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DIY Meal Planning Board

25 Jan

Meal planning is an essential skill to master if eating real, nourishing foods is something you want to incorporate into your life. It’s something that everyone can (and should) learn to do, whether you are feeding just yourself or the mouths of a large family. Right now, it’s just the three of us. I don’t want to brag, but I’m pretty darn good at meal planning. I want to pass on this skill. Let’s get to it.

What does meal planning mean for our family?

  • I do our grocery shopping once every week. It’s rare that we need to make additional trips to the store mid-week, which helps us stick to our food budget.
  • We spend about $350-400 per month on groceries (mostly organic!). This might sound like a lot to most people however; Nic and I consider one of our hobbies to be cooking so we are okay with spending a little more on food. Real food is our passion and we budget for that and choose to prioritize our money in a way that reflects what is important to us.
  • I get most of our groceries from Trader Joe’s. I have found that they have the best prices on organic food options, at least in our area. They also have reasonably healthy “pre-packaged foods”. More on that in a minute. Weird side note: Every time I shop at Trader Joe’s with a full grocery list, I always end up spending between $73 – $78. Every time. Is that not weird?!
  • We buy the low pasteurized and non-homogenized milk from the Health Hut, which I can’t get at Trader Joe’s. From there I also buy any other weird specialty crazy healthy person food I can’t find in a regular grocery store although I can get pretty much everything at Trader Joe’s. My Health Hut stop is pretty quick. I wouldn’t even classify it as “grocery shopping”. I can usually get Nic to make that stop on his way home from work, which helps me out! Thanks, Love!
  • We rarely eat out. This gives us a little more wiggle room with our food budget, since that $350-400 is literally all we are spending each month.
  • I plan for four recipes that are “from scratch” that make 4-6 servings (leftovers for lunches are key!) and one “pre-packaged” meal…for those nights that we are too busy or just too exhausted to put any effort into cooking.

I plan to post more in the future on meal planning specifics. I’ll share recipe choices and tips on what types of meals to choose for certain days of the week depending on what you have going on. As stated above, I pick four recipes to make each week and then one “pre-packaged” meal. Not always ideal health wise, but it’s better than fast food! This week we ate our pre-packaged meal on Wednesday night, which was Trader Joe’s spinach tortellini. I topped it with our homemade spaghetti sauce and combined it with grass fed ground beef.

The reason for my post today was actually to talk about my new super cool and awesome DIY meal planning board! For a while I was trying to organize little scrap pieces of paper around our house to remember which meals I had planned for the week.  I needed a central location, or command station if you will, to showcase our meals. Not only is this helpful for me, but it allows Nic to start a meal before I get home if he has time. No searching for my scratch paper and random post it notes that make so much sense to me, but to no one else.

To make this meal planning board, I sent Nic on a search in our basement for a super ugly picture frame. The one he found was the perfect size for this project (about 10×18) and it had a black and gold frame that was dying to be painted.

Meal Planning Painting WholeGreenLove

I slathered two coats of grey paint on the frame (we had leftover paint from when we painted the bathroom) and let it dry overnight.

Meal Planning Fabric WholeGreenLove

I bought a piece of fabric, cut it to fit the frame, put it behind the glass, and reassembled the whole thing. Nic secured the board to the back of our pantry door, which is the perfect central location in our kitchen. Actually, our kitchen is pretty small, so any spot in our kitchen is pretty central.

Meal Planning Board WholeGreenLove

The dry erase marker wipes off easily with a tissue or kitchen rag. Easy breezy.

The cost of this meal planning board? The picture frame was scrounged from our basement. I purchased a half of a yard of fabric from Joann Fabrics with a 50% coupon, so I only paid $2.50 dolla (holla!) for this whole project. Well, I also purchased a 2 pack of dry erase markers for $2. So, I guess I spent a total of $4.50. And I upcycled an ugly frame that would have been tossed! Boom!

What do you find most helpful when you are planning your meals?

This post was shared on Fat Tuesday.

Homemade Lavender Vanilla Linen Spray

14 Jan

Confession: I used to hate the idea of linen spray.

My initial thought was, “if your sheets don’t smell good, just wash them.” It’s like (toxic) air fresheners. If you need to mask smells in your home, it means there is something stinky going on somewhere that needs to be dealt with. Not covered up.

But I changed my mind recently. Our laundry detergent doesn’t contain any fragrance, which I’m totally fine with, but I wanted to add a little essential oil relaxation lovin’ to our sheets. Here’s why.

Something I’ve been working on lately is trying to do a better job of winding down before bed. With our life going at warp speed right now with both of us working full time, raising our lovely Lyla, Nic working on his Master’s degree, and me working on this blog most nights, this is a crazy busy household! Even just a brief time to relax before I go to sleep is a must for me. That means no computer, iPhone, or TV after 9pm (well, that’s the goal at least). I recently added a relaxing music station to my Pandora so I can listen to it as I’m washing my face and brushing my teeth.

Nic on the other hand, can drink half a pot of coffee an hour before bed and be sleeping within minutes of his head hitting the pillow. Sheesh.

The scent of lavender is known for being very calming so I thought it would be the perfect essential oil to include in my bedtime routine. Another scent I’m a big fan of is vanilla. Possibly because it reminds me of food. Desserts actually, to be more specific. Ha. But really, vanilla is a rich and creamy scent that pairs so well with lavender.

Linen Spray | WholeGreenLove

Lavender Vanilla Linen Spray

1 ½ Tbsp water

½ Tbsp unflavored vodka

1/8 tsp lavender essential oil

1/8 tsp real vanilla extract (yup, the stuff in your kitchen cabinet)

Pour all ingredients into a small spray bottle. Shake well prior to each use.

If these sound like very small measurements, it is because my glass spray bottle is small-ish. I didn’t want to make a long-term commitment to a linen spray scent. This spray will last long enough though, because you should only need a couple of spritzes to give your pillows and sheets a nice, relaxing scent.

Looking to try something other than lavender or vanilla? Try these calming scents in your linen spray:

  • Geranium
  • Ylang ylang
  • Patchouli
  • Clary sage
  • Jasmine
  • Sandalwood
  • Bergamot

I stow my bottle of linen spray next to our bed and give our pillows a spray or two as I’m getting ready for bed. It’s the perfect scent to help me drift off to sweet dreaming sleep.

What do you do to relax before bed?

Creating DIY Wall Art with Picture Clusters

29 Dec

I love coming up with gift ideas for friends and loved ones. Nothing is better than thinking up a thoughtful gift idea for someone and knowing that they are going to love it. Gifts don’t have to make you dig deep in your pockets either. Sometimes a little creativity and a simplistic idea can make a fabulous present.

For this framed picture cluster, I chose three sweet pictures of gorgeous, green moss that my hubs took on his recent trip to British Columbia. Now, make sure you are picking something that you know your friend or loved one would like in their house. Moss may not float everyone’s boat, so choose wisely when you are creating your picture cluster masterpiece.

Green Moss

I picked three images that scream moss amazingness (Shhh! I know Laura will love them!) You’ll want to make sure all of your pictures compliment each other since they will be hanging so close together. I chose white frames to hang all of my pictures in, knowing that they will go well in Laura’s house. She has lots of white trim and clean white lines in her house…they’ll fit perfectly.

You can have your pictures resized so they are the perfect fit for your frame sizes. You’ll want to look at your pictures individually and as a whole. You can’t go wrong that way. Be as simplistic or as wild as you want with your frames. It’s all about who you’re giving the frame cluster to, so have fun with it!

Also, something else to think about: you could always have more pictures than three. I just felt that number would be a good for this specific project. Once you have all of your pictures selected, printed, and framed, you’ll need to think about wrapping (I love wrapping presents!).

Bright Moss Recycled Wrapping

I used old paper bags I had on hand. I try not to purchase wrapping paper when possible. I love using old paper bags or random materials I find around our house and I always keep twine on hand, which is great for securing my packages. Find a little something with color to tie on the front of the package to give it a little pop…and you are all set! A perfect little gift for a loved one, that doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. Plus, as the gift giver you can enjoy the creativity this project offers!

We’d love to see any of your own photos that you’ve framed!

This project was shared on Real Food Wednesday, and Whole Foods Wednesdays.

WGL Love Link: November

7 Dec

Hard to believe that November has come and gone! I swear every month seems to go by faster and faster. Sometimes you need to just step back and enjoy the present moment. With this mild weather we’ve been having (at least in Wisconsin) be sure to get outside and enjoy it! I have to say that I am looking forward to a little snow. The holiday season gets me in the spirit and snow just completes that thought. Plus, I really want to go snowshoeing this season! Since November flew by, we wanted to share some blog posts that we admired this past month.  I’ll just cut to the chase and give you the cliff notes!

Check out The Polivka Family blog where Courtney gives a great “how to” tutorial  on making Kefir…sweet! Nothing beats a video to show you how to create something.

This creamy vegetable chowder with fresh herbs that Kendahl from Our Nourishing Roots made looks absolutely divine. This would be perfect for the cold days ahead!

Lauren from Empowered Sustenance made these delish looking Paleo cornbread muffins. Top them with a little butter and raw honey and you have yourself a tasty looking treat. Mmm!

Tamara from Oh Lardy had some fabulous posts in November. Between the butternut squash gratin, fermented food uses, and reasons to ditch traditional sports drinks, I thought I’d just share them all!

This coconut flour banana bread looks soft and rich. Slather it with a little butter to send this snack over the top. Caroline, we can’t wait to make this recipe! P.S. your kombucha is tempting…we’ve been wanting to try to make our own too.

Meghan from Whole Natural Life has this great coconut oil post that gives you the details about this awesome tropical fruit. I love having it on popcorn with sea salt.

Lemongrass is one of my favorite scents to add to homemade “spa” products. This lemongrass bath salt from Monica was posted on Holistic Squid’s blog.

We are so looking forward to seeing what December brings for blog posts…should be great with the holidays around the corner!

 

5 reasons your daily shower could be HAZARDOUS to your health

21 Nov

There is no better way to start my day than with a hot, relaxing shower. Just to sniff in the fresh scents and deep breath the wonderful steamy air is calming, yet still invigorating enough to psych myself up for the day. As I was lathering up the other morning, I thought to myself just how many decisions we make that impact the health of our shower experience.

A lot of times it’s hard to know how to prioritize the non-toxic/sustainable/eco-friendly changes to make in your life. Since you can’t do it all, sometimes it’s best to start with the things that can impact your life the most. The things that affect your body every day. So, let’s start with this: Is your shower dangerous to your health? Let’s assess the situation!

1.  Does your shampoo, conditioner, and face wash contain toxic chemicals? What types of products are you using on your kids?

Look for products that are free of parabens, mineral oil, dye, fragrance (essential oils are okay), phthalates, sodium lauryl sulfate, and sodium laureth sulfate. We could talk all day about the problems these chemicals cause, so I won’t get into the details, but some chemicals in our body products are known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. Not good to be slathering on your skin and breathing in each morning!

It’s best to skip products that are promoted as being anti-bacterial. In general, it’s best to choose bar soap over liquid soap because bar soap is usually made with fewer chemicals. Instead of using a traditional shaving cream when I shave my legs, I use the same conditioner I use on my hair and just smear it on my legs. It’s already passed my test of being free from chemicals is is just the right consistency for shaving.

Need some non toxic DIY shower product ideas? Try our recipes for an oatmeal and sea salt scrub, hair conditioner made with baobab oil, olive oil body scrub, and lavender honey body scrub.

2.  How do you keep your shower clean?

If you are using the any traditional cleaning sprays, you could be coating your shower walls and blasting your bathroom air with toxic chemicals. Did you know that in 2000, cleaning products accounted for 10% of all toxic chemical exposures reported to U.S. Poison Control Centers?

Even if you use a non-toxic cleaning product to shine up your shower, be sure to give it a rinse off with water when you are done. If the next time you use the tub is to run a bath for your little one, you want the surface as clean as possible, without any product residue. Visit our posts on homemade shower spray.

 3.  Do you use toxic chemicals to clean out the shower drain?

If you are pouring chemicals down the drain to clear a clog, know that the fumes will enter the air in your bathroom to haunt you and it will likely also bubble up into your tub. Do your kids play by the drain? Lyla does. She loves spending time near the faucet to feel the water coming out. The last thing I want is her cute little butt cheeks to be covered in toxic chemicals! Check out our post on how to make your own drain cleaner or better yet, get your hubby to fish the dreadlock of hair that formed in the pipe exiting your shower. Sick! Not my hair…

 4.  Do you need to have your water tested?

Sure, you’re not supposed to take swigs of soapy water while you’re in the shower or bath, but I have caught my daughter taking little sips out of the cups she plays with in the bathtub. Yuck. The risk is not just in drinking the water, but also in the steamy air that comes out of the hot faucet. If there are chemicals in your water, you’ll breathe them in.

I’m certainly not an expert on water testing, but here are some items that we have tested our well water for recently: coliform bacteria, nitrate, VOCs, fluoride, lead, chlorine, and arsenic. The water-testing lab we went through gave us the option to test for a whole panel of heavy metals.

Ask your local health department what are common problems in your area, at least for a place to start. Based on what you find you can decide to take the next step of a filtration system, if necessary.

5.  Is your shower curtain bad for your health?

If your shower curtain is made of PVC, replace it today. That PVC shower curtain is emitting toxic chemicals and VOCs into the air in your home.  VOCs can affect your nervous system, respiratory system, lead to kidney and liver problems, promote allergic skin reactions, and induce nausea, among other awful things. On Dr. Weil’s website, he mentions that over the course of seven days, one new PVC shower curtain releases VOCs that exceed the guidelines for indoor air quality established by the U.S. Green Building Council. Imagine if you move into a new home and throw up more than one of those toxic shower curtains?!

PVC-free shower curtains are easy to find, just be sure you are reading labels. I found a great shower curtain at Home Goods. When it gets grimy and is in need of a good cleaning, I throw it in the washing machine with a cup of vinegar, laundry detergent, and a big bath towel. Does the trick every time!

What have you changed in your shower to reduce yours and your family’s exposure to toxins and harmful chemicals?

 

These tips were shared on Whole Foods Wednesdays, and Real Food Wednesday.