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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mario MANIA!!!!!

Recently my older son is obsessed with Mario. You know, Super Mario - this old computer game guy. Not that he has ever owned a computer game, but one of his dearest, older friends does, and loves this character, and so does he.

A few days ago he asked me "Why don't you ever buy me a Mario T-shirt?"

As you know though, I don't like to buy new things, so I made him one. He has a bunch of white hand-me-down shirts (whether white is a color that he really should wear is another question...), so I picked a fairly nice polo shirt, got down to work with a few fabric markers, and made him his shirt. He loves it, and it saved me some money and helped the environment.

Then came his friend's birthday, and knowing how much he loves Mario and Luigi, and again not wanting to go out and buy something new, I painted him a Mario and Luigi poster.

This is the unframed painting (acrylic on paper)

I'm always on the lookout for usable frames so always have a nice stock on hand. This is the result:
Mario and Luigi in a blue reused Ikea picture frame

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Stack Of Clothes...

... just saved us a lot of money!
Somehow we accumulated a whole stash of somewhat damaged clothing - we had 3 of my husband's shirts. One had a button missing, one had a small hole by the shoulder and the third had two tiny holes in the front. A pair of pants of mine had a broken hook, a skirt had a rip.
What I would have done in the past was to either bring these to a drycleaner/tailor, depending on the personal value of the clothes (and paid a small fortune, as we all know!), or donate them to hopefully somebody who would be able to fix them.
And then get out there and buy other clothes. After all, the empty (huh, did I just say "empty"???) space in the closet must be filled, right?

Not this time! I decided to fix the problems myself. It took me about an hour of sewing, and it was all done.
Money saved, energy saved!
Try it out, you can do it, too :-)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What Is It With All The Party Favors???

I might seem ungrateful - but really, I don't get the deal with party favors. Kids parties I'm talking about.
Growing up in Europe I never heard about such a thing - it was a friend's birthday, you showed up with a gift and enjoyed the party and that was it.

Of course I don't know whether or not that has changed overseas over the years, but I have to admit that I liked that so much better than the parties I've attended here.
Being very health-conscious and green, it's hard enough to let my kids eat whatever is served at most parties (that is, in most cases, lots and lots of candies, pizza and an assortment of cookies and crackers). Live and let live, right?

But then go home with a goodie-bag filled with more candy?! As my kids are getting older, it's getting harder and harder to explain to them why we can't eat those goodies in the near future (same night!).
Or go home with a goodie-bag filled with some, hm, goodies, I guess - you know what I mean. Stuff that nobody really needs, and yet kids get so excited to get it (just to look at it/play with it for a moment and then it lands in the land-of-the-forgotten.

I really, really don't mean to step on anyone's toes here, as I understand people just do what they grew up with and they just want to do something nice for their little guests. I get that part, even though I also know some folks (from Europe, you guessed it!) who just don't do goodie-bags at all.

So what is my advice?
Well, if you feel like you have to give something to your little guests, think about something health- and earth friendly, meaning don't go to a 99 cent store and buy these toys that are just so bad for the environment (just think about it for a minute, and you'll know what I mean).
There are so many things you can do. If you're crafty, make something personalized. I belong to the group of people who has to give party favors, even though I don't have real parties.
Recently I have done toilet paper wraps filled with a marker, stickers, bracelets that I received as a gift a long time ago and an (organic :-) lollipop, and also I did some personalized place mats made from reused fabrics and unusable clothes (will post about that project later).

If you need some more ideas for self-made favors, check out The Crafty Crow, there are numerous projects even if you're not that crafty.

Let's say you just don't have the time/energy/mood to make something.
Well, how about going through your kids bookshelf and give away some of those that he/she isn't interested in? We all have some in the shelf, and giving away a used book is as green as you can get.
Seedlings for planting are also a great idea and hopefully get kids into nature.
For older kids you might want to think about an activity (make a picture frame out of clothespins, stones, or whatever material, etc., which could be the favor.
Or simply think about something to eat - but stick to one or two items and try to go as healthy as you can (yeah right). Maybe a pack of little chocolates, individually wrapped (sigh) and a fancy lollipop?

I just have the great hope that things can change once we all start to think about our actions and I hope I inspired some folks to make some changes.

Please share your ideas about this topic with us, I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Save Big Money (And The Earth!) By Using Reusable Water Bottles

Oops, it's been a while. I guess summer does that to me. Sorry.

The other day I bought a new Klean Kanteen water bottle from go lightly, Montclair's eco-store, for my older son. I didn't have to but decided to upgrade my little one from a small to medium size since he's a big drinker, especially in these hot days. So the little one will get the "old" mid-size bottle and my older one will get a brand new mid-size bottle for the new school year.

It brought me to think about money. I mean I hear a lot of people say how they don't buy the reusable bottles because of the high price (I paid $18.50). Yes, they do cost more compared to a plastic bottle. BUT if you look at the picture over time, you won't believe how much you save:
Let's say I have to fill up the bottle twice per day, meaning I would have to buy 2 plastic bottles of water per day for - how much are they now? - $1 on average let's say?
$2 x7 = $14 per week = $60 per month = about $720 per year!!!
I use one bottle for at least 2 years, unless we loose them (so far we have lost 2 bottles over a period of 5 years).
So, for a family of 4 that means we save at least $2.000, assuming we would get the plastic bottles in bulk for a better price. The cost of about $80 for 4 reusable bottles and about $150 for a decent water filter seems like nothing compared to the cost of bottled water over a longer period of time.
Let alone the savings for the earth! By using reusable bottles, you save excess water, crude oil, plastic in the landfills and everywhere else on the planet, chemicals and BPA.

I also hear a lot of people say that they don't trust that the stainless steel won't leach and how they're not sure it's safe. Well, if you buy plastic bottles how can you be safe that the bottle hasn't been out in the sun for a long time, meaning it would leach chemicals big time? How can you know how pure the water is? How can you feel good knowing how much energy has been put into producing the bottle and the water in it?
Ditch the plastic and switch to reusable bottles today - for your and the planet's sake.