Nov 102014
 
 November 10, 2014  Christmas, natural parenting 2 Responses »

Green Gifts for Crunchy Mamas | Alldonemonkey.com

This post contains affiliate links.  If you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission.  Thank you for your support!

The holiday season is a great time to splurge on those that you love and to show them that you know what is important to them.  So if you have a “crunchy mama” in your life – that is, someone who appreciates sustainable gift giving and wants to indulge the planet at the same time as she indulges herself – then this is the gift guide for you!

These days there are thankfully many options for environmentally friendly gifts – here are some of my favorites!

Green Gifts for Crunchy Mamas

You don’t have to sacrifice quality to be environmentally friendly!  Here are some of my favorite gifts for the special “green” mama in your life:

Organic clothing and goods

I love Tender Sapling for so many reasons – especially their focus on encouraging kids about virtues, world citizenship, and environmental sustainability.  They have wonderful organic products for all members of the family.  Treat your mama friends with a beautiful T-shirt (including maternity!), or a sampling of their cards, made from recycled paper.

One company that I have just discovered is Indigenous, dedicated to organic, fair trade fashion.  Who wouldn’t want to wear this beautiful Women’s Luxury Organic Tank or elegant Women’s Turtleneck Top?  And be sure to check out their collection of “Treasures that Make a Difference” – now on sale!

All natural pregnancy care products

All natural care products designed especially for pregnancy are a perfect way to indulge expecting moms.  Products like Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter
soothe stretching skin, and this gift set from Earth Mama Angel Baby even includes wellness tea!

For the kitchen

In the kitchen I’m especially conscious of the products I use, as I know they will can a direct impact on the health of my family.  That’s why I love to find all natural products like these beautiful Bambu Kids In The Kitchen Utensil.  And what better way to start your little one off on his eating journey than with this Bambu Baby Feeding Starter Set?

And if don’t want to feed your family junk – but want to make food they will actually eat – then you must check out the Weelicious cookbooks!  I adore all of her recipes, which are both practical but also stretch your ideas about what your kids will try.  She has two cookbooks – one with a range of family recipes, and her new one that focuses on kid lunches!  Both highly recommended.

On the go

Busy moms are always on the go, so don’t forget to give them some reusable food storage items they take with them!  I always forget to drink enough water, so I would love a reusable water bottle like this U Konserve Glass Bottle with Silicone Sleeve. U Konserve also has great lunch bags, like this Insulated Lunch Sack or this kids’ version, Kids Konserve Sky Insulated Lunch Sack.  And check out the kids’ lunch boxes from PlanetBox.  My sons would love this Shuttle Lunchbox with blue aliens!

Organic and fair trade tea

As seen in last year’s gift guide, I love tea!  Fair trade teas like Punjana Fair Trade Tea are not only good for communities but ultimately for the environment.  Numi Organic Tea is one of my favorite brands, especially since they have fair trade tea, like this Numi Organic Tea Fair Trade Breakfast Blend. Or you could indulge with this Numi Organic Tea Organic World of Tea Collection, which lets you “travel the world with each sip.”  Sign me up!

Fair Trade and organic chocolate

Ah chocolate – the ultimate indulgence!  Give her a treat she can feel good about eating, like this organic, direct trade Taza Chocolate Oaxacan Sampler.  Protect animals with a gift like the Endangered Species Wolf, Natural Dark Squares with Cranberries & Almonds.  Another organic chocolate company is Alter Eco.  I am very intrigued by their Dark Quinoa Organic Chocolate!  Seems like a fun, healthy spin on a puffed rice chocolate bar.  But my real weakness is hot chocolate – what better way to treat yourself than with Dagoba Organic Xocolatl Drinking Chocolate or Green & Black’s Organic Hot Chocolate Mix?

Homemade gifts

Of course, gifts made from the heart are the best kind of sustainable giving!  Check out these great ideas for gifts you and your kids can make!

For ideas, be sure to check out these post on sustainable gift giving from Multicultural Kid Blogs!  And don’t miss these gifts and stocking stuffers to pamper busy moms!

Festive Family Holiday hop

I’ve partnered with 30+ fabulous bloggers to bring you a special holiday series packed with crafts, activities, and festive family traditions. We’ve put together a phenomenal giveaway to help knock out your holiday shopping. From 11/3–11/17, you will have the opportunity to win 1 of 4 prize bundles for men, women, kids, and babies! The 4 prize bundles, valued at over $1,800, include gift certificates, toys, jewelry, and more!

For more details on these amazing two week holiday series, be sure to visit the main page on Bare Feet on the Dashboard, the creator and host.

Today’s posts are about Gifts for the Season:

 Festive Family Holiday Gift Guide Favorites ~ Gifts for Everyone on Your List

DIY Toddler Play Activity Gift Box from Adventures of Adam

Ten Things from Germany as Christmas Presents from La Cite’ des Vents

Ten Things from France as Christmas Presents from La Cite’ des Vents

Easy Gifts Kids Can Make from Hand Made Kids Art

Stocking Stuffer Ideas from Crystal’s Tiny Treasures

100 Non-Toy Gifts from Lemon Lime Adventures

Green Gifts for Crunchy Mamas from All Done Monkey

Gift Guide for Montessori Homeschoolers from Living Montessori Now

Gift Guide – Birth to 18 Months from ALLterNATIVElearning

The Ultimate Yoga for Kids Gift Guide from Kids Yoga Stories

Gift Guide from Peace But Not Quiet

Gift Guide for Promoting Healthy Development from The Inspired Treehouse

Tips for Sustainable Gift Giving from Multicultural Kid Blogs

ALEX Toys Holiday Gift Guide from Still Playing School

Best Gifts for a One-Year-Old from Adventure in a Box

Gifts that Help Kids with Independence from Sugar Aunts

Grandparent Gifts Kids Can Make from The Chaos and the Clutter

25 Heartwarming Christmas Books from Fireflies and Mudpies

Heirloom Advent Calendars from Are We There Yet?

And now for the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Dec 182013
 
 December 18, 2013  Christmas, crafts, food, recipes 4 Responses »

Pizza Bread House - Alldonemonkey.com

Monkey and I have so much fun with our gingerbread house that this year I thought we’d try a new variation: a Pizza Bread house!  It was a nice change from all the sweets that usually characterize the holidays, plus what kid doesn’t like pizza?

You will need:

Your favorite pizza dough recipe (or pre-made)

Cream cheese (approx. 4 oz)

Pizza sauce

Toppings (we used pretzels and chopped zucchini, green and red peppers)

Grated Parmesan cheese for snow (from a can is best!)

 

Pizza Bread House - Alldonemonkey.com

Wrong place, wrong time, Caterpillar!

Instructions:

Shape the pizza dough into 6 pieces (2 long walls, 2 short walls, 2 roof pieces) then cook according to package directions.

While the pizza is cooking, mix the cream cheese with a few spoonfuls of the pizza sauce.  Be careful not to add too much or the mixture will be too runny.  You just want to add a little pizza flavor; the color will only change slightly.  Scoop mixture into a clean plastic bag and snip off one corner

After the pizza bread has cooled, use a serrated knife to trim to the correct sizes and make smooth edges.  It’s important that the sides line up properly so the house doesn’t fall over.

On a clean plate or platter, build your pizza bread house.  Use the cream cheese mixture as the “glue” to hold the walls and roof together and to hold on the decorations (toppings).  Let your child’s imagination guide you!

Pizza Bread House - Alldonemonkey.com

 Those of you that saw the fate of our gingerbread house will not be surprised to discover that the same ill winds eventually engulfed our pizza bread house – but only after much fun was had – and lots of munching followed!

 Pizza Bread House - Alldonemonkey.com

 

 Merry Christmas, everyone!

Dec 052013
 
 December 5, 2013  Christmas, crafts, food 13 Responses »

Healthy Gingerbread House - Alldonemonkey.com

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click through and make a purchase, I receive a small commission.  Thank you for your support!

Although Santa doesn’t come to our house, I love creating some holiday traditions with Monkey, so he can enjoy the season as much as other kids.  Since I have always loved gingerbread houses, last year I decided to make this a new holiday tradition for us, minus all the sugar!

It was easy enough to do – Since he was not quite three at the time, he didn’t know that gingerbread houses are usually decorated with candy.  Instead, I substituted other foods that are real treats for him: raisins, dried cranberries (which he called “pink raisins”), sliced almonds, and pretzels.

Healthy Gingerbread House - Alldonemonkey.com

The glue for the house was a sweetened cream cheese mixture, and the house itself was made of graham crackers.  Yum!  It was so good to eat afterwards, too!

Healthy Gingerbread House - Alldonemonkey.com

To make the cream cheese mixture, use one 8 oz block of cream cheese, and whip it with honey to taste.  You will have plenty left over, but who cares!  It tastes great on toast or on any leftover graham crackers :)

I must say I got a bit misty eyed when I pulled up these photos.  The reason I never posted about it last year is that I went into labor two days later, so these photos were simply saved onto my computer until the season rolled around again.  So here we are, and so much has happened since these pictures were taken!

Healthy Gingerbread House - Alldonemonkey.com

Yet I still remember clearly how much fun we had doing this.  I think with gingerbread houses Monkey and I found something that married my love of crafts and baking with his love of play and building.  Heaven for both of us!

Healthy Gingerbread House - Alldonemonkey.com

I am glad I took a lot of pictures, though, since the house didn’t last until my husband got home from work.  Let’s just say it faced a series of disasters, from an avalanche of toppings…

Healthy Gingerbread House - Alldonemonkey.com

…to having its roof eaten by a giant…

Healthy Gingerbread House - Alldonemonkey.com

…to a preschooler-induced earthquake.  Well, we all saw that coming, didn’t we?

Healthy Gingerbread House - Alldonemonkey.com

 

We also enjoyed reading Mortimer’s Christmas Manger by our favorite author Karma Wilson.  It tells the story of the true meaning of Christmas without feeling like a Book You Should Read.  I had found several beautiful children’s books about the Nativity, but I couldn’t get Monkey to sit through them.  Yet this clever story about Mortimer Mouse captures a child’s attention to explain about the real Christmas spirit.  You’ll have to read it yourself to find out the significance of a gingerbread house to the story 😉

If you are looking for other healthy holiday treats, here are some wonderful ones to try:

Nothing If Not Intentional has another Healthy Gingerbread House recipe using peanut butter and dried fruit – mmm!

True Aim Education has a Pumpkin Gingerbread Cake that is not only paleo and gluten-free, it also looks delicious!

Crystal’s Tiny Treasures has an adorable Candy Cane Snack out of fruits!

ALLterNATIVE learning had the great idea to use cookie cutters to make holiday fruit snacks!

What treats are you making this season?

Dec 022013
 

An African 12 Days of Christmas - Alldonemonkey.com

This post contains affiliate links.  This means if you click through and make a purchase, we receive a small commission.  We appreciate your support!

This post is written as part of a collection of multicultural holiday children’s books, to be compiled by Becky of Kid World Citizen for Multicultural Kid Blogs.

When I ran across A Stork in a Baobab Tree: An African 12 Days of Christmas in the library recently, I knew I had found a real gem.  It is a delightful holiday book that can be enjoyed by children of a wide range of ages.

The text, which follows that of the traditional carol, tells of the different ways Africans celebrate Christmas and more broadly about some of the elements of everyday life there, such as the traditional markets and houses.  So on the third day of Christmas, for example, “my true love gave to me three woven baskets.”

The illustrations are stunning and well-researched.  Each new page gives us a rich panorama of a different region of Africa, from Morocco to South Africa.  At the same time as these illustrations showcase what is “exotic” about Africa to Western readers – thatched huts and native dress, for example – the artist makes the people in these paintings seem very familiar despite the distance.  My favorite page, for instance, is of the seventh day of Christmas, since the “seven children playing” look much like children anywhere, though their toys may be different.  I particularly like the little girl playfully putting a baby animal on another girl’s head :)  Some tricks are universal!

The story can be read on several levels.  Young children will enjoy the new version of a familiar song and delight in the beautiful artwork.  Yet each page also includes a more detailed explanation of the verse for that day, such as a discussion of the importance of drumming in Africa and how traditional drums are made.

I must admit that at first I was very put off by the constant mention of “African” markets, “African” houses, etc., since Africa is a huge, incredibly diverse continent that should not be generalized so broadly.  (I highly recommend Kid World Citizen’s review of the book “Africa Is Not A Country” for more on this topic).  I found this generalizing trend especially surprising considering how intimately familiar both the author and illustrator were Africa’s diversity, given that both have lived in various African countries for many years.

I can only guess that this was a strategic move to make the book more accessible to Western audiences, who tend to know very little about different countries in Africa.  The illustrations show a wide range of African cultures, and for those that wish to know more, there is a list in the back of the book about the specific countries on which each page in the book is based.

I highly recommend this book as a fun way for kids to learn more about Christmas in other cultures, as they enjoy a twist on a favorite holiday song.

Christmas in Different Lands - Multicultural Kid Blogs

This post has been shared at Christmas in Different Lands from Multicultural Kid Blogs.

Nov 292013
 
 November 29, 2013  Christmas, crafts 8 Responses »

Advent Calendar: Activity Chain - Alldonemonkey.com

I love Advent calendars – the anticipation of the upcoming holiday, marking each day with a special treat – and it has been a dream of mine to make a beautiful, handmade Advent calendar for the boys for the Bahá’í holiday of Ayyám-i-Há in February.

However, by now you may know that beautiful, handmade crafts are not my specialty, so instead I thought I would play to my strength – activities that are easy yet a bit clever as well.

Although our holiday isn’t for a few months, I wanted to post this now because it would work so well for Christmas.

We all remember the paper chains we made in elementary school to count down to a special day.  I have simply added the twist of incorporating a special activity for each day, represented by a link in the chain.

To do this craft you will need:

Construction paper or card stock

Scissors

Tape

Marker

That’s it!

Advent Calendar: Activity Chain - Alldonemonkey.com

Cut your paper into links (I turned my paper longways before cutting, so my strips were 9 inches long)

On one side of each link, write the numbers (1 – 25, for Christmas)

On the other side, write a special activity for that day (see suggestions below)

Advent Calendar: Activity Chain - Alldonemonkey.com

Tape the first link shut, making sure not to cover the writing on the inside.

Loop the next link through the first and tape shut.  Repeat for each link until you have all 25.

Advent Calendar: Activity Chain - Alldonemonkey.com

Hang on the wall or across a doorway.  Undo one link for each day, and enjoy as a family doing the activity on the inside of the link.

Some suggested activities for a Christmas Advent calendar:

Draw names for a Christmas gift exchange

Listen to (and sing along with) holiday music!  Each person gets to choose a favorite song

Bake cookies to share with your neighbors

Go Christmas caroling

Have a hot chocolate party

Decorate the tree

Hang other decorations around the house

Pick a charity to make a family donation

Decide on a family service project

Pop popcorn and watch a favorite holiday movie

Make presents to take to teachers at school, the letter carrier, etc.

Make cards to send to grandparents, etc.

Advent Calendar: Activity Chain - Alldonemonkey.com

How are you getting ready for the holidays?

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