Thursday, December 31, 2009

TGIF: Best Blog Posts This Week...and Happy New Year

I've been slacking on my blog posts courtesy of the holidays. No more excuses after January 1st. Here are this week's best blog posts. I hope you have a safe and fabulous New Year.

I set at least 10 resolutions each year. From breaking my 5K race time to going to church more often, they range from health-related to home improvements. Do you make New Year's resolutions? Have an interesting New Year's resolution you'd like to share? Or ways that you stick to achieving your resolutions? I'd love to hear all about it.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Frugal Tip Tuesday -- Returning Gifts

Whether it's Christmas, Hannukah, a birthday or some other gift-giving occasion. There's always the off chance that the gift you receive isn't exactly what you wanted, doesn't fit right or is the wrong color. I always thought I would insult someone by returning or exchanging a gift, but if it's just going to sit in your drawer or closet, you're wasting money and creating clutter!

Within one week, you should return the item for cash or store credit, or exchange the gift for something you will use.

How many unused gifts do you currently have sitting around the house? Dig them out and post them on Ebay to make some quick cash.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Product Review: Pangea Organics Skincare Discovery Kit

By filling out a simple online form, I received a free sample of Pangea Organics Skincare Discovery Kit. Inside were three tiny samples of their facial cleanser, facial scrub and facial moisturizer.

In addition to coupons, I received a little brochure outlining all of Pangea's products. Their philosophy is that "the face has its own special skin, distinct from the rest of the body, and needs to be treated with care." How true! Pangea's "products are designed to create and maintain balance in your skin."

Facial Cleanser -- Egyptian Calendula & Blood Orange
Felt silky smooth and had a very distinct smell, similar to eucalyptus or a relaxing spa.

Facial Scrub -- Egyptian Geranium with Adzuki Bean & Cranberry
With just the right amount of gritty-ness. The scrub made my skin feel very soft and smooth.

Facial Cream -- Italian Red Mandarin with Rose
The final step was applying the moisturizer. The fragrance matched the cleanser and scrub, but was a bit overwhelming. The cream was easily absorbed and a small amount went a long way.

I felt refreshed and energized after using the three products. Best of all was the packaging. The box contains blue spruce tree seeds and can be planted. How great is that? Plus, the label is printed on 100% post-consumer paper with vegetable-based inks, so everything is recycled and recyclable.

Want to try Pangea Organics? Every Friday they give away a free product at

Let me know if you try any of their products and what you think.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Frugal Tip Tuesday -- Plan Ahead

As you may know, I work a full-time job. With an on-site cafeteria and no microwaves or refrigerators, lunch can be very costly. I had written a post about lunch and snack options for But a girl's gotta eat, right? I try to limit myself to eating in the cafeteria on Fridays. That means I have to plan ahead for the other four days of the week.

So that's this week's tip. Plan ahead. No matter what it is, a little planning can be green and frugal. Here are some examples:
  • Meal planning for family meals can help you create (and stick to) a shopping list

  • Bring those recycled bags when you go grocery shopping -- save money and be green

  • Planning ahead can help with dieting and exercise -- plan your meals and your exercise sessions and you'll be more likely to stick to the routine
What do you plan ahead for that's helped you be more frugal or green?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Taking a Green and Frugal Break to Focus on the Little Things

I'm a bit off topic today. But I think you'll enjoy this post nonetheless. A friend sent this to me and I thought it carried a wonderful message.

The Little Things

- By Author Unknown

As you might know, the head of a company survived 9/11 because his son started kindergarten.

Another fellow was alive because it was his turn to bring donuts.

One woman was late because her alarm clock didn't go off in time.

One was late because of being stuck on the NJ Turnpike because of an auto accident.

One of them missed his bus.

One spilled food on her clothes and had to take time to change.

One's car wouldn't start.

One went back to answer the telephone.

One had a child that dawdled and didn't get ready as soon as he should have.

One couldn't get a taxi.

The one that struck me was the man who put on a new pair of shoes that morning, took the various means to get to work but before he got there, he developed a blister on his foot. He stopped at a drugstore to buy a Band-Aid. That is why he is alive today.

Now when I am stuck in traffic, miss an elevator, turn back to answer a ringing telephone ... all the little things that annoy me. I think to myself, this is exactly where God wants me to be at this very moment..

Next time your morning seems to be going wrong, the children are slow getting dressed, you can't seem to find the car keys, you hit every traffic light, don't get mad or frustrated; God is at work watching over you.

May God continue to bless you with all those annoying little things and may you remember their possible purpose.


I know when I'm running late, the kids aren't listening or any other annoyance, I immediately begin to yell and get completely stressed out. From now on I'm going to make a concerted effort to take a deep breath and remember that everything -- no matter how trivial -- happens for a reason.

How do you normally react to everyday stress? Did this post resonate with you?

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Great Green Holiday Gift-Buying Tips

It's a fact of life--most Americans' wallets (and credit card limits), are slimmer this year. But that doesn't mean we should give up our eco-conscious ways. Why would we when there are so many opportunities to save green while celebrating green?


If your young children are pining for expensive gifts, it's hard to deny them (not that a bit of denial isn't good for us!). A few solutions--there are others--just say no, find ways for your child to raise some cash toward the dream or see whether you can find a used gift. (You might be surprised that a clean, used toy without the packaging is just fine with most kids.)

To find a previously loved toy:

  • organize a toy swap in your neighborhood, at a school or community center
  • ask in your online or other groups, whether someone has a toy they'd be willing to sell or trade
  • give your child a temporary substitute for the gift and buy it after the holiday when it may be on sale

Help your child contribute toward the purchase by going through his current toys, selecting as many as you like and selling them on your local Craigslist.

Another idea is to discuss the situation with your child and ask, "Would you be happy if you only get this one gift this year?" If the answer is "yes," and you have friends and relatives who normally gift your child, ask for a contribution towards her heart's desire.


When it comes to teens, think "downloads." What teen doesn't love music or movies? Purchasing music and movies online is inexpensive and eco-friendly.

Ask your teen to give you a list of chores she doesn't like to do. Your gift can be doing one or more for a limited period of time. (We know this won't be a favorite of yours, but it costs nothing but your pride and patience!)

Teenagers also may be much more willing than you anticipate, to help others. Especially when times are tough, learning that there are others worse off than you are can help quell the self-centered longings adolescents experience. You can give teens a real gift by inviting them to participate in one or more volunteer activities during the holiday season. Let them experience the real meaning of giving. We know one teen who, after volunteering at a home for abused kids, told his parents he didn't want anything for Hanukkah except to make a contribution to the organization.


Of course, if you're crafty, you already know that amazing gifts can cost next to nothing. Short on ideas? Two great sites are Instructables and eHow, though you can google just about any item and find out how to make it.

And if you're "all thumbs," great green gifts are available by the truckload, many for under $25. There are many sites featuring inexpensive gifts. Here are a few. Find more by doing a search for "green gifts under $25."

But the best buys from an eco-perspective, are those made and purchased locally. Check out local eco-friendly stores as well of course, as holiday craft fairs.

Other excellent eco-friendly gift buying habits:

  • Look for companies that give back. Many for instance, are members of !% for the Planet (an alliance of businesses that donate at least 1% of their annual revenues to environmental organizations.)
  • One of the most eco-friendly things you can do when buying a gift for someone of any age is to be sure the recipient will like and use it. This is especially true when it comes to food that if not eaten, may spoil and end up in the trash.
  • Avoid buying gifts with layers of packaging and/or whose packaging cannot be recycled.
  • When it comes to wrapping, think about whether you really need to wrap the gift at all. How about hiding it? Kids love this, but even adults (at least those with a sense of humor), can get into it as well. A few additional alternatives to buying new gift wrap:
    • Fabric you already own. Scarves are wonderful. And any fabric wrapping can be used again and again. For ways to beautifully wrap any gift: or
    • Magazine pages
    • Maps
    • Children's drawings
    • Paper bags decorated with drawn or stamped on images
    • Decorated glass jars that can be reused for food storage
    • Decorated cardboard or plastic boxes
Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson are mother and daughter and co-authors of Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family, available at

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Real or Fake? What To Know Before Buying A Christmas Tree

With less than two weeks before Christmas, here's another great post from our friends at The Greenest Dollar...

Real or Fake Christmas Tree?

My grandmother and I in front of her real Christmas tree last year...

Yep, I rarely put pictures of myself on the blog, but there it is: me and my sweet grandmother in front of her “Charlie Brown Christmas Tree” last year.

It was one of those scrawny trees that are full of holes and personality. And, it was one of the last ones on the lot. She, of course, fell in love with it. In fact, she insisted we bring it home simply because she felt so sorry for it.

And as you can see in the picture, it turned out beautiful. That scrawny tree made her entire home smell like a fresh forest, and it gave her weeks of delight. I can’t wait to go pick out another one with her this year.

When it comes to Christmas trees, there are two camps: those who think real trees are better for the environment, and those who think fake trees are better.

So what’s the truth?

Well, I have to admit I used to be on the fake side. I used to abhor the thought of “cutting down a tree”, just for Christmas. It seemed so, murderous. So, I bought a fake one and reused it year after year.

But, that’s before I started this blog. Now? Now I know better. Real Christmas trees are actually better for the environment. Let’s look at why.

The Dangers of Fake Christmas Trees

It’s really astonishing how bad fake Christmas trees are for both our health, and the environment.

Strike One: reports that almost all fake trees come from China. PVC chips (one of the most dangerous forms of plastic) are melted down to form the tree “needles”. Several carcinogens like dioxin, ethylene dichloride, and vinyl chloride are produced during the production of PVC, and these pollute neighborhoods, as well as the food chain, around the factory where the trees are made.

The workers who make artificial trees only get paid around $100 per week. They work in dirty, horrendous factories, and spend all day breathing in fumes from this melting plastic.

Strike Two: ABC News reports that some artificial trees may be made with lead. And when they heat up (with lights, a fireplace, or a sunny window), that lead can release fumes into your home. Not good. And it’s not just the lead you have to worry about: several other chemicals found in the plastic can end up in your home.

Need another piece of horrifying information? Yeah, I thought so! The State of California puts warning labels on all plastic trees, warning of lead poisoning, and they advise people to wash their hands after handling. Do you really want something like that in your home? Yikes.

Strike Three: Earth 911 reports that artificial Christmas trees are made from non-recyclable plastic. Which means that once its life is over, it’s over. Yes, you get to reuse it for years, but every time an artificial tree gets sent to a landfill, it’s going to stay there.

Are there benefits? Sure there are.

Like I said earlier, artificial trees are reused year after year. The longer you keep using one, the better. And, reusing your artificial tree also saves you money each year when you don’t have to go out and buy a new one.

The Perks of a Real Tree…

Ok, I know it can be hard to walk around a Christmas tree lot and look at all those cut down trees. But hear me out here…

Perk One: Christmas tree farmers grow trees. Which means that for each tree that’s cut down, Christmas tree farmers plant 1-3 seedlings in its place. And while these trees grow (usually over 8 years), they’re helping remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Perk Two: When you buy a live Christmas tree, you’re supporting a farmer. And, probably a local one. Instead of helping support the Chinese economy, live Christmas trees keep your money local. The Smithsonian reports that the Christmas tree farming industry helps support over 100,000 American jobs. This industry makes a big difference to a lot of families.

Perk Three: Live Christmas trees are recyclable. Most cities pick up trees after the holidays and chip them up for mulch, which is repurposed elsewhere. If you don’t live in an area that picks up your tree curbside, you can check to find a local recycling facility.

Perk Four: The smell. You just can’t beat that wonderful, live Christmas tree smell. I’d way rather breathe in the natural fumes of a Spruce than the plastic off-gassing from an artifical tree.

Perk Five: When you buy a live tree you also cut down on the gas and pollution it takes to haul those fake trees all the way from China.

So, what are the downsides to live Christmas trees?

Well, many farmers do spray pesticides on their trees each year to help them grow better. These pesticides, just like with any crop, run off into the local watershed.

Plus, you have to buy a new one each year, which adds up.

Last Word…

Compared to all the negative consequences of artificial trees, I think live trees still come out way ahead. I’m going out to buy a live tree this week, and I have to admit I’m super excited.

One tip: If you want to do double good when buying a live tree, see if any local charities are selling them. For instance, here in my neck of the woods the Howell Nature Center is selling Christmas trees. The Howell Nature Center takes hurt animals (like squirrels hit by cars, foxes that are shot by hunters, or birds that fly into windows) and rehabilitates them so they can be set free again.

Proceeds from their Christmas tree sales go to help fund their animal infirmary. So, my dollars are doing double-duty when I go buy my tree from them.

Check your local paper or do a Google search to see if any local charities in your area are selling trees to raise money.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

TGIF: Best Blog Posts This Week

Let's get ready for the holiday season with some fitting blog posts. From gifts to entertaining, here's what I found this week:

Have one you'd like to share? Let me know if there are any that I missed.

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Top Picks for Green Shopping -- Gifts Under $10

Shopping this weekend. Here are some gifts where you can be green and save green -- their all under $10. Not all the gifts in the stores below cost less than $10, but all these online shops carry a number of great gifts at this price point.
Brought to you by Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson are mother and daughter and co-authors of Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family, available at

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Friday, December 4, 2009

TGIF: Best Blog Posts This Week

Here's this week's round up of top blog posts:

Let me know if I missed any. Was there a blog post in particular that you enjoyed this week? Pass it along.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Green and Frugal Ways to Fight a Cold

It started with a scratchy throat on Friday and has progressed to a nasty cough. I won't get sick without putting up a fight. I was tempted to call out of work today, but forged ahead thinking that getting back into the daily routine would help me feel better (it didn't).

Then I got to thinking, what are some green and frugal ways to prevent or alleviate a cold? Here are a few ideas:
  • Halls Cough Drops -- I think it's something about the vapors that makes you feel so much better.

  • Hot tea -- Nothing soothes a sore throat and helps congestion than some nice, hot tea.

  • Chicken noodle soup -- The cafeteria at work must have known I was under the weather since they were serving some yummy chicken and rice soup

  • Nyquil -- Since I have a nasty cough that makes sleeping difficult, I thought I'd give Nyquil a whirl. This stuff should be by prescription-only! I could barely wake up this morning and I felt like I had a hangover.

  • Sweat it out -- Since I didn't have a fever, I did a light workout at the gym this morning, just enough to get a good sweat going.
Hopefully I have just a few more days of feeling under the weather. Do you have any tricks when you're not feeling well? I'd love to hear them.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving From!

Here's to a safe and happy holiday. Enjoy lots of good food, good friends and family...and good football. Go Giants!

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Frugal Tip Tuesday: Learn to Love Cooking

When I saw this article on The Greenest Dollar, I felt like it was written for me. As you know fast food and prepared food is much more expensive than making food from scratch. Here are some ways to get into cooking....

How to Love Cooking

Raise your hand if this sounds familiar: you’ve worked all day and just walked in the door. You’re tired, and you’ve love nothing more than to collapse on the couch for an hour with a glass of wine and just chill.

But, you’re hungry. Which means you’ve got to drag yourself into the kitchen and actually cook something. This requires finding a recipe, assembling the ingredients (if you have all of them on-hand), prep time, and then cook time.


What do you do? You drag yourself out the door and hit Wendy’s/Jimmy Johns/Taco Bell to save yourself the trouble. Which means you’ve spent money on something that’s completely unhealthy.

Is your hand raised? Mine sure is. I can’t tell you how many meals I’ve eaten standing up, in my kitchen, eating odds and ends (like olives, leftover noodles, and cheese) simply because I couldn’t muster up the panache to cook something I actually wanted.

So why the heck am I writing an article about how to love cooking? Because I’ve been experiencing a change of heart lately. And I realized last night that I’ve taken a few subconscious actions that have led to this change of heart.

And there it was: a blog post was born.

How To Love Cooking

So what have I been doing lately to put cooking in a new light?

Image courtesy of seller "stilettoheights" on

Image courtesy of seller "stilettoheights" on

1. Make your kitchen a place you want to be.

Over the past few months I’ve made some changes to my kitchen. The first thing I did was paint it a very cheerful, bright orange.

This might not sound like it’d do anything for my cooking, but the truth is that it did. I really like being in my kitchen now. That orange just brightens up my day.

You know what else I did? I bought some really cool artwork off of Etsy, and hung it right where I do most of my chopping. An example of the art I bought is on the right, from StilettoHeights. For $18 I got two completely unique prints.

I also hung up a ton of pictures from our Barcelona trip on another wall.

These small changes (the color, the artwork, and the pictures) have completely changed the personality of my kitchen. I used to see this space as a place to do stuff I wasn’t crazy about doing. Now, it’s turning into a room of mystery and character. It’s a room I really love hanging out in.

The Lesson: If your kitchen is actually a place where you like spending time, then you’re more apt to want to go in there to cook something.

To Do: If you’re not crazy about your kitchen, then find out why. Do you hate the paint? Is it too dark? Is it lacking some character?

Make some effort to turn your kitchen into a place where you really feel comfortable. If you want to hang up some crazy artwork, do it! is a wonderful place to find some really amazing artwork for bargain prices. And, you can feel good about supporting artists directly.

Add light. Add plants. Add color. Add some of yourself. And I guarantee you’ll be drawn to this room more than you were before.

2. Clear some space.

You might be surprised to find out I used to be a professional organizer. And you know what? Hands down, kitchens were always the most cluttered rooms in the house.

So who were the culprits?

Pampered Chef tools. The Magic Bullet. The Williams-Sonoma avocado slicer. The Black and Decker chicken rotisserie. The Kitchen Aid monster mixer. The towering pile of plastic and paper shopping bags.

You know what I’m talking about here. Many people have their kitchens stuffed with more appliances and cooking tools than they know what to do with. These appliances take up a ton of space, and probably only get used a few times per year, if that.

As a result, a lot of clutter ends up on the counters because there’s simply nowhere else for it to go. And, this can make cooking a stressful and frustrating experience.

I’ve been going through my own kitchen the past few months, donating and organizing, and I now have a lot more space than I used to. And you know what? I haven’t yet missed anything I’ve gotten rid of, and my kitchen feels much more open and inviting.

The Lesson: The less cluttered and more organized your kitchen is, the more you’re going to want to go in there to cook and have fun.

To Do: If your kitchen is overflowing with plastic bags, old appliances, faded Tupperware, and defunct Magic Bullet accessories, then it might be time to go an organizing binge. Donate whatever you can that still works, and find a local recycling facility (use for everything that’s broken.

Photo courtesy Erika Rudolph

Photo courtesy Erika Rudolph

3. Cook to music.

I find that if I’m listening to music that I really love when I’m cooking, it’s much more enjoyable. I have a funky old radio that stays in there, but I also have a little boombox for my iPod that I bring in when I’m cooking.

And you know what?

I have a blast.

Lesson: Music makes anything funner.

To Do: Find a way to get music into your kitchen. Whether you click on NPR to catch up on the news or jam out to Elton John, cooking is more enjoyable when you’ve got something to listen to.

4. Change your mindset.

My biggest hangup with cooking was my mindset. I always approached cooking as the necessary evil I had to go through in order to get the prize (ie: something tasty).

But, cooking is an experience. Every step, from measuring out flour to pulling cupcakes out of the oven, is something I should pay attention to and enjoy. If I can have the mindset that cooking is just as relaxing as other things I enjoy, like running or gardening, then I can fully put myself into the experience.

The Lesson: If you can look at cooking as a journey, not a destination, you might find you enjoy the process more.

To Do: The next meal you cook, really pay attention to what you’re doing. Don’t look at those vegetables that need chopping as just something you’ve got to get done before you can proceed to step two. Really focus on chopping them up. Relax while you’re doing it. Let your mind wander and daydream.

I’m here to tell you cooking really can be relaxing. But, it takes the right mindset. I’m still working on this myself, but it’s getting easier!

5. Don’t forget the wine…

Cooking is way, way more enjoyable if I’ve got a glass of wine in my hand. Yes, I buy the cheap stuff (eco-friendly Corbet Canyon: it’s tasty, frugal, and every part of the box and bladder can be recycled…), it’s a great way to relax as I get going.

Lesson: Wine or other drinks can be a great addition to the cooking process. After all, even cleaning toilets would be enjoyable after a couple of glasses…

To Do: Buy a bottle or box of wine for your next meal. But, don’t save it for the meal itself. Celebrate the act of cooking with a glass while you cook.

6. Experiment!

I’ve been getting bolder in the kitchen. Sometimes my experiments turn out great. Sometimes, they bomb (like the vegetarian crock pot stew I made last week. I was going to write a whole post about that frugal recipe if it turned out. But, it didn’t turn out…we ended up eating pizza…)

The point here is that I’ve learned to let go of the expectation that each meal needs to be perfect. And letting that go has been really liberating. I’ve been trying more recipes as a result because I’m not afraid to try them. Cooking has actually gotten a bit, dare I say it, fun.

I’m still not into long, drawn out recipes. I don’t know if I’ll ever be. But I have gotten a bit more adventurous.

Lesson: You don’t have to perfect, can you believe it? Every meal isn’t going to turn out with Martha Stewart perfection. I know, I was shocked too.

To Do: Embrace the inherent fun of cooking. Experiment with different styles and flavors. For instance, A and I made tapas for the first time on Halloween. Did we know what we were doing? Not really. But they turned out really great! And we had just as much fun making them as we did eating them.

Last Word…

You don’t need me to tell you that cooking at home saves far more money than going out to eat. I’ve had my digressions, but I really am trying to cook at home more lately. I need to save that money, and it really is healthier. But, I think I’m doing good so far!

How about you? Do you have any tips to help me and other readers enjoy the cooking process? Any tips you have to keep yourself motivated? Please share!

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Friday, November 20, 2009

TGIF: Round-up of Top Blog Posts

Let's see what great blog posts the week has provided for us. Here are some of the best ones I've stumbled upon. Feel free to let me know if I've missed any.

Notice a theme here? With less than 40 days until Christmas (and less than that for Hanukkah), now's the time to start thinking about gifts you'll need to buy or make.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Green and Frugal -- Where to Donate Old Running Shoes

Courtesy ratterrell Flickr CC

I was browsing through Runner’s World today looking up training tips (half-marathon here I come!) when I stumbled onto an article about what to do with your old running shoes. EUREKA!

First, the Life of a Running Shoe…

Running shoes, unlike regular shoes, have a fairly limited shelf life if you run regularly. They’re good for about 300-400 miles. After that, support breaks down and the risk of injury goes up. So even if they look good on the outside, it might be time to send them packing.

This is always a tough thing, at least for me. I love running, and my shoes are like little friends. My current pair is getting close (if not over) the 400 mile mark. So it’s almost time to say goodbye. Sigh.

How do you know when your shoes need replacing?

  • First, listen to your body. Do your joints hurt? Are you getting shin splints? Do your muscles ache? These are all signs that the support in your running shoes is growing thin.
  • Do the twist test. Grab one of your shoes in both hands and twist. If the shoe feels firm, it’s probably still ok. If it twists easily, they need to be replaced.
  • Check out your soles. The sole lasts much longer than cushioning and shock absorbency, so if the soles are worn then it’s definitely time for a new pair.

Donate Your Running Shoes!

Most organizations like Salvation Army will take “gently used” shoes. But if you’re a runner, then you know that often your shoes are much more than “gently used”.

The good news is that you can donate your old running shoes to organizations that either recycle them, or send them to people all over the world.

Here’s part of the list I found on Runner’s World:

Shoe companies, retailers, and individuals can donate footwear both new and used to those in need around the world. Soles4Souls has coordinated relief efforts for the Asian Tsunami and Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Ike, netting over 1 Million pairs donated for these disasters.

Send your old running shoes to:
Alabama (Primary Warehouse Facility)
Soles4Souls, Inc.
315 Airport Road
Roanoke, AL 36274

Soles4Souls, Inc.
619 Old Hickory Blvd.
Old Hickory, TN 37138

Soles4Souls, Inc.
Foreign Trade Zone #89
6620 Escondido Street
Las Vegas, Nevada 89119

For more information, go to, call (615) 391-5723, or e-mail

Nike Reuse-A-Shoe

Grinds your old running shoes into material that makes athletics and playground surfaces.

Send your old running shoes to:
Nike Recycling Center
c/o Reuse-A-Shoe
26755 SW 95th Ave.
Wilsonville, OR 97070

For more information about Nike Reuse-A-Shoe, go to: or call 800-344-6453.

More Places To Donate Your Old Running Shoes…

The complete list, posted here at Runner’s World, is really comprehensive. Please visit their site to see all the options-they did a really great job covering all the bases. Thanks Runner’s World!

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Have a Green Thanksgiving

Put the Meaning in the Greening this Thanksgiving

Making every celebration more about people and less about things is a key to celebrating green. When we focus on relationships, we tend to spend less, eat less, have less left over and end up putting less into landfills.

So this Thanksgiving, take a look at your rituals and seek out ways to enhance their meaning. Here are some suggestions.

  • In the weeks before Thanksgiving, gather the family and talk about your traditions. Ask for input about what kinds of things you might do together to increase the joy everyone will take from the celebration. Brainstorm ideas, then choose a few to implement this year. (See below for suggestions, but start by asking your family as they are likely to come up with ideas that fit your group perfectly.)

  • Also prior to the holiday, invite your family on an outdoor decor hunt. Go for a walk whether you live on the plains, near a river, or by the ocean. Gather (legally) items, return home and set them up on a table. They might make a gorgeous centerpiece on their own. Or fill a bowl or clear vase with them. Place a couple of beeswax candles in their midst and you've got natural table decor that cost next to nothing.

  • Encourage your kids to come up with games that the whole family can enjoy following the feast. Search online or check out library books on non-competitive games that are fun for everyone.

  • Involve the family in crafting decor, place cards, and small takeaway gifts that are either made from recycled materials or edible. As you are working with them, explain why it's important to avoid using virgin trees (i.e. paper), and other unsustainable materials, especially for a holiday that is so tied to the Earth.

  • To add more meaning to your meal, shop locally. If possible, visit a local farm. Talk to the farmer about what is in season and how to best prepare the food for your guests. Be sure to acknowledge the farmer and the work he/she did to ensure you had a flavorful meal when you are giving thanks at the table.

  • Ask each guest to bring a small item representative of something for which they are grateful. Place each item either at the place of each guest or in a bowl that can decorate the table. During the meal go around and ask each person to explain the meaning of the item.

  • If you host a large gathering for which it's difficult to supply enough china, here's a twist on the idea above. Ask each guest to bring their own place setting along with a story about the plates. At the table, ask guests to explain what is special about the setting. Did the china belong to a great grandmother who brought it when she immigrated? Was this place setting a gift from a beloved friend? Are you especially proud that you bought it for pennies? The stories don't matter. Sharing them does.

  • And speaking of sharing, how about asking each guest to bring a contribution to your local food bank?

  • Aim to make a tradition of a no-waste Thanksgiving. This involves a little more planning than usual, for example, offering fewer choices (do we really need mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and rice?), and ensuring that leftovers go to people who will use them. Decorating glass jars that everyone can fill and take home is a great way to share the leftover bounty. If you compost yourself or do it through your community, be sure that leftover food is deposited in a properly marked container.

  • If a member of your family or a close friend has passed away during the year, remember them sometime on Thanksgiving day. You might light a beeswax candle in their memory, relive some memories or offer a prayer.

Whatever you do this Thanksgiving, focus on those you care about and you will make priceless memories. What is more eco-friendly than that?

Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson are mother and daughter and co-authors of Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family, available at

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wacky Wednesday: The Cable Company Will Not Cooperate

Whew, I've been quite the slacker lately. What else is new? I just haven't been in the mood to write.

Recently, I was reading about how to negotiate your fixed bills so you can pay less and save some money. Sounds simple, right? I mean just a few months ago I saved $643 with one phone call to my insurance company. I do a little Googling and find a suitable script. Call the cable company, tell them you can't afford to pay their monthly bill and that you want to cancel your subscription. They won't want to lose you as a customer and will gladly haggle so you pay less and they keep you as a customer.

I psyche myself up and I'm ready to save some money...or so I thought.

I call and casually say "I can't afford to pay $136 a month and Fios is offering $99 per month with more channels." I'm just patiently waiting for Cablevision to beg me to stay because I'm such a great customers. You know what they say? "We're sorry to lose you as a customer. Let me transfer you to the Disconnect Dept."

What?! I don't want to cancel my cable! My husband will kill me! Before I can be transferred, I quickly hang up. What the heck? It pains me to pay so much for cable, internet and phone, but what's a girl to do? While I have looked into switching to Fios, the $99 per month is an introductory rate. So once that period is over, the cost jumps up to $130 a month, if not more.

Argh, back to the drawing board. Have you had any success with reducing your fixed monthly bills? I'd love to hear about it.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

TGIF: Recipe Round-up

I'm on a cooking kick. Yes, my husband is very excited about this since he is the cook in our household. So I thought I'd include a recipe round-up to end the week. Break out the crock pot, heat up the over and enjoy some yummy comfort food this weekend (as well as other enlightening blog posts).
What great posts have you stumbled upon this week?

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Frugal Tip Tuesday -- Seal Those Windows & Doors

After a leisurely trip to Home Depot, we ended up coming home with plastic window sealers and an item to prevent door drafts. The window kit includes double-sided tape and sheets of plastic (does it get any easier?)

You put the tape along the outside of the window, let it set for 15 minutes, cut the plastic to fit the window and then use a blow dryer to make the plastic taunt and prevent drafts.

I had my doubts, but it works like a dream! Our windows are really drafty and they're fairly new (installed in 2002). The plastic has eliminated the drafts! I'm excited to see how this change impacts our heating bill.

The best part (besides how easy it is to install) is the kit was $9.95 for 9 sheets. We have small slider windows, so it was enough to do our bedrooms and bathrooms.

Have you used this kit and what has your experience been?

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Some Tips to Green Your Thanksgiving

It's never too early to start planning for Thanksgiving. With just a few weeks left, here are some tips on how to make your Thanksgiving more eco-friendly:
  1. Buy less so there is less cost and less waste. Try cutting out one or two dishes (not the absolute favorites) or cutting down on the amount of each you make.

  2. Use the freshest (organic if possible), locally grown, seasonal ingredients whenever possible. To save money, buy in bulk (go in with friends) from your local farmer, use coupons for organic items and start saving for next year's organic turkey (they really do taste better), the day after this year's celebration.

  3. Avoid purchasing anything that cannot be reused, recycled, composted or consumed.

  4. 100% beeswax candles in holiday shapes as well as tapers etc. from Big Dipper Wax Works

  5. Handmade, hand dyed, organic cotton table cloths and napkins from Fiberactive Organics

  6. If you are grateful for your guests, why not plant a tree in their names in a national forest that has been decimated by wildfire through Trees for a Change.
How are you making your Thanksgiving more green this year?

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Website Review:

One area that I continue to struggle with when it comes to cutting costs is grocery shopping and meal planning. Clearly the two go hand-in-hand. It probably doesn't help that I don't do much (if any) of the cooking in our household. I swore that if I had to be a cooking wife, I'd never get married. My husband is a fabulous cook. I try to do my part on the weekends by whipping up a crockpot meal or baking some cookies.

I opened my e-mail this week and was delighted to find an e-mail from Relish!, a site that not only plans weekly menus for you and your family, it also generates food shopping lists. Does it get any better? Of course it does. is also a mom-run website. Giddyup!

How It Works
Pick your meals and a shopping list is generated for you. It's that simple.

Plus, there are great feature articles, party/theme menus and loads of creative but realistic recipes. You can also add your own meals and recipes to the mix.

All I have to say is YUM! The recipes look fabulous, are easy to put together and fairly quick to make. Plus, there are kid-friendly options, vegetarian alternatives and low-calorie meals.

Shopping Lists
Once you pick your meals, the site generates a shopping list. The best part is that the shopping list is put together according to most grocery store layouts. There's even a column with items that are commonly found in most kitchens (spices, condiments, etc.)

The system is great! They even offer an option to add your own recipes and meals. There are many nights when the last thing my husband and I feel like doing is testing a new recipe. Now we can get shopping lists for our own recipes.

Have you used Relish!? Let me know what you think.

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Friday, October 30, 2009

TGIF: Best Blog Posts This Week

Get ready for Halloween. It's weird having Halloween on a Saturday, right? Here's to a rain-free weekend for all of our trick-or-treaters.
Any great blog posts that I missed this week?

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Frugal Tip Tuesday -- Reuse Dryer Sheets

I'm pretty neurotic about this one. I'll take the same dryer sheet and reuse it 3-4 times. It gets clothes just as soft and I save around $10 (cost of two additional boxes of dryer sheets).

Once I've beat up that dryer sheet, I'll usually also use it to either dust the top of the washing machine or to clean out the lint trap (gotta keep that thing clean to ensure your dryer is as efficient as possible). Cleaning the lint trap also help prevent fires.

Remember, recycle those dryer sheets!

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Monday, October 26, 2009

5 FREE Websites That Help Save You Money

Here's another post from our friends at The Greenest Dollar...

79004955_3f7180c9f5I was doing research online for a client today and came across some really amazing websites that I had to share with all of you. These websites all offer one thing: free advice or free services that will help us save money.


1. is a financial planning site that helps users track their spending by pulling information from their online bank account, and then uses that detailed information to graph exactly where their money goes.

Yeah, I can hear your heart drop from here, because when I first heard about last year, my heart did the same thing. But I decided to give the site a try anyway, because it had gotten amazing reviews from, who named it the best budgeting site out there, and Money Magazine, who gave it a 5-Star Top Pick.

Well, I got all the way to the part where I enter my bank account and routing number and then I chickened out. I was just too afraid that someone would hack the site and have instant access to my bank account.

I forgot all about until today. I browsed through the site again, and have decided to give it another go. After all, if Kiplinger and Money Magazine have endorsed the site, it has to be secure. And, uses the same security that many major financial institutions do. So, it’s at least as safe as my online banking.

How can help you save money? Well, the site will help you to:

  • Easily create a budget that revolves around your current spending
  • Meet your savings goals
  • See exactly how much you’re spending each month on housing, food, entertainment, utilities, etc. with easy, color-coded graphs and pie charts
  • See exactly how much debt you have, and come up with a plan to pay it off
  • Receive alerts from to help you stay on top of debt repayment and savings goals

Pretty nifty, right? And, it’s completely free.


Are you getting an uncontested divorce? Need some advice on filing for bankruptcy? Need to figure out how to create a living will, or get out of the lease agreement you just signed with your landlord? is a website that offers people and businesses free legal advice on everything from child custody to real estate deals to immigration. Their forums are divided up by very specific topics, and lawyers from all over the country volunteer their time to answer questions.

The site also has an amazing list of free, downloadable legal forms that everyone can access, and there are tons of well-written, well-sourced legal articles that you can use for research.


3. Flickr’s Creative Commons Site

If you have a blog or business and need some copyright-free photos to use (like the one shown on the right), then check out Flickr’s site of photos that fall under Creative Commons License.

The Creative Commons License is a way for people to share their work with others under certain conditions without the strictness of full copyright.

For instance, some photos on the site are available for anyone to use for any reason, but only if you give that photographer credit for the image.

Fair, right?

Other photos can be used without giving credit at all. And still others can be used without credit, as long as they’re not sold or used for commercial reasons.

Flickr gives a very clear explanation of what photos can be used in what ways. So if you want to save money on photos, this is a great way to find some great images without paying a dime.

The full site address is:


If you’ve ever had to pay someone to come out to fix your computer, create a network for your business, figure out why Vista won’t work EVER, or clean up your hard drive from viruses, then you know how expensive it can be.

Well, is a website that offers free, yes free, tech support to people and business owners. Techies from all over the world volunteer their time on the site to help non-tech people (like me) do everything from update software to solve incredibly mysterious and complicated computer problems. has been around for ten years and they’ve been featured on The Today Show, the BBC, in PC World Magazine, and in Reader’s Digest, just to name a few.


If you’re starting a small or home-based business you’re going to need a website. But, you probably can’t afford to hire someone to make you a nice one.

This is where comes in. is a site that allows you to build sleek, professional-looking Flash sites for free. And, it’s practically fool-proof.

The site was designed specifically for people who don’t know how to build websites. So don’t worry if you don’t know what the heck you’re doing; has made it really, really easy to build a great site. And again, it’s all free.

Last Word…

I have to admit that I was overjoyed about the Flickr discovery. It’s so time-consuming to look for photos I can legally use on this blog, and I’m over the moon that so many photographers have generously donated their photos for public use!

I’m also going to sign up for today (and yes, I’m really going to go through with it this time!). I’ll post a review of the site within the next week to let you all know how I like the service, and if I think it’s going to help save me money.

Do any of you know some great sites like these that help you save money? Want to share? I’d love to hear about them!

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Squash & Apple Bake Review

As you know, on Friday I provided a list of great recipes that I stumbled upon. Lots of great fall classics were in the list, including squash, pumpkins, apples and general yummy-ness.

Since we bought a share in a community-supported farm, each week we get lots of in-season produce. This has left us with many apples and two giant squash. I did a search for a recipe to use those up and stumbled upon the Squash & Apple Bake.

It was easy to throw together and I added some additional spices including pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon. While it was baking, it smelled delicious!! My husband kept saying that it smelled like autumn should.

Everything was great until we actually tasted it. Neither my husband nor I are squash fans. We thought the apples, spices and whipped cream would have killed the taste. We were not that lucky. Needless to say, I ended up throwing out the whole pan of Squash & Apple Bake -- neither green nor frugal. But it delayed the inevitable -- letting it rot in the fridge and throwing it out a week later. Oh well, time to find another squash recipe that does a better job covering up the squash taste.

Anyone care to share some good squash-cloaking recipes?

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Friday, October 23, 2009

TGIF: Recipe Round-up

It's official -- fall is here. At least in NJ it's definitely arrived -- leaves falling, cool weather, lots of Halloween decorations. To wrap up this week, I've listed some of the best fall recipes I've found. I love anything pumpkin-flavored so you may notice a lot of those. Just think, it's the best way to recycle your pumpkin -- use the pulp, toast the seeds.

Feel free to add your own recipes. I'm in a cooking mood! (My husband will be happy to hear that since he's the main cook in our house.) I think I may have to test all of these recipes this weekend. I'll keep you posted...

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Frugal Tip Tuesday -- Create a Weekly Spending Budget

How often do you get spending money out of the ATM each week? I try to limit myself to once a week (unless something unexpected comes up, like one of the kids has a class trip and I need to use cash). Usually I'll take $40 out and try to get that to last the whole week (Sunday through Saturday). I use this cash mainly for breakfast and lunch. However, if I make or bring breakfast and lunch to work each day, I can basically 'save' that spending money towards something else.

That's my incentive, saving that money that I've budgeted each week for something bigger, like a massage or some new clothes. When I know I'm saving towards something that's a treat, it makes bringing in my own food each day (which can be really inconvenient) less painful.

So that's this week's tip -- save towards something more meaningful and it'll be less painful to save!

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Friday, October 16, 2009

TGIF: Round-up of Top Blog Posts

Can you believe that October is half over already? Where does the time go? I've been slacking on the blogging and I apologize. If you can believe it, I'm still adjusting to the kids being back in school. I'm sure once daylight savings time kicks in, I'll be a mess again.

Without further ado, here are this week's best blog posts:

As always, let me know if I missed any. It's hard to get them all!

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Get Ready for an EEK-O-friendly Halloween (Part 2)

When it comes to decor, Halloween lines right up after Christmas. Americans spend $1.5 billion decking their homes with the latest in ghosts and goblins, much of it tossed when the holiday is over.

In reality, there is no need to purchase decor. This is a definite area of want. And while we know that most people are short on cash this year, many will still want to make some purchases. If you're one of those, keep these ideas in mind while spending green to celebrate green.

  • Buy less. Whatever your budget, cut it by 25%. Will anyone really miss that life sized witch among all the other yard decor?
  • Buy what will last. Dollar stores do offer great bargains. But poor quality items are likely to end up in the landfill. Better to spend a bit more on fewer items that can become a part of your holiday tradition. Be sure to wrap carefully after October 31, to preserve for the future.
  • Look for local and handmade items, especially those produced from recycled/recyclable or sustainable materials. Check for local artists through

A great solution to the decor challenge is to go DIY (do-it-yourself), preferably using materials you already have on hand, can secure via swap or, best of all, select from nature. This is the perfect time of year to pull together items from nuts to branches to leaves and use them to brighten your home (see activities below). If you feel challenged when coming up with ideas, of course the internet is an incredible resource. Just do a search for "recycled Halloween crafts." Here are a few to get you started:

(Frankenstein as pictured above, is made from a paper towel roll and fabric scraps. The original comes from Let it inspire you.)

When it comes to table decor, simply bringing in a selection of natural items and arranging them in containers or even directly on the table, can create a stunning tableau. Best of all, everything can (and should) be returned to where you found it for totally wastefree decor.

If you're itching to purchase new lighting, look for LEDs or solar. (Get rid of the old ones by recycling them through

Bonus craft: Shadow box picture frame chandelier Here's a project that's easy to assemble, but packs plenty of punch.


  • Shadow box picture frame or any frame that is deep enough for you to place items on the glass without them sliding off.
  • Leaves, moss (if you are taking moss from nature, be sure it is not in an ecologically sensitive area), whole acorns, acorn caps, small pinecones
  • Glue
  • 4 screw eyes
  • Wire, ribbon, rope or whatever you have on hand for hanging


  • Remove all backing from picture frame.
  • Turn frame over so glass rests on bottom.
  • Screw one screw eye as close to each corner as possible while avoiding the area where the two sides meet.
  • Randomly glue items like the acorns etc. to the frame. Use as many or few as you like.
  • Glue on moss.
  • Decide how low you want to hang the chandelier, then cut four pieces of wire to that length plus a few inches.
  • Feed each length of wire through a screw eye, then secure it by winding the wire around itself.
  • Bring the four lengths of wire together in the middle so that the chandelier is balanced. If you have a round item like a nut, you can wind the wires through that to secure. Be sure whatever you use has a large enough opening to hang from a hook in the ceiling.
  • Fill with leaves, acorns, candles (in holders), small pumpkins or whatever you like.

Note: If you prefer, make without screw eyes and wire and simply place in the center of your table.

Of course, when it comes to Halloween activities, trick-or-treat can't be beat. But for parents who are green-leaning, this traditional activity presents challenges. They don't want their kids to miss out on the fun, but neither do they want them eating all the candy. If you're facing this conundrum, you might want to consider inviting the Halloween Fairy/Witch to your home.

Eco-friendly activities before and after the holiday can engage your kids and help them learn about green issues as well. For instance:

  • Visit an organic farm/orchard to select a pumpkin or pick apples and talk to the farmer about how veggies and fruits are raised.
  • Spend an hour outside, hunting for decor. Be sure you have permission before taking items from nature, especially from parks or any ecologically sensitive area. Once you bring the items home, have each child make a special item for the table. Rotate the items during the week preceding Halloween.
  • Roll beeswax candles for pumpkins or other displays.
  • Do craft activities as a family each day leading up to Halloween.
  • Try out new recipes for Halloween menus. If you're hosting a Halloween party, making something to eat is can be a central activity and the resulting treat can be taken home as a party favor (if the kids can wait to eat it!).
Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson are mother and daughter and co-authors of Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family, available at

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