Free Gifts To Share!

Posted by Colleen Kennedy on December 23rd, 2011

It’s that time a year again and if you’re like someone I know (i’m not mentioning any names…) you’ve waited ’til last minute to do your holiday shopping. Well, let me make it easy for you. I’ve got FREE gift ideas to share with you and it all starts with the most precious gift you can give…..YOU!

Did you know that you can actually be an eco-friendly gift?

1.  Make coupons that offer your time or services. For example, “This coupon entitles you to a special dinner for 2 lovingly prepared by me.” This coupon works great for friends or relatives that don’t cook. Or, “This coupon entitles you to 2 hours of book keeping services.” If you know what services someone really needs, then taylor made coupons makes them extra special.

2. Know someone with an office? (of course you do!) Check out this adorable business card holder  that was given to me  by a friend who created it special just for me. You can do the same with just a few pieces of cardboard , some glue and colored markers. 

3. Visit a lonely neighbor. Whether they’re down the street or across the hall, go knock on their door and say hello. Yes, even to the cranky guy that never smiles at you when you check your mail. Ever think he’s cranky because he’s lonely? Bring a plate of cookies to sweeten him up!

Your time and attention to someone less fortunate is the most precious gift you can give and …it’s FREE! Nothing feels as good as knowing you’ve made a difference in someone’s life.

Give the gift of time…….The gift of YOU!

Happy Holidays!

Colleen

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Healthy Holiday Kitchen Tips

Posted by Colleen Kennedy on November 17th, 2011

 

The holidays are right around the corner and that means…..lots of food! If you’re doing the cooking this year, here are some tips on how to make your holiday food experience a little more healthy.Below are tips  from a great article I read on EWG’s (Environmental Working Group) website. I really enjoyed the article and just want to pass it along their tips to you.

1.  Choose Foods Low In Added Chemicals And Pollutants

Food can contain ingredients we don’t want to eat — from pesticides to hormones to artificial additives to food packaging chemicals. Some simple tips to cut the chemicals:

Buy organic when you can. I make sure fresh fruits and vegetables are on the menu, and I go organic when I can. Organic produce is grown without synthetic pesticides (I prefer my dinner without, thanks!). Organic meat and dairy products also limit your family’s exposure to growth hormones and antibiotics.

It’s OK to choose non-organic from our “Clean 15″ list of less-contaminated conventional fruits and vegetables, too. EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce ranks popular fruits and vegetables based on the amount of pesticide residues found on them.  Check out our Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce (and get the iPhone App).

Cook with fresh foods, rather than packaged and canned, whenever you can. Food containers can leach packaging chemicals into food, including the synthetic estrogen bisphenol A that’s used to make the linings of food cans. Go for fresh food or prepared foods stored in glass containers. Pick recipes that call for fresh, not canned, foods.

When I’m planning a grocery trip, I like to check in with EWG’s Healthy Home Tip: Go organic and eat fresh foods.

2. Use Non Toxic Cookware

Using a great pan makes a huge difference when I cook. I skip the non-stick so I don’t have to breathe toxic fumes that can off-gas from non-stick pans over high heat. Non-stick cookware is in most American kitchens. Is it in yours?

For safer cooking, use cast iron, stainless steel and oven-safe glass. Yes, there are many new products on the market, but most companies won’t tell you exactly what’s in them. Even if they’re advertised as “green” or “not non-stick,” manufacturers do not have to release their safety data to the public.

If you’re ‘stuck’ with non-stick, cook safer with it. You can reduce the possibility of toxic fumes by cooking smart with any non-stick cookware you happen to own: Never heat an empty pan, don’t put it in an oven hotter than 500 degrees F and use an exhaust fan over the stove.

If you’re in the market for a new cast iron pan, purchase it through Amazon and a portion of your purchase total will go to EWG!

3. Store & Reheat Leftovers Safely

Leftovers can extend the joy of a holiday — by giving you a break from the kitchen! But be sure to avoid plastic when storing and (especially) when heating them. Here’s why — and how:

Skip plastic food storage containers if you can. The chemical additives in plastic can migrate into food and liquids. Ceramic or glass food containers (such as Pyrex) are safer. Click here to get a 10-piece Pyrex set on Amazon (and a portion of your purchase will go towards helping EWG!).

  • Don’t microwave food or drinks in plastic containers, even if they claim to be “microwave safe.” Heat can release chemicals into your food and drink. Microwave ovens heat unevenly, creating hot spots where the plastic is more likely to break down.
  • If you do use a plastic container, handle it carefully. Use it for cool liquids only; wash plastics by hand or on the top rack of the dishwasher, farther from the heating element; use a paper towel instead of plastic wrap to cover food in the microwave. Also, avoid single-use plastic as much as possible — reusing it isn’t safe (it can harbor bacteria) and tossing it out fills up landfills (and pollutes the environment).

Read more about heating and storing food safely in our Healthy Home Tip: Pick plastics carefully.

 

So get cooking! And enjoy the Holidays!

Colleen :)


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Host Your Own “Shop & Swap”!

Posted by Colleen Kennedy on October 7th, 2011

Let’s face it, money’s tight these days. Everyone’s pinching pennies. But that doesn’t stop us from needing (or wanting) new clothes or home decor. So why not host your own Shop & Swap? It’s the latest trend in fashion but I’m suggesting it can be done for home decor too. It’s a great way to recycle unwanted items and get “new” ones too! Here’s what you need to get started.

1. A good size room (or two)

2. A few folding tables & chairs

3. A rolling clothes rack & two full size mirrors

4. Items you want to swap

First, create invitations through evite. Send them out 2-3 weeks in advance. Make sure to invite all shapes and sizes, to be fair. Then, choose a room or two large enough to hold a few folding tables, rolling racks and mirrors. This can be your garage, basement or living room. If you can, set up a small area to act as a dressing room.

Organize the area according to items. Home decor (small items like candle holders, vases or table ware), tops, bottoms, shoes, accessories, etc. Place mirrors in an accessible  area of the room for guests to use.

Set Some Rules If you can’t part with it, you can’t bring it. Items must be clean and undamaged. Empty pockets, check zippers and buttons. Also, you may want to have your guests pick a number upon arrival to see who shops first. This will help in the event there are some really desirable pieces that more than one person might want.

Set A Theme Use the current season to make it a theme party such as a Halloween costume swap, or a  Holiday decorations swap.  Or how about a vintage, party dress or athletic swap? I’ve even heard of young women hosting a prom gown swap. Use your imagination and have fun! Don’t have any items to swap, how about making some coupons for a service you can swap for? For example, 2 free hours of babysitting or house cleaning. Or, with the holidays coming up, your coupon can be for help with shopping, cooking, or gift wrapping.

Finally, donate leftover items to your local charity. Remember, you’re all in this to de-clutter your closets. No need to take things for the sake of taking. If there’s nothing you want, at least you lightened your load and had fun with friends.

So have fun with your event. Make it a party! Serve snacks or make it a pot luck. Play some fun music to set the mood. Any way you choose to do it, it’s a great way to gather your friends, have some fun and who knows, maybe even get a new look for your home and yourself! Hosting a Shop & Swap is Eco-friendly, affordable and fun!

Have you hosted or been to a clothing swap party? Please share your experience or helpful tips!

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12 Reasons To Eat Organic-2011′s New “Dirty Dozen” List

Posted by Colleen Kennedy on June 14th, 2011

It’s no secret that organic produce is healthier for you and the planet. But, it’s not always affordable. When trying to decide which foods you should absolutely buy organic and ones you can get away with buying conventionally consider this,  the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG)  “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” lists. The dirty dozen list is comprised of  fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide residues. The clean fifteen, is just the opposite, foods with the lowest pesticide residues.

The food that makes it to  the “dirty dozen” list are foods that you should try your best to buy organic. They include, in order of highest concentration of pesticides:

1.  Apples (surprise!)

2.  Celery

3.  Strawberries

4.  Peaches

5.  Spinach

6.  Nectarines

7.  Grapes

8.  Sweet Bell Peppers

9.  Potatoes

10. Blueberries

11. Lettuce

12. Kale

The “clean fifteen” are:

1.  Onions

2.  Sweet Corn

3.  Pineapples

4.  Avocado

5.  Asparagus

6.  Sweet Peas

7.  Mangoes

8.  Eggplants

9.  Cantaloupe

10. Kiwi

11. Cabbage

12. Watermelon (although, I’ve had organic and have to say, it’s really tasty!)

13. Sweet potatoes

14. Grapefruit

15. Mushrooms

Personally, I like to buy all my fruits and veggies organically. I really think they taste better and most are grown locally so my purchase is helping to support my local farmers and I feel good about that. But it doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes it’s just not affordable. Well, with the dirty dozen and clean fifteen lists,  you can make the safest, most affordable choices without having to sacrifice too much of your health.

And hey, if you can grow these foods yourself, more power to ya!

Happy shopping and healthy eating!

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Make Your Own Non-Toxic Cleaning Kit

Posted by Colleen Kennedy on May 19th, 2011

You don’t need to spend a lot of money to clean your home naturally. All you need are a  few  key ingredients. Naturally derived ingredients can be found in most any store and can save you money. Ounce for ounce they cost a fraction of the price as their commercial counterparts. And, they don’t pollute so they’re better for you and the environment. Use them alone or with eco-friendly green cleaning products found in your local health food store and transform your home into a healthier living space. You’ll breathe easier when you do!

Start here:

  • Sturdy Bucket
  • Natural latex gloves instead of the standard latex gloves. They are hypo-allergetic, anti-microbial and dust mite resistant.
  • Natural Sponges and Cotton Cloths. Both are biodegradable.
  • Natural Bristle Scrub Brush (you can also recycle your old tooth brushes and use them to clean small, hard to reach areas)
  • Spray Bottles made form recycled /recyclable plastic.
  • Glass Containters
  • Newsprint

Next, you want the following ingredeints. They’re simple, natural and inexpensive. They’ve been used for centuries and still hold up today.

  • Baking Soda
  • Washing Soda
  • Distilled White Vinegar
  • Lemon Juice
  • Natural Washing Soda
  • Essential Oils Such As Citrus or Tee Tree oil
  • Vegetable Glycerin
  • Liquid Castile Soap

Recipe: Natural Window Cleaner

1/2 teaspoon of castile soap

3 table spoons of  vinegar

2 cups water

Spray bottle

Combine ingredients in spray bottle and shake it up. The key ingredient here is the castile soap. It cuts trough grease. Use newsprint to wipe  mirrors and glass to keep surfaces free of streaks and lint.

Recipe: Soft Scrub

1/2 cup baking soda

castile soap

Combine in a bowl, baking soda and enough castile soap to form a paste. Pout on sponge and  wash the surface. This is great for kitchen sinks and bathtubs because it rinse clean without leaving any grit behind. You can add a teaspoon of vegetable glycerin to keep the mixture moist and store it in a glass jar to use another time. You can also add a touch of lemon juice for a fresh, clean scent.

Recipe: Furniture Polish

1/2 teaspoon of oil

1/4 cup lemon juice

cotton cloth

Mix ingredients together in a container and pour onto cloth and wipe. That’s it! Very simple, very effective.

Do you have a favorite homemade green cleaning recipe? Please share your tips and suggestions!



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