30
Jul

Homegrown Collective – Homestead Skills Delivered in a Box

by Tiffany in A Green Home

Homegrown Collective Box

I have made no secret of my adoration and fascination with subscription box services. I have tried many… green mom products, eco friendly products, healthy snacks, supplements, etc. The idea is that each month you get a box filled to the brim with sample products to try, all of which fit within a larger theme. An eco friendly products box for instance might be filled with organic fair trade snacks, natural toothpaste, green cleaner samples, soap samples and the like. Every month you get a different box with different treasures inside it. It is a fantastic way to try new products without paying full price for each and you get exposed to products you might not otherwise have tried.

So yeah, I love subscription boxes. My latest find tops them all though.

This box leaves all other boxes in the dust. It manages to integrate homesteading/homemaking/homegrown love and put it all in a box. You not only get to TRY new things you get to LEARN new things. Holy moly! I also have a bit of an obsession with homesteading and homemaking skills long since forgotten in this day of modern convenience and this box manages to capture all of it perfectly. A box of food and eco products pales in comparison to a box of new skills hand delivered to your door….skills that will make you more self sufficient, reduce your environmental impact, and save you money. This is an ingenious product concept and I simply ADORE it.

It’s called The Homegrown Collective. The box for month of June had the theme Vim & Vinegar and it came packed with artisnal balsamic vinegar, white vinegar, organic dried blueberries, organic dried orange peels, a mason jar, baking soda, a glass quadra bottle, a pourer, and a spray nozzle.

Vim and Vinegar Homegrown Collective Box

With all of this the idea is to make some useful products from scratch. First up is Blueberry Infused Balsamic Vinegar… a yummy vinaigrette to put bottled and processed dressings to shame. Perfect for summer!

There were also instructions for making a couple different all natural cleaners including a citrus spray using vinegar and organic orange peels. The box has recipes and instructions but also useful knowledge in the form of facts sheets. It empowers you with information and teaches you how to make the products you see in stores at home and with healthy ingredients. It encourages self-sufficiency and promotes environmental stewardship and sustainability. Rather than a box filled with stuff you will use once, you get knowledge and skills you can use from then on if so choose. Past boxes have included items such as a mushroom growing kit, heirloom seeds, water kefir supplies, DIY cheese kit, DIY herbal tinctures, DIY homemade cough syrup, kombucha bewing kit, raw honey, beeswax, gourmet treats and more.

I am in love…

Try it yourself and use code GREENMOM10 for $10 off your first box!

Join Now
 

Find them also on Facebook and Pinterest.

28
Jul

Summer Home Maintenance Tips

by Tiffany in A Green Home

rain barrel in the garden

The weather in Ohio has been a little crazy lately. We have been alternating between rainy and cool, hot and humid, or just plain hot, hot, hot. Some days the A/C is running and some days not. I guess I should just be thankful for the days that are not so terribly hot…the days when I can open my windows at night because the temperature has fallen below 80 before I nod off for the night. It is a constant summer pass time…trying to keep the house comfortable without using the A/C too much and being wasteful. There are also other things that keep us hopping…a lawn that needs mowed, a hose that kids will forget to turn off if you don’t watch them like a hawk, and summertime bugs wanting to come inside where the shade, food, and water is.

I think that we need a “summer” cleaning and revamp after the spring one. According to EnergyStar, the average household spends more than $2,200 a year on energy bills, with half of this directly related to heating and cooling costs. It’s hard not to let little things fall through the cracks during the busy summer months, especially when we are so busy having fun. Here are some summer maintenance tips to keep you sailing smooth…

•  Clean windows and fix screens: Spring and summer storms are part of life in most areas of the country and if we want to enjoy the sunny days of summer we need clean windows! Pick a day to clean them inside and out. Make sure to fix any screens that have holes and tears or flying insects will be happy to make their way indoors.

•  Clean out the rain barrel: It’s hot and humid and the rain barrel water might be starting to get slightly stinky and maybe even a breeding ground for mosquitoes. If this is the case empty it in the late afternoon, give your plants and garden a good watering, and clean the tank/barrel out.

•  Change your A/C filter: You probably changed it for spring but they really need to be changed every season and think about all the dirt, pollen, and other bits you are bringing into the house daily. Summertime usually means more in and out activity and since you are using your A/C it is doing double duty. Replace the filter and it will not only run more efficiently, you help clean indoor air by capturing dust, pollen and lint from the air passing through the filter. The Filtrete Micro Allergen Reduction Filter provides a balance of particle capture and airflow, thus helping to prevent stress on the system as well as reducing the amount of energy needed to reach desired temperatures. Where to buy: Lowe’s, Target, Costco, and your local hardware store; find a location near you by visiting FindMyFiltreteFilter.com.

Think maybe I should clean up the weeds around my A/C unit too???

A/C Unit and Filtrete Filter

•  Create bug barriers: Check for holes and cracks around doors and windows where bugs might be making their way inside. Clean up any things that might be attracting them like crumbs, pet food, and water. Use natural deterrents such as spearmint, peppermint, cinnamon, and basil.

Bonus!! The above tips are mine but here are some more from Mike Holmes, the trusted HGTV Contractor:

•  Hot water heaters: Set hot water heaters at 120 degrees Fahrenheit or below to avoid potential scalding.

•  Stove: Remove and wash stove grates, burners and coils with warm water and  soap. Over time, grease can build up around the stove, increasing the chances of  a fire.

•  Fire extinguishers: Check the expiration dates on your fire extinguishers. You should keep one on each floor of your home.

•  Cracks: Inspect the floor, walls and foundation of the home for cracks. Jot them down on your home to-do list, and fix them before they lead to deterioration and wood rot.

 

26
Jul

Gearing Up for Hiking Season

by Tiffany in Enjoying Nature

Woman Hiking in the Fall

These days I am pretty much all about CrossFit but I have not forgotten my other “love”. Hiking. I got an email reminder over the weekend that my city’s annual Fall hiking series kicks off in late August and I am psyched. You basically take a guided or unguided hike through 10 of our 16 Metro parks. It is a great way to spend every Saturday for ten weeks…with your community, enjoying the changing of the leaves. I look forward to it each year. You get free refreshments after each hike and if you do enough of them you get prizes too. It is just another thing I love about Columbus, OH and just when that the Fall fun ends they start up their winter hiking series and you get to trek through snow.

I always make time for these annual hikes. Hey, it’s exercise and if you have a sedentary job (like I do) then it is important to keep moving. Walking is good. Hiking is better. It is good for your body and heart because it is interval training with periods of heavier effort followed by plateaus and resting points along the way. It’s good for you mentally too. There have been some studies over the years that have shown cognitive benefits of interaction with nature via hiking and walking. It can help you focus and ultimately be more productive. I do some of my best thinking on hikes.

As with most fitness gear I like to buy high quality. I may spend more initially but quality items last and I end up buying less and spending less in the long run. Sure I might spend $200 on a good pair of shoes but they still look brand new after two years when a pair from a big box store would have fallen apart after one season and they would have fit so badly I would have blisters. Go high quality the first go round and save your feet…unless of course you also need that pair of barefoot hiking shoes for low mileage hikes. Can’t go wrong with a few different choices, or so says this shoe whore. ;) My hubby used to give me hard time about how much I would spend on athletic gear but now that he is equally involved in these pursuits he has quickly come around to my way of thinking.

We also both love to shop at The Clymb for this reason. They carry the bands and gear we love at hugely discounted prices, try these out. We have gotten shoes, compression clothing, and thermal fitness clothing for amazingly low prices. It’s hard enough to stomach the fact that you NEED a pair of compression socks but paying $60 for those socks (a single pair) can leave you feeling faint. The Clymb though often has these socks for 50% off or more. Shoes go for equally amazing prices. The aforementioned pair of $260 shoes… knock those down to $130. My husband can attest to this. He and his workout buddies are always gabbing about some amazing deal one of them spotted on this site. I may have created a monster but a well-dressed one nonetheless.

25
Jul

Environmentally friendly cars: the pros and cons

by Guest in Green Cars

Cars at NAIAS

Over the last couple of years there has been one area of the struggling automotive industry which has been growing apace: the hybrid car industry. The strong sales of hybrid motors can only be a positive thing and perhaps we are beginning to see a genuine change in the buying considerations of automotive consumers. In the US sales of hybrid cars increased by 34% between 2010 and 2012; in Australia the increase in the popularity of the hybrid is even more rapid, with sales increasing by an astonishing 160% during 2012. When you bear in mind that that Australia and America are the spiritual home of gas guzzling muscle cars, this is surely reason to be cheerful.

Despite their increasing popularity, many people are still uncertain about the relative merits of hybrid cars. For anyone considering purchasing one for their next vehicle- and it is certainly something that everyone should consider- here is a breakdown of their pros and cons to help inform your decision.

The Cons

Let’s get the disadvantages out of the way! There is no beating around the bush, hybrid cars are not as ‘exciting’ to drive as their petrol counterparts. Although the performance of hybrid cars has improved hugely in a relatively short space of time, for petrolheads they are still a long way away from the real thing. However, for the vast majority of drivers this lack of ‘ooomphh’ should be of little concern. When trying to espouse the virtues of environmentally friendly technology it is easy to be branded a killjoy. Perhaps we do have to accept that there is a place for the excitement which is presented by fuel thirsty vehicles, and maybe it isn’t in the mainstream?

The most likely concern which will put people off buying a hybrid is the cost. Due largely to the technology involved, hybrid cars are more expensive than their standard alternatives, often to the tune of several thousand. As we shall see, hybrid cars can engender big savings in the long-term, but in this economic climate it is not surprising that people are scared off by a hefty initial outlay. Nonetheless there is reason to be optimistic. With sales of hybrids increasing their price is only going to go one way, and that is down.

The Pros

Although not a perfect solution, hybrid cars offer huge environmental benefits over traditional motors. Hybrid cars are not only far more fuel efficient, but they are also much lighter in terms of carbon emissions. There can be little debate that we need to take action to protect our planet, and whilst some may call for more drastic measures, attempting to take that action within a framework which allows the normality of everyday life to continue is perhaps the best course. In days gone past hybrids were often seen as vastly inferior to their petrol and diesel alternatives, however things have quickly changed. Use any motoring car comparison tool and you will see that they are now right up there with the best of them. And their evolution is likely to continue. Read the Mitsubishi Lancer review by Motoring and you’ll understand what a serious piece of performance kit the Lancer Evolution is- a real petrolheads dream. It’s therefore particularly interesting to note that in the last couple of days it has been rumored that its latest incarnation may well be a hybrid. Hybrid cars may not offer the thrill of a V8 just yet- but perhaps the day when they do isn’t that far off. Until then they are surely a most welcome compromise.

Whilst the initial outlay may be greater, increasingly consumers are choosing hybrids because of the long term economic benefits which they provide. Not only are they going to save you money at the gas pumps but there are more and more government lead incentives to purchase one. Depending upon where you live various tax rebates are available, often amounting to considerable savings. Insurers also take a favorable view of hybrid drivers, helping to propagate the view that hybrid drivers. For the savvy consumer the most appealing economic advantage of hybrids is their resale value. With so few in the marketplace compared to standard cars they hold their value remarkably well, and this doesn’t look like changing anytime soon.

This is a guest post by Hannah Tharp

24
Jul

BlackFish – An Important Documentary About the Captivity of Killer Whales

by Tiffany in Social Good

Killer_whale

My intro to this movie came via Bill Maher last week. He interviewed former Sea World trainer John Hargrove about a new movie he is featured in called Blackfish. It touches upon a hugely important subject….the danger to humans when we capture what we cannot control and also how abusive it is to even keep such animals in captivity.

Now I realize you may love Sea World. I do too. I haven’t taken my kids there in over 10 years though (despite making trips to Disney and Universal) because I just cannot support what they do. Killer whales (as well as many other species) are kept in spaces way to small for them. This is ABUSE. As the former trainer pointed out, they think that keeping a killer whale in a 20×20 tank that is pitch black is causing psychosis and it is no wonder that whales are turning on their trainers. He also pointed out that Sea World and other corporations like it are making money hand over fist and all that money goes to making rich people richer OR improving areas of the park not related to the animals such as roller coasters and food stands. Making conditions better for the animals is not even in the budget.

IMO if any such places even exist they should be not for profit and all money should go towards improving the natural habitats of all marine animals and those currently in captivity. Isn’t it the height of arrogance to take these creatures from their homes, abuse them, and make them sing for their dinner?? Using and abusing these beautiful creatures should not be tolerated by the public…let alone openly endorsed by us, by taking our families there.

I encourage everyone to catch this film when it hits theaters in your area (check here for listings). Watch the trailer below: