Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Four Ways to Celebrate Arbor Day - No Yard Needed!

Think you need to plant a tree to celebrate the forty year anniversary of Arbor Day? Think again. You don't need a yard to celebrate. You don't even need a shovel. Here are four easy ways to give Mother Earth a little TLC on Arbor Day.
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Want a fun Arbor Day treat? Check out this mint
pudding treat I made for Blake last spring.

  1. Gift trees to others - Consider giving trees as a baby gift, housewarming gift, wedding favor or corporate giveaway.

  2. Donate to help plant trees in a National Forest - Trees in our National Forests might be protected from loggers, but they are still prone to the devastating effects of wildfires, insects and disease.  The Arbor Day Foundation website allows you to make a donation toward programs designed to help replant trees in our National Forests.

  3. Volunteer at a planting event - Just because you don't have a yard doesn't mean that you can't get your hands dirty. The Arbor Day Foundation and Toyota have teamed up to make finding a volunteer event easy through the Plant Trees website.

  4. Plant a tree in your yard - Okay, some of you clearly have yards and want to plant trees in it. If that's the case, many communities, businesses and organizations give away trees for free during Earth Week and Arbor Day. eHow had a great tutorial for planting saplings.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

We Need S'more Friends Like You Thank You Gift

Tomorrow is Administrative Assistant Day, and I have some amazing assistants who pretty much run my life at work. Among the gifts I'm handing out are s'more bars in a jar. These would make a great thank gift for just about anyone, so I made two printables - one for assistants and one for friends - which are of course available below.

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Photobucket S'more bars (from Lillian McKay Designs)
2 cups crushed graham crackers
1 cup marshmallows
1 cup broke up chocolate bars
1/2 cup butter

If you want to do the s'more bars as a gift, layer the first three ingredients in a quart jar and attach the instructions below. If you just want to try the bars, combine the first three ingredients in a bowl. Add melted butter and mix well. Spray a 9x9 pan with non-stick cooking spray. Pour the mixture into the pan and press into the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.



Smore Bar in a Jar Thank You Gift

Sunday, April 22, 2012

5 Ways to Reuse Toilet Paper Rolls

Each year for Earth Day, I like to show a few ways to use a common piece of "trash." Last year, I did soda bottles. This year, I'm talking about toilet paper rolls!

1. Bird feeder
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First up is a quick and easy bird feeder this would also be a great classroom or daycare project. You simply cover the roll with peanut butter, roll in birdseed and place the roll on branch.


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2. Gift wrap

I have a couple of different ways I've used toilet paper rolls to wrap gifts. The first option is great for small gifts. I just attached a piece of scrapbook paper to the roll using double stick tape. The I fold in the edges on each end of the roll.


Top with ribbon and you have a great package for a piece of jewelry or other small gift.

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 The second option is great for party favors. Fill the roll with candy or other small trinkets in the roll. Wrap with tissue paper that hangs over by 2 inches on both ends of the roll. Tie off the ends and place a piece of scrapbook paper around the roll and secure with double stick tape. I used a simple address label for the tag.



3. Wall decor

Pinterest is full of great ways to use the rolls for making decor!

Source: goo.gl via Morgan on Pinterest

4. Gardening

Another great idea from Pinterest that will come in handy with planting season just around the corner.



5. Organizing

Again, great ideas found via Pinterest.



Practical, Affordable Renewable Energy Options

PhotobucketIn honor of Earth Day, I'm going to slip back into my days in the energy industry to talk about renewable energy. Often, people assume that powering their home requires a hefty investment in solar panels or a wind turbine, but that isn't the case. Using renewable energy in some cases is actually free and will save you money!

Here are four affordable options for making use of renewable energy.

  1. Buy renewable energy - Most electric companies offer programs that allow consumers to pay a little extra on their bill to have their power generated by renewable energy. These programs allow consumers to share the cost of a wind or solar farm, meaning they are extremely affordable (you can usually participate for less than $1) and you don't have to worry about maintaining a complicated energy system. Additionally, you can usually decide if you want to purchase all of your energy from the renewable energy program, or only a portion of your energy. This allows you to do what is best for your budget.
  2. Take advantage of absolutely free solar power - Open your windows in the winter to take advantage of the sun's warmth to reduce your heating bill and use natural light whenever possible.
  3. Purchase solar powered products - Thanks to technology advances, you can get Christmas lights, yard lights, radios and more that are all powered by solar energy.
  4. Use less energy - Want a larger percentage of your energy to come from renewable energy? The easiest way to achieve that is to use less energy in the first place. When it comes to saving energy, the options are endless - switching to energy-efficient lighting (CFL or LED), participating in off-peak programs from your utility company, switching off lights or adjusting your thermostat by a few degrees. Get some more ideas in the video below:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Kindness Scavenger Hunt

In honor of National Volunteer Week, I've created a kindness "scavenger hunt." It's a list of small, simple things each reader can challenge themselves to do throughout the week to show that giving of your time to make your community a better place can be easy.


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  1. Help someone - this can be anything from holding the door for someone to doing yard work for an elderly neighbor
  2. Pay for an extra - when you pay for your coffee, leave $3 for the next person's tab; or, leave a couple of extra quarters in the vending machine during your afternoon snack run
  3. Give a compliment
  4. Leave a friendly note - try to do this for someone who probably doesn't get it very often, such as a waitress
  5. Pick up a piece of trash
  6. Buy a child a toy - you can either purchase one and drop if off at a charity, or leave a few dollars in the toy section of the dollar store with a note explaining what it's for
  7. Donate to a charity - I work for Mayo Clinic, and because we get high profile patients, people often assume a mere $5 to $10 wouldn't really matter. Truth is, every little bit counts, even for an organization like Mayo. Imagine what it could do for a local charity in your town.
  8. Have some fun by supporting local businesses and organizations - shop at a locally-owned thrift, attend a play at the community theater
  9. Post it - Use a Post it note to post an inspiring message on a public elevator or mirror

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Energy Pack for New Parents

Alright, here's another gift for new parents. I couldn't find a way to wrap up sleep, and this was the closest I could get to wrapping up some extra energy. I gathered up some "energy" food and packaged it together for parents much in need of some extra energy.



My energy pack included protein bars, energy drinks and trail mix.
Energy Pack

Monday, April 9, 2012

She Popped Gift for New Parents

Today's post is all about the parents. They've been through a lot and they deserve a gift just as much as the new baby, if not more. This gift is a take on a popular baby shower theme: She's Gonna Pop. I switched it up a bit, created a printable that reads "She Popped" (download it below) and put it together with some popcorn.

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I included three flavors of popcorn, but you could easily do this with some purchased popcorn in a time pinch.

1. Peanut Brittle Popcorn from Simple and Delicious.

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2. Puppy Chow Popcorn from Brown Eyed Baker.

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3. Strawberry Jello Popcorn

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She Popped

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Baby's First Bling

My friend Ev recently had a baby girl, and I wanted to make something fun and unique. I finally decided to put together a "Baby's First Jewelry Box." Little Kinsley probably won't be able to wear them just yet, but they will hopefully be among from of the first jewelry in her dress-up collection.


I used a pink pencil box for the "jewelry box" and include the following:

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1. Baby Brooches 
I used free coloring sheets I found online as a pattern to make three felt brooches. They are all about the same size and have Velcro on the back. Then I put Velcro on two onsies so they can by mixed and matched.

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2. Baby Locket 
This was by far my favorite piece, and I found instructions for it at Sweetie Pie Bakery.

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3. Baby Bracelets 
I just created some bracelets using felt. 

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4. Paci clips 
I think this is every baby's first bling, so a baby jewelry box wouldn't be complete without them.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mocktail Mama: Great Gift for an Expectant Mom and Great Summer Drinks for Everyone

I've had a long series of friends who either just had babies or just got pregnant, so I'm going to spend a few days sharing baby- and pregnancy-related gifts.

First up is a Mocktail Mama card I like to give to friends who are expecting.
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It's a collection of girly drinks to help expectant moms celebrate their exciting news. It includes six non-alcoholic drink recipes that I've collected from friends over the years and you don't need to be avoiding alcohol to enjoy them. They'd make perfect baby shower refreshments!
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  1. Cranberry Cosmo
  2. Watermelon Margarita
  3. Sangria
  4. Non-Tequila Sunset
  5. Raspberry Champagne
  6. Strawberry Colada
You can make your own card or try out the recipes yourself with the FREE printable below. I usually print mine on card stock paper, trim them out and tie them together with a string or ribbon. It's that easy! Mocktail Mama

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Yard Sale Handbook

I'm planning to host my first garage sale (yard sale, rummage sale, whatever you call) at the end of the month. When Blake and I moved in together, we had two of just about everything. Toss in the wedding gifts and the things left behind by the previous owners who were downsizing, and we have A LOT of stuff. Stuff that nobody needs, and we certainly don't need multiples of (For example, we have five vacuums! I like to clean and even I think five is too many).

I set a date and went to work figuring out exactly what goes into a garage sale. Fortunately for all of you, I gathered all of the tips, hints and advice I found into a handy, 10-page yard sale handbook with everything from tips on selecting a date and how much change you need to advertising ideas and a comprehensive checklist.

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I hope if you're joining me in a garage sale adventure that you check it out and find it helpful. If you're a more experienced with yard sales, please check it out and let me know what I missed!


 I also found this video from Howcast extremely valuable.



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