to look at indulging him.  For example, on my son’s birthday we were able to buy him a far more toys than usual because we opted for garage sale gifts.  He felt spoiled, we saved money, and we embraced the “reuse” part of the green cycle instead of buying new.  

But beyond the material stuff, I keep thinking of all the secondary rewards my son gets from our thrifty green lifestyle–especially during the holiday season.

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Saving Money with Store Brand Organics

Although I’m always trying to shift my grocery selections to organic products, sometimes my inner tightwad cannot handle the sticker shock—especially with the recent rise in food prices.  Buying our produce through a Commmunity Supported Agriculture subscription and having our own raised bed garden has helped, but as a working mom, I depend on having some packaged products to feed my family. 

Store brand organics have come to my rescue with quality, eco-friendly products at reasonable prices.  I have found organic applesauce, crackers, and beans made by Western Family (a generic brand popular in the Pacific Northwest) at my local grocery store.  Even chain stores such as Safeway and Fred Meyer also offer their own organic selections, including baby food.

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The Eco-Friendly Christmas Tree Dilemma

I live in Oregon where we’re surrounded by evergreens and breathe in pine-scented air on a daily basis.  Every Christmas I’ve had a real tree, some of which we tromped out into the woods to find and others that we’ve picked out at our local tree farms.  It has always seemed like a normal part of the holidays to have a real tree, so I was shocked to hear others touting the eco-benefits of plastic holiday trees.  Say it isn’t so! 

Still, it’s good to consider the plastic vs. real debate and then think beyond it.  There’s certain to be a tree that will fit your budget and your green values.

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Avoid Packaging, Shipping, and Clutter with Gifts of Experience for Adults and Kids Alike

I know that part of the fun is receiving a package, wondering what’s inside, and opening it with abandon.  But here’s a green idea: what about giving the gift of experiences this holiday season?

Experience Gifts for Adults

Gift certificates to favorite local restaurants.  My mother-in-law pays attention to the restaurants we frequent or mention wanting to try when she visits us–then we’re surprised with gift certificates to them months later!

Gift certificates to local grocery stores.  This might not seem like much of a present, considering people spend money at the grocery store all the time.  I personally love to get gift certificates to places like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, and I make sure to buy something special for myself with them, because it’s a present–not a coupon!
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Reusing Baby Food Jars For Holiday Gifts

Like some green moms, I aspired to blend boiled kale into ulta-nutritious meals that my baby would love without the expense and waste of prepared baby food.

After a few months of trying to balance sleep deprivation, dirty diapers, teaching, and my own sanity, I decided to embrace those tiny jars of freedom and relinquish my dreams of green perfection.  Although I did supplement with home blended meals, organic jarred food was a huge gift.   You can read about my baby food adventures here.

All those glass containers were carefully recycled, but now that I’m out of the baby food stage, I wish I would’ve reused them instead. 
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Gratitude, Green Living, and Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  While the mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie are key factors, I mainly love that we spend a whole day basking in thankfulness. 

Gratitude takes me beyond household chores, my desires for a dishwasher, and my fantasies of a foot massage.  It helps me to look into my son’s chocolate brown eyes and  take a moment to be humbled by what I already have. 

When I’m in a thankful state of mind, I’m not feeling urges to buy or impatience over what we don’t have. If we could all wander around in a constant state of gratitude, we’d most likely all have less stuff, more happiness, and a much cleaner planet. 

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Planet-Saving, Money-Saving Homemade Popcorn

With grocery prices soaring, it’s nice to know that you can save loads of money on a simple, homemade snack.  We’ve been guilty of buying microwave popcorn in the past, but six months ago I began making it on the stovetop––it’s incredibly easy and requires almost no equipment!  Plus it will help you avoid the hydrogenated oils in packaged popcorns as well as the cost and packaging.  It’s great for the planet, your budget and your family’s health—and it doesn’t require a lot of work.  From start to finish you can expect it to take less than ten minutes, including cleanup.

  • Find a large, heavy pot with a lid. (Most people already have one.)
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The Dinnertime Dilemma: Part 1

It’s four o’clock, the baby is fussy, you haven’t had more than a three hour stretch of sleep in the last day and a half and time is ticking down to the dreaded task at hand—cooking dinner.  There may be some readers who relish the idea of whipping up a multicourse meal while entertaining a small child and trying to stay awake, but many of us struggle with the evening meal. 

Since takeout is expensive and wasteful, fast food is usually unhealthy, and both of these options require leaving the house, it’s important to have a few tricks on hand for tackling dinner preparation. These are a few of  my humble discoveries, but I’m sure our readers will contribute more!

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Using Baking Soda for Baby’s Bath, Diaper Pail, Cradle Cap, and More!

Discovering new ways to use natural, inexpensive products gives me a slightly bizarre thrill—like winning the lottery, fully reversing global warming, or seeing my toddler son first thing in the morning. 

You can imagine my euphoria when I found out that a fifty cent box of baking soda could replace diaper cream, eco-friendly cleaners, and baby bath without any artificial ingredients or phthalates.  For those of you that didn’t catch last week’s post, you might want to read up on how baking soda can also replace deodorant, shampoo and even toothpaste!

Baking Soda: Over 500 Fabulous, Fun, and Frugal Uses You’ve Probably Never Thought of” offers a plethora of ideas using for baking soda with babies and throughout your house.  The book is chock full of ways to replace potentially toxic mainstream products and expensive green cleaners with simple baking soda solutions. The list below is compiled from the book’s section on caring for babies and children. 

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