Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Hazards of non natural laundry detergent

In honor of "Washing Wednesday" we though we would revist why it is important to use natural laundry wash in your home. Check out the blog post written a few months back...

Have you ever wondered what ingredients are used in your laundry detergents? If you haven’t you should, just think at least 95% of your day your body and the bodies of your family members are in contact with clothing and linens that have been soaked in detergent. So what is in laundry detergents? If you are using non-natural laundry detergents the ingredients contain carcinogenic, hormone disruptors, and other hazardous air pollutants.
In a recent study by the University of Washington, researchers found that 25 organic compounds including seven hazardous air pollutants were released from laundry that was washed in non-natural detergent. Two of the chemicals are listed on the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of cancer causing chemicals. If you are like me who runs at least 7 loads of laundry a week you are freaking out! How does this happen? Well, laundry companies are not required by law to list their ingredients. They also aren’t regulated like other products because they are not applied directly to human skin-even though we all know they are directly touching human skin constantly.
“Optical Brighteners” are used in non-natural laundry detergents. These are synthetic chemicals that are used to make your clothes “glow” under ultraviolet light. Your clothes look bright, but they are really deteriorating. These brighteners are built to stay on your clothes; they build up and prevent your cloth diapers from absorbing and your military uniforms glow like the sun when looked at with night vision. They also rub off onto your skin causing a rash that looks like a sun burn, and seep into waterways and build up inside fish.
Phosphates are often found in non-natural detergents. These phosphates work as a super-charged fertilizer for algae in your washing machine-ever have stinky towels? Chances are it is due to algae growing in your washer. If you use these products they can build up in your washer in your tubes, in the pump, in the door seal! Just about everywhere! If it isn’t cleaned up your stinking clothing will have to be tossed and so will your washer.
All of these chemicals find their way into the environment and end up in the water that we drink, the soil where our veggies are growing and into the animals that we eat. They are also constantly being released into the air from your dryer vents and finding their way into our atmosphere.
So now that we know how bad laundry products can be what do we do? First, check your detergents ingredients. If it contains benzene and acetaldehyde dispose of it with your other hazardous materials, these two chemicals are cancer causing. If it contains optical brighteners or phosphates give it the old heave-ho! If you can’t find a list of ingredients for your laundry detergent that should be a red flag, they have a reason for not showing you what it is made of. The easiest solution is to find yourself a natural laundry detergent, specifically one that isn’t afraid to tell you what it is made of. The University of Washington recommends that you don’t use more detergent than you need. Most of the time you are just washing sweat and fragrance out of your clothes, this shouldn’t require a ton of detergent. They also say to, “Wash only full loads of laundry and with cold water. Making the switch to the cold cycle will save about $60 a year on your power bill because you'll be giving the hot water heater a break."

If you are interested in making the change to natural laundry detergent (and I think you should) check out http://www.ahappygreenlife.com/ and our new laundry wash line that is safe for your clothes and skin!
-Amanda

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Graywater


Earlier this week a customer asked us if A Happy Green Life laundry wash was safe to use with graywater. Kristin and I were very proud to be able to say yes! The more we thought about the concept of graywater the more we wanted to share it with you guys.
Graywater system
Graywater is any washwater that has been used in the home, except water from toilets. Dish, shower, sink, and laundry water comprise 50-80% of residential "waste" water. This may be reused for other purposes, especially landscape irrigation (Some states do not include kitchen sink water or diaper wash water-these are called dark gray water and are not used).
Some of you know that I study environmental studies in school, and that my area of expertise is in sustainable living and urban development. Graywater plays a huge role in the development of sustainable communities, it is a way for the average household to reuse their wastewater or capture their rainwater and make it work for them. It is an amazing way to conserve one of our most precious resources.
example of gutter barrel to catch rain
There are systems available today to be installed in your home if you are willing to put up the money, for those of us who don’t necessarily have the cash on hand to install such a cool system you can do it the old fashion way. Use a bucket or cup to transfer your water to your plants, we have friends who keep a bucket nice and handy by the shower to capture all the water and use it to feed their garden. If you have a trash can you can attach it to your gutters and create a gutter barrel to catch your rain water! Check out the link below for a tutorial on how to build this!!
And remember that all A Happy Green Life products are safe for you and the planet and are great for graywater use!!
-Amanda

Friday, August 3, 2012

A Happy Green Life Book Club

Our August book for A Happy Green Life Book Club is...
How to Grow Your Own Food: A guide for beginers
If you havent noticed yet, we here at A Happy Green Life like food, and we love it to be fresh from the garden. We have had fans in the past ask us where the best place is to start when you plan on making a garden. I asked myself this same question when we started our mini urban farm, and I turned to this months book How to Grow Your Own Food: A Guide for Beginers  by John Clift and Amanda Cuthbert.
This great book will give you all the information you need to start your own garden, reagrdless of your location.
"Taking into account the limited space available to the urban gardener, Clift and Cuthbert have produced a tome that's perfect for the inner city horticulturalist. Growing fruit and vegetables is a big subject, and squeezing even a small selection of plants into such a small volume is no easy task. Happily the authors have done a good job of deciding what should go in, and what really had to be left out. For complete novices, this book is a helpful, unthreatening guide to their first few seasons as a gardener, whether they have a balcony, bare concrete, a patio or a larger patch of ground. It's not for committed gardeners but if you're looking for some measure of self-sustainability and aren't quite sure how to go about it, How to Grow Your Food: A Guide for Complete Beginners is an invaluable resource."
I am very excited to share this book with you, so excited in fact, A Happy Green Life has gotten an extra copy to share with one of our lucky readers! Enter today to win a copy of this amazing book!

a Rafflecopter giveaway -Amanda

Air Purifying Plants

1. Bamboo Palm: According to NASA, it removes formaldahyde and is also said to act as a natural humidifier.

2. Snake Plant: Found by NASA to absorb nitrogen oxides and formaldahyde.
 3. Areca Palm: One of the best air purifying plants for general air cleanliness.

4. Spider Plant: Great indoor plant for removing carbon monoxide and other toxins or impurities. Spider plants are one of three plants NASA deems best at removing formaldahyde from the air.

5. Peace Lily: Peace lilies could be called the “clean-all.” They’re often placed in bathrooms or laundry rooms because they’re known for removing mold spores. Also know to remove formaldahyde and trichloroethylene.

6. Gerbera Daisy: Not only do these gorgeous flowers remove benzene from the air, they’re known to improve sleep by absorbing carbon dioxide and giving off more oxygen over night.
-Amanda

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Revolution

Lights Out

Alright I will admit it, we here at A Happy Green Life are dorks. There is at least one weekly conversation about the zombie apocalypse.  Alright, I will come totally clean, it is usually my family talking about it and the Wards are just playing devil’s advocate to add to the conversation (Let me just say, so that you don’t all stop reading our blog because you think we are insane, that none of us really think that we are facing a zombie apocalypse).  We have created our plan, in case we ever have to face this horrendous event, I will first mutter “I told you so,” under my breath and then we will all ban together and create an off grid, sustainable community. We all laugh about how the green skills we have acquired in the last few years will aid us in our survival.
One day Kristin came over to do some work and showed me (bum bum bum) REVOLUTIONS!!!! Oh my goodness, talk about a green eco show. No electricity, living sustainably, now that is our kind of show. I guess the militias, crossbows, and swords are kind of a downer, but hey at least there aren’t any zombies!
The show will be premiering Monday, September 17 at 10 pm on NBC. Check out the above link to watch the preview!
-Amanda

Monday, July 30, 2012

Meatless Monday

Meatless Monday

Its Meatless Monday! Tonight we have cheer practice so we need something quick and easy so we can all head out the door. Tonight we will be having Vegetarian Chili!

If you are living anywhere near us you are probably thinking to yourself, “Chili in this 105 degree weather?!?!” I know it might be crazy but we would eat this recipe in a million degrees, it is one of our favorites!
Vegetarian Chili

  • 1 (12 ounce) package frozen burger-style crumbles

  • 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained

  • 2 (15 ounce) cans dark red kidney beans

  • 1 (15 ounce) can light red kidney beans

  •  

  • 1 (29 ounce) can diced tomatoes

  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can tomato juice

  • 5 onions, chopped

  • 3 tablespoons chili powder

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin

  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder

  • 2 bay leaves

  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1.     In a large pot, combine meat substitute, black beans, kidney beans, diced tomatoes, tomato juice, onions, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cover. Let the chili simmer for at least 1 hour before serving.

That is it!! I told you it was easy! We like to pair it with some cornbread muffins and a nice crisp green salad! I hope you all enjoy. We are off to practice, go team Green!!
-Amanda

Thursday, July 26, 2012

CSA


CSA, Community Supported Agriculture is an AMAZING invention.
I wish that someone had told me what a CSA box was years ago, since I wasn't privy to this amazing information for most of my life I am making it a point to share this fabulous idea with everyone I know. Community Supported Agriculture (or CSA) is a way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from the farmers growing it.  Instead of going to the grocery store and buying food that has been shipped from who knows where, and is who knows how old, fruits and veggies (and sometimes other natural farm products) are picked and then made available to you.
It is an amazing opportunity for consumers to get fresh food and meet the people who grow it. The farmers have an opportunity to meet the people buying their products and they earn money that will help support the farm.
Our family is lucky enough to live in an area that offers multiple CSA programs. We have had the opportunity to try out some amazing programs, we tried one that delivered a box of fresh fruits and veggies to our door every other week, one that had a pick up right at the farm, and our current favorite from Feeding Crain Farms offers buyers the chance to not only get fresh fruits and veggies but custom made products such as marinara, bbq, jellies and jams, and 100% organic household cleaning products!
It is amazing, my house is always full of fresh produce! I have the ability to request more or less of different items and I know that it is totally organic, completely fresh, and it tastes great!
So here is what I want you to do:
Visit http://www.localharvest.org/csa/  look for the map of the USA that is covered in green-those are the farms that offer CSA (there are a lot of them!) type in your zip code and see what is available in your neighborhood.
Look at your grocery bill, do the math and see how much you spend on produce. Wouldn’t you rather be spending that money on FRESH produce? Yeah I think you do! Visit the websites of the CSA’s in your neighborhood and see how much they charge-I bet it is less than you are spending monthly at the store.
Sign up! Even if you only do it for a month it is a great opportunity for your family to try produce straight from the farm. Many of the CSA farms will even allow you to visit to see where your food is coming from.  We have our own garden year round so we request food that we can’t get at home, we also only do it in the spring and summer, the great thing is you can adjust your box to your family’s needs!
Last but not least, enjoy!
-Amanda

If you live in the local Sacramento area check out some of our families favorite CSA programs:

Soil Born Farms

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Meatless Monday

Last year I had one sad little bell pepper plant, I only had one little pepper on it and  it didn’t grow larger than a silver dollar. This year I have12 giant plants all full of peppers  and they are finally big enough to stuff!! So for Meatless Monday we shall have meatless stuffed bell peppers!!!
Vegetarian Stuffed Bell Peppers

Serves 6
6 large sweet peppers
2 cups cooked brown rice
3 small tomatoes, chopped
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 small sweet onion, chopped
1/3 cup canned red beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup cubed Monterey Jack cheese
1 can (4-1/4 ounces) chopped ripe olives
4 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup meatless spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup water
4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese, divided
1.       Cut tops off peppers and remove seeds; set aside. In a large bowl, combine the rice, tomatoes, corn, onion and beans. Stir in the Monterey Jack cheese, olives, basil, garlic, salt and pepper. Spoon into peppers.
  1. Combine spaghetti sauce and water; pour half into an oval 5-qt. slow cooker. Add the stuffed peppers. Top with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 3-1/2 to 4 hours or until peppers are tender and filling is heated through. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Go green this 4th of July

 Its almost the 4th of July!! I have been looking around the web for different ‘green’ ideas for Independence Day to share with you guys, and everywhere I kept seeing, buy local!

I know we have talked about why it is important before but I just wanted to go over it again (I want you all to remember this).
The average produce in the US is picked 4 to 7 days before being placed on your shelf, there are some reports that say it can be up to 60 days. There are even reports that say vacuum-packed meat can be up to 112 days old in the supermarket! This is all after it has traveled an average of 1500 miles to reach the store-and that average is for American grown products, it is definitely longer if it is coming from Mexico, Canada, South America, or Asia.
To me that is gross! I like my food to be fresh! I also like to know exactly where my food is coming from. Am I buying it from a pesticide using corporate farm or the organic farmer who lives here in town? Is my meat the product of hormone fed cattle, or organic free range raised and butchered here in town?
It isn’t just about knowing how old your food is and where it is coming from. By buying locally you are helping the planet. Shipping goods across the country equals tons of toxic emissions. Transportation by shipping produces emissions of 1 billion metric tons of Co2 and uses 11 billion gallons of fuel per year!
 It requires more packaging which equals more buildup in the landfills and more toxins in our planet. The EPA estimates that the US produces 11.9 million tons of plastic packaging each year, 90% of this ends up in the landfill after its first use.
So when you are shopping today or tomorrow for your bbq, take the time to look up your local farmers market or butcher or even your local brewery (I am pretty confident that more than one of you will crack open a beer to celebrate the 4th!), I bet you have one closer to you than you think. I also bet the food will be fresher which means it will taste better! Not only will you be getting a better product but you will be supporting your neighbors and putting money into your own community!
-Amanda

I hope you all have a happy and green 4th of July!!!!

Monday, July 2, 2012

A Happy Green Life Book Club: Michael Recycle



I LOVE Michael Recycle books! That is why the original Michael Recycle by Ellie Bethel is our book of the month! Let me start off by saying that this book and the rest of the series (Michael Recycle Meets Litterbug Doug, Michael Recycle Saves Christmas, Litterbug Doug: In the Missions of Michael Recycle, Michael Recycle and the Tree Top Cops) are children’s books, but they are fun for the whole family to read!
Sometimes its hard to teach the kids how important recycling is (and how cool) this story about Michael Recycle and his adventures as a superhero whose power allows him to teach people about recycling make recycling and doing things for the earth, fun and cool!

 The kids will have a fun time hearing the story and learning different ways to keep their town clean. After cleaning up a town, the people declare: “To Michael Recycle! The green-caped crusader, our super-green hero, the planet’s new savior!”

After you read this great story check out the back for helpful tips to keep your community clean!

Don’t forget to check out the rest of Michael Recycle’s books!!

-Amanda



 

Disneyland a great place for a green vacation

Well hello fans! Long time no see! We must apologize for our month long absence, June was full of family vacations for the Happy Green Life team so we all took a little ‘vacation’ from the blog. But don’t worry, we were working hard at being green while we were away!

The Aller family took ourselves our first family vacation with all three kids to the most magical place on earth, Disneyland! While there I began to wonder if Disneyland is Green, so I stuck my poor hubby with two strollers, and three crazy kids and I ran off to do some investigating!

Disneyland actually has an environmental program called Environmentalist. Their program aims to keep Walt Disney’s conservation legacy alive through diverse environmental policies. Did you know that the lagoon scenes in Nemo’s Submarine Voyage are made from recycled glass bottles? Even cooler the submarines themselves are propelled by a zero-emission magnetic coil system.
The railroads are all run on fuel 98% derived from soybeans, and the floats are all electric-NO EMMISIONS!!
They have also begun replacing ALL of their lighting with energy efficient alternatives, and work with conserving air conditioning and heating. They are saving two megawatts every day-that is enough energy to power 400 homes.
There are recycling bins throughout the park, and all bags are made from 100% recycled products!
My favorite is Disneyland’s thermo energy storage tank. It provides and energy efficient way of cooling air for the park, and cools water at night so that less electricity is used in peak hours!

-Amanda

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mothers Day Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

"Oops I picked some mint!"
Mothers Day Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

The kids and I were gardening and Julie accidently snapped off some of our mint. What was a mom like me to do? Make some cookies!!! Since I love chocolate with my mint, I thought that mint chocolate chip cookies would be perfect!

First step, grab your ingredients!
½ cup butter, at room temp
½ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1 beaten egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/2 cup flour
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp baking soda
1 cup chopped chocolate
2 tbs freshly chopped mint (you can add more if you want a more ‘minty’ taste) 

Preheat oven to 350
Stir ingredients together
Form dough into balls, arrange on cookie sheet, flatten slightly and then bake!
Bake 12to 15 min and then cool for 15 min

"Time to sneak some cookies!"
Eat and enjoy!!!

-Amanda and Julie

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Aller Farm Update

Its time for an update on the Aller Farm. If you remember last fall we started an urban farm by taking 1/5 of our back yard and putting in 8 3x6 flower beds. (Since then we put in an herb patch, two more veggie beds measuring 3x8, and then a fence all around it to keep the dog and kids out).
 Over the winter we grew four different varieties of lettuce, spinach, broccoli, two varieties of cauliflower, three different kinds of kale, swiss chard, and garlic. We harvested everything in early spring but the garlic (which will be done growing in July) and planted more broccoli and cauliflower, spinach and lettuce. We harvested these two more times and then planted our late spring /summer goodies!
We have ten different varieties of tomato, corn, herbs, radishes, beans, peas, asparagus, onions, garlic, carrots, 8 varieties of cucumber, zucchini, squash (3 different varieties),  peppers (bell, chili, and jalapeno), a raspberry patch and two blueberry bushes. We also have over 100 different varieties of flowers (marigolds, poppies, and sunflowers have been planted between vegetables, to add color, attract bees, and in the case of the marigolds keep the bad bugs away).
We added five chickens to the farm a few weeks back, two full grown egg laying hens and three chicks. Our hens Yulie and Ulga have a cute little coop in the back and free range of the yard. They eat our bugs and leave some nutritious poop throughout the garden. Unfortunately they started taking dirt baths in my flowers so we had to install bamboo spears with deer netting over them to keep the ladies out.
The chicken protection wasn’t the only thing we got to build. We have been experimenting with different kinds of trellises. We have teepees, square trellises, and wall trellises all of which have been strung up differently (so we can figure out which style works the best), and is all 100% compostable.
In the next month our radishes will be harvested and the next grouping should start to sprout. The onions and garlic will be pulled and dried in the next month, and the tomatoes are starting to turn red! We will keep you updated throughout the summer on how the big harvests go!

-Amanda 

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Happy Green (and blue) Wedding

We have been hard at work planning the wedding for Kristins baby brother Jason and his wonderful fiance Jen! In the last month the couple has graduated from college, purchased a house, will be getting married and then running off to Hawaii to celebrate it all. Needless to day the couple wanted something easy, inexpensive and fun for their big day.
We are really excited about the results! The Bride and Groom will be celebrating their nuptials with 80 of their closest friends and family with  a picnic wedding. Over the next few days we will share with you some of the DIY projects that we have been doing to make their special day extra great! The first project is going to be our mason jars!
Hanging Mason Jars
WE LOVE MASON JARS! So much so that we have hundreds stored at our two homes, so we knew this was going to be the perfect wedding accessories (and in our case the perfectly free decoration!). The couple will be hosting their reception at the park under a giant roof. We have suspended mason jar vases and tea light holders in front of each of the pillars. For the tables we have made vases, candle holders, and even some adorable crayon holders to keep the kiddos occupied!

In order to make the hanging mason jars we wound twine around the bottom lip of the mason jar twice, then secured it with a tight knot. We then attached a long strand of twine on opposite sides of the mason jar. We staggered the night of the three jars that we hung together to give it more of a chandelier look.
The best part of this is that after the wedding all of the twine can be re used and so can all of the jars!

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Happy Green Life Book Club

Radical Homemaking by Shannon Hayes
This month we are going to feature an amazing book, one of my favorites actually, Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes. Let me start off by saying that this book isn’t exactly a book that you can read to the kids (maybe you could but it would probably put them to sleep).  It isn’t inappropriate in any way but it is pretty heavy and adult oriented.
I have decided to feature it because I think its message is really important. I heard about this book while listening to NPR one morning. They were talking about the power of being a homemaker. There is a hidden revolution (not so hidden if you hang with my group of friends) of people leaving their corporate, consumer driven lives and starting down a new path of ecological sustainability. This path (and I think a lot of our readers are already on it) focuses on sustainability, social justice, the community, the family, health, and happiness. The people on this path take pride in making things, cooking things, and growing things. They are women who are choosing to stay home not to be docile servants to their spouses (like so many think homemakers are) but because they are feminist who see that by staying home they can take care of their families and give them better lives. They are men who stay home because they have the skills that can give their families a better future.
The book Radical Homemaking looks at different people in all kinds of walks making this change. Some have made a total change and left the city behind to live a rural farm life. Others are implementing sustainability and radical homemaking into their urban lives.
I found this book really inspiring. I went to college and had an amazing corporate career, but chose not to go back when I had my babies. I was lucky and my family had the means to support this decision. I wanted to be the one home with my girls when they first walked and first talked. There were times though that I questioned if I was making the right decision. In my heart I knew I was but this book helped me to see that by staying home I could offer my family as much as I could when I was in the corporate world, even more.
Check it out, I think it is an amazing book! It may even be a perfect Mothers Day gift for that radical homemaker in your life.
-Amanda

Meatless Monday

Since it was just Cinco de Mayo I thought we could make our Meatless Monday dish something in theme so tonight we are having:

Vegetarian Mexican Lasagna

Serves 6

1 (15-ounce) can pinto, pink or black beans, drained and rinsed

1 (14-ounce) can diced crushed tomatoes

1/4 C. chopped cilantro

1 clove finely minced garlic

1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles

2 C. frozen corn kernels, thawed

2 scallions, minced

1/2 t. ground cumin

1/2 t. dried oregano

8 corn tortillas


1 1/2 C. grated Monterey Jack cheese

sour cream, optional

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine beans, tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, chiles, corn, scallions, cumin and oregano; mix thoroughly.

Oil a 2-quart baking dish and line with 4 tortillas, overlapping if necessary. Spread half of bean mixture in a layer over tortillas. Sprinkle with half of the cheese. Repeat with remaining tortillas, beans and cheese.

Bake 20 - 25 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly. Let stand 1 or 2 minutes, then cut into squares to serve. Top each serving with a dollop sour cream if desired.

-Amanda 



Tuesday, May 1, 2012

coloring mason jars

We love mason jars here at A Happy Green Life. We use them for decorations, canning, we even use them in our chicken feeders!My favorite mason jars are the vintage blue ones, I am always looking for them at flea markets or on etsy. Recently I found out that I could color them myself. The project was really simple, my three year old even helped!
All you need is:
Mason Jar (clean and dry)
Clear Clue
Food Coloring
Paint brush

I started out by selecting my color, I chose red because we are having a lady bug party for our little one.

 I added a tablespoon of glue (this did three mason jars) and four drops of red food coloring.

You can experiment with the amount of drops you want, (or which colors, I heard its best to mix blue and green to make that vintage blue color).





I then mixed and painted. I used long strokes from top to bottom. There were little bubbles but these disappeared as they dried.

I ended up with some awesome pink/red mason jars.
The only down side to this project is that water makes these jars loose color (though the longer the glue is on the better it stays)
-Amanda

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Loss of top soil

Today the Yahoo Ticker featured this amazing photograph of the shoreline in American Memorial Park. These trees once stood as tall beautiful pine trees, today due to the loss of topsoil they are just exposed root stumps. Check out this photo and more at http://news.yahoo.com/photos/national-geographic-your-shot-1327014336-slideshow/#crsl=%252Fphotos%252Fnational-geographic-your-shot-slideshow%252Fnational-geographic-your-shot-photo-1334189822.html
-Amanda

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Happy Green Life Book Club

Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman
Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman
My favorite thing to do is read! If I couldm I would spend all day lounging about reading books. I thought it would be great if could share my favorite hobby of reading with my favorite passion, being green! So we are starting A Happy Green Life Book Club! Each month we will feature a different book that is both happy and green!! This month we are going to start with a little book called Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman.

Seedfolks is an amazing little book about how a community full of people from all walks of life, come together over six lima bean seeds. This family friendly book starts when 9 year old Kim plants her lima bean seeds in a vacant trash filled lot to make a connection with her dead father. Her first neighbor investigates knowing the child is up to no good and is soon filled with regret for her quick judgment and worry for the seeds planted too early. The second neighbor vows to protect the seeds and starts his own garden, the next helps find irrigation, the next pesters the city into cleaning up the lot. 13 different characters are introduced in a series of short vignettes with each character connecting to the next and creating a neighborhood quilt sewn together with different cultures, personalities, and six little seeds.
This book is great for the whole family to sit down and read together. It teaches the importance of acceptance, diversity, community, and of course being green! Check it out at your local library or pick it up on Amazon or at your favorite book store. Let us know how you like it and if you have any suggestions for next month’s read!

-Amanda

Rustic Italian Loaf with Cranberries and Nuts


Ingredients:
Water 1 ½ cups
Extra Virgin Olive Oil 2 tablespoons
Sea Salt 2 teaspoons
Granulated sugar 1 teaspoon
Bread Flour 4 cups
Yeast 2 ½ teaspoons

In bread machine add ingredients in order listed above, making a little hole in the top to add the yeast to.  My machine has a setting for French/Italian bread – so that is what I used.  When the machine signaled to take out the paddle, I removed the loaf of bread and rolled it out lightly to add filling.


For filling – I took 1 cup of a cranberry, nuts and seeds mixture and sprinkled in over the inside of the bread.  I added 3 tablespoons of brown sugar – lightly packed over the berries and nuts.  Then I sprinkled 1 tablespoon of cinnamon over that.  Rolled back up and pinched it into a ball shape.  (I know – not a very precise direction – but it worked great!)

Then place back in the bread machine and let it do it’s magic!
The hardest direction is when it says “Bread slices best when allowed to cool” – I am a firm believe that though this may be true – Bread is more delicious when eaten warm out of the machine!  So let it cool a bit and then enjoy!  Delish!
- Kristin

Monday, April 2, 2012

Meatless Monday

I am in love with tonight’s Meatless Monday recipe, and so are my kids! Tonight we are having Smokey Veggie Quesadillas! We are going to pair it with some Mexican rice, some vegetarian refried beans, my hubbys favorite sweet corn tomalito and we are all going to plop down in front of the tv to watch the college ball conclusion!
Smokey Veggie Quesadillas
Ready In: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients
juice of 1 lime (around 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2-1 teaspoon chipotle puree, chipotle powder, smoked paprika, or regular paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
1 clove garlic, peeled and pressed through a garlic press
1 medium zucchini, trimmed, and thinly sliced (1/4 inch) lengthwise
1 red bell pepper, ends sliced off, cored and seeded, and cut into wide strips
1 red onion, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
12 corn tortillas or 8 flour tortilla
1/2 pound grated cheddar or Monterey jack cheese
a handful of cilantro leaves, washed and dried
sour cream and salsa for serving

Directions

1.     Preheat your grill on high.

2.     Whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, chipotle or paprika, salt, and garlic. Arrange the vegetables in a single layer on a large, rimmed baking sheet, and pour half the dressing over them, turning them to coat the slices evenly.

3.     Turn the grill down to medium-low and roast the veggies, turning them and adjusting the heat as necessary, until they are completely tender, 10-12 minutes. Remove them to a plate, dress with the remainder of the lime juice mixture, and set aside.

4.     Heat a large griddle (or a heavy frying pan) over medium-high heat, and lay half of the tortillas into it (if you're using a pan, you'll need to do this in batches). Divide the cheese over them, top with the remaining tortillas, and cook until the bottoms are golden and crisp. Flip them, and cook until the tortillas are crisp and the cheese is melted.

5.     Open the quesadillas and divide the cilantro and grilled veggies among them, cutting the vegetables as necessary to fit, then quarter the quesadillas and serve with sour cream and salsa.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Happy Green Pancake Recipe

My little guy is a FAN of Pancakes!!  If you ask him what he wants for breakfast he will most often squeal “PANCAKES”!  So…I was on the hunt for a good recipe I could make myself that was easy and delicious…Here is what we have come up with!


A Happy Green Pancake Recipe
1 cup flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Mix dry ingredients together
Optional additions: cinnamon, brown sugar, berries, chocolate chips

1 cup milk (we use nonfat)
¼ cup vanilla creamer (to thicken it up and make them delicious)
1 tsp butter
Mix liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until well mixed. 


I then put the batter into a squirt bottle – because we love to make fun shape pancakes!! 

Flip pancakes after they are golden brown on one side and then cook until golden brown on the other side.  Add your favorite topping and ENJOY!!
-  Kristin

Friday, March 16, 2012

Dig For Victory!

At the start of WWII the Government realized that they would not have enough food to feed the people if the war lasted for more than a few months. Before the war Britain imported over 55 million tons of food a year - much of it from Canada and the USA. Once the war started, the ships once used for hauling food across the ocean were either needed for transporting troops and ammunition or were targeted by the enemy. In order to feed the people the British government launched 'The Dig for Victory' campaign.  People were urged to use gardens and every spare piece of land to grow vegetables. Even the Tower of London was used to grow veggies! In the United States we had the Victory Garden Campaign.
People joined together to fight their enemies, protect one another, and help provide for everyone. Today we need to dig again for victory. We need to join together to dig for the victory of our planet. Growing your own food reduces your environmental footprint, ensures that your family will be eating toxin free, and helps to teach our children that the planet is important- it provides for us and we must help protect it.





We want not only the big man with the plough but the little man with the spade to get busy this autumn. Let 'Dig for Victory' be the motto of everyone with a garden," said Rob Hudson, Minister for Agriculture, in October 1939.


-Amanda

Thursday, March 15, 2012

New Scent Giveaway!

We LOVE our new April 'Hoppy' Green Life Scents and we want to share them with you!
We will send an April 'Hoppy Green Life sample pack to the first 5 fans who tell us what you are doing to make your family more green!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Happy Green Message Board

I love finding new ways to be green.  I am a NOTE taker – my office is covered in little notes about orders, supplies, suppliers, things I need to remember for a little while – but then they end up in the garbage.  Not the greenest way to remember things for sure!  So I was thinking – there are lots of greener ways to notes – on the computer, on the phone, on a white board.  I am a pen and paper type of gal and I like the white board option – but white boards tend to be kind of expensive.  So I was on the hunt to find a cheaper way.  I found a picture of someone using an old picture frame and cute paper to make a cute dry erase message board and it sounded like the BEST idea! 
I found two frames at a garage sale for $2 and I have a stack of super cute recycled scrapbook paper – made from 70% recycled paper.  They are so easy to make.

1.       Cut the scrapbook paper to the size you need for your frame.  Use the frame inside to measure the right size – trace on the backside of the paper and then cut out. 
2.       Glue the paper to the inside of the frame cardboard.  I used a simple glue stick!
3.       Put the paper and cardboard back into the frame and close it up!
It was such a cute and easy way to make a dry erase message board.  I now have one by my desk to make notes for work and one in the kitchen to do a shopping and farmers market list or other general household notes.  If you use it to make your shopping list – simply snap a photo with your cell phone before leaving and you are set – no paper!
I hope you enjoy making your family A Happy Green Message Board!




- Kristin