11
May

Growing Healthy Minds – Why Gardening is Educational

by Tiffany in Gardening

Why Gardening is EducationalGardening is more than just a fun and productive activity. It is more than just a weekend hobby or a way to add a little extra food to the budget menu. For homeschoolers and for those interested in furthering the practical education of their children, it is also a great activity for helping kids to learn. Kids who garden and learn how to feed themselves and nurture the soil around them are learning practical life skills. It makes for a “groundbreaking” education.

How so? Here are some of the ways. Gardening:

Teaches Planning and Goal Setting – Great gardens actually begin months before the digging, planting, and harvesting. It is not only a great lesson in patience, it is also instrumental in teaching them that good things come to those who have goals and plans. Help your kids lay out their garden plan and decide which plants will go where, keeping in mind that companion planting will help a garden thrive. They also need to think about ways to attract pollinators and which plants and flowers will work best. They are creating a balanced mini ecosystem and that doesn’t happen by accident.

Teaches Them to Grow Food – Recessions happen. Times get tough and we need to live frugally and on less. It is always advantageous to know how to grow your own food. Relying on grocery stores exclusively makes you a somewhat of a slave. Growing food on the other hand teaches self sufficiency and survivalism.

Teaches Math Skills – Do some simple math to determine how much money it took to grow the garden and how much you saved by not purchasing that same food at the grocery store. Kids can also calculate square footage, create garden plan blueprints, measure spacing between plants, plot plant growth, and calculate how much wood is needed for raised beds.

Teaches Language Arts – Small children can read garden themed storybooks and then plant what they’ve read about. Older kids can be called upon to research native plants species, weed and pest control tactics, and other topics such as biodiversity and permaculture.

Teaches Science – What better classroom than a garden? Kids can learn about rainfall, climate change, life cycles, seasons, insects, animals, and soil conditions just to name a few.

You may just want to get the kids involved in gardening to make them more well rounded individuals. That is an awesome goal. If you are interested in pursuing the garden as an educational tool with some sort of curriculum then I suggest starting with this school garden curriculum. Also the book The Garden Classroom: Hands-On Activities in Math, Science, Literacy, and Art is amazing. Enjoy!

 

21
Jan

Gifts for the Manliest of Men On Valentine’s Day

by Tiffany in Green Holidays

Gifts for the Manliest of Men On Valentine’s Day

I recently read an article about a new term for some men called Lumbersexual. I got a real kick out of it because it fits my husband to a tee. The definition is something along the lines of a metro-sexual who has the need to hold on to some outdoor based rugged-ness, and a finely trimmed beard. My husband often looks as though he just stepped out of an L.L. Bean catalog. He rocks the flannels, boots, and the beard. He is a real manly man…my Grizzly Adams, who looks a little less Grizzly and a bit more Adam Levine. I adore every manly inch of him.

I wouldn’t be caught dead giving him a stuffed teddy bear on valentine’s day though. A mushy card maybe because he loves to hear how much I love and adore him but silly v-day gifts you often see on the market…are just that, silly. If you really want to wow your Valentine this year, give him something he can really use. Here are some ideas for your manly man.

1. Food – The quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Your mother was right! Prepare something special just for him or take him to a place that serves something a little different. Think…duck, rabbit, quail, pheasant, or other wild game….locally sourced of course.

2. A fun and manly experience – Check out Groupon and other local businesses for activities such as time at a gun range or archery range, a survivalism class, a hunting excursion, a camping trip, etc. This can be something you can do together or something he can do with his buddies, either way he will love it!

3. Technology – A solar cell phone charger, a subscription to Beats Audio, wireless earbuds…anything techy that shows your special guy that you also love his geeky side.

4. Games – Video games are to a gamer what chocolate is to a woman. He can’t go out and wrestle with lions or get into caveman brawls right? He is a modern man and he works out his manly aggressions online via video games. Surprise your guy with that video game he has been wanting.

5. Auto accessories – Men often take pride in their wheels. Custom-car floor mats, new parts for a more tricked out ride, there are many accessories to choose from to accessorize your honey’s wheels. If you are unsure what he wants than a gift card also works well. Often times men are hesitant to spend on themselves and this way he knows you want him to splurge on himself.

6. Books – How-to and DIY books are often a good gift. Try books about home construction, boat building, sheds and outbuildings, aquaponics, homesteading projects, and brewing beer.

7. An emergency kit – Fill a backpack with things your fellow could use when camping, or if he spends a lot of time driving. Things to add might include a heat sheet, a fire starter tool, waterproof-proof matches, a knife, first-aid kit, a wool blanket, a weather-ready LED crank radio/flash light combo and a micro tent. Think small, lightweight, protective, informative, and functional. He will be moved that you care about his safety.

8. Beer – If your Valentine is a beer geek, give him an assortment of gift cards for local breweries. That way you both gets regular nights out and he gets to try all sorts of new, local beers.

Hopefully this gives you some ideas for something unique and ultra-masculine this Valentine’s Day for your own Grizzly Adams.

10
Feb

Natural Fixes for Winter Beauty Woes

by Tiffany in Beauty

Natural Fixes for Winter Beauty Woes

The harsh winter weather can really take a toll on our skin. In the midst of all the snow, storms, and polar vortex’s of late your skin may be feeling kinda dry and drab right about now and your hair looks dull and frizzy…not so much nourished and healthy as we would like. It happens to all of us who live in cold weather climates so rest assured that many others are in the same boat right now. That doesn’t mean there aren’t ways in which you can remedy the winter beauty blah’s though. Here are some natural remedies that will enable you to bring some “spring” to your winter skin.

Chapped and dry lips – Use a product that will be easily absorbed by your lips to help nourish and repair…as well as provide a barrier to wind and weather. Good products to try include those with beeswax (vitamin A stimulates cell repair) and coconut oil (skin cells drink it up).

No Glow – Winter skin can be pale and blah. Do not head to the tanning booth or start using toxic self tanners. Go for a bit of glow with mineral makeup.

Crow’s feet and fine lines – A lack of hydration in winter skin can make find lines more pronounced. To combat this issue drink more fluids. Green smoothies are very hydrating and help to plump the skin up but you may not be crazy about drinking smoothies when the weather is cold. I suggest water with a couple teaspoons of aloe vera juice added, very hydrating.

Cracked or chapped hands – Our hands are quite often exposed to the harsh weather, even if we try to wear gloves or mittens as much as we can. In order to keep them hydrated we need to use something thick, creamy, and hydrating. Good options for hand creams would include coconut oil, shea butter, or jojoba oil. Keep some in your purse so that you can get to it frequently.

Dull dry skin on your face/body – Exfoliation is your best friends this time of year. Not only does the arid air present a problem but your natural oil production slows down in colder months. The old skins cells need to be sloughed off so that your complexion does not appear dull and dry. Put a cup or two of almond meal in a glass jar or container and keep it the shower.  Mix a tablespoon or so with a bit of water to make a paste and then exfoliate. It works great and is natural to boot.

I also recommend using a really soothing bar soap with french clay and natural oils and ingredients. This handcrafted soap is made with olive, coconut, palm, avocado, cocoa butter, french rose clay, Egyptian geranium essential oils, and crushed flowers.

Essential Oils for Winter Skin – Essential oils are amazing plant based oils that can help you look your best. Some of the best are Frankincense, Helichrysum, Lavender, Chamomile, and Patchouli. They are all well known for helping with skin care and skin issues.

Frizzy hair – Dry air, lots of wind, and friction with certain winter fibers creates frizzy, static hair. To combat frizz use apple cider vinegar to rinse your hair in the shower. Then rub a bit of coconut oil or olive oil on your hands and gently slide them over your damp hair, avoiding the roots. This locks in the moisture and helps with fly aways and frizz. For additional help try an avocado and olive oil hair mask, leaving it on your hair for 30 minutes or so. Also make sure ot check out my article on Essential Oils for Hair.

A few smart products and some items from your pantry can go a long way to help you beat any winter skin woes…

10
Jul

3 Ways to Save Money This Summer

by Tiffany in A Green Home

Three Ways to Save Money This Summer

Summer is in full swing, and if your house is anything like ours sometimes it feels as if summer sucks the money right out of the front door.  Between the high costs of water, air conditioning, having the kids’ home from school and everyone wanting to go places and do things it can seem as if there is never quite enough money for everyone who is demanding it.  But how would you like to actually save money this summer?

I know that it may seem impossible, but you really can save money this summer simply by using these three simple ideas to get started saving and let yourself get creative. Why only three? Because you are busy this summer and it is easier to stick to smaller, defined goals than a broad range of tips of and ideas. Once you get started though you’ll find yourself coming up with even more ways that you can save.

Save Money on Your Energy Bills

One of the easiest ways to save the most significant amount of money this summer is to acclimate your home and family to the natural cycles of heat and humidity.  The best way to do this is slowly adjust your air conditioning to higher settings during the day.  Take about a week and slowly adjust your settings each day.  You may find that your weather is too hot and humid to go without AC altogether, but this method can significantly reduce the amount you spend on air conditioning.  In addition, try turning the AC off altogether in the evenings and use ceiling fans, floor fans, and window box fans to keep the cooler outside air circulating through the house. Also instead of running the dryer do all your laundry on sunny days and hang outside to dry on Urban Clothelines. They don’t have to be permanent or bulky structures either. Many are portable so that picky homeowner’s associations won’t have a reason to cite you. Plus, kids can help you hang and remove laundry.

Save Money on Your Water Bills

Water bills can be prohibitively expensive during the summer, especially if you are trying to keep your yard green and also allowing your kids to play in the sprinklers.  Well, there are several ways to cut down on your water bills.  First off is to reuse all of your water, and I do mean all of your water.   Save the water from your baths and showers as well as your dishwater.  Mind you, you’ll have to switch to biodegradable soaps and shampoos, but believe it or not, your shrubs, flowers, houseplants and even garden vegetables seem to thrive on recycled water, so don’t be shy!

Another way to save money on water is to buy a kiddie pool instead of letting your children play in the sprinkler.  Buy a pool with a cover or rig a mesh cover that will prevent leaves and bugs from getting into the water so that you don’t have to refill the pool as often.

Saving Money by Skipping the Vacation

The idea of not going on a vacation can seem absolutely depressing to most people.  After all, isn’t getting away from it all what summer vacations are all about? Now I’m not suggesting that you not take a vacation, but that you don’t go anywhere on your vacation.   No mind you, you have to do some preparation for this kind of vacation so that you won’t slip into your usual home routine.  You can choose a theme (such as a Caribbean cruise or a Tour de France) and plan your meals and activities accordingly.  You can schedule a number of day trips to local attractions that will keep you out of the house.  The point is to enjoy your time off without having to pay the ridiculous hotel, restaurant and resort fees.  Just using this idea alone you’ll end up with money leftover at the end of the summer; money you normally would have spent on something else.

While there are dozens of ways to save money over the summer, hopefully these three have given you a place to start so that you can get through the holidays without feeling as if your budget has been sucked dry and you can head into autumn with a little jingle in your pocket.

25
May

A Quick Fix – Removing Mildew Smell From Laundry

by Tiffany in A Green Home

As the weather warms my kids are staying outside longer. The garden house is already being turned on for quick sprinkler sessions when they get overheated from play. Soon they will be in the pool. All of this means wet clothing, wet swimsuits, and lots of towels. I cannot keep up with the amount of wet clothing and towels that come with spring and summer so I have to accept that I am going to have a fair amount of stinky laundry to wash…laundry with that icky mildew smell. So how do I get it out? I absolutely detest getting out of the shower and reaching for a towel, only to bring it to my face and realize that it smells noxious even though it’s technically been ‘cleaned’. Gross!

I describe my very effective plan of action here, it works for all laundry items that have mildewed:

Stinky towels and how to clean them without harsh chemicals

Hope it helps!