Wednesday, December 17, 2008

When Someone You Love is Sick

Everyone reacts differently when you get the news that a loved one is sick. My brother-in-law is fighting for his life with brain cancer. The individuals in our family circle have taken the news in their own, unique way.

My brother-in-law is handling each moment with patience and grace. I haven't heard a complaint from him once. I was reminded of his strength after I found myself complaining for hours about my broken toe when a jar fell on my foot. Clearly I have some growing to do.

My sister-in-law has started channeling the extra stress, frustration and grief into beautiful pieces of art. She'll sit for hours with her beads making colorful creations that she hopes to sell to raise money for his care. I've snapped a pic of the bracelet she made for me. If you're interested in one for yourself, you can email me. They are $30 and the money goes directly to Jamie's medical expenses. The bracelets are made from Swarovski crystals and sterling silver hardware--sparkly and lovely.

My husband and I got busy when we heard the news, (other than the toe whining incident) and are creating a NPO called OneDollarOneLife that is intended to help raise money for Jamie and other people who are fighting cancer. The concept is simple--a lot of people can have a big impact for just a buck each. We're testing the concept to see how far a dollar can really go. Can it save a stranger's life? Can it save a loved one? Can it save your own? The site will go live in early 2009.

Life often gives us gentle (and not so gentle) reminders that our time here is not guaranteed. So, make the most of each moment, tell your family and friends that you love them and do your part to care for our earth so others tomorrow can enjoy it the way we do today.

Be smart. Be bold. Be happi.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I'll Have a Green Christmas

Did you know that on average, we increase our waste over 25% between Christmas and New Year's? I'm not surprised with all the greeting cards, wrapping paper, boxes, bows, decorations and everything else we "treat" ourselves to during the holiday season. Christmas is my favorite time of year and I consider myself an elf in training, but want to do so more thoughtfully this year. Here's some ideas to green up your Christmas:

-Send digital greeting cards. I sent mine via Smilebox and I also love MyPunchbowl's ecard.
-If you just can't go digital yet, please recycle the cards you do get or make a scrapbook with the photos you receive.
-Think of creative ways to wrap or beautify gifts or recycle wrapping paper. I used to be embarrassed when my mom would save the paper, now I think she was brilliant!
-Think of items that can be reused--turn that cookie tin into a compliment box for the kids or hang the wine bag from a door handle to temporarily store little things that need to be returned to its place.
-Replace old-fashioned lights with energy efficient LED lights. We bought some that will supposedly continue to work even if one bulb goes out. Crossing fingers.

So Ho, Ho, Ho, and Merry green Christmas to you all.

Be smart. Be bold. Be happi.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Vegetarian Meal Planning for Carnivores

One of my biggest challenges as a mom is healthy, easy meal planning. The monotony of planning three meals, two snacks a day for the next how many years is daunting. Add a twist--I’ve gone back to my vegetarian (I still eat fish so is this technically pescatarian?) roots while the rest of my family remain carnivores. Ahh, the dilemma.

My new favorite cookbook is Dr. Weil’s, The Healthy Kitchen. It’s easy, practical and everything we’ve tried has tasted great so far. My husband and kids are NOT into anything with tofu (I’m trying to sneak it in, but it’s not working) so we are eating a lot more fish these days to satisfy their need for meat.

A friend recently introduced me to the site GoVeg and it has a ton of great information and recipes. Beware, unless you’re ready to make some lifestyle changes with your eating, don’t visit the site. It clearly demonstrates the cruelty animals endure, which is the primary reason I’ve decided to keep the pork off the fork. Actually, did you know that pigs are smarter than most 3 year olds!? Yikes, that’s scary because I have a 3 and 2 year old at home and they don’t miss a beat. My all time favorite book is Charlotte’s Web, so that’s all I have to say about that—poor Wilbur!

Being a mom is a tough job as it is, but it’s even more difficult when you try to navigate the sea of chemicals, hormones, fillers, antibiotics and other garbage that pollutes our food supply. I hope we’ll reach a point of mass awareness for the issue so we can have a solution that is less destructive and healthier for us all.

Be smart. Be bold. Be happi.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Reduce, Recycle, Regift

As the hustle and bustle of the holidays begins, it’s time to take stock of what we have before we bring any more in. With three kids in different stages and interests, our playroom often looks like a toy store that has just been ransacked. I typically have the kids fill a laundry basket with unwanted items (that won’t be handed down) and donate them to Goodwill.

Since there are so many families struggling this year, I’m coming up with a new strategy to reduce the clutter, recycle unwanted items and regift in time for the holidays. The kids will still go through the playroom and choose unwanted items, but I’m going to group them, along with unwanted clothes by age and gender and put it on Craigslist as a gift basket. My hope is to put a personal spin on helping another family out this year and make it easier on them, especially since little girls, size 3 are usually interested in dollies, dress up and play food, all of which we are giving away and might be on another’s wish list.

Hopefully we’ll be able to clean out our clutter and help other children have a memorable holiday at the same time. Our unwanted clothes and toys will be put to good use and not left on “The Island of Misfit Toys,” aka the landfill.

Be smart. Be bold. Be happi.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ramblings of a Maniac

It must be in my DNA but every time I have guests (which by the way is often)I go into hyper-drive clean freak mode. Rationally I know my house will never be as tidy as I'd like it to be, or will my loved ones judge the status of the abode, but I still find myself in a state of panic and frenzy.

As hard as I've tried to control this clean freak inside, it still manages to scratch and claw its way out of me. My husband, after nearly 10 years of marriage, has finally figured out a solution--he removed the kids from the situation.

Tonight, as I was scurrying about preparing for our Thanksgiving guests, he took the 3 kids on a daddy date. You know what? The kids had a blast! I cranked the tunes, poured myself a glass of wine(yes, I was drinking it with my rubber gloves on)and got on my hands and knees to get rid of that dirt that never seems to go away.

Although still frantic, I was able to focus on the task at hand and keep my cool, well, kind of, but I'm working on it!

Be smart. Be bold. Be happi.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mama's Wish List

The past few years, my husband and I have opted to buy trees and finish our landscaping in lieu of purchasing gifts for one another at Christmas. This year however, I have my eye on a few dandies! You know you're getting old when this is what your wish list looks like...

-vintage-style, ruffled half-apron
-2008-2009 momAgenda Desktop day planner in Marine (I cannot live without this organizer!)
-Matcha beginners kit with tea bowl (this tea is supposed to be loaded with all the good stuff and is used in Japanese tea ceremonies)
-natural aromatherapy bath salts

There is definitely a theme brewing here--all things to help me relax, stay organized and healthy in 2009. I hope you put things to stay well on your wish list also.

Be smart. Be bold. Be happi.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Holiday Wish List

This year, we are paying more attention to what Santa brings to our house. I don't want to overdo it and I want the kids to appreciate the gifts they do receive.

I did some research about eco-friendly toys and found Sprig, a company that makes great adventure vehicles. What makes these toys so cool is they are made from recycled wood, reclaimed plastic and are kid-powered instead of battery-powered.

I'm still on the prowl for environmentally friendly princesses, but haven't had any luck yet. Let me know if you find anything. Santa's definitely going green this year!

Be smart. Be bold. Be happi.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Avon Walk For Breast Cancer

My girlfriends have raised over $67,000 for breast cancer research through the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. I am so inspired by their effort, I have committed to join them this May in Washington, D.C. to walk 39 miles in two days!

My very creative friend has designed fun and fabulous tees as part of the Pink Pacers (yes, that's what the team is called) fundraisers. You can order your own and help support the cause. Walk on, Pink Pacers!

Be smart. Be bold. Be happi.

Bring Your Own

Now that I’m seriously committed to dumping the plastic bag habit, I’m starting to add cool bags to my collection so I will never need another plastic one. For the record, I have enough plastic Target bags saved to line every trash can in my house for ten years, ok, maybe not ten years but I do not need or want another!

A friend recently shared this cool blog called The Green Bag Lady where you can download free patterns for either a produce bag or tote. You can even check out her video so you can learn how to sew directly from The Green Bag Lady herself. I have a ton of fabric scraps in my attic from leftover house projects that will now be put to good use and encourage you to do the same.

I’ve also found some wonderful bags online that I want to add to my collection. One of my favorite sites, Ecoist, even plants a tree whenever you buy a bag! I love the colorful, recycled rice bags. They are hefty enough to carry a big load and look great—win, win!

I also love Envirosax. They have adorable designs and come in a cool pouch (you know I love pouches) so you can carry the bags with you and always have a stash on hand. I leave bags in my car now so I’m prepared even for impromptu errands. They even have adorable designs for children so they too can can play a role in eliminating plastic bag waste.

There are a ton of affordable, stylish options for reusable bags. This is an easy change that really counts.

Be smart. Be bold. Be happi.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What To Do With Your Pumpkins?

I just read a great blog post from A Southern Accent about recycling pumpkins. It's got some great ideas that I want to share.

The best thing to do is compost your leftover pumpkins, but if you aren't composting yet, check with your local yard waste removal & recycling department to determine if they accept pumpkins for pick-up. Some cities have their own local composting instead of heading to the landfill. Lack of oxygen in the landfills prevent the pumpkins from breaking down at the normal rate so even though they are biodegradable, pumpkins still create a lot of waste. Our local Whole Foods held a "Smash It, Don't Trash It!" event to help expose the problem and teach more about recycling and composting.

So, if you're pumpkins are starting to get a little yucky, think about other ways to dispose of ol' Jack other than the garbage can.

Be smart. Be bold. Be happi.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Green Cleaning

I've been looking for an all-natural stain remover that stacks up to the bleach pen and Shout. With three small kids, I definitely have to have a stain solution so I can recycle clothes to my youngest son and still have them looking great.

Well, I think I've found an alternative. I tested the Pocket Charlie on one side of my son's shirt stained with chocolate and juice (I know, I know but it was Halloween!) and the other side of the same shirt with Shout. Guess what? There was no difference, both products totally removed the stain. In my book, Pocket Charlie was the clear winner because it worked just as well and it's clean, green and safe. I'm eager to test other Charlie Soap products especially since its a fellow North Carolina based company.

Now that I have an effective alternative for stain busting, I'll share some of my other favorite green products:

-Seventh Generation Dishwasher and Natural Dish cleaner
-Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent
-Mrs. Meyers Clean Day All Purpose Cleaner (the lavender smells amazing)
-Mrs. Meyers Liquid Hand Soap (again, big fan of the lavender scent)
-Vinegar or just plain lemon juice & water solution for hardwood floors & windows

Just look on the label of a non-green household product and it will scare the socks off you. I don't want all those chemicals in my house!

Be smart. Be bold. Be happi.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Recycling Matters

I was eating Annies Homegrown Cheddar Bunnies, when I noticed a note on the box that said something along the lines of "recycle me." I never knew you could recycle chip board boxes. I knew these boxes were made from recycled materials, but didn't realize you could recycle them again.

So, what else have I been throwing away that should have been in the recycling bin? Here's a quick list I found but check out the complete comprehensive grid for more detailed information.

-unbroken glass containers
-clean dry newspapers & inserts
-plastic stamped #1 or #2. (I had no idea that plastics stamped #3-7 can actually ruin a melt and usually end up in a landfill any way.)
-plastic bags
-mixed paper
-cereal & shoe boxes
-scrap aluminum & cans

You'll need to check with your town about what can be recycled where you live, but this should get you started. I was excited to learn that all those cereal boxes don't have to wind up in the landfill.

Be smart. Be bold. Be happi.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Scrappy Food Scraps

I recently watched a TV commercial about not putting food scraps down the garbage disposal. What!? Have I been doing something wrong all these years? If the "food waste disposal" (or garbarator according to my family from the North)isn't for food scraps than why in the heck do I have one?

I did some digging and here's what I concluded. Disposals use a lot of extra water and are DEFINITELY NOT for greasy items such as fats from meat, oils, butter and even dairy products. Even if you can't see the grease in your own sink, it will likely build along with the grease from your neighbors disposal, and cause some serious drainage issues down the road. Depending on where you live, its probably OK to use the disposal to cut up fruits and veggies but if you have the ability, composting is king. If you live in a city, think about vermicomposting--using worms to do the dirty work.

I've been thinking about composting for awhile (not so sure about vermicomposting) so I'll investigate the best systems for small yards and save that for another post. Now that I know that garbage disposals are probably not the best thing for our planet, I need to be more proactive about changing my habits. I'll let you know how this goes.

Be smart. Be bold. Be happi.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Way Grandma Used to Do It

I tackled a new project today-canning. I have a ton of late growing tomatoes still on the vine and I don't want them to go to waste. Canning them for later is the perfect solution.

I remember my grandmother had an amazing garden when we were kids. She would gather the vegetables and can them for winter. It's wonderful and empowering to grow your own food. If you're interested in learning how to can tomato sauce, here's how you do it:

1. Prepare homemade tomato sauce to your preference.
2. Purchase canning jars. I like the Ball Quart Mason jars.
3. Boil the jars and lids to sterilize. Remove with tongs.
4. Dry the jars and lids well.
5. Ladel sauce in jar. Leave 1/4" inch space to the top of the jar.
6. Be sure to remove any visible air bubbles in sauce.
7. Carefully clean any extra sauce around the lid.
8. Put top of lid on center of jar. Press tightly with index finger in the center while you screw on the rest of the lid.
9. Close tightly.
10. Place can of tomato sauce in boiling water for 10 minutes to seal lid.

Voila! You're now a canner! It's surprisingly simple and made me wonder why I haven't tried it before. I'm learning to do things the way my grandma used to do. She treaded lightly on our earth, was more resourceful and less wasteful. Now I know why they say,"listen to your elders."

Be smart. Be bold. Be happi.

Friday, October 3, 2008

New Happikins Site Goes Live

I'm thrilled our new site just went live. Now you have the ability to order directly online with your PayPal account or credit card. Some of our fabric selections are changing so they may be different than what’s shown on the site. Your kids and their friends will definitely still love them!

Here are some other ways to get your money's worth out of Happikins:

• Use them for all meals, not just school lunch, and go entirely paperless! Happikins are softer and more absorbent than paper anyway!

• Using a ton of Kleenex as we head into the cold & flu season? Go old school and use Happikins as cloth hankies. Maybe grandpa was more environmentally conscious than you thought!

• Does your child have food allergies? Use Happikins as a placemat at school. This offers another layer of protection from a potential food allergen. They are cool and colorful and easy to pack!

Help us spread the word and forward us on to all your friends and family. We care what you say, so please send us any suggestions on types of Happikins you want to see!

Be smart. Be bold. Be happi.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Happikins Goes Live!

We are so excited that our Happikins launch is going over so well. We're starting to take orders from schools and are very excited by all of the enthusiasm about our product! Thanks to Wendy for helping us spread the word on her blog.

Please help us spread the word so we can cut back on waste and teach or kids to make environmentally conscious choices.