Saving Sour Milk: When Does Going Green Turn Gross?

Personal confession: My greatest green motivation is resourcefulness…and the inability to throw things away. So when about a gallon and a half of milk started to get a little funky, I was sure that I could save it.

Time was limited! I warmed some of the milk enough to re-pasturize it, and then blended it with peanut butter, chocolate and banana to make frozen fudgecicles. Sadly, that only used about three cups of milk.

Onward to a lasagna with béchamel sauce, blended with a bit of pesto. Six cups of milk later, I still had a half a jug on my hands. How could I save every drop?

Why I Want A Chevy Volt (and Can’t Afford One…)

An acquaintance just raved to me that her new Chevy Volt is a delight to drive and makes the Toyota Prius appear to be a gas hog. From that moment on, I was hanging from her every word.

A full charge of the Chevy Volt costs my friend just a few dollars and keeps her running at full speed (up to 100 MPH) for a full 38 miles. If she travels farther than that, the gas engine kicks in and earns about 98 miles per gallon from there on out. The car can go a maximum of 300 miles without needing charging or gas. Plus, right now the Volt comes with a $7,500 tax incentive and a program to install a charging station (for free) in your garage.

Natural and Organic Crib Mattresses for Less

When we first began writing our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, organic crib mattresses were available only to families who were able to shell out several hundred bucks. How thrilling then to see that by the time the book was published, the market demand really had driven down the price of organic crib mattresses! Check out some of the organic options available to families now!

The Sealy Naturalis Crib Mattress with Organic Cotton is just $95! It’s not completely organic, but for families on a budget at least it’s a more organic option than a standard mattress.

The LA Baby Organic 2 in One Orthopedic Crib Mattress is currently about sixty dollars off, coming in at just $107 on amazon. That’s more than 30% off!

Extended Family Support With Childrearing: The Most Sustainable Solution

Am I the only one who wishes that my mother lived next door? Or that I could move all my relatives into a city block so that we could share casual playdates, huge potlucks and free babysitting? Maybe the reality of all that support is far more complicated and more stifling than my fantasy, but it seems ideal.

Just think of what it would be like if your relatives (and only the healthy, supportive ones) lived a mile away? Want to go out on a date? No problem! The grandparents are thrilled to get the kids. Need to stay late at work? No worries, your sister can pick up the kids. The kids get a deeper sense of family identity and closer relationships and the parents get tremendous support.

Simple, Green Summer Activities for Kids

Now that the crush of my work as a teacher is done for the summer, we suddenly have lots of unstructured playtime on our hands. My kids still enjoy imaginative play (they spent the morning yesterday pretending to be prairie dogs in a fort made of blankets), but it’s nice to get them out in the sunshine without having to buy a heap of materials or make elaborate plans. Following are some incredibly basic activities for semi-lazy parents like myself who want to enrich our children’s summers without a lot of effort.

Bug collecting. This requires one applesauce jar and nothing else. My children have spent hours overturning rocks in search of the most beautiful beetle. Of course, this requires a short education about “catch and release” as my son killed a centipede or two in the beginning in his efforts to adopt insect pets. Still, it keeps them busy and entertained for quite some time!

Investing in Travel with Baby…Instead of Wipe Warmers or Play Gyms

We’re heading off on vacation tomorrow morning..and are currently hacking away at the last minute details. We’ll be climbing aboard a plane that will shuttle us from Oregon to Maryland to see my in-laws and experience a bit of east coast sun.

In the past three years, my daughter has been on a plane five times. FIVE! I think I hadn’t experienced air travel that much when I was several times her age. Flying isn’t exactly the greenest of travel options, but it is important to us that our children know their far-flung family members.

Of course it’s an economic hurdle to buy all those plane tickets, but it is so thrilling to take my children on cross country adventures. And what a relief that the ultra-green, uber-thrifty route we’ve taken in the last five years has left us with money in the bank to enrich their lives in a way that disposable diapers simply can’t. The older my children grow, the more I appreciate the benefits of a thrifty green lifestyle!

Wild Slugs: Reclaiming Our Outdoor Sensibilities After Five Years of Child-Rearing

Lately I’ve been dragging my family out the door every weekend for a romp in the woods. Why? Because for the last five years of our lives, we were so caught up in domestic life that we lost our old wilderness lifestyle. We head to parks on a regular basis, but I wanted to go beyond sand and play structures and into real forest. Before kids we used to do this all the time! We strapped on our backpacks and boldly stepped into the trees without a second thought. Now we have to tuck the sunscreen, the snacks, the extra clothes, and the bandaids into bags even on a local hike.

Smaller Plates, Smaller Portions, Smaller Footprint

Ten years ago we choose Fiestaware dishes for our wedding registry and have enjoyed them ever since. They’re sturdy, classic, and scratch resistant. Amazingly, most of the eight place settings we originally received have made it through our children’s early childhoods in great shape.

It occurred to me the other day that the dishes that have been lost have all been small salad plates. They’re the perfect size for my children, they don’t take up as much space in the dishwasher, and they help me control my portion sizes. Suddenly I realized that if I bought more of them, (we have just six) that I could get double the number of plates into the dishwasher.

Planting Garden Starts in an Egg Carton

For the past five years, I have admired people who coax seeds into lush vegetable gardens but have never felt I had the gardening skills to take the leap. Instead we spent around $50 each year on starts. Then, at an organic seed sale, it occurred to me that with an investment of less than five bucks and one used egg carton, my kids would enjoy the experience of trying to start our vegetable garden from scratch. If any of the seedlings survived, perhaps it would help my kids to bond with vegetables more deeply and actually embrace sauteed zucchini sometime this summer.

Teflon-Free Frying Pan Options

Pregnancy and breastfeeding motivated me to find safer, and often greener methods for cooking and storing food. But the recycler in me had a very hard time tossing the high quality Circulon skillet we’d received for our wedding. We’re still using it, but I’m finally ready to invest some money in a healthier option. And I’d love to hear your input!

Stainless Steel Skillets seem entirely safe, but I’m so used to having a non-stick surface that the transition may be tricky. I also worry that I’d be using lots more oil in my cooking just to avoid burning food while sautéing.