Cascadian Farm Organic Goodness

WELCOME TO OUR ALMANAC! READ ABOUT ALL THINGS ECO FROM ORGANIC VEGGIE
GARDEN TIPS TO GREEN FAMILY ACTIVITIES.

GOOD QUESTIONS

Why do you grow organic?

I go organic because I feel it is the best option for my family and the Earth. Eating and using organic products puts my mind at ease, I never have to worry about what I am putting into my body or the body of my family and I feel wonderful knowing that I am purchasing products that are best for our Earth.

What is your best organic tip?

My best organic tip is buy local organic foods from your farmer's market, CSA, food co-op or local grocery store or better yet, plant your own organic garden. Also, if you are unable to purchase all organic produce, avoid EWG's dirty dozen. I also think purchasing organic personal care products is essential for heathly living, since what you put on your body is just as important as what you put in it.

What is your favorite book on organics?

My favorite book on organics is The Omnivore's Dilemma.

What is your favorite quote?

My favorite quote is "The Earth is what we all have in common." Wendall Berry.

If you had to decide, what would you be: animal, plant, or mineral?

I would be an animal, because I would still be able to venture out to explore the world around me. Also, I think it would be a great experience to live in the wild and have to catch my own food.

There are many activities that your family can enjoy together that will promote a stronger family bond while adding an appreciation for the environment. Finding ways to promote a healthy planet and a happy family, while having fun is a great way to celebrate spring. Read on to learn more ways that your family can enjoy each other and help the planet at the same time.

1. Visit an Organic Farm

Nothing is more fun that spending a warm spring day at your local farm. If you live near a farm that raises animals, it is the perfect time for your children to experience the beauty of new life. An animal farm will be teaming with baby chicks, newborn sheep, goats, cows, horses and piglets - all of which your family will delight in. If you live near a farm that specializes in fruits and vegetables, such as our very own Cascadian Farm in Skagit Valley, Washington, it is the perfect opportunity to learn about sustainable organic agriculture methods including; preparing the land for planting, composting, natural pest repellent techniques and the water shed. It is also the perfect place to grab a strawberry shortcake or fantastic icecream cone!

2. Start your Garden

Now is the time to start preparing your garden for early spring planting. You can start by planting the cold-crops in your garden including; broccoli, peas, lettuce, spinach, and cabbage. You will also want to plant your strawberry patch and other bare-root plants. You can start your your tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers inside from seed, ensuring that the seedlings will be large enough to plant in your garden when the weather permits. Now, is also a great time to remove any non-native plants that didn't survive the winter and plan to replace them with draught-resistant, native plants that are also edible.

3. Invite the Birds

One of the first signs of springtime is the chirping of the morning birds. To prepare your yard for feathered visitors, take the time to clean, sand and repaint (with Eco-friendly paint) your bird houses, feeders and bathes. Visit your local bird shop to educate yourself on the types of birds that live in your area and what types of foods and shelters they prefer. When choosing foods for the birds, consider organic ones, free from synthetic pesticides.

4. Get Spring Cleaning

Springtime is synonymous with spring cleaning and now is the time to get your family involved. Check out these Eco-friendly cleaning supplies. Then, assign each member of your household a part of the home to thoroughly clean. Make sure that you clean out the rain-gutters, get your rain harvesters ready for those spring showers and clean your refrigerator coils. The idea is to make sure that everything in your home is in good working condition. If you get the entire family involved, they will appreciate your home a little more.

5. Plan a Spring Break Staycation

Spring Break is right around the corner and many families may not be traveling due to economical hardship and to lessen their impact on the environment. However, you can have a fantastic spring break, close to home. Plan a family camping or hiking trip, or spend the afternoons strolling through your local nature center or botanical gardens. Your family doesn't have to venture far from home to have a fantastic time. There are so many great activities that can be enjoyed in your local community - just look around.

6. Get Ready for Fun

Early spring is the essential time to get your warm weather gear in check. Pull the bicycles, canoe, kayak, hiking boots, and camping equipment out of the garage. Check to make sure that everything is in good working condition and order any necessary replacement parts. Check to make sure that your child's rain gear and hiking boots still fit and spend a little time making sure that you have all of the supplies necessary for an impromptu trip to the lake or camping adventure. Clean and pump up the tires on the family bicycles and get ready for the fun, warm days ahead.

7. Plan a Family Nature Day

Whether your family is into hiking, biking, camping or canoeing, plan a family nature day around your favorite outdoor activity. You can find many great national and state parks that are perfect for a day trip. Let each member of the family have a say in how you will celebrate Nature Day. Prepare the backpacks with an organic, high-energy lunch, water, and snacks and then hit the great outdoors. Don't forget your hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and rain gear!

8. Adopt a Pet

Springtime is a great time to adopt a pet from an animal shelter. The weather is warm enough to potty train and your new pet will have plenty of outdoor time to play and run. Your children will be home from school in a few short weeks, making the perfect time for them to bond with your new arrival. Since, many animal shelters are filled to capacity with animals that need a second chance at life - adopting a pet is one of the best things you can do this spring.

9. Build a Composter

Gather the tools, supplies, and your family member together to build a family composter. Children love to work with hand tools and it is the perfect opportunity to discuss the importance of composting with your children. If you live in a home that doesn't have space or doesn't allow a composter, you can consider purchasing an indoor composter or make a simply, fun children's' composter to show your child how composting works.

10. Shop for a CSA

If you live in an area that offers a CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture), spring is the time to join one. A CSA gives consumers the opportunity to purchase local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. Usually, a family will sign up for a membership and in turn will receive a box of vegetables, fruits or other farm products each week throughout
the farming season. A CSA will give your family the opportunity to get to know the local farmer who grows their good, allows you to eat food that is local, fresh and in season and become exposed to new vegetables that your family may not be currently eating. It can have a huge impact on your family, community the the CSA farms. You can find a CSA in your local area at Local Harvest.

What Eco-friendly activities do you have planned for your family this spring?

Photos by Jennie Lyon

Going green at home can mean many different things. This month, I wanted to focus on the parts of everyday living that most families have to deal with on a regular basis. There are green alternatives to paying your bills, keeping a schedule and getting projects done around the house. Read on to learn how you can rent power tools and 8 other ways to green your home lifestyle.

1. Schedule It: For busy families, I recommend placing a reusable dry erase calender in the family room or kitchen. This is a simple way for each member of the family to update their schedule into the family calender. The best part, you can simply wipe the calender clean for the next month. Just remember to choose Eco-friendly and refillable dry erase markers such as AusPen.

2. Pay It: Set all of your bills up on e-reminder through your online banking system. Then, choose to only receive all other bills via e-mail. This simple task eliminates all paper bills from being delivered to your home. All you need to do is log in and schedule your bills to be paid on time.

3. Stop It: Did you know that 44% of junk mail and catalogs that we receive is simply tossed into the trash or recycling bin without a second glance. With more than 100,000,000,000 pieces of junk mail being received by Americans each year alone, equally more than 100 million trees, removing junk mail from our lives is absolutely necessary. You can stop the junk mail by signing up for a service like 41pounds.org. You can also sign up to stop the delivery of the Yellow Pages phone books here.

4. Reuse It: If you are like me, your to do list grows and grows each day. Instead of writing down your daily agenda on sticky notes or a paper pad, consider using a reusable dry erase board or list on your smart phone. You can add to and remove tasks on your daily list, without using a single piece of paper.

5. Book It: The next time that you craving a good book to snuggle up on the sofa with, consider getting it used. You can find a fantastic selection of gently used books at your local thrift stores or yard sales. Some libraries also have a section where you can purchase gently used books for huge discounts. Another great option is to swap a book that you have already read with a book that you have been dying to read. My favorite online book swapping service is PaperBack Swap.

6. Rent It: There are so many items that we purchase that we could share with other people. For instance, instead of buying a new lawnmower or wheelbarrow, consider borrowing one from a family member or friend. You can also rent common household items such as a kitchen mixer, shovel, camping gear or power tools on Rentalic.

7. Think About It: The next time that you consider printing an email or online recipe, consider whether it is necessary. Instead of printing the recipe, simply take your notebook computer into the kitchen while you cook. Instead of printing an email, jot down the important details on your reusable dry erase board or smart phone.

8. Consider It: Basically, if you don't need, don't buy it. You will be surprised how many purchases are made each year that are unnecessary. There are so many things in our home that can do double duty, you just have to get creative. Take a look around your space and see if there are items that you aren't utilizing that you could.

9. Spread It: One of the best ways to be Eco-friendly is by spreading the word. The more that you share the information that you know, the better. Many people are not aware that for almost every action that we take, there is a green alternative. Sharing your ideas can help to secure a bright future for all of us.

How do you green your everyday lifestyle?

Photo Credits: shutterspower tools, keyboard, list, reusable bag

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, it is time to decide how you can celebrate without the harmful impact on the environment. For many, this will mean forgoing any type of love day celebration. However, others will find the fun of love day simply too hard to resist. If you plan to surprise your loved one with Valentine goodies, focusing on supporting sustainable, responsible and local organizations will leave both your sweetie and the environment grinning until spring. You can get started with my favorite 7 ways to green your Valentine's Day.

1. An Organic Rose By Any Other Name: Over 200 million roses are harvested for each Valentine's Day - and that is only roses! Most flowers are grown using a highly toxic cocktail of chemicals and over 80% are imported from far distances. This Valentine's Day choose organic, local flowers to say I love you. My favorite option is an organic flowering or fruiting potted plant purchased from a local nursery that can be enjoyed all year long.

2. A Chocolate a Day, Keeps the Doctor Away: Almost everyone loves chocolate. However, many people may not be aware that the production of chocolate uses the 2nd largest amount of pesticides, only to cotton. When choosing chocolates for your sweetheart, choose ones that are USDA organic certified and fair trade. Knowing that your chocolates do not negatively impact the environment or the animals and people who inhabit it, is a sweet thing.

3. A Card to Say How Much you Care: Most likely your loved ones do not need a card to tell them how much they mean to you. However, if you would like to express yourself with a card, consider choosing one that is made using 100% post consumer or 100% recycled paper or even a card that can be planted, offering beautiful blooms in the spring. Another option is to make a card using odds and ends that you find in your home and recycling bin.

4. A Way to a Man's Heart is through his Stomach: A lovely way to show how much you care is by surprising your love with a home cooked organic meal. Every year, my husband prepares a fantastic dinner that we share by candlelight. It is the perfect gift - complete with quiet time just for the two of us. And who wouldn't love to be celebrated while enjoying a savory meal? Just remember to plan a fabulous dessert and don't forget the wine.

5. Speaking of Wine: A Valentine's Day meal just wouldn't be the same without a sip or two of a delicious wine. When picking a wine, ask the shopkeeper for help choosing one that is local, organic or bio-dynamic. Some of my favorite organic and bio-dynamic wines are from Parducci - they utilize 100% renewable green power and employ Eco friendly packaging - not to mention they make their wine using locally farmed grapes, recycle 100% of their winery waste water and are family owned.

6. Are Diamonds a Girl's Best Friend?: If you plan to adorn your sweetie with jewelry for Valentine's Day, please consider jewelry that is conflict-free, fair trade, recycled, or vintage. You can find a fabulous selection of handmade, Eco friendly jewelry on Etsy and your local antique stores will have a nice selection of vintage baubles.

7. Give the Gift of Yourself: One of the loveliest Valentine's Day gifts that you can give is the gift of yourself. By planning an activity that you can share with your loved one - whether it is a hike in the mountains, a picnic in the park, a home cooked meal or doing a project that she has been dying to do - the time that you spend with your special someone is the part of the holiday that is important -no impact on the environment necessary.

How do you green your Valentine's Day?

Photo Credits: heart, chocolate, cards, wine, jewelry.

A greener workplace equals a smaller carbon footprint and is also good for the employees who work there and can save the business money too. From how you get to work, to the choices that you make while putting in your 40 hours, your decisions can have a significant impact on the environment. There are simple ways that you can green your office whether you telecommute or work outside of the home, here are my top 8 ways to get you started.

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1. Getting There: How you get to work is a significant portion of your daily carbon footprint. The best options include; telecommuting, walking or biking. Other Eco friendly options include taking public transportation and carpooling. The bottom line is the less time spent driving to work - the less impact on the environment.

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2. Printer Perfect: If you don't absolutely need to print a document, then don't. If there is no way around printing, make the best printing choices. When choosing a printer, pick an all-in-one model, one that prints, faxes and scans. These models use up to 50% less energy than having a separate machine for each function. Choose 100% post consumer paper, soy based inks and when possible print on both sides of the paper.

3. Green the Kitchen: If your office has a kitchen, consider bringing your own dishes to use for your meals including a stainless steel water bottle and reusable coffee mug. If your office doesn't have a kitchen space, bring your lunch in a reusable lunchbox. This will keep you from raiding the vending machine or picking up fast food - both of which come in wasteful packaging and are hard on your budget too.

4. Get Reusable: Whenever possible, choose office supplies that are reusable or refillable. This includes: dry erase boards that can be used over and over again for everything from agendas to calendars - to refillable ink and pen cartridges. Refilling an item will always be more Eco friendly than buying a new item each time you need one.

           

5. Green Clean It: Request that the office be cleaned using only green cleaners to protect the Earth. The business can save money by making their own cleaners or buying green cleaners in bulk. And considering that you are unable to open the windows in most office buildings - using green cleaners keeps the inside air free from toxic cleaning chemicals - which is always better for your health.

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6. Make a Recycling Center: If your business doesn't already recycle, consider setting up a recycling center where employees can easily recycle paper, plastics, ink cartridges, bottles, cardboard and cans when necessary.

7. Power Down and Turn Off the Lights: By powering down equipment when it isn't being used, a business can save up to 25% energy. If you also power down all of the equipment at the end of the work day, you can save up to an additional 50% energy. And remember to turn off the lights on your way out the door.

8. Spread the Word: Show your excitement and get others involved with greening your office. The choices that you make as a whole can have a huge impact on the environment. Start talking about the changes that you would like to see and you will be surprised to find that there are many other people out there that care just as much about the environment and their health as you do.

How do you green your office?
How have you encouraged others in your office to get involved?

Photo Credits: Office, Public Transit, Printer, Kitchen, Reusables, Green Cleaners, Recycling, Light switch, Shout

Winter is one of the times of year that you can really see an increase in your utility bills. This is especially true, if you live in a climate where everything is cold and icy outside. There are simple, Eco-friendly ways that you can save money on your utility bills. Here are my top 8 tips to get you started.

1. Get with the Program: The simple act of installing a programmable thermostat will pay for itself twice over within the first year. For every degree that you reduce the temperature on your thermostat, you will save 5% on your seasonal heating bill. A programmable thermostat will also assist you in remembering to turn down the heat when you are away at work or asleep at night.

2. Go Low Flow: You can save 25% to 60% more water and 50% more energy by switching to low flow shower heads. And don't fret, the new low flow shower heads have just as much power and water pressure as the older conventional ones. They are affordable too, ranging from $10 to $20 each.

3. Seal it Up: By weather stripping only the front and back doors of your home, you can save over $30 a year in heating costs. Now, just think how much more you can save if you insulate your attic, garage, basement doors, windows and outlets.

4. It's Laundry Day: Did you know that washing your clothing in cold water, not only gets them just as clean as washing them in hot - it is also better on your clothing, making them last longer? Plus, when you wash all of your laundry in only cold water, you save over 50% more energy. To make even a larger impact, only wash loads that are full.

          

5. Flip the Power Strip Switch: Plugging your energy vampire gadgets and appliances into a power stripe is a great way to save money and the environment. A good rule of thumb to remember is that if your gadget or appliance has a clock or remote, it will continue to consume energy even when it is turned off. In fact, 40% of the total energy is consumed when they are turned off. An affordable power stripe is the answer, when you aren't using these gadgets and appliances, just flip the switch off.

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6. Wish on an Energy Star: When your refrigerator, washer or dryer finally gives out - replace it with an energy star appliance. Depending on the age and repair of your current conventional appliances, energy star appliances can save you up to 80% more energy each year and a lot of money too!

7. A Bright Idea: The next time a light bulb burns out, replace it with a CFL. CFL's may cost a little more upfront but the amount of money and energy that you save overall really outweighs the upfront cost. Each CFL bulb last ten times longer than a conventional light bulb and will save you around $60 per bulb over its lifetime.

8. Put a Jacket on it: If your water heater isn't insulated or was purchased prior to 2004, consider wrapping an insulating jacket around it. You will save 10% on your water heating bill each year.

How do you save money on your utility bills?
How do you lessen your impact on the environment when it comes to your utilities?

Photo Credits: Home, Thermostat, Shower Head, Weather Stripping, Laundry, Power Strip, Energy Star, CFL, Water Heater,

Editor's Note: At Cascadian Farm, we believe that there shouldn’t just be one day devoted to Earth Day, there should be 365 days. That’s why this year, we’re helping you live more sustainably every day by giving you tips and advice on how to do just that. If we all make a conscious effort to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle everyday, we will be helping to protect the planet for many generations to come. Below, Jennie Lyon from MySweetGreens.com gives us ten tips to get your New Year started a little greener. Over the next year, we will have more tips and advice on how to live greener, so keep a look out for those in upcoming e-newsletters.

1. Go Local: One of the best ways to live a sustainable lifestyle is by going local. Finding and supporting local resources is also great for your community. Research and find local farms to support while purchasing local food. Local artisans are the perfect resource for the purchasing of home goods, personal care products, clothing, jewelry and gifts. Going local can also include utilizing public transportation, frequenting thrift shops and tag sales and vacationing in your local area. The key is to try to stay within 200 miles of your home.

2. Find a Green Energy Supplier: Switching to a green energy provider may be one of the largest impacts that you can have on the environment. Most areas have a green energy program that you can enroll in. You pay a small premium on top of your normal energy bill each month, which puts green energy on the grid. You can find Green Power providers in the U.S. here and Green Power Providers in Canada here.

3. Conserve Water: Consider taking shorter showers and choose an Eco friendly shower head. Remember to turn off the sprinklers when it is raining outside and turn the water off while brushing your teeth. If you can, reuse rainwater or gray water to care for your yard, flush your toilets or wash your car. You can also help to save water by only washing full load of dishes and laundry.

4. Eat Less Meat: You don't have to become a vegetarian or vegan to make a huge impact on the environment. You can reduce your carbon footprint by simple making more of your meals meatless. Whether you decide to cut out meat during the weekdays or become a member of the meatless Monday club - less meat equals less emissions and pollution.

5. Refuse, Refuse, Refuse: Think of how many purchases we make, simply because we can. If you ask yourself the simple question, "Do I need this item?" before every purchase, you can reduce the impact on the environment and your finances. Also, there are many other venues to consider when you do need to make a purchase, including; thrift shops, garage sales, free-cycle or even borrowing items from a friend or family member.

6. Alternative Modes of Transportation: When choosing how you get around, consider other modes of transportation besides your car. If you are traveling to school or work, can you carpool, walk, bike or catch the bus, train or subway? Can your children walk or bike to school? If you have to get out to run errands, consider grouping all of your errands into one trip, this will save you time, money and the environment will thank you too.

7. Conserve Energy: When you leave a room, flip off the light. When you aren't using your electronics, power them down and turn off the power-strip. Choose a programmable thermostat and unplug electrical items that you don't use. If you have to change a light bulb choose a CFL. If you don't have to drive your car, ride your bicycle. Think twice before you purchase a new item and again when you think of throwing something away. All of these small things can save a good amount of co2 and money.

           

8. Recycle, Reduce, Reuse: Consider adhering to the three R's as often as possible. Reduce your consumption of products, resources, energy and water. Recycle and reuse anything that you are able to. If you no longer have use for a particular item that can be used again, consider selling or donating it before tossing it in the trash.

                      

9. Choose Quality Items: When you do need to make a new purchase consider quality over quantity. Choose items that are built well, are energy efficient (if it is an appliance or vehicle) and that will last a long period of time. Refuse to purchase anything that is disposable or is only good for a one time use. For items that you have to dispose of including toothbrushes and razors, choose Eco friendly versions including toothbrushes and razors where you only replace the head. Also, look for products that come in minimal, recyclable packaging.

                                 

10. Buy Local Organic: When possible, choose local, organic goods. Especially when it comes to meat, poultry, dairy, fruit, vegetables and personal care products. If there isn't a local organic version available, consider the local product first. Purchasing foods or clothing that have been shipped across the world isn't as Eco friendly as buying an item that is local.

What ways do you plan to live more sustainably in 2011?

Photo Credits: Local, Green Energy, Conserve Water, Eat Less Meat, Refuse, Transportation, Conserve Energy3 R's, Quality, Organic

For many families the start of the holiday season is marked with choosing a holiday tree. Each holiday season more than 25 million coniferous trees are cut and sold as holiday decorations. Although, the holiday tree is an important symbol of the holidays, it can be a hard choose to make when considering the environment.

It can take up to 15 years to grow a holiday tree that will be used for about a month. Many holiday tree farms use large amounts of pesticides and fertilizers which pollute the waterways, land and poison wildlife. Then after the holiday season, these trees usually disposed of in our local landfills.

You do have options when it comes to choosing a holiday tree and many of those choices can be friendly to the environment - and beautiful in your home too. Here are my top 6 favorite holiday tree alternatives.

1. A Potted Holiday Tree: You will see many varieties of potted trees that are available at your local, organic nurseries. When choosing a potted tree, consider one that you will be able to replant in your own backyard or that can stay indoors all year. If planting in your own backyard isn't an option, you can donate the tree to an organization that will plant the tree for you. Remember when purchasing your tree that you will want to buy one that is indigenous to your region and will fit in your yard, once it becomes full grown.

2. Rent a Tree: There are many companies popping up our there that you can rent a holiday tree from. These companies will deliver a full sized holiday tree to your home and then picked up after the holiday season is over. These companies use minimal energy to bring the tree to you since the trees are locally and organically grown, then delivered to your doorstep via a bio diesel truck. When the holiday season ends, they nuture the tree until the following year or plant them in local parks, watersheds or schools.

3. A Reusable Tree: There are many reusable tree options available that are PVC free. I have seen trees made from magazines, reclaimed wood, recycled glass bottles, cardboard, and even tinker toys. Many of these options are available for purchase, however, I think that it would be more fun to build one of these alternatives with your family as a holiday tradition.

4. Local, Organic Cut Tree: Although purchasing a potted tree or renting a tree would be the more Eco friendly option, many people still prefer the convenience and affordability of a cut tree. To minimize your cut tree's impact on the environment, purchase it from a local, organic tree farm. Organic tree farms grow the trees without the use of pesticides and fertilizers. Most organic tree farms, also plant 1-3 seedlings for every tree that is cut down. Remember if possible to recycle your tree when the holiday is over.

5. Decorate a houseplant: There are many large potted houseplants that you can decorate for the holidays. You could also choose to decorate an outside tree. The best part is that these "trees" can be enjoyed all year long and when the holidays come around again next year, you are already prepared.

6. Deck the Walls: Use cardboard, paper, paints or even lights to create a holiday tree on any wall in your home. There are also companies that sell reusable canvas holiday tree stickers that are bright, colorful and festive. You can arrange the gifts on the floor belong your wall tree.

I hope these suggestions give you some inspiration when choosing your Eco friendly holiday tree this year.

If your family celebrates with a holiday tree, what Eco friendly alternatives have you found?
Is there a tried and true "green" tree that your family enjoys?

Potted Tree, Rented Tree, Wooden Tree, Local, Organic Tree, Light Tree

Every day life can get very busy, leaving very little time to think of the ways that our lifestyles can impact the health and happiness of our family and the environment. There are simple steps that you can take everyday - some that you may already be doing, that can have a huge positive impact on both. Some of these steps you may be already doing on your own. And by incorporating more of these activities into your daily routine as a family, you will find that living a happy and healthy lifestyle is second nature.

Here are my favorite 7 tips to a healthy and happy family lifestyle that won't harm the environment. Once you master these 7 tips, everything else just falls into place.

1. The Whole Family: Eating a balanced diet full of whole organic foods is essential to healthy living. To maintain a healthy body and mind, proper nutrition is necessary, every single day. Proper nutrition directly effects the immune system, weight, brain and body function and mood. A great way to incorporate healthy eating into your family lifestyle is by sharing the experience. Preparing, cooking and cleaning up after meals together makes it a family affair. And eating together as family every night is the perfect way to reconnect and strengthen your family bond.

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2. Let's Get Physical: Adding physical activity into your family's lifestyle is not only healthy but a great way to spend fun time together. There are many way to incorporate physical activity into your everyday family routine. You could walk the dogs together in the morning or before school or work. You can take a stroll or bicycle ride around your neighborhood after dinner. Volunteering your time to helping the environment is another fantastic way to get physical as a family. If you are unable to get outside for physical time, get physical inside by turning up the music and dancing or by playing a game of yoga pretzels.

3. Take a Deep Breath: Everyone experiences small amounts of stress in their everyday lives - that is normal. Learning how to handle those small and even large stresses is an absolute for a happy and healthy family. Family time means leaving the things that stress you out at the door. You can't focus on reaching a healthy and happy family life, if your mind and body are full of stress. There are ways that you can eliminate stress as a family including; family yoga and exercise or as simple as telling stories that make you laugh and relax.

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4. Hydration Station: Hydration is one of the simplest ways to stay healthy. Encouraging each member of your family to stay hydrated by reminding them that proper hydration helps with digestion, energy levels, immunity and elemination of headaches. A great way to get your family to drink the adequate amount of water, is by giving each of them their own BPA free reusable water bottle that they can refill throughout the day. Another great idea is to incorporate water into all of your meals at home together. If your family isn't crazy about having water with dinner, give regular water some pizazz by adding citrus or cucumber slices, fresh berries or a sprig of mint from the garden.

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5. Light's Out: There are recommended amounts of sleep for all age levels and it is very important that you get the proper amount of sleep. Sleep gives the body time to repair itself and is a fantastic stress reliever. Putting the children to bed a couple of hours before you and your spouse gives you quiet, alone time together. It's like having a free babysitter that lives with you, every single night of the week. If you are having problems achieving the adequate amounts of sleep there are herbs and homeopathic remedies that may help.

6. Talk it Out: Taking the time to talk as a family is very important. As children get older, they may shy away from talking to you openly and honestly. A great way to make talking to each other (about anything) natural and fun - is by simply talking. The family dinner is the perfect time to sit down together as a family and talk. This is also a great time to discuss ways that you as a family can be more Eco friendly. Just remember that many grown up conversations are better when not heard by the ears of little ones.

7. Enjoy Life: One of the most important things to remember is that taking time to enjoy life with your family is the point. If you are doing tips 1-6, but don't have time to enjoy tip 7, you are missing the point. Life is too short - you don't want to miss all of the little things - all of the fun that you could be having together as a family. Remember that every missed opportunity was at one time simply an opportunity.

How do you keep your family life healthy and happy?
Are there steps that you find challenging?

photo credits: Food, Sleep, Hydration, Stress Relief, Family Dinner, Laughter

Are you hosting Thanksgiving this year? Have you considered immersing your entire dinner party into the Thanksgiving feast process. Thanksgiving is really about celebrating the things that we are thankful for - wouldn't sharing all aspects in the preparation of Thanksgiving dinner be the perfect way? Many Thanksgiving dinners are centered around one or two members of the family doing all of the holiday preparation, cooking and serving by themselves. Wouldn't it be fun to go back to our roots and share the complete Thanksgiving process as a family, starting at the place that the food comes from - the farm?

If this sounds intriguing to you, here are 5 steps to get you started:

1. Make a Plan: Ask your friends and family members that you plan on having over for Thanksgiving dinner, what dishes they would like to have. A great way to get everyone excited to be involved in the entire process of Thanksgiving is by getting their input. Many people have family recipes that they will be excited to share and see on the dinner table this Thanksgiving.

2. Make it Fresh: Invite your dinner party to meet you at a local farm or farmer's market a few days before the big event to choose the fresh ingredients that will be used to prepare the Thanksgiving feast. If you plan to get all of your ingredients from your local farm, you may want to plan a farm tour day. Schedule a visit to a poultry, dairy, and vegetable farm, as well as to the local orchard.

3. Prepare as a Family: Ask your dinner party to arrive early on Thanksgiving morning to help prepare for Thanksgiving dinner. Ask your party what menu items they would like to help make. Elderly and very young members of the family will find delight in helping to decorate the family table with organic place settings and simple local floral arrangements.

          

4. Share your Gratitude: Once dinner is served and everyone has enjoyed their fill, take turns sharing your thoughts on the Thanksgiving dinner process. What parts did you find especially endearing? Are there ideas that you would like to incorporate into next years feast? Do you think that sharing the entire process brought you closer together as a family?

5. Make Clean Up a Breeze: Imagine how quickly Thanksgiving dinner could be cleaned up if everyone did just a small amount of work. Including cleanup in your Thanksgiving dinner process is just another way for everyone to share in the experience of giving thanks.

Does your family prepare your Thanksgiving feast together?
Do you use whole, fresh ingredients?
What are your tips for involving each member of your family?

Photo Credits

Harvest, Menu, Fresh Ingredients, Glass

I love Autumn, in fact I would say that it is my favorite season. I love the scent during the cool crisp days, the sound of leaves crunching underfoot and seeing the leaves turn into beautiful hues of yellow, orange and red. Autumn is the perfect time to share traditions with your family.

Family traditions are important because they build memories that will last a lifetime and create a unique, strong bond with our forever friends - our families. Fall traditions are the perfect way to spend fun, quality time together. Starting your own Fall traditions is easier than you may think. Most of these traditions can be done on a budget and in an Eco friendly manner.

Here are some of my favorites:

1. Organic Apple Orchard or Pumpkin Patch Visit and Lunch: A visit to your local apple orchard or pumpkin patch is an activity that everyone in your family is sure to enjoy, regardless of their age. Make sure to pack a picnic lunch to enjoy while you lounge on a blanket at the farm. When you get home, spend time together making caramel apples or carving your bounty of pumpkins.

2. Make it a Corn Maze and Hayride Day: What family wouldn't bond -working together to find your way through a Corn Maze? Better yet, by snuggling together under a blanket with a thermos of apple cider on a hayride. It is the simple activities that your child will cherish the most. And you can usually find both a corn maze and a hayride at your local Autumn festivals.

3. Take a Family Hike or Bike: Fall is the perfect time to pull out your hiking boots or take the bicycles out of the garage. Nothing is more fun than spending time together as a family in nature. Take your time and really soak up the changes the environment is making this time of year. And don't forget to grab your camera and nature journal on the way out the door.

4. Stuff a Scarecrow: Grab some of Dad's old overalls and a flannel shirt to create a scarecrow for your family garden. Your children will enjoy stuffing the clothing and drawing a face on the burlap sack. You get a fun and unique decoration for your yard that will last through Thanksgiving.

5. Dim the Lights and Tell Spooky Stories: This tradition has been a favorite in my home since my son was a toddler. Each night before bed, we turn off all of the lights, light candles and take turns telling or reading spooky stories. This is an activity that can be adjusted for the age of your children and is an activity that older children find especially fun.

6. It's For the Birds: People of all ages enjoy watching birds, why not make it a fall family tradition. Make a simple hanging bird feeder, using a pine cone, peanut butter and bird seed. Then hang it on a tree outside your living room window. Give each person in your family their own set of binoculars and a notebook to record what they see. Enjoy your local birds together before they fly south for the winter.

Does your family have Fall traditions?
Which are your favorites?

Photo Credits: Apple Orchard, Corn Maze, Fall Hike, Scarecrow, Spooky Shadow, Bird.

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