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.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Top 5 Friday Green Links - October 18 edition

This week FLEW by. I spent Monday and Tuesday at a conference on the latest trends in web marketing, creative and design -- ALL in my lovely town of Bend, Oregon.* Since graduating college eons ago, I've always made it a point to stay on top of the latest trends.

I always leave Bend WebCAM brimming with ideas for my professional career and blog. How else am I going to attain my dream job of being the online community manager for Wilco  or my other dream job of being a blogger liaison to a brand?

Today, I give you great green links along with a bonus of live blogger round-ups of the sessions I thought were worth sharing ALONG with some Halloween green links.  Enjoy!

4 Eco-Friendly Cleaning Tips via Groovy Green Livin

GMO Update: Addressing Misconceptions About Labeling via Healthy Home Magazine

The Life of a Plastic Bag via Green Oklahoma

Bonus: Bend WebCAM links

*I'm on the planning committee of this lovely conference and I get to attend for free BUT that doesn't sway my opinion. I've been to other conferences and paid good money to walk away not learning a thing. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Halloween: Anglerfish and Crab Pumpkin

Here are some photos of our angler fish and crab pumpkin my 5 year old son and his dad designed.

First up, the angler fish. This is Ben's favorite fish of all time. He loves to watch videos about them and the Easter Bunny brought him an angler fish stuffed animal last year.

For this pumpkin, they used Popsicle sticks for the fins and teeth, turnips for eyes and  a $5 LED light from the store stuck to a branch. They first saw this pumpkin on Pintertest and it was their inspiration.

Next up, they made a crab. I was at work so my husband took these photos to show how they did the crab using Popsicle sticks, toothpicks, paper, carrots and parsnips

I have a feeling we're not done with the ocean pumpkin series! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Halloween Costume: No Sew Shark

As you may be aware, my son loves anything that has to do with the ocean. Last year, he was an octopus, which was a really fun costume to make!

Months ago, we began plotting this year's costume. Ben has been really into sharks since Shark Week so I found a few options for him to choose from. With our Michael's 40% coupon in hand, we went and picked up the felt and no sew fabric glue (affiliate link). We spent the afternoon cutting and tracing and the kid could hardly wait until it dried.

Here is what you'll need:
Grey hooded sweatshirt (with or without zipper will work)
2 sheets white felt
1 sheet black felt
1 sheet grey felt
fabric glue

Take one sheet of white felt  and trace the belly of the shark. I made a template because I'm not good at freehand drawing.

If the hoodie has a zipper, you'll want to make a cut like the one I made below and then glued it onto the grey sweatshirt as pictured.

Next, trace the eyes. You'll need 2 white circles and 2 small black circles. The white circles should be bigger than the black circles. Glue these onto the hood as pictured.

Next, cut out out 12 triangles out of white felt and glue onto the inside of the hood for the teeth as pictured below. At first, I traced these but you could see the sharpie marks so I did freehand triangles instead.

Next, make the shark fin with the grey felt. I made a template and traced it onto the grey felt but I forgot to take a photo of that. Glue it on the back as pictured below. (I did this as my second step but I would NOT advise it. Wait until the end because it kept falling off as I tried to get the teeth and eyes on).

Your shark is complete! Just let it dry overnight and your little shark will be ready to wear it the next day!

He loves it, can't you tell?

This blog post contains an affiliate link. It's clearly noted and if you buy the product, I will make money.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Meatless Monday: Butternut Squash and Pear Soup

AHHHH, fall. That means Souper Sunday is back in my house. What's Souper Sunday? On top of making a delicious dinner, I make soup for my husband and I to enjoy at lunch! Except, this soup was so good, we ate it for lunch and dinner on Meatless Monday.

It's relatively simple and low in fat. And did I mention, tasted amazing? So amazing, I was licking my bowl. You could easily sub out a small pumpkin. The only painful part was peeling the butternut squash.

Butternut Squash and Pear Soup
by Martha Stewart

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1 medium yellow onion, diced large
1 small butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and diced large
2 pears, peeled and diced large
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt

In a medium pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and cook until translucent, 6 minutes. Add squash, pears, and 4 cups water; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce to a rapid simmer and cook until squash is soft, 20 to 25 minutes.

In batches, fill a blender halfway with soup and puree with yogurt until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids), transferring to a clean pot as you work. Season with salt and pepper.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Top Friday Picks: Healthy Halloween Candy Options

Halloween is fast approaching. We've picked out our costumes (no-sew shark for Ben and no-sew mermaid for EmmyLu). We've decided on our pumpkin theme (angler fish) and we're going to decorate the house this weekend! But actual Halloween is a nightmare in our house --- mainly because my son is excited for all the candy.

This year, I'll be handing out Z Bar Fruit Rope (affiliate link). Costco sells it by the case and it's really the only thing about Halloween Candy I can control. It contains no high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, synthetic preservatives, artificial flavors and has zero trans fat.

I will allow my son to go door to door and trick or treat but I will go through all his candy and let him only have one a day. After about a week, he forgets about the candy and I'll either take it to the candy exchange at the dentist office or take it to work. I don't think it would be wise for me to not allow my son to go door-to-door. It's part of fun memories I had growing up and I don't want to deny him of that.

If you're looking for alternatives to candy filled with high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, synthetic preservatives and artificial flavors to hand out, many of my eco-friends have great blog posts on this subject! Check them out in Friday's Top Picks!

Halloween candy and the truth about high fructose corn syrup via Groovy Green Livin

Healthy options for Halloween Candy via Spit that Out

Safeguarding Your Child’s Special Diet This Halloween via Mom-Blog

Healthy Options for Halloween Candy via Healthful Mama

Boycott Hershey's via Mommy Greenest

What is your favorite candy to hand out? It's OK to admit you hand out something not so great for you -- I used to hand out Reese's Peanut Butter cups. 

This blog post contains an affiliate link. It's clearly noted and if you buy the product, I will make money. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Like Spinning Plates

The other day I returned from my lunch break to the question from my co-worker "What did you do for lunch today?"

That particular day, I ran home to make a quick crock pot meal, clear the dishwasher and ran to Fred Meyer looking for sweatshirts to make Halloween costumes for my kids. I said "That is tomorrow's lunch plan -- making costumes."

Her question "Did you eat lunch?" Yea, I ate soup from home at my desk (don't tell my boss though I'm pretty sure he reads my blog and now knows this).

Her next question: "When do you do anything for yourself?"

I had to stop and think. That day I was running around with my head cut off at work, home and on my lunch break.

My answer: "I went to crossfit yesterday morning at 5:30 a.m., does that count?"

To me, that counts but then I wondered if maybe I was missing something. I spend my free time going to crossfit and running -- we know that's really important to me keeping my sanity.

My life has been spinning plates for the past year. I'm thankful for my job -- one I love and that I work 50 plus hours. I unloaded some volunteer activities because I want to be there for my family and enjoy my hobbies -- like this blog. But there are times I'm finding that time is spent doing things for everyone BUT me.

More and more, I'm finding that my spinning plates are boiling over into my usually free times, like my lunch break. I go grocery shopping on my lunch break because that gives me the time with my family. I head home to do house work or get dinner prepped so I'm not rushed when we walk in the door. But I realize, I can't do it all. So I drew the line.

I finally hired someone to clean my house. That was tough for me to do but I know twice a month, my house will be cleaned and that helps. Yes, they use eco-friendly household products.

I don't check my phone, email or look at the internet until after my kids are in bed most days. Ask my husband how irritated I get when he's on phone.

I usually go to bed around 9 p.m. but now I'm trying to stay up until 10 p.m. and am using that time to read. Read can be blog posts in my RSS feed, Pinterest or just read some celebrity trash like Perez Hilton. I also try to catch up with my husband. This I know, I need to work on.

Sometimes, I find the small pleasures in grabbing a cup of coffee at Lone Pine Roasters before work a luxury since I spend my morning and evenings dropping off and picking up kids. After work pick-ups takes 45 minutes since my kids are at separate places. Being stuck in traffic isn't fun but the smiles on their faces when I pick them up is worth it.

There are times that my Tuesday night blogging at Jackson's Corner feels like a guilty pleasure since I'm not on "tuck-in duty." Don't get me wrong! I look forward to hugging my kids good-night, reading my son a book and ten rounds of the quiet game (you, know the game where you win if you're quiet the longest -- somehow I win this game every time but there are times I talk first JUST so my son can win). BUT sometimes, I just need a break.

My mission of this blog has been about the working mom whose family is trying to be green, eco-friendly and environmentally conscious. I also come to  this space to just write out what I'm going through, in hopes I'm not alone. That someone can relate. Being a working mom is tough! You have to have the stomach for it.

There are times, I wish I could make homemade bread, clean my house myself with products I made or just prep a few meals for a couple of days. I rely on products -- that's why they are there -- to help us working mothers. And sometimes, not healthy choices (like fast food) creep into my family's life. Hey, at least I'm not going EVERYDAY, right?

I know I need to take deep breathes and know that I'm not alone sometimes. There I times I wish my mom was alive so I could ask her how she was a single working mom with three kids.

I know there are times that I just need to STOP and enjoy my kids as well. My daughter seems to be 18 months going on 5 years old. My son is just sweet as ever and I want to cherish that.

What have you done to stop the plates from spinning? How do you manage?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Product review: Ucan Compostable Trash Bags

I have gone back and forth ... trash bag or no trash bag? If we're trying to eliminate plastic from our weekly trash, then maybe not using a trash bag is a good idea? When we ran out of trash bags, I decided to give no bag a try. We put all of our leftover food scraps in our worm bin composter and our trash consumption is down. I tried to suck it up but it just wasn't working for me and was too messy. So I really needed a liner and compostable was going to be the only way to go.

Enter my monthly Ecocentric Mom Box (more on that soon). It's a box of goodies I subscribe to that I get each month featuring some amazing green and eco-friendly products. Just so happens that UCan had samples of their compostable 13 gallon trash bags in the box that month when I ran out of my regular trash bags. I was instantly in love! So much in love, I ordered 4 boxes from them with the discount code provided in my box.

Here's the scoop:
  • Ucan sells 13 gallon, 3 gallon and sandwich compostable bags
  • Their made of strong and durable compostable materials
  • They provide the convenience of traditional plastic 13 gallon garbage bags without the negative environmental impact.
  • The bags won't deteriorate until bags reach a commercial composting facility.
  • The bags simplify food waste collection in a cleaner, more user-friendly way.
  • They're BPI and ATSM 6400 certified.

Since I purchased this product on my own, I emailed UCan and they offered to give my readers 25% off their purchase of UCan products! Visit their site and use code greenmom!

I will say, it does take some time to get used to not having a drawstring but it's worth it for the environment, right?

Question: Do you use trash bags or do you go bagless?

This product was in was part of my Ecocentric Mom Box that I pay for each month. I purchased this product with my own hard earned cash. Opinions are my own!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Meatless Monday: Sweet potato hash with eggs (with homemade Hollandaise sauce)

I've spent the last few months without eating a big breakfast. Sure, I'd have a 350 calorie smoothie but there were times I really missed a hardy breakfast of eggs, bacon and potatoes. I then decided that since I missed breakfast, I would make breakfast for dinner with some farm fresh eggs my co-worker brought in for me.

I found this glorious recipe on Pinterest (I bet you're not surprised, right) and made some adaptions. First off, instead of grating the sweet potatoes by hand, I used the grate attachment on my food processor to simplify the process because hand grating sweet potatoes = PITA.  I also found the homemade Hollandaise sauce to be much simpler than I thought (which may be bad for my waistline). Topped with two eggs and the sauce, this sweet potato dish was decadent! Also, I will never buy frozen hash browns again!

Sweet potato hash with eggs (with homemade Hollandaise sauce)

Hollandaise sauce
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and warm
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Sweet Potato Hash
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium sweet potatoes, coarsely grated
Salt, pepper (I used garlic salt(

4 large eggs (fried, scrambled or any way you'd like them)
hot sauce (optional)

To make the Hollandaise sauce: In a blender, combine egg yolks, lemon juice and 1 tablespoon water. Blend until well-combined. With motor running, pour unsalted butter into blender jar in a thin stream until a thick sauce forms. Season with salt and pepper and set hollandaise aside.

To make the sweet potato hash: Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high until hot. Add sweet potato and cook, stirring occasionally, until sweet potato is crispy and charred in places, about 8-12 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Top with your egg of choice! 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Fit update: Losing your motiviation

The pocket art show along the Larkspur Trail in Bend, Oregon

The Shaklee Blogger challenge has been over for a month and I'm excited to say, I'm still losing weight! Two pounds down to 190 pounds! I have kept mostly on track with my eating and exercise for the month of September with one exception -- last week.

Morning runs have been a little stressful as my headlamp broke and I went for a few runs with only the moon as my guide which were a little scary for me. I ended up switching to evening runs which aren't the same. I also took a week off from crossfit.

I was feeling depressed all week. I thought it was because last week it pretty much rained every day,  something not normal for our beautiful Central Oregon weather. By Friday, I found it hard to get out of bed. My aunt called to check in with us and I told her how I was feeling all week. She pointed out the lack of exercise meant the lack of endorphin release which fights off depression and stress.  It made total sense so I ran and went to crossfit the next few days.

On my Sunday run, I found a cute pocket art gallery along a trail I normally don't run which made me smile.

Then Monday came. Normally, I bound out of bed, excited for crossfit. I decided to sleep in and hit the noon class. All morning, I was sluggish. Then I got held up at work and didn't make the class. The rest of the day, all I wanted to do was hide under my desk.

 I told my office mate I just wasn't feeling the greatest. And then he spoke some truth I needed to hear ... I just needed to find that motivation and get up each morning because I need those endorphins. I needed to adopt the attitude of I will just feel better in the long run even if my bed is nice and cozy.

I was back at it on Tuesday. It was hard to get there but I did it. At 5:30 a.m. I was ready to go with pull-ups, push-ups and deadlifts and I felt great the rest of the day. It was also nice to see my crossfit friends too!

This morning I ran 3 miles! I need a medal or something because it was 29 degrees!

How do you find our motivation? How do you get up when it's warm and cozy in your bed?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Fall is for making new traditions

My son has always loved Halloween but now he's also growing a fond appreciation for fall.

Each year, we read Fall Leaves Fall by Zoe Hall (affiliate link) and talk about the leaves changing, making leaf art, drinking warm mugs of cider and eating leaf cookies. This year, my son wanted to take it a step further -- he wanted to collect leaves, make art and leaf cookies. 

Really, the only fall tradition we have is going to the pumpkin patch so I jumped on this chance to start some new traditions especially since he's school age.

While at the craft store, we picked up some Wilton's Leaf Cookie Cutters (affiliate link). My son loves the craft store and would be completely content spending all of my hard earned money there as well.

As the weeks of September went by, every time we were in the car, we talked about how the leaves were still green. Last week, we spotted some orange and yellow leaves in our Old Mill District in Bend and Ben said "It's time, Mom. It's time to collect the leaves for art."

Then the rain came! And the cold. And the Cascade Mountains near by were getting snow. Yesterday, we decided the rain wouldn't make us melt so he and I headed out for a hike.

With hot chocolate in hand we walked about the park and Deschutes River gathering leaves and to play on the playground equipment.

While I mixed the dough for cookies, Ben got out his glue, paper and pens and went to work on his fall masterpiece!

I decided to do graham cracker cut out cookies. I won't share the recipe because it was a complete dud. The dough wouldn't come together. It tasted like cardboard when baked BUT we got a few cookies out of the deal. We ended up frosting them with Nuetlla and adding some sprinkles. They still tasted gross. Next time, I'll jut make sugar cookies.

And now for the masterpiece ... Ben's Fall Leaf Art 2013

What are your favorite fall traditions? 

This post contains affiliate links meaning if you buy from my site, I will make money.  The book was a gift to my son years ago and I bought the cookie cutters with my hard earned cash. The opinions are my own. 


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