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We all know the earth feeds our families, but we can feed the earth too. Read today's post to learn how!
April 22nd, 2012 | 10:35 AM
We chatted with two Plum District Moms to see how they incorporated composting in their homes.
Ginger, of Los Angeles, says ever since installing the compost bin and utilizing a “food scraps” container (a small metal bin right near the sink), she’s amazed at how much less trash she’s producing and how good it feels to re-cycle. Her family’s daily routine includes a trip to the backyard with their food-scrap-filled canister to “feed” the compost bin.
Liz, of Denver, recommends a simple black trash can ($12) with the bottom cut out and air holes punched in the sides. You can also Google the word “composting” to see if your city offers free containers. The Department of Sanitation in your town just may surprise you!
Here’s what to put in your new compost bin (it’s an easy equation):
Half green, half brown, a little water, a little air flow, and heat.
- Green is your vegetable and green plant scraps, or your nitrogen: carrot peels, apple cores, lettuce scraps, pepper cores, orange peels, potato skins, celery tops, grass clippings.
- Brown is your dead plant matter, or carbon: last fall’s leaves, deadheads and old twigs from your bushes, grass clippings that you let dry in the sun for a day or two.
The key is getting the mix right. Water the bin until the mix is moist like a sponge. Then make sure there are some air holes, put the lid on and let it heat up! If you have the mix right (the 50/50 split) it shouldn’t smell at all. If it does start to smell like ammonia, you’ve got too much green stuff. Add some brown.
(Note! Here’s what you should not put in the bin: No meat, no fats. No steak bones, or cheese rinds, or leftover bacon, or last night’s salad with blue cheese dressing).
Now that you’ve collected your bin, you can keep it right in your garden. The sun heats it up, and the good compost-making worms and bugs will crawl right in. When it’s time to harvest, just lift up the trash can, and that handy hole in the bottom lets the rich brown compost fall out! You can distribute the compost through your soil to increase its richness and feed our earth!
Composting is a great daily activity for you and the kids. It teaches the whole gang to be conscious of the earth and reinforces how even the littlest effort makes the biggest difference.
Liz Easterly writes StapletonMoms.com in Denver, where she keeps a little backyard garden and a $12 trash can compost bin that her two boys help care for. Ginger lives with her husband and two children in Los Angeles, CA and loves working for Plum District. Since starting composting a year ago, she feels a little better about doing her small part to leave a healthier planet behind for the next generation.
Sustainable fashion designers to watch in 2012!
April 18th, 2012 | 2:28 PM
“Earth-friendly fashion” isn’t just about hemp pants and organic cotton T-shirts. In fact, you can make a big impact on your wardrobe while minimizing your carbon footprint – and still be the chicest chick in town. Sustainable practices like recycling, composting, and energy conservation have become easier to implement in the average American household, and sustainability can be fashion-forward, too. Apparel and accessory designers have caught “green fever”, and some of the hottest fashion trends of 2012 exhibit conscientious design.
The clothing of Indigenous is a beautiful blend of form and eco-friendly function. It’s made with fair-trade materials that are hand knit or hand woven by artisan workers in South America. Materials include organic cotton, natural fibers like Merino wool, and dyes that are free of harmful chemicals. From flowing drape dresses to intricately detailed pullovers and coats, the clothing from Indigenous is naturally chic!
Ever stare into the cluttered backseat of your car or the void of crumpled paper that is your giant Mom purse and just sigh, defeated by your accidental collection of stray receipts, candy wrappers, and to-do lists? Ecoist has majorly upgraded that trash into treasure, with their line of adorably quirky jewelry and handbags that are made from recycled materials like food packages, newspapers, and soda tabs. Their soda tab jewelry looks like modern chain mail, perfect for Moms who love a little cosmopolitan polish. Colorful candy wrapper clutches add a rainbow burst to any outfit!
Designer Jeff Garner is blending old-world aesthetic and modern sensibilities with his line, Prophetik. Inspired by the fiercely feminine gowns of the Civil War era, Garner creates flirty dresses with sleek lines and billowing accents, contradictory details that just…work. Even better? All materials and processes are eco-friendly, from the organic dyes to the fleece made from recycled bottles. Celebs are scrambling to get their hands on one of Garner’s gowns, and it’s no wonder – slip one over your head and you’ll truly feel like a natural woman.
Easy and delicious for the whole family
April 13th, 2012 | 12:18 AM
Here’s a GREAT Mom dish brought to you by Las Vegas District Consultant, Maria Oakes! It’s quick, easy, tasty and healthy – all things we moms look for in every meal we make!
Pick any Taverna, Cafe, or restaurant anywhere in all of Greece and you will find a “Horiatiki” salad on every menu. The Greek-style salad is a staple in Maria’s home. It can be served as a side dish when you’re missing that healthy extra- oomph or even as a meal in itself! Prep time is just about 5 minutes….literally as long as takes to cut the vegetables and drizzle the Olive Oil.
- Tomatoes (as close to home grown as you can, is the best)
- English Cucumbers preferably (but other Cucumbers work just as well)
- Red Onions give the most flavor (but white or even green are great in a pinch too)
- Green peppers (or get crazy and throw in yellow, orange or red too)
- Kalamata olives (or whatever olive you might fancy)
- Feta Cheese – the favorite is FRENCH Feta (shhh, don’t tell the family)- mainly because it’s creamier and doesn’t have the bite that some of the others have!
- Freshly baked bread- French Loaf, Baguette or Italian Round all work great!
- Simply chop your veggies up to bite size pieces
- Drizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil (yes, always Extra Virgin – you can find some that are very tasty AND inexpensive)
- Season with salt, pepper and Oregano to taste
Reduce, reuse, recycle your way to greener living
April 12th, 2012 | 12:01 AM
I don’t just tell my kids to “reduce, reuse and recycle,” I get them involved so they understand how to do it. Reducing the amount of trash that we all create, reusing items as much as possible, and filling the recycling bins with anything and everything recyclable are important steps to living greener. There are many ways for your family to help protect the environment from unnecessary waste — here are three easy tips that have been successful for us.
Carrying a lunchbox is a great way for kids to reduce and reuse.
I cringe when I think of all the brown paper lunch bags that I threw away from elementary through high school. Not only do my kids take lunchboxes each day, their sandwiches, fruit, crunchies and drinks are packaged in reusable containers. The goal is to create as little garbage as possible. Much of the time they have no trash after lunch — with the exception of their napkins (if they even use them).
Keeping reusable grocery bags in your car will force you to remember them.
At this point we own about 20. Whenever I go on a big grocery trip, I unpack everything and put them right back in my car. Most of them are in my car and a few are in my husband’s. This way we have them available whenever we run into the market. It’s become so normal for us that my kids will remind me if we start to walk into the store without them.
Recycling is one of the most important green living lessons to teach your kids.
We are fortunate to have recycling picked up from our neighborhood every other week. My kids know what goes in the recycling bins (we have three) and what goes in the trash. They will even correct me if they see something in the garbage that doesn’t belong there. One of my son’s responsibilities, at age 5, is to transfer the kitchen recycling out to the big bins in the garage. When we are out and have to drink from disposable bottles or cans, we will take them home if can’t find a place to recycle them in public.
Shannon Vetter is a mother from Frederick, Maryland. She has two daughters ages 10 and 7, and one 5-year-old son.
Skincare Tips from Plum District's Experts - Our Moms!
April 11th, 2012 | 3:06 PM
Ah, post-winter skin. That pastiness! That flakiness! That general ickiness! After a few months bracing harsh winds and soppy snow, your face could use some major TLC. Of course, year-round skin care is a vital part of maintaining a healthy complexion. We chatted with some of Plum District’s trusted network of Moms to get their tips for healthy, gorgeous skin for the whole family.
Melissa Carlisle – (District Consultant – Dallas)
My biggest skin secret is to exfoliate, wash and moisturize. Yes, ma’am, the exact same advice your mother probably gave you as a 12 or 13-year-old girl. But the truth of it is, there’s a reason for each step. When you skip a step, your skin pays the consequences.
Deb Clem – (Regional Manager – Kansas City)
I grew up in the 80′s when it was still cool to slather on the baby oil and bake in the sun. My mom always made us wear sunblock when we played tennis (which was so uncool) but I thank her now as my 40-something year-old mommy skin looks great. I wear SPF every single day and as the sun’s rays get warmer in the spring, I make sure that we’re all covered and that there’s plenty in my tennis bag. My other tip for great skin: water. Nothing gives you a springtime glow better than hydration.
Shannon Vetter – (District Consultant, Frederick, MD)
Springtime can be a difficult and deceiving time for us moms to adequately protect our kids from the sun. It can be cool and breezy and still the sun can do damage to our kids’ skin. My second daughter is so fair, with pale skin, blue eyes, blond hair (the kind we pay for with BIG bucks!) and freckles. I always think of her as the barometer for the five of us. If I adequately protect her, then we are all fine. I put Neutrogena face 70 SPF sunscreen on everyone including myself.
I always use the lotion, rather than the spray. I think that the sprays create a lot of waste. It takes a bit more time to slather up the kids with the lotion, but then I know they are covered and protected…at least for the next two hours when I need to re-apply!
Some of our favorite style picks in pastels we love
April 8th, 2012 | 12:25 AM
You don’t have to feel like an Easter egg in order to rock some fabulous spring shades. Soft hues of blue, yellow, lavender, and pink practically scream “So long, Winter!”, but too much pastel can be a candy-colored overload.
The key to any look? Moderation! O Magazine suggests that you try pastel accents in the form of accessories, or pair them with black or gray for a more contemporary look. Try sporting a soft, daffodil-colored T-shirt underneath your work blazer, or tuck a baby blue blouse into a sleek pair of charcoal trousers.
Love the idea of softening your look, but uncomfortable with deviating from your daily uniform? This season’s hottest make-up trends are actually cool! Pearly shades of pastel glosses, shadows, and polishes can give you a springy break from your regular makeup routine – without making you feel like a human jelly bean. Harper’s Bazaar recommends fun and flirty shades of pink for your lips and cheeks, while your eyes can have it all! Play around with bird’s egg blue, seafoam green, or peach. For a fun splash of multi-colored magic, try painting each of your nails a different shade of the pastel palette – a conversation starter that’s pretty and playful.
Products that take care of your skin - and the planet!
April 6th, 2012 | 12:26 AM
Author Melissa Carlisle writes the blog www.MelissaStuff.com and is the mother to three boys who keep her constantly guessing about what new trouble they have discovered.
It’s that time of year . . . time to break your body out of hiding and to reintroduce your skin to the sun (and to everyone else!) But your skin isn’t ready for its close-up. Want to whip it into shape as quickly as possible but also use products that are easy on your skin and the environment? Check out some of our favorite skin care products!
Kiss My Face is one of the more established natural beauty product lines. The company creates products which are healthy, effective, environmentally friendly and economically friendly. They come in a variety of scents and products to pamper you from head to toe.
The Cream Perfume Company is known for using pure and naturally-derived oils and extracts in combination with French essential oils to combat dehydrated, sore, inflamed and damaged skin. Their products are certified to be vegan, wheat and gluten free, with no glycol and no animal testing. In addition, they smell great and don’t fade easily.
Nature’s Baby Organics products come in various scents to keep you and baby calm and happy. Made with the highest quality natural and organic ingredients to create a clean, soothing and luxurious experience, all products are allergist-approved. They contain no paraben, propylene glycol, sodium laureth sulfate or synthetic fragrance. This company was started by a work-at-home-mom and all of her products are family-tested.
Earth Mama, Angel Baby uses only the highest-quality Certified Organic or organically-grown herbs and oils in their teas, bath herbs, gentle handmade soaps, salves, lotions and massage oils. Their products are 100% toxin-free, cruelty-free, and vegan, as well as free from all artificial preservatives, fragrances and dyes. These products smell great, but you do need to note that they are not tear free.
Don’t let Easter brunch take a bite out of your budget
April 5th, 2012 | 12:12 AM
There are endless wallet-friendly recipes you could make for Easter brunch, and the most befitting ingredient is obviously eggs. You need a solid meal between tearing through the Easter egg baskets and waiting for the Easter egg hunt to begin. Have some fun by making dishes that the kids can pitch in with, but keep the cleanup minimal by going for a “one pot” approach. Forget made-to-order eggs, here is an easy family-style brunch for under $30.
The Main Dish: Egg & Chorizo (or Soyrizo) Casserole
Cost of ingredients: $12
- 1 dozen eggs
- 12 oz chorizo or Soyrizo, crumbled
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 2 oz pepper jack cheese, shredded
- 3 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 12 oz pre-shredded hash browns
- 1 small container of sour cream
- Salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat eggs in large bowl and combine with bell pepper (or any vegetable you like), milk, pepper jack cheese and Soyrizo or chorizo. (Soyrizo is a delicious vegetarian alternative to chorizo available at all Trader Joe’s for about $4.) Evenly scatter hash browns in bottom of greased 9×13-inch rectangular casserole dish and pour egg mixture over them. Bake for 45 minutes until eggs are set and sprinkle remaining cheddar cheese on top. Bake for additional 15 minutes or until cheese has melted. Great garnished with a dollop of sour cream or your favorite hot sauce. You’ll love the crispy potato crust on the bottom.
Something Sweet: Ooey Gooey Monkey … err … Bunny Bread
Cost of ingredients: $10
- 2 cans of pre-made buttermilk biscuits
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 sticks of butter, melted
- 1/2 cup pecans, chopped (optional)
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350°F. Pour the granulated sugar and cinnamon into a large bowl and remove the biscuit dough from the cans. Separate each biscuit into four pieces and roll into balls (this is a great job for the kids). Place all of the dough balls in the bowl and use your hands to coat them in sugar. Add more granulated sugar if necessary. Arrange the dough balls and pecans in a greased Bundt pan, making sure nuts are evenly distributed. Combine melted butter and brown sugar in a bowl and pour mixture over the dough. Bake for 30 minutes and let cool. Remove from pan and place in center of table. Kids have so much fun pulling apart the sticky sweet monkey bread.
*This meal is about 8 adult servings.
TIp: Use your remaining budget to buy some fresh fruit to slice up, or sneak a bottle of champagne for the grownups!
Orange County District Consultant Stephanie shares three great arts and crafts projects using Peeps
April 3rd, 2012 | 6:00 AM
A note from Stephanie: Peeps are the delicious and absolutely adorable marshmallow candies! You’ll be thrilled to create these easy crafts with your kids. I have surrounded my home with these tasty delights and I actually enjoy Peeps even more once they’ve sat out for a while, rather than fresh out of the box!
Peep Wine Charms
- Tie a colorful string or thin ribbon onto the middle of a toothpick and insert through the center of a Peep chick or bunny.
- Pull string through to the other side and tie a bow around the base of a wine or champagne glass.
- Choose different shapes and colors for the most variety, depending on how many guests you will be entertaining.
- Keep your eye on your Peep charm during your special celebration and never lose your glass!
Easter Tree decorated with Yellow Peeps
- Find some dried branches on the ground around your neighborhood, or your own backyard.
- Spray paint and let dry overnight, or keep au natural.
- Arrange branches in a tall vase.
- Prop colorful Peeps on the branches and decorate the table for added festive flair.
- Grab a box of Peep chicks or bunnies and insert a festive plastic straw through the center of the Peep – then wipe the straw clean with a damp paper towel.
- Decorate your favorite plastic cups with these playful straws and set the kids table for sweet fun!
Stephanie is a Huntington Beach native and mother of two. She enjoys jazz music, wine, food, writing, reading, good times, and anything creative.
Check out these stories from moms who have been down that dirty diaper road and have lived to tell the tale!
April 1st, 2012 | 10:25 PM
Like the children’s book proudly proclaims, “Everybody poops!” It just takes a lot of patience, smooth negotiating skills, and sometimes flat out bribery to get your little one to do it in the big kid toilet. Shannon Vetter, one of our moms in Washington, D.C. and Dallas momma, Melissa Carlisle, share their stories from the toilet trenches.
Shannon lives in Washington, D.C. and is mom to three kiddos.
I joke to friends and family that my greatest success as a parent has been potty training my children. We’re still working on putting our shoes away, not interrupting one another at the dinner table, and getting to bed on time, but potty training was a breeze!
Consistency is the key to potty training success. My first daughter was nearly two when we began training her and I was blessed to have a daycare provider who maintained the same routine during the day that I was following at home. She was trained in about two weeks.
My youngest, our only son, was born when my younger daughter was 21 months old. During my pregnancy, everyone, friends and strangers alike, would say that I was going to have such a time with two in diapers. I took my daughter shopping for big girl panties when she was 18 months old one morning while her big sister was in preschool. She was so proud of them that she carried them into school to show her sister. Once we got home, she put them on and wore them for the rest of the afternoon. I had her sit on the potty, the actual toilet with a child’s seat, every thirty minutes just to be safe. We had books to read, a magnetic board to write on, and lots of stickers. We also had a line of M&Ms on the windowsill. Every three stickers earned an M&M. At naptime, I did insist that she wear a diaper and so we put the underwear over the diaper. We did this for a week and she never looked back. She was completely trained, nighttime too, at nineteen months.
My son and I followed the same routine. He and I bought his “big boy underwears” while the middle one was in preschool. He couldn’t wait to open the packaging and he couldn’t wait to carry them into school when we picked his sister. He immediately put them on and we started the cycle of trying every thirty minutes. He insisted on standing right from the start so that is what he did, on a stool, just like a big boy. He proudly put his stickers on everything he owned, his shirt, his cars, his swing set in the back yard and even his closet door. The M&Ms worked like a charm and even let us practice counting to three. He was 28 months old when I changed his last diaper.
Melissa lives in Dallas and is mom to three boys.
Potty training in my house has been a challenge for both of my oldest boys (in completely different ways!) and we haven’t even started with the youngest one.
My oldest had constipation issues. I went through all kinds of craziness trying to help him, like literally laying him down in the floor and pushing his legs back to try to help him go! (Crazy stuff you never think you’ll do until you’re actually a moms and doing them!) We finally discovered that milk and dairy were huge contributing factors and we cut them out until AFTER he went poop. It was like magic. He wanted his milk so badly he was willing to sit and try as long as needed just so he could have them.
The second child is only 17 months younger and was the polar opposite. I though he would be a breeze because he would want to be just like his brother but NO WAY! He didn’t care about being wet or poopy. He didn’t want to sit on the toilet, and no reward made him feel differently. Even when we were on a roll and he had pottied successfully several times in a row, we would go to someone else’s house or he would stay with my parents and completely revert. I can’t begin to tell you how many accidents we had with him. Finally, I just had to bite the bullet and put him in underwear all the time and just clean up after him. He didn’t like making a mess of his clothes so it was the only motivation we could find that worked for him.
I’m a bit afraid at this point of starting with my third, but in the end the other two did successfully potty train – and honestly those diapers get so gross that potty training is not an option, it’s an absolute necessity.