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November 28, 2021

Dreaming of a Green Christmas

I'm happy to welcome guest blogger Leah Ingram today. Leah is a magazine journalist and author as well as a blogger on The Lean Green Family. Be sure to check out her blog!

I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas

It shouldn't come as any surprise that this year is going to be the greenest Christmas (and Hanukkah) of all time--at least for the folks on my "nice" list. My mission in nearly everything I do and buy this holiday season is to have green in mind, which hopefully won't cost me a lot of green.

For starters I'm still searching the Internet for the best recycled paper holiday cards. (If you know of a website, please let me know.) Hallmark stores sell recycled paper greetings, but only in single cards, not the boxed kind for the holidays, though you can order (PRODUCT) RED recycled cards for the holidays from Worse-case scenario: I print my family newsletter on recycled paper, send it in a recycled envelope, and skip the cards altogether (though I don't think my family newsletter will go over well with my clients).

As far as holiday wrapping goes, I don't plan to use it this year. Instead, I'm going to hit my local Wal-Mart this week, and stock up on their $1 reusable bags that say "Paper or Plastic? Neither" (pictured at left). These bags will become my default packaging for holiday gifts.

With regard to the gifts, I'm going for items in the simplest packaging, such as CDs, DVDs and video games, which come in containers that double as storage vessels. Also, I found some cool recycled rubber doormats on which are right in my price range. And, as I'd blogged earlier, I am doing the lion's share of my shopping via the Internet to save fuel (though the family and I did spend this past Sunday at the mall, and we will be one of those crazies up at 5:00 a.m. and in line on black Friday).

Continue reading "Dreaming of a Green Christmas" »

November 27, 2021

Terrific Holiday Teacher Gifts

Tired of giving apple stationery, apple earrings and “#1 teacher” sweatshirts to your children’s teachers every holiday season? Imagine how the teachers feel! Here are some parent- and teacher-tested gift ideas that will really make the grade.

°    Think Outside The Classroom. “I like giving something that conveys that you know the teacher is human, too — not just a teacher,” says Las Vegas, Nevada mom Joy Hall. Think sports memorabilia (if you know the teacher’s favorite team), an addition to a favorite collection of bears, dolls, snow globes… The list can be endless if you or your child just happen to listen up when the teacher mentions favorite hobbies and activities.

°    Consider a Gift For the Classroom. As school budgets are increasingly cut, teachers are often asked to supply certain classroom items. So when her child was in kindergarten, Dorothy Foltz-Gray of Knoxville, Tennessee asked what classroom game the kids needed. “The teacher responded as if I were a saint!” she says. Another time, she gave a monetary gift, again to be used for classroom supplies. Jennifer Vena of Manhattan Beach, California gives goody bags full of classroom supplies — dry-erase markers, paper clips, post-its, overhead markers, etc. With many teachers spending their own money on these items, this is a welcome gift.

°    Make it Personal. “Have your child make something that shows how much the teacher is appreciated,” suggests Hall. Including a photo is a wonderful touch, she adds, and it will help the teacher to remember your child when she looks at the gift in years to come. A personal letter of appreciation, along with a drawing from your child, is something many teachers say they read over and over again — and keep forever.

Continue reading "Terrific Holiday Teacher Gifts" »

August 12, 2021

Who Wants to Cart Around All Those Scrapbooks?

I started scrapbooking when my son, Matthew, was a baby. I bought those big three-ring scrapbook binders with page protectors and quickly filled enough books to fill half a book shelf. There was just one problem: My only child, a boy, has no real interest in dragging a bunch of scrapbooks around with him as an adult. And If I kept making them at the rate I was going, I'd have more than I wanted to cart around, too!

Besides, Matt is a child of the digital age. When I talked to him about how we might better preserve these wonderful memories, his answer was simple: "Can't you just burn them all on a CD?"

Continue reading "Who Wants to Cart Around All Those Scrapbooks?" »

August 02, 2021

Save $$ on Your Favorite Photo Sites

If you're like me, you probably have lots of family-vacation photos sitting on your computer — like this one of Randy, Matthew and me taken in Big Sur, California on our "Sena Family Road Trip" this summer.

What to do with them? Make prints? Order photo mugs? Or just post them and share them with family and friends? My head spins when I look at all the photo-sharing sites out there. Which one to pick?

Fortunately, a fellow blogger has just made it easier to test out several of the most popular sites — and to save money while you're at it.

At, you'll find discount codes for use on Snapfish, Shutterfly, PhotoWorks and WinkFlash. If you have a little one, you'll want to bookmark this site for lots of great deals on baby products, too.

While we're at it, what photo-sharing sites do you use, and why? I'd love to hear your recommendations in comments. Thanks!

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