DIY: Draft Dodger and Some Energy Efficiency Talk

Written by contributor Eren Hays San Pedro of Vintage Chica.

For some of you up North, the weather is already beginning to cool off.  The last few evenings here in Virginia have felt measurable cooler than the unbearably humid 90′s of last week.

And for those of you down South, autumn and cooler weather is on the way.  I promise!

Canning those last few tomatoes, dreaming about new knitting patterns… preparations for days spent inside are being made.  And we shouldn’t be forgetting preparations for our homes.  According to the U.S. Department of Energy, one third of our home energy use goes to heating our homes.

And although I dream about living in an extremely energy efficient home one day with passive solar design and a green roof, we live in a very non-energy efficient house with the original builder’s grade windows.

Last year, I remember sitting in my favorite chair and feeling a distinct draft coming from the window next to me. And after doing some research online we found that we had a few options.

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Summer Garden Update

Written by contributor Eren of This Vintage Chica.

Currently at our house, there are tomatoes on almost every windowsill, picked a bit early by our 5 year old who just can’t help himself. I have four large zucchinis sitting on the counter, ready to be used.

Green beans and edamame beans have taken over everything out in the garden. But the carrots underneath are happy to have the shade. We are watching baby cantaloupes and watermelons grow right before our eyes.

But this is also the time of the year that I always seem to start letting things go. It gets hot and I am not in the garden as often as I was earlier in the spring. I get tired of watering or we go on vacation and things begin to dry up. And garden pests like squash bugs can begin to get to the fruits of our labor.

But just because it is summer doesn’t mean it’s time to take a vacation from the garden. There is lots to do, friends!

Let’s check in with everyone to see how your garden is growing.
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The Benefits of Getting Into Nature With Your Kids

Written by contributor Eren of This Vintage Chica.

I once came across a saying that read “Avoid housework. Live outdoors.” I love this saying, and our family lives by it.

“Oh, it’s raining? Here’s your umbrella.”

“Oh, it’s 109 degrees outside and you are hot? Turn on the water hose, little man.”

Even when my kiddos were babies, we were outside as often as we could be. I remember when we first moved to Wisconsin we visited our new pediatrician. She told us that we should start giving my youngest, who was 6 weeks old at the time, Vitamin D drops. I politely said, “No, thank you. We just take him outside.”

We are in the garden each morning and each evening. We head to the beach a few times a week. When it is rainy we splash in puddles. We lay on the trampoline lat at night and look up in amazement by the number of stars. My boys are constantly bringing me caterpillars and telling me about the bird they spotted carrying a fish overhead.

But did you know all of this time spent out of doors is good for their health?

There is a quiet movement of parents who are realizing that several of the medical problems our children face can be overcome by getting our children out from in front of the tv or video game and back into nature.

Kids belong swinging from tree branches and digging in the dirt. And the list of health benefits to children who play in nature is a mile long.

But are our children the only ones who can benefit from time in the natural world?

Read on as we look more into how getting into nature with your kids can make them smarter and you a better mom.
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DIY: Kid’s Travel Lap Desk

Katie here. Today you’ll find me over at Simple Mom, talking about why you should let your kids get dirty. The following post was written by repurposing contributor Eren Hays San Pedro of This Vintage Chica.

When I was in college, I used to make “study boards” for my roommates and friends.  They were simple pieces of wood – painted and decorated specifically for the recipient.  They were padded on the backside with batting and fabric to make them more comfortable on your lap.  We used them for everything!  I have been thinking about making my boys a study board (aka lap desk) for years.

This summer our family is taking a road trip to Portland, Maine.

That’s three boys.

In the car.

Give or take a few hours for meals and the required oh so frequent bathroom breaks, it should take us somewhere around 14 hours.

One way.

As parents, we are always on the lookout for anything to make long car rides more pleasant.

My husband and I were brainstorming ideas for things to take when he said, “Man, I wish they each had little lap desks to use in the car.”

Our youngest is just learning to write his letters and one of our older boys is fascinated with drawing cartoons right now. So a lap desk for each child would be a a great thing to have on the trip. While my husband went online to look for lap desks to purchase, I went to the hardware store for supplies to make them, like I used to do in college.

Here’s an easy way to make personalized lap desks for your little travelers.

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DIY: Super Simple Market Bag

You’ve all seen them.  Reusable market bags seem to be everywhere these days. Every time I am standing in line at a checkout counter, there they are – reusable bags emblazened with the label of the particular chain store.

I met a woman this past weekend that has a reusable market bag in every color to ensure that her bag matches the outfit she happens to have on that day. Hmmmm…something just doesn’t seem right about that.  Does it? But truth be told, if you were to bring all of your weekly groceries home in reusable bags, you would need at least 10 bags or so. And that is an extra $20-30 spent just on market bags.

But for DIY’ers out there, you can reuse old t-shirts to make your own market bags for almost nothing!
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