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Monday, December 10, 2012

Oh What Fun - Advents Calendars and Cloved Oranges

Hi all,

It's been a looooong, loooong time. Can't believe it's the Holiday Season again, and for the first time we're celebrating in Germany. Yes, that's right, we made the big move and that's the reason why I neglected my blog so much during the past months.

It's been a very different lifestyle here, I got to say. Don't even know where to start. The city we live in have the so called "Biotonnen" for example, that's a garbage can for compost and leftover foods, grass and garden waste only. They pick it up twice a month and even clean it out for you. Awesome, I think. Of course it's better to have your own compost in the garden, but if that isn't an option, at least there's that.
The "normal" garbage can is tiny, especially compared to the American ones. You wouldn't be able to fit more than one what we call normal size garbage bags in it (30 gallons), and we have a deal that it only gets picked up twice a month as well. Can you imagine??? I doubt that many people in the States would be able to deal with that - but being who we are and given the fact that literally everything except diapers, textiles and very little other stuff is recyclable here, it is very much possible! You also have to pay for the garbage services here, not through the taxes, but directly to the provider, which, as much as it stinks in a way, I think is a good idea to make people think twice how big a garbage can they want and how often they want it to be picked up.

So with the holidays being very near and the fact that half our stuff is not yet unpacked (of course the Christmas stuff is tucked away in an unreachable corner :-( I have to think about green options to decorate the house.
One thing that is really big in Germany and is getting bigger in the States as well is the Adventscalendar - where you get a little surprise for each day in December until the 25th.
This surprise can be anything from little notes to toys, sweets, whatever you can think of. My hubbie got me a story - it came in a tin with 24 round papers, and each paper has a part of a story on the back. I got him a tea calendar, with a different tea for every day.
Our boys got "Ueberraschungseier". My German friends will know those, the rest of you won't. It's a chocolate egg filled with a tiny toy. 
They sell those already done, but I wanted to make my own.
So I just wrapped each egg with green and red paper, closed it with yarn and  hang them all on a rope, each one with a sticker with the number of the day on it.
In one of the many second-hand stores that I found here, I bought some cute Christmas decoration which I also hung on the rope - it came out really nice and the boys love it:

I know a lot of people love a Christmas-y smell in the house around the holidays and buy room sprays to achieve that.
Not only are most of those really bad for the environment, and for yourself, of course, they usually also cost a lot of money. An easier way getting a really nice smell into your house (and a nice craft project for kids) is to take some oranges and stick a lot of cloves into them. I hung mine up(just poke a hole through them with a knitting needle or something like that) but you can also just place them somewhere.

The first one is hanging in front of our window with an LED light curtain in the background, the snake-shaped one is just sitting on a table.
Fun to make and gives a really nice aroma. My 6-year old was just a little concerned about wasting food for decoration purposes - but I think it's worth it.

Have a happy Holiday Season everybody!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Look What I Found!!!

Keeping your eyes open always pays off in many ways!
A few days ago I saw a post on Craigslist about a kitchen set that someone was giving away.
It stated in the post that it was self-made because the parent didn't like the "plastic junk" that was available in stores - I think that is what caught my eye.

Anyway, I responded and we got the kitchen set. It is really self-made, from kitchen cabinets and some other gear, and even though it's about 20 years old, it's still in great shape.

It's my "kid dream kitchen"! Made of re-purposed materials that otherwise would have ended up in the landfill (who wants old kitchen cabinets?), really creative and yes, it contains no plastic other than maybe in the acrylic oven door. We all love it and I just had to share this with everyone.
Happy Hunting :-)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Back to the Basics

 Picture taken from

I can't believe how much I have neglected my blog in the past few months.
Sorry and thanks for checking in anyways!

I thought it's a good opportunity to go back to the basics and write about simple things what we all can do to fight global warming. Sometimes we all need a good reminder, don't we? :-)

So here we go:

  • Reduce, reuse, recycle - and in that order. First of, we don't need as much stuff as we are made believe. Or if you are a consumer, buy used. Garage sale season has just started - Yay! 
  • Donate stuff you don't need or want anymore, hand it down, sell it - whatever. Just keep it out of the landfill.
  • Buy bulk and minimally packed goods whenever you can. Every little bit helps. And yes, recycle.
  • Avoid disposables! Reusable containers instead of ziplock bags, cloth napkins instead of paper, reusable water bottle instead of plastic, etc. etc. You get the idea.

  • Use cold or warm water for washing your clothes, not hot. It minimizes the used energy by a lot.

  • Low-flow installments in showers and fixtures/toilets reduce the amount of water used drastically.
  • If you have a dishwasher, run it only when full (with eco-friendly detergent!) and do not use the heat to dry option.
  • Turn out the lights when you leave the room. Turn off appliances when not in use. It's that simple.
  • If you are in the business of getting new or replacing your old appliances, get the ones that are energy-efficient.
  • Get out of your car and on your bike, or feet! That's the best you can do for yourself and the environment. If you have to use a motorized transportation method, carpool and/or use public transportation as much as possible.
  • Eat less meat and animal products, it's good for you and the Earth.
  • Increase awareness among friends and family and share how you do that :-)
Happy May!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Adopting Healthy Habits for Successful Delivery by Katie Moore

 This picture is borrowed from

The thought of delivery day is one that is welcomed with excitement and a few nerves. This day represents the culmination of months of waiting and preparation, as well as the beginning of a new bond between mother and child that will last a lifetime. There are tons of preparations to make for the big day and weeks thereafter, but the good news is most of the important preparations can begin much earlier.

Healthy Diet
Delivering a healthy baby is a direct result of a healthy mother. Prenatal vitamins and regular check-ups, as requested by the obstetrician or other health provider, are the backbone of preparing for delivery day, but there are other things to do and research as well. Keeping a well balanced diet and adding about 300 extra calories to your diet around the start of your second trimester are what is recommended during pregnancy.

Exercise for Pregnancy
Whether labor turns out to be a marathon or sprint, it can be beneficial to adopt a physical fitness routine as soon as possible. There are a few instances that will prohibit the suggested moderate-intensity aerobics, and this is why discussing any exercise regime you would like to pursue with your doctor is an important part before beginning it.

Those new to regular fitness should definitely seek instruction from exercise classes tailored to pregnancy. Whether it is yoga, dance or water aerobics, mom and baby will gain many short-term benefits. These include a reduction in fatigue, easing up of nausea and other digestive problems, and more relaxing sleep patterns.

Meditation offers numerous benefits to expectant mothers during their pregnancy and labor. Meditation is not a medicine, but rather a state of mind and many expectant mothers can find meditation to be calming and a helpful way to cope with any pain or nerves. There are classes that teach how to properly meditate during pregnancy and labor; the benefits of meditation will be lasting postnatal as well.

Pregnancy Classes
New mothers and even experienced mothers will benefit from attending classes geared toward the different stages of pregnancy. This is a great time to meet other moms and share information about resources and procedures. These classes are typically run by experts who are ready to answer all the questions or know where to find the answers. They teach about what to expect during labor and ways to help prepare you for delivery day. They also may offer explanations of circumcision or procedures like cord blood banking (click here for more information from Viacord), which allows a family to collect and store their baby’s umbilical cord blood at a private facility, as a potential future medical resource for the child or a sibling.

Having reliable information and being both physically and emotionally prepared are the best ways to reduce delivery day stress. Stress reduction is the key to a healthy delivery and a quick recovery!

This article was written by Katie Moore. Katie is an active writer within the blogging community who discusses maternity, motherhood, prenatal health, childbirth and other topics within this niche.  If you have any questions or would like to connect with Katie please contact her via twitter @moorekm26.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Giving Old Things a New Life

Long time no hear... I've been so busy with stuff lately that I totally neglected my blog. Sorry!

Today I spent some time with my family checking out estate and moving sales. We're looking for some stuff and are always trying to buy second-hand, as we say in Europe.
In my case it's a Bernina sewing machine,or ideally sewing/embroidery machine, my husband is always looking for percussion stuff, and our boys are in the Star Wars mode at the moment.
A decent sewing machine at a private sale you might ask? Well, let me tell you my story about me and my sewing machines: I wanted to own one for the longest time and was waiting for one to just "fall in my lap". I got a vintage Singer from a fellow freecycler and couldn't be any happier.
But, the Singer and I, let's just say we didn't get along. Not at all. I spend quite some money on repairs and tune-ups, and still had a problem whenever I started a project, so the Singer had to go.
Soon after, I got my beloved "new" sewing machine, a Husqvarna Oscar, for $100! Including a high-end Horn sewing cabinet. From an estate sale. I'm not kidding!

I love my machine. But since I'm expanding my sewing, I want to upgrade to a machine that can do more. So I keep my eyes open. And until I find one (and I will!), I look for vintage bedding and such to give them a new life.
Today I found a really nice bed skirt in pink colors that will become beautiful doll cloths.
I also found this weird piece of fabric that I don't even know what it used to be. Heavy duty, white, with some velcro on it. I made a dust cover for my sewing machine, for the times when it's not sitting in the cabinet.

The point is don't just throw out unwanted things. Even if it has a hole, stain, or you just don't like it anymore - try to make something new out of it or find somebody who will do that. Or, if it's still usable, donate it, freecycle it, or even sell it. Let's keep it out of the landfill as long as we can!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

3 Tips for Greener Outdoor Living in 2012 by Tina Foreman

With 2012 finally here, we’ve all probably got a few New Years resolutions we’ve made. For some it’s to lose those extra pounds, for others it’s to make more time for themselves, and some are even resolving to be more eco friendly around the home. If you fall into that last category, you’re in luck, because that’s what we’re going to talk about today. Here are 3 tips to help you be greener in your backyard for 2012.

Garden & Compost
Growing your own fruits and vegetables is one of the easiest ways to help the environment and a fun project for the whole family. By growing your own food, you help cut down on carbon emissions and don’t have to deal with any preservatives or insecticides on what you’re eating. And if you garden, it makes sense to go ahead and start composting. This is an easy task that only required a compost bin to get started. Simply fill it with stuff like egg cartons, newspaper, needles from your Christmas tree, and other compostable materials, and you’ll have a natural fertilizer to keep your garden thriving all year long.

Buy Recycled
Looking to redo your outdoor furniture or add a few new accessories to the patio? Then make sure you buy items made from recycled materials. Recycled used to have a negative connotation when it came to furniture items, but that’s no longer the case, as more manufacturers than ever are scheduled to release recycled lines this spring. The designs have come a long way, looking just as good as non-recycled models, so you’re not limited to dry, boring pieces. The lack of maintenance makes them attractive as well, as plastic only needs a good hosing down every once in a while to keep its appearance nice. It’s furniture that will last you for years and give everyone a comfortable place to relax, and you can be happy knowing you’re helping the environment by purchasing it.

Go Solar
The past few years have seen the explosion of solar outdoor accessories and 2012 shows no signs of that slowing down. Solar technology has come quite a long way since its beginnings, with those old, limited designs and low lighting power. Today, tons of popular outdoor items have solar models – everything from wind chimes to bird baths to Christmas lights! The advantages of solar are numerous. For example, the lack of wires means you’re not limited in where you can place your items by where the closest outlet is. Another big one is how it cuts down on the electric bill, as saving money is something everyone’s trying to do more of these days. Solar items look good, they save money, and they reduce energy use – what more could you want?

If you’re looking to make some green changes to your outdoor living space in 2012, keep these 3 tips in mind. They’ll help you create a thriving, environmentally friendly paradise right in your own backyard!

About The Author – Tina Foreman is a writer with Outdoor Living and always keeps up with the latest in green home design. For more on items like plastic planters, solar fountains, gardening supplies, or a picnic bench, visit