Cascadian Farm Organic Goodness

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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.

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

Halloween is nearly upon us, and as my ghouls and goblins head to the streets for some trick-or-treating, I am preparing to have a little autumnal gathering for all their monster-clad friends with all kinds of soup and bread to warm small bellies and a few trick-or-treats of my own before they embark off into the cold night.

Before I send my dragon, dragon slayer, black cat and trooper off into the neighborhood, I'll be filling them up on mom-approved treats. These granola bites are perfect for small mouths, and they are a hit with kids both young and old.

Do you have any Halloween traditions in your family?

Granola Boo Bites

2 boxes Cascadian Farm Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate or 12 ounces white chocolate or a bit of both

½ teaspoon coconut oil

Paper popsicle/candy sticks

Black Decorator's Icing or Gel

Cut the granola bars into thirds. Stick a popsicle stick into each granola piece and press granola bar around it to secure in place. Roll the granola pieces and mold with fingers to round the edges. Place the granola pieces in the freezer while you melt the chocolate.

In a small double boiler, melt the chocolate (one variety at a time). Add in ½ teaspoon coconut oil for each 12 ounces chocolate to help make the chocolate smoother and easier to dip. Dip frozen granola bites in the chocolate and place the sticks in a piece of foam or a container filled with rice to stand up while they dry. It may be necessary to dip the white chocolate variety twice.

When the white chocolate is dry, pipe faces onto white-covered bites to look like ghosts. For mummies, drizzle extra chocolate around the "head" and then make two eyes. For the semisweet tombstones, pipe "RIP" onto the front.

Serve to ghouls and goblins as a fun and exciting treat they won't forget this Halloween night.

Makes 30 Boo Bites.

Photos by Shaina Olmanson

We know that Halloween is right around the corner because our pumpkin patch is almost picked clean. If you're in the Skagit Valley area, you can still stop by and grab one for your last minute Jack-O-Lanterns!

We hope you and your families have a fun, and safe Halloween this weekend, but we would also encourage you be sustainable with your spooky celebrations. Last week we asked our Facebook community for tips on how to "green" your Halloween, and they came through with some fantastic ideas! Thank you for all your suggestions.

Here are 10 great ideas for a green Halloween from our Facebook community:

1) Go Local: Buy locally produced pumpkins from a farmers patch, local apples, cider etc.

2) Make Your Own Costumes: Resale shops are loaded with Halloween costumes this time of year that have been worn only once and donated. Buy your costumes from there or be creative with used clothes making clowns, scarecrows using old clothes and straw, etc.

3) Reusable Candy Bags: Use a paper bag or pillow case as a trick or treat bag.

4) Use Real Produce for Decorations: Rather than buying plastic pumpkins, window clings, and other decorations, use real pumpkins, squash, and other food to decorate your home with.

5) Plant Pumpkin Seeds for Next Halloween: Use the seeds from this year's pumpkins to grow next year's in your backyard!

6) Re-use Your Pumpkins: Use face paint to paint your pumpkins so that you can wash them off and use them to make pumpkin pies and muffins.

7) Cut Out the Candy: Pass out individual packets of trail mix,boxes of raisins, or cranberries, instead of candy.

8) Compost Your Old Pumpkins: Put your left over pumpkins in your compost pile and use the compost in your garden or flowers.

9) Be Creative: If you’re throwing a party, make your own decorations, recycling materials you already have. Be creative!

10) Donate: Give away the surplus of candy your kids accumulate.

With Valentine's Day right around the corner, now is the time to start planning how you can make Valentine's Day lovely for your sweetheart and the environment. There are several ways to make Valentine's Day Eco friendly that are simple, affordable and that will let your sweetie know that you were thinking of them.


Valentine Cards:

Did you know that over 1 billion Valentine cards are exchanged worldwide every Valentine's Day? That is a lot of trees being used for cards, that in most cases are simple thrown away or recycled once the day is over. With this in mind, consider alternatives when shopping for Valentine's Day cards such as; tree free blooming cards, 100% recycled post consumer cards printed with soy or vegetable ink, sustainable wooden cards or e cards.

Give a Gift that Gives Back:

If you will be purchasing a lovely gift for your significant other, spouse, child or friend this Valentine's Day, think of gifts that give back. Organizations such Ten Thousand Villages and Novica work with artisan groups throughout the world to bring you fair trade jewelry, home decor and other lovely gift ideas. The best part, fair trade enables artisans in other countries to earn a fair wage and it provides them with the opportunity to live a better quality of life.

If your sweetie has a soft spot for animals or loves the great outdoors? You may want to consider making a donation to her favorite charity in her name. Some charities to consider would be the ASPCA, The Human Society or The Nature Conservancy.

With Thanksgiving being right around the corner there is a lot of planning, cleaning and cooking that needs to be completed in time for the big day. Since there is so much work that needs to be done, it can seem like making this Thanksgiving a green one could be more work than you have time for. It really isn't as hard as you may think. You can make this Thanksgiving a sustainable one by following a few simple steps that will have you giving thanks to all things Eco friendly. 

Halloween is right around the corner. Have you seen the shelves at your local shopping center? They are stocked full of miniature candies and goodies with ingredients that you can't pronounce and packaged in plastic. How about the Halloween costumes and decorations for your home and yard that are not sustainable? All of these Halloween treats, quickly start to look like tricks. How can you be Eco friendly and still have fun during Halloween? Here are five simple steps to green your Halloween that will leave you smiling like a jack o'lantern.