Monday, October 29, 2012

Meatless Monday-Fall Flavors Edition

Now that the fall season is in full effect, it's fun to include some of the seasonal fruits and vegetables into our diets.  With pumpkins, pears, sweet potatoes, and squash varieties, among other fabulous flavors, we've found 10 amazing recipes that are begging to be tried!

Let's start with the obvious seasonal favorite-pumpkins!  If you're like me, you know when Starbucks comes out with their famous Pumpkin Spice Latte.  You'll may also know how if you get addicted to them, your daily fix can quickly add up.  According to The Family Kitchen blog, on, this copycat recipe is sure to satisfy your cravings. 

Pumpkin Spice Latte
What you'll need is:
2 c. half and half, whole milk, reduced fat, or skim milk
2 tbs. canned pumpkin puree
1-2 tbs. sugar, stevia or splenda
2 tbs. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1-4 shots espresso or very strong coffee
Brew your espresso or strong coffee. If brewing strong coffee, use double the amount of grounds you would in your regular coffee. Then combine half and half or milk, pumpkin, sugar, and pumpkin pie spices in a small saucepan. Heat until very hot, but do not boil. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Transfer to a blender or a milk frother and blend until frothy.
Pour 1 cup warm pumpkin milk mixture into coffee mug and add 1-4 coffee shots. Dust with more pumpkin pie spice if desired.  Yields 1-2 servings.

Want to get your pumpkin fix via something other than drink form?  Try these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins.  Great for breakfast or a snack on the go!  Unbelievably, his recipe has absolutely NO butter in it!  Check it out here, on Cooking With Kessner.

If pumpkin is not your thing...why not the classic fall fruit that's got everyone out visiting orchards...apples!
Spice up your regular breakfast routine with these Apple Spice Waffles or Apple Oatmeal.  For the waffles, simply add nutmeg, cinnamon, and fresh apples to your mix if you've already got a store bought waffle mix, otherwise follow these steps from  Sames goes for the oatmeal-just add some fresh apples, brown sugar, and cinnamon to your instant oatmeal, or for a more homemade recipe-try this one from

Pears, although similar to apples, offer it's own unique flavor, especially when they become ripe in the fall.  This Caramelized Pear Jam recipe from is great as a gift, or can it and use it year round.  With only 4 ingredients, it does take 2 days to make, but the flavor and possibilities of how to use this are endless!
Craving something with a quicker turn around time?  Why not try this Asian Pear Salad that can be made-dressing and all, in less than 20 minutes?
Not feeling all the fruitiness?  Let's try some more savory dishes that incorporate these delicious fall flavors.  Check out these recipes made with one incredible "super food"-the sweet potato!  These Twice Baked Bourbon Sweet Potatoes are definitely a grown up's favorite side dish.

Or these yummy, creamy Mashed Sweet Potatoes, from The Merry Gourmet, that can be served as a nutritious side dish since they offer almost twice as much fiber as a regular potato and tons of vitamins.

What about all the varieties of squash that you now see available at your grocery store or farmer's market?  That butternut and acorn squash seems intimidating, but with these spins on classic recipes, you'll be mad you didn't try them sooner!

The traditional comfort food of mac and cheese has this tasty surprise-butternut squash-hidden inside.  Shhhh!  Don't tell the kids-they'll never know!

Mac & Cheese with Butternut Squash from
Or this homemade Acorn Squash Ravioli dish, is to die for since everything in it is fresh!

Recipe from Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes
Try one or all 10 and tell us which is your favorite fall recipe?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Easy (Recycled) Halloween Decor

Fall is in the air and that fun candy giving (and getting) holiday is right around the corner.  Many people rush out to the stores to get the newest costume or decorations for their homes and yards, but we've found a few fun crafts to spruce up your place this Halloween, and they are all made from recycled items.

Baby food jars can be used for so many things after they've been cleaned out.  Why not save a couple to craft something fun-like these bats from

Or if your family goes through a gallon or so of milk a week, you can hang onto those jugs to craft some ghoulish ghosts with a little help from your Christmas light collection.

Family Fun

Have some scrap paper or an old, unused book?  Put the pages together to form these pretty pumpkin pieces.  View the tutorial on how to make this pumpkin on

If you can save a cereal box or two from your recycling bin, you and your kiddo can create some silly or scary monsters like these from

And if you have an empty wine bottle or two...or three lying around, why not trying turning them into these adorable candy corn or pumpkin decorations?

These candy corn bottles were created with spray paint and a small ribbon-from Ashbee Design

Got any other fun decorating or costume ideas made from recycled goods?  We'd love for you to share them with us!

Friday, August 24, 2012

My "Green" Failures

I've been doing my best to incorporate eco friendly ideas into my household and a lot of them work...but some of them don't.  For example-we thought it would be great to grow an herb garden.  It saves money, you can taste the difference between fresh and dried herbs, and it gives anyone who doesn't have a green thumb, a sense of accomplishment each time you use something from your garden.  I've had parsley, rosemary, and spicy basil going strong since the spring, and I don't know why, but the basil has yucky brown spots all over it.  It started off on just a few leaves...and now it's all over.  We decided to chuck the basil and keep the parsley and rosemary, which is still flourishing.  But it leads me to the question of why?  Why the basil and not all of the plants?  Mind you this isn't the first time we've tried to grow basil, and I'm sure it won't be the last, but gosh darnit-it's always the basil!

Notice the gaping space where the basil used  to be

My next idea was to line dry laundry instead of using the dryer.  We have a small drying rack on our wall and it gets filled with as much as I can load on there and the rest goes into the dryer, but the majority of the clothes that get line dried end up in the dryer anyways because they are so wrinkle ridden.  I know this completely goes against the reason for line drying in the first place-to save energy.  I've ended up only hanging underthings and sweaters and tops that clearly state "lie flat to dry" or what-have-you, but it disappoints me and my willingness to try to be more energy conscious, that this isn't working out for me.

I will say we're pretty good at recycling-paper, aluminum, cardboard, but I've gone into crazy "recycler" mode and almost feel like I'm becoming a hoarder.  "No you can't throw that away!  It can be recycled!  But not in our curbside pickup, it has to go to the recycling center.  We have to drive there and drop it off."

Things to be recycled OR things I think can be recycled (still doing some research)

My husband just looks at me like I'm crazy.  And 1/2 of our garage has items large and small that need to be driven over to the recycling center.  Which we'll eventually get day :)

Old hood range that our county recycling center will accept.  Some old wooden pieces that I figure can be reused or recycled...I won't throw them away and they've been in our garage for eek!...almost a year :(

With all that being said-sure you're likely to have a failure or two or even slip up-yes you threw some junk mail away in the trashcan instead of the recycling bin.  The point is you're trying.  And yes, you ARE making a difference.

Did you know:

Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a TV for three hours -- or the equivalent of a half a gallon of gasoline.

Recycling a single run of the Sunday New York Times would save 75,000 trees.

A single quart of motor oil, if disposed of improperly, can contaminate up to 2,000,000 gallons of fresh water.

Source- (Check out this website for more great tips)

So think about starting small.  Even if you start off only doing it half the time, maybe you can make it into a habit...and maybe you can teach your family...and then you'll be doing your part to make the world a little better one green step at a time.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Meatless Monday: Finger Food Edition

It's Monday again and our Meatless Monday post features tasty finger food ideas that kids and adults will both enjoy.  These yummy recipes not only feature a vegetarian take, they also eliminate the extra time and water spent on doing dishes, because you don't need to use utensils to enjoy!

Let's kick it off with a tasty snack that can be thrown into a lunch box, or served as a great after-school bite.  Homemade fruit roll ups!  In this case, we're only using 2 ingredients...that's right 2!  Check out the recipe from The Copycat Cook.

Want something a little more filling?  Then try these crunchy tofu tenders with a side of sweet potato fries.  Michelle at Peachy Palate has a flavorful take that will clearly fool the kids.  This recipe takes no more than 35 minutes from start to finish and will have the kiddies smacking their lips!  Pair them with a side of sweet potato fries that Karen from The Art of Doing Stuff has created for a great spin on this All-American favorite.

Still wanting more?  Try these delicious fried raviolis created by none other than the Italian hostess with the most-est...Ms. Giada DeLaurentis.  Again this recipe takes no more than 1/2 hour from start to finish-perfect for a party, or for a quick dinner.

Cooking Channel
Do you have a Meatless Monday recipe that you'd like us to feature on our blog?  Then comment either here or on Facebook for a chance to be showcased!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Back to School Shopping-The Green Way

The new school year is just around the corner and you know what that means...back to school shopping!  You grab your list that has a billion supplies on it, not to mention the fact that your kids have already grown out of last year's school wardrobe, and for the many of us on a budget, it's hard to shell out all that dough for one child, and even harder if you have multiple children.  Today's post has some great tips that are green and budget friendly, and for those crafty moms out there, they just might be excited to prepare for the new school year.

First off-empty out your child's book bag and your search through your cabinets.  I'm sure you'll be surprised to find notebooks with plenty of paper in them, and pens and pencils, among other things, that are already at the house.  By taking note of what you already have-markers, colored pencils, white out, a spare composition notebook, you'll be happy to check those items off your list, and immediately reduce your spending by going into the store better prepared and with a shorter supply list.

Look for labels on products that show it is made with recycled materials.  Lots of items from notebooks to markers may be made or contain recycled material.  If a calculator is on your list-check out the solar powered ones to keep cost down on having to purchase batteries all year and it reduces battery waste from landfills.

When it comes to carrying all these supplies around-look for pencil boxes and book bags with eco friendly elements.  Same goes for lunchboxes and lunch containers-eliminate plastic baggies each day and you'll save a small fortune over the years.

As for back to school clothes-this can get expensive.  Try consignment stores or garage sales when you need to buy bigger sizes, or organize a clothing swap in your neighborhood for clothes in good condition.  For items that still fit-jazz them up with new accessories that are trendy.  Belts, pins, scarves, and jewelry are a great way to add flair to a girl's wardrobe.

If you feel like getting a little crafty-add rhinestones, ribbon, or even new buttons to your clothes.  For the plain tee shirts or clothing with tiny stains-cover them up with paint!  For bigger tears or holes-patch it up!  Check out these cute ideas below!

These sports and super hero patches would look great on jeans, a tee, or even a jacket!

Or get creative and design your own-like this funny monster patch from Refashion Co-op.  Check out their site for other cute "refashion-ing" tips.

Best wishes on a new, bright school year for you and your little ones!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Meatless Monday: School Lunch Edition

School is starting back for many youngsters around the country and you face the dilemma of what to pack them for lunch.  We've got some great recipes, starting with breakfast on the go, snacks, and lunch time entrees, that are healthy and meatless.  Remember, going meatless one day a week can help minimize your carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions, but it can also lower your risk for certain cancers, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.  Start your kids off on the right foot by packing them a lunch full with nutritious and delicious food.

For breakfast, try these easy to grab, Marble-ous Blueberry Muffins, from the Fit Cook.

And these baked oatmeal cups allow you to get creative with the ingredients...chocolate chips, walnuts, fruit...something for everyone in the family!  Find the recipe on the website here.
Of course there are plenty of things to munch on that can be eaten for breakfast or a snack, such as a piece of fruit, yogurt, string cheese, or a bagel, but the snacks we found below have a little more thought put into them.  Even if it's just in the decoration, your child will surely enjoy these fun ideas.

Butterfly snack pack-get creative with the contents-this one features grapes and goldfish, but you can really use anything-raisins, popcorn, trail mix, carrots...what will you use?

Something that is a little sweet, but has no added sugar AND doesn't require baking. These No Bake Cookies are the way to go!
It's 5 ingredients include 8 finely ground whole wheat graham crackers, 1/4 c. raisins, 1/4 c. smooth peanut butter, 4 tsp. shredded, unsweetened coconut, and 2 tbs. plus 2 tsp. honey.  Combine the ingredients and pat into cookie form.  Done and delicious!

For lunch, you may be able to squeak by with a pb&j sandwich, but if you were anything like me as a child-that's just not going to cut it!  Try an easy pasta salad, like this one from More Than Burnt Toast.

Or for a spin on the Peanut Butter-Banana Sandwich-try this one from instead!  It's a Honey, Almond Butter and Banana Sandwich.

And of course don't forget, it's all in the packaging.  Use a reusable lunch box instead of paper or plastic bags, and reusable containers instead of plastic sandwich baggies everyday.

These collapsible lunch boxes from Smart Planet save space...

And these stylish lunch boxes from Dabbawalla are machine washable!

Here's to starting off the new school year on the right foot, whether it's for your child's first year of pre-school or senior year of high school-good luck!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Baby Shower Fun and Eco Friendly Tips

A close friend is having her 2nd baby, which happens to be her first girl.  We threw a baby shower for her this past weekend and incorporated some green ideas (we couldn't help it) and it turned out great!  We also got our craft on with some Pinterest inspired ideas.

We decided since it was a smaller affair (12 people), we could use real plates, china to be specific, as well as real silverware.  Not only does this cut down on waste and energy since everything has to be hand washed, but it just makes the table look so gosh darn pretty.  We had a cute display set up on our table, with some simple decorations.

(Hand washing tip-fill your sink up with a few inches of soapy water.  Scrape all food scraps in your compost bin or trash can and sponge off any remaining residue.  Rinse plates off and towel dry.  By not putting your dishes in the sink all at once and then filling it with water you will save A LOT of water!)

For our decor, we used a regular table cloth with a piece of pink tulle to serve as the runner (you can get this at any fabric/craft store for a few bucks).  We also used some small votive candles, plain letters that spell out BABY (placed underneath the tulle to make it look like they were colored), and we grabbed a bag or two of baby decor from the local party store (cute duckies and pink safety pins).

We also created this cute baby fruit display, inspired from this Pinterest Post, as our crowning jewel.
For a picture tutorial on how to make this click here.

For the party/game room, we kept it simple with this diaper cake centerpiece.  Making it with ecofriendly diapers, like Nurtured By Nature, also puts a great green spin on the party.  The cake was topped off with some precious pink socks, headbands, spoons, a pacifier, and some BabyGanics diaper cream and a fake flower.  Since we aim to be green and healthy, we made sure none of these products contained any BPA and the diaper cream stated that it is "Hypoallergenic, Fragrance Free, Pediatrician & Dermatologist Tested," and contains "NO Parabens, NO Sulfates, NO Phthalates, and NO Toxins," which we feel is important.  For details on how to make the diaper cake click here.

Before opening presents, we played a few games, such as Name that Nursery Rhyme, Baby Bingo, and the Unique Celebrity Baby Name Matching Game.  The winners received eco friendly gifts-soy based candles from Mrs. Meyers or Burt's Bees Milk and Honey Lotion.

After everyone had eaten and the games had been played, the many gorgeously girlie presents were opened and the future mama of two now has some serious pink in her life.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Cute Baby Shower Centerpiece

We're throwing a baby shower for a close friend and along with the diaper cake from last week, we were also inspired by this Pinterest post for a watermelon-cantaloupe baby centerpiece.  We tried it out...and it's too cute!  We've decided not only is it a great way to serve fruit to the guests, but it's a knock-out table centerpiece idea too!

*This project takes approximately 30 minutes to complete - more time is needed if you plan on taking pictures throughout the process :)

Here's what you'll need:
1 large watermelon
2 cantaloupes
Assorted fruit (we used purple & green grapes, blueberries, strawberries, and kiwis)
Ice cream scoop
Melon Baller-preferably one with 2 scoop sizes
Vegetable peeler
1 large sharp knife
1 small paring knife
7 toothpicks
1 pacifier
Container for "discarded" watermelon

1. Estimate where the halfway point is in your watermelon (lengthwise) and where the 1/3 point is (width wise).  Make your cuts and remove the wedge of watermelon.  Begin scooping out the inside of the watermelon.

2.  Scoop out 80-85% of the watermelon, especially in the "back" of the carriage.  The more watermelon you scoop out, the more fruit you will have to use to fill it back up.

3. Next, cut the rind off one of the cantelopes.

4.  Once the rind has been removed, use a peeler to shave off any green parts and place "head" in the watermelon carriage.

5.  Next, scoop out an indention for the pacifier.  Align the pacifier with the indention and secure with toothpicks.  Our toothpicks went into the 2 small holes in the pacifier.

6. Slice into the 2nd cantaloupe and using your smaller scoop size on your melon baller, scoop out one ball for the nose.  Secure it to the head using 1 toothpick.

7.  Scoop out 2 more balls from the 2nd cantaloupe using the larger scoop size and using toothpicks, secure one ball on each side of the head, as ears. Also pick out 2 similar sized purple grapes for the eyes and secure into the cantaloupe with toothpicks.

8.  Slightly angle head up, so baby appears to be looking up from carriage.  Begin filling watermelon with assorted fruit and balls from the remaining watermelon and cantaloupe.

9. Add fruit to bottom of carriage as garnish an voila...your centerpiece is complete!

10.  Put your centerpiece out on the table and watch your guests ooh and ahh over your work.