I’ve been reading a lot lately about the critical importance of SEEDS. It’s not something we think much about, but our very lives depend on seeds. Without them, we have no food. And we all know how important food is. If you hold seeds in your hand…you hold life. Monsanto and other companies hold patents on seeds. Think about this: THEY CAN CONTROL THE WORLD’S FOOD. If we want to ensure biodiversity and ample food for future generations, we need to preserve seeds and all the abundant varieties of foods they represent. How can we do it?
Saving seeds was common practice for our ancestors, to ensure that there would be food even during lean times. As mechanization and hybridization took over farming in the 20th Century, the practice was lost….but thankfully, not forgotten.
SEED BANKS are popping up in an unusual place…your local library. There are more than 600 seed libraries in North America. These collections will provide a free packet of seeds, information on gardening and seed saving techniques. SEED SAVERS is responsible for much of today’s seed library stock. It has 25,000 varieties – many of them rare or exclusive – dating before WWII. These seeds belong in the public domain and cannot be patented. The goal is to get these seeds into as many people’s hands as possible. Why not visit your local library and plant some seeds?
For more information on this important program visit: http://www.seedsavers.org
You can spread some beauty in your own backyard by making some wildflower SEED BOMBS.
For more garden crafts visit: http://www.redtedart.com/garden-crafts-challenge-get-crafty/
If you’re looking for a different family trip or activity this summer, why not give LETTERBOXING a try? Never heard of it? Letterboxing combines hiking with treasure hunting for a fun and unique experience for the entire family.
Letterboxers put small, weatherproof boxes in public places like city parks, campgrounds, state forests, and the like. Then they post clues online for adventurers to follow. The whole family can get involved in puzzling through the directions while visiting new places.
All you need to get started: a notebook, pen, ink pad, and rubber stamp.
1. Visit http://www.letterboxing.org or http://www.atlasquest.com for tips on how to find a hike near you. Then crack the code or follow clues to find the letterbox.
2. When you discover a box, there will be a logbook and a Rubber Stamp. MARK YOUR BOOK WITH THE BOX’S STAMP, SIGN THE BOX’S BOOK, AND STAMP IT WITH YOUR OWN STAMP to prove your family found the treasure.
3. KEEP IT GOING by looking for letterboxes on trips and vacations or by making your own letterbox for to find.
Happy Treasure Hunting!
Many of us have the day off from work or school today to honor the memory of a great man: Revered Dr. Martin Luther King. It can be a day to shop or goof off, to laze in bed or do nothing. But, is that the message we want to share with our children? To really honor the memory of a man who stood for peaceful protest and equality for all people, why not do something to show kids we can make a difference?
There are so many ways we, as humans who share this wonderful planet, can help one another without costing anything but time. Here are some suggestions for things you and your kids can do for MLK Day and beyond:
- Visit nursing home residents. So many lonely people would welcome a visit.
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen or food bank.
- Volunteer for Meals ON Wheels to deliver meals to those unable to leave home.
- Play with pets in a local animal shelter.
- Foster a dog or cat.
- Use http://www.mealtrain.com to organize meal delivery for a family going through hard times.
- Go for a walk with a bag to pick up litter for recycling or disposal.
- Help your kid’s school start a garden.
- Read to people with low or no vision. http://www.lighthouseguild.org
- Gather some friends to clean up a local park or schoolyard.
Kindness and a helping hand are not something to practice only one day a year. Every time we reach out to others, we honor the memories of those who spent their lives promoting peace and understanding. Acts of kindness can be contagious. Let’s spread them far and wide.
Last year I volunteered in a Kindergarten classroom for a Halloween party and the room mother made these simple, festive snacks to celebrate the season. You know your kids will get tons of candy. So these CLEMENTINE PUMPKINS are a welcome break from all that. Better still, kids love easy-to-peel-and-eat clementines.
You can have a clementine decorating party of your own. Be sure to use WASHABLE NON-TOXIC markers. Happy snacking!
I came across an amazing article in the October 2016 issue of Family Circle Magazine that featured a dad who makes wheelchair costumes for his son. He decorates the entire wheelchair to look like a pirate ship, dinosaur, or superhero. When his son went trick or treating, people saw past the wheelchair to the boy in it. Since then, Ryan Weimer launched a Kickstarter program with chapters around the country to build costumes for other children each Halloween. Magic Wheelchair now has chapters in 10 states.
For more info or to donate to this worthwhile cause check out: http://www.magicwheelchair.org
Check out some of the amazing costumes here: https://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelzarrell/this-nonprofit-creates-whimsical-halloween-costumes-for-kids?utm_term=.dur5owMka#.bjXyGEKA9
With summer winding down, we often want to welcome fall with a bit of cleaning and getting rid of some of the “stuff” that accumulated all summer long. If your children are tired of their old toys and books or you just need to make some room, try donating the items to some of the following:
http://www.stuffedanimalsforemergencies.org delivers gently used toys to children in need. Go on the website to check for your local community chapter.
http://www.Babybuggy.org takes kids and baby gear along with maternity and children’s clothing that is in good condition. They distribute it to needy families.
For books contact: www.donationtown.org to schedule a pick up along with others in your area. Just enter your zip code and choose from local charities you’d like to sponsor.
Another way to re-purpose books is at: www.booksforafrica.org You pay for shipping to the Atlanta warehouse, but it is tax-deductible.
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You can also donate unwanted items to your local GOODWILL, SALVATION ARMY, VIETNAM VETERANS OF AMERICA www.pickupplease.org And, Habitat For Humanity will accept household items and furniture at their ReStore outlets to use in their building projects. Check out their needs at: www.habitat.org
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22 is Museum Day. You can take the WHOLE FAMILY out for a free day at a museum, zoo or cultural center near you. SMITHSONIAN Magazine has paired up with museums in almost every state to encourage families to explore local museums and cultural centers.
Check out http://www.smithsonianmagazine.com/museumday to find a museum near you and to get your tickets.
Here in NJ we’ve had a bumper crop of asparagus this year…thank goodness! For those who are wondering what to do with these gems besides grilling or adding to omelets and stir fries, try having the kiddos help make a batch of this light and delicious ASPARAGUS SOUP. It is so easy, you will have it ready in about 30 minutes.
Dice up about 1 pound of asparagus. Set aside.
In a 2 quart pot, saute diced leeks or onions in olive oil until wilted. Add 2 Cups water or vegetable broth (if you use the broth, no need to add salt), thyme, one Bay Leaf, the asparagus. Cook about 15 minutes or until tender.
Remove the Bay Leaf, add 1 Cup of milk. Pour mixture into a food processor and PUREE until smooth. Add a dash of nutmeg and serve with asparagus spear as garnish.
I told you it was easy! You can freeze leftovers to enjoy throughout the summer.