Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My biggest green mistake: Not following through

Going Green  Mama fesses up....

"I thought you were cancelling the produce delivery," my husband sternly met me at the door. I mumbled about keeping it when he was out of town that week because I didn't want to shop with the kids. The truth is, I don't want to give up the idea of us eating local and organically.

My husband has a point: How many times have I bought from the produce delivery, only to let the lovely seasonal vegetables die a most horrible death in my produce drawer or in the back of my fridge? The last few months have been chaotic at best, juggling work, a start-up company, a family, a scout troop, an occasional blog, the holidays, and, well, me. Too often my great goals of eating brightly colored broccoli from a local farmer fell with the temptation to swing by Papa Murphy's, because, well, it's easier when the kids are ready to chew on the car after school.

So my laziness has created more waste. The waste of buying twice for one meal. The waste of extra gas for the delivery driver. The waste of our budget. The extra trash.

Food waste is an issue for all of us, and while it's easy to point fingers at the restaurant industry, it truly starts at home. It's the small things, from cooking too much and letting the rest go to waste, to forgetting about those now-expired goods in our pantry. And it all adds up.

Right now, I've called a truce with my husband, putting the service on hold with the option of temporarily restarting it when I want to. The fridge is getting a makeover, and my compost bin a few extra items that are past their prime and not the best options for turning into soups. And that little line in my planner that says "meals?" It's getting filled out this weekend. We're making a plan to succeed.

Friday, January 25, 2013

What I've Learned from Parents and What I Can Give in Return

EcoYogini shares what she has learned about preschoolers and gives back what she can to the awe-inspiring eco-parent in the blogosphere...

When I embarked on this eco-blogging adventure, it took me a while to figure out that most eco-bloggers are (fabulous) mothers... and American.

As a result, I was much more active on the yoga blogs than on the eco-blogs, since I just didn't have that much to contribute. It was a bit tricky (and remains so) to relate with posts about the intricacies surrounding parenthood, since the closest I get is my work and our two cats. I mean, for the longest time I wasn't even sure if I ever wanted to have children (this has since changed- especially in the past year...).

I suppose it makes sense that many parents become more cognizant of environmental concerns once the consequences could negatively impact the health and future of their child.

As someone who is type A, I can see that the true challenge would actually be finding a place of balance between doing what you can as opposed to doing everything. Especially if you are a new parent.

My job as taught me a lot about children and parental guilt. For over six years I've been working closely with preschool aged children and their families as a Speech-Language Pathologist. I've learned a lot (and I've learned no longer to say "When you have 10min of free time to practice..." lol), such as:

  • children eat their boogers. It's a fact of life. It also most likely a response to a) not understanding social etiquette yet and b) pre-ability to physically blow air out of your nose- developmentally that takes a few years to get. It no longer grosses me out.
  • all parents smell their kid's butts. I will smell my child's bum. There is no shame in this.
  • expecting a preschooler to cough in their sleeve is a bit unreasonable. Again, it's the whole cognitive ability to appreciate social etiquette, along with the fact that under the age of 4 children don't have the physical awareness of knowing WHEN they are going to cough until they are actually in the process of coughing. I just wash my table, hands and toys a lot.
  • my clients think I live in my office. No really- it's kinda cute. When I point out there is no bed, usually they get confused- because where else would I live?
  • If a child drinks too much milk too quickly, runs around in a circle, they will vomit all over my office floor. This is ok. 
  • Children under the age of 5 years rarely do anything just to "be bad". Behaviours always have a reason (typically around communication or lack thereof). 
  • There is no cookie-cutter behavioural management program or magic recipe. What works for one family might not work for another. It breaks my heart when parents feel like they've failed because 1,2,3 magic doesn't work for them. Honestly, I think 1,2,3 magic is a load of baloney. 
  • All parents feel guilty about everything all the time. I will too when I have a child.
  • Parents don't sleep and don't have any free time. I am not being facetious. This is a fact of parenthood. I need to accept it as an eventuality.
  • Preschoolers are my absolute favourite population to work with. They are the cutest, funniest and most fulfilling clients to have and their families teach me so much.

So, in thanks for all that I have learned and will continue to learn from my client's and their families, I'd like to give a few snippets back with what I have to give:

  • Bilingualism does not cause language delay. No really. It doesn't. Speak multiple languages to your child, it will be fine. If you want research to back this up- email me and we'll chat :)
  • Children start combining words around the age of 2 years. Even bilingual kiddos do this. Sure, 50% of children might grow out of it without any help, but the other 50% who aren't combining words ("more mama") might need extra support... and it's almost impossible to tell the difference that early. This is true for French language development too.
  • Talking lots to your child is great, but waiting for them to say something or answer is even better. Often we ask lots of questions and don't give our child a chance to say a word in edgewise. Try waiting, count to 10 in your head, and see what happens. You might be surprised.
  • Many preschoolers can spend a period of up to 6 months stuttering. This is normal and may pass. However, it should resolve within six months. Stuttering can be "fixed" before the child starts school... but after that it's all about managing the stutter and less about "fixing" it.
  • Having a bit of difficulty with communication does not necessary go hand and hand with level of intelligence. Some children need glasses, some aren't great at running and jumping and some kiddos need a bit of help with talking and understanding. 
  • Unless you significantly neglect your child (and should be arrested), a speech or language delay is not your fault. No really. It's not.
  • Preschoolers don't learn language from tv, computers, "leapfrog" or ipads. They learn language from other people. The best educational "app" for your child is you.
  • Speech therapists are FUN, and depending where you live, it's free! (i.e. in Canada). 
  • Since we're so much fun, why wait until school starts? So much fun stuff can happen before school, and if you have coverage (or you live in Canada and it's free) why not take advantage? (I might be a little biased on this point- I will admit). Often public services have waitlists, so if your concerns disappear in the 6-9months that you have to wait, it's usually never a problem to kindly decline service. No harm done :)
  • YOU as the parent are the expert on your child and what works best for your family. Professionals are there to help give you extra tips and suggestions, but ultimately you know them best. You should feel respected and an essential part of any health care team, in fact you should feel like you are your child's team leader. 
  • If you as a parent are concerned, in my book that's enough. You know your child the best and it's so important that you advocate for your child's needs. In most provinces in Canada you don't need a doctor's referral for speech therapy anyway. 
Thank YOU, eco moms and dads, for teaching me so much and sharing your insights, thoughts and dreams! I can only hope that I'll be as inspiring and as fabulous of a parent as you :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

It started with a reusable mop

From the (currently overflowing) laundry basket of the HomeGrown Mama

In 2007, I started on my journey to live a greener, more natural lifestyle. I remember it like it was yesterday: I'd been married less than a year and had spent a weekend at home during a snowstorm reading blog after blog, including that of The Farmer's Daughter and came to the realization that I needed to make some serious changes in my life. I had read an article on how chemicals in a certain popular mopping solution was making animals sick and I panicked envisioning my pug greedily licking the kitchen floor when I turned my back. I threw out the mop that day and bought one with reusable pads... the same mop that I clean my floors with today, 8 years and 2 homes later.

That year, I planted a garden, learned to cook and can, eliminated the toxins as best I could from my home and became the crazy eco-nut my family as grown to accept. At that time, I had to search for ingredients and would nearly have a panic attack taking my containers to the deli to ask that meat be sliced into them instead of the plastic bags. All through my pregnancy, I only ate local foods because I was so influenced by the 100 mile diet until the cravings took over and I couldn't escape my "need" for cantaloupe in February or the lure of Taco Bell. I had a drug-free home birth and prided myself on the thrifted furniture and cloth diapers in my baby's room.

As I sit here, beginning my 8th year of eco-responsibility, I'm reflecting on how my life has changed. I was crazy about my 100 mile diet until I realized that my little boy wouldn't eat much other than carbs unless it was fresh fruit. Sadly, Ohio isn't known for it's fruit production mid January. So I buy organic fruit and continue to can applesauce like a fool while apples are in season a few miles away.  However, those years of purchasing locally opened my eyes to all that is available within my county and state. Through this, I search Etsy for gifts I cannot make or source through a friend.

As always, there is still room for growth. I'm looking to keep phasing plastics out of my kitchen and resume my unprocessed ways... the holidays always seem to throw me for a loop... I can't be the only one out there, right?! Despite my continued need for improvement, I'm thrilled to look back and see that my choices that were hard in the beginning are second nature now. I now reach for a (repurposed) squirt bottle of vinegar when I clean and my children's toys are dominated by those not requiring batteries. My husband has been overheard explaining the joys of cloth diapering and although they know it to be true, my family still can't grasp why I don't buy paper towels.

What made you take the dive into a greener life? How many of those first changes have you kept and what are you still working toward?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Taking Aim at Idling

The Climate Crusader is talking about turning off your car more.

I live in Vancouver, British Columbia, which is a city on the sea. It's connected to some other parts of the province by a ferry system. I take the ferry every so often, usually when I'm headed someplace nearby for a quick getaway. It's a lovely way to travel with children, because while you're on the boat the kids can get out of the car and play in the indoor play area, or head out to the deck to laugh in the wind that blows over the ocean.

If you take a ferry locally, you'll be greeted with many signs and announcements advising you not to leave your car idling. This is because leaving your car idling is bad for the earth. It releases carbon dioxide and other gases and pollutants. It burns fuel, which as we all know is pretty expensive. And for modern vehicles, it's entirely unnecessary. In fact, drivers are routinely advised to warm up their cars by driving them, not idling, even in winter. It takes only a few seconds for a car to be ready to go.

In fact, in Switzerland, drivers are required to turn off their engines at red lights. It turns out that if your car will be off for at least 10 seconds, you're saving gas by stopping and starting it again, rather than leaving it running. Apparently, the Swiss have an indicator to let you know when the light is about to turn green so that you can start again. We don't have that here in North America, but there are still a lot of times and places that most drivers can stop idling.

My car, affectionately nicknamed the silver bullet
My car is idle, but not idling
Many cities, states, provinces and countries have no idling laws in order to reduce greenhouse gas and pollution. These laws encourage you to turn off your car pretty much any time that you'll be stopped for more than a few seconds. My own community has such a law, and it has raised my awareness.

If you had asked me a couple of years ago, I would have said that I don't spend much time sitting in an idling car. However, as I've become more aware, I've noticed more and more situations when I leave my own car on unnecessarily. For instance, on the rare occasion that I drive my daughter to school, I often leave my car idling while I help her out without thinking. I have also found myself idling while I wait in drive-thru line-ups, while I wait to pick someone up, at train crossings, and after I turn my car on but before I start driving someplace, as I get organized.

Of course, it's going to take more than cutting out idling to battle climate change. But every little bit helps - and if you can save some money while you save the planet, even better.

Do you make an effort to avoid leaving your car idling? Have you noticed times when you leave it idling, as your awareness grows?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Feel the (Fire Cider) burn!

Last week, we dug out our first horseradish harvest.  I dragged took the entire Truffula Gang out to the garden with me to look and dig:

Not exactly beauties, but worth gold to me!
I should have weighed the bounty.  In any case, we unearthed several pounds of zing-y goodness.  It's quite an interesting plant -- the roots wander out in all directions.

 As I've been learning about herbal remedies, mentions of and recipes for Fire Cider (also referred to as Master Tonic) kept coming up.

I'll admit it - the recipe was one I had to consider for a long time before making it.  It called for quantities of Very Spicy Things which push me to the limits of my tongue's comfort level. But, in the end, it wasn't about my tongue; it was about a remedy to support my health.  (And, in the end, I discovered happily that the yowza level of the ingredients mellowed out nicely in the finished product.)

After deciding to take the plunge for my inaugural batch last year, the next step was procuring the necessary horseradish.  I knew just where to find a great piece of root - our dear, local CSA, where I had lovingly weeded around it during while volunteering. They kindly hooked me up with a few chunks.
Cautious about how I'd fare with the recipe, I scaled it down to a trial-sized batch. It turned out to use only 1/4 cup of horseradish! What to do with the rest, especially after having specially procured it? I did what any green she-ro would do: I scraped up the already-grated bits, and put them into the refrigerator for future culinary exploits, and then... headed out to the garden.

I tucked bits of horseradish into the ground here and there, kind of like the squirrels with their acorns.  I didn't label a thing.  <Sigh> I always think I'll remember where I have planted what, only to promptly forget those details.  Helpfully, horseradish has large huge, distinctive leaves: it was like Christmas in Spring as I walked around spotting them.

So, fast-forward to now, when the hacking and sniffling around me, and urgent media coverage about surges in flu incidence, were ever-present reminders that I needed to replenish my Fire Cider stash.  I got my supplies lined up: apple cider vinegar... in supply; garlic... check!; ginger... had some frozen young root from a local farm in the freezer; onion... on the grocery list; horseradish... yes! All I needed now was the right date.

I waited until the next new moon (supposedly a good time for starting new herbal preparations), and set to work. It took me over an hour -- maybe even two -- to slice-and-dice my ingredients. Every time my thoughts wandered to "This is taking forever!", I refocused on thinking positive thoughts about the remedy I was preparing. Having learned my lesson last year, I knew to be prepared for the full-on burn of the horseradish.  I had a handkerchief at the ready for when my eyes began to tear and my nose began to gush.  (No worries - I washed my hands after each round of wiping and blowing.)

Here's the Fire Cider recipe I used this year (minus the cayenne pepper.  I substituted with ground cayenne instead).  I've got a quart-sized jar a-brewing!

It will feel good to have my remedy shelf restocked.  What feels just as good is that the "excess" from the horseradish root I got late last Fall multiplied such that I was able to grow out enough for my own use, PLUS gift six other people with this year's harvest!  I'm so grateful!

The Fire Cider sits right next to my Elderberry Tincture. What are your tried-and-true homemade remedies? And, what gardening "gifts" have you payed forward?

To our health!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Climate Change Isn't a Republican or Democrat Issue

After the hottest year on record, very little is being done politically to help prepare us for the changing climate. It seems like the sides just fight and get nothing done. Almost daily I see someone on social media denying climate change and my own U.S. Senator, Sen. Inhofe, is one of the biggest climate change deniers out there.

But within the science community both political sides agree, climate change is real and we are causing it. Dr. Kerry Emanuel of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Dr. Peter Frumhoff of Union of Concerned Scientists, one typically votes republican, and one votes democrat, both agree about climate change. They are calling on us to find a common ground and take care of climate change. Check out this great video from Concerned Scientists for more information.

Be sure to share this and hopefully we can all work together to come up with good solutions to the issues that face us due to climate change.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Idle No More Movement: Why You Should Care

EcoYogini shares some news on what's happening in the "Big White North"...


I have to say, the first time I heard the slogan I was a little disappointed... it's so awkward. Then, like many Canadians, I assumed it was a strictly First Nations movement.

Which it kinda is... and it kind of isn't.

As an Acadian, I've always felt a bit of a cultural connection with First Nations Peoples- our histories have coincided: the Mi'kmaq people welcomed and supported my ancestors, the Acadians, with whom the created a peaceful and collaborative friendship (unlike the English settlers who came afterward). Many of my family can trace First Nation heritage. We both struggle to keep our culture, language and heritage (although not to the same degree).

Idle No More was created by four women: Nina Wilson, Sheelah McLean, Sylvia McAdam and Jessica Gordon who were looking for a way to bring together all people in order to protest and protect our natural ressources and the health of our citizens.

Today Prime Minister Stephen Harper finally agreed to meet with First Nations Leaders... but only a select few... and after over a month of Chief Theresa Spence's hunger strike.

Why does the IdleNoMore movement matter to regular Canadians (and non-Canadians)?

Firstly, it's important to understand what the Idle No More movement is actually protesting.
The main area of contention is the MASSIVE omnibus bill that was passed this October, Bill C-45. This 400 page long bill was passed quickly, with minimal citizen and First Nations consultation... and it has a whole slew of environmental regulation changes that are extremely concerning.

Changes in this bill includes:
- Removing protection of over 99% of Canada's rivers and lakes: allowing companies and municipalities to simply build dams, bridges, pass pipelines without approval or regulation of any sort. This will impact water flows, water quality (as environmental regulations have been drastically cut already) and fish stock.

Major pipelines and power lines can be built through Canadian water ways without having to prove that they could damage the habitat or pollute the water systems. (Navigable Waters Protection Act)

- Changes to the Fisheries Act allowing companies to opt-out of commitments to protect local fish habitat as well as opt-out of promised compensation if they do damage habitat.

Elimination of the independent body: "Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission" that protects citizens from toxic chemicals in the workplace.

- Changes in the Indian Act: decreasing voting regulations on how reserved Aboriginal land is leased; which the IdleNoMore movement contends will allow leasing to nuclear, oil and manufacturing companies without regard to local First Nation Peoples or their health and community.

This comes after the drastic overhaul of Canada's environmental protection laws through omnibus bill c-38- another massive and sneaky bill passed quickly with minimal consultation with Canadians and First Nations Peoples; which many are contending violates treaty laws.

How can you support the Idle No More movement?
- Attend local rallies, teach-ins, events and gatherings
- Write to your local MP or better yet to Stephen Harper, voicing your concern and displeasure on being left out of crucial changes to our environment and natural resources protection.
- Sign petitions
- Wear a Red Feather in support of the movement. I know I will.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Green Resolutions for 2013

In her first post of 2013, the Climate Crusader is considering how to be more green this year.

The end of the first week of 2013 is drawing to a close. While many of us have already given up on our New Year's resolutions, I'd like to make the case that it isn't too late to commit to living a greener lifestyle this year. Small changes really can make a big difference, especially when you add up the impact over the course of a whole year. The fact that we're already seven days into the new year doesn't change that.

But what changes to make? If you'd like to make some positive changes for a greener life in 2013, I have a few suggestions for where to start.

Little shoots of green can spring up this year.

 Resolutions for a Greener Year Ahead

  1. Look at your cleaning products. Many of us are aware, by now, that most commercial cleaning products contain toxins. These substances can cause skin irritation, breathing problems, and in some cases may even be carcinogenic. The good news is that every time you finish a bottle, box or jar of one of your cleaning products, you can switch it out for something greener. Making your own cleaning products is surprisingly easy. Or if that's too much work, look for less-toxic alternatives.
  2. Read labels. Whether you're buying those cleaning products I just talked about, you're shopping for groceries, you're buying toys for your kids, or you're on the hunt for the perfect lipstick, read up on what you're buying. What does it actually contain? And if they won't tell you, what does that say about them? The more you know about what you're spending your money on, the better choices you can make.
  3. Buy less. Do you ever feel overwhelmed by stuff? I do, and I think many other North Americans can relate. The truth is that most of us have more stuff than we really need - maybe even more than we could ever really use. There's a reason that 'reduce' is the first of the environmental three Rs. Every time we don't buy something, we're saving all the resources that went into making it, and we're eliminating the issue of what to do with it when it's no longer useful. Plus, the less you buy, the more money you'll have for other things.
  4. Shop local. When you do buy something, see if you can find it locally. The fewer miles that something has to travel to get to you, the lower its carbon footprint. This is true whether we're talking about a carrot or a T-shirt. Plus, when  you shop locally, you get to know people in your community, and support your local economy. Those are both good things. As well, you can often avoid the heavy packaging that comes with many imported items.
What about you? Are you setting any resolutions for a greener 2013?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Holiday Reflections

We did it! We made gingerbread cookies!

The holidays have come and gone again. Our decorations are still up, but the parties and gift-opening and cookie-making are over. Now that I have children old enough to remember their Christmases, I am trying to make them more memorable, more filled with meaningful traditions. Here are some traditions we enjoyed doing this year, as well as some traditions I aspire to doing in the years to come:

Fabric Gift Bags

This is the second year we used reusable fabric gift bags for all gifts within our immediate family. I am so very pleased with them. We use them for birthdays as well. I'm hoping to repurpose the wrapping paper (what I could salvage!) from gifts given by others to make some homemade cards next year. How do you wrap gifts?

Christmas Book Advent Calendar

This was our first year unwrapping a Christmas children’s book each night to read together to count down to Christmas and we all really enjoyed it. We had a few other advent-type activities, but had trouble remembering to do them each night. My kids fought about taking turns opening the books for the first week, but after they got over that it became something to look forward to each night at bedtime. We kept it eco-friendly with reusable fabric gift bags, ribbons, and numbered tags. How do you count down to your favorite winter holiday? 

Christmas Tree

We bought a real (possibly local?) Christmas tree in early December this year so we would be able to enjoy our tree for a long time. We still haven’t taken it down, and it’s true that there are needles littering the floor, but they are from my rambunctious children climbing under the tree and putting on and taking off ornaments innumerable times. We also managed to make a few ornaments for the tree: long paper chains and little cut-out elves (template came from one of the books we read). These will be saved and brought out again next Christmas. Next year I would love to visit an actual Christmas tree farm and make more homemade ornaments – like a popcorn chain! What kind of tree did you have this year? 

Paper Snowflakes

It’s true I had to do almost all the work myself, but it was still worth it, and I’m glad I set the precedent. Someone tipped me off that coffee filters work well. We don’t drink coffee but have a lot of coffee filters (left by the in-laws when they packed up and moved to South America). When I run out of coffee filters, maybe I can ask my neighbors if anyone gets the newspaper. Then we could try making this lovely newspaper snowflake garland. What holiday decorations do you enjoy making?

Child-friendly Creches

I have two creches I'm happy to let my children play with. One is felt figures glued onto 2x4 pieces of wood and the other is a beautiful wooden set inherited from my husband's parents. Both are displayed at my children's eye-level in accessible locations so that they can move the pieces around and enjoy them all season long. This was a favorite activity of mine as a child. If you are in the market for a child-friendly creche, I've bookmarked a few on Etsy for you (I can't help myself!).

Watch Holiday Shows

My son refused to watch the Charlie Brown Christmas DVD this year (he said he didn’t like that they stole ornaments from Snoopy’s house to decorate the tree!), but we did watch the Grinch and a realistic version of the Nativity several times. We also tried to find Rudolph and other shows from my childhood on Netflix and ended up seeing some really weird stuff from the 50s with highly stereotypical depictions of children from around the world. My kids weren’t pleased when I abruptly shut that off. Fail! What are your favorite holiday movies? 

Gingerbread Men

Over two years ago a friend of mine made gingerbread cookies with all of our kids while we were at her home. And since then I often look guiltily at the Christmas-themed cookie cutters my SIL gave me years ago, thinking about how my children would love to use them. This year we actually did it! Ideally, we would have made gingerbread men the day after we opened and read The Gingerbread Man as part of our advent celebration. Unfortunately, I finally got around to making them with my kids on Christmas Eve, which meant I picked a recipe not based on the reputation of the source, but based on the fact that it only used ingredients I had on hand and did not need to be chilled overnight (no time for that!). I ended up using the recipe on the back of the children’s book. They were a little on the less-sweet side (I used blackstrap molasses – maybe not the best choice), and didn’t get any frosting, but my kids were still thrilled to make them and deliver them to neighbors. My 3yo and I were the only ones who ate them, but my 5yo and 3yo sure had a wonderful time having their gingerbread men chase each other all over the house. Do you have a fabulous gingerbread cookie recipe? Please share in the comments! 

Sing Christmas Carols 

We did this a lot, but I wish we had done it even more. It is challenging for me to play the piano right now because my one-year-old thinks that she should be on my lap playing herself whenever I sit down to play. We did play and dance to a lot of Christmas CDs this year. But nothing beats making music yourself with family and friends. What is your favorite holiday song?

Next Year

There were still plenty of things we didn’t get to. I would love to help my children make cards and gifts for family, friends and helpers (teachers, etc.) next year. We only mustered a card for my kindergartener’s teacher this year. I know you Boothers must have a million ideas for homemade gifts that can be made by young children (probably whole boards of them on Pinterest). Do tell! Maybe if I select the gift now, and get the materials together by October, we’ll have a shot at this one in 2013.

We did exactly nothing for New Year’s this year. In our defense, some of us were under the weather. I found out that my sister (who has elementary-aged children) does a fake countdown a few hours early and then has a dance party with her family. I’m hoping to do this next year! I haven’t discussed resolutions/ goals/ wishes for the new year with my kids, because, honestly, I have mixed feelings about that process myself. Do you have a favorite New Year’s tradition? Especially one that works with little (under 5) ones?

Eco-novice wishes you a wonderful 2013!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Living Solstice Tree

This was my second year buying a living evergreen tree to brighten up home for the holidays. Living trees are a great sustainable option that's often left out of the cut tree versus fake tree debate. They tend to be on the small size, but that works out well for city apartments where space is tight.

Last year, we failed at keeping it alive in my boyfriend's apartment. We kept procrastinating on bringing the tree to a friend's patio, so the tree dried out and then we let it continue to sit near a radiator for a couple of months.

Now that we have our own yard, we wanted to give a living tree another try this year. It's a dwarf alberta spruce. The garden store owner emphasized that these trees should only be kept inside for a week at a time. They should be watered every couple days while inside, and then about once a week when outside. We decorated it inside for the week leading up to Christmas and then put the tree outside just before going to visit family for the holiday. We removed the ornaments and repotted it in a larger pot with more soil to prevent the tree from getting root-bound.

So far it seems okay outside, although the soil is a little stiff from the cold. With any luck, we'll be able to bring it back inside next December to celebrate Christmas (or solstice or whatever you like to celebrate), removing the need for a cut tree from the equation. We'll probably also use it to decorate our backyard with twinkly lights year-round.


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