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Sometimes Kids Need To Chill

April 27th, 2011 · Texas Is Beautiful

I had not planned on writing about this as a part of my Let Kids be Kids series but I read this article yesterday and it brought tears to my eyes.  It is about two girls in Minnesota that had a sleepover and decided to commit suicide.  While they do not really know the reason they suspect cyberbullying.

This is so tragic and heart wrenching.  My thoughts and love go out to these families.

Reading this, however, also brought up a discussion that many of us as parents should probably think about.

Kids these days are subjected to endless modes of communication if you think about it.  Cell phones, Ipods, Xbox 360 and PS3 if you connect for online gaming, laptop computers, social media websites such as Facebook and Gaia.   Our children do not have the alone time that we used to have.  We could go home and disengage from teenage drama if we wanted.  We could do our homework without being interrupted by constant text messages.

It makes sense, to me atleast, that maybe as parents we need to discuss with out children how to handle this.  As adults we do not really get a break.  We work all day, come home and do laundry and help the kids with homework, fix dinner, get them ready for the next day while answering phone calls and emails because we have this need to have everything immediately.  Are children really prepared to cope with this?

Just so you know, I am writing this with a teenage girl in mind.  Girls can be so vicious in teen and pre-teen years.   They are hounded at school all day and then come home with the conversation continuing everywhere they go whether it be positive or negative.  Online, cell phone, ipod…  Then they get depressed.  They may start to lose touch with who they are.  We get upset and scared as adults and take them to see psychologist.  Maybe put them on medications ..

But is that all really the answer?  Stories like the first one I mentioned makes me think as parents we need to teach our children  that it is ok to disconnect every once in a while.  Heck, maybe we should even make them.

So I suppose maybe during this Let Kids be Kids series I will keep in mind that places in Texas to visit are ones that are best viewed without technology.  Let’s take the kids and leave behind stress while making time to stop and smell the roses.  Quite literally.

In the mean time, I proposed this question on facebook last night.  Is it bad to take away a childs technology for a few days to make them disconnect from daily drama the way we do as adults?  The question on FB had an overwhelming response of ‘NO. It would NOT be bad to do that’.  What do you think?  Would it make a difference in the way teens cope with stress?

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Let the kids be kids!

April 26th, 2011 · Texas Is Beautiful

I am a little late writing an Earth Day post but a little late is better than never.  This year I thought I would try to write something a little different.  Most of the topics on this site are directly related to homes.  Energy efficiency, renewable energy and green homes in general.  Since I’ve been taking a break from work and trying to figure out what I am going to do, much of my time has been with my kids.  Finding stuff to keep them busy, keeping up with their school work and so on.  Just being a Mom.

My youngest is 5 and he is a ball of fire.  Always wanting to do something and just being a boy in general.  He’s pretty funny actually.  Last year about this time I decided that he needed to run off boy energy.  When we were young, probably most of anyone that would read this, we did not have the video game technology we have today or 24 hours of cartoons on 200 channels constantly engaging our attention.  We usually spent our days outdoors.  Finding strange looking bugs, riding bikes and climbing trees.  I decided to shut down cable and telephones and revisit the outdoors every once in a while.

We went on a road trip through Central Texas last summer and visited a handful Texas State Parks.  What better way to appreciate ‘the environment’ than to be in it, right?  We have since found several parks and creeks in the area that we like to visit fairly often.  Even if it is hot outside we just load up with water and a picnic and start walking.

Recently however I have noticed that some people tend to have an aversion to being outdoors.  The family picnic has changed to one that is spent indoors at the playground in Chick-Fil-A or some other fast food restaurant.   School parties held indoors because it is 87 degrees outside.  Maybe it is too hot, maybe it is too humid, maybe we are just lazy.  I have no idea but Spring in Texas is awesome and it is no better time to go treasure hunting in your favorite park.

In an effort to share how beautiful Texas really is and how important it is for kids to experience the outdoors atleast every once in a while I have decided to start a new series.  I will share some of our experiences and places that we have visited and I would love for you to share yours too!  I am working on a Flickr Group for us to share our photos of favorite outdoors places to visit in Texas and hopefully will put together a contest of some sort.

Nothing says funsucker like heading to your favorite spot and see it littered with Gatorade bottles and sandwich bags or seeing graffiti on an awesome rock formation.  Let’s get those kids outside so they can appreciate the enormous outdoors and its endless adventures.  Maybe more will be like my little guy and not be afraid to explain what litter is and how to stop it along with building an appreciation for dirt more than concrete or a green beetle more than an electric cord.

Below are a few pictures that I will be writing about in the coming weeks.  In the mean time, what is your favorite outdoors destination in Texas?

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Pureed Butternut Squash

February 26th, 2011 · Pureed Foods

Continuation of my pureed foods series

I was playing around in the kitchen today and believe it or not, was going to make a pureed butternut squash cupcake.  However, this was so delicious by itself I think its going to replace mashed potatoes at my house.  And it’s SIMPLE!

You’ll need:

  • 1 Butternut squash
  • 1 pat butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Peel your butternut squash with a potato peeler.  Cut off the ends and cut in half.  Spoon out the seeds and discard.  Cut it in to 1/8ths lengthwise and then cube it like you would to make mashed potatos.

Steam the squash by itself.  If you don’t have a steamer, I make a ghetto one by using a 4 quart pan with some water – Put the squash in to a stainless steel colander that you use to strain pasta – and covering with a lid and putting the stove on medium-medium/high heat until the squash is soft.

Put in to your food processor with the butter and ginger.  Puree until smooth.  Mmmm. Mmmm. Creamy goodness.  This stuff is awesome!

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Pureed Stuffed Bell Peppers

February 26th, 2011 · Pureed Foods

Continuation of pureed foods series.

One of my son’s favorite meals is stuffed peppers.  The picture to the right is actually the finished product for a meal we fix quite often.  It’s also something my Mom really enjoys.  After thinking about it I thought this may make a great pureed meal and it did!

This recipe was inspired by one of the recipes from the Maximized Living Nutrition Plan book that you can buy here.  I mix it up a little bit to add more flavor.

What you will need:

  • 6 or 8 Peppers. Green ones don’t taste so hot so I do the colored ones.  Try and get big ones
  • 3/4 cup brown rice
  • 1.25 pounds of ground turkey
  • 1 can of tomatoes
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 very small onion diced
  • Paprika
  • Salt, Pepper
  • Basil
  • Thyme

(if you like more rice than meat then do 1 cup rice and 1 pound meat. Cook with 1 cup water)

Wash and clean your peppers by cutting off the tops and taking out the seeds.

Oven set for 350 degrees.  They cook for 50 minutes

Add Turkey, Garlic and small onion to your pan with a little oil.  Sprinkle with Paprika, salt and pepper.  Add about 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon each of basil and thyme.  Use however much you want.  Cook until brown.  Then add the can of tomatoes with the juice.

Cook your rice for half the time it says and use the same amount respectively.  So, 3/4 cup rice and 3/4 cup water.  Or 1 cup rice, 1 cup water.

When the rice is done, combine it in bowl with the turkey mixture.  Mix well and spoon in to your peppers. Cover with foil and bake for 50 minutes.

When its done, cut in to 1/4′s and drop in your food processor with a spoonful of coconut oil and puree till as smooth as you can get it.  Reheats quite well also.  Depending on what color pepper you use, the finished product should look like this.  I pureed an orange pepper.

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Bok Choy Kale and Cannelini Puree

February 26th, 2011 · Pureed Foods

BeforeContinuation of my pureed foods series.

One of the first things I made was loads of GREEN veggies with lots of flavor.  Green veggies is just tons and tons of real nutrition.  They have Vitamins and Minerals that everyone needs whether sick or not.  My son calls them ‘happy foods’.

This right here is pretty darn tasty actually.   Here’s what you need and how to do it.  This recipe was inspired by The Great Kale Cookoff.

Ingredients:

  • 1 average sized Bok Choy – about 7 or 8 leaves
  • About 6 or 7 pieces of Kale
  • Red Onion marinated in red vinegar
  • A little bit of diced tomato (fresh)
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • Spice – whatever you desire. Nutmeg, Ginger, Basil, Parsley .. it’s all good
  • 1`can Cannelini Beans (white kidney beans) – Drained and Rinsed

Wash your veggies.  Cut the ribs off of your kale and cut the leaves and ribs off of your bok choy.  Tear them up in to smaller pieces so they cook a little more evenly.  Put some Grapeseed oil in a pan along with your veggies, diced garlic, sliced and marinated onion and a handful of fresh dices tomato.  Add a little spice.  Nutmeg and/or Ginger are both good with this.  Basil, Parsley, whatever you like should be good.  You only need a little bit.  Maybe 1/4 teaspooon of it.  You’ll also need to add no more than 1/4 cup of water.  Cook it down until it is wilted evenly and soft.

Rinse and Drain your beans.  If you don’t the mixture will be too runny.  You can heat them up if you want so you know what the consistency will be if you heat the food up at a later time.

Put your beans and bok choy mix along with a heaping spoonful of Coconut Oil in a food processor and let ‘er go until is as smooth as you can get it.

If the food is too runny, I’ve crushed chewable vitamin C to thicken it.  Only takes one or two.  If its like water though you will need to add more veggies.  LOTS more.

If it is too dry try adding a little water or an apple.  A tablespoon at a time until you get it to where you want it.  The mixture will be like a paste when refrigerated, but becomes moist when you heat it for about 20 seconds.  I’ve even added a little probiotics to it before to help out the person eating it all.  Your end result should look like this and boy oh boy does it make a lot!

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Hospital Food is Lame

February 26th, 2011 · Pureed Foods

If you are used to eating a pretty healthy diet without preservatives and sugars – Eating your veggies because Mom said to – Understanding that having the same stuff in your food that is used to preserve concrete, deice planes and chemicals that are used in anti-freeze are not very cool things to have in your food – Besides being on vacation and being held hostage by fast food restaurants, being stuck somewhere for a couple weeks where you don’t have a choice of what goes in your food is the next worse thing.  Atleast in my opinion anyhow.

What’s worst is having a family member in the hospital who can’t choose what they want to eat.  They are at mercy of whatever they are served.

I know it sounds like I’m knocking hospitals, but I’m really not.  I completely understand that any institution has to serve massive amounts of people and do the best they can with what they have.  This just happens to be my situation right now.

When you are used to eating healthy, whole foods your body will probably disagree with ‘normal’ food in large amounts.  I’m starting this series on how to prepare food for someone that is on what is called a dysphagia 1 diet.  Otherwise known as pureed foods.  Kind of like baby food.  I searched and searched but had a horrible time finding baby food recipes for a more sophisticated palate so have come up with my own ideas.  Believe it or not, I’ve found most anything can be pureed if you play around with it enough.  You can also thicken as needed if you need to do so if they can eat thicker, but not solid, food.

The only purpose of this is to maybe help someone in the future who may be in the same situation.  I’ve prepared food and taken it to the person.  They love it actually.  Its light on the stomach, full of REAL nutrition and I’ve found that there are actually several uses for the purees besides eating it that way.  We’ve used it as salsa, stock bases for other recipes, etc.

I’m not a nutritionist.  I’m not a doctor.  Don’t use this stuff for that purpose.  But if you need recipes to feed a child or adult who can’t have solid food feel free.  As I make stuff, I’ll post it.  Before and After pictures so you can see what goes in food processor.  Ideas on thickening or watering down certain foods to get a decent consistency.  Everything that goes in to these recipes is real food.  No chemicals.  No preservatives.  Just food.

Since this has absolutely nothing to do with what I normally put on this site I just wanted to write this and let you know why in the world I’m sharing recipes for pureed foods.   I believe strongly that good nutrition is most important with people.  Especially if they have been in the hospital with heavy medications, anesthesia and Lord knows what else going on with them.  So, this is just another one of my interesting adventures.

If you find this post and want to link to the recipes just use the category links to find pureed foods.

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Solar Electronics Charger – $7.99

January 1st, 2011 · Uncategorized

One of the things I have never written about is my love for finding awesome deals on random things.  Here is one I found recently that brought bad flashbacks of Hurricane Ike.  No electricity, no electricity .. and then there was the part about no electricity.

One of my favorite sites to find random things cheap is BensOutlet.com – They have right now a solar backup electronics charger for $7.99 + $4.99 shipping.  Who DOESN’T need one of these?

click here to get the deal

I have purchased from both Bens Outlet and 1saleaday.com – The shipping is not as fast as say Amazon.com but who cares when you can get stuff dirt cheap, right?

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A New Year, A New Beginning

January 1st, 2011 · Green Builders and Developers, Green Houston Communities, Green Houston Events, Green Houston Topics, Green Market Reports, Green Products, Green Service Providers, market reports, Uncategorized

So, news from here for the New Year: As of a couple of days ago I have decided to put my real estate license inactive. I decided to do this for multiple reasons which if you really want to know I can share with you but really the purpose of this blog post is to figure out what topic to take TurningHoustonGreen. I have yet to decide that but considering all things green really inspire and interest me, a more sustainable lifestyle is one that I strive for everyday, the topic will usually be one shade of green or another.

For now, I thought I would leave a few thoughts regarding the Green Real Estate/Construction and sustainability in general.

  • Builders – They need desperate help with their marketing.  Green has become an extremely vague term and becomes more so everyday.  Using the term green will not make you sell.  An email I received recently from a builder had “Extra Bling for the Holidays” as the subject.  Really?  Bling?  *sigh*  No further Comments
  • Industry in General – The term green is just, well, it needs to go away.  Green Construction is going to see some legal issues most likely.  If you don’t believe me, just check out the Houston Chronicle article from Christmas Day 2010 with the Attorney doing a Q&A with borderline very wrong information.  It was pretty sad actually.  Most builders that do LEED Homes have very well outlined contracts to help with this.  The side that needs the most help would be the Real Estate side of it.  Perhaps adendums from the Texas Real Estate Commission to help the Realtor community out with this?  I’ve suggested this before as well.
  • Consumers -  Well, let’s just say maybe a buyer beware.  Ask a ton of questions.  Information on this blog will forever stay here.  Use it to help you if you want.  Find out what truly makes the home ‘green’.  Ask about offgassing of products,  Energy Efficiency, Insulation and of course certification.  Without the performance testing you truly do not know what you are getting.  For resale purposes the reports help as well.

From a marketing, not real estate standpoint, if you or your company need advice – I’m happy to help.  However, I’m not inclined to work for free so be prepared for a consultation fee.

Cheers to a New Year and New Beginnings.  Posts you may see in the future may be very random regarding things that interest me.  Including something I bought and am waiting to get delivered.  It’s a window weatherization product put out by the Duck company that comes with shrink wrap.  I figured for 8 bucks who could pass it up, right?  But regardless, posts will be no holds barred and fully opinionated.

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Greenstar Recycling and Houston Dynamo – What does this mean for Houston

December 8th, 2010 · Green Houston Events, Green Houston Topics

Yesterday was the big announcement that you have likely heard if you are a sports fanatic.  I personally was very excited to see two of my favorite things combine – Sustainability and Soccer. It was even more exciting to be at the press conference where the new soccer jersey was unveiled.

But in case you haven’t heard, Greenstar Recycling is the new Jersey and Recycling Sponsor of the Houston Dynamo soccer club.

Twitter was buzzing with thoughts on the new jersey. Personally, I’m about to order one because I think it pretty much ROCKS! Unless of course someone would like to send me one. I’ll gladly take the donation. (the new soccer balls are pretty sweet also)

Houston Dynamo mentioned at the press conference that the want their new venue and their club to be the greenest in the Nation. Brian Ching said the new jersey was “Awesome”.

The press conference was mostly all about Houston Dynamo. What was not discussed to great length was Greenstar. It’s no secret if you read the news or are on Twitter that they paid appx. $12.7 Million to sponsor the jerseys and to be the clubs recycling sponsor. What the soccer news has failed to mention is that Greenstar is also, next week in fact, opening the very first Single Stream Recycling Facility in Houston.

The new facility will be appx. 90,000 square feet and cost appx. (if my scribble during the press conference was accurate) $7 Million to build. Those combined is a whole lotta cash and should speak highly of the company’s potential.

According to Matt Delnick, CEO of Greenstar, the new facility means more Green jobs in Houston and a stronger emphasis on Single Stream recycling in the Houston area. He hopes that when fans see the Greenstar logo it will inspire them to focus on sustainability and think about recycling. With recycling being on the books as a plan in the new stadium let’s hope this will be true.

It is also not secret that Houston has a poor recycling rate that is improving with programs such as RecycleBank and strong efforts through not only companies like Greenstar but the City of Houston as well. But I think the emphasis needs to be on the fact that Greenstar does not just do Recycling, they do single stream recycling.

In a blog post that I did in the past, Mike Simmons stated that “People want to do the right thing… When recycling is made easy, people do it”

As opposed to having to separate all of your recyclables into separate bins, everything that is recyclable goes in to one making it easy and less time consuming to do the right thing. Perhaps Greenstar will take advantage of this opportunity in being the recycling partner of Houston Dynamo and be able to not only handle the recycling in the new stadium but to educate the soccer fans on what single stream recycling really means. Maybe be able to show them first hand thus inspiring them to action at home or in their office.

What will happen to the soda, popcorn and beer cups once it leaves the stadium? Where does it go from there?  I am anxious to see how Greenstar Recycling will maximize this newly formed partnership.

It’s an enormous partnership for sustainability in the City of Houston. It will be interesting to see how this impacts the thoughts of random Soccer Fans throughout the Nation over the next couple of years and to see how it not only improves the awareness and importance of recycling in Houston, but the impression that the Nation will have on us as a City. Three Cheers for Houston Dynamo and Greenstar Recycling for having the passion to help make great strides.

For those of you that like video, here is one of the ACTUAL unveiling of the uniform and a video to learn more about Greenstar and what they represent as a Corporation.

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Clothes Don’t Grow – Kids Do

August 19th, 2010 · Green Service Providers

So, this is not some catchy title that I made up by myself.  It’s actually the slogan to this really awesome website that I ran across and heard about from Lani with AgentGenius a little over a month ago.  The site is called Thredup and while it has absolutely nothing to do with real estate, it has everything to do with being green.

The concept of Thredup is that kids grow out of their clothes quickly so why not swap them?  I have seen several clothing swaps around Houston but this one is for the busy parents that don’t want to spend an hour in traffic to get to one.  You get to exchange clothes from awesome parents such as yourself from all around the Nation.

I have been on the site for a month or two now and the clothes you receive are the same or better than what you can get at a consignment store.

So, what’s the catch?  None.  You list your boxes for FREE.  Someone picks the box and pays $13 for the shipping.  You get credit for that swap and pick your own in a size that your child CAN wear….for $13.  Instead of boring you with a long blog post on how Thredup works I put together a video below to show you.  Also, if you use the link in this post or the widget on the right hand side of this page … You and I BOTH get a month of Pro for FREE.  Go to the site and check it out.  It is WORTH it.

So parents, be green.  Swap your kids clothes and help save Millions of Tons of textiles from going to the dump every year.  Save a huge amount of Carbon Emissions from clothing being shipped across the World and in the mean time save a load of $$$$!!

Without further ado, here is the video for your to learn how it works.

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