Categories: DIY

American Grown: Gardening for Everyone

We’ve been looking for a good reason to start gardening, despite our lack of a green thumb, and found one with new inspiration from the First Lady herself. First-time author Michelle Obama has put together a photo-rich book, American Grown, on how her efforts to start a garden at the White House. It’s an inspiring book that shows us how to grow our own patch of green, no matter how big or how small. The book is part of Michelle Obama’s initiative in fighting childhood obesity with easy suggestions on incorporating more exercise and more vegetables into our lives.

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Healthy Homemade Sodas

Image: Romulo Yanes

Mayor Bloomberg recently announced that he plans on banning super-sized sugary beverages from New York City’s restaurants and food vendors. While it’s not without controversy, we can appreciate measures intended to create a healthier city. Indeed, Bloomberg’s ban on smoking in public places and trans fats from restaurants has set the bar high for many other major cities. The good news is that banning soda doesn’t necessarily mean limiting yourself to H2O for life, although there’s nothing wrong with that. For special treats, there are plenty of homemade sodas that can be made while skipping the sugar and the chemicals. And they’re simple and fun to make, even for kids. Here’s a few recipes to try at home from Cherry-Vanilla to classic Ginger.

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Let the sun shine!

All Three productsThe Environmental Working Group just came out with their Sunscreen Guide for 2012 and I was happy to see that my new favorite sun screen was included with flying colors.

I live in Santa Monica where it is nice and sunny all year round, if the fog burns off.  I am very fair and have sensitive skin,  as does my daughter. We both wear sunscreen every day (I sometimes show my age and tell her that we need to put on our “sun tan lotion!”) I like to use the more “natural” stuff, so I am always on the look out for Chemical free broad spectrum sunscreen. I have consistently had a problem where the sunscreen separates.  I get kind of nervous and I wonder, it if still works. Also, my skin is so sticky when I use it. [read more]

Homemade Mother’s Day Gifts

This Sunday is Mother’s Day, the time of the year to honor the woman who gave us the most. Bamboo Wall Art makes a great Mother’s Day present. Just choose your favorite photo of you and mom and upload. Customize with a variety of sweet designs. In addition to bamboo’s wide-ranging green qualities, Paper Culture plants a tree with each order, so it’s a win win. Click here for details. But perhaps you want to go even more DIY and make something from scratch for mom. Here are some easy ideas that will be sure to put a smile on her face.

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The Ever Evolving Crib

We at Paper Culture are all about raising our children green from Day 1. Whether by choosing eco diapers or finding innovative cribs that grow with our children, we love finding products that make it easy. But what about once your child finally outgrows that crib? Our friends over at Lil Sugar have put together a collection of repurposed cribs from creative mothers and scavengers.

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Life Edited Simplifies Our Lives

Having just made a major move, I spent the last two months getting rid of most of my belongings, selling stuff, giving stuff away. It was a big realization for me of just how much I had accumulated in such a short amount of time. I had the space, so naturally I filled it. While it was very therapeutic to unload physical stuff, it was also very cumbersome. I made a decision to really start really thinking about my future purchases. Before buying anything new I would ask myself, is this going to take up a lot of space? Will I really use this? And is it worth the money? Buying for my new life, I hope to keep things pretty trim.

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Draw Something… On A Paper Watch!

Happy Monday, Inspirees! Hope you had a fabulous weekend! As for me, well, I spent most of my weekend playing Draw Something – that popular new-age pictionary app that’s been making its rounds. I have to admit that it was the best thing for me to do this weekend to kill time in between waiting for the Hunger Games movie to start, my blueberry cobbler to bake, and my 5-month-old to wake up from her afternoon nap. We even got our CEO to join in on the Draw Something fun!

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We are lucky peaches. Delicious Momofuku Milk Bar cookies for us all.

Today after doing some errands, I popped into my local Williams-Sonoma to look for a pressure cooker. My friends’ niece is staying with us from Brazil and wants to make us “typical” rice and beans. And she needs one.

They only had one pressure cooker, so I felt like I need to do a bit more research on the internet. Someone was baking some sort of cookies at the store and it smelled so good. I lingered, hoping to get a cookie. I saw the chef (can you actually be a chef at a Williams-Sonoma store???) pull them out of the oven. I must assume, that in fear of a potential lawsuit since they were hot and could possibly burn someone’s mouth or fingers, he zipped them away into a back room to cool.

I was sad. I wanted a cookie. But I didn’t want to wait or shop any longer. Then I got happy again because I saw that he had made Momofuku’s Milk Bar’s amazing corn cookies from a mix. And that I could buy that very same mix along with the blueberry and cream and compost flavored cookies. Momofuku Milk Bar is this fantastic bakery in NYC where you get crazy treats like cereal milk soft-serve and the “crack” pie, which is so yummy that it is literally is addictive. The cookies are so buttery that the wrapper is almost translucent with grease. They are also selling the Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook as well, so you can make their delicacies from scratch, if you are willing to see the amount of butter and cream that goes into these. Since one of my New Year’s resolutions is not indulge in excessive sweets, I will probably be waiting until August to bake these. But it is good to know that they are available.

Youtube.com and the amazing cakes that you can see.

Things are a little slow in our household this week. Last week was filled with holiday parties and two days of “camp.” Does anyone else understand this logic? You pay for preschool by the month. Then there are two weeks off in December, but there is an option for you to pay more for another week of “camp” instead of school. Doesn’t make any sense to me.

In an attempt to keep my daughter entertained and allow me to not go crazy, we have been watching baking videos on Youtube.com. My daughter loves to bake, but I have no will power and will eat everything that we bake. Therefore, I try to limit our baking, or I cleverly have my daughter bake with my Mother, so that very few cookies ever reach our house.

The other day my daughter asked to watch a video showing how to make a princess cake. We had watched some a few months ago on Howdini.com This time, I let her click from video to video while I was making dinner – I can see her and the computer from the kitchen. So she now “knows” how to make a fire truck, a castle, a duck and numerous other festive cakes.

Somehow she left cakes and found her way to videos of people making miniature candy ice cream and bento in Japanese. There is no explanation in either Japanese or English. It is called Kracie Popin’ Cookin’ and as far as I can tell it involves pouring water into little containers that have been filled with special powder, stirring, sometimes adding colors and delicately displaying the wares once they have set. It is very odd. And the strangest aspect to me is that some of the videos have literally been viewed millions of times. You have to check them out.

My daughter also found videos people post of their elaborate cakes. Generally there are slow pans of beautiful cakes and stacks of cupcakes with a bit of commentary. Sometimes there is a soundtrack. My daughter doesn’t really like them, but will watch them. I am amazed by the detail and intricacies.

We went to a gingerbread decorating party on Christmas Eve and our house was totally chaotic. I must admit that I had picked up some tips from watching these videos, but they didn’t seem to apply to my daughter. Oh well.

Instant popsicles are the perfect last minute holiday gift. I swear.

We are getting close to the Chanukah/Christmas finish line and I still have some outstanding presents. I try to plan ahead and buy gifts throughout the year when I see something interesting. I find it stressful to shop at the last minute. I don’t like to end up with gifts that are just ‘meh.’ But my planning is far from perfect. Sometimes, I end up a lot of Melissa and Doug cupcake decorating kits, or red moleskine notebooks, when I really need something for the whole family.
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