Environmentally Conscious Toddler Gift Guide!

No matter what holiday you celebrate, I think we can all agree that things are becoming very materialistic and people are becoming overly greedy. Presents are being bought in excess and the ‘meaning of the season’ has become new toys, electronics and clothes. Supporting huge corporations and adding ever more to the piles of waste. On top of that, most children’s toys these days break within a week and are made by children the same age or younger then the children we are gifting them too, in foreign countries, getting paid .07 cents a day.

And just for you gals and guys, I thought I’d compile a small gift guide of some of my favorite gift ideas for toddlers the holidays this year!!

The best option would be to make things yourselves. However, I know not everyone is artistically inclined or is able to sew/knit/crochet. If you knit or crochet, check out Raverly for tons of free patterns for anything you can think of! Great knit/crochet ideas for toddlers/older babies would be blocks, balls, stuffed animals, mittens, hats or slippers. If you sew check out Pinterest or All Free Sewing for patterns and ideas! I think I’ll be sewing some little stuffed veggies this year for Delilah, and putting them in a little garden basket. I may even make a little garden bed cushion she can ‘plant’ the veggies in and pick them into her basket!

Now, for those of you that can’t, don’t have the time or aren’t able to make all homemade gifts, I’ve found a few super awesome gifts to buy!

Batsiranai Sharing Doll
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Delilah is actually getting one of these from her grandma this year. It’s handmade in Zimbabwe and certified fair trade (meaning it was made by adults who were all fairly compensated!). Besides the fact that it’s adorable and is baby wearing a little baby in a sling (!) whenever you purchase one, they give the same doll to a child in a heavily HIV/AIDS infected infected area! So really, you’re buying your child a doll, then buying one for a less fortunate child who may not even have a toy!

Handmade, personalized blocks

I came across these the other day, and fell in love! You can get any amount of letters you want and you can pick which letters! The whole alphabet, numbers, pictures, your child’s name, blank blocks, shapes. It’s really cool! The awesome thing, is the family who makes them, also uses organic oils and beeswax to coat them using materials they grow themselves on their farm! How cool is that?? They are completely safe an non-toxic so children who are teething can enjoy them as well as older children! PLUS they donate to the Peace Corps with every purchase!

A basket of fresh, farmer’s market veggies

Farmers Market Basket of Veggies

I love this play food! Make a play ‘farmer’s market’ in the house and buy veggies in your basket! You can pick whatever veggies you like for in the basket! Totally homemade by ‘Locally Sewn Produce‘ (see what she did there!!) based out of Iowa. Plus, she has a ton of other options in her shop if you want to add some other veggies.

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These awesome trucks and cars are hand crafted from quality wood and finished with beeswax! This particular link is for a whole collection of trucks, but they can all be purchased individually for those on a budget! I think they are so pretty and we might be getting Delilah one of these from me and her dad this season!

Felted Number Eggs
Needle Felted Eggs with numbers, Made to order

Learns numbers and learn where eggs come from! Put these little guys under a toy chicken and have them count the eggs as they collect them. Perhaps put them with the farmer’s market veggies I mentioned earlier! Or have them pretend with you while you prepare eggs for breakfast. Plus, there is a little bell in each egg! So they can make noise while they play, what’s better then noise??

Do you have a favorite gift idea? Do you make gifts yourself? Do you make gifts and sell them? Feel free to link them in the comments!

I definitely urge you to go at least partially handmade for the holidays this year!

Til next time,

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Celebrating Winter Solstice

This year we have decided to give up Christmas. We have many different reasons for this. I don’t want to delve to deep into  our reasoning, simply because its not incredibly important to this post, but I will give a brief explanation.  I have recently started my journey as a Buddhist, and my husband is an atheist. We found it silly that we were celebrating the birth of a god we don’t believe in or worship. Secondly, it is far too commercial. Starting in October every store you walk into begins throwing Christmas EVERYTHING in your face, and all people care about is money, savings, sales, buying. It’s no longer about love, compassion and giving. So we have decided not to raise our children celebrating Christmas.

So for our winter-time ‘holiday’ we have decided to start celebrating winter solstice. It has been something that has appealed to me in the past so I decided to look further into it.

In short, the winter solstice is a celebration of light, nature, the sun and new beginnings. Solstice occurs on the shortest day of the year, or when the least amount of sunlight reaches the earth (December 21st or 22nd in the Northern Hemisphere). The sun seems to stand still. From this day forward in the year, the days will be longer and more full of light.

For more history on the solstice click here, here or here. (I will share more history with latter posts and ideas!)

Since its creeping up on us, I’d like to share with you our plans, some ideas, recipes and activities between now and then.

For those of you that think quitting Christmas and celebrating solstice is totally crazy, let me tell you our plan for the day-

Sleep in. Cook a nice breakfast. Exchange some gifts (not tons, and mostly homemade). Make bird feeders (as Delilah gets older, we will add more nature friendly activities). Start dinner. Then in the afternoon, about an hour before the sun sets, take a walk and hang our bird feeders in the woods for birds to nibble all winter. Then we will watch the sun set over the river. When we get back, we’ll light candles all over the house and drink wassail, have sun cake and some herbed cookies and enjoy a nice, hearty, dinner!

How could you not want to do that?? Even if you celebrate Christmas, solstice might be something to add into the festivities!!

For this post I’ll detail 3 things we’ll be doing!

Solstice Tree

In similar fashion to Christmas, we plan to have a small evergreen tree in the living room throughout December. But we plan to decorate it with homemade ornaments! Dehydrated orange slices with ground cinnamon and cloves, hung with ribbons and beads. Homemade ginger bread sun, bird and animal ornaments. A homemade tree topper in the shape of a sun. Twinkling lights (I would do traditional candles, but I don’t think our landlord will be OK with the fire hazard!)  Some red winter berries from a local farm and maybe some cranberries!

Very natural and beautiful.

Wassail

Wassail is a traditional cider/drink for solstice/yule. It can be alcoholic, but there are plenty of alcohol free recipes!! Wassailing was an ancient tradition where everyone would enjoy some drink in sing songs. We plan to use this recipe.

Gifts

We plan to give a few simple gifts. I’m making my daughter a teddy bear, we’ll give out homemade cookies to our neighbors, and family will get some knitted items, homemade bath items and foods. We will wrap them either in fabric, or recycled newspapers to help keep waste down and to add to the nature friendly aspect of the holiday.

I hope to add a few more posts throughout December highlighting a few other traditions of solstice and a few more ideas. If your celebrating leave a comment and let us know what your favorite aspect of solstice is!

If your looking for more inspiration for your own solstice celebration, you can follow my Pinterest board for solstice ideas!

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Guess who’s back?!

Yup! You guessed it! Me!! Did you miss me???

I missed you folks!!

As you may recall I told you the day i came back you’d have to deal with a wedding post….. So here it is =)
(I’ll keep it short!)

Me and my wonderful husband got married on September 6th at the district court with just our parents and my grandparents. We didn’t want a huge ceremony and we really didn’t like the idea having tons of people watching us at such an intimate time. So we kept it small.

Then Sunday the 8th we had a reception picnic with all our family and a few close friends. We went to a local state park with a beautiful overlook. Its a 350 foot cliff from which you can see the neighboring state. Its so nice and quiet.

We did a build your own pita bar with cooked chicken and a variety of homemade sauces and veggies to put on. We had homemade organic applesauce and honey sweetened peaches I picked and canned myself. We also had an (oragnic!) popcorn bar where you filled a bag with popcorn, added seasonings and shook up the bag for flavored popcorn. Yummy =) Everything was pink and black since we’re very non-traditional. I made centerpieces from mason jars with ribbons around them filled with bamboo, a sparkly fake feather and pink water beads. I also made up-cycled bowls from old records I got at a thrift store to put the favors in. It ended up being really cute! It was nice and small but fun at the same time.

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My lovely husband and I. My awesome cousin is a cosmetologist and did my hair. I don’t think my hair has ever looked that nice in my life.

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Kicking the groom for good luck?

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Cake fight! My amazing sister-in-law made us a beautiful cake!! (And was our photographer!!)

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I LOVE my dress =) Charlotte from PixiePocket on Etsy handmade it for me to my exact measurements and specifications. She did a wonderful job. It fit me perfectly and was actually really comfy. If you ever need a spectacular dress for any reason I definitely suggest her.

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The beautiful Delilah Raine!

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I am SO glad I decided to get a few pictures nursing in my wedding gown. They turned out so beautiful and its such a awesome thing to nurse a baby.

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And I couldn’t possibly do a wedding post without sharing this. My sister crocheted us this blanket. For those of you that don’t know, this is the TARDIS from the TV series Dr. Who, a sci-fi show from England. My favorite TV show. Its the coolest thing ever. I almost had a heart attack when I opened it up. I will sleep under it until I die. ♥

Thank you for sharing in our special day!! And thank you for sticking around while I was gone for a week =) Gold star for all of you!!

~(Mrs.!!) Courtney, The Crunchy Delinquent

A basket of apples through a baby’s eyes

Today’s post may not be about health or wellness, recipes or projects, or any of the other usual stuff, but its short and sweet and I hope it gets you thinking.

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The other day me and my six and a half month old daughter went to my mom’s house to do laundry. She was making a ton of homemade applesauce for my wedding reception this weekend (because she’s amazing like that). The apples she was using were off of the tree in my sister’s back yard. They were very misshapen (hey, they weren’t sprayed with horrible pesticides that make them look perfect!) they had holes and bruises that needed cut out and some bugs in them. They were (and are) still tasty and perfectly edible, they are just an eyesore!

Delilah was crawling around the floor getting into everything, like babies do, and found the basket of apples. She climbed up over the edge and reached inside.

She was in total awe. These were the coolest, most amazing, awesome things she had ever laid eyes on. There were tons of them, the pile was 3 times as big as she is, they were shiny, they are all bright red and pretty. She daintily touched each apple, picked them up and put them down, stared at them, smiled and talked to them. She ran her tiny fingers over them and felt them.

These ugly, misshapen apples off of a little backyard apple tree were the coolest things little Delilah had ever seen.

Most adults would have looked over them,  said how gross they were, thrown them out or let animals eat them and move on.

But not Delilah.

Because through the eyes of a baby, everything is beautiful and everything is amazing. Everything is something new and exciting. Babies see the beauty in everything and the good side of everything. Dirty, grungy apples become beautiful, amazing red things.

Adults seem to lose this more and more the older they get. The amazing things in life are just blah and ordinary.

Take the time today to put on baby goggles.

Look at the world as if you’ve never seen it before and really look at everything around. The earth truly is amazing. Life is amazing.

Embrace it.

Be happy.

~Courtney, The Crunchy Delinquent

Announcements!

This post is just to let you know a few things that are coming up! Nothing food/recipe/nature/health related in this post. Just so y’all know. Just some updates and announcements and such.

First off, starting this upcoming Friday (August 16th) I will be co-hosting Real Food Fridays with Mary from Mary’s Kitchen, Lydia, from Lydia’s Flexitarian Kitchen and Joyce from It’s Your Life!

Mary’s Kitchen

I can’t wait! It’ll be a weekly link party starting Thursday evening and running until Monday at noon. So feel free to come link up your real food recipes and links!! Wooo!!

Secondly, you may be wondering what on earth happened to my 5 part foraging series. I didn’t forget!!! I’m just waiting for a few later in the season plants to highlight! You can’t rush nature. When its in bloom, its in bloom =)

Thirdly, I will be taking a very short furlough from blogging September 4th-10th. I’m getting married!! And I’m going to be crazy busy with last minute prep, stressed over little stuff, running around like a chicken with my head cut off. That kind of stuff. So I’m letting you folks know ahead of time. Real Food Friday will still happen, since it’ll be scheduled, but no other posts during that time. Then the 11th you guys are going to have to deal with a post about my wedding. Just fair warning =)

4th, I plan to switch over to hosting myself sometime in the coming weeks!! (Not 100% what date yet). No more .Wordpress in my title. I’m moving on. Gettin’ fancy. I’m hoping its a clean switch when I do it, but I SUCK at technology. I’m amazed I’ve done this OK with it so far! So if there are any bumps going on, you’ll know why =)

And last but not least, I reached 98 likes on Facebook as of the day this post was published. So you can (almost!) bet your buttons I’ll be doing a giveaway of these here half gallon Mason jars!!

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Head over and like the page, I just need 100 to do the giveaway. 2 days for 2 likes. That’s not too hard!

Thanks to everyone who’s following me so far, Facebook or not. I really do appreciate it =) Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside!!

~Courtney, The Crunchy Delinquent

Couch to 5K Week 2

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Well its week 2! (Every Thursday is the start of a new week for me. Since I realized I didn’t put that in the last post.)

So its update time!

If your just reading about this for the first time,  my blogger bud, Lydia and I are doing the Couch to 5K challenge! Here’s a recap of why I’m doing it-

There are 3 main reasons I’m doing this.

1- We want to have another baby. But pregnancy for me was HORRIBLE. It was so bad. I got so fat, labor was ridiculous, I had so many aches and pains. I was just completely miserable. Beyond normal pregnancy pains. So I really want to get in better shape and be able to run throughout my next pregnancy to help with labor, delivery, aches and pains and general problems. Being fit can drastically reduce these problems.

2- I eat healthy but don’t really do more then walk and some morning yoga stretches. End working out. I really, really want to have more physical stamina. I’d love to go to all those fun 5K runs everyone always does.

3- I wouldn’t mind losing a few extra pounds and tighten up my butt and leg muscles. I’m totally comfortable with how my body looks, but being a little thinner would be healthier and probably more comfortable.

Week 2:

Weight: 178 lbs. Although I didn’t lose it from running. I think that’s just from my regular fluctuation.

Work-out: Week 2’s workout. Brisk 5 minute warm up walk. Alternate 90 seconds of running with 60 seconds of walking for 20 minutes. 5 minute cool down walk.

How I’m feeling: Oh man. Scared. Week 1 was way harder then I thought it would be! Running is tough stuff. I give all you runners props! I feel slightly better and more athletic then before, but I still feel like running was created by the devil. Bring it on week 2! I’m really looking forward to getting better at this!

How this week’s first workout went: Ugh. Enough said.

How last week went: Well, I had a really rough start and I’m a day behind. Its exhausting and my fiance was going to do it with me and bailed out last second. It was just a pain. I’m getting back on track though!

Be sure to go see how my blogger bud Lydia is doing!!

Check her post out here!

Feel free to join any time!!

~Courtney, The Crunchy Delinquent

Why I Go Barefoot

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I was taking a walk through town one lovely late March afternoon, just pushing Delilah in the stroller enjoying the unseasonably warm 50 degree weather. The baby was all bundled and I was wearing pants and a hoodie, but no shoes. As I go to cross the street I hear a little boy on the other side talking (in a very loud voice) to his mom. Their conversation went something like this-

Boy- “Mommy!! Why doesn’t that girl have any shoes on??!?!”
Mother- “Shhhh!!!! Don’t talk so loud! *hushed whispers*”
Boy- “Oh, I bet I know why! Maybe she doesn’t have enough money to get some! Do you think that’s it? Do you think she’s to poor for shoes, mom?!?”
Mother- “Shutup!! Be quiet! Your being rude! Shhhh!!! *Angry, muffled whispers*.”

Yeah, that actually happened, and it was pretty funny.

However, this is quite a popular subject of discussion amongst my friends, family, peers and even strangers. Everyone has their own opinions. I’m sure most people I know think its because I’m a wacko hippie, and I guess that is partially true. There are, however, people who think its because I’m dirty, trashy, manly, gross, I enjoy being dirty, I’m weird, I’m an uncouth hillbilly or cuz I’m just plain crazy (or too poor). Some of those are partially true as well.

Surprising enough, I have real, actual reasons why I skip wearing shoes unless its absolutely necessary!!

First off is a little thing called earthing.

Earthing is the idea that physically connecting with the earth is the bottom line of health. Which I feel is very true. Even if you don’t personally feel that its the foundation of health, its has some proven benefits. When you go barefoot outdoors the earth’s subtle electric field transfers to the body almost instantaneously. The soles on shoes are non-conductive and you can’t reap the benefits. Therefore, you must go barefoot to fully connect with the earth.

Studies have shown that earthing or grounding improves blood viscosity, heart rate variability, inflammation, cortisol dynamics, sleep and reduces effects of stress. I can honestly tell you I feel better on days where I get outside in my bare feet. I also feel better in warmer weather when I don’t need shoes outdoors. I go barefoot as soon as the ground thaws in the spring and until it freezes in winter.

The next reason is really an age old debate.

Going bare foot can help with back pain.

This is a huge debate among runners. Can running bare foot help your back? Does running barefoot make it worse? There’s studies done on both sides of the debate. However I’m inclined to believe that it does help your back. Not only running barefoot, but being barefoot in general. One of the main reasons they consider running with no shoes to be better for your back is the fact that shoes screw with your senses. When your wearing shoes your feet come down harder (since your feet can’t sense the ground) thus increasing the impact on your back and body when you step down. When your shoeless you can sense the ground better and down slam down your feet as hard.

I’ve had times where I wore shoes regularly and times where I’m barefoot constantly. My back pain decreases 10 fold when I’m barefoot.

Shoes just totally throw off my groove. They mess with the way your body naturally works, they are uncomfortable and generally give me blisters.

I enjoy feeling the grass between my toes, cool sidewalks on a hot day, mud under my feet, bouncing on cool, damp moss and splashing in puddles! This is gonna sound pretty darn ‘hippy dippy’ but I love touching the earth. I hate always feeling something man made on my feet. Socks, shoes, carpet, floors, asphalt…. They just don’t give you the happy feeling the dirt or grass does.

Plus, hey, we’re washable!!

You get dirty feet, you can wash em! They are on the bottom of your body. How often do you eat off of your feet? Most folks probably answered that question with never. My feet are very dark on the soles from being barefoot so much, but it really doesn’t affect my day to day life. My feet hurt less, my back hurts less and all I have is dirtier feet then your average 20 year old girl. I’d trade feeling better for dirty soles of my feel any day.

So, there you have it!

You know why I try to wear shoes as little as possible!

There are actually some honest to goodness, scientific explanations. I’m not only a wacko hippie.

Go kick off your shoes and relax =)

~Courtney, The Crunchy Delinquent

This post was shared on Thank Goodness it’s Monday and Natural Living Monday!

Sources- http://www.earthinginstitute.net/  http://www.runbare.com/10-reasons-to-go-barefoot