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by Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP: Instead of buying stuff (remember last week’s Green caleigh-snowmanTip) invest in experience consumption.

What is experience consumption? It’s spending time, and perhaps some money, on experiences instead of material possessions.
Source: Robin Shreeves

I just read an awesome article at Mother Nature Network from my friend Robin Shreeves entitled Why I’m optimistic about 2010: Experience consumption. Robin explains how the recession has helped us remember our lives are not about the stuff we buy, they are about our family, friends and experiences. Does this sound familiar? Have I not been saying this forever?

Green Living is about living simply, sustainably and thoughtfully.

In her article Robin references a New York Times article that says a recent New York Times/CBS News poll has found, nearly half of Americans said they were spending less time buying nonessentials, and more than half are spending less money in stores and online.

I don’t need validation from the New York Times or ½ of America… but it sure is nice for a change.

According to the Times’ article, The Department of Labor’s time-use surveys show a similar trend: compared with 2005, Americans spent less time in 2008 buying goods and services and more time cooking or taking part in “organizational, civic and religious activities.”

In a subsequent article, January’s ‘experience consumption’ ideas, Robin gives us some wonderful ideas to help us amass experiences and not stuff in 2010. Here are a few:

Volunteer at a food pantry or soup kitchen. After the holidays, many food pantries probably need a bit of cleaning out and organizing. Soup kitchens still need people to help serve. Volunteer by yourself or as a family for an experience that you won’t forget.

Make a big pot of soup from scratch. Try to use up as many ingredients that you already have in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer before you shop for new ingredients. Allrecipes.com has a great search feature that allows you to search by ingredients you have on hand. Type in the ingredients you have and put “soup” for a keyword and see what you come up with. When you’re done making your soup, share it with a neighbor or someone else you think may enjoy it.

Borrow some great food-themed movies from the library.Invite friends to bring a snack to share for a movie night in. Chocolat, Diner, Mystic Pizza, Who is Killing the Great Chef’s of Europe, Ratatouille, Babette’s Feast, Bottle Shock, Fried Green Tomatoes, and Scotland, PA are just a few titles to look for. I’m sure you can think of dozens more.

Some local ideas for January 2010:

Institute a family game night.

Take advantage of the season. Get outdoors. Go for a walk, go sledding, make a snowman or snow angel.

Pizza Pop Family Concert: “Children’s Stories Set to Music” from the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony. This delightful program is 7pm on Friday, January 22nd at the NDSU Festival Concert Hall. Bernard Rubenstein is conducting. For more information contact go to fmsymphony.org

If you have any experience consumption ideas for us, please leave them in the comment section!

My Green Side’s weekly web pick:

GreenHour.org
Giving our kids (even big kids) unstructured outdoor play time makes them happier, healthier… even smarter. Learn more About Green Hour.

Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1020am (CDT) every Wednesday at WDAY.com.

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by Wendy Gabriel

Little Greek goddess had a few days off school last week so the Gabriel girls packed up and took a road trip to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s farm. We were surprised to wake up to snow on Thursday morning. October 15th and snow in Wisconsin is a recipe for tons of fun.

The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found? ~J.B. Priestley

Chickens love snow too
First snow and snowman of the season

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by Bethe Almeras

One of the first steps to caring for our environment is getting to know and Baby Greek goddesslove it. For those of us who grew up playing outside until the street lights came on, this is not such an alien concept. That said, those days are gone and many kids today are missing out on the opportunities that help foster the connection to nature and help them connect with the world we live in.

Before we ask kids to save the world, we have to give them the chance to get to know it for the shear beauty and wonder of it. To dig in the dirt, climb trees, sleep under the stars, and wade in creeks. Kids need to know the feeling of grass under their feet, sand between their toes, and the joy of watching birds, squirrels, and butterflies. They need to think of the planet as something to love and cherish, versus simply something to save.

Protecting the planet starts with one simple step: playing outdoors! Not only are there countless health, educational, developmental, and emotional benefits to outdoor play, but it is the first step on the road to going green. Simply put, you cannot save what you do not know. It’s time to give kids the chance to know this beautiful planet we live on.

A great way to help bring play back to your community and to the lives of children and adults alike is to host a Play Day the week of September 19 -27th. This event can be whatever you choose to celebrate play and get your community outside!

Why not…

  • Sponsor a community toy swap and park clean-up
  • Host a family nature hike, fishing derby, or canoe trip
  • Have a geocaching or letterboxing event
  • Have a community garden day or a scavenger hunt that challenges families to explore the parks and trails in your community

KaBOOM! can help. Our Play Day Planner will walk you through the steps of planning a successful event in your community. Click here to register your Play Day today, and get started on bringing fun and play back to your community. Join people nation-wide as the celebrate play and connect with nature.

Bethe Almeras writes The Grass Stain Guru, a blog about restoring childhood, and saving ourselves in the process. She is the DIY Online Community/Communications Manager for KaBOOM!

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by Wendy Gabriel

The Scandinavian Hjemkomst Festival is dedicated to our friends and relatives who have gone before us. Their spirits continue to inspire us today to celebrate our heritages and share our cultural roots with our communities. ~Hjemkomst Festival website

The Stave Church
The goddesses and a troll
May pole
Some of my favorite photos and photo blogs:
Twilight Earth’s Photo Sunday
Oakleigh Vermont’s Mother Nature Sunday
Photo Terri
True to Words’ Friday Photography
Twin Cities Photo Blog

by Wendy Gabriel

To attract good fortune, spend a new penny on an old friend, share an old pleasure with a new friend and lift up the heart of a true friend by writing his name on the wings of a dragon. ~Proverb

Baby Greek goddess finds a lucky penny

Some of my favorite photos and photo blogs:
Blog Harbor’s Eye on Monday
Twilight Earth’s Photo Sunday
Oakleigh Vermont’s Mother Nature Sunday
Photo Terri
True to Words’ Friday Photography
Twin Cities Photo Blog

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by Wendy Gabriel

Bethe Almeras
is an award-winning author, web producer, and eLearning Bethe Almerasdesigner. A gifted speaker and trainer, Bethe prides herself on being a kid at heart and sharing the benefits of play with others.

How do you make your day-to-day life a little greener?

For me, being greener starts with getting outside and actually enjoying this beautiful planet of ours. I worry that in today’s society, people are so focused on saving the planet that they forget to appreciate its beauty and teach children to know the Earth before we ask them to save it.

Naturally, I do things like recycle, buy less, and take public transit. Living in downtown DC is a great way to go green. Limited square footage keeps any desire to buy “stuff” in check, and living a block from the Metro is a dream.

What kind of advice would you give parents to encourage them to get their children (and themselves) outdoors?

Start early and make it a habit before you introduce TV and video games. Limit screen-time, including TV, video games, and computer. Trade some of their structured activities for free time. Appeal to kids’ natural interests (e.g. sports: try hiking or canoeing, science: try gardening or rock collecting). Model outdoor time behavior yourself and focus on fun!

For adults, realize the physical, emotional, and mental health benefits of play and time in nature for kids and adults alike. Make the time to unplug and go outside and play, and notice how good you feel.

In an interview you did for Robin Shreeves, I read that you started The Grass Stain Guru because you are so passionate about the issues of unstructured play, connecting people with nature, and education reform. How does your blog address these issues?

Yes, all three of those topics really boil down to one thing for me: restoring childhood, and saving ourselves in the process. I write about all of these issues on my blog, and bring attention to the need for play and nature as part of a healthy, happy lifestyle — and for kids, an important aspect of proper development and learning readiness. I believe strongly that kids should be kids, and a huge part of that is time for unplugged, unstructured play.

What is your favorite way to play outdoors?

It sounds simple, but a nice walk on my own. No MP3 player or agenda — just the sights and sounds of nature to keep my thoughts company. And if I can wade in a creek, I’m in heaven.

Read more in the Four Questions series:
Four Questions with Adam Shake
Four Questions with Dr. Alan Greene, part I
Four Questions with Dr. Alan Greene, part II
Four Questions with Dr. Alan Greene, part III
Four Questions with Lisa Mills Sutherland
Four Questions with Melissa Kushi
Four Questions with Dr. Marti Erickson
Four Questions with Linda McNair
Four Questions with Beth Terry
Four Questions with Ryan North
Four Questions with Leslie Quigley
Four Questions with Janelle Sorensen

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By Wendy Gabriel

You don’t choose your family.  They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.  ~Desmond Tutu

Walking at the Farm

 

Some of my favorite photos and photo blogs:
Blog Harbor’s Eye on Monday
Twilight Earth’s Photo Sunday
Oakleigh Vermont’s Mother Nature Sunday
Photo Terri
True to Words’ Friday Photography
Twin Cities Photo Blog

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By Wendy Gabriel

Becoming responsible adults is no longer a matter of whether children hang up their pajamas or put dirty towels in the hamper, but whether they care about themselves and others — and whether they see everyday chores as related to how we treat this planet. ~Eda LeShan

International Sunflower Guerilla Gardening Day meeting
Baby Greek goddess watering the sunflower seeds
Treehuggers... in every sense of the word
Some of my favorite photos and photo blogs:
Blog Harbor’s Eye on Monday
Twilight Earth’s Photo Sunday
Oakleigh Vermont’s Mother Nature Sunday
Photo Terri
True to Words’ Friday Photography
Twin Cities Photo Blog

Tags:

by Wendy Gabriel

Childhood does not last forever, but fades quickly into the breakneck pace of adulthood. ~Bethe Almeras, The Grass Stain Guru

Baby Greek goddessLittle Greek goddessThe Greek
Want to see more photos?
These are some of my favorite places to visit:
Photo Sunday at Twilight Earth
Friday Photography at True to Words
Twin Cities Photo Blog
Photo Terri

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by Wendy Gabriel

Each Easter we give a little gift to Grandma, Grandpa, aunties and uncles. We know they don’t get Easter baskets or have access to the booty collected after all the eggs have been hunted. Yet these are the people who remind us all year about the true meaning of Easter. Rebirth. Rejoicing. The gifts are always handmade with love. This year’s gift is Easter refrigerator magnets.

For I remember it is Easter morn,
And life and love and peace are all new born. 
~Alice Freeman Palmer

For the bake-art dough recipe and a how-to slide show visit the Minneapolis Green Living Examiner (me!).
Baby Greek goddess painting
Little Greek goddess paintingThe goddesses making Easter magnetsLittle Greek goddess's artwork and magnets

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