19
Sep

An Oldie but Goodie – Drying Racks

by Tiffany in A Green Home

All summer long (and now well into the Fall) I have been using the power of wind and solar to dry a large portion of my clothes and bath towels thanks to a classic drying rack. I love the fact that I have saved pennies by not using my energy hog clothes dryer but I also just get such joy out of seeing clothes and towels blowing in the wind outside. Maybe my view of clothes on the line is a bit romantic but I always loved my summers at Grandmas’s farm, helping my mom putting clothing and bed sheets on the line to dry. It’s right up there with shucking fresh corn and tossing the husks over the fence so the horses could eat them. It just seems to epitomize the homestead lifestyle and return a little of that charm to our modern world.

I rent currently and don’t have much room to put a permanent clothes line so for two years it was all the dryer all the time and I felt bad about that. Then I saw a rave review about Homestead Drying Racks and after contacting them I received one for review. I ADORE it. It makes laundry go so much faster, taking probably two loads a day out of my dryer and using wind/solar power to dry them.  I also find that it does not adversely effect my stinky bath towels action plan. The towels don’t actually need to be sterilized in a hot dryer…the sun (and the tea tree oil I use in the wash) works just as well. Clothes and towels are a bit on the crunchy side but I don’t mind that at all.

I cannot comment on the ease of putting it together, or not, because hubby did that but I think it only took him about 30 minutes. Our younger kiddos were over the moon thinking it was some sort of climbing toy for them. Ha! It is sturdy but not THAT sturdy. I like that I can fold it flatish and lay it against a wall so that it is out of the way when need be and I like that it is pretty light because I transfer it from kitchen to back porch when I want to use it. In the winter we may use it in the basement for drying clothing but more than likely it will stay in the kitchen and be used for hanging winter clothes and wool that have gotten wet from snow play. They can drip dry on the rack, conveniently positioned next to the heat register, and dry in a non-carpeted area. Perhaps they will actually be dry when the kids go out again only an hour or two later and I won’t have to listen to gripes about how awful it is to squeeze into wet snowsuits.

We have a pretty tiny porch so this rack is perfect for our needs. I think I have it down to a science as far as number of clothes/towels I can fit on it. This is the “Pioneer” rack from Homestead Drying Racks. They also have a “Homesteader” size which is much bigger but I was afraid it would not fit on our porch.

The “Peddler” size is perfect for indoor drying in small spaces like apartments or RVs and they even have an old fashioned hand ringer for ringing out wet clothing. From what I have experienced their racks are very high quality and it has been so useful and will no doubt continue to be throughout the year.

It is also perfect for my Vibram Fiver Fingers and Fila Skeletoes barefoot shoes. They need to be washed fairly often (CrossFit yo!) and cannot be dried lest they fall apart so I just wash them with the towels and then dry them on the rack, easy peasy.

If you are in the market for a drying rack or have ever thought about giving one a try please check out Homestead Drying Racks.

Also another fun tidbit…they have a free homestead magazine you can download as well. It is very well put together and very informative. Love it!

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

4 Comments

5
Sep

Sweet Potato Banana Bread With Coconut Flour

by Tiffany in Recipes

We have been eating sweet potatoes regularly of late and often times when I make up a batch of mashed sweet potatoes I have extra on hand to use in other recipes later in the week. Sometimes we reheat them on a griddle for breakfast or we make sweet potato pancakes with coconut flour and goat cheese. Yesterday though I decided to add some leftover mashed sweet potatoes to some grain free banana bread and see how it turned out. The results were quite delicious and the addition of sweet potato helped to cut down on the “graininess” from the coconut flour.

I think this is going to become a regular treat in our house from now on and perhaps even replace my pre-workout Larabars, since I am trying to reduce processed foods and needless packaging. The texture is very dense and soft and it has a bit of sweetness but not nearly as much as conventional banana bread. My kiddos all love it, with the exception of my youngest, who hates coconut. I feel good giving this to them for breakfast for some good brain food.

Sweet Potato Banana Bread With Coconut Flour

Ingredients:

1 Cup Flour
1/2 Cup mashed sweet potatoes
3 very ripe bananas
4 pastured eggs
6 T grassfed butter or coconut oil (melted)
2 T ground flax seeds
1/4 Cup chopped walnuts (optional)
3 T raw honey
2-3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/4 tsp sea salt
1T cinnamon
1/2 t baking soda
1 T vanilla

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix wet and dry ingredients together in separate bowls. Add the dry ingredients slowly to the wet and mix together well. Pour into a well greased or parchment paper lined loaf pan. Cook for one hour and 20 minutes. Allow to cool and serve slathered with grassfed butter. Yum!

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

7 Comments

14
Jun

Have You Made Your Summer Fun Checklist Yet?

by Tiffany in Tidbits

So have you made your Summer Fun Checklist or Summer Bucket Lists yet? Pretty much everyone knows they want to enjoy the summer months and squeeze as much fun as they can from them…but how? It is always a good idea to have some sort of plan so that you know exactly what you want to accomplish and when the kiddos say they are bored you have an idea of what you might want to do. Your kids can even help you make your list so everyone has some input.

I put together the list above with some things I want to do with my family. Some are a given, like eating watermelon or reading books. Others are not as likely but certainly things we would love to do, like renting a yurt or going tubing. We already checked off some of these items this week… bowling, getting ice cream, and visiting a children’s museum!

What is on your list?

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

6 Comments

17
May

6 Cheap and Green Ways to Entertain Your Kids This Summer

by Guest in Children

A Guest Post from Hannah Walton aka The Cheapskate Mom

Summer is here and the pressure is on to find cool ways to entertain the kiddos that don’t hurt the wallet or the planet. Leave mainstream summer vacation ideas in the dust and you will find that frugality, fun, education and environmentalism go hand in hand. You don’t need to spend a fortune on a wasteful water park or fly half way across the country to entertain your kids – mix nature with some creativity and you’ve got a winning solution for a blissed-out summer. I’ve outlined some exciting for green summer fun on the cheap to get your wheels spinning:

1. Nature Walks Meet Modern Treasure Hunting

Geocaching is an outdoor treasure hunting game that uses GPS devices (such as smart phones) to find “treasure” boxes (aka tupperware and other sealed containers). As long as you have a GPS enabled device, you can login online, find some “caches” near you (you will be surprised how many caches are located in your neighborhood!), gather the kids and start your modern treasure hunting adventure. Once you find your treasure box, you leave a treasure behind and take a new one. Caches are everywhere – city streets, parks and hiking trails: geocaching is a terrific way to get the kids excited to be out in nature and looking at their world in an all new light.

2. Gaze At The Stars

Star gazing in the summer can be as simple as lying on a blanket in your back yard and looking up at the big night sky.  You could get a little more fancy by adding telescopes to the mix  – if you don’t have one , ask around at work and in your neighborhood – astronomy hobbyists will often be more than happy to help out and may even volunteer to attend your star gazing party and offer their expertise. Be sure to check your local paper as you may find a free star gazing night being hosted by a local astronomy club where you can check out the night sky in a park, looking through lots of different telescopes zoomed in on all sorts of outer space bling!

3. Make A Movie

If you have a smart phone or a video camera (pretty inexpensive these days), spend a day or a week making a movie. Have the kids write, direct, design, scout out locations and even film their own movie. Have a rule that you can’t spend any money on the movie to get the kids thinking outside the box (by reusing the box): repurpose trash into props and costumes and use nature as your stage. Learn about video editing together – lots of free apps and programs abound on the web – and when you are finally done – have a movie screening night in your home complete with a “red” carpet (that you repurpose, of course). You will always have your Summer of 2012 movie for your kids to keep and remember for years to come.

4. Start A Garden

You can garden if you have a huge backyard or just an old coffee canister with some dirt. Not only is gardening great for the planet – and a wonderful life-long hobby to introduce to your children – it can be great for your wallet as you can actually eat what you grow. You can use found dirt and seeds from vegetables you eat – or plant a garlic clove – you could even get fancy and start composting your food and give every kid a little area in your yard or their own window sill if you are an apartment dweller like me. Gardening is a great way to teach kids about how patience and work pays off big.

5. Have a Low Wallet & Carbon Footprint Summer Vacation

Camping is the perfect way to spend time as a family, have fun and learn about nature while having quite an adventure. Camping means going swimming, meeting other families, long hikes, camp fires and getting creative with camping cooking. Another frugal and green vacation idea is to swap homes – do you have a city place while friends live in the country? Bring up the idea of a week long or even weekend house swap and see what happens – it’s a great way to go somewhere different without paying a lot for not-so-green accommodations!

6. Construct A Backyard Obstacle Course

Get the kids out of the house and into the creativity zone : have the kids plan out an obstacle course adventure. Take old boxes, tires, ropes, coffee canisters, wood (anything goes just make sure to supervise, of course) and then let the crew construct their very own obstacle course – a fun group activity sure to give way to lifelong memories of summer fun from way back when.

The Cheapskate Mom is a mom-focused blog magazine all about surviving the recession in style with lots of eco-friendly and DIY ideas, crafts, giveaways, recipes and projects. For more DIY summer ideas, check out Games For Kids Summer Parties.

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

7 Comments

11
May

TGIF – NatureBox, Baby Books, and Fifty Shades

by Tiffany in Tidbits

TGIF! Have a great weekend and Mother’s Day all! I am hoping to kickstart my weekend this morning with a viewing of Dark Shadows at the theater and then watching the Central East Regional CrossFit games on ESPN3 since some of the guys/gals from my gym are competing. Go team CFNA! It would be lovely to go in person since they are in Columbus, OH but I think my kids would be bored out of their minds. The rest of the weekend is pretty up in the air. We have been invited to a picnic and there is an herb festival the next town over. Lots of possibilities.

Stuff I am Reviewing…

Nature Box – This is another one of those monthly box deals and it is all about healthy snacks. We enjoyed our box and would have enjoyed it much more prior to going paleo since a couple of snacks were grain based. The dried cherries were phenomenal though, yum! My husband also really liked the dried veggie crisps and my kids did enjoy some non paleo snacking for a time. My kiddos never had a fig newton before trying the ones in this box, LOL. That kind of blew me away.

This concept is really awesome if you have a hard time sticking to your guns when it comes to healthy snacks. I don’t think they are organic but they are pretty natural and without artificial sweeteners, HFCS, food dyes, and other nasty stuff. The promo code HEALTHY may be used for 25% off your first month of subscription, if you care to give them a try.

Full Circle Fresh Air Kitchen Compost Collector – We got this shortly before Earth Day and I gave it a try. I didn’t realize at the time that it relies on bio plastic baggies to collect the kitchen scraps and I am not a fan of that but it it is still a good kitchen option for those who are not composting. It sits on your counter and you just drop the scraps in as you collect them. Every 3 to 4 days you are supposed to remove them but we typically went longer than that. There was no smell, which is a bonus, but it did attract fruit flies. I will be donating or freecycling mine as I just don’t like having to use plastic bags.

A Hadaki Cosmopolitan Tote bag – They consider it an eco-friendly option because their products are AZO free, contain no Phthalates / DEHP or DBP. I think we differ somewhat in our definition of eco friendly but I do not mind plastic based tote bags so much because they are durable and reusable. This particular bag is quite awesome in size and I can see myself taking it to the farmer’s market, the local pool, and to BlogHer12 in New York City (only 3 months away!) to carry all my goodies.

Astroglide Natural – Got some of this last week. I am not going to go into how I personally like it since that’s none of your business. :) I do however like that so many of the companies that make these personal lubricants are removing the toxic ingredients! Astroglide has no glycerin, fragrance, parabens, or alcohol. I also ran the ingredients list through the Skin Deep database and all scored a 1 or 2. Pretty good.

Books I am Reading…

The Other Baby Book: A Natural Approach to Baby’s First Year was one of my recent reads. I am not expecting nor will I ever be again, or that’s the plan at least, but I still enjoyed reading this book. I think it would have been much more beneficial to read a book like this when I was newly pregnant instead of the standard What to Expect books. It challenges many of the conventional ideas on birthing and baby care and it is so refreshing! It really takes a look all aspects of bringing a life into this world and caring it, and re-frames normal. I liked that it strongly advocates for attachment parenting and using your intuition as a guide, keeping birth interventions to a minimum, breastfeeding on demand, co-sleeping, and elimination communication among many other things. The tone was also very upbeat and encouraging, not scary. A+

168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think – Just finishing this book. It basically addresses the fact that we all have 168 hours a week to work with and that most of are not actually crunched for time we are just not using that 168 hours wisely and in ways that make sense for our dreams and goals. If we make sure to fill those hours only with things that deserve to be there, we build the lives we want. I really enjoyed this book.

Fifty Shades of Grey – Had to read it after all the media buzz and I was kind of surprised to find that I was not the least bit shocked by this book. I adored it actually and ordered the next two pronto. The author has been quoted as saying it is like the grown up version of Twilight (but with BDSM instead of vampires?) and I agree.

Other Link Worthy Stuff…

Love this Kickstarter Project for an iPad Sustainability story.

 

Hoping to make and eat soon… these Raw Lemon Pie Bars and these grain free Cake Batter Balls.

This Climate Change Carnival at Big Green Purse has many awesome links including one of my own articles. Check it out when you get the chance.

BlogHer Green also featured my stinky towels post.

Enjoy your weekend!!

Friday, May 11th, 2012

3 Comments