9
Apr

My Week With the Kia Soul

by Tiffany in Green Cars

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Last week I got to borrow this nifty car for a whole week. This was really my first experience with Kia. Beyond seeing them around the road I only knew them as the company that makes the cute commercials with the dancing hamsters. When the Soul arrived at my house I loved it from the get-go. The color (called Alien) is right up my alley. I pretty much only like cars that are green, yellow, or a vibrant blue. I had a magenta car once but no companies are making cars in that color anymore. :)

This one is touted as being a bit greener (as in eco friendly) but I am going to be brutally honest about that. I don’t find this car to be green at all. My gas mileage during the week I had it ranged from 24 to 28 mpg. The technicians who drove it to me from Detroit claimed they got 35 mpg but the majority of those miles were highway. I don’t get on the highway very much. All of my driving, which isn’t much, is done in the city with lots of stop and go. I drove with the eco feature turned on the entire time as well. Don’t get me wrong the mpg I got while driving it is probably better than that of any of my current vehicles. Yet I am not going to consider a car green unless I am getting 45mpg or higher or unless it is electric. Neither qualifier applies here.

That said I love this car anyway…for budget reasons. I have test driven many different cars in the past two years. ALL OF THEM were very nice, luxurious, green cars that I could not begin to afford. They had all these amazing features and upgrades that equated to many thousands of dollars on top of an already very pricey base model. The Kia Soul I drove was the top of the line model with every feature I loved in the luxury cars and some new ones the fancy schmancy cars didn’t even have.

It has heated and cooled (cooled?!?) seats, front AND back. It has a heated steering wheel and a backup camera. It has an amazing display with a kick but navigation system. It has remote keyless entry, roomy leather seats, a push button start, mood lighting in groovy colors (blue, green, red, etc), and a sun roof that extends across the entire roof, not just the driver seat area. It just has too many features to name and the price is only $26,000 with a 100,000 mile warranty. Wow! After driving cars that averaged 35 to 40k and weren’t nearly as nice as the Kia Soul I am sold. I fell in love with it as did my husband, kids, and parents. Whenever the time comes to look for another car we might actually decide not to go used like we usually do, not if we can get all that luxury for a fraction of what it typically costs.

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Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

5 Comments

7
Apr

What is a Victory Garden? Do We Need Them Now?

by Tiffany in Gardening

Plant a Victory GardenI am kind of fascinated with the idea of victory gardens. They are vegetable, fruit and herb gardens planted during world wars l & ll to ensure adequate food supply to the troops and civilians.  They were planted at private residences and also public places. Public authorities, businesses, schools and seed companies worked together to grow more vegetables in order to reduce the pressure on the food supply at a critical time in our history. 

People were asked to produce more of their own food and food for their neighbors and townships so that the food supply system in general could be pared down and more resources could be used on the war front. It was also a morale booster for the civilians that they are also contributing towards the war expenses and doing their part to fight for their country at home. By growing more of their own food they could also avoid the restrictions of food rations and become more self sufficient during those stressful times.

Americans ploughed their front and back yards and even public places to convert them to victory gardens. Even playgrounds were not spared.  The gardens were a grand success as it is said that they produced about 40% of the the total vegetable and fruit needs of the country so that the nation could effectively utilize the resources meant for agriculture and divert them to waging the war. It reduced demand on materials used in food processing and canning. Railroads could focus on transporting munitions and not food. Excess produce from victory gardens were preserved and canned for the winter season.

The campaign for victory gardens was successfully launched with a media campaign that included colorful posters, features in  the magazines, etc. It helped to imprint the idea in the minds of the populace.

victory-gardenNowadays people are again thinking and talking about victory gardens. Though the victory gardens are history now, the idea behind them is still relevant. Production and supply of food materials are now controlled by corporations all over the world. More and more people have no idea how to grow their own food and feed themselves. They blindly delegate this responsibility to large companies and big agriculture. This is pure folly for many reasons though. These corporate food entities have no interest in making sure our food supply is healthy and safe. It is also crazy to think we don’t need to know how to take care of ourselves in a most basic sense…aka producing the food we need to live!

A replica of the campaign launched many decades ago is required now as it will help liberate the production and supply of food in this country. It would provide people all over the country with an opportunity to grow quality food items without the control of corporations. It would also save each homeowner money because they would not need as much from grocery stores and local markets.

It is a wonderful feeling to grow your own food and feed your family with nothing but your sweat and hard work. It is also a great feeling to become less dependent on “the man”. I like teaching my kids important lessons in the garden…aka where food comes from and how to grow it yourself! Preserving food is also another great skill for them to learn.

As a country we have become lazy and dependent when it comes to our food supply. It is time we wage a personal war to regain that control. For more information on how to get started see some of the links below…

Why We Have to Start Gardening in the City

Unusual Planters for a Thrifty Garden

Green seedlings growing out of soil in egg shells

Monday, April 7th, 2014

16 Comments

31
Mar

Just Another Way to Reduce Paper Waste – Send eCards

by Tiffany in Tidbits

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of eCards from American Greetings. All opinions are 100% mine.

It is a big part of our culture to give cards for special occasions…birthdays, holidays, weddings, anniversaries, baby showers, illness, the list goes on. Even when we give gifts it is customary to give a card as well. I have always resisted the urge to buy cards because I think it is wasteful. The cards are beautiful and often funny (I like the humorous ones) and they provide us with something witty to say when we don’t have the words. But most likely they will just end up in the trash…or they will saved in some dark box along with other cards that have been relegated to the greeting card grave yard until they too are trashed when the recipient decides they no longer need to hang onto cards from years ago.

Greeting cards are also really pricey and you have to go to the store to buy them. For me that means a special trip usually because who remembers these details when they are already at the store? Not me. Any alternative that does not require me to drop $6 on a single greeting card (even if it sings), a special trip to the store, or sending paper waste out into the yonder is alright by me. Luckily there are more and more options out there.

American Greetings has new singing greetings and  video eCards that you can send. They can be  sent via  email, mobile, or Facebook. You pay a small monthly ($3.99) or annual fee ($19.99) and then you can send unlimited eCards. You can also try the service via a free seven day trial. Learn more.

I love the “Just Because” video eCards. I need to send one to my mom just to let her know I have been thinking of her a lot lately. Love this ladybug one! My grandmother used to have those exact same chairs. :)

Who do you want to  send a video e-Card too??

Ecard from American Greetings

Make your American Greetings eCard now

Visit Sponsor's Site

Monday, March 31st, 2014

7 Comments

31
Mar

Bottling & Flavoring Your Home Brewed Kombucha

by Tiffany in Tidbits

Bottling & Flavoring Your Home Brewed Kombucha

Two weeks ago I shared my first foray brewing Kombucha with a GetKombucha Continuous Brew Kit. For two weeks our Kombucha has been brewing and yesterday we finished it off by bottling it and also flavoring it. Flavoring is entirely optional…the Kombucha tastes incredible on its own, but we like to jazz up some of our batches to create new flavors. Then we drink it throughout the day instead falling back on things like soda or sugary juice. We also take it with us in school and work lunches for a tasty, healthy drink on the go.

Our process is pretty simple. We allow our Kombucha to ferment for about 14-16 days usually, giving it a taste around day ten to see where we are at. When it is brewed to our liking we bottle it in glass jars that used to contain store bought Kombucha. They are the perfect size and we love reusing items when we can instead of tossing them in the recycling bin. We have about 4-5 dozen bottles because we typically brew 2-3 gallons a week . This provides a steady supply of Kombucha for the whole family.

Once the Kombucha is done and we know we will be bottling it we decide if we will flavor it and how. We also add chia seeds most of the time…extra flavor, extra filling, and we love the texture. First we brew up some flavored tea (peach this time around) and we put the chia seeds in it to plump and soak up the tea.

chia seeds in Kombucha

If we put them directly in the bottles we find that they clump together so a pre-soaking works better and they will absorb the flavor of the tea. You can also add juice to this mixture as well for extra flavoring. We added some tart organic cherry juice to ours and it complimented the peach tea very nicely. We like to experiment with a variety of flavored teas and organic juices.

Once the chia seeds have soaked for a bit we use a funnel to put them in our glass bottles. The gloopy, globby mixture settles down at the bottom.

bottling kombucha

Then it is time for the Kombucha and thanks to this new brew kit we can pour it directly from the spigot. This makes it much easier for us! Fill each bottle, seal them, and put them in the fridge for drinking throughout the week. The photo below is just some of the jars we bottled. A few them just had the peach tea chia seeds and others had the added cherry juice, hence the variation in colors. All were delicious!

finished Kombucha

Before we even started the bottling process though we brewed some more tea for another batch. Last week we made a gallon in our new kit but this week we filled it up (2 gallons). The scoby is now happily swimming around in a fresh batch of tea and fermenting away until we begin the bottling process again, in two weeks or so. The batch from this week provided us with a baby scoby as well. I typically save them for making extra batches as needed or I sell them locally for $5 a piece. I also compost them along with the loose tea or tea bags (depending on what we used). This is pretty much a waste free process.

scoby in kombucha

For more ideas on how to flavor your tea visit GetKombucha. They talk about flavoring with ginger, lavender, rosehips, and other adventurous options.

On to the giveaway!!! One of my readers will be fortunate enough to win the exact same Kombucha kit! You will get the porcelain brewer with spigot, a handcrafted wood stand, cover, loose tea, muslin bags, scoby, and instructions. To enter just fill out the rafflecopter form below. There are numerous ways to gain entries. Good luck! US Residents only.

Continuous Brew Kombucha Kit


Thank you to Get Kombucha for sponsoring this post. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of the Green Moms Network, and the content and opinions expressed here are 100% my own.

Monday, March 31st, 2014

21 Comments

28
Mar

How to Help Kids Get By With Less TV and Video Game Use

by Tiffany in Children

How to Help Kids Get By With Less TV and Video Game Use - naturemoms.com

We will never be a TV free family. We enjoy our televisions and our gaming consoles here. We also have smart phones, tablets, and rokus. These are modern luxuries that we happen to love. It is all about keeping things in perspective though. Sometimes we need to do a technology cleanse (or detox) if usage is getting out of hand. We also need to remember that life should be experienced with all of our senses and not just viewed with a screen.

Kids may need assistance from mom and dad with this issue because they aren’t known for their abilities to self regulate (yet). This is an issue that could have profoundly positive effects on your family. Do you think you could resolve to live without television or computer games for  a week? An entire month? Okay maybe smaller… how about large block of time each day when no screens are allowed? You decide. The computer would be used for work purposes only (homework, jobs, and so forth) but not entertainment. And you couldn’t cheat by watching videos on the computer!

Do you think you could do it? If you’d like to take this plunge, here are some ideas on how to get started, and some of the effects your family will likely enjoy.

1. Hold each other accountable. If you’re going to do this, no one can cheat. Make sure everyone is on board, however reluctantly. Even if your kids do not want to go with it, as parents you need to make sure you stick to the resolution and keep the television and computer games off.

2. Focus on the positive – emphasize all the things you can do now. Has someone in your family always wanted to learn to ride a bike, explore a particular natural area, or view the stars? Now that you are unplugging for the month, take advantage of the free time and do those things. Point out that you are doing this-and-such activity (perhaps watching a meteor shower) because you aren’t watching TV or playing computer games.

3. Make plans to fill the void. Replace computer games with board games and card games. “Parlor games” are also fun, like charades. I like educational games like Wildcraft or cooperative games that each us to work together to meet a goal.

4. Read books as a family. In the days before visual and auditory media, families would take turns reading aloud to the family. Try Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, or classics such as the Little House books.

5. Family members can learn to play an instrument, and have family “concerts” or recitals. Other skills that can be showcased in this way include drawing, painting, singing, sewing, and other crafts. Think how much your family will learn about each other this way.

6. Have a cookout. In fact, cooking outside saves a lot of energy, and you can engage in some really interesting energy projects this way. You don’t have to use fire to cook out, although that’s fine if your property allows. But you can also make a solar oven with aluminum foil and cardboard boxes. Let your kids build an outdoor oven like this and cook various foods.

7. Plan outdoor activities. There are concerns today that kids are not getting enough of the great outdoors. Go on hikes and explore the landscape. Use field guides to identify birds, plants, rocks, and other interesting things in your area. Look for the locations of natural springs and local waterfalls. Hunt for covered bridges in your area. Whether it’s cold or warm weather, there is something fascinating to discover in nature.

By the end of the month (or week) you probably won’t even miss the television or computer games. And your family will have a greater appreciation for each other and for what it is to live life and not just watch it.

Friday, March 28th, 2014

7 Comments