Cascadian Farm Organic Goodness

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

Using photography to help children appreciate our earth

Behind the lens, the world becomes a canvas – and all we have to do is find ways to capture the scenes. As photographers, we become more observant, more curious, more contemplative.

Teaching our children to look at the world with the eye of an artist helps them to look deeper and become more appreciate of the beauty – and damage – before them.

Are your children asking to borrow your camera? Are they grabbing your iPhone to click a picture?

Capitalizing on your child’s budding interest in taking photos can be a wonderful opportunity to help them learn more about nature – and of course introduce them to the incredible world of photography!

Where to start?

It may seem daunting – how does one teach a child the skill of photography, especially if you aren’t already a photographer?

Fortunately we live in a digital age – and photography has never been more accessible!

Here are 3 tips to get your child started taking photos:

1. Provide your child with a user-friendly digital camera that has an auto setting, and is equipped with a zoom lens.

You can choose a point and shoot camera or even an entry-level DSLR for a child who is responsible and old enough to take care of it. DSLRs also have auto settings, so a basic, light weight DSLR is can actually be a reasonable option for an older child if your budget allows. 

I recommend providing a camera with a zoom lens. This will give your child the added creative freedom and excitement of changing their focal length and working on composition. (Of course, using a fixed lens is another creative challenge that they will want to tackle one day too!)

I remember the first camera my dad gave me when I was a teenager. It was a high quality point and shoot with a zoom lens. I fell in love with photography with that camera on a trip to Prince Edward Island. The beautiful landscape was perfect for me to practice composing shots. When my dad saw my photos and praised me for my good eye, it meant the world to me.

Several years later, when he died, I inherited his Canon EOS SLR and lenses. It was before the Digital SLRs were available and so I “cut my teeth” on that film SLR, shooting my son’s first three years of life with my dad’s camera.

2. Teach your child the basics – and no worries, the internet can help!

The art and skill of photography takes a lifetime to learn. But everyone needs to start somewhere! It is amazing how a few basic concepts can radically improve anybody’s photos – even a child’s!

Teaching your child photography tips like “The Rule of Thirds,” getting in close, and checking their backgrounds, can empower them and help them to surprise you with their shots!

Digital Photography School.com has a great post about lessons to teach your child about digital photography. It also links to more of their posts that explain the concepts in greater detail which is perfect for an older child or teenager or for you to read and teach them. http://www.digital-photography-school.com/13-lessons-to-teach-your-child-about-digital-photography   

3. Let them shoot – and then review the shots with them later

The best way for all of us to improve as photographers is through trial and error. We need to shoot hundreds of shots to get a few that turn out the way we want them to. And the more we experiment, the more we learn.

So encourage your child to get shooting. Remind them that everything from a flower, to an old bridge, to a dirty shoe can be their subject. They are the storytellers and they can tell whatever stories they want to.

Take your child out into nature, on hikes or to parks – wherever you can find for your child to explore with their camera.

When it is time to download the photos and choose what to print, if your child wants you to, sit down with them and talk about the photos together. Listen to your child about what they were trying to achieve and offer encouragement and feedback.

Then celebrate their shots by allowing them to print their favorite photos and make albums for themselves and family members, or even print photo books online.

I am so grateful that my father provided me with cameras and passed on his love of photography to me.

When I have my camera with me I am never bored. Looking at the world through the lens allows me to slow down and look for beauty – and I always can find it somewhere. My camera helps me appreciate, even more, the world around me.

YOUR TURN: Do your children like to take photos? Has it been hard for you to “hand over the camera?” If you are a photographer, how old were you when you first picked up a camera?

 

Photos by Janice Croze

I had placed the box of vegetables from the market on the kitchen floor when my son, Jackson, who was two years old at the time, picked a giant red pepper and bit into it like an apple.

My first instinct was, “He is going to waste that, I better get it.” But then I figured if he was eating a vegetable – I wasn’t going to interrupt, nor complain about how he was eating it! Besides, when he tired of it, I could just slice up the parts he hadn’t eaten and use them with dinner. But to my surprise, my two year-old went on to eat most of the sweet pepper!

Ever since then, my kids have chomped into peppers like apples and eaten cucumbers whole. Sure, I slice them for them too. But if they want to grab a whole vegetable and start eating – who am I to get in between my children and a fresh vegetable? 

When we were at Cascadian Farm last month, Jackson picked a pepper and started chomping away. One of the PR team members was surprised, and remarked that she had never seen someone eat a pepper whole.

It got me thinking about veggies and some ways to make eating vegetables MORE FUN for kids!

1.       Hand it over whole – I remember eating carrots like Bugs Bunny when I was a kid, the green tail swinging while I did my best Bugs impression. My kids also love the freedom of eating their veggies whole. From peppers, to cucumbers, to carrots – skip the slicing and hand ‘em over whole! (And if your kids don’t finish the entire thing – no worries, you can take over. I bet you could use the extra veggies too.)

2.       Cut it cookie style – Grab some small cookie cutters and cut peppers into fun shapes. Just cut the pepper in half or thirds to get the pepper flat enough to cut into shapes. Kids will love making pepper cookies! (And you don’t have to worry about calories when eating the left over cookie scraps!)

3.       Pick it fresh – Even if you don’t have room for a vegetable garden, you can have fun growing and picking your own tomatoes from pots. My kids are never more excited to eat a vegetable than when they have grown and picked it themselves!

4.       Mix it up – Salads and salsas can be a great opportunity to let kids “make” their own food. To speed things up, you can pre-cut the produce and let your kids “build” their meal! Don’t forget that nuts, dried cranberries, and shredded cheese are great ways to spice up a salad and make it more kid-friendly.  And if you are making salsa – try adding corn or mangos! Your kids will love the different colors and flavours.

5.       Blend it in – If your kids aren’t buying it and they still wrinkle their noses at your veggie creations, you can always resort to pureeing vegetables and hiding them in their favorite foods. Your kids will never suspect that there is pureed cauliflower in their macaroni and cheese or pureed zucchini in their spaghetti sauce!

YOUR TURN: How do your kids eat their veggies? How have you made eating vegetables more “fun” for your children?

 

Photos by Janice Croze

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.

File:Family in Julia Davis Park.JPG

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

One of the best things about parenthood is that you get to re-live (and reinvent) your favorite family traditions with your children. As the “grown-up” you get to decide what’s important to do as a family and what values you want to instill. I’ve always looked forward to autumn and everything that goes along with it… the changing leaves, Halloween, my birthday, Thanksgiving, baking, etc. One of things I looked forward to most as a child was going to a farm in New Jersey to pick apples and pumpkins. The lush, wide open space was a welcome change of pace from where we lived on Staten Island. I loved being able to select my very own pumpkin, I would carefully examine dozens before finding the perfect one.

I wanted to continue that tradition by taking my son to a farm to select his very first pumpkin. Although you can buy pumpkins at any grocery store or from the little “pumpkin patches” they set up in parking lots near malls – going to a farm supports your local economy and is so much more fun. We went to Oma's Pumpkin Patch at The Van Ommering Dairy Farm in Lakeside, about 30 minutes east of San Diego. Although Grayson’s not quite one, he loved it! He had a blast crawling along the pumpkins, looking at the cool trucks and tractors and petting the goats. Of course we took advantage of the many great photo opportunities. There were a number of playgrounds and a large sloped “play-pen” full of cotton seed that the older children were rolling around in and sliding down like snow! When it came time to select a pumpkin, Grayson’s approach was slightly different than mine; he grabbed the small pumpkins with the longest stems, so he could get a good grip and tossed them as far as he could. When he tired of that, he held on tight to the one that was left. Despite my efforts to examine it and make sure it was a “good one” - that was his pumpkin!

We concluded the lovely morning with a scenic hay ride to see the cows, including an adorable one day old calf – so sweet. By the end of the slow, bumpy ride Gray was barely able to keep his eyes open and slept all the way home! I know this will be a place that our family will enjoy going back to year after year.

What is your favorite fall family tradition?


Photos by Kari Burks

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

Their world includes recycling bins, organic fruit, and energy-efficient light bulbs. They won’t have to breathe second hand smoke in airplanes or install asbestos into building walls.

But not all of the ills of environmentally damaging behavior are behind us.

Our children will have to inherit the fight to clean up their world – and work hard to build a sustainable, healthier future for their planet.

I have to admit; sometimes I grow weary of the battle. Some days I want to throw the canned salmon tin in the trash instead of washing out the smell and putting it in my recycling bin. Often I reach past the organic produce for the more inexpensive option.

But I am convicted – not just for the world I want for myself, but for the world I want for my children and their children.

I am tired of the pesticides coating our fruit. I am sick that my son’s school has asbestos leaking out of its walls. And I am mad that lobbyists win over logic.

So I need to keep the passion for reform and healthy living alive in my children. I need to teach them about how far we have come and how far we have to go.

They have a long life of fixing our mistakes ahead of them.

Here are three ways that I try to inspire my children to be eco-conscious:

1. Learn from our mistakes.
Every time I say, “When I was your age...” I think of the old joke: “I had to walk to school uphill both ways!” It may seem like ancient history (and a pinch of urban legend) when we tell our kids about how life was decades ago, but teaching our kids about past generations' mistakes and how we have learned from them is critical.

2. Every little bit counts.
Fixing the damage humans have done to the environment is overwhelming for all of us! Kids can also feel like their contributions don’t matter much. Just as I try to remind myself, I talk to my kids about how our participation in environmental clean-up counts just as each person’s actions contributed to the problems.

3. The future looks brighter.
For all of us to keep inspired, we need to focus on the positives – on how far we have come and the better future that waits. Yes, there is much to be done. But our kids are being raised in a world of awareness and education. They are a generation that can and will change their world – for the better!

 

Photo by Janice Croze

During my latest trip to the San Diego Zoo with my 10 month old, I visited the “Children’s Zoo” area for the first time. As expected there is a Petting Zoo and a great playground, however there was also a cool exhibit that I didn’t expect, all about composting. I was so excited – I know, excited about trash, really? But I was! Composting is an important part of a sustainable lifestyle. Reusing waste and reducing the amount of trash that goes to the landfill helps keep our planet clean. Plus your garden will thrive when you “feed” the soil nutrient rich compost. I love the idea of teaching children about composting early on. It’s just another form of recycling, and if you grow up doing it becomes second nature.

The neat exhibit has colorful, kid-friendly displays that define the various types of composting and talk about “Compost Critters”, like worms. I’m sure little boys think the idea of a worm bin is very cool. It also describes (for children and adults, alike) how easy it is to make compost pile by providing a basic recipe. Start with your “ingredients”: “Browns” (twigs, wood chips, etc), “Greens” (fruit/vegetable scraps, garden trimmings), Water and Air. Layer the “browns” and “greens” as you add them to the pile; add water to keep moist. Add air by mixing the pile, then let it cook. Mix every week until it becomes black and crumbly – ready to add to your garden! It really is that simple.

Do you have a compost pile or worm bin? Do you involve your children in recycling and/or composting?

Photo by Kari Burks

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.

Hello Friends! As school starts up again this fall, we are happy to announce that Cascadian Farm will be participating in the Box Tops For Education program yet again. It’s extremely important to us that children have the tools they need to get a quality education and this program does just that.

Since 1996, the Box Tops For Education program has raised more than $340 million for K-8 schools, including more than $48 million last year. The money raised is used to buy library books, computers, musical instruments, and more.

The fundraising concept is simple: Cascadian Farm and many other brands have Box Tops For Education coupons on product packages. Simply clip the coupon and send it with your child to school. Their school will then send it to the fulfillment agency, which then sends a check directly to the school. The coupons can also be dropped in donation boxes at grocers or other collection points. Thanks for your support! For more information on the Box Tops For Education program click here.

Getting the kids outside (and excited) for a family “nature” walk might not always be the simplest task. So, if you are able to pull them from their video games and TV, you want to make sure that everyone has a great time!

I find a few simple tricks ensure that everyone enjoys the fresh air and the wild world waiting for us to explore...

1. There is magic in a mud puddle.
When you set off on your walk, don’t fixate on your destination. What your kids remember (and enjoy) the most might be found in the mud puddles or wild flowers they find along the way. Enjoy the journey – because with little ones in tow, you might not even make it to your “destination!”

2. Age matters.
Perhaps one of the greatest challenges to family outings is taking family members’ different ages into account. Try to plan your trip with age appropriate expectations. If little ones are coming along, keep the walk shorter with more “observation” time. An option is for one parent to lead a faster track, with one parent bringing up the rear. If you plan on splitting up, bring walkie talkies or cell phones that will allow you to stay in contact with each other.

3. Boys Scouts know what they are doing!
Being prepared is critical when heading out into the woods. Make sure you load on the sun block and bug spray, and pack supplies such as snacks, water, tissues, band-aids, compass, and bear-repellent. If you are planning a long hike or going into the back country, make sure you take emergency supplies, map, and let someone know your plans!

4. Count to five.
To keep my kids entertained or focused on a walk, I often suggest we make a list of five things. It can be to find five different kinds of leaves, five different sounds they can hear, or even just five things to report when we get back. One trip my son even included reporting to Dad that our puppy tried to eat horse manure! I am not picky – it made the kids laugh and fun is what it is all about!

5. Pack a camera – and not just for you!
If you have an older child, giving them a camera to take photos along the way will not only keep them interested, it can help them notice things they may otherwise miss. As well, it is a great way to see the world through their eyes when you look through their shots together after the trip is over.

BONUS TIP: Be flexible!!! As in every aspect of life and parenting, being flexible is usually the key to success! If the kids tire sooner than expected, if the bugs are biting too hard, or if no one is in the mood to find five things to collect – no worries! Focus on the positives and you will always have a great time together!

 

Photos by Janice Croze

Chances are you or someone you know has used disposable plastic diapers on their children. Have you ever stopped to wonder what impact plastic diapers have on our environment? Did you know that Americans alone put 50 million plastic disposable diapers in our landfills every day? That is 20 billion diapers a year. Each one of those diapers takes over 500 years to decompose - now that IS a dirty little secret.

There are solutions available that can lessen and in some cases completely eliminate the use of disposable diapers that will stay in our landfills for centuries. Whichever option you choose will significantly reduce this huge impact on the environment. Just think, if everyone choose one of these options, what a difference it could make. To get you started, here are my top 3 favorite options.

Option #1: Reusable and Adjustable Organic Cotton Diapers: Companies such as Little Beetle and Happy Heinys offer reusable organic cotton diapers that are adjustable and can be used on babies from 8-35 pounds. The reusable and adjustable organic cotton diapers cost around $15-$25 each. However, since these diapers are adjustable, your child can use them the entire time that they are in diapers. These diapers come in an array of colors and patterns for your little ones delight.

Option #2:Plain, Standard Pre-Fold Diapers: Pre-Fold diapers such as the ones from Green Mountain Diapers range in price from $1.75-$2.66 each. You have the option of choosing pre-fold diapers that are chlorine free and unbleached. Just remember that you will also need diaper covers to wrap over top of the pre-fold diaper to make it waterproof and diaper pins to keep them in place. You will also need to purchase these in several sizes because your child will eventually grow out of the smaller sizes. Pre-Fold diapers generally come in white or off white, you could dye your own using water or soy based inks in an array of colors.

               

Option # 3: Flushable, Compostable G Diapers: G Diapers are plastic, latex, perfume and elemental chlorine free. G Diapers have an insert that is placed inside the reusable g pants that your child will wear. The insert can be flushed if it has solid waste in it and can be flushed, composted or thrown away in the garbage if it only has liquid waste in it. The G Diaper will breakdown in a compost bin within 50-150 days. Also, G Diapers come in a great assortment of rich, vibrant colors that are sure to please the eye.

**Tip: If you decide to use reusable diapers, you can figure the number of diapers that you will need to purchase by taking the number of diapers that child goes through daily and multiplying that by the number of days you want to be able to go between washings.

What type of diapers do you use on your little ones?

Have you found one type to be a better option for your family? Which one?


Photo Credits: x86x86, Victor Chapa, Ja-nelle, Conor Keller

My kids live a suburban life.

We pile into a minivan to go to an indoor hockey rink. We shop in huge box-shaped stores all lined up at the end of a massive parking lot. And we go for walks with our dog on a leash, along tree-lined streets with matching houses and primped lawns.

But despite our suburban surroundings, I try to keep a little “back to nature” alive in my kids.

As often as possible, we purchase our fruits and vegetables from the farm market down the street. We vacation in the wilderness, tucked in cabins perched next to lakes. And thankfully, with the green space behind our house, we can abandon the sidewalks and run through thickets and swat away bugs.

My favorite part of this summer, and I bet my kids would say the same, has been our almost daily wild blackberry picking.

Together, we push back prickly branches and maneuver past thorns to find these ripe, juicy blackberries.

We have spent hours these past few weeks in the blackberry bushes popping delicious berries straight from the branches into our mouths. And those we didn’t eat while we picked made it back to our kitchen were we spent the evening baking berry crisps together or packing our bounty in bags to freeze for winter.

Not only was it incredible family time out in the fresh air and then baking from scratch on warm August nights, but my children got to get their hands dirty gathering food – right from where it grows.

Our experiences this summer reminded me to continue to search out more opportunities for my children to be involved with food at the “ground level.”

I am planning on bringing my family with me to visit Cascadian Farm in October for their Harvest Festival, so my kids can learn more about organic farming and how we can make farms that respect the environment and produce healthier, safer food.

This fall we will also visit local farms to go apple picking, pull our pumpkins right from the fields where they ripened, and buy our squash and potatoes from the farm that produced them.

What about your family? How have you inspired your kids to discover “where food comes from?”

I would love to hear your ideas about how to keep our kids closer to our earth!

 

Photos by Janice Croze

Hello Friends! School is back in session and it’s time again to start thinking about what to pack your kids for lunch. Between fighting to get them out of bed and getting them dressed, packing a healthy lunch is probably the last thing on your mind. Not to mention the other battle of getting your kids to actually eat the lunch you packed- not see it end up in the playground trashcan.

The key to getting your kids to eat their lunch is making it fun to do so. We found a wonderful blog by a mother from Michigan called momcooks.net, that has many creative ideas on how to liven up your kid’s lunch. Here are a few of them. Click here to get all of the recipes.

Crazy Eights

Lunch is a lot more fun when you have eight of everything. Here’s a great idea, pick your child’s favorite combination of healthy snacks and package them up in eights. You’d be surprise how much more fun it is that way!

Tic Tac Toe Lunch

Obviously playing with your food is always more fun! Turn lunch time into play time with this creative food idea.

Safari Lunch

Why not give each lunch a theme? This is an easy way to get your child excited about lunch each day. Here is a recipe for a Safari themed lunch.

Do you have any fun lunch ideas that work with your children? Leave them in the comments below or post them to our Facebook page.

 

Photo By: Carly & Art

Earlier this summer I wrote about helping your child to cope with home-sickness when heading off to summer camp.

As I told you in that post, I struggled with separating anxiety as a child and so being away from home was incredibly difficult for me.

But, when my teen years came and my desire to be with friends took over, my favorite place in the world was camp.

As a teenager, I would not only attend camp as a camper, but I would spend weeks volunteering for the younger-aged camps. Camp was my life. (In fact, I actually met my husband at camp when we were teenagers!)

So each summer, when camp ended and it was time to come home, coming back to reality was depressing.

I remember sitting in the back seat of my parents’ car on the way home from the boat, staring out at the streets which had suddenly become foreign to me. The city looked harsh, cold and dirty compared to life on the small island where I attended camp. I hated how fast it all moved, and how meaningless it felt compared to the warmth, fun and friendships I had just left.

When I stepped into my house, the comfort of my own bed didn’t make up for the loneliness. I wanted to be with my friends again. I wanted life to be all about fun. I wanted to be back at camp.

I coped by staying in close contact with my camp friends. We had lots of reunions and got together on weekends. To this day, many of my close friends are people I met at summer camp.

If your child or teenager is enduring the “end of camp” blues, they are not alone. The American Camp Association® (ACA) says, “The blues are not uncommon — causing some children to be tired, moody, and quieter than usual, or even irritable or grumpy.”

Here are some tips from the American Camp Association® for families to help ease the transition from camp to home:

  • Help them relax and adjust to the slower pace of non-camp life. Suggest they take a warm shower and get plenty of rest. Plan to have an "old favorite" for dinner.
  • Encourage reconnecting with friends from home. Volunteer to set up play dates and get-togethers to help re-establish a sense of belonging with friends they haven't seen in a long time.
  • Allow your child to write, email, or call camp friends. Many camps encourage campers to exchange e-mail and IM addresses with one another. Parents should make sure to oversee their child's online activities, and make sure that all camp policies are being followed.
  • Be open and available to talk about camp. Allow your children to reflect on their friends, their favorite moment at camp, and what they miss most about camp. Sharing experiences and feelings will help them feel connected to you, and will make the transition easier.
  • Organize a small "reunion." Getting together with local camp friends can help reassure your child that though his or her friends are out of sight, they are not out of mind!

The ACA reminds parents that it is normal for them to miss their camp family the same way they missed their home family at camp. “If your child gets the blues, remember that they miss camp because they had fun — and they enjoyed taking healthy risks in a safe and nurturing environment... By being supportive and understanding, families can ease the sadness and help campers adjust to life at home. And, families can help campers remember that next summer is not that far away.”

For more information on camping visit http://www.campparents.org/.

 

                  

Can you believe that it is already Back to School time? Between clothing, school supplies and other school related gear, there are a lot of items that your child will need to get ready for another school year. Getting your children ready for back to school doesn't have to hurt the environment or break the bank. Here are my top 10 tips to making your back to school shopping Eco friendly and fun.

School Supplies 101: School supplies can be a huge part of your back to school budget and choosing Eco friendly supplies can be tricky. First, I suggest going through your child's supplies from last year and reusing as many of those supplies as possible. If your child's school wants the supplies kept in a plastic container, consider using last years container - after a good scrubbing, it should be as good as new. If you need to purchase new supplies, consider supplies that are sustainable made and/or recycled. My favorite Eco friendly place to purchase green school supplies that are fun is Stubby Pencil Studio.

Let's Get Trendy: Back to school clothing and shoes most likely uses the largest part of your budget. With that said, you want to get the most bang for your buck. A great way to get your school clothing shopping done without breaking the bank or harming the environment is to get creative. Your local thrift and consignment stores will have a large selection of clothing that are in great condition. If you are crafty, you can find something used and with a few snips and stitches, you can have a new designer piece of your own - think Project Runway. If your neighbors, friends or extended family has children around the same ages as your own, you can arrange a clothing swap party. Or, you can check out an online clothing swap site. If 2nd hand isn't your thing, consider purchasing clothing from sustainably minded companies that use organic and all natural fibers.

Choose Quality over Quantity: When doing any of your child's back to school shopping, consider quality over quantity. Choosing items that are high quality and will last longer is a much better option than purchasing a use once and it breaks item. Choose quality items that your child can use over and over again each school year, items such as; backpacks, supply boxes, refillable pens and pencils and hardcover refillable notebooks. Also, purchasing high quality clothing and shoes that will last the entire school year and could even be passed onto younger siblings is a huge plus.

Lunch Break: Does your child's school doesn't have a healthy, well balanced lunch program with an actual kitchen that prepares and cooks their own meals? How about a kitchen that washes and reuses trays and silverware? If not, consider sending a homemade lunch for your children everyday. A nutritious and delicious homemade meal sent to school in a reusable BPA free lunchbox is the perfect way to reduce lunchtime waste. Plus, packing your own child's lunch gives them the ability to provide feedback as to which energy fueling foods they will enjoy.

School bus

You Have to Get There: How your child gets to school can have a huge impact on the environment. Whether that impact is positive or negative is up to you? If you live close to the school, consider having your child walk or bike each day. If walking or biking isn't an option, consider carpooling with other children that live in your neighborhood or have your children ride the local school bus. If you absolutely must drive your child to school, remember not to idle in the pick up/drop off line - turn your car off while you wait.

A Rainbow Of Books

Books, Books, Books: If your child goes to a school where you need to purchase their textbooks or if your child is starting college, consider purchasing your books through a used textbook reseller. Many online resellers and campus bookstores sell used books and you can also find them online at eBay, Craig's List or my favorite BigWords. Once your child is finished using a textbook, you can usually sell them back to these vendors as well.

Get the Gear: If your child is signing up for extra-curricular activities or sports and will need the gear to go with it, consider purchasing used gear. You can purchase used sports gear at stores such as Play It Again Sports or through online classified sites such as Used Sports. Most of the gear that you will find at these establishments are in like new condition and still have plenty of playtime left in them.

Go Digital: If your child's school will allow it, consider going digital. It can be much more Eco friendly to store your child's agenda, homework and other important documents on a PDA or Netbook. Also, taking notes on a laptop is much easier than filling up notebooks and using ink pens - which are hard to recycle.

Time For Change

Encourage Change: Get involved with your child's school, help them to become more Earth friendly. Suggest that each classroom have it's own recycling and composting area. Encourage your child's school to plant and harvest an on campus garden that the children can help maintain and enjoy. Suggest that the school schedule Eco field trips that immerse children in the environment. Also, meeting with your child's principal to discuss the importance of making the school as sustainable as possible is very important, if changes are going to be made.

Live Green at Home: As with most things in life, children will learn by how you as a parent live. Lead by and be an excellent example for your child to follow. If you pick up litter, speak out about sustainability, eat organics and love the environment - changes are, so will your child. If we all make small green choices everyday, that our children grow up modeling, we all benefit in the long run.

What ways will you green your children's back to school?

Leave your comments below!

Photo Credits:

LockersCrayonsClothing, lunchbusbooks,change

 

My children are in perpetual motion.

My eight year old son slides down the stairs on his stomach, hits the bottom floor, grabs a ball and begins bouncing if off the walls. My two year old daughter climbs every surface she can find and wiggles off every chair I put her on.

Watching them, reminds me that children are designed to move.

But put on the television, or hand my son a video game, and they come to a complete stop – a dangerously, sedated stop. (I have to admit; sometimes it is a delicious stop for a tired mom!)

This generation of children is facing a new challenge – while life speeds up, our bodies are slowing down. We are sitting still, while technology moves for us.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not hating on technology. As I write this post, I am sitting in Starbucks, connected via Wi-Fi and typing on my laptop. I work online. I love technology. But I know its inherent dangers. And I know I have to work to counteract them.

With physical education programs cut back at schools across the country, homework loads increasing, and the constant temptation of video games, television and computers haunting our children as soon as the school dismissal bell rings, children are losing their natural state of activity and play. They simply aren’t moving enough.

And it isn’t hard to see the results. According to the American Heart Association, one-third of America’s children and teens are overweight or obese, nearly triple the rate in 1963. The increase in childhood obesity is causing a broad range of health problems that previously weren’t seen until adulthood, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and elevated blood cholesterol levels. There are also psychological effects. Obese children are more prone to low self-esteem, negative body image and depression. (www.heart.org)

So what should parents do? The world of computer screens, commuting, and long work days is the new reality. It is life in the 21st century.

But we can’t give up. If we don’t want our children to be the first generation to have a shorter life span than their parents, we have to help our kids, and ourselves, get moving!

Don’t get overwhelmed though. We can do it -- even if we have to do it in baby steps.

7 Tips to Keep Kids Active

1. “Walk” to School – My son’s school started “Walk to School Wednesday.” Families are encouraged to walk to school and children get recognition in class for doing so. For those of us who live too far to walk, we simply park a few blocks from school and walk. The morning exercise helps get our children’s mind and body ready to face the long school day ahead of them.

2. Sign Them Up! – It drives me crazy that I have to taxi children to organized sports and it definitely is a strain on the family budget, but a regular schedule of after-school sports activities ensures that your children get the much needed physical activity they are missing during their school day.

3. Get a Dog – A dog is an additional member of the family and brings along extra stress and costs. But if a dog fits well in your family, it is a great way to encourage regular physical activity.

4. Family Walks – After dinner is a great time to relax and enjoy some much need family time. Establishing a regular evening walk time with your children will not only improve everyone’s health, but it helps build stronger relationships.

5. Activity Breaks – Most kids want to enjoy video games or TV at some points during the week. Encouraging short activity/exercise breaks during their screen time can refresh their bodies and minds.

6. Get Equipment – Put up a basketball hoop, buy a hockey net, get everyone baseball mitts and then PLAY with your kids!

7. Go Online for Resources – There are countless programs and ideas online to encourage healthier lifestyles. Check out the American Heart Association for tips on activities with kids, weight and stress management, nutrition and more. www.heart.org

 

Photos by Janice Croze

It is 3pm. I want coffee. Or a nap.

My body is stiff and my mind is tired. My productivity is down and my creativity is fading.

I can reach for the coffee, or, instead, I can get moving!

For those of us who sit at a computer for the majority of our work day, it can be a challenge to stay fit and focused during the long, sedentary hours.

The only way I survive and keep my creativity flowing is to keep moving physically.

Here are 5 Ways to Get Your Body (and your MIND) Moving:

1. Stretch – I love to do yoga stretches throughout my day. I found some great yoga-based office stretches at About.com.

2. Take Breaks and Move – I am often too busy to move from my desk for a second. But I try to force myself to take even a quick “moving” break. If you have to, make an extra trip to the copy machine and jog over!

3. Make Lunch Time, Walk Time – I find walking to be the most invigorating, inspiring activity I can do. Most often, I use it as a time to brainstorm and start writing my next piece or proposal.

4. Work the Stairs – Making time for the gym sometimes isn’t an option for a busy working parent. So if you are working at home or at the office, don’t forget the stairs – the busy mom’s Stairmaster! You can do sets up and down the stairs – it is a mini work out in the middle of your day!

5. Get Your Office Moving – As employers realize that healthy workers save them money, companies are becoming more health conscious. If your office isn’t already a “Fit-Friendly Company” you can find tips at the American Heart Association and the AHA Start! program to help your office become a healthier workplace.

Bonus Tip: Skip the sugar; go for protein! When your energy level drops, reach for some nuts, low fat cheese, or plain, low fat yogurt.

Editor's Note: We were so happy that Kari shared how to make homemade baby food a few weeks ago, and now she's sharing some of the great store-bought options (because not all of us can make everything from scratch all the time). Cascadian Farm doesn't make any baby food products, so we're glad that Kari can share about these options with you!

We reached an exciting milestone in our house a few weeks ago as our son started eating solid foods! We started with an organic rice cereal, which he loves, and we’re now ready to try veggies. Let the messy fun begin! The baby is definitely ready, but I’m a little overwhelmed with all the choices. I made some of my own baby food, but I know I’ll need to have some store-bought food on hand, as well. Fortunately, there are many organic choices. Baby food has come a long way, baby. There are a number of nutritious foods for baby in the refrigerated and frozen food sections, as well as the classic pureed fruit in a jar. (Availability varies depending where you live, of course). Here are a few of the best organic baby food options on the market.

1. Gerber Organics Baby Foods

The most well-known name in baby food and the most widely available is Gerber. Their Gerber Organics line of classic pureed baby food (formerly Gerber's Tender Harvest organic baby food) is available in tons of flavors and are grouped by age/stage - 1st foods, 2nd foods and 3rd foods. They are sold in twos, in easily tote-able plastic containers.

2. Earth's Best Organic Baby and Toddler Foods

Earth’s Best’s traditional jarred baby foods are not only organic, but they contain no GEIs (Genetically Engineered Ingredients) which is great. They are easy-to-store, have a wide range of flavors and styles and are almost as widely available as Gerber. From formula and fruit and vegetable purees to a Sesame Street line of toddler foods (which includes organic cereals, pizzas and pastas) Earth’s Best has one of the largest selections of organic food for babies.

3. Plum Organics Frozen Baby Food

The frozen baby food market is designed to mimic what you might make for your baby at home if you were creating your own organic baby foods. Plum Organics baby foods are cooked, then flash-frozen to retain as many of the nutrients as possible. The foods are divided into suggested age range, with smoother tastes for younger babies and more complex meals and textures for toddlers. Plum Organics are available at Whole Foods, Wild Oats / Henry’s and now some Target stores.

4. Homemade Baby Organic Baby Foods

In the refrigerated section of your grocery store is Homemade Baby, the only baby food on the market that’s not frozen or jarred. Their fresh meals are cooked fresh daily and they provide field to plate tracking of your food, through their “Meal Integrity Program”. So you can track where the apples in your meal where grown and then cooked! Very cool! Homemade Baby’s foods come in three stages: So Smooth, Good Mushy and Kinda Chunky. This brand is also carried in some Target stores.

 

Photo by Kari Burks

The Do’s and Don’ts for dealing with homesickness


My first trip to “camp” was when I was only a few weeks old. My father was the speaker and my parents’ friend flew my mom with her brand new twin babies up to the island. Yes, for our family, camp was a part of life – and we loved it!

My father was a minister and he loved to speak to youth – even long after his days of “youth ministry” were over. So, every summer my parents volunteered for a week at senior teens’ Bible camp.

My dad was the camp director and my mom worked in the kitchen. My siblings and I were “worker’s kids” roaming the camp, hanging out with campers and having fun. It was the highlight of our year.

As I grew older, I became a camper, then a dish crew worker, and then a counselor.

I even met my husband at camp! And we have carried on the tradition of volunteering every summer at this same camp that has been so important to us. In fact, this summer will be my eight year old son’s ninth year going to camp.

My son loves it and counts the months until July when we get on the boat and head to the island.

And he can’t wait until he can attend camp on his own, as a camper at Junior Boys camp.

But, when I first attended camp without my parents it was not the fun, carefree experience I had going to camp with my family.

...

Like all moms I’m always agonizing over what is best for my baby. Now that he is starting to eat solid foods, I can’t help but think I should be preparing him fresh cooked, organic meals. Store bought organic baby food will be a part of his diet (and I am grateful that there are so many great options) but I feel that the making my own baby food would be ideal. The only problem is: where do I start? And how much time is it going to take?

Well I found a great resource to help answer all those (and the many other) questions I have! Wholesome Baby Food gives you the low-down on everything you need to know to make your own baby food. From the basic steps of cooking and pureeing fruits and veggies to the best ways to store what you’ve made, this site has it all. I had always been under the impression that it was more complicated or that you needed a fancy “baby food maker” like the Beaba Babycook. And while it would be convenient to have on machine that steams, blends, warms and defrosts all in one – it’s not necessary. You can simply steam, bake or even microwave (although I wouldn’t) the fruits and veggies as you would for yourself and puree them in a blender, using hand or stick mixer or a food processor. Steaming is the preferred method because it preserves the most nutrients.

The most exciting part about preparing fresh baby food for your baby is that you get to create all types of yummy combinations using organic, local, in-season ingredients! The possibilities are endless…How about Banana ‘Cado or a Peachy Yam Bake? Keep in mind that you should consult your doctor before introducing new foods and to discuss which are appropriate at what age / stage. Every baby is different, but these are great guidelines based on age: Solid Food Charts.

Do you prepare your own baby food? What have your experiences been? I’ll share mine in a future post.

I am all about playing. I think our kids have too much homework, too many activities and too little play. So I always take advantage of the sunshine and let my son play before homework or piano practice. If the kids are playing a neighborhood game of street hockey, I let my son drop his pencil and grab his stick. The opportunity for exercise can't be passed up!

Having said that, homework still needs to get done and on days when my son has a play date after school - or even worse a play date and then a lacrosse game in the evening! - homework is left until bedtime. Sometimes we get it done in time, but often he is too tired and cranky. So today I tried a tip I heard in the schoolyard, (yes we moms gather there too.) Have your kids do their homework together during their play date.

Yes, I got my son and his buddy to do their homework together! They did it three times as fast as they would have on their own and got right back to their playing. How did I manage to coral two eight year old boys to the table to do their homework, you ask? Well, it was actually easier than I expected.

  1. I led with the benefits – always a good approach for a tough sell. I asked the boys if they wanted to get their homework done together so they wouldn’t have to do it after the play date, highlighting the fact that it was much more fun to do it together than by themselves.
  2. Second, I fed them. I always need to give my son an energy boost after school. He is mentally exhausted and needs a break before he can refocus.
  3. Third, I gave them a play break before we started. For most parents, moving right into the homework works best. My neighbor has her daughter and friends do their homework during snack time. But my son has ADHD and is “done” after school. He needs a break to refresh his weary mind.
  4. Finally, with satisfied stomachs and recharged minds, I called the boys to the table. They quickly did their work and then returned to their play.

What a relief it was to have homework finished and the rest of the night for play and family time. All my son had left to do after dinner was practice the piano. This idea may not go over with every play date. But I am definitely going to do it as often as I can. It worked like a charm and we all played better when it was done.

What about you? What homework tips do you have?

I was not a co-sleeper. When my first baby was a newborn, I was terrified to smother him in his sleep. So I made sure he slept safely in a crib, without a blanket, stuffie or bumper pad anywhere near!

I didn’t get much sleep.

When he was nine months old, he learned to stand up – in his sleep – and would scream for me to nurse him back to sleep at 2am. I decided to try to train him to sleep through the night. For two months, I walked the floor every single night for two hours, refusing to give in. Finally it worked and he slept through the night. But then I went back to work and when he occasionally woke up I didn’t have it in me to fight him. I gave him a bottle and rocked him back to sleep. By eighteen months, he was finding his way into our bed every single night. And there he slept until he was four.

But I never really considered myself a co-sleeper. My twin sister, on the other hand, is a true, hard-core, co-sleeper. They have a “family bed” – a king size mattress on the floor in case the little ones fall out. Both her girls sleep with them and she swears she doesn’t regret it for a minute. So when my daughter started to wake at nine months, my sister encouraged me to just co-sleep with her. “This is such a short time in her life. And co-sleeping is the greatest thing next to nursing. Trust me – just do it. You will all be so much happier.” I decided to become a co-sleeper.

Since my son, who was then six, still liked to crawl into bed with us and we only had room for a queen sized bed, I had to find a different solution than all four of us in one bed. I put a twin mattress on the floor in my daughter’s room and she and I co-sleep there. Yes, it seems kind of crazy at times – I am sleeping on the floor in my daughter’s room and my son is taking my spot in my bed many nights. But you know what? I don’t mind a bit.

In fact, I love co-sleeping with my daughter so much I don’t regret the decision at all. After a long day of work and household craziness, it is so nice to snuggle up and bond with her. It is no wonder our kids want to sleep next to us at night! It is such a stress reliever and such a comfort to feel each other’s presence, to breathe the same air.

Sure I wish we could fit a king size bed in our house where both of our kids could join us at night. But that isn’t an option for us. So for this short window of time in our children’s lives, we are making do with what we have. And I am refusing to apologize or feel like I failed by sleep sharing.  No, I am embracing co-sleeping and enjoying every last second of it.

Kids love to be involved in the Earth friendly decisions that you are making at home. My son is currently very interested in the process of decomposition. I thought that creating a see through composter would be the perfect way to feed his interest, while learning the real way that composting works.

With Earth Day right around the corner, my see through composter would be the perfect project to help you teach your children the importance of composting.  Since this composter is see through,  it makes it easy for your child to see the different levels of decomposition. A composter is an excellent way for children to see what happens to different organic and non organic material once they are placed in a compost bin.

 What you will need:

 

 * A large clear plastic container. (We used an organic animal crackers container, but you can use any style plastic container.)

* Dirt

* Grass or Straw

* Different colors and types of plastic.(We used a bread bag and a plastic grocery bags.)

* Coffee grounds.

* Sawdust or pellets. 

* Old leaves or plant debris.

* Shredded newspaper or regular paper.

* fruit and veggie scraps.

When bath time comes at my house, my daughter doesn’t squeal for bubbles – she calls for “sprinkles!”

Everyone loves a luxurious bubble bath – especially kids. But for children with sensitive skin or issues like diaper rashes, UTI’s, etc., bubble baths may not be an option. My two year old daughter struggles with eczema and severe diaper rashes. Many days, I can’t even use a mild soap on her skin, let alone have her soak in a bubble bath. So, I tickle her fingers and toes with baking soda “sprinkles” and she is thrilled!

It all started when she was an infant and I was at a loss of how to soothe her inflamed bottom. Olivia’s diaper rashes can flare up in minutes and turn into open wounds. Along with treating her rashes with a wide assortment of creams, I started soaking her in a baking soda bath to ease her discomfort.

The baking soda neutralizes the acidity and balances the pH levels on her skin helping to heal her diaper rashes. At two, Olivia still endures painful rashes and I always use baking soda to treat them. But whether she has an active rash or not, at bath time I still reach for the baking soda.

When my sister’s daughters are here for bath time, they too cry for “sprinkles!” They all think it is such a riot to be dusted with the soft, silky powder. And, since baking soda is inexpensive, I can sprinkle away for a cost effective, natural, bath time solution.

Children love to have time to be creative, especially when it involves getting their hands dirty. Winter time is one of the best times to let your children spend a few hours getting their creative juices flowing. Did you know that making Eco friendly art supplies for your children is simple? Art supplies such as colored glue, recycled crayons, finger paints and play dough can be made with simple ingredients that you probably already have on hand in your kitchen cupboard.

You may also already have an endless supply of materials for your kids to use to create their masterpieces. Just check your recycling bin. There are many projects that can be made using recycled food and cereal boxes, milk and egg cartons as well as any paper products. Just add scissors, paints, crayons and glue and your children will be entertained for hours.

Over the next few posts I'm goign to share my personal recipes that my son and I have enjoyed over the years. You can combine these art supply recipes with the Eco friendly art materials that you will find in your recycling bin. This combination will keep your children entertained and will also give your recyclables new life, as fantastic art.

Instructions:

1. Gather all of the broken crayon pieces from your child's art drawer and remove the paper. Break into smaller pieces.
2. Spray a mini muffin tin with veggie oil (you could also use a candy or soap mold) and fill each spot to the top with different colored crayon pieces.
3. Bake at 275° for 8 minutes.
4. Remove from the oven and swirl with a toothpick if you would like or leave them as is.
5. Let cool and pop them out.

 

Photo Credits:
Hands: Jillio @ Flickr.
Crayons: WoodenMask @ Flickr.

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