Sunday Surf

This is my first time participating in the Sunday Surf, the goal of the surf is to share with you links I’ve enjoyed reading through the week. Enjoy!
Homeschool :
With my little guy recently turning two, I was on the look-out for some activities to keep him occupied while I’m working with Big Z on her school work. The Natural Parents Network had a great post to lead me on some awesome fun and simple projects  I found some great ideas at My Delicious Ambiguity  for toddler bags. I found the ideas inspiring enough to create some of my own. Also, Counting Coconuts had some fantastic ideas for toddlers and preschoolers.
We use Ambleside online, a free Charlotte Mason curriculum, for homeschooling. I am often inspired by the Fisher Academy blog. She has lots of great information for composer studies (it’s Vivaldi right now) artist studies ( currently Caravaggio) and nature journaling. Right now you can find information about the Charlotte Mason blog carnival and win prizes too.
Gardening & Chickens
It’s starting to warm up here in East TN. I’m having delusions of grandeur when it comes to planning my garden this year. I have my seeds and I’m getting ready to start them indoors. I usually kill most of my plants when moving them from indoors to outdoors, I found a great article at Chiot’s Run on hardening off your plants and seed starting 101. I really hope to avoid that pitfall this year and be successful starting my garden from seed.
My chickens have really been slacking when it comes to laying eggs this winter. I realized I needed to extend their daylight hours by using a timer in the barn, this would help them to lay better through the colder months. I found a great blog run by a 14-year-old boy, who is quite passionate about his chickens and bees. I’ve learned a lot from him. If you have chickens of your own or are thinking of starting a backyard brood, you may want to check out Happy Chickens Lay Healthy Eggs.
I’ve been following a bit of the mess from the Dervaes family. I always admired their homesteading ways, until now. Living the Frugal Life had a nice commentary on the issues involved.

This month I am participating in the Eat From Your Pantry Challenge hosted by Gabe at Couponing in Critical Times. So far it’s been great. We can see the bottom of our freezer and it’s been an exercise in meal creativity.  We only have a week more to go!
Also Simple Marriage is hosting several giveaways this week. Lots of great giveaways and a lot of great information.(Ok, I see the giveaways ended today, but it’s still a great site)
Kitchen Stewardship is giving away a free “get cultured” e-course and a Nutrimill grain mill, woot!
For my wedding anniversary this year my DH bought me a Nook Color, and I LOVE it. Here is a free e-book from the Weston Price Foundation.
Organic Sister is also offering a free ebook download from her website. She is a great inspiration for unschooling and getting the most out of life.
Most importantly this week was the deadline for entries for the Neuro Film festival. It’s a great way for families to share how they have been affected by neurological issues. My husband put together a small video sharing our life with our sweet Bella. Though he’s not a video technician by any means, I thought the video was beautiful. It’s an awesome way to raise funding and awareness for brain research.
What have you enjoyed reading this week?


Baby Steps to being a Green Mummy

This is a guest post that I wrote for a UK blogger, Insomniac Mummy. I realized that I haven’t shared it with my own readers. Enjoy!

Here in the States, the idea of being a “Green Mummy” conjures up ideas of learning how to be a colorful corpse. I assure you that’s not what this article is about. What we’re talking about here is a course of small positive actions that us Moms, Mums, Mammas or Mummies (call us what you like), can take to have a positive influence on our environment, our earth, our home. It means learning that a few small conscious choices can make worlds of difference as well as a difference in our world. So we’ll discuss a few simple things that any mum can do to slowly go green. Heck, maybe you already do some of these things, if so, we’ll discuss how we can take it a little further.

1) Clean Green. It’s easy to learn how to use a few simple household products to clean your home. More than likely you already have the ingredients to clean green in your home right now. Peroxide and vinegar are very safe and effective household cleaners. For my household basic cleaning, I have one spray bottle of vinegar (any kind will do- cheap distilled white vinegar is fine) and one spray bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide. I spray one, on the counter, sink, toilet (whatever you are cleaning) then the other then wipe down. Don’t mix the combination in advance, they need to remain in separate containers for effectiveness. This combination of simple, green cleaners has been proven to even kill E-coli and Salmonella. Vinegar is very effective for cleaning soap scum, grease, and it inhibits mold and the growth of bacteria. Hydrogen Peroxide is an excellent disinfectant. To take it one step further, find and use green and earth friendly laundry detergents such as Soapnuts.

2) Compost. Does composting make you think of steaming piles of stinky rubbish? It doesn’t have to be that way. There are simple ways of turning your kitchen scraps into an organic rich soil. We currently use a barrel with small holes drilled in it to allow air to circulate, with a lid on the top. We simply toss in our kitchen scraps and roll it around every now and again. Composting can be very simple, there is no need to make it complicated. A simple wire enclosure in your yard can work perfectly for tossing grass clippings, old leaves and kitchen scraps. To take it one step further, you may want to read Worms Eat My Garbage by Mary Applehof. Learn about using worms to compost your scraps. If you live in a place where you don’t have a yard then vermicomposting may be for you. Using earthworms to turn your paper and kitchen scraps is a fun and easy way to go green. Kids love it, my daughter counted the worms as her pets!

3) Go paperless. Do you use rolls of paper towels wiping up after your kids? It’s easy to do, they sure make a lot of messes! One simple change you can make to reduce your amount of paper waste is to switch to cloth. You can easily gather a selection of rags and cloth napkins for household messes. Check at Thrift stores for cloth napkins and old fabric scraps. Cloth diapers work great to clean up too. Make cloth napkins accessible at meal times and keep old rags handy. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to break the paper habit. Simply toss them in with your laundry and wash. To take it one step further, stop using chemical-filled disposable diapers, switch to cloth! There are so many easy to use, affordable and fun choices out there.

4) Garden. Growing your own vegetables is a perfect way to teach children about where our food comes from. Many children grow up only seeing fresh vegetables at the market, never seeing them grow on a plant. Once a child takes part in growing some of their own food they are more apt to make better nutrition choices and try new veggies that come their way. What a wonderful way to connect with the earth and our children at the same time. Start small, grow sprouts at first. They are easily growing and ready to eat in a few days. Kids love this! To take it one step further, start growing your own veggies or visit a farm nearby to see where your food comes from.

5) Breastfeed. While this is not an option for all Mums, breastfeeding is really green. There is no waste from packaging, no fuel is wasted in the transport of raw materials, and there is no detergent and water needed for cleaning bottles. To take it one step further, consider your water bottle choices. Choose stainless steel reusable water bottles, and refill before you leave the house.

So whether you consider yourself a green mummy or not, making a few small changes can have a large impact. Involve your family in your choices, teach them the reasons you are making changes. As David Brower said, “We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday.

Odds and Ends

Spring has arrived! I have been loving the sunshine and flowers these past few weeks (achoo!!). My Little guy has been waking up and running with his shoes in hand to the door and signing “outside”, and saying “owww,owww”. He is obsessed with outside right now. As a result of his obsession I’ve been spending a lot of time outside and a lot less time inside, thus, my house and blog have suffered. That’s what spring is for, right? Some positive results have come from this. I’ve started my garden! No, this is not a picture of my garden, unfortunately.  I hope to write and post pictures on that soon. I’m so excited about it this year, I am doing a square foot garden in my front yard. I have had zero success in  my past ventures in my shaded back yard, so I moved it to the front and I am feeling hopeful. I was very inspired by the Dervaes family. If they can do all of that, surely I can do a small garden and keep it going this year. It’s also working as a great homeschooling project. Big Sister has really been enjoying the planting and watering. I hope she continues to feel motivated, ( and me too!).
So I have a lot of odds and ends to share with you. If you haven’t already heard via Facebook, please check out our most recent Soapnuts giveaway through Your chance are looking pretty good at winning!
It’s World Homeopathy Awareness week ( April 10-16th). I’ve written recently about homeopathy and some basics about getting started with your family. If you are looking to research in further this may be a good place to start. Several different states are having events, unfortunately, there is nothing in TN, but there is in GA!
I wanted to mention the Food Revolution with Jamie Oliver. Have you seen his new show? I’m in love with it. I love his passion for whole, healthy foods for children and families. I was shocked at  what the children were eating in the elementary schools, and even more shocked that the 7-year-olds weren’t able to identify a tomato or a pea!! If you haven’t had a chance to see it yet, check it out on Friday nights. It looks like you can watch past episodes online.
On a final note, ChildOrganics was chosen by Melodie at  Breastfeeding Moms Unite to be a sponsor of her site for the month of April. She was searching for breastfeeding supportive businesses, and we were one of the businesses chosen to be featured. She is hosting a Body Image Carnival this week, so there are some great articles to be read on her site. So go on over and check her out!
I hope you are having a fantastic week enjoying the sunshine and your families!
Photo from woodleywonderworks