Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I Think You're In The Wrong Place

"I think you're in the wrong place." That's what a lady told me this weekend at a Halloween festival we were invited to when I asked at the food area, "Are there any vegetarian dishes here?" Oh, and she wasn't kidding either. No laughs, no giggles. Completely straight-faced and telling me without really saying it, "Are you serious? You live in Texas, the land of T-bone steaks, Angus burgers, and grilled BBQ, and you're asking me if there are any veggie foods here?" I just smiled at her, and politely replied, "You're right, I am."

My husband and I have known for quite some time that we weren't going to be Texans forever. And even though we have lived here for what feels like forever, honestly, I'm certain we were never made or built for the Texas heat or lifestyle. We always knew that one day, someday very soon, we would finally be living at a place where we can be outdoors all day and not worry about orange-level ozone dangers, where farmer's markets are open year round, where my family and I can eat lunch, have school, and just relax on a sandy beach, and where someone won't be telling me that I'm in the wrong place.

Besides being a cattle state, Texas is known for football. And well, we're not fans of football, soccer, or the rodeo. I mean, we can watch them (although not for very long), but you won't find us at tailgate parties or making time to watch them on TV. We like riding our bikes and extreme sports, like skateboarding, surfing, and for some time before we became completely devoted to green living, we were huge fans of F1 racing and other extreme car racing (besides NASCAR - another Texas thing we're not into). We enjoy the outdoors, but the things we like to do are - in my opinion - encouraged, appreciated and welcomed more in other places. That's where we want to be. That's where we feel our children can have a more fulfilling and meaningful life.

The lady at the Halloween festival was right, we are in the wrong place. But while we await our time to begin a new journey to a new life in a new place where living a simple, sustainable, and healthy lifestyle is the norm, not just a fad or what's considered popular at the time, all we can do is continue on our own path and not waver. We were born and built for other things. Pardon the cliche, but we want to be one with nature, caring for Mother Earth and hoping to do all we can to keep the planet clean for our children, our children's children, and well, you get the point. Then maybe someday we can inspire others to do the same. 






Monday, October 29, 2012

Trick-or-Treat Deal from Tea Collection

Happy Halloween! Starting Monday, October 29th through Wednesday, October 31st, Tea Collection is offering an additional 20% off sale items with promo code TRICKORTREAT. Stock up on comfortable and durable pants for boys. Mix and match adorable girls' tops and bottoms for endless outfit combinations. Don't miss your chance to take advantage of this spooktacular Halloween sale from Tea Collection! Happy Shopping! 




Thursday, October 25, 2012

Current One Kings Lane Deals


Starting today, One Kings Lane is launching multiple sales on the most adorable must haves for your kids and your travelling needs! The lovely totes and umbrellas from the Bon Voyage Sale will definitely be making many appearances this winter. And I cannot stop thinking about the Made-in-the-USA dino & jungle baby blanket from the Gifts for Little Ones Sale as a perfect present over the holidays! But don't take my word for it, go take a look at One Kings Lane yourself and see what kind of trouble you can get yourself into! If you’re new to One Kings Lane, sign up today and get a $15 credit for purchases of $30 or more.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Honor A Mom Who Has Inspired You & Others With The "Inspiring Mom Award" From Tea Collection

Do you know a mom who encourages her kids to open their eyes and explore the world across the street or across the globe? If so, then now’s your chance to nominate a mom you know who is so inspiring she deserves an award with Tea Collection's Inspiring Mom Awards contest! Plus, when you submit a deserving mom, you will be entered for a chance to win a $250 Tea gift certificate as a thanks for your nomination! 

Launched to celebrate ten years of Tea Collection's globally inspired children's fashion--and to honor moms who embrace the world--the awards will be given in three categories. There will be a mom selected from each of the categories and those three moms will win the distinction of "Tea's Inspiring Mom Award," as well as a $1000 to the charity of her choice! For more information on these awards and to nominate a fellow mom visit: Tea's Facebook page. Hurry, because the nomination period ends 10/23!





Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Greening Your Home With More Colors & Styles From One Kings Lane

All week long, One Kings Lane is offering fantastic deals on their home and kitchen appliances! With the holiday season approaching, this is the perfect sale to make sure you have everything you need for warm gatherings at your home. One Kings Lane has many items up for grabs to help you entertain flawlessly without increasing your carbon footprint. Choose from many beautiful napkins you can use even after the holidays are over. You can also find many serving wares made from reclaimed wood that will go great with any table arrangement. Loads of awesome products at great prices to make sure your home looks beautiful. Plus, if you're new to One Kings Lane, sign up today for a $15 credit for purchases of $30 or more. Head over to One Kings Lane now before these deals are over! 




Monday, October 15, 2012

Minimalist Monday: When Gifting Less Is Sometimes More

With the holidays just around the corner, the time to start making that sometimes dreaded annual gift list is upon us. In the past years, my husband and I have done a pretty good job of following the 3-gifts-only rule for all of our children. The three gifts idea is in honor and likeness to the gifts given by the Three Kings to baby Jesus in the Holy Bible. Our three gifts include a book, a game, and "big" gift. Every year we remind our family and friends that one simple gift is more than enough for our children, be it a book or a game they can share. But knowing that most of them won't adhere to our plee of keeping our kids' things to a minimum, our 3-gifts-rule may soon become just 1 big gift.

If you have already been applying some sort of "rule" when it comes to gift giving, good for you. I applaud you for having the willpower to not use the holidays to go overboard with presents. It took us awhile to figure that out, because as parents, it's in our nature to want to give our kids what we never had. But now that we have, we know that it's not the gifts that are important during these times of the year, but that we are spending a special time together.

Growing up, I don't recall asking for much from my parents. But then again, I could be remembering incorrectly. Nevertheless, I'd like to think that I wasn't a spoiled child. And I would like to raise the same values with my children. I truly believe that it's never too early to instill simple and sustainable living with our children. My kids know more about how we can be good to Mother Earth than I ever did my 30+ years of having lived on this planet. We have been talking about what gifts to give family and friends, and I'm so proud of my children for mentioning that we shouldn't give anything made of plastic (unless it's recycled) and "wrap" them with reusable bags. I couldn't be more happy knowing that my zest and gusto for wanting a better, healthier, and cleaner life is rubbing off on them.

This holiday season, think outside the box, condense your list, and be creative with your gifts. When you think of your recipient, think about our planet, too. Whatever your budget is, I wouldn't be surprised if you find a comparable, Earth-friendly gift that I bet your fam or friend will be just as happy receiving. Want to give coffee or tea? There are numerous organic or fair-trade options  being sold at grocery stores or big box stores that cost about the same. Think it's difficult to find eco-friendly toys for the kids on your list? Nope. There are tons to choose from now than ever before. You can find organic, all-natural, non-toxic, and locally-made alternatives to your favorite products online and at various stores nationwide.

As the holidays near, The Green House will share with you deals, reviews, and giveaways that can assist you with your shopping list. We'll help you have a (more) sustainable holiday season that will hopefully continue over to 2013! Stay tuned!



Keeping Your Kids Safe This Halloween With Mabel's Labels

From now until October 19, or while supplies last, Mabel's Labels is offering a $3 off coupon for Allergy Alert labels, with all Halloween Loot Bag Combo purchases. The Loot Bag Combo was inspired by celebrities who love to include the Mabel's Labels waterproof Sticky Labels and Bag Tags in their children's birthday party loot bags. These sweet combos make great party favours and add a personalized touch to gifts! Best of all, you save $3 off Allergy Alert labels. Perfect, for keeping your child safe this Halloween. Don't miss your chance to shop this great offer! 


Also, Mabel's Labels offers tons of cool items for your kiddo's Halloween party. Give them treats they can use long after October has ended. Be safe this Halloween! They (and their parents) will thank you for it!

Green It, I Mean It! (Guest Post)


Making the decision to "go green" by removing toxic cleaners, cosmetics, household products, and eating local, sustainable, GMO-free foods, as well as doing our part to preserve our beautiful planet is a big challenge that requires stepping out of your comfort zone and changing your mindset about everyday living. In most cases, it means we have to break a lifetime of bad habits, give up some of our favorite products, pastimes, and foods. The choice to "go green" requires a lot of will power and discipline. It's difficult to pay the extra cost and go the extra mile (literally sometimes) to find products that fit your "green" criteria.

Now, imagine that you've got yourself in gear and are making strides in the right direction, but you have a spouse that is not on board with the plan! Do you really need one more obstacle in your efforts to live green? You know that the changes you are making are the right ones for your body, your environment, and your spirit, not to mention the future if you have little ones at home watching and learning from your every move. So what do you do? GO TO WAR!!!!


Let the Battle Begin:

War is a concept that my three time Iraq/Afghanistan veteran hubby understands all too well. So when he came back from deployment number three and was not eager to get on board with the new clean lifestyle that had become the norm for my two-year old and me, I knew three things: 

1) I had a battle on my hands.
2) He was a worthy adversary. 
3) I would not give up - the stakes were just too high.

There is one thing just as tough (if not more so) as an Army veteran - his wife and mother of his child! It would be a big mistake to underestimate any mother set out on a mission to do what she knows is best for her child's health, happiness, and future. I knew I was up for this challenge, so if you're facing a similar one with family members, don't give up, formulate a strategy for victory!


My Strategy:

1. Pick Your Battles Wisely

When my husband sat down to the table for his first vegetarian dinner, I was serving a quinoa zucchini lasagna. In short, he almost lost it after one bite! He actually says that quinoa scares him! Seriously??? I thought, “You can handle three deployments to the Middle East, but you're afraid of a little protein-packed grain?” LOL! I didn't have to be a genius to figure out that vegetarianism was not cut out for this man. I decided not to try and turn him. (Do I kind of sound like some sort of veggie vampire that seeks to convert everyone to veggie eating? Hehehe.) Well, I can honestly say that going vegetarian wasn't that hard for me and the kiddo, especially when it was just us two at home. However, it was difficult when eating out at family gatherings or at local cultural events. It's not easy living in Hawaii and not being able to enjoy an occasional luau. So I formulated our current sustainable eating strategy in which we only buy organic dairy, chicken, beef and wild caught fish. We also strive to purchase fruits and veggies that are organic, GMO-free, locally grown, or at least grown in the USA. If the produce doesn't meet at least two of the criteria, I don't buy it.  We also strive for minimally processed whole foods. We are omnivores, but I am constantly working to improve our meals so that we eat more whole fruits, vegetables, and grains than meat and dairy.  This plan has worked for us so far, and I feel much better about what we are putting into our bodies, and no one feels deprived of their favorite foods. I'm sure that our diet doesn't go far enough for many people's green standards, but I think each family should evaluate their diet, health concerns, and budget then come up with a plan that works for their life without judging others.  I know that we have greatly reduced our carbon footprint with these changes, and I'm very proud of how far we've come. I'm confident that we have set realistic expectations of ourselves, and we can keep up with these changes for a lifetime. Instead of pushing ourselves into just a "movement of the moment" fad diet that is not at all satisfying that we'd end up quitting after a few weeks, we eat meals that are vegan, vegetarian, and ones that contain organic animal protein allowing us to enjoy our food and feel good about the impact we are having on our bodies and the environment.

2. Hit Your Opponent Where It Hurts

I was not above hitting my husband where it hurts (figuratively speaking, of course). Initially, I tried  to get him to watch documentaries like Food Inc. and appeal to the logical reasons for eating green and avoiding chemical products in our home, but he was just stuck in his mind-set that what he grew up with worked. So, I pulled our daughter into the equation. I reminded him that we were not trying to give her the life that we had growing up, but a better one! I reminded him that at age 29, he had a super high cholesterol despite being athletic and fit, but that my cooking helped him get back down to a normal level and that I was yet again looking out for his health and ours.  I informed him that our daughter's body was developing and growing and that her tiny system would be greatly affected by harsh chemicals even if he felt he was "manly" enough to tolerate them.  He can't argue with doing what's best for our daughter, so I got him to at least open his mind to alternatives. We still continue to dispute over which products are OK and which aren’t, especially when it comes to cleaning solutions!!! I'm currently dealing with him buying the wrong things only for me to toss them out - waste of $$$ for sure, but he'll catch on soon. I know this because he's frugal if nothing else.

3. Two Heads Aren't Always Better Than One

If you've seen the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," then you may remember the scene where the mother tells her daughter, “A man is the head, but a woman is the neck, and she can turn the head any way she likes."

Think about this quote and apply it! My husband and I started off butting heads like rams and then I became the neck! I had to get him involved in eco-friendly projects around the house so he didn't feel attacked because he was doing things the wrong, "non-green" way. I found cool green ideas for projects that he could do at the house or with our daughter, and this really appealed to him, because he is very much into DIY projects.  Now, he comes up with ideas on his own that are economical and green; he's actually enjoying "green" living without thinking of it in those terms. When it comes to healthy dinners, I ask him to vote after each new dish, and he decides if I should continue making that dish or discard it, never to touch our dinner table again. Of course, if he vetoes one dish, it will only be replaced with another veggie-loaded, healthy alternative....but that can be our little secret. Ssssshhhhhh…. ;)


4. Keep Your Enemies Close

OK, so we aren't enemies – more like competitors in this battle, but my goal is to slowly get him on my side. My number one strategy is getting him involved in green habits. I’ve convinced him to stop by Whole Foods on the weekends after we've finished up a family outing. He goes in and gets excited by all the new products to try and sometimes puts a little too much in the cart. He also has fun taking our daughter through the produce section and teaching her the names of different fruits and veggies. We also go to our local farmer's market, called Mākeke here, as a family.  My hubby samples different local cuisines, watches the high school band (the Mākeke  is on school grounds), and chats with vendors as I buy produce for the week. It's a fun experience for us all when living green becomes second nature.


So there you have it, my strategy for living sustainably with a conventional husband. I definitely get frustrated at times, but I keep fighting in hopes that one day he'll be completely on the same page, but in the mean time I'm gaining ground everyday and the best thing is that when I'm victorious, we all win!



This post was contributed by The Green House Guest Writer, Candace Villegas-Giron.








Candace V. Giron is a WAHM, Army wife, and blogger living on Oahu, HI striving to make sustainable choices on a budget, in spite of the high cost of living in paradise. See more from Candace at The Aloha Experiment.



To find out more information about becoming a Guest Writer for The Green House, email me at thegreenhouseboutique@gmail.com.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Frugal Living Friday: Juice Beauty Deal For You & To The Breast Cancer Fund

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and today's frugal post is for Juice Beauty - organic, sustainable, and cruelty-free beauty products that you can feel good using and giving to your favorite fam and friends. This month, Juice Beauty will be giving 5% of their Pink Shop online sales to the Breast Cancer Fund. Juice Beauty strives to give customers products that are chemical and toxic-free and use local, organic ingredients for the freshest, cleanest beauty solutions you'll ever need.


Except for small, sustainable amounts of honey and beeswax used on selected products, Juice Beauty is on a mission to make all their items vegan. Moreover, the Alicia Silverstone collection is all vegan and is perfect for anyone who is striving to consume and use only veggie products - like this newly transformed mama.

And for 4 more days, you can get free shipping when you purchase $40 or more from the Juice Beauty website. Just use "40FREE" promo code when you check out. Doesn't it feel great when you get fresh deals and give back to a non-profit organization at the same time?!


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Giving Back: Celebrating World Sight Day Via "One For One" With Toms

October 11th is World Sight Day, and TOMS wants you to help with their mission to spread awareness regarding the growing global issue of avoidable blindness and visual impairment. Did you know that every 5 seconds someone goes blind? By purchasing a pair of TOMS shades, you are helping 80% of the people in the world with sight problems a chance to see the beauty of our planet. That's 228 million people that can be helped with your generosity! See the short video below, and check out how you can join in the fight to help with this growing problem.




Tea Collection Super Sale


Fabulous deal alert! Starting October 11th, Tea Collection is offering new markdown items at up to 25% off! Stock up on comfortable and durable clothes for the holidays. There are so many cute options, and Tea Collection outfits make the perfect gift for both children and parents! Don't miss your chance to take advantage of these amazing deals from Tea Collection! Offer is only valid while supplies last. Happy Shopping!



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Babywearing




Celebrate International Babywearing Week by carrying your little loves in your favorite carrier. It's the best way to keep them close to your heart! 


Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Happy Green Travels

This past September, my family and I went on our very first family vacation in years. I can't remember the last time we went on a trip that lasted longer than a weekend and didn't include driving for ten hours. We flew to Southern California for my cousin's wedding and took the children to Disneyland for the first time. The entire family was so happy to be someplace else other than our 100-degree home state that we didn't want to leave. Our vacation lasted almost seven days, but it took months of planning, making sure it worked within our teeny tiny budget and most importantly, within our sustainable lifestyle. So how does a family of 5, including a baby who is still in (cloth) diapers enjoy the beaches of the West Coast and the magical kingdom without straying (far) from our mission to stay green and live healthy? Let me tell ya - it wasn't easy, but we did it!


In the coming weeks, I'll be adding several posts about our trip, sharing with you how we continued our green and healthy lifestyle, showing how you can do the same, and including lots of reviews on the wonderful products sponsored to us for a wonderful vacation. Until then, let me share with you the links of the people and companies who helped us keep our carbon footprints smaller while being away from home:

  
 
 
 

Visit their lovely websites and find yourself planning a more sustainable weekend getaway, family vacation, or holiday trip. With lots of products out there to make green traveling easy and comfortable, you'll wonder why you never traveled that way before.





Monday, October 08, 2012

Minimalist Monday: Taking Baby Steps Towards Buying Organic

When we first made the decision to start shopping for groceries that are organic, all-natural, and non-GMO, my husband and I had a long conversation that included lots of research, numerous looks into our already pretty non-existent budget, and a list of many pros and cons. It was not a choice that happened overnight, and it took a few trips to the store until our cart only consisted of organic alternatives. And even now, when we go over our budget, we randomly throw out the idea of going back to how our lives used to be - buying processed comfort foods, stocking up on lots of products just because they're on sale or because I have coupons for them, and enjoying our meals at our favorite restaurants without worrying about what the ingredients are or what the consequences could be on our bodies later on. But even when it seems like making a u-turn on this sustainable road we've been on for a few years now could relieve some of our financial frustrations, we always go back to why we ultimately made the decision to go this route in the first place: our children! And when we think about them, we know that we have made the right choice, and only thinking about our financial life now isn't going to do them any favors in the future. We don't regret having made the decision to live this way, and even if we can count the number of people who support us on one hand, we don't regret our choice at all! 


We know that making the leap into this kind of lifestyle is not a popular item on people's checklists when it comes to "wants." But living green isn't a want really. We consider it more of a need. Choosing organic is what we feel we need to live healthier and happier with less worries about what we are eating, drinking, smelling, wearing, using, and driving. It takes baby steps to switching to organics. You don't have to change over to another store, unless you want to. You can find organic foods and many personal items at many big box stores and grocery stores. Start your list small, buying the items you feel is most important to you and your family, or perhaps getting the less expensive products first, or maybe getting only the ingredients you will need to make your first all-natural meal, whatever works for you. Choose a small number of foods and personal items that you would like to switch out with healthier options. Then, work your way to other items a little bit at a time, making sure you are keeping track of your new budget and are comfortable with your new choices. Take your time, and don't feel as if you need to go top speed to buy and live 100% organic. Just like with everything else that is life-changing, make sure all hands are on deck. It will make it a whole of a lot easier if you and anyone else in your home are open to these new changes.

One thing you'll notice with this new lifestyle is that you'll end up with less items in your cupboard, drawers, refrigerator, freezer, and pantry. Why? It gets expensive, yes, I won't deny that. But also, you'll see that you'll need (and want) less choices of many items, because you'll become content with one and find yourself an immediate fan and won't want to go back to having more of other products. So if you're wanting to start buying organically just for the reason of living more minimally, then go for it. Knock out two awesome ways to live simpler, healthier, and happier!


Friday, October 05, 2012

Frugal Living Friday: Buy 1, Get the 2nd Free At Tea Collection

Fabulous sale alert! Tea Collection is offering you the chance to buy any one item from the Newborn Layette Collection and get the 2nd free with promo code BABYBOGO. Stock up on stylish and durable baby clothes for your own baby or have beautiful baby gifts on hand. Best of all, order gift wrap service and receive free shipping on your order! The holidays are around the corner. Give them any beautiful item from Tea Collection, and you're giving them the world! Don't miss your chance to take advantage of this amazing sale! Happy Shopping!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Earth-Friendly Options For Children at One Kings Lane

This past year has been full of changes for us - from ridding our home of toxic chemicals to filling our medicine and hygiene cabinets and drawers with all-natural products. We have also started to push out the door any toys or kid items that may be harmful to our children's health. We have been trying very hard to purchasing (and accepting as gifts) only items that are Earth-friendly and made in the USA. 

Our awesome friends at Tree Hopper Toys are back at One Kings Lane with their beautifully-crafted wooden toys. The yo-yos, Match Stack games, and jalopies are on sale right now!  Get them by the handful and be ready to wow any child (at any age) this holiday season. Lots of different options to choose from in The Toy Box.


I'm a big believer in teaching children kitchen basics at an early age. Although I do not  yet let them handle sharp objects or do actual cooking, I do have them help me as much as they can. That includes setting the table, getting things out of the fridge that they can reach and are light-weight for their little hands, unloading the dishwasher, measuring ingredients, and combining them together in a mixing bowl. One Kings Lane has bamboo products from Natural Home that are perfect to include in a sustainable kitchen, yet they are lovely enough for your kids to enjoy using. Choose from measuring spoons, mixing bowls, and measuring cups. Lots of other tools, appliances, accessories, and more are on sale for a limited time in The Little Chef section.

Plus, if you're new to One Kings Lane, sign up today for a $15 credit for purchases of $30 or more. Head over to One Kings Lane now before these deals are over!


Monday, October 01, 2012

Minimalist Monday: Can You Live With Less And Be Happy?

Can you live in a smaller home than what you have now, if it meant you will be living in the exact neighborhood of the city of your choice?

Can you work for less money, if it meant you didn't have to sit in traffic for an hour or more just to get to your job 20 miles away, you could have your lunch at a park or beach across the street, or can work from home 3 or more days out of the week?

Can you stretch your grocery budget by $100 and eat out less, if it meant you would be eating healthier, non-GMO, organic, and all-natural foods?

Can you say good-bye to all of the inexpensive cleaning supplies under your sinks, in your laundry cabinets, and in the garage that contain harsh chemicals, if it meant you would only have a bucket (or less) of non-abrasive, toxic-free products?

Can you part with your personal hygiene items, hair products, and cosmetics, if it meant spending the same amount on Earth-friendly, all-natural substitutes?

Can you declutter your clothes and shoes closets and start removing items you haven't worn in ages or may never wear, if it meant slowly replacing your remaining wardrobe with pieces made with organic fabrics, all produced and manufactured in your home country?

Can you get around your city via public transportation, a bike, or walking? And if you do need a car, can you get by with just one vehicle for the entire family, if it meant lowering your fuel bill?

Can you limit your children's toys, clothes, shoes, and belongings to just the necessary few, if it meant your children will be surrounded with sustainable options?

Can you minimize your time indoors, on the sofa, at the malls, in front of the computer, if it meant getting to enjoy everyday everything the great outdoors has to offer?

Can you live with less and be genuinely happy? We have been living with less for awhile now, and we know we can simplify our lives even more. It's been a difficult last few years with lots of "Can we do this? Is this in our budget? Are we crazy?" questions going back and forth between my husband and me, but it's been all worth it. Do we regret it? Nope! Are we any happier? Let me ask you - wouldn't you be if it meant consuming all-natural foods, living in a non-toxic, chemical-free home? No one said it'll be easy, and I won't be the first to tell you it is. But once you get started, you will find that living sustainably spills over to all areas of your life - from your home to your work, from your food to your clothes, from your driving choices to your travel preferences. The hard part isn't continuing to make changes once you've started, it's taking the first step to saying, "I want to change. Where do I begin?"




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