How to Make Tiramisu

This delicious Italian dessert isn't hard to make!

Easy Yogurt Parfaits

Make tasty and healthy yogurt parfaits for a snack or breakfast.

Make Taco Seasoning from Scratch

Make healthier taco seasoning and save money, too!

Farm Girl Apron Tutorial

Turn old jeans into a cute gardening apron with this tutorial.

DIY Pretend Doctor Kit

A pretend doctor kit is the perfect holidy gift for a budding doctor or nurse.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

"What About Mumps?" - Why the current mumps outbreak has not persuaded us to give our children the MMR Vaccine

Facts about the MMR vaccine and mumps - comparing the risks of MMR vaccine to mumps

Disclaimer: This is a personal opinion piece. I am not a doctor. This article is not intended to be medical advice. 

Last fall I wrote a post called "Why We Said No to the Measles Vaccine." In it, I explain how according to the CDC's own data, vaccinating your child with the MMR vaccine carries a higher risk of complication than catching wild measles. As a result, we are not choosing the MMR vaccine for our children at this time.

One response to the post that I heard a few times was: What about mumps? Admittedly, I wasn't terribly concerned about mumps when I wrote the first post. Really, until about a year ago, I'd never even heard of people in the US getting mumps. Several outbreaks on college campuses (and a particularly large community-wide one in Ohio), however, have brought this issue into the public spotlight, so I wanted to respond:

So, What About Mumps?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Affordable Candy Free Easter Basket Ideas

We love a good gift-giving holiday and Easter is no exception. What I don't love about Easter, though: All the candy. Seriously. So. Much. Candy. Aside from the fact that most traditional candy uses GMO sourced corn syrup or beet sugar, has artificial food dyes (linked to attention disorders in children) - it's just not good for you. Even organic candy isn't great for you. Don't get me wrong, it's way better than the GMO stuff but candy isn't something your body needs.

All that to say: We try to do candy free Easter baskets. Instead of loading up on cheap plastic doo-dads, we also try to pick toys or treats that we know our little guy will love and use and actually play with. 

This is what the Easter basket for our almost-four-year old boy looks like. I hope it will inspire you to do your own candy free basket this year.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Cheesy Italian Sausage Pasta Bake

This post is brought you by Stonyfield.
Best baked pasta recipe ever - you'll never believe the secret ingredient!
Creating nutritious hot dinners for your busy family can easily become every mom and dad's least favorite chore. This baked pasta dish, on the other hand, is easy to make. You could even make a double batch and freeze it before baking to save for a night when you're in a rush. The Greek yogurt gives it a delicious creamy appeal that feels sinful but is actually great for you.


Ingredients

  • 1 pounds dry elbow macaroni or medium shell pasta
  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage (not in casings)*
  • 2 jars of spaghetti sauce*
  • 1 pound (approx 2 cups) shredded Italian cheese blend* 
  • 2 cups Stonyfield Plain Organic Greek Yogurt*
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese*
*Creative Green Living recommends purchasing organic options for these ingredients to avoid persistent pesticides, GMOs and antibiotics or hormones.



Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water and cook pasta until al dente - approximately 6-8 minutes. Drain the pasta and set aside.
  3. While the water is coming to a boil, brown and crumble the Italian sausage in a large skillet over medium high heat. Once sausage crumbles are thoroughly cooked, add the spaghetti sauce, stirring well. Cover skillet and cook on low for approximately 10 minutes.
  4. Grease a casserole pan with olive oil. Layer the ingredients in the pan as follows:
    • 1/2 of the pasta
    • 1/2 of the sauce and sausage mix
    • 1/2 of the shredded cheese blend
    • 1/2 of the yogurt
    • the remainder of the pasta
    • the remainder of the sauce
    • top with shredded cheese and shredded Parmesan
  5. Bake in 350 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes or until cheeses are melted and bubbly.
  6. Remove from oven and allow to set for approximately 10 minutes before serving.
Serve with an organic salad and garlic bread for a complete meal!

Easy dinner idea - cheesy pasta bake


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disclosure: This post is brought to you by Stonyfield as part of my Stonyfield ambassadorship trip to the 2014 SNAP Conference in Utah. While I was compensated for my time spent creating and photographing this delicious recipe for you, all opinions are my own. I only ever work with brands whose products I love and think you will enjoy as well. See my full sponsored post policy here. If you're coming to SNAP 2014, please leave a comment or give me a shout out on social media. I'd love to meet you!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

GIVEAWAY: Take a kids crafts survey and win craft supplies or a Visa gift card!

This post is part of a paid campaign with Snap and Darice , but all comments and opinions contained within are my own. #KidsCrafts #Foamies


Today, friends, I am teaming up with Darice. Darice makes some of my favorite craft supplies including the David Tutera line that I used to make this awesome sign for my brother's wedding and the Styled by Tori Spelling line that I used to make this easy necklace.

Darice is running a survey to help determine which kids craft will be available in stores next year as well as gather feedback on packaging.

When you help out and you could win one of three awesome prizes:

Must take the survey to win. Giveaway will end on 3/16/14 at 11:59 EST. Three winners will be randomly chosen. 

To enter, CLICK HERE to take the survey

Giveaway rules:
*Winners must be 18 years or older to be eligible to win. Three winners total. One winner will receive a kid's craft basket worth $300+, second winner will receive a $100 Visa gift card, and the third winner will receive a $50 Visa gift card. No substitutions. No purchase necessary. This giveaway ends April 16th, 2014 Midnight EST. Winners will be chosen randomly and notified via email address provided in entry form, by 4/18/14. This giveaway is not sponsored by or associated with Visa.


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disclosure: I was paid to tell you about this survey opportunity but all opinions expressed here are my own. I only ever work with brands I support and think you will like as well.

De-Clutter Challenge: What to Do with Kids' Artwork


Kids have a tendency to generate a lot of artwork. If they are in school or if you have multiple kids, the problem of what to do with your kids' artwork is even more complicated. Over the years, it is really easy for childhood artwork to stack up.

The solution we have come to in Casa Green Living is to photograph the drawing or art project, keep it for as long as it is being enjoyed and then for all but a few of my personal favorites (those get framed), recycle them.

At the end of the year they get turned into a high quality photo journal. This not only reduces the bulk and clutter of all the art work but provides a book that my son can enjoy looking back through to remember what art and craft projects he made in the last year.

Supplies

  • Child artwork
  • Digital camera (I usually just use the one on my phone!)
  • Computer

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Grow Your Own Easter Grass


One of my all time favorite ways to green your Easter celebration is to grow your own Easter grass. Not only does it look way better than shredded plastic or paper but it doesn't contribute to landfill waste. When Easter is done, you can juice the remaining grass or add it to your compost bin.


Supplies

  • Wheat Berries (get them on Amazon or at your local natural food store)
  • Easter basket
  • Plastic to line basket if needed
  • 7 days to grow your grass
Some of the links in my supply lists may be affiliate links. 


Directions

Find the directions online at Creative Green Living: How to Grown Your Own Easter Grass



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Saturday, April 5, 2014

24 Unique Ways to Decorate Easter Eggs

Lots of creative ideas for ways to decorate Easter eggs!
Easter egg decorating has come a long way since I was a kid! We used to buy dye tablet and just plunk boiled eggs into some dye water and call it good. If we got really fancy, we might add some stickers or use a special clear crayon on the egg before dying. 

These are not the Easter eggs of your childhood!

Here are two dozen great egg decorating tutorials that will help you bring your A game to Easter decor this year.

PLEASE KEEP IN MIND: Eggshells are porous. If you paint something on a boiled egg, any toxins in the medium will get into the egg. If you would not eat it, don't put it on a boiled egg. Instead, blow out eggs while baking in the kitchen and decorate the hollow shells instead. If you treat them gently, you'll be able to save them and use them from year to year! Alternately, use paper mache eggs - they'll be more sturdy.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Show and Tell: My Blogger Business Cards

I'm getting ready to go the the SNAP! Conference in Utah at the end of the month. If you've ever attended a conference, you know that one of the things you need is business cards. When I went last year, I felt like I had a dilemma: The SNAP! Conference is for creative bloggers. As a creative blogger myself, I wanted cute business cards. As a green blogger, I wanted something useful or recyclable

These were my business cards last year:

They were printed on recyclable paper (read: not laminated or glossy coated) and had little glass bottles of glitter attached. (my logo was printed full size on the back). They were....okay. Mostly utilitarian with a little bottle of glitter thrown in for fun.

This year I went a totally different route.

I was inspired by the stampable business card in this image I pinned two years ago. Realizing that bringing business cards to a conference that are stamped on old cereal boxes isn't super glamorous looking, I decided to combine the stamp idea with recyclable brown paper kraft tags. 

To pretty them up a bit, I added green washi tape and green ribbon accents.

I also added an extra card to the back that has my photo and my website logo so help people remember me once they get home from the conference. Here is what the back looks like:

To make the cards, I ordered two different personalized self-inking stamps from RubberStampChamp.com. I uploaded a black and white image so that I could use the fonts that I use in my branding and they turned out great. The G+ symbol on the bigger stamp didn't turn out as awesome as I would have liked but I think the G was too narrow in the graphic - I don't think it's the company's fault.

Once my images were stamped on my cards, I added green washi tape to add a color accent along the bottom edge on the tags. I used one pattern on the front and one the back but to make it easier, I could have used the same tape for each side so I could just wrap it around the tags.


To give them the final personalized touch, I printed out a sheet of paper that had my photo and logo on it. I cut them out with my Cricut paper trimmer, punched a hole in the top and attached it to the tag with a piece of grosgrain ribbon

Not hard. I tiny bit time consuming but I'm really happy with how they turned out!

Are you going to SNAP! Conference? Leave me a comment below and be sure to link to your blog. I'd love to meet you!

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Monday, March 31, 2014

The Fastest Way to Paint Your Walls

This post is brought to you by HomeRight.


I let you guys know last month that I'm working on re-doing my dining room. My main goal has been to make my dining room a more enjoyable, usable space. I'm doing this by:
  • Decluttering and increasing storage (see this post about how I turned an old dresser into a functional sideboard to provide pretty storage)
  • Making the space feel lighter and brighter with:
    • Fresh paint
    • Lighter furniture
    • Bright decorative accents
Here is a picture of my dining room before I got started:

Here is what it looks like now with fresh paint and my new sideboard for storage:

The paint changes it SO much! It feels like a completely different room and I'm not even done.

In tackling a big painting project like this I had two hugely important requirements:
  • I had to do it fast. My husband hates when I want to do big DIY projects. Hates it. To help make it less painful, I needed to be able to do it while he was gone at work. In fact, I didn't even tell him ahead of time I was going to be painting the dining room.
  • It had to be non-toxic. Traditional paint contains high levels of VOCs (VOC=volatile organic compounds). VOCs are toxins that are released into the air inside your home both while you are painting and for up to five years after the paint is dry. Luckily, there are now lots of options available for VOC free paints. These paints will be clearly labeled as being VOC free and usually cost a little more than high quality hardware store paint. Am I willing to spend a little extra money to help protect the health of my family? Absolutely!
To help make my project go quickly, I partnered with HomeRight to try some of their painting tools. 

 

I loved both of these - especially the PaintStick EZ Twist. Using both these tools together made it possible for me to pull off a huge DIY project by myself in a lot less time than if I'd used traditional tools like tape, paint brushes and standard rollers.

To avoid VOCs, I used paint from a company called ECOS. Their paint is not only VOC free but non-toxic, too. This made it possible for me to do this whole project while six months pregnant without worrying about poisoning myself or my baby with toxic paint fumes. It also will protect my family's health for years to come because it will not continue to off-gas VOCs like traditional paint. It's just as beautiful as traditional paint.


Supplies for Fast Painting

Some of the links in my supply lists may be affiliate links. 

Did you notice that my supply list does NOT include traditional painting supplies like paint trays or edge tape? That's because I didn't need them!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Easy, No-Mess Way to Make Glitter Easter Eggs

I may have to turn in my craft blogger card for admitting this out loud but I hate decorating Easter eggs. The traditional ways anyway. It's just so....messy. And doing it with kids? No way. Now, I DO decorate Easter eggs with my son. But only because I feel like I'd be a bad mom if I didn't. 

That being said, any time I can find a way to craft with my kid that still has a great outcome AND is less messy, I'm going to jump on it. So when I wanted to make glitter eggs, I originally thought it was going to be a grown-up only craft. While working on the project, I realized there was an even better way to go about it - a NO MESS way to go about it. And I love how they turned out!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Make a Succulent Flower Pot Wreath

I've been growing succulents in my shady courtyard for the last four years. They are great because they are really (and I mean REALLY) hard to kill, they overwinter well. I pretty much ignore them and they look great.

Recently, however, my husband has decided he doesn't like the succulents I've been using as a ground cover (they do spread like weeds) and wants to rip them out. This would be a great way to salvage some of them. I can make a cute artsy wreath for my door....a LIVING wreath. I love that! The Dollar Tree currently has multi packs of mini terracotta pots that would be perfect for something like this.


Supplies

  • Grapevine wreath
  • Terracotta pots
  • Twine
  • Heavy gauge wire
  • Moss
  • Floral foam
  • Succulents
  • Hot Glue Gun 
  • Burlap ribbon for hanging
Some of the links in my supply lists may be affiliate links.

Directions

Find the directions online at All Things Heart & Home: Flower Pot Wreath

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