Monday, April 25, 2011

Guest Post by Renee Bedford

The Eco-Friendly Hostess

Whether it's a spring or summertime gathering, you can easily plan and create a Green party. From venue, to invitations, to the food you serve and what you serve it on, you may reduce the carbon footprint by cutting on waste and resource consumption - all while entertaining your guests in style! Choose a few or all of the tips below to Green your warm-weather parties!

Invites and Venue
  • Instead of sending out expensive and seldom recycled party invitations, try going virtual. Sending invitations via email is eco-friendly as well as cost-effective. Save money and reduce paper waste by using Paperless Post, Evite, Sendomatic, or a similar online invitation service.

  • If you want a more traditional approach, try using party invites made from recycled paper. Send out cards made of natural paper, soy ink, and natural embellishments like flowers, twigs, and leaves. Make sure to only buy supplies you need and will use to prevent waste.

  • Choose daytime outdoor events. They typically use less energy than indoor evening events. But if you're having it at dinner, keep your space lit with Green lights. Switch all bulbs to CFLs and LEDs and save a dramatic amount of energy compared to traditional incandescent light bulbs.

  • Make sure your location is easily accessible, and encourage attendees to carpool, bike or walk. Provide information about public transportation options.

Party Favors and Decor

  • Party favors can be eco-friendly and reusable. Try giving away a T-shirt, a stainless steel water bottle, potted herbs or fair trade chocolates. If you prefer homemade party favors, consider baking cookies or brownies in decorative containers. Remember, it's the thought that matters and guests will be impressed either way.

  • Always use recycled wrapping paper when giving gifts or party favors. Fabric gift bags are crafty ways to present party favors, too. Giving eco-friendly party favors to guests can encourage them to go Green themselves.

  • When considering decorations, avoid plastic tablecloths and use paper or cloth. Consider natural decorations that are biodegradable or reusable. Examples are interesting succulents, flowering plants, stones, and bare branches decorated with ornaments or ribbon.

  • Always buy locally. Every time something is shipped, a truck or plane burns fuel to get the item to you. Therefore, buying locally is one excellent way to be eco-friendly!

Food and Beverages

  • Serve from a local and organic menu when possible, and offer a vegetarian option. Buying from local vendors at farmers' markets cuts back on carbon emissions because fewer miles traveled from farm to table means fewer emissions produced from the vehicle transporting the food. Also, try to buy foods produced organically and look for seasonal items to save money and get the best produce available. To avoid waste, be careful not to overbuy. Arrange with a local food bank to pick up leftovers at the end of the party.

  • Offer fresh juice as a refreshing drink or fill cups with some fancy organic beer. Beer brewed with organically harvested barley and hops is tastier and better for the body. Avoid plastics and non-recyclables. Skip individual plastic water bottles and juice boxes. Drinks in aluminum, glass or plastic containers are recyclable. Or large reusable water dispensers can be used for water or to mix frozen juices.

  • Use reusable serving dishes, plates, cups, and utensils - it's the Greenest option. If using disposable food ware, make sure it's compostable or made with recycled content, like paper plates made from recycled paper.

Party Fun

  • Eco-friendly piƱata: Use a paper bag and newspaper to make a Green pinata. Fill it up with organic lollipops, organic apple bars, organic raisin packs and organic chocolate balls that were wrapped in Earth print foil! You can make the goodies too - it all depends on the time you have.

  • Olympics: Set up a series of fun activities including relay races, jump rope and kickball. For treats, hand out organic cookie "medals" or energy bars such as Clif Zbar.

  • Backyard Eco-camping: Start the party at dusk. Set up tents in the backyard, tell spooky stories, gaze at the stars and identify constellations. For treats, have your guests make their own organic s'mores and trail mix.

This spring or summer, reduce unwanted waste and impress friends with a festive Green party. Plan an eco-friendly bash that will save money and the environment!

Renee Bedford is a mom and wife who believes in teaching her children to be self-reliant and prepared. She knows that not only will these skills keep them safer, but they will also make them smarter! Besides being a committed mother, she also works for the Christmas Tree Market, where they sell an array of classic and unique artificial Christmas trees.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

#CTWW - Daily Challenge for 4/3/11

Today's challenge is up:

Reflect on the beauty and power of nature. Consider everything we get from the earth. Go for a walk near your home and notice what's beautiful around you. Consider organizing a walk for people from your community.

See you tomorrow ...


Friday, April 1, 2011

Vegan Recipe - Cornbread

It's the first Friday of the month and that means it's time to share another vegan recipe. This month I'm sharing my favorite cornbread with you. This recipe is so easy and produces a delicious, cake-like bread. We like it with a bowl of chili or thick soup. I hope you enjoy it!

(Sorry ... it's so good that I didn't have a chance to take a picture before digging in.)

Serves 9

  • 2 Tbsp. ground flax seed
  • 6 Tbsp. water
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. table salt
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray 8-inch-square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

  2. Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the ground flax seed, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer the ground flax seed in the water for 3 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt until well-combined.

  4. Add the ground flax seed mixture, soy milk, and canola oil to the flour mixture. Beat just until smooth (do not over beat).

  5. Turn into prepared baking pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

  6. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes, invert cornbread onto wire rack, then turn right side up and continue to cool until warm, about 10 minutes longer. Cut into pieces and serve.
My notes:
  • For a delicious twist, try using coconut milk instead of soy milk (we like Silk brand).
  • Rather than boil the water, I simply grind the flax seed in the blender, add the water and continue to blend for about a minute until it thickens.

If you have a vegan recipe which you'd like to share, please send it to me HERE. All of our featured recipes can be found by clicking the "Vegan Recipe" tab at the top of this blog or by clicking HERE.