Gifts from Bend, OR

Live in Bend, Oregon and want to give a gift from Bend, Oregon? Follow my local gift giving series!

Green your coffee routine

Save 23 lbs of waste this year and start using a reusable coffee cup to keep you caffeinated.

Monday, September 30, 2013

No Sew Halloween Costumes: Charlie Brown & no sew costume round up

Let me say this up front ... I don't sew. I have no plans to learn how to sew or even the desire but I do like getting crafty now and then, especially at Halloween.

When Benjamin was a baby, I wanted to make his first costume and since he had a little bald head, I thought he looked JUST like Charlie Brown. Charlie Brown is an easy costume for busy new moms to make

What you need is the following:
Yellow or White Onesie (your baby's size)
Black Fabric
Fabric glue 
Brown or black pants

Measure the length around the onesie for the black chevron pattern. Trace a chevron pattern onto the black fabric and cut. Glue the chevron pattern on the onesie. 

When dressing your little Charlie Brown, make sure you make a "curl" on the forehead using a black eyeliner and dress him in either black or brown pants. 

Here's another one I made for my little oceanographer ... a no sew octopus:

Here are some more great ideas from around the web!

Here are a few other resources I've found for no sew costume ideas:
Parenting Magazine
No sew fleece costumes from Jo Ann's Fabric
No sew costumes ideas from Reader's Digest

What are my plans for this year? I'm not quite sure but Ben wanted to be a Blob Fish but I think I talked him into being a shark. As for EmmyLu, I'm still searching! Maybe an owl or a fairy? I can't decide.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Top 5 Friday Green links: 9/27 Edition

It’s hard to believe it is Friday. Where did the week go? 

This week was hard for our family. My sister-in-law lost her battle with breast cancer on Monday. Words can’t describe the sadness we’re feeling so keep us in your thoughts. 

My husband made this amazing video tribute in her memory and even wrote the song. He's pretty awesome, isn't he?

Everything fell by the wayside this week. The weather also changed making it hard to get out of bed. Healthy eating habits, early morning runs, crossfit classes and even things I had planned for the blog fell by the wayside.

That didn’t stop me from choosing some awesome posts for my readers to enjoy! Here’s some of the best I came across via my Eco-Warrior friends.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Giveaway: EcoBonus Coupons

I get giddy about saving money. My husband truly believes I’m obsessed with racking up fuel points from our local grocery/department store. When we shop, for every $100 spent, we save 10 cents on gas. We also get extra points for pharmacy and if I fill out a survey each week. I get really upset if I find out he’s forgotten to use our rewards card too.

My other obsession has been loading my rewards card with coupons. Usually, 80% of my grocery cart is items from the perimeter of the store but I will look through manufacture coupons and if there is something I need, I’ll load those on. One week, my store had coupons for a brand of organic meats I regularly buy. My total bill was around $100 and when my rewards card coupons kicked in, my bill dropped to $85. The cashier looked at me in amazement … “How did you do that?”

Then I heard about EcoBonus, an app/website that rewards you for buying eco-friendly product with eco-friendly products.  You can earn points by either uploading your receipt or entering a code from their partner products. When you accumulate points, you can use them to get items like coupons, water bottles, toys -- there is something for everyone!

How does it work? 
Since I'm new to this program, with the help of EcoBonus, I'm giving away 10 coupons books with $80 in coupons from top organic and natural brands! Fill out the form below... I'll giveaway the coupons next week.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, in the meantime, if you'd like to sign up for EcoBonus, enter in code ECOWORKINGMOM and you'll receive 10 points for referring you!

This post is sponsored by EcoBonus. They gave me rewards points for trying the app and promoting it along with referral points for all my followers who sign up. The opinions are my own.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Meatless Monday: Black bean tacos with homemade taco seasoning

We're a fan of anything taco related in our house so when I saw this recipe from Endless Simmer, I put it on my meatless to make board on Pinterest. That week I had just made a fresh batch of black beans so it was perfect timing for this recipe. Of course, there were a few modifications. 

First, I used my standard taco seasoning recipe instead of their suggested spices. Here's my recipe for taco seasoning minus all the MSG in packets of pre-made seasonings:

Taco seasoning recipe*
6 teaspoon chili powder
5 teaspoon paprika
4 1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix together. For every pound of meat or taco mixture, use 3 tablespoons. 

image from Trader Joe's
*I can't remember where I got this! I wrote it down years ago and it's in my recipe collection. 

I also found their suggestion of 1/2 cup red onion to be a bit much so I knocked it back to 1/4 cup. Red onions, in my opinion are stronger and have more flavor. I didn't want to over power the black beans. 

Another favorite in our house are the Trader Joe's Corn and Wheat Tortillas. They are more pliable than just plain corn tortillas, and hold their shape compared to regular corn tortillas. We pretty much will go out of our way to get these from Trader Joe's if our recipe calls for corn tortillas (yeap, they're that good).

Here's my final recipe!

Black bean tacos with homemade taco seasoning
inspired by Endless Simmer

2 cups black beans, cooked
1/4 cups red onion, minced
2 t. homemade taco seasoning (recipe above)
2 Tablespoon cilantro, chopped
4-6 ounces of your favorite Mexican
2 Tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
8 corn tortillas

Optional fixings: salsa, avocado, sour cream (we use Greek yogurt)

In a medium bowl, add beans along with red onion, cilantro, and spices. Add a pinch of salt and lightly mash all of the ingredients together. Grate your cheese and have it ready as well.

In a large, non-stick skillet or cast iron skillet, add a few tablespoons of oil and heat over medium-high heat.
Add one corn tortilla at a time and let each get hot in the oil for a few seconds. Then add about 1/4 cup of the bean filling to one half of the tortilla. Top with a sprinkle of grated cheese.

Using a tongs or spatula, carefully fold the tortilla over so it forms a shell. Press down lightly on the tortilla so it holds its shape.

As the first tortilla cooks, move it to the side and do a second one. Depending on the size of your pan, you should be able to get 2 or 3 tacos at once. If you have a griddle you can do even more at once.
Cook each taco for about 3 minutes per side until they are nicely browned and crispy.

When flipping the taco to cook on the other side, use a spatula and flip the taco toward the fold so the filling doesn't fall out.

Serve tacos with your favorite fixings!


Friday, September 20, 2013

Top 5 Friday Green links: 9/20 Edition

Yay for Friday! Even though I have to work on Sunday (boo), I at least get Saturday off!
Here's some awesome articles from around the web that I wanted to share! 

Parents: What To Ask About Greening The Classroom via GreenRU

Holistic Solutions for Back to School Illness via Natural Moms Blog

Top 4 Food Labels via Jen and Joey Go Green

Three uses for Cereal Bags via The Greening of Westford

What are your favorite posts for the week?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Green failure: I'm no urban gardener

It's not very often I talk about the failures my family makes when trying to do what's best for Mother Nature. This journey has not been perfect and has been trial and error. But my latest failure just wants to make me give up completely.

We tried to plant a garden this year. We tried doing vertical gardens a few years ago but where we planted the garden was too sunny and hot.

I really had this grand plan of enjoying my herbs, carrots and salad mix this summer but this was one of the only fruits of our labor:

Yeap, one purple carrot. Where did we go wrong? 

We thought we made it easy on ourselves and bought $70 worth of seed tape!

And since we don't really have a yard, my husband devised this:

My husband was so excited about his container garden too! He developed a water drip system and made sure to follow the instructions on the seed tape so it was all planted properly. Really all I did was order the seed tape. 

And then we waited. And waited. And waited. Nothing was coming up. 30 days later, we were shaking our head. Then about 6 weeks in, we had some sprouts but not nearly what we thought ... maybe about 10 little sprouts. 

What we did wrong? We planted everything around Memorial Day and that was too early. The Central Oregon growing season is short and many folks buy starters and plant them in June or are lucky enough to have green houses and avoid frost all together. 

I've never had a green thumb and this is so discouraging. If you live in Central Oregon and have a successful garden, I want to know how have you dealt with the short growing season. I don't want to be discourage anymore. Maybe next summer we'll figure this all out!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Green plans and goals: Reusable produce bags

It's been entirely too long since we worked on our green plan and goals in our house. We've been doing "stuff" but I haven't been documenting it all that well so I've been keeping a list of things we've done and how we did it.

Like most green folks, I hate plastic grocery bags. This was one of the first goals I starting with three years ago when I started this blog. Even though we cut down drastically on our plastic grocery bag use by bringing our own bags (we use Envirosax because my awesome mother-in-law gave them to us for Christmas AND they fit nicely in my purse), we still were bringing home produce bags.

As we slowly moved our grocery shopping to the perimeter of the store, our produce consumption grew along with our plastic produce bags stash. A few weeks ago, I had enough and while ordering some other products online, I ordered large 10 pack of BRING IT! washable produce bags from Amazon (affiliate link).

Along with my grocery bags, I stash these in my purse with my grocery list. One of my goals while shopping now is to NOT bring home any produce bags. These bags are easy to use with a drawstring and can be washed in the laundry.

By the way, I'm a new cashier's nightmare with all my fruit and vegetables. I always make sure a veteran is ringing my groceries up because all my produce can slow down a new checker.

What green goals have you recently established? I'd love to hear!

I bought BRING IT! with my own hard earned cash and the opinions are my own BUT the link above is an affiliate link meaning if you buy from my site, I will make money. Thanks!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Walmart minds the store

Walmart is literally walking distance from my house. That store recently did a major makeover that involved adding produce, more groceries (along with more natural and gluten free product) along with staying open 24 hours.

In Bend, Oregon, it's not "cool" to admit you shop at Walmart. Folks plaster their cars with no Walmart bumper stickers and if you mention you went there to get something, you'll get the third degree.  I don't like to admit I shop there because of this BUT that has all change for me as of Friday.

Recently, Walmart took the lead on Mind the Store challenge. What's Mind the Store?  It's a campaign asking the nation's top ten retailers to get tough on toxic chemicals in consumer products! This is big news! Many customers have written letters, done videos and asked Walmart on social media outlets to "mind the store" and protect their customers from toxic chemicals.

Buying safe and natural household and beauty products for my family is the #1 part of our family going green so this step that Walmart is taking will make me stand up and say (without hiding it) I SHOP AT WALMART. 

Here's a snapshot of what Walmart is pledging via Mind the Store:

By January 2015 all manufacturers who sell cleaning products, cosmetics, baby and personal care products will have to disclose the ingredients used in their products online. This is a major victory for consumers who, for the first time, will have access to which chemicals are used in certain products.
Walmart prioritized around 10 toxic chemicals (to be announced later) in which they will seek to reduce and eliminate from certain product lines. When Mind the Store spoke to Walmart's Sustainability team, they told us that the chemicals they chose were on the Hazardous 100+ list. These chemicals will be phased out of the following product sectors: cleaning products, baby products, personal care products and cosmetics.
Walmart will work with their suppliers to move towards safer alternatives. This is an important step, since many times as one toxic chemical is phased out and equally toxic chemical will be used as a replacement. Their policy seeks guidance from the Business NGO Workgroup.
Walmart brand cleaners will no longer contain toxic chemicals outlined by the EPA’s Design for the Environment program. Another major announcement, the DfE program has a robust list of chemicals that can’t be used, indicating seriousness from Walmart to increase the safety of their cleaners.
Priority chemicals as a first step. We know there are more than 10 toxic chemicals used in consumer products (see the Hazardous 100+), and hope that Walmart and other retailers work to expand the list of toxic chemicals they are addressing. We’re encouraged to see Walmart classify this as a "first step."
This is good news for those of us who spend a lot of time researching the products we use in our daily lives. 

If you would like to ask the top retailers to Mind the Store, visit their website to find out more information. 

Vegan Pumpkin Spiced Almond Milk Creamer Recipe

A friend of mine posted an article on Facebook about vegan's petitioning Starbucks to make a vegan option for the pumpkin spiced latte. I joked in the comments that it would be super easy for Starbucks to do this using almond milk (an option they do not have BUT need) or soy milk (which they do offer).  Then I got thinking ... I could just make my own creamer, cut the calories and save the money because I love pumpkin spiced lattes. After researching other recipes and playing around here was my final conclusion on a vegan recipe!

Vegan Pumpkin Spiced Almond Milk Creamer
makes 2 cups or 16 tablespoon servings @ 49 calories per serving

1 cup almond milk
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
pinch of salt

Throw everything into a blender and mix together for 1 minute or until smooth. This mixture will last up to 10 days. I stored mine in a mason jar. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Top 5 Friday Green links: 9/13 Edition

I took a few weeks off from my green links postings! I blame school, work and life (don't we all) so here we go with some amazing posts from other bloggers from around the web.

Walmart takes the lead on Mind the Store challenge via Safe Chemicals, Healthy Family
YEAH for Walmart! More from me to come on this next week!

The Many Ways You Can Use Castile Liquid Soap via Nature Moms Blog
I always find these articles very helpful because I only use castile soup for handwashing.

GoalZero’s Guide 10 Plus Is All-In-One Solar Charging Kit via Earth Techling
Solar has charging products have come along way. Learn about this great product.

The White House gets Solar Panels via Eco Salon
Great to see our POTUS taking the lead on solar. Will the rest of the country follow?

Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer via Nourishing Minimalism
It's fall meaning it's pumpkin spice latte time! Make your own creamer at home.

What are your favorite links from around the web? Please share!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Ben school update and infographic

Ben has been in school for one week and honestly, we're still working out the bugs in our routine. Pick up is taking a lot longer since I have two different places to go making it that we don't get home until 6 pm. I can't imagine living in a bigger city that has horrible traffic. I often find myself just feeding the kids quick and easy stuff because they are hungry when we walk in the door. I've started putting snacks in my purse so they aren't so ravenous when we walk in the door. 

Ben loves school! He loves taking the bus to school in the morning!  He also loves the after school program he attends! But he's exhausted and overwhelmed by the time I pick him up. We talk daily with Ben about how it's a lot of change for all of us and it's OK to be frustrated, scared and upset! The only person in this equation who seems to not be upset is our sweet EmmyLu! Have you experienced this or have advice? Please share!

With school starting last week, Healthy Child, Healthy World posted this awesome info graphic about what to look for in your school. I'm happy to say, our school system uses propane to fuel the buses and uses   fruits, vegetables, flour and meat from local sources. Click on the image to read their full article!

click through to read more

Monday, September 9, 2013

Meatless Monday: Mediterranean Penne With Roasted Red Peppers and Almonds

It's now September but school has started and we're trying to get into the rhythm of things in our house. I'm leaving earlier now to take the EmmyLu to daycare and I'm getting home around 6 pm after picking up kids at different locations across town from each other.  Ben is doing great with all the changes! He takes the bus to school, spends all day learning, plays on the playground at after care until I get there and is exhausted when we finally get home.

Exhausted kids mean they are hungry the second we walk in the door sometimes so if I can make something the night before, it's a win-win for all of us.

This recipe started from Real Simple Magazine. It called for roasted your own red peppers but the saying goes "nobody has time for that." Well, I wish I did because roasted red peppers aren't  hard at all to make. That's a blog post to come, I guess.  Instead of roasting my own peppers, I opted for a jar of roasted red peppers. I make this the night before and we eat it cold or warm, depending on how hungry I am. My husband likes to add feta to this recipe too.

Mediterranean Penne With Roasted Red Peppers and Almonds
by Real Simple

12 ounces whole wheat penne
1 jar roasted red peppers
3/4 cup pitted kalamata olive, sliced
1/2 cup  coarsely chopped roasted almonds
|1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
kosher salt and black pepperDirections
Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve ¼ cup of the cooking water; drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
Add the peppers, olives, almonds, oil, thyme, 2 tablespoons of the reserved cooking water, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper to the pasta and toss to combine (add more cooking water if the pasta seems dry).

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


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