Monday, November 28, 2016

Top #GivingTuesday Organizations to be more Green


Giving Tuesday is a day set aside for us all to come together to support our local and national not-for-profits. While we shouldn't need a special day to support great causes, it is a great reminder that the holiday giving season is not just about shopping and gift giving - it is also about giving back.
Giving Tuesday was created by the team at the Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact at the 92nd Street Y—a cultural center in New York City that, since 1874, has been bringing people together around the values of service and giving back—#GivingTuesday connects diverse groups of individuals, communities and organizations around the world for one common purpose: to celebrate and encourage giving.

This year I am involving my kids in making decisions on which organizations to make donations to. I want to focus on environmental and parks causes so I put together the list below as a resource for my family and yours. Take a look at these great organizations that are really making a difference and consider supporting them on November 29, or any day!

National Park Service

This year marked the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service. Show your support for the future of our National parks by making a donation to your favorite park or through the National Park Foundation. Our over 400 national parks preserve 84 million acres of the world’s most treasured landscapes, ecosystems, and historical sites. Your gift will help the National Park Foundation protect these treasured landscapes for generations to come.
Click here for more info and to find your park

Donate to the National Park Foundation here

The Trust for Public Land 

Creating Parks and Protecting Land for People
For over four decades, The Trust for Public Land has saved more than 5,400 special places in 48 states, protecting more than 3.3 million acres. No other organization can accomplish more with less money, so you can be sure that every dollar donated will make a difference! This year your donation will be matched dollar for dollar so your gift will make twice the impact. Learn more about the Trust for Public Land at tpl.org

Watch this fabulous video on the work TPL is doing for schools in NYC: TPL NYC Playgrounds Program
Donate to TPL today here

350.org 

An international campaign dedicated to fighting climate change, 350.org gets its name from the maximum level of atmospheric carbon dioxide — 350 parts per million (ppm) — that climate scientists agree will maintain our planet’s long-term ecological health. Now, the level is 400 ppm, and it’s rising by 2 ppm each year. This group organizes in 188 countries and strives to revolutionize the climate movement. Learn more at https://350.org/Donate to 350.org today here

Nature Conservancy 

Since its foundation in 1951, this global conservation group has safeguarded more than 115 million acres of land from development. The Conservancy works with landowners, communities and businesses to achieve conservation goals. Learn more about the Nature Conservancy at http://www.nature.org/
Donate to Nature Conservancy Here

Sierra Club 

EXPLORE, ENJOY, AND PROTECT THE PLANETThe Sierra Club, founded in 1892, has an impressive, storied history and is one of the oldest and largest grass-roots environmental organizations in the United States. The group’s website is a hub of opportunities to participate in all sorts of environmental campaigns, from rallying against fracking to opposing carbon pollution. Learn more at http://www.sierraclub.org/ 
Donate to Sierra Club Here



The Arbor Day Foundation

The Arbor Day Foundation inspires people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees.
This is the mission statement of the Arbor Day Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit conservation and education organization.

Founded in 1972, the centennial of the first Arbor Day observance in the 19th century, the Foundation has grown to become the largest nonprofit membership organization dedicated to planting trees, with over one million members, supporters, and valued partners. Over the course of 50 years, a single tree can generate $31,250 worth of air pollution control, recycle $37,500 worth of water, and control $31,500 worth of soil erosion. Learn more about Arbor Day Foundation here: https://www.arborday.org/

Friday, November 25, 2016

#BlackFriday deals start now!

Thanksgiving is over and while we recoup from a busy holiday it is a great time to catch some great early Black Friday deals online! I am not one for huge crowds or getting up early to run into stores as they open on Friday morning, just to save a few bucks. I prefer sitting warm and cozy at my computer to search for the best deals. Amazon is my first stop - there are always great savings to be found. Check out some of the special savings events going on now. Go to Amazon's Black Friday Deals page now.


My Favorite deal is the 30% off fashion! I found some great deals on brand names like Calvin Klein, Steve Madden, Lucky Brand and Nine West - plus much more. Check the deals out here - no code necessary.

Save time and shipping costs by signing up for Amazon Prime. Now is the perfect time to sign up and take advantage of free 2-day shipping when you need it most!


Membership offers special benefits for just $99 per year:
-  Instantly watch thousands of movies and TV episodes 
-  Borrow Kindle books 
-  Get unlimited FREE two-day shipping (no minimum order size)
-  Stream music from millions of artists FREE
- Prime members get 30-minute early access to Lightning Deals on Amazon.com
- Prime Now 2-hour delivery on groceries, gifts and more

Sign up now for a free trial and unlock these great benefits!
Happy Shopping.







Friday, August 19, 2016

Save Money with Honey!

As an avid online shopper and penny pincher, I will jump at the opportunity for a good promo code, deal or discount and often spend more time researching and comparing prices online than actually shopping. I recently discovered a new way to save even more when shopping online and it's name is as sweet as the savings! HONEY.

Honey is a service that makes it ridiculously easy to save money and time. Honey automatically finds coupon codes for the site you’re shopping at and applies them to your order when you check out, saving you money and coupon searching time.


How easy it is to get:

Install the Honey browser extension. A 
 button will be placed in your browser bar. While shopping at a supported store, click on 
to view all available sales and coupon codes. During the checkout process, simply click the "Find Savings" button in the browser extension and Honey will automatically find and apply the best coupon(s) for you.


How it works:

Shop online. Honey works on thousands of stores. Just look for the 
 button in your browser bar. Some of the more popular sites are Amazon, Target, Macys, Groupon and so many more. When you get to the checkout screen, the Honey sidebar will automatically slide out with the button “Try Codes”. When you click the button, Honey automatically tests coupon codes, saving you the hassle of searching for coupon codes before you check out. 

 Click here to start saving big time today: joinhoney.com/ref/aogqtp




Friday, August 12, 2016

Free Audible Trial with 2 Free Books

Going on a road trip and want to listen to a good book to make the time go faster? Amazon Audible is the perfect solution with over 180,000 books to choose from. Sign up now for a FREE no-risk 30-day trial and receive 2 FREE book credits!

Books that speak to you
Immerse yourself in inspiring voices
Listening adds a new dimension to your experience of a book.
Hear master storytellers bring books to life, illuminating characters and taking you deep inside the story. Enjoy more books Listen to audiobooks on your commute, in the gym, while doing chores. Suddenly you have a whole lot more time to enjoy your favorite books.

Some of the popular books I have in my library are (save big with an Audible membership):


 



Listen anywhere Listen wherever, whenever. Listen to your audiobooks with the Audible, or Kindle, app, and Echo too! Switch between Reading and Listening Now you don't have to put a good book down. More than 70,000 Audible titles allow you to switch seamlessly between reading your Kindle version and listening, without losing your place, on Kindle app and Fire devices.

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Includes two free audiobooks with your free trial.
Choose from 180,000+ best sellers, new releases sci-fi, romances, mysteries, classics, and more. After 30 days, get 1 book each month, $14.95/month
Cancel easily anytime. Your books are yours to keep, even if you cancel. Click below to get started now

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Back to School Savings At Amazon

It's that time again... time to start thinking about Back to School and all of the supplies and clothes that go along with it. It is also a great time for savings! Amazon has plenty of great deals and promotions geared just for parents and students. Check out some of these deals:
Back to School Deals

Off to College Deals

Prime Pantry Savings: Free Shipping on Back to School Essentials
Purchase any of the 4 qualifying products below and receive free shipping (a savings of $5.99). Savings will be applied at checkout. Limited time only.

What Is Prime Pantry? Prime Pantry is a unique shopping experience on Amazon.com. Prime members can shop popular household essentials and have them conveniently delivered. You can buy as much or as little as you want for a flat $5.99 delivery fee per Prime Pantry box. Save gas, save money, save time. Learn More

Back to School Deals on Software Browse software titles discounted by 50%

Monday, September 1, 2014

DIY Homemade Natural Herbal Foot Soak

I am an avid heel wearer and in the summer I live in sandals plus I do a lot of walking. By the end of the day, my feet are tired (and living in a big city, not always the cleanest!). I like to end the day by soaking my feet in a therapeutic and cleansing mini-bath. I usually buy natural foot soak salts (my favorite is Earth Therapeutics, see below) but since I have an abundance of herbs in my garden right now I thought I would try making my own. I love the scent of fresh rosemary and lemon balm and since both have good cleansing and aromatherapy qualities, I am using these first. The smell of these two herbs together as I poured boiling water over them was so soothing and pleasant that I think I may try a facial steam with them too! I also purchased some pharmaceutical grade tea tree oil for added benefit, though it is not necessary.

Here is my recipe:
Ingredients
2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
3-4 sprigs of fresh lemon balm
1/4 cup of epsom or sea salt (I also used course Kosher salt)
1-2 drops of tea tree oil
enough water to fill your foot soak tub or bucket to cover your ankles

Pour about 2 cups of boiling water over a few branches of rosemary and lemon balm and let sit for about 20 minutes to cool.
The hot water will release some of the fragrant and medicinal natural oils in the herbs.
Add 1/4 cup of the salt. Add warm water and the rosemary water and test to make sure the temperature is good for you.
Add a few drops of the tea tree oil (it is pretty strong so only 1-3 will do!)
Soak feet for 15 minutes or so.
If you don't have lemon balm you can substitute with some fresh lemon zest shavings or even lemon slices.

Following your soak with a little scrub using a pumice brush or sugar rub also helps get rid of dead skin. I also like to use a little peppermint lotion afterward to cool and refresh while retaining moisture. Burt's Bees makes an excellent peppermint foot lotion that really cools feet after a long hot day. Made with natural ingredients like peppermint oil, coconut oil, beeswax, tea tree oil and witch hazel, this lotion is a great way to naturally pamper your feet!

You can purchase Burt's Bees at Amazon.com at a great price by selecting Subscribe and Save to receive up to 20% off - Click here: Burt's Bees Peppermint Foot Lotion, 3.38 Fluid Ounces

If you don't make your own foot soak, check out Earth Therapeutics Tea Tree Oil Foot Soak. The scent is lightly minty but not over powering. One capful of salts does a great job at softening rough skin.
Purchase this foot soak here: Tea Tree Oil Foot Soak 10 oz

Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Selecting a Holiday Tree - a few facts about the different types

Balsam Fir
Many people choose to have a Christmas tree this month and opinions about what type of tree is best are as varied as anyone can imagine.  Many people argue over whether or not a fake tree is better than a real one...and is more sustainable because you can reuse it every year.  Well, think about where the tree comes from and how it is manufactured and that will give you insight on which is better.  The fact is that most real trees sold as Christmas trees are FARMED, just like many other crops and food sources and are planted every year.  That fake tree is most likely made of plastic using petroleum, harmful chemicals and excessive energy to produce and the fake tree often releases harmful toxins into your home even years after you open the box!
Here is an interesting statement from the National Christmas Tree Association:

MYTH #4: It's better to use a fake tree because you can re-use it each year.
BUSTED: That’s a very short-sighted perspective. According to research, most fake trees are only used 6 to 9 years before they’re disposed. Even if you would use one for 20 years or more, it will eventually be thrown away and end up in a landfill. And unlike Real Trees, which are biodegradable and recyclable, fake trees are always a burden to the environment.

 
For more myths and answers about Christmas trees, go to: http://www.christmastree.org/myths.cfm

Another commonly held belief is that a live, potted tree is better... well, it's a nice thought but more often than not, these trees, even when planted promptly after the holidays, do not live because they have either been exposed to drastic temperature and humidity changes or were not properly cared for.  So is it worth it to buy a potted tree instead of cutting one down?  If you keep it outside and partially bury the pot - possibly but then you miss out on having that Christmas Tree scent in your home!
More Christmas Tree Facts from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service:
  • Real Trees are a renewable, recyclable resource. Artificial trees contain non-biodegradable plastics and possible metal toxins such as lead.
  • There are more than 4,000 local Christmas Tree recycling programs throughout the United States.
  • For every Real Christmas Tree harvested, 1 to 3 seedlings are planted the following spring. 
  • There are close to 15,000 farms growing Christmas Trees in the U.S., and over 100,000 people are employed full or part-time in the industry.
So the more GREEN option seems to be purchasing a cut tree from your local tree farm or in my case, the street corner or plant store.  But now your decision is "Which type of tree do we buy?"
The following evergreen tree species or types are sold and grown in the United States for Christmas Trees and are thought of as the best for different characteristics.

Fir Trees: Common name (Botanical name)

Balsam Fir(Abies balsamea) – Native to the northeastern United States, the Balsam Fir is named for the balsam or resin found in blisters on bark.  The needles are flat, ¾” to 1 ½” long rounded at the tip and generally last long on the branches.  The color is dark green with silvery cast.  Balsam Firs have good form and are fragrant.  Factoid: Balsam fir oil is an EPA approved nontoxic rodent repellent.


Fraser Fir
Fraser Fir – (Abies fraseri): The combination of form, needle retention, dark blue-green color, pleasant scent and strong branches has led to Fraser fir being a most popular Christmas tree species. Fraser Fir has dark green, flattened needles with a medial groove on the upper side and two broad silvery-white bands on the lower surface and are ½ to 1 inch long. When crushed, the needles have a very pleasant woodsy scent. Factoid:  Named for the Scotish botanist, John Fraser, who explored the southern Appalachians in the late 1700’s.



Needles of White Fir


White Fir or Concolor Fir(Abies concolor): Commonly found in the western/northwestern US, the White Fir has  blue-green needles are ½ to ½ inches long.  They have a    nice shape, good citrus-like aroma and good needle retention. White Fir is named for its light-colored bark and the silvery or "glaucous"  color of its needles. Factoid:  In nature the White Fir can live to 350 years.

Douglas Fir branches
Douglas Fir(Pseudotsuga menziesii): Although not actually a fir, the Douglas Fir is one of the most popular trees for Christmas Trees. They are softer with  1” to 1 ½” flat needles and have one of the best aromas among Christmas trees when crushed. Douglas fir has a good conical shape (and often are sheared on the farm to maintain the "perfect" shape).  Named after David Douglas who studied the tree in the 1800’s;  can live for a thousand years. It is also the state tree of Oregon.


Pine Trees - Common name (Botanical name):

White Pine
White Pine(Pinus strobus):
This pine has soft, blue-green needles, 2 to 5 inches long in bundles of five and retains needles throughout the holiday season with a very full appearance. White pine has little or no fragrance so has less allergic reactions as compared to more fragrant trees - this is a good choice for families prone to allergies or sensitivities to fragrances. As the largest pine in Eastern United States it is also the state tree of Michigan and Maine. It's slender branches will support fewer and smaller decorations as compared to Scotch pine. It’s wood is used in cabinets, interior finish and carving. Native Americans used the inner bark as food. Early colonists used the inner bark to make cough medicine. Caveat: Branching can be too dense for large ornaments. Needles can be too slippery and soft for heavy ornaments but it's soft appearance takes on an elegant appearance simply with just white lights.


Scotch Pine branches
Scotch Pine(Pinus sylvestris): Another common Christmas tree, the Scotch Pine is native to Europe and Asia and is predominant in Scotland. It is readily identified by its combination of fairly short, blue-green leaves and orange-red bark.  It has stiff branches, stiff, dark green needles in pairs one inch long and holds needles for four weeks - needles will stay on even when dry which makes it very popular for indoor Christmas trees. It has open appearance and more room for ornaments and also keeps aroma throughout the season. The Scotch Pine was introduced into United States by European settlers. Factoid: Pinus sylvestris is the only pine native to northern England and is the National Tree of Scotland.

Spruce Trees - Common name (Botanical name):

White Spruce branches
White Spruce – (Picea glauca): Leaves (needles) are needle-shaped, and are often somewhat crowded on the upper half of the branchlets. Needles are usually 1/2 to 3/4 inch long, blunt at the tip and green to bluish-green in color.  Crushed needles have an unpleasant odor but have good needle retention. As a Christmas tree, white spruce has excellent foliage color, short stiff needles and a good natural shape. Needle retention is better than some of other spruce species.  Factoid: State tree of South Dakota.  


Blue Spruce branches
Blue Spruce(Picea pungens): Color is dark green to powdery blue with very stiff needles, ¾” to 1 ½” long. The needles are 4-sided and have a very sharp point on the end. It is this point which gives the species its name "pungens", from the Latin word for sharp as in puncture wound. Needles are generally dull bluish-gray to silvery blue and emit a resinous odor when crushed; good form; will drop needles in a warm room; symmetrical; but is best among species for needle retention; branches are stiff and will support many heavy decorations. Factoid: State tree of Utah & Colorado. Can live in nature 600-800 years.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Prepare for Cold Season with this Natural Flu Shot Recipe

Last year my whole family was struck down by the flu and multiple severe colds. After spending all of the holiday season sick last year I am determined to do whatever it takes to prevent the same from happening this year! So when I woke up this morning with a stuffy nose and mildly sore throat, I dug up a recipe that a good friend sent me last year (after I had been sick on and off for nearly 2 months!). This recipe has been spread across the internet but I tried it last year and felt it worked so I'm trying it again.

I made this in my blender by juicing the lemons, adding 3 cups of frozen pineapple chunks (couldn't find pineapple juice - don't know why but the frozen pineapple worked great!) and adding several cloves of garlic (I found that the garlic is pretty strong so if you are scared off by the thought of consuming a whole bulb of garlic, start with a little). Then I added the honey, cayenne pepper and grated FRESH ginger, which I really prefer as it tastes great. Blended until smooth and drank 1 cup.

It is powerful but very refreshing! The pineapple really add sweetness and you can start with just a little cayenne pepper then add more depending on how hot you can stand it. As I drank it, I felt that the garlic and cayenne really went to work fast and probably killed any germ, cold or flu bug that could exist in my throat!
If you can't read the photo above, here are the ingredients:

Ingredients

6 lemons - use the juice only
1 bulb garlic (not clove, the whole cluster of garlic cloves)
2 tsp grated ginger (or dry ginger powder)
3 c pineapple juice
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper 
2 Tbs honey
 Blend all ingredients thoroughly and store in a glass jar in the refrigerator. Take 1 cup 4 times a day until symptoms are resolved.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Stay healthy,
Sprout