Monthly Archives: November 2009

Giving the Gift of Time for Christmas

One of the best ways to green up your Christmas gift giving is to give time rather than things. This works for many of the people in your life.

Time for the Kids

It’s easy to let day to day life mess with the time you have available for your children. Make a part of your gift to them be some special times together, doing something they love to do or share one of your interests.

Camping trips can be good for helping kids to really appreciate nature, for example. Winter’s not the best time in many areas perhaps, but it’s not too early to start thinking about where you’d like to go. Even just heading out to a local campground can be an adventure if you don’t camp a lot.

Hiking is another good choice that is rather less time consuming. Find a beautiful, natural place in your area and start hiking. It’s a great time to talk with your kids too.

You can also plan activities around the home. Do a craft, build something together, play a game, just talk.

Time for Your Parents

If your parents are still alive, and reasonably accessible to you, make the most of it. You can give them time with you to just talk, or you can help them with running errands. You can even combine time with your parents with time with your kids and go camping or hiking as an extended family.

Time for Your Friends

If your friends have young children, giving them the gift of time can take the form of offering babysitting for their kids. What parents don’t appreciate the chance to get out without the kids for a bit?

Just Remember… It’s Not All About THINGS

Giving the gift of time is a great way to remind yourself and the people you love that there’s so much more you can give one another than just things. Clutter.

The gift of time can have so much more meaning than almost any other gift you can give.

Reuse Glass Jars – Green Step By Step

Washing out and reusing glass jars is not only easy, it can be habit forming.

The glass bottles I use the most of are spaghetti jars. They’re great for holding things that I buy from bulk bins, such as popcorn or flax seed. They hold a nice quantity of these products and I find them easier to organize.

Having a baby means that I occasionally buy baby food. Not often, since I make most of mine, but store bought is easier when traveling. And that means baby food jars.

Some people like these for crafts. I’ve given some to my kids to keep some of their smaller craft supplies in.

Larger jars don’t come around too often, but sometimes they’re really useful. The really large pickle jars are nice for holding coins if you like to keep your change until you have a bunch to bring in.

Jars that are bigger than a spaghetti sauce jar but not too big are nice if you like making sourdough starter. I tried this my first time in a spaghetti sauce jar, and there just really wasn’t enough room to work with, even throwing a lot out regularly.

It’s always important to remember that reuse comes before recycle and after reduce in priority. You’re pretty likely to buy some foods in jars. Make the most of what comes with the food and reuse jars when you can. Recycle the rest or find a friend who needs jars.

Are You Ready for a Green Christmas Shopping Season?

The holiday season is perhaps one of the most difficult times to be green. There are so many temptations to shop, shop, shop… and so many of the temptations are such poor choices for the environment. These are some of my thoughts on how to green things up just a little.

Avoid Black Friday Crowds

Admittedly, I have a long standing bias against Black Friday shopping. Comes from even before I thought much about the environment. Too many years working in retail and dealing with Black Friday crowds from the other side.

But it’s really ridiculous to fight the crowds that are so common on that day. To me there’s no Christmas present so important that I have to deal with that nonsense. The bargains are nice, but if you really need them, do consider that there’s Cyber Monday and you could just shop online. It can be more efficient. Sites such as Amazon are even starting “Black Friday” deals today and you might find something reasonable in their special deals.

Carpool if You Just Gotta

If you need to fight the crowds, think if any friends want to go shopping with you. It’s more fun, although you may have to be careful if you tend to buy more when you shop with friends.

And don’t worry about how good a parking space you get. A little extra walking isn’t going to be that much of a problem.

Think About What is Wanted and Will Last

Try not to buy gifts just to have something to give. It’s an easy mistake to make when you’re desperate for something to give, but it also results in a lot of unnecessary junk being bought.

Instead, think about gifts that really will last. It doesn’t have to be perfectly practical, but have some thought behind it.

If you don’t want to give something that lasts, think about free trade chocolates, organic produce gift baskets and such.

For the Kids?

Even kids who spend some time thinking about the environment are likely to want the latest trendy toys. It’s hard to blame them. There are a lot of really cool toys out there.

At the very least, think about if the toys you buy will have more than a momentary fascination for your kids. How many end up eternally in the toy box after a few days?

There are some great toys for kids that are more environmentally friendly too. Try to balance things out as best you can for them.

Baby Food Making with the Kidco Food Mill

Selene is quite the happy little eater, I must say. That girl loves her solid foods. And her breastmilk, although she gets a little creative about the positions she nurse in some days. Gets interesting.

kidco food millBut there’s one area in which she has suddenly turned picky. She now really, really needs her food to have texture. I’m really glad to have my Kidco Food Mill now. That’s it to the right. I was using it to grind up some homemade chicken soup, or at least the solid parts of the soup, when I took the photo.

I’ve had this one for quite a while. I used it to make food for my oldest, who is now 7 years old. I used it for my son, who is now 4. And it’s still going strong in making food for this baby. I rather like that it has lasted so well.

The food comes out too chunky for babies who are just starting solids, but once they like to chew it’s about perfect in my experience. My kids joke about how pasta comes out looking like little worms, as it still kind of sticks to itself even after grinding.

This is the part of feeding a baby where the food mill and my crockpot are really my friends. The food mill because it makes allowing my baby to eat what the rest of the family is eating pretty easy. The crockpot because it means that the meats are tender enough that I don’t struggle so much to grind them in the mill.

It’s fun to see my baby eating what we eat. I made homemade chicken soup from scratch the other night because we all had colds. Took some of the soup, drained the broth from it, cooled it and put it in the food mill. Selene loved it! Her appetite had been poor, but that mouth was popping open for this meal. I ended up wishing I had cooled more for her. Had to give her some cereal to finish off the appetite.

You do of course have to be careful about food temperatures when grinding food for immediate use. You don’t want a baby with a burned mouth.

It is some work to grind the food. You have to push down on the outer section of the mill while turning the crank on top. If the food isn’t tender that can be a bit of work. But to me it’s worth it.

Will It Be a Green Christmas?

Smiling Green Mom has a cute version of “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” done as “I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas” up on her blog. With Christmas not all that far away (eep!), the post also includes some good reminders to be green in your Christmas shopping and places to shop.

This is easier in some families than in others of course. But an awful lot of people do appreciate things such as special self care items, bath salts and the like, and those are pretty easy to find in organic versions.

Others will appreciate gifts of your time or creative skills. Still others may appreciate it if you donate to their favorite cause in their name.

In so many ways I’ve learned to love a simpler Christmas rather than one full of gifts bought to fulfill the giver’s notion of the right number of gifts or dollars spent. The thought really does count for much more.

You can almost always find a green gift even for people who aren’t that into the environment. Just look at what they do enjoy and work from there. It may be challenging but you can do it.