Friday, April 23, 2010

Earth Week - Day 6

Today we finished the raised bed, made recycled plant markers & planted seeds. My husband also spread organic fertilizer on the lawn. Since we decided to do the raised garden, that took up time that I would have done other crafts. But I am much happier having made this raised garden, got a start on planting & made plant markers than if I would have done the homemade stickers and carton wallet, those are things I can do any time.

And tomorrow our plans change up to since my daughter is now spending the weekend with my in-laws and we will no longer be bringing her to Lowe's to build a bird feeder. I think I might hold off on the homemade granola bars because I really wanted to make that with/for her. So, I think I will get some more seedling started and anything else we do is weather dependent since it is supposed to be rainy.

It has been a good & productive Earth Week.

#145 Make Homemade Recycled Plant Markers

My daughter & I had a lot of fun making these. They were simple to make and we used items we already own and recycled juice & biscuit lids.

The supply list includes:
* Metal lids from juice & biscuit tubes
* Pictures of vegetables
* Scissors
* Glue Stick
* Clear Packing Tape
* Hot Glue Gun & Hot Glue
* Permanent Marker
* Popsicle Sticks

Cut out pictures of vegetables that you have planted. Use glue stick & adhere to one side of the metal lid. Write name of vegetable on lid on same side as picture, on the back side I wrote the # days for germination & harvest (ex: G - 7 days, H - 45-60 days). Then take a piece of clear packing tape and tape over picture to make it water proof. Finally place hot glue on one end of a popcicle stick (we had colorful ones & I thought my daughter would think that was fun) and press together. Let cool then place in garden.

And if you want to know how I also made this more of a learning activity, I had my daughter do sorting. The lids were of three different sizes, so she had to sort into the different sizes and then I also had her sort the pictures into piles of the same picture and then I would have her identify each vegetable. She got some some scissor skill practice, as well as gluing. She also would pick a color of stick that each vegetable got and made sure she had as many of each color as she had of pictures. Fun Times!

#144 Create a Raised Garden Bed

So, this was a project we really wanted to complete, a raised garden bed for the kids. My daughter is so pumped that she has her own garden. Really, this is going to hold a bunch of other veggies that might not have made it into the big garden because of space.

The raised garden bed is 24 feet long by 2 feet wide by (approx) 10 inches deep. In the spirit of reusing what we already have, we used cinder blocks that were in the basement (if you know me, you know there used to be a hot tub sunk in the floor of one room in our house from previous owners & these cinder blocks helped support the tub from the basement). Well, once we removed that hot tub and made that room a playroom we were left with stacks of cinder blocks in the basement. In reality, we only used about half, so I suppose we could build another raised garden bed to match at some point.

We also already owned a roll of a permeable weed barrier from when my daughter & I put a couple of raspberry bushes in another location. But don't start thinking this project was free, we still had to fill the garden bed and we only had so much compost in our bin & grass clippings. So, we had to buy black dirt, hummus & straw to help add more layer.

For those of you who don't know, I garden by Lasagna Gardening. I started doing this several years ago and I love it. Each year my garden looks better & better and I have less & less weeds (I really should have no weeds, but I got a huge batch of BAD compost and have been fighting thistles since.)

Eventually the straw & grass will decompose more and I will have to add more layers on top, but that's it. There is no nasty weeding or tilling or digging.

Anyways, back to the construction of the raised garden bed. We did buy cedar planks to put up on the back side so that the layers did not fall through the lattice on the porches. On the tops of the cinder blocks are solid blocks (perfect for sitting & gardening, or for my daughter to walk on) and on the ends we still placed dual cored cinder blocks so that we can plant flowers in them.

My husband & I built all of this and we are starting to feel some soreness from heavy lifting. It looks good and my daughter is so proud. Today my daughter & I planted cool season (radishes, spinach, lettuce & peas) seeds in 1/3 of the garden bed. In 2 weeks we will plant our next 1/3 of seeds and then 1-2 weeks later we will plant the final seeds. And then we can start over with planting seeds int he first third.

I had taken a class on advanced organic gardening this year and the focus was on success planting, so I am excited to try this.

The large garden on the ground will have plants that have a harvest time that take the entire growing season. So, many vine-type plants & some of my tomatoes. I also have some pots by the house as well that will hold some other tomatoes & banana peppers & herbs.

Here's to an Excellent Gardening Season!

#143 Homemade Natural Floor Wax

Ok, this one worked really well and was super easy. I made homemade hardwood floor wax for my dining room by mixing 1/4 Cup vinegar with 1/4 olive oil in a dressing mixer. Then I poured it on the floor (throughout the room) and slid across the floor with kitchen towels on my feet. After I was finished I asked my husband what he thought and he said the floor looked wet, like I had just mopped it. Woohoo! Success! The floor looks shiny & waxed. Now, I just need to do this to the rest of the rooms with hardwood floors in my house (which is pretty much the whole house.)

#142 Microwave Cleaning Naturally

Don't you just hate how stuff just sticks on all sides of your microwave? My microwave is up kind of high, so I often don't notice just how dirty it gets and often forget to look inside when I am cleaning the kitchen counters.

So, I decided to give the recipe here a try. I used both vinegar & tea tree oil. I thought I would go all the way with this and use both, rather than water & tea tree oil. I followed the instruction, but I thought more time was needed "cooking" the mixture. I needed to cook mine for 3 minutes. After the 3 minutes, everything did wipe out very easily.

Now, I don't think in the future I would use both vinegar & tea tree oil. They both have antibacterial & antiviral properties, so it's a bit of overkill. And they both can have a strong odor, and since my husband doesn't really like the smell of tea tree oil I will just cook vinegar instead.

Pictures to come soon when I get them uploaded later.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

We did a lot of stuff today, including:

* 2 mile walk
* Microwave Cleaning
* Waxing Dining Room Floor
* Refilling Ink Cartridges at Wal-Greens
* Planting activity at Old Navy Outlet
* Building & Filling a Raised Garden Bed

So, stay tuned because there will be posts on how I did the waxing & cleaning and how it turned out, as well as post all about the raised garden bed we are making.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Earth Week - Day 4

Well, today we finally got to the egg carton crafts I had planned earlier in the week. Hopefully you saw those posts. We did walk to the park & had a picnic there, more outdoor play (which means less tv time - yea!) and we made the pinecone birdfeeder, which was a bonus. The other fun activity we did was paint my daughter's nails.

She requested this and she likes it to be "fun" so her fingernails switch back & forth between a bright pink and a purple and her toes are the same bright pink and a peach color. Now the great thing about this nail polish is that it is water based and has NO odor. The no odor is fantastic! It is also very long-lasting as well. This nail polish is made by Honeybee Gardens and I bought it from

#141 Egg Carton Goggles & Bugs

So, we finally got around to making our egg carton crafts. We made goggles & bugs. The idea for the goggles came from the April 2010 issue of Parents magazine. The idea for the bugs came from Kaboose (whoops! when I look at this picture I see we forgot to add wings, guess we have something more to do tomorrow).

The only supplies needed for the goggles were egg cartons, paint & pipe cleaners. For the bugs we needed the same three items, plus pompoms, glue & googly eyes.

#140 Pinecone Bird Feeder

Today we picked up a couple of pinecones that were on the road and made them into bird feeders. This is a super inexpensive way to make a bird feeder and is an easy project for a preschooler (or anyone really!) to do.

Just take a pinecone and slather peanut butter on it and then either roll or pour bird seed on it. The bird seed will stick to the peanut butter. I had tied the pinecone by it's stem to some yarn so that we could easily hang it.

Since peanut butter is sometimes a pain in the butt to clean up & you also don't want to be sticking your knife back in the jar after it touches the pinecone, I suggest putting some peanut butter in a container (I used an empty single serve applesauce container) and a plastic knife (came from some takeout that I washed).

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Earth Week - Day 3

Today, I took a 2-mile walk with my son & some new friends. The baby boys slept through us getting tot he park, so we didn't stay to play. There was lots of outside play again and I hung a load on the clothesline. We're still doing good on using the g diapers, but I am using a regular diaper at nighttime. We also went to a local park/lake to pick up trash using the pick-up sticks my husband made last year.

Happy Birthday to my husband! My daughter & I made him a MONSTER Monster cookie for his "cake". If you are looking to use up some peanut butter & oatmeal, this is the recipe for you. We needed to go buy M&M's, but other than that we used what ingredients we had, which meant substituting cashews that we had for peanuts that we didn't have.

We still haven't gotten around to either egg carton craft I had planned. Can't do everything all the time.

#139 Eggshell Picture Frame

The credit for this idea goes to Craft eNVy. I thought this would be a lot of fun to do with my daughter. She really enjoyed crushing the eggshells up in a plastic bag. Then we spread glue on the wooden frame and placed eggshells on top. After they were dried she painted the frame in blue (she picked out the color because she was making this for her daddy for a birthday present and said that was his favorite color.) After the paint was dry I used some high-gloss clear indoor/outdoor spray paint (I made sure I bought stuff that said it was used for sealing). The spray paint was leftover from another project. We already owned the sponge brushes & recycled-into-paint-tray and the eggshells were leftover (obviously!), so all we had to purchase was the paint & a frame. And I took the picture of them at home and printed it off on our printer.

#138 Homemade Bubbles

So, I didn't use "natural' dishwashing liquid for this project. I have tried making bubbles with Seventh Generation dishwashing liquid and it did not turn out. So, I used some cheap dollar store dishwashing liquid, some corn syrup, water, & glass jars. Here is the recipe:

Homemade Bubbles
1 qt. water
1/2 C dishwashing liquid
1/4 C corn syrup

Stir all together and pour into containers. Have fun!

It's that simple. I reused jars from pickles & peanut butter to put my bubbles in. These made really good bubbles too and I saved a lot of money. I made over a quart of bubbles for about 15 cents. I don't count the cost of my corn syrup because that just sits in my cupboard for the few times I use it each year (usually for caramel corn or some Christmas candies). Without adding in the cost of corn syrup, it will cost me $1.07 to make 7 quarts of bubbles. Compare that to the $4.28 I spent last year to buy a big container of bubbles, which is 4 quarts. So for the cost of buying 1 quart (out of the big bottle), you can make 7 quarts. If you add in the cost of the corn syrup, you are still looking at around $2 for 7 quarts.

I do have some plastic bubble containers that I will put bubbles in for her so that she doesn't accidentally break a jar outside, but if you don't have any plastic bubbles containers just save some plastic containers that have lids like from sour cream or a single serving juice container.

And if you have some kind of shallow dish or pan you can put bubbles in the bottom of that and make a big circle wand out of an old wire hanger so that you can make big bubbles. And you can use smaller wire that is easier to bend into small bubble wands. Be creative, look around your house and find things with "holes" in them that you can blow bubbles through.

Earth Week - Day 2

We did pretty good today, but some things were different than originally planned. Today we started using the G Diapers that a friend gave me when my son was born. At the end of the week I will give you an adequate review on what I thought of these.

Instead of going to the park, we ended up staying home and trimming the rose bushes and removing dead peonies. While I did that, my daughter would fill up he bucket with water from the rain barrel and water flowers with that.
I also washed & hung three loads on the clothesline. I just love getting into my pajamas and having them smell like fresh air.

We made homemade bubbles too, that will be posted about later. And I made homemade Chicken Tortilla Soup. I followed this recipe, but I had 1 1/2 chicken breasts, chopped and I put everything in the slow cooker and cooked it on low for 5 hours.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Earth Week - Day 1

So, today started off Earth Week and I did everything I had set out to do. My daughter & I completed the 1 Mile walk at the Nature Center, we actually ran half of it, which I think is pretty good for a 3 1/2 year old and we enjoyed the pancake brunch that features real maple syrup that they made there.

I hung a load of laundry on the line (I tend to do a load every day as a basket fill rather than all in one day.)

My daughter & I filled & placed seeds in her Watch Me Grow planter she made at the Lowe's Build & Grow Clinic with her daddy. We got in some quality outdoor play.

I made a veggie lasagna and strawberry & rhubarb crisp for dinner using ingredients from the pantry, garden & freezer. The herbs came straight from the garden and we used frozen rhubarb, zucchini & tomatoes that we grew without chemicals in our garden last summer.

#137 Homemade Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner

So, I thought that in the spirit of Earth Week I would give it a try. I cleaned the bowl of two toilets using the following recipe and then cleaned the bowl of one toilet with my usual Seventh Generation cleaner.

Homemade Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner
1/4 C baking soda
1 C vinegar

Directions: Combine together the baking soda & vinegar (make sure your container is large enough to accommodate the fizzing). Pour into toilet bowl and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Scrub toilet with toilet brush.

The verdict - well, this did as good of a job as the Seventh Generation toilet bowl cleaner and if I didn't have SG kind at home I would try use it because I have vinegar & baking soda on hand for many other cleaning projects. And since I have a large home with many bathrooms, I like having a bottle of SG cleaner in each one. If space was an issue in my home, I might appreciate using the same two products for all my cleaning (& cooking). I think I will stick with my Seventh Generation toilet bowl cleaner, but know that a homemade cleaner works well.

Earth Week Plans

As the start of Earth Week begins today, we will begin our own Earth Week activities & crafts. I plan to have at least one thing that I will do with my family each day that is different from what we normally do daily. We will try a variety of crafts, recipes & cleaning ideas. I am also making it a goal this week to eat from the pantry & freezer, although I do have to make it an exception to go for a couple items since it is my husband's birthday and my daughter & I have a special dessert planned that we will need 1-2 ingredients for.
Sunday: 1mi Walk & Pancake Brunch @ River Bend Nature Center, Plant in Watch & Grow Planter, Cleaning Homemade Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner, Start hanging clothes on the line, Eat From My Freezer with Homemade Veggie Lasagna (zucchini & tomatoes from my garden) and Recipe Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
Monday: Craft Egg Carton Eyes, Trash Pick Up at Park & Play, Recipe Tortilla Soup
Tuesday: Craft Egg Cup Insects, Craft Make & Play with Homemade Bubbles, Walk & play at the park
Wednesday: Walk & Picnic at the Park, Cleaning Wood Floor Wax
Thursday (EARTH DAY): Planting Activity @ Old Navy, Cleaning Microwave Cleaning
Friday: Craft Homemade Stickers, Craft Carton Wallet,
Saturday: Build a Birdfeeder @ Lowe's & hang up in yard, Recipe Homemade Granola Bars
In years past we have had a couple friends over to do some planting on Earth Day, but due to regular weekly activities our Thursday is quite busy and doesn't allow for us to have a playdate at our place, so we have moved our plating playdate out to the following week.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Earth Day Deals & Activities!!!

* Pay only $1 Refills on Ink Cartridges at Wal-Greens on Earth Day. I read about this deal on Sisterly Savings. It's only available on Earth Day. I have gotten refills done here before for my Dell All-in-One and they usually tell you it will take 20 minutes as long as they don't have anyone else in front of you. Coupon is here.

* Check out Free Fun in Austin for details about getting a free full-size bottle Origins cleanser on Earth Day.

* Tomorrow Target is giving them away a reusable shopping bag with each purchase (one per person).

* The email newsletter I received from Home Depot today said they were giving away faucet aerators to the first 250 people at each store on Earth Day.

* If you bring 6 empty plastic water bottles or aluminum cans to the Disney Store, they will give you an Eco-Friendly Disney Baseball Cap.

* If you have a need to buy some Hanes product, then you can score yourself a free t-shirt compliments of Hanes and the National Arbor Day Foundation. And the National Arbor Day Foundation is also going to plant a tree for every offer that gets sent in. Kinda sounds like a win-win-win situation to me. My daughter has been growing and could really use some new underwear, so I might just do this one. Check out the details here. This one you have until May 15th to complete.

* I also previously blogged about entrance fees waived all of next week at National Parks. Actually, this started today and continues through April 25th.

* Pottery Barn Kids will be hosting an Earth Celebration on April 25th @ 11am and 3pm with earth-friendly stories & activities and a surprise to bring home & plant.

* Babies'r'Us has a coupon to use until Earth Day (last day) where you get a free reusable shopping bag and can fill it with clothes & shoes and get 25% off.

* And from the BBC you can get a free download of Planet Earth, Series 1 on iTunes.

* Earthbound Organics is giving away reusable totes through the month, the next chance to win one is on Monday at 8pm PDT.

* On Saturday, April 24th you can bring your kids to a Lowe's Build & Grow Clinic and let them build a bird feeder. Don't forget to pick up some bird seed while you are there.

* Also, if you live in my area & have kids, take them over to the Old Navy outlet. On Earth Day they will be having a free planting activity for kids. They are providing all the supplies.

* Another (if you live in my area activity) is Healthy Kids Day with the Northfield YMCA on Saturday, April 24th from 9a-12p. Many other YMCA's has theirs today, but check the website to find contact info for one near you and call & ask.

* And if you are out & about yet today, stop by Wal-Mart & see if they have any Sun Chips that they were giving away. Sun Chips now come in a compostable bag.

Monday, April 5, 2010

National Park Week: Free Admission

Check out what national parks are in your area or maybe your travel destination. Coming up soon, April 17-25, is National Park Week, and you can get park fees (probably not parking fees) waived at all National Parks.

Be sure to check out all the special events & promotions that are being offered at the parks, beyond the normal activities. You could stumble upon something really fun.

After looking at National Parks in our state & neighboring states, I saw that the Effigy Mounds are only a few hours away and are now on my list of weekend vacations for our family (some time in the future.)

If you can't get to a National Park during that week, there are a couple other days in the future you should be able to get free admission for:
September 25, 2010 (Public Lands Day)
November 11, 2010 (Veterans Day)

Coupons for Method, Cascadian Farms, 8th Continent, more

Go to and print off some coupons for organic/natural products (as of 6:30pm CST, 4/5/10):
* $1 off Cascadian Farm
* $1 off 8th continent Soy Milk
* $1 off Purely Decadent (soy or coconut) Frozen Dessert
* $1 off 2 Boulder Canyon Chips
* $1 off GE Energy Smart lighting products
* $1 off Method Laundry Detergent

You should be able to print off 2 of each.