Sunday, November 27, 2011

Oh. Christmas Tree

I have read several articles stating that a real Christmas tree is "greener" or more environmentally friendly than an artificial tree. Here is an easy to read chart from the National Christmas Tree Association.  Here and here are a few articles on the Real vs Fake debate. There are numerous facts out there about fake trees being horrible for the environment. Much of the information comes from Christmas Tree cultivators, but I'd have to agree with them, most of the time.

 Daddy, Jenn Jenn & Kristy 1984

Sure if you purchase a fake tree and toss it on the curb every six years because a more spectacular piece of China crap is on the market then the real tree wins, bar none. But compare an heirloom artificial tree with a tree that has been mega mono-cultured with added pesticides, fertilizers and traveled across the country, then you may have a different story. Not to even mention the price of a new tree every year.

Recently we wandered into the Goodwill Christmas store in our town. A huge space dedicated to all things reusable Christmas. There were tons of artificial trees lined up ready to go to a good home. I thought, just like all things 'disposable' there is no reason an artificial tree needs to be such an impact to the environment.

 Nana & Grampy 1975

I promised my Husband years ago, as I pulled my artificial tree out of the box, that we would get a real tree the year that we weren't zig zagging across the South East during the holidays. I admit, I never have had a real tree and this year I thought it would be nice to grant his wishes. To my surprise he replied "I like your tree, it's a family heirloom." and it is. The tree I put up every year was my Nana and Grampy's tree, then our family tree, I took it when I moved out and have been putting it up in my home for the past 12 years. This small tree is 35+ years old, each branch was color coded by my mom with nail polish in the early 80's, has tissue paper stuffed in connector pieces, has been attached to the ceiling with fishing line numerous times to keep from leaning and is always up on a coffee table to look more grandiose then it really is. I love my tree. 

 Christmas morning 2009

I am sure you can "go green" whether you decide to go real or artificial.

Here are a few things to consider.

Real tree
  • Find out where the tree has come from.
  • Try to find a local variety.
  • Buy organic or close to it.
  • Purchase a tree in a pot and plant it at the end of the season
  • When disposing a real tree compost it or be sure it gets picked up with yard debris and not in the landfill. 
  • Don't put tinsel or spray fake snow that could keep it from being composted properly. 

Fake Tree
  • Find one that has been used.
  • Made in America. This will greatly decrease the chances for contamination with lead or other toxins, preserve much-needed domestic manufacturing jobs and reduce shipping.
  • When disposing, do not throw it on the curb. 
  • Take it to a charity. 
  • Repurpose it. Salvage branches and refashion them into napkin rings, candle rings, wreaths, swags or other decorations for walls, doors etc.
  • Reuse it! Keep it in the family for an extended period of time.

So, is your tree "green"? What kind of tree is your family's favorite? Real or Artificial?

Happy Tannenbauming

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Healthy Cookies!!

 Finally, after many horrible attempts at making a healthy cookie I found a recipe that suits me. The healthy baked oatmeal bars were to mushy. The Aussie bites crumbled easily and were dry.  I love, love the Vanishing Oatmeal cookie & sub the all-purpose-flour for spelt, barley or whole wheat flour, but it has still too much sugar to eat with no holds barred. 

My sister has been trying the Paleo diet. It really is healthy to eat only whole foods, meat, no grains or sugar and limited dairy. I personally couldn't go without dairy, and think that certain whole grains are good for you. I'm also a sugar addict so, you got me there. Nether-the-less, I have been looking up Paleo recipes for dinners, desserts and my christmas present to her, a (mostly) Paleo Christmas dinner. Lo and behold I found a GREAT cookie! wha hoo!

The N'Oatmeal cookie. (Not Oatmeal cookie).
Adapted from Stacey's Paleo Kitchen. 

Wet Ingredients @ room temperature*
  • 1 small banana mashed
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (warmed)
  • 2 eggs (v)
  • 2 tbsp milk (v)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
Dry Ingredients
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp baking soda 
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon

Add Ins - About 2 cups total or more
What I used:
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (v) (I can't make cookies without chocolate in them :)
    Other suggested add ins:
    • Raisins
    • Dried Blueberries or cherries
    • Chopped dates
    • Cacao nibs
    • Goji berries
    • Flax Seeds**
    • walnuts & pecans
    • Whole grain oats, barley or Quinoa flakes

    1. In a big bowl mash the banana. Add the remaining wet ingredients at room temperature*. maple syrup, coconut oil, eggs, milk and vanilla and mix until combined.
    2. In another bowl add dry ingredients. Almond flour, coconut, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and mix to combine.
    3. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix.
    4. Stir in to this mixture your add ins.
    5. Mix until thoroughly combined.
    6. Scoop onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 13-15 minutes. Let them cool on the pan slightly before removing to a cooling rack.

    *If the wet ingredients are cold it will cause the coconut oil to congeal.
    **Flax seed should be ground. Your body cannot process the exterior to get to the good stuff, though it will provide lots of fiber if whole. Flax oil should not ever be cooked, put oil in smoothies and such for the full benefits.
    (v) The original recipe called for almond or goat milk. For my vegan friends, I'm sure you can make some easy substitutions to the egg, milk & chocolate chips.


    I would seriously let Lottie eat as many of these as she wants. There isn't anything in them I wouldn't serve her by itself. I love how fluffy they are with the added crunch of the seeds. Be careful though. They are very satisfying, 3 cookies can leave a belly feeling full.

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011

    Sew Crazy

    Now that Halloween is over I have decided to ride the sewing wave while my creativity is high and get into a few projects I have been putting off for over a year. During the past week of Halloween whirlwind I figured out how to use my sewing machine and pumped out our Halloween costumes pretty quickly. I am proud of myself for making a Lycra maternity super hero outfit from scratch.

    My mom always made special clothes for us (birthday outfits, prom dresses, Halloween, etc) whatever we could dream up she would create to the detail, but always based from a pattern. It was from her that I learned how to sew from a pattern and used those skills to make my own pattern from some of my favorite maternity clothes. No, Simplicity does not make patterns for maternity super hero costumes, go figure.

    The following is not a tutorial, but I hope it will inspire you to take a deep breath and try to create something even if you don't have a pattern. I highly recommend trying it first on cheap fabric and not on $15 a yard silky temperamental double knit, on a machine you have only used once. ;)

    I used a newspaper end roll that we have around for crafts, folded my shirt in half and stretched it out. I measured 1 inch all around it for an easy measurement and to give leeway for mistakes. Then cut out the pattern and put it on the fold of the material pinned like crazy & cut. It literally took me an hour between each step. I would stare at it, text a pic to my mom, triple check that the material was not reversed, tend to Lottie, then stare at it some more. I  labeled ALL the parts of the pattern (sleeve hole, neck, top, bottom, front, back, fold)  it super saved me from brain blanks.


    For the boots I put my most comfortable riding boots on the paper and traced, very wide. I then took in the leg part in and added elastic to the top & bottom. They weren't perfect ,but  I was satisfied that they didn't look like transformer feet any more.

    The rest of my outfit included a simple elastic pencil skirt, belt, cape with super uterus logo (foam & felt), and headband with small super uterus logo. Yes, I had lady parts on my forehead.

    I only had to tailor Super Ladybug's boot covers, & sew a simple black skirt. Captain Repurposed Outfit aka Super Duper aka "The Villain" aka Super Dad aka Generic Super Hero needed very little sewing. Not to shabby if I do say so myself. I heart Halloween.

    Now, on to my next project! This is where I need your help.  
    I am covering the princess part of this chair. Sorry Aurora, you must go. It has been so long since I planned it that I forget which fabric I wanted to use, plus I found some more cute fabric.


    Options 1 & 2 
    Option 1. The pink & green floral on the left. Some of this fabric and coordinating fabrics will be in the playroom.
    Option 2. The bold burgundy floral on the right. I like it a lot but, it wont "match" the playroom or the living room & I am worried about the burgundy color against the fuchsia pink. What do you think?


    Option 3. This moddish jungle fabric. I have tons of it. It is so cute. If I did the pink chair in jungle I would get a red chair for Jr and cover Lightning Mcqueen in the same fabric.

     Please let me know which fabric you like. I like them all!!. What to do??

    Happy Sewing.