Earth Day: 6 Tips for Having a Greener Home Life

The img_4754
By: Christian Lane, founder of Smarter
It’s Earth Day today.

 

Meanwhile, America has a food crisis on its hands.


While there is plenty of food at stores and in the refrigerators and pantries of most homes, the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) says that 1 in 8 Americans cannot get enough to eat. And sadly, the NRDC reports that 40 percent of food in America is never eaten and goes to waste.

The average US household can waste anywhere between $1,365 to $2,275 worth of food every year. This epidemic of food waste is not prevalent in the US alone. Globally, 33% of food is thrown away on a yearly basis, totaling 1.3 billion tons of wasted food.

When an apple rots or leftovers are forgotten about and tossed out weeks later, these edibles are not the only resource lost. The water that was used to grow and produce the food, the energy used to transport it to market and the dollars spent marketing and retailing the products also end up wasted. The good news is that anyone can make a few simple lifestyle changes to help reduce global food waste.

1. Stop Buying in Bulk – Instead of stocking up on perishable foods in amounts that could feed a family for two weeks, just shop for what you need for the meals you have planned for the week. Otherwise you are likely to forget what you bought in the back of the fridge.

2. Plan Meals in Advance – Create a meal plan for the week for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Only purchase the food items you need for those particular meals. If you have a sudden craving during the week you can make a separate trip. If going to the store again sounds like too much work then you did not really need that additional food item in the first place!

3. Invest in Smart Appliances – Technology is playing a huge role now in helping reduce food waste in the home. Some new refrigerators let you look inside them to check what supplies you are out of when you are not at home. If a new fridge is a bit out of you price range, there are solutions to make your existing refrigerators ‘smarter’. The Smarter FridgeCam is a retrofit device that can keep track of your food contents wherever you are via your smartphone. FridgeCam will also alert you to upcoming expiration dates and recommend recipes so you can use up what you have. These types of devices can also help you from over-purchasing certain items that you already bought.

4. Put Your Freezer to Use – Spot check your refrigerator every few days for produce or leftovers that are getting close to spoiling. Before they reach the point of no return, if you will not eat them in the next day, put them in the freezer.

  1. Only Grocery Shop After a Meal and Have a List – Two sure ways to end up wasting food are to shop hungry and shop without a plan. Impulse purchases end up not creating full meals leading you to make additional trips to the store.

  2.  Make and Prepare Meals at Home – Many food items can easily be grown at home on a kitchen counter or a backyard garden. If a recipe calls for fresh herbs you can avoid having to toss out the extra by having your own plants. And you will be less likely to let food go to waste when you have invested your own time and effort into growing it.

About Christian Lane
CEO and founder, Christian Lane, has been the driving force behind the innovative London company Smarter. Christian realized early on that the kitchen, the heart of the home, was seriously underdeveloped when it came to connected technology and was primed for disruption. Christian’s vision is to create smart products that are practical, convenient and enhance peoples everyday lives.

13 Sites With Kindergarten Graduation Prep and Celebration Tips

It’s that time again for many families with young children: Kindergarten Graduation!!!

In preparation, please check out this updated list of 13 blogs to inspire you and your friends with different ways that you can make your children’s kindergarten graduation an exceptional experience.  These blog entries cover the ceremony, how to make the cap, recipes for some tasty graduation treats and of course some gift ideas.


If you are wondering what kind of ceremony to have for your kindergartener and his classmates, these five blog posts will help you come up with some ideas.  The kids are young, so their attention span isn’t incredibly long. This makes it’s important to keep the ceremony short and to the point.  Many times the ceremony can be held during the school day so as to not add any additional budgetary concerns by having the event at night and requiring additional staff

The Ceremony

The Cap

One of the cutest things you can make for your child to wear on their graduation day is a cap and gown.  Some schools choose to rent the gowns and some own them.  Many schools skip the gowns altogether, but stick with the cap and tassel.  These five blog articles will give you some ideas on how to create caps for the kids to wear that aren’t very expensive.  You can get a group of parents together and make them for every student.

The Treats

It wouldn’t be a celebration without treats.  For food, think of different yummy kid friendly snacks, such as finger foods.  While you are considering what snacks to make, try to come up with some that look like a diploma or graduation cap so that the snacks can tie into the event.  The next five blog posts will give you some tasty ideas to make for your little graduates.  Remember, these treats don’t have to be difficult or expensive to feed the guests at your kindergarten graduation.

The Gift

The graduation gift can be anything from favor bags for all of the graduates to something special from mom and dad to commemorate the day.  These bloggers have ideas for both options.  Whatever the present, make sure you take plenty of pictures of the big day so that you can create a mini brag book or some scrapbook pages to remember this milestone event.  The next five blog entries can help you figure out what gift you want to give the graduate in your life.

One of the best gifts you can give your child is your time.  These blog entries have given you lots of ideas on how to celebrate this milestone in your child’s life, but even if your school doesn’t opt to do a big ceremony you can make the day special for your graduate just by being there.  Remember, before you know it you will be celebrating your child’s high school graduation, so make sure not to miss a minute of this ride of a lifetime.

Eco-Friday: How to Raise a Green Baby

img_4465

These days, babies seem to come with a lot of stuff. Even before they are born, parents-to-be are bombarded with ads and catalogues, all spurring a buying frenzy on a large range of items that are considered ‘essential’ for baby’s wellbeing.

There’s something to be said, however, for going back to basics. A simpler, more environmentally friendly attitude towards child rearing can make everyone’s lives a little calmer and less filled with ‘stuff’. A wet wipe warmer and a diaper disposal contraption are conveniences, not necessities, eventually filling garbage dumps and landfills for centuries to come.


While some people are ever concerned that being environmentally friendly is more work and less expedient, there are plenty of ways you can raise a green baby without sacrificing comfort or convenience. It’s easy!

Feeding a green baby
Whether breast or bottle feeding, your baby is happiest and healthiest when getting fed. So leaving that debate aside, let’s look at how you can feed green. While breastfeeding has no impact to the environment, for obvious reasons, bottle feeding needs a little more forethought in order to be green.

Go for glass bottles instead of plastic. They’re better for baby, and the environment.
Avoid bottles with disposable inserts. If you have enough bottles, keeping on top of washing them isn’t a big a deal.
Use washable nipple pads, instead of disposable. There are great ones made from organic cotton that work beautifully.

As you switch to solids, you can avoid pre-prepared and packaged foods easily with a little forethought and preparation. Fresh veggies and fruits that have been pureed are perfect for little ones and the bulk store is a great place to stock up on dry cereals and baby pasta!

Sleep setup for a green baby
Babies spend a lot of time in their cribs, napping and sleeping. It’s best if they are doing it safely with organic bedding. Investing in a crib that converts into a toddler bed down the road is much more friendly because it reduces waste.

Consider also furniture that is made from sustainable materials and limited chemicals. Carpets, paints and and finishes are often replete with VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), which are toxic chemical compounds found in synthetic materials.

In fact, the whole nursery where baby spends a large amount of time every day and night will benefit from keeping it allergen free. Limit the number of stuffed animals and toys to a select few and make sure that your rugs and other accessories like cushion covers are made from organic materials and are easy to wash and maintain. Indoor air quality is important, so investing in air purifiers is a great way to keep dust and other allergens down.

img_4467

Clothing a green baby
Organic clothing is another great way to minimize baby’s exposure to harsh chemicals. Non-organic fibers contain petrochemicals, PVC and other compounds that have been linked to health issues. Organic clothes provide a double bonus for the environment too because their manufacturing processes are sustainable. Almost 20% of all water pollution occurs in the manufacturing of non-organic clothes! And, fortunately, organic does not have to mean blah, fun, modern designs, colors and styles are no w available through brands like Finn + Emma.

When it comes to the fabrics that are closest to baby, forget the packaged wet wipes and get a batch of washable organic cloths! They’re all you’ll need, along with a wet bag for when you’re on the road, to keep baby clean. As for diapering, consider this: the average baby will use up to 6500 diapers before they start potty training. It takes up to 500 years for disposables to decompose.

If you do the math, you can see why landfills are overflowing! If you’re not keen on washing them yourself, there are plenty of services that will pick up the soiled ones and leave you with a fresh pile of clean ones. Look for a local service that doesn’t employ harsh chemicals in the cleaning process, minimizing the eco-footprint in more ways than one!

Other considerations for a green baby
From toys to laundry detergent, you can always make a choice that is more environmentally friendly and those ones, not coincidentally, are usually better for baby’s health and wellbeing.

Rather than a chemical and scent infused soap, opt for a gentle and natural detergent that still gets the job done without risking skin allergies or other reactions. Always remember too that baby’s first instinct is to put things in their mouth. Toys made from organic cotton yarn, or untreated woods preserved with natural waxes, are safer options.

Look for the G.O.T.S. certification on the textile based products you select, which show that the fiber used is certified at least 95% organic, inks and dyes meet specified toxicity and biodegradability levels and certain metals and chemical compounds are not used in the manufacturing process, such as heavy metals and nickel.

Whatever choices you make for baby, and for you, an environmentally friendly one is always available and more accessible than you might think!

Anna Schwengle is the founder of Finn + Emma, a land where sustainability, fair trade, and organically grown cottons live. But Finn + Emma collections aren’t just sustainable, they are also contemporary, whimsical, and sophisticated. Perfect for the trendy baby in your house.

There are no boring designs and toxic chemicals here. Just an abundance of fresh prints and heirloom quality construction. Only the finest 100% organic cotton, eco-friendly dyes, and all natural, untreated Indian wood will do for your little munchkin. https://www.finnandemma.com

 

Manage Your Kids Screen by Embracing Screen Monitoring Apps

digital-kids-1

While there are strong arguments against screen time and there are calls for the use of less apps, devices and technology by kids because they are perceived as barriers to interpersonal interaction, the case for technology for educating, training and enhancing development is strong as well.

Children these days are digital natives from birth. This new generation was born in the age of technology and a lot of children learn their ABCs from rhymes they listen on TV or tablets, not necessarily from toys or books.


Video games are just a click away. Gen Z consists of fast learners that process short, preferably visual, information easily and quickly. Hence the popularity of picture based social apps. A lot of tweens, teens and in-between prefer texting, so much so that their parents and most adults do not even understand their language.

Shopping, Gaming and corresponding are all done online. Hanging out in shopping malls, going to the arcade and writing letters have long since been obsolete.

This aptness leaves the parents or digital immigrants baffled sometimes. Parents get weary when they hear stories on the news about kids getting involved in sexting and its consequences. News pieces about online dating resulting in violence and child predators using social media information to kidnap young kids are all quite scary for modern parents.

But there are things parents can do and fortunately, apps available that can help.

Learning and using technology

It is advised to parents that they learn technology. Use smartphones and go on the internet. This is the only way they can connect more with their kids and understand the depth of their problems. If they’d understand how these gadgets work they’d then be able to use it for their help and benefit.  If you have a similar situation at home, you should start adapting to technical changes happening around us instead of running from them. Your children are going to adopt these changes sooner or later and you won’t be able to help them without technical knowledge.

ft

How does technology help?

There are a lot of parental control apps around. One we learned of recently called FamilyTime (available on iTunes and Google Play) helps parents facilitate communication and monitor their kids’ digital lives. This type of app also help parents monitor and interrupt dangerous activities like sexting, oversharing with strangers, using unsafe mobile apps and becoming too screen addicted.

With the FamilyTime app and similar apps like it, parents can keep an eye on the following:

  • Web history
  • Bookmarks
  • Frequently visited sites
  • Calls
  • Contacts
  • Text messages
  • Installed apps
  • Location history

Restrictions

You can restrict the use of:

  • Mobile applications.
  • Untimely and excessive device use with screen locks.
  • Speed limits

Location alerts

You can get alerted for:

  • Geofenced places
  • Panic situations
  • Pickup reminders

Restriction Alerts

  • Suspicious contacts
  • Blacklisted apps
  • Overspending

Set Safety boundaries

They may be tech smart but they are still kids and they can commit mistakes or do things that can cause them harm. Kids also tend to hide their digital activity from parents, especially cyberbullying and sexting. In that case, you need to monitor them to know what they are up to. Even if they don’t hide they can get into trouble by mistake. They might be the digital natives, but they should know their boundaries.

Utilize a parental control app and keep the young digital natives safe! Good luck parents!

For National Dog Bite Prevention Week, Your Postman Wants You to Pass this Quiz

mailwoman-1187916_1280

This week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week and of course, the US  Postal Service cares a lot about this week! There’s that nagging narrative of the dog chasing the mail man but it is a real thing. So to help educate home owners about how to prevent their dogs from biting others, the Postal Service’s  Dog Bite Prevention Coalition members put together a quiz along with American Veterinary Medical Assn., American Humane, Insurance Information Institute and State Farm Insurance.

It could be a great family activity as well to quiz your kids on this:


Dog Safety Quiz

1. Is it okay to open a door and let dogs out when a letter carrier drops off mail? Yes OR No
Answer: NO
If a letter carrier delivers mail or packages to your front door, place your dog into a separate room and close the door before opening the front door. Dog owners should remind their children about the need to keep the family dog secured. Parents should remind their children not to take mail directly from letter carriers in the presence of the family pet as the dog may see handing mail to a child as a threatening gesture.

2. Does an angry dog wag his tail? Yes OR No
Answer: YES
People often assume that a dog with a wagging tail is a friendly dog, but this is far from the truth. Dogs wag their tails for numerous reasons, including when they’re feeling aggressive. A tail that is held high and moves stiffly is a sign that the dog is feeling dominant, aggressive, or angry.

dog-491848_1280
3. Do dogs like to be kissed and hugged? Yes OR No

Answer: NO
We humans like to touch and hug people and things when we express happiness. Dogs don’t. Some dogs are very tolerant and will allow hugging and kissing while some try to get away. A dog may tolerate or even enjoy a hug on his terms, but sometimes he will not be in the mood. Think about it, when hugging a person you wrap your arms around the other and hold them in place for a few seconds. That alone is bad news to a dog since they on average do not do well with restrain. They generally don’t like to be held in place. This alone is enough to generate feelings of anxiety as well as a sense of unease and insecurity in your dog.

4. If you know a dog, is it okay to reach through a car window or a fence to pet it? Yes OR No
Answer: NO
Dogs, even ones you know have good days and bad days. You should never pet a dog without asking the owner first and especially if it is through a window or fence. For a dog, this makes them feel like you are intruding on their space and could result in the dog biting you.

5. If a dog is chasing you, should you try to run away? Yes OR No
Answer: NO
Never run from a dog! The dog may think you are playing a game and start chasing you if you begin to run away. Don’t shout or wave your arms as this will either encourage or frighten the dog. Remain calm and still and talk to the dog using a soft voice. Loud, angry-sounding words and screaming only make the dog nervous and upset.

6. Is it important to ask an owner for permission before you pet their dog? Yes OR No
Answer: YES
ALWAYS even if it is a dog you know!
First get the “OK” from the owner.

Hold out your hand, fingers closed, palm down, slowly toward the dog. Allow the dog to approach your hand and sniff it.

Wait for the dog’s “OK.” If he wants your affection, he will lower his head, perk ears, or even come closer to you. If the dogs puts his ears back, flat on his head, or growls, or cowers, don’t pet him!

Pat the dog on the top of his head, or along his back. Avoid touching his belly, tail, ears, or feet.

7. Is it okay to pet a dog while it is eating? Yes OR No
Answer: NO
Do not try to take food or toy away from a dog. NEVER bother a dog while he is eating. The most common situation where a dog bite occurs is while a dog is eating because they are protecting their source of food.

8. Is it okay to hit or yell at your dog if it doesn’t listen to you? Yes OR No
Answer: NO
When we hit or yell at a dog, we are applying pain and scaring the dog. For dogs, a natural reaction to being hurt or frightened is to bite. A fearful dog doesn’t trust people and can lead to aggression.

9. Is a scared dog as dangerous as an angry dog? Yes OR No
Answer: YES
When animals and people are afraid of something, they prefer to get away from that thing. They try to defend themselves from the scary thing. An angry dog is just as dangerous as a dog that is afraid because both will be defensive and bite.

10. Are there only certain breeds (or types) of dogs that bite? Yes OR No
Answer: NO
ALL DOGS are capable of biting. There’s no one breed or type of dog that’s more likely to bite than others. Biting has more to do with circumstances, behavior, and training.

11. Do dogs use their body to tell you how they feel? Yes OR No
Answer: YES
Dogs have a language that allows them to communicate their emotional state and their intentions to others around them. Although dogs do use sounds and signals, much of the information that they send is through their body language, specifically their facial expressions and body postures. You can tell how a dog is feeling (sad, tired, happy, angry, scared) by looking at the position of a dogs’ ears, mouth, eyes, and tail.

12. Does a good dog owner leave his dog chained up outside all day? Yes OR No
Answer: NO
Dogs are social animals who crave human companionship. That’s why they thrive and behave better when living indoors with their pack — their human family members. Dogs that are tied up or chained outside are frustrated and can become aggressive because they are unhappy. They can also become very afraid because when they are tied or chained up, they can’t escape from things that scare them.

Guide to Explaining Holy Week to Children

img_4271

This week is Holy Week for Catholics and Christians that are preparing for Easter.

EHow assembled an excellent summary of the week that can be used for helping parents explain the holiday to their children.


It is instructional also for non-Catholics as well who may want to understand or explain the holiday for themselves or their children too.

 Palm Sunday

When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem on his donkey, there were many followers who wanted to see him. People crowded around him and called his name. Many called out “King” or “Savior.”

Worshipers knelt down and waved palm fronds as Jesus passed by. Children and grownups wanted to hear him speak to them. They wanted to touch him. Sick people wanted their Savior to make them well. Another name for this day is Fig Sunday.

Holy Monday and Tuesday

Some people believe that on the Monday of Holy Week, Jesus freed the animals being sold and killed. The freeing of the many sheep and oxen has been compared to the slaves being set free. Tuesday is the day that the Pharisees got together and made a plan to gang up on Jesus and kill him. Holy Monday and Tuesday are not major days for celebration, but the events did lead up to Jesus’ death.

Spy Wednesday

Judas had been Jesus’ good friend, but he got jealous that so many people loved Jesus. Judas got together with the Pharisees and said he would play a trick on Jesus and kill him.

Today, many people go to church on Ash Wednesday to remember this day. A priest will put ashes from burned palm fronds on a person’s forehead in the shape of a cross and say a prayer.

Holy Thursday

The Last Supper was on this day. Jesus sat down to eat with 12 other people. Those people were the disciples. His friend Judas was there that night. Jesus shared his bread and wine with everyone. He told the disciples that it was more important to serve someone else than to be served.

He lovingly washed the feet of his disciples. After the meal was over, Jesus wanted to be alone to pray. Guards appeared a short time later and he was arrested.

Good Friday

Jesus was forced to make a huge cross and drag it up a hill all by himself. He had a crown on his head made of a branch of thorns. He was nailed to the cross by his hands and feet. One of the ways Good Friday is celebrated is by fasting, which means not eating at all. It is a day to mourn the death of Jesus, but also to celebrate that he gave his life for everyone.

Holy Saturday or Black Sabbath

After Jesus died, he was put in a tomb. The tomb was like a cave. The guards rolled a big rock in front of the opening to make sure that no one could get in or out. They knew that Jesus was dead, but they still wanted to close off the opening just to make sure he didn’t get out. Some of the ways to commemorate this day are meditating, praying, and lighting candles in church.

There you have it!!

7 Things You Can Do to Trim Down After Baby

mother-1840277_1280

Pregnancy is a great blessing for every woman. Just like many, you are also super-excited about having a baby and probably have explored near most books and guides on caring for your newborn. And, it’s been a couple of months that you’ve had your delivery and you and your baby are now a part of one another’s routine.

While the good days are going on, you are definitely worried about getting your body back in shape. You’ve probably gained a little baby weight and your body isn’t the same as it was before. Instead of worrying about it too much, here are 7 proven ways to get your body back after pregnancy. It’s time to set some realistic goals and sticking to them.


mother-2152464_1280

  1. Take Naps

The first step towards getting your body back is taking enough naps. This may include out of the routine naps, other than sleeping at night. After your pregnancy, you’ll experience a dramatic change in your sleeping and eating patterns.

A lack of sleep would hinder the loss of baby weight and will eventually affect your overall health. Moreover, staying awake for too long at night increases your cravings for snacks — perhaps that high-calorie doughnut in the fridge.

breastfeeding-827169_1280

  1. Breastfeed

While cutting calories will help shed that extra baby weight from your body, you will still need to be very careful not to cut too many of them, especially when you are breastfeeding your baby.

The production of milk in your breasts will itself burn between 300-500 calories a day on average and nursing your baby on irregular timings will itself be enough to help you lose the baby weight. While you cut off unnecessary fats from your diet, it is important to consume the healthy ones and eating enough calories daily. Rely more on breastfeeding rather than feeder milk.

keep-calm-and-forget-the-diet-1

  1. Forget the Diet

Do not try to rush into things. Do not diet to lose the weight. You should still follow an exercise routine and avoid fatty foods, but don’t starve yourself — it can be dangerous for your health.

Your body has gone through a very tough process of growing a baby. Also, the production of testosterone for women is already high during and after pregnancy, which means that the metabolism will be high as well. Stick to your regular diet, eat when you feel hungry, don’t push too hard during workouts and you’ll be back to normal in a few months.

croissant-648803_1280

  1. Keep a Check on Calories and Fat

Once again, I would put stress on calorie consumption and healthy fat intake. Avoid any low or zero calorie foods. You don’t need to starve or dramatically change your diet plan. Aim for the lean proteins, whole grains, vegetables, fresh fruits, fresh juices and low-fat dairy products.

Eat a lot of nuts and almonds throughout the day as a snack when you feel any cravings arise. Avoid chips, sodas, and similar items, but most of all, avoid those fad diets that does more harm than good, especially during pregnancy.

gossip-475029_1280

  1. Meet Someone Who’s Recently had a Baby

You should try to meet someone who has recently had a baby (if you don’t have a friend who’s given birth before). Create a good relationship with them. It will give you the support that you desperately need because they have gone through the same bodily changes as you have or are about to.

Having a partner with the same goals can keep you motivated and focused on your goals. If not, find a personal fitness trainer who has experience related to after-pregnancy body changes.

fruit-918979_1280

  1. Eat Healthy Snacks

I know that cravings can force you to give in and have a snack (and it’ll most likely be a sugary one), but eating too much sugar can increase blood-sugar levels which aren’t healthy for you nor for the baby. At the same time, if your sugar levels are down, you tend to grab the first thing in the kitchen to overcome the temptation, and in most of the cases, it is a snack.

Instead of those oily and unhealthy ones, buy some healthy snacks and store them in your kitchen. Also keep low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese as they help with fat loss. Some other options include celery, eggs, chicken salad, whole-grain cereal, hard boiled eggs, apples, almond butter, and smoothies.

fitness-1348867_1280

  1. Stay Active

Last but not least, try to stay as active as you can during the daytime. I know it is pretty daunting, especially when you are sleep deprived and stressed out, but still, you should try to stay active.

Being lazy all day long can slow down your metabolic rate and your body would end up storing more fat than it would be burning. Even though it’s easy to not want to exercise or even think about it, try to engage physical activities and create a routine to keep yourself active.

SpotMeBro.com and SpotMeGirl.com is the mecca for bodybuilding, fitness, gym motivation and, of course, hearty gym meme’s. Regularly introducing fans to new trends in training, nutrition, gear and technology. Join over 1,000,000 monthly bro’s and fit girl’s today.

 

You Can Totally Have a Family Garden in The City; Here’s How

img_3847
Gardening as a family cannot only help you reduce your carbon footprint, pass along the ideals of sustainable living to your children, and save money at the grocery store, it can also help you forge even stronger bonds with your family through your shared goals.

When you live in an urban setting, however, starting a family garden requires a bit more creativity than it would in a rural area. Though you will have to work with what you have available and consider the best ways to customize your garden to your family’s specific situation, it’s absolutely possible to bring the seasonal bounty from your garden to your table, even in the city.

img_3849
Container Gardening – If you’re lucky enough to have a patio or balcony, you can start a family gardening project by growing food in containers arranged around the available space. Limited or a complete lack of lawn space doesn’t have to hold you back, especially if your patio, porch or balcony receives an adequate amount of sunlight each day. Provided that they have proper drainage holes, almost any container you can think of can be used to grow edible plants, so don’t be hemmed in by the traditional planters available at your local home and garden store.


Raised Beds – Small urban lawns often have poor soil, making them a less-than-ideal growing environment. If you’re plagued with moles, low-quality soil or other woes and still have available lawn space, consider investing in raised beds. They’ll allow you an enormous amount of control over the soil because you’ll be filling them yourself with purchased topsoil and fertilizing agents. Don’t let weak soil deter you from growing food and establishing a collective family hobby, just purchase or build your own raised beds!

Community Gardening Programs – In many major metropolitan areas, city-dwellers with green thumbs come together and share a plot of land for a community gardening plan. Do a bit of research on the local level to determine what, if any, programs exist in your area. If you have trouble finding one it may even be worth your time to establish one yourself.

Rooftop Gardens – Rooftop gardening is a popular option for those who have access to their own roofs and have obtained permission to plant there. Depending on the type of roof you have, there are several options for establishing a thriving ecosystem of edible plants right on your rooftop. If you’re lucky enough to have access to a flat, enclosed portion of a condo or apartment building rooftop, the area should even be safe enough for young children to come help, provided that you’re vigilant about supervision.

Companion Planting – Some plants can have symbiotic relationships that allow them to flourish more when they’re sharing a container or planted close to one another than they would separately. Because companion planting allows you to place your plants closer together than you would otherwise, it’s a great way to make the most out of your available container, raised bed or small urban plot space. After you’ve decided what items you’d like to grow, it’s easy to determine which plants do better when they’re together.

Square Foot Gardening – Square foot gardening is one of the single most effective ways to get the most from a small vegetable garden. You’ll need to use raised beds that are densely planted, well-composted and carefully maintained. The practice is especially well-suited to small, urban gardens where space is at a premium.

img_3850

Think Vertically – While the word “garden” may initially bring images of carefully plotted, well-spaced, horizontal rows to mind, this doesn’t always have to be the case. Consider inverted planters hung on hooks, rows of greenhouse-style shelving and other vertical planting methods to make the most of your space. For instance, canvas closet organizers designed for hanging over doors and holding shoes can make excellent compartmentalized, vertical herb gardens, as the porosity of the fabric allows for adequate drainage without being too flimsy to support the weight of soil and plants. Remember, you’re only limited by your imagination!

It’s wise to join an urban gardening co-op in your area, an online community or other gardening group for great space-saving, city-gardening techniques. These groups can be especially valuable for beginning gardeners, who are facing the challenge of urban gardening while also battling their lack of experience. When your children help to cultivate and maintain the family vegetable plot they’re more likely to be eager about eating the fruits of their labor, which can be a serious bonus for parents that struggle to get their children interested in healthy eating habits.

These 6 Tips will Make Your Spring Break Road Trip Go Smoother

boy-478187_1280

During Spring Break, a lot of families take the opportunity of having a week off from school to visit family or travel to various destinations by car. Before going, there are a lot of things things that must be considered, purchased and packed. Juan Carlos Daetz of Maxwarehouse, an online home improvement center that delivers products, offers these 6 Spring Break road trip tips for a safe, organized and stress free tips.

1. Schedule a Service Check on Your Car. Before you take off on a car trip, take your car for a trip to the service station for a tune up. A well-maintained car will be more reliable and safe. Check the oil, power steering fluid, windshield wiper fluid, transmission fluid, and brake fluid. Also check your tire air pressure, have tires aligned and replace if necessary. Have your brakes checked and get brake pads replaced if needed. Lastly, check your lights to make sure all are working—including headlights, high beams, brake lights, turn signals and reverse lights.


2. Pack Emergency Items. In the event of an emergency, make sure your car is well-stocked. Start with a first aid kit. Also, make sure to pack extra water and cell phone chargers. Keep the following stashed in your trunk—jumper cables, flairs, blankets, water, fire extinguisher, mini tire compressor, basic tools, rope/bungee cord, and a flashlight. Your trip will likely go off without a hitch, but it never hurts to be prepared.

3. Plan Your Accommodations in Advance. Always book hotels or make overnight arrangements ahead of time. Spur of the moment travel can be fun, but usually not when traveling as a family. Spring Breaks are a busy time and many hotels book full during this time. Planning ahead also gives you the opportunity to research the area a bit and make sure you are staying in a safe part of town. You can also make sure you get the amenities you’re looking for such as a pool for the kids, gym or continental breakfasts.

4. Bring Healthy Food & Snacks. Pack a small cooler with lots of healthy, easy-to-eat snacks so you’re not at the mercy of a gas station, convenience stores or fast food chains. Depending on where you are in the trip, you can go many miles without running into anything and end up with hungry, cranky kids which can make a long road trip even longer.

5. Road Tripping with Kids. Schedule plenty of restroom breaks along the way. Allow the kids to get out and stretch. Focus on the journey, not just getting to the destination. Make it fun by stopping at points of interest to take pictures and learn about the sites along the way. It doesn’t have to be the Statue of Liberty, kids love seeing World’s Biggest Ball of Yarn or the Corn Palace.Take along travel games, audio books, movies, art supplies, electronics, and tell stories or sing to make the time pass more quickly. The kids can scrapbook or write about the trip when they return home.

6. Childproofing for Your Destination. Whether your destination includes staying at a hotel, friend’s house or with family, bring along electrical outlet covers and travel baby gates to protect your child in a new environment. Be aware that cribs or play yards provided by hotels may not meet current safety standards. If you have any doubt about the safety of the crib or play yard, ask for a replacement or consider other options (for example, put a mattress on the floor).

Good luck parents and have a safe trip!

These Are My Chic Work-At-Home Fave Looks

chic-casual

As a work-at-home mom, I live in casual clothing. My school drop off gear usually include yoga or sweatpants, a tee shirt, a baseball cap and slip on sneakers. For casual lunch dates with other mom friends, a coffee shop meet up with a consultant client, or running errands, I try to dress it up a little bit more but not by much. I share some of my favorite looks on my Instagram account @WAHMStyle. (Follow Me There!)

My go-tos during the winter are chunky sweaters over denim jeans, or a silk turtleneck with a blazer. In the Fall, I live in lined leggings under collared shirts. Summer is for sundresses and maxi dresses; and Spring, I’m all about cute and frilly blouses with cropped pants.


I was going through our Pinterest outfits board and spotted a few looks I think represent the look of a casual work at home mom.
070f52d8ac0938e96a593a5bb3700221

I love a Converse high top sneakers. A pair in mint green is ideal for summer and for breathing life and energy into a casual outfit. Distressed jeans are great because you don’t have to bother to press them out which is essential for a hurried mom blogger. A comfy casual screen tee tops off this casual look. Because I work for myself, I am free to experiment with color! So turquoise or Tiffany blue nails are among my favorites.  GET THE LOOK!

e1bec4555f5f3c0e01463a3099d36229

In the Spring, cropped boyfriend jeans are perfect because they’re loose and not too snug for when the temperature is warmer but still provide ample coverage for cooler Spring days.  Ballet flats are a comfy option for quick trips because you can leave them by the door and slip them on easily as you head out. I love yellow because it lifts the mood and is overall a good color match for me. I like this Aztec print black and white shirt because of the interesting pattern detail. Chunky jewelry are signature for my style and this bright yellow necklace is to die for! GET THE LOOK!

e7a7d7559209633a4f3a5e866b7e8cd3

For casual meetings or casual happy hours, a nice dark colored dress under a blazer or denim jacket work. Wedges or Espadrilles give me height so I can see eye to eye to who I am networking with and a brown slouch bag is a nice in between of super casual and upscale chic. Gold jewelry, wooden cuffs and unique earring are also conversation pieces. GET THE LOOK!

outfit-one
Finally, I love a Maxi Dress because it is among the most flattering styles of dresses. They usually come in cute and funky patterns and can be worn with sandals, flip flops, wedges or low heels; and under a denim  jacket or cardigan. They can be dressed up or down. Fabu! GET THE LOOK!


And there you have it! You can find links to get these looks from the Bellyitch Blog Pinterest Board‘s Outfit Board HERE!