Green Tip(s) of the Week #16 – Gift wrap ideas (and a giveaway)

This week’s green tips come from my good friend Heather at A Mama’s Blog, who just got a bloggy makeover and a new domain and is celebrating with a giveaway (more on that below). Heather’s tips are great suggestions for making gift wrap more usable and less wasteful.

  • Wrap a bottle of wine in a dish towel, tied off with a ribbon at the top. Bonus: the recipient gets a dish towel that can be reused, instead of throwing a mylar bag away.
  • Use a jump rope for the ribbon on an older child’s present. Bonus: they get to use the jump rope.
  • Recycle birthday, Christmas cards, etc. as gift tags. Cut out the part you want to use (make sure there is no writing on the back), and then reuse these the next time you need a gift tag.

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To celebrate the fact that she moved to her own domain, Heather is giving away one of her best-selling What Happens At Grandma’s, Stays At Grandma’s t-shirt from her store Little Pumpkin Sweet Pea Designs! Stop in for a chance to win and to check out A Mama’s Blog. She discusses everything from attachment parenting to the reality of c-sections, from household projects to life with her two sweet boys. 🙂

Have any green tips you’ve recently learned? Please email them to me and I may include your tip with a link to your site or blog in a future post. 🙂

20 minutes makes a better butter

I’ve been reading a few more crunchy blogs lately and have been inspired to expand upon my own crunchiness by making my own butter. Crunchy Chicken made it sound easy peasy on her other blog Crunchy Chicken Cooks, and my friend Julie also tried it with much success, so I decided we should have a go at it ourselves.

All you need to make your own butter is:

  1. A pint of heavy whipping cream
  2. A Mason jar with a lid

Then shake, shake, shake your way to delicious fresh butter.

Before:
Cream

The helpers shake it up:
Ava making butter - 2/9/08 Julian making butter 2/9/08

After:
The finished product - butter!

And on some homemade blueberry bread (made with the buttermilk that is leftover from making the butter):
Blueberry bread with fresh butter

I’d never had fresh butter before, but it really is delicious! 🙂

We speculate that the cream we got from our local dairy was not heavy whipping cream because it actually took us longer than 20 minutes to make the butter. The first time I thought it was because we let the kids help, but the second time I did most of the shaking myself and it still took a lot longer than 20 minutes. I think the next time I’m just going to pick up a pint of organic heavy whipping cream at the store.

You can read the full step by step instructions with pictures on Crunchy Chicken’s cooking blog. The last step that is optional (and that she did not include) is to add some salt to it if you prefer salted butter.

Next up for the Crunchy Domestic Goddess is making yogurt! I just need to get myself a candy thermometer and then I’m all over it. 🙂

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Also, just want to add that I’m writing for Blissfully Domestic now as the “Eco Diva.” My first post all about recycling is up today!

And while you are blog hopping, check out AllTop.com, a new project by Guy Kawasaki “that provides ‘all the top’ stories for 40 of the most popular topics on the Web. The headlines and first paragraph of the five most recent stories from 40 to 80 sources for each topic are displayed.”

The next president holds the power to save a million children

Ten million children under the age of five die in the world each year, but the next president of the United States has the power to make a real difference in reducing that number. Read about it before you cast your vote in the upcoming election. It’s my post this week on BlogHer.

Wordless Wednesday – 3/12/08 – Sad, but true

Wrong on the Internet
From xkcd

And now for a few words making this a not-so-wordless Wednesday. I realize I haven’t had much in the way of substance on my blog so far this week, but I’ve been enjoying the warmer temps (66 degrees here today) and trying to live more in the moment with my kids. I’m still working on finding that perfect balance between being mommy, working, and blogging. I haven’t figured it out yet. If you have, please clue me in. 🙂

More Wordless Wednesday

Pay It Forward – reader appreciation

A loooooong time ago, the wonderful Penny at Walking Upside Down chose me to be the recipient of a PIF or Pay It Forward meme. She made me a cool eco bag and also gifted me with a wonderfully-smelling bar of soap. Since then, Isil at Veggie Way has also chosen me for a PIF. I haven’t received her gift yet, but it is a hand cranked music box that plays “Imagine.” Love that song. 🙂

Now it’s my turn to (finally) return the favor. The way it works is I will send a gift (something handmade or something bought – I don’t make much myself so it will probably be something bought) to three random people who leave a comment on my blog. The only thing you have to do in return is “pay it forward” by making the same promise on your blog or some other form. So, if you like this idea and a bit of fun mail, please leave a comment on this post (and make sure I have your email address so I can contact you and get your mailing address)! Also, I have one additional stipulation, to be eligible for this PIF you must be at least a semi-regular commenter on my blog. I’d like to use this opportunity to show my appreciation for my wonderful readers/commenters who come back week after week by giving a few of you something back in return.

Thank you! 🙂

Also, just want to add that I don’t have any restrictions on whether or not you are a US resident for this giveaway, especially since the two PIFs I received came from overseas. 🙂

Best Shot Monday – 3/10/08 – Hanging out

The weekend was sunny and semi-warm, at least warm enough for some good outside play time which is what the kids have been craving these days.

On Sunday we went to the park for a while. The kids did some swinging, went down the slide, demolished the sand cakes Jody and I made, and even got in a bit of hang time. Since I didn’t take very many pics this week, these are going to have to do for my best shots. 🙂 They were both all giggles while upside down and Julian gave new meaning to the term “hanging out.”

Ava and Jody at the park - 3/9/08 Julian and Jody at the park - 3/9/08

You can see more “best shots” over at:

red BSM button

International Women’s Day – March 8

International Women’s DayToday, March 8, is International Women’s Day. Never heard of it before? Me either until just yesterday, but I’m so glad that I did.

Celebrated on March 8 every year, “International Women’s Day (IWD) is the global day connecting all women around the world and inspiring them to achieve their full potential. IWD celebrates the collective power of women past, present and future.”

For me, today means reflecting on how far we as women in the United States have come in the past. We have the right to vote, to own property, to get a higher education, to work. Yet it is obvious to me on a daily basis that while we have a lot of rights, there is more work to be done. I need only think of the current battle going on over a woman’s right to have the birth she desires and know that we have a long way to go.

And while our rights as women here in the United States seem pretty good overall, women elsewhere around the world are not as fortunate. Mom Grind notes at a UN Conference in 2001 it was stated that “in the world as a whole, women comprise 51 percent of the population, do 66 percent of the work, receive 10 percent of the income and own less than one percent of the property.”

And Women’s Lens reminds us that in many places, there are still “women who are enslaved; women who are tortured; women who are suppressed; women who are aborted before they can become women because of their sex; women who are discriminated against; women who are overlooked because they are not men; women who are illiterate; women who are circumcised against their will; women who are vilified because they speak out against injustice; women who are threatened with death because they refuse to bow to the men who rule them.”

So yes, women have come a long way in parts of the world and we should celebrate that, but we also cannot lose sight of the fact that we have a lot of work ahead of us.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

You can learn more about IWD on:

Getting our green groove on!

Amy’s picHello. 🙂 I’m Amy, also known around the internets as amygeekgrl. Welcome to my groovy green blog party, part of the Ultimate Blog Party hosted by 5 Minutes for Mom! I’m so glad you stopped by. 🙂 Come in, have a seat and let me offer you something to eat.

Brownies with heart -2/7/08

Oat-nut scone with strawberry jam

Can I tempt you with some homemade granola or perhaps an oat-nut scone topped with strawberry jam or maybe you’re in the mood for a Grilled Panini with Provolone and Basil or a brownie baked with love? I have a fair bit to choose from here, as I enjoy cooking and baking a great deal. 🙂 I just wish I had more time to do more of both.

Me and the kids on New Year’s Eve - 12/31/07Now that you’ve got something to munch on, let me tell you a little bit about myself. First and foremost, I’m a mom. I stay at home with my two amazing children – Ava (3 3/4 years old) and Julian (15 months). My husband Jody and I try to raise them with the philosophy of attachment parenting in mind, though we really just follow our instincts and do what feels right for our family.

I have a lot of passions that I like to write about on my blog. Some of them include home birth (my son was a footling breech and born at home), breastfeeding (I’ve shared my experiences of nursing while pregnant and tandem nursing), and informed healthcare decisions (why we delay/selectively vaccinate). I also write a lot about the environment (picking up trash in our neighborhood, composting, and recycling) and do a weekly Green Tip of the Week column with suggestions to make life a bit more eco-friendly. Some would call me a hippie or granola or crunchy, hence my blog title. 😉

One of my favorite quotes is “You must be the change you wish to see in the world” by Gandhi. I try to live by that philosophy both on my blog and in my life.

I also write about maternal health as a contributing editor on BlogHer, write reviews for Green Mom Finds and will soon be joining the team of Blissfully Domestic as the Eco-Diva.

I like to do giveaways here at Crunchy Domestic Goddess. In the past I’ve given away t-shirts, natural cleaners, reusable bags, books, toys, and even a digital camera. I currently have a giveaway going on right now for a bottle of Shaklee Basic H2 natural cleaner. It’s good stuff! The deadline to enter is March 13. Hope you’ll check it out and enter to win!

In addition to my blog, I also have two online stores – Attached At The Hip, featuring AP advocacy wear and more and home to the I make milk. What’s your superpower? shirt, and Cute As A Bug, featuring cute and original designs for babies, kids and adults. I enjoy photography (and love taking part in Best Shot Monday), reading, and hiking.

green balloonsYa know, this is my kind of party, very environmentally friendly – no paper or plastic waste and little carbon emissions! 🙂 I hope you enjoyed your visit and will come back again.
Please feel free to sign up for my RSS feed or follow me on Twitter (amygeekgrl)! And, of course, be sure to leave me a comment so I can try to come check out your party too. 🙂

Now it’s time for the kids and I to get our party groove on, but feel free to visit the rest of the other party people linked up at 5 Minutes for Mom.

Julian’s got his cape and is ready to party! Ava’s got her cake and is ready to party!

Edited to add: I’ve donated a prize – an I make milk. What’s your superpower? short-sleeved t-shirt – to the Ultimate Blog Party. It is prize #141 on the prize list.

There are so many great prizes to choose from in this year’s Ultimate Blog Party, but my top fvie choices are: Bead Dangle Photo Tile Necklace by Elemental Memories, Marketing for Entrepreneurs by Lis Garrett, Burt’s Bees Naturally Ageless skin care line by Geggie, Go BPA Free Sippy Sampler Kit by The Soft Landing and Rocking Horse by A Rocking Horse To Love. If my top five picks are already taken, then I’d also love any of the following (in order of preference) #11, 12, 15, 2, 3, 14, 32, 34, 37, 70, 72, 79, 87, and 5 or anything related to a toddler or preschooler. 🙂

Pumpkin black bean soup recipe

For everyone drooling over my Best Shot Monday post, here’s the recipe. It’s quick and easy and both of my kids love it. 🙂

It’s reportedly one of Rachel Ray’s recipes and I think my friend Nicole gave it to me. (Thanks, Nicole!) My comments/changes are in parenthesis.

Julian enjoying pumpkin and black bean soup - 2/29/08Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup
4-6 servings; Cook 20 min, 5 min prep

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (1 turn of the pan)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cups canned vegetable stock, found on soup aisle (I use a few cups of water and a few teaspoons of vegetarian chicken base here)
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice (I blend it first so that it’s not chunky, since a few family members don’t like tomatoes)
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 (15 ounce) cans pumpkin puree (avoid buying Libby – it’s owned by Nestle)
1 cup corn, frozen or canned (drain and rinse if canned)
1 cup heavy cream (I use 1% milk, but you can use soy milk as well)
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I don’t add this since my kids don’t do spicy foods)
coarse salt
20 sprigs fresh chives, chopped or snipped, for garnish

1. Heat a soup pot over medium heat.
2. Add oil.
3. When oil is hot, add onion.
4. Saute onions 5 minutes.
5. Add broth, tomatoes or tomato sauce, black beans, pumpkin puree and corn.
6. Stir to combine ingredients and bring soup to a boil.
7. Reduce heat to medium low and stir in cream, curry, cumin, cayenne and salt, to taste.
8. Simmer 5 minutes, adjust seasonings and serve garnished with chopped chives.
9. For Vegan option use Soy Cream or Soy milk.