Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Another Happy and Healthy Halloween!

As my costume post stated, Halloween is awfully close (only 32 days!) and I've started thinking about what kinds of treats I'll be handing out this year.  My daughter is still a little too young for trick-or-treating (I'm pretty sure it would just be me doing the work and her enjoying the candy!) so we'll spend our Halloween night handing out treats and enjoying all of the costumes.  While the jury still seems to be out on High-Fructose Corn Syrup and its risks (I found a good article about it from the Mayo Clinic), I think that this year I'll stay on the safe side and look for organic or home-made treats. 
There seem to be pros and cons to each option: organic candies can be expensive and home-made can take time and some know-how.  I'll have to look into both options before I make my choice!

Naturalcandystore.com has some great Halloween options, but they can be expensive if you live in a high trick-or-treat traffic area.  I hate having to turn off my light early because I ran out of candy!  I do really like the sound of the Vegan Candy Party Mix. Everything comes individually wrapped, which makes it easy to hand out, but all of the wrapping is compostable.  The only disheartening thing is that price! Its hard to know that I could spend a fourth as much on regular candy, and the children wouldn't know the difference.  Another option is the individual chocolates from chocolatebar.com, the makers of the endangered species chocolate.  The individual milk chocolates sound great, and you get 144 for $39.99, which sounds okay, but is still pricey.

 I found some really great recipes for some home-made candy, some a little more involved than others.  This one for Fruit Jelly Chews seems the most labor intensive because you have to have a blender or food processor, but they sound great! One recipe for Maple Candy also sounds good, as long as you can find good, pure maple syrup.  The recipe for Chocolate Lollipops sounds easy, but I'd want to make sure I could find good, fair-trade chocolate.

The Decision:
I think that I'll try my hand at making the fruit chews to hand out, maybe make a trial run sometime this week. As a little extra treat for my daughter, I think I'll order her one of these cute Pumpkin Lollipops to enjoy for the night!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Happy B(earth)day!

My daughter and I attended a friends birthday this week, and while the children had fun and the adults got to enjoy some much needed "grown-up" time, all I could think as we left was "Look at how much trash is left!". From wrapping paper and packaging to cups and napkins, birthday parties can really leave a lot to clean up, and a lot that can eventually end up in a landfill.  Apart from recycling and composting, I wondered what I could do to make my daughters next birthday more Earth friendly.  I'll break down what I found by subject.

There are a few companies that sell biodegradable cups and things, like Eco Products and Cupdepot, but they don't come in package size small enough, and I have no idea what to do with 1000 cups!  My best guess as to how to be more eco-friendly with your utensils would be to use regular dishes and then resign yourself to washing them.  If you don't have enough, you could always invite each child to bring his or her favorite plate and cup, or ask a family member to bring over a few.  Most mothers I know have enough kid-friendly dishes around that its no problem to loan out one or two for the day!

While not everyone I know is Vegan, a few are, and to accommodate them (and maybe open some naysayers' eyes as well) I found a great recipe for Applesauce Vegan Cupcakes that I think I'll try for our next Birthday Bash!  Baking at home also means that you'll have less packaging waste and can compost the scraps.  Fruit salads, regular salads, and trail mix are all easy to make at home, and delicious to snack on!

Gifts and Gift Wrapping
When I look around my daughter's room, all I can see are toys, toys, and more toys.  I think this year we'll decide that she doesn't need anymore and request a donation to a charity we like instead. We're big animal lovers, so maybe the ASPCA or the local animal shelter.  Guests could bring bags of dog food or toys and then we can make the delivery ourselves and stop by to see the puppies.  
For those who would like gifts, you could request that every one skip the fancy wrapping and use recycled newspapers instead, or fabric that can later be used in crafting.  

Party Favors
I really dislike the idea of sending all of the other parents home with little plastic junk that they'll just have to get rid of, but every one loves a party favor! One of the best ideas I came across online was to have a book swap.  Each child brings a book that they no longer read (or has been read enough) and leave it on a table on their way in.  On their way out, each child gets to choose a new book to bring home, an instant, affordable and useful party favor! 

There are many more ideas for Eco-friendly parties, but I can hear someone waking up from her nap, so I'll just leave a few of the sites I liked here! This Site has some great theme ideas, while Nature Moms Blog probably sums it even better than I could!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Happy (and Healthy!) Halloween

Halloween is a little more than a month away, and I've been less than impressed with the expense of the mass-produced children's costumes and the cheap material with which they are made.  If we don't want PVC's in our shower curtains, or lead in our paint, why would I want them in my child's costume? So in an effort to go green this Halloween, I've decided to research some adorable do-it-yourself, easy and affordable Halloween costumes!

Here are a few highlights from my google search:

Here are some really great ideas, my favorites where the Clark Kent, The Spider, The Stringbean, and The JellyFish! I think I'll be creating this JellyFish look out of my garden sun hat and some strips of white garbage bag and some spare lace trims I have lying around so the tentacles will be nice and flowy.  I imagine you could also use streamers, ribbon, or even magazine or newspaper strips.

This site has some ideas that can mostly be created with clothing your child already has!

Costumes that require face paint can sound frightening because of the chemicals that would be so close to your child's skin, but I found a great and easy recipe for natural, home-made face paint. 

A lot of costumes can include plastic masks that are chemical laden and suffocating, but a more eco-friendly and healthy (and I think fun!) alternative is paper mache.

I really love Halloween, my mother hand-made all of our costumes growing up, and I'm excited to pass on this tradition to my own daughter.  I love that its not only good for my child, but for the environment as well!
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