Sustainable Living

Zero Waste Gift Ideas Even Non-Treehuggers Will Love

Plastic-free and made by awesome, earth-friendly individuals and brands, you can find zero waste gifts for every person on your shopping list!You're a treehugger. In your daily life, you avoid plastic packaging, wear thrifted threads and support eco-conscious businesses whenever you can.

Yet every year as the holiday season approaches, you fill with low-level dread. It's time to buy you friends and family gifts - but they aren't treehuggers like you. They're all normal and stuff.

How can you give them something they'll love, that's also gentle to the planet?

Enter zero waste gifts.

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Wooden Raised Garden Beds + Organic Vegetable Gardening | Our House in the Trees | Episode 9

If you're also looking for inexpensive garden beds ideas - building wooden raised garden beds from old materials is about as budget-friendly as you can get. This summer was our first year using wooden raised garden beds to grown our vegetables and I have to say - it went really well!

Sure, as with any garden season there were ups and downs. But overall I would say we were quite successful.

And a big part of that is due to our raised garden beds.

When we moved into our home last fall, the frost had already settled in. We weren't able to ready an in-ground garden before it snowed.

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How to Get Started with Green Investing

Green bonds are one of the most low-risk forms of green investments. If you want to help create a more sustainable future, green bonds may be for you.What is green investing? How do I get started with green investing? Why are green investments something I should even care about?

Great questions! Questions I have too.

I don't consider myself a financial expert.

What I am is someone who cares deeply about environmental issues and wonders on a daily basis - as many of us do - if I'm doing enough to help curb climate change and preserve our natural resources.

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Starting a Garden | Our House in the Trees | Episode 8

Always dreamed of starting a garden? Me too! Which is why it was the first project we tackled after moving into our sustainable home. Check it out!Always dreamed of starting a garden? Me too! Which is why it was one of the first projects we tackled after we moved into our sustainable home - once the snow finally melted, of course.

And though I'm not brand new to gardening and had a small one at our old house, this is the first year I feel like we have a "real" garden. My original plan was to not go overboard and plant every vegetable I could think of. But once we started building raised beds I just couldn't help myself.

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10 Nature-Inspired Mother's Day Gifts

Looking for eco-friendly mother's day gifts? These 10 nature-inspired items are sure to delight the mother earth loving mother in your life - whether that be your mom, mom-in-law, grandma, sister - or yourself!Looking for eco-friendly mother's day gifts? Well, you found them!

Whether you're the treehugger in the family, or your mom is, these ten nature-inspired, green mother's day gifts are sure to delight.

I've never had to wonder where I got my love of nature.

Because my parents infused it into my childhood from the very beginning. Not that we talked about it.

It was just something we did.

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10 Helpful Blog Posts about Green Living

Whether you're starting out or well on your way, these 10 blog posts offer over 30 green living tips sure to help you live your most eco-conscious life.Are you as passionate about helping the environment as I am? I sure hope so! Or maybe you're just starting out on your journey to full-fledged treehugger. Welcome! I hope I can help. I've gathered up ten Of Houses and Trees posts offering more than thirty green living tips in total.

As always, my hope is to inspire you to consider our beautiful planet in everything you do. If you enjoy and/or appreciate this post, please consider sharing and sending these green living tips across the globe!

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3 Easy Ways to Go Green Today

Being green isn't about being perfect. It's about trying to do a little bit better every day. Here are three simple things you can do to get started - right now!I've said it before and I'll say it again and again - being green isn't about being perfect. It's about trying your best to be a little more earth conscious every single day.

Some days you'll do a great job. You'll eat only plant-based foods. Generate very little waste. Bike instead of drive. Take a shorter shower. Refuse plastic bags. Maybe even plant a tree or two.

Other days you won't do such a great job. Even as a passionate treehugger I have these days. All. The. Time.

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Simple Ways to Green Your Apartment

Greening an apartment isn't all that different from greening a house. Check out these eco-friendly apartment ideas that are simple, affordable - and fun!I'll admit it. When I write posts about sustainable home design and decor, I'm usually thinking about a house. But that's just because I currently live in a house and have for the past ten years. But guess what? I lived in apartments for six years before that.

And guess what else?

It really doesn't matter what kind of home you live in - apartment, condo, townhouse, tiny home, bungalow, split level, two-storey, mansion - turning it into a eco-friendly haven involves pretty much the same steps.

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5 Must-Have Vegan Foods for Beginners

Just starting out on your plant-based journey? If so, that's awesome! Here are five super versatile and tasty vegan food products to get you started.Curious about vegan food products? Maybe you're just starting out on your plant-based journey. If so, that's awesome! You're about to be wowed and delighted by the plentitude of vegan-friendly foods and recipes available.

If you're already plant-based, perhaps you're looking for someone else's opinion on the best and most versatile products out there.

I myself love reading articles and watching videos geared toward beginner vegans because I always seem to learn something new.

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5 Tips For Greening Your Next Vacation

Follow these five sustainable travel tips to ensure your holiday or business trip is just as green as the rest of your life.It's one thing to work towards living a greener, more sustainable day-to-day-life. But keeping it up when you're travelling - whether for a vacation or a business trip - doesn't always come naturally. Typically, when we go into holiday-mode we want to forget about all the little things we always have to keep on top of in our regular lives. But forgetting about taking care of our planet would be like forgetting to eat. You can get away with it for a short period of time, but it's going to come back and bite you in the ass before long. Besides - who forgets to eat?!

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The Environmental Impact of Dirty Laundry

Want to create an eco-friendly laundry practice? Cut down on water use by washing your clothes less often - and invest in high-quality clothing basics. Laundry is just a part of daily life. But if you have a family with young children like I do, it can start feeling like less a part of daily life and more like well... the whole thing.

But aside from the fact that dirty clothing seems to spontaneously reproduce in order to take over my home, why should I care so much about smelly socks and underwear?

Well, according to this article by The Guardian, washing and drying a load of laundry every two days creates 440kg of CO2e per year.

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3 Tips For Buying Eco-Friendly Activewear

Searching out sweat-worthy sustainable threads? Look no further! Here are three tips to help you find eco-friendly activewear that feels good and does good.I'm very choosy about the companies and brands I support. Shouldn't we all be? Especially when it comes to the clothing industry, where the cacophony of choices range from awful to awesome.

Awful items are poorly made, usually under less than ethical circumstances and at the expense of the environment. Yet, we buy these items again and again, because they're inexpensive and readily available. So you can imagine my excitement when I came across an awesome eco-friendly activewear line.

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9 Pieces of Nature-Inspired Jewelry

If you love nature and you love jewelry, then there's no question about it - you'll love these nine handmade pieces of nature-inspired jewelry!Knowing how much of a treehugger I am, one of my students recently told me she had seen earrings made out of tree slices. And all I could think was "why do I not have a pair of them right now!"

To be honest, I don't wear a lot of jewelry. Just my engagement and wedding rings, plus a small hoop through the top of my ear that I never take out. I also have a couple necklaces and a few pairs of earrings that I'll throw on when I'm going out. But, I mean... come on! Tree slice earrings?! I just had to have 'em.

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9 of the Healthiest Plant Proteins

What are the best plant protein foods and just how much protein is in each? Almonds, chickpeas, quinoa, a seasoning that subs for cheese - and more!The Canadian government recently overhauled its food guide - getting rid of the long-standing "four food groups" and offering a clear message. Eat more plants. Eat less dairy and meat.

Not only am I happy about this change because it confirms my family and I are already eating well, but I am absolutely thrilled that it encourages others to eat sustainably. (If you would like to learn more about plant-protein vs animal protein diets and their link to the environment you can watch this video.)

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The 5 Most Popular Of Houses and Trees Posts of 2018

2018 was a great year for sustainability. And green blog Of Houses and Trees has five popular posts that prove it's easy being green!

It's that time of year again! And by "that time" I mean time to take a look back at the five most visited Of Houses and Trees posts of 2018. This year was an exciting ride as I saw my post on creating and printing a design board get more visitors than nearly all my other posts combined, and watched in glee as my post on sustainable design trends enjoyed a mini explosion of activity.

Every year my little green blog gets more and more visitors, which makes me happy not just because it means my hard work is paying off.

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10 Eco-Friendly Pinterest Trends for 2019

From zero waste travel to sustainable fashion, these 10 current Pinterest trends slant toward one truly inspiring ambition - being more green!Each year, everybody's favourite idea-gathering platform releases their projected upcoming trends. Covering ten categories, including travel, health, wellness, home decor and more - 100 Pinterest Trends for 2019 is a wealth of information for consumers, business owners, marketers and bloggers like me.

The best part about this year's list is that many of the trends are rooted in sustainability. Even though some Pinterest trends may seem outside the realm of green living.

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5 Reasons Why You Should Buy Organic Underwear

Not only is organic underwear good for your health, but it's also good for the environment. So grab a pair and slide 'em on. Now, doesn't that feel nice? Yup. We're talking about underwear. Why? Well, because Of Houses and Trees is about sustainable everything. And your undies - they're an everything.

Now, I'm a huge proponent for buying whatever you can secondhand. I even wrote a whole post about the subject and made a video too. But used skivvies...? First off, any of the thrift shops I frequent won't sell secondhand undergarments unless they still have the tags on them and therefore are not actually used.

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Eco-Friendly Christmas Stocking Stuffer Ideas

Who said stocking stuffer gifts can't be environmentally friendly? Hop aboard the green Christmas train with these thoughtful - and eco-friendly - gifts.Ah, the Christmas stocking. Stocking stuffer gifts are unfortunately one of those holiday traditions that can be... well... really wasteful. Don't get me wrong, I love stockings and I certainly would not advocate for getting rid of them, but they shouldn't be an excuse to buy  crap. You know what I'm talking about. Cheap trinkets. Chocolates wrapped in plastic in a box wrapped in plastic. Gag gifts that are good for a laugh and then immediately discarded. I'll admit, I've thoughtlessly bought junky stocking stuffer gifts in the past. But this year I vow to do better. Shall we do better together?

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Homemade Tomato Soup in Under 5 Minutes

Looking for a basic tomato soup recipe? Well, here it is! Tomatoes, broth and... that's pretty much it. Plus, it takes less than 5 minutes to make!

When I was a kid, I loved me a bowl of canned tomato soup. I don't even think my family bought the "good" stuff - it was strictly no name brands for us back then. But it didn't matter. Throw a can on the stove, fry up a grilled cheese sandwich (with the no name processed cheese) and I was in little kid heaven.

My tastes may have matured a bit, but I still love tomato soup and a grilled (vegan) cheese sandwich. The problem is, it's not easy to find canned tomato soup that doesn't have some kind of milk ingredient in it.

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Halloween Costumes from Thrifted Items - You Can Wear Again!

This Halloween, be smart - not scary. Create customized second hand Halloween costumes with items you can add to your regular wardrobe and wear again!I may cause those of you who love Halloween to scratch your wig-covered heads - because you're already wearing your costume, obviously - when I tell you that I'm not a fan. Then you ask through your plastic glow-in-the-dark vampire teeth, "What's not to love?"

Don't you like costumes? I'm a dancer - of course I like costumes! What about candy? I've been known to down an entire bag of sour Skittles in one sitting. A big bag too. And scary stories? I'm not a fan of the super gory stuff, but a tastefully told ghost story? Yeah, you got my attention.

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5 Reasons Why You Should Buy Secondhand Instead of New

Saving money isn't the only reason you should buy used items! Most importantly, shopping secondhand saves the environment from resource overuse and waste.

Guys, I am obsessed with secondhand shopping. I've always loved a good thrift find and grew up on garage sales and antiquing, but only recently have I switched to buying only clothing and household items that are pre-loved. I actually have not bought a brand new item of clothing for myself or my kids since last spring and the last time I bought anything home-related was last year for my nature-inspired holiday decor.

Sure, I still buy new things sometimes. Ballet shoes, craft supplies, gifts. But man do I have really good luck thrifting.

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Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids (and Adults!)

Embrace lunches full of fruit, veggies and other whole foods. These five healthy, vegan lunch ideas are certainly tastier than a PB&J sandwich!Even if you're not a student, or don't have kids in school (or kids at all), back-to-school season is still a great time to re-evaluate your life in terms of healthy eating. I actually find September to be a better time to start "resolutions" as it actually feels like a new beginning. (Unlike January, which here in central Alberta just feels really, really, really cold.)

Summers are so free-spirited - at least for me and my family. Perhaps, a little too free-spirited? 

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Eco-Friendly School Supplies

Green your school year by investing in eco-friendly school supplies such as binders made from recycled materials and glue made from natural ingredients.Back-to-school may be a stressful time, but with my eldest daughter entering Kindergarten - I'm actually pretty excited. I know she's going to love it what with all the learning and the crafting and the playing. And - although having her away from home for two (sometimes three!) full days a week will be hard - I think it will be good for us as a family.

Plus, sending her to school means I get to shop for school supplies - something I've always had a bit of a fascination with. And not just any school supplies, but eco-friendly ones!

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10-Minute Vegan Tofu Scramble Recipe

Every vegan has to have a tofu scramble recipe. Why? Because eggs. Spices like cumin and turmeric make this savoury dish perfect for any time of day.Every vegetarian and vegan has to have a tofu scramble recipe. Why? Because eggs. If you used to eat them regularly, they're definitely missed when you go animal-product free. You're probably also missing eggs if you can't eat them due to allergies, which is one of the reasons that I don't eat them - aside from the whole baby chicken thing.

Thank goodness for the versatility of tofu! This basic tofu scramble might not taste precisely like eggs, but damn it's good in its own right. Especially on a wrap with some salsa!

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3 Easy Steps to a Clean and Healthy Home

Whether you want to protect your family from chemicals or to do your part greening our planet - these are both great reasons to create a healthy home!If you're like me, your home is your sanctuary. And depending on what mood I'm in or the amount of chaos going on in my life, I can be a bit of a hermit. Which is why having a clean and healthy home is one of my top priorities in life. (It has nothing to do with my control freak tendencies. Nope. Not at all.) Whether you want your home to be a happy haven from the outside world, you want to protect your family from harmful chemicals and materials, or you want to do your part greening our planet - these are all great reasons to follow the below three healthy home tips!

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Easy Vegan Gravy

This easy vegan gravy recipe is perfect for holiday meals like Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving. But it's also perfect for regular, every day meals!I write about a lot of different things on this blog. Design and decor, sustainable living, green products, healthy eating. I would say I possess a sufficient amount of knowledge in all of these areas. But there is one area I can confidently claim to be an expert in. And that area is gravy.

Perhaps being both a gravy expert and a vegan is an anomaly. But remember, most vegans did not start out that way and thus I consumed more than my fair share of gravy in my pre-vegan days. 

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Eco-Friendly Dance Supplies

Want to be a green dancer? Consider investing in eco-friendly dance supplies such as vegan dance shoes, organic dancewear and secondhand costumes.

Welcome to the wonderful world of eco-friendly dance supplies!

I consider myself a pretty passionate person. And if you’ve been reading Of Houses and Trees for any length of time, you’d probably agree that when it comes to sustainability and preserving our beautiful planet – I’m all in.

But I’m passionate about more than making the world a greener place. And – for as long as I can remember – dance has been one of those things.

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5 Simple and Unusual Uses for Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil essential oil has long been used to treat acne, cure infections and soothe bug bites. But did you know it can also be used to clean glasses?If you aren't already into essential oils, then I highly recommend giving them a try. Essential oils are all natural and thus so much more earth (and health!) friendly than other scented products. They can replace air deodorizers, cleaning supplies, medicinal supplies and more.

I think everyone who uses essential oils has a favourite - and mine is tea tree oil (melaleuca alternifolia). Tea tree oil essential oil has such a clean, fresh smell reminiscent of tree bark and dirt and rain.

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How to Make Asian Coleslaw in Under 60 Seconds

This easy asian coleslaw can be assembled in less than 60 seconds with cabbage slaw, soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds and almonds.This is one of my favourite fast salad recipes and it really does take less than 60 seconds to make (well, after you assemble the ingredients that is). I even filmed a video to prove it! In honour of this recipe's no-fuss attitude (can coleslaw have an attitude?), I will jump right in... after I quickly tell you why coleslaw is so good for you. Of course, regular mayo-laden coleslaw is definitely not good for you (to make it healthier - and vegan - sub in Vegenaise!). But the main ingredient of any coleslaw - the slaw itself - is packed full of nutritiousness in the form of raw, shredded cabbage.

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Eco-Friendly Craft Supplies for Kids

Craft supplies for kids are usually non-toxic, but that doesn't mean they're earth-friendly. Here are few non-toxic AND eco-friendly craft supplies.Ever since my eldest daughter could hold a crayon (without eating it), she's been a crafter. Colouring, stickering, cutting, glueing - she does it all and loves it all. So, of course I'm always on the hunt for the most eco-friendly craft supplies I can find.

You'd think it would be easy - after all, most kid's craft supplies are non-toxic. But just because something is non-toxic to humans doesn't mean it's environmentally friendly.

I've rounded up a few of the greenest craft supplies I could find.

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5 Harmful Products to Stop Buying Right Now

Unsustainable Products by Of Houses and Trees | These five unsustainable products are harmful to both humans and the environment and aren't even necessary when there are so many awesome alternatives.We can all do with a little less stuff, am I right? So, this year, one of my resolutions is to stop buying unsustainable products. These five common items are harmful to both humans and the environment and aren't even necessary when awesome alternatives are readily available. These days, there are so many environmentally sustainable products and methods out there, ranging from those used by our grandparents (cleaning with vinegar!) to those we can thank new advancements in technology for (period panties... for real!).

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Top 5 Of Houses and Trees Posts of 2017

Sustainability Blog by Of Houses and Trees | From eco-friendly products and building materials, to healthy vegan eats - 2017 was a green year indeed for sustainability blog Of Houses and Trees!Ah, yearend. A time to stop and reflect on the past 12 months... and reread (or read for the first time) the five most viewed Of Houses and Trees posts of 2017! The last year has been the biggest yet for growing this sustainability blog and I have so very many ideas for 2018... and beyond! I just want to say how much I appreciate every single view, comment, share and subscribe I receive. Truly.

From eco-friendly products and building materials, to healthy vegan eats - 2017 was a green year indeed!

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Vegan Cinnamon Twists

Cinnamon Twists by Of Houses and Trees | These flaky cinnamon twists are lightly covered in cane sugar and cinnamon. Oh, and did I mention they're vegan? No dairy, no eggs. Just delicious.When I was a kid, my mom's cinnamon twists were the envy of all my friends. Every year as the holidays approached, my mom would pack these tasty bundles of cinnamon doughy-ness in my lunch and my classmates would just have to have 'em. They would offer me items from their lunch in exchange for just one cinnamon twist and - being the (somewhat) generous person I was as a child, I would share (sometimes). Now that I'm all grown I no longer feel the urge to bogart the cinnamon twists and am happily sharing my mom's cinnamon twists recipe with the whole internet. 

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5 Ways to Green the Holidays Without Being a Grinch

Green Christmas by Of Houses and Trees | Make this year a green Christmas by reusing, recycling and, most importantly, reducing. Here are five ways to do just that!I hate throwing things away. Many times I've caught myself hovering an item over the trash. An item most wouldn't hesitate to call "garbage," but that I can't seem to let go. "Can it be reused? Recycled? Made into a hat?" (I'm convinced that all garbage can somehow be made into a hat.) I've been known to rant for tens of minutes about what is and isn't allowed in our blue bag. "What do you mean you can't recycle pickle jars? What - I'm just supposed to throw them out?"

For me, no time of the year is this more painful than at Christmas.

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Eco-Friendly Holiday Gifts

Eco-Friendly Christmas Gifts by Of Houses and Trees | Green the holidays this year with these eco-friendly Christmas gifts - made by awesome, earth-conscious artisans from around the world.What? You're accusing me of creating a holiday gift guide filled with eco-friendly swag I want for myself?! Why I never... Okay. You got me. But just because I'd be super happy to find any of these eco-friendly Christmas gifts under the tree doesn't mean someone on your list won't want them too. (And maybe buy a little something for yourself while you're at it?)

The best thing about this gift guide is everything on it is eco-friendly, i.e.: organic, handmade, reusable and so on and so forth! The second best thing is that I found all of these items on Etsy.

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Amazon Whole Foods Market + 9 of the Most Sustainable Foods

Most Sustainable Foods by Of Houses and Trees | Amazon and Whole Foods recently announced a partnership that includes the increased availability of products - including some of the most sustainable foods.Amazon and health food supermarket Whole Foods recently announced a partnership that includes the lowering of prices in-store and increased availability of products through Amazon itself. Since there are no Whole Foods Market stores in the province where I live - I don't have any personal experience with the grocery chain, but I do have experience with Amazon as far as ordering items such as books, movies and so on. Being into sustainable eating - meaning buying foods produced in environmentally conscious ways - my initial reaction to purchasing food items from Amazon is mixed. 

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How to Make Legwarmers Out of Old Socks

DIY Leg Warmers by Of Houses and Trees | Leg warmers aren't just for dancers. They keep the legs toasty and also look kind of cute, no? Here are two ways to make DIY leg warmers out of old socks!

Leg warmers - they're not just for dancers. Whether you love the look of them, or just hate being cold, I bet you're thinking a pair of DIY leg warmers sounds pretty cozy right now.

As a dancer myself, I wear leg warmers because I discovered the way to bypass my achey post-baby knees is to keep them super toasty.

But I also wear leg warmers when I'm not dancing because, well - they're kind of cute, no?

Although I do own a few pairs of store-bought leg warmers, I also have several pairs of DIY leg warmers made from old socks.

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Green Your Home AND Save Money

Green Your Home by Of Houses and Trees | Here are five ways you can green your home and save a few dollars all at the same time, including shopping secondhand, cleaning with vinegar and... sharing!Probably the number one obstacle stopping us earthlings from embracing a more sustainable lifestyle is the belief it will cost more. Because sometimes it really does cost more. Organic food is usually more expensive. Locally made clothing is usually more expensive. Handmade home decor is usually more expensive. One can make the argument that the benefits of such items make the extra cost worth it, but even a treehugger like me knows that's not always a realistic response.

But do you know what is realistic?

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5 Amazing Facts About Trees

Amazing Facts About Trees by Of Houses and Trees | Five amazing facts about trees! Did you know a tree can be used as a compass, fight crime and increase bird biodiversity from zero to 80 species?

Happy National Tree Day! Did you know that was even a thing? Since 2011, Canada has celebrated National Tree Day on the Wednesday of National Forest Week every September. Since Of Houses and Trees would be nothing without trees (or just "Of Houses" - how boring) I wanted to celebrate the occasion with five amazing facts about trees. So here they are!

A tree can be used as a compass. If you're ever lost in the woods, look to the trees. In northern temperate climates, moss grows on the north side of a tree where it's shadier.

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5 Quotes About Sustainability

Sustainability Quotes by Of Houses and Trees | Five sustainability quotes superimposed over images of mountains, forests and a child hugging a very large tree. Cheesy? Perhaps. True? Hell yes.

I don't know about you, but sometimes I find those inspirational quotes strategically placed over a picture of a mountain or forest pretty damn cheesy. Am I a cynic? Why yes. Yes I am. But you know what else I am? I'm a dreamer and an optimist.

Especially when it comes to saving our planet. Which is why I wanted to share five sustainability quotes superimposed over images of mountains, forests and a child hugging a very large tree. Cheesy? Perhaps. True? Hell yes.

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5 Healthy Homemade Salad Dressings

Healthy Homemade Salad Dressing by Of Houses and Trees | Healthy homemade salad dressing takes a bit of extra work, but the benefits are so worth it. Here are five of my favourites!

Once upon a time I ate "healthy." This is what people do when they mean well and count calories and eat things labelled "low fat." But a few years ago I turned into the "read every ingredient on the label and then painstakingly research it" kind of person and let me tell you, it was terrifying. On salad dressing labels alone: calcium sodium EDTA, high fructose corn syrup, modified food starch. If you've ever made a simple homemade salad dressing, you know that all you really need is balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil... which is exactly how you make one of my recipes!

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Summer Land Tour

Land Tour by Of Houses and Trees | Welcome to my land tour! We're building a house here, but for now it's just 40 acres of rolling hills, trees and undergrowth in central Alberta, Canada.

I’ve been wanting to take you all on a tour of our land for quite awhile now. You can read all about how it came to be ours in my post The Story of Our Land. I think the pictures in that post give a good idea of what the land is all about. And I hope my writing paints a vivid word picture. I do tend to get kind of poetic when waxing on things I’m passionate about.

But if a picture is worth a thousand words (and as a writer, I’m not sure I always buy that line), then how many pictures is a video worth? I suppose it depends on the content and the quality of the video.

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How to Keep Your House (Mostly) Clean with Kids

Cleaning Tips by Of Houses and Trees | Have children? Find it impossible to keep your house clean? Me too! But I have figured out how to keep my home "mostly clean." Here are my cleaning tips!

One of my personal mottos is "a clean home equals a clean mind." I probably ripped that off from some cult leader or something, but if I did - man that's one persuasive cult leader. Because I cannot function properly when my house is a mess.

Before I had my daughters, I prided myself on a spotless home. A place where you could confidently eat off the floors. Now I have children, I pride myself on a clean home even more. Because, dudes, it can be really hard to keep your home clean with kids.

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Baked Balsamic Chickpeas

Baked Chickpeas by Of Houses and Trees | Chickpeas are crazy versatile and so is my "world famous" baked chickpeas recipe. Eat them warm out of the oven, as a cold snack, with salad, pasta or rice!

I have a confession to make. Up until a few years ago, I HATED chickpeas. (Also known as garbanzo beans, which was the name by which I knew them during my decades long boycott.) I remember my mom used to buy a five bean salad from the grocery store deli that included chickpeas and I couldn't even choke it down. I've written before about how I've since conditioned myself to love legumes. And out of this super nutritious food category chickpeas are at the top of my list. Can we just talk about how versatile they are for a second?

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How to Plant a Tree Sapling + Our House in the Trees Update

Planting a Sapling by Of Houses and Trees | There's nothing like planting a sapling. They're so tiny, it's almost unimaginable one day they'll be towering trees. But with proper care - they will!

There's nothing like planting a sapling. They're so tiny, it's almost unimaginable one day they'll be towering trees. Trees with the ability to provide shade, a home to insects and animals and in some cases fruit to eat. From something so small to an integral part of our ecosystem, communicating with its kin through underground networks and providing oxygen for us to breath. Which, you know, is kind of important.

Devin and I try to plant a few trees every year out on the land, future home to Our House in the Trees.

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Creamy Vegan Broccoli Soup

Healthy Broccoli Soup by Of Houses and Trees | Thick and creamy vegan broccoli soup... without the cream. Safe for vegans, lactose-intolerants and calorie counters alike. And it's delicious too!

Mmmm... soup. I am definitely a fan. Winter or summer, day or night, I'd eat soup seven days a week if I could. And I can. Because I'm an adult and although that comes with all sorts of annoying "responsibilities" it also comes with the freedom to eat whatever I want, whenever I want. (Within reason... and often not within reason at all. Hello, leftover pizza for breakfast.) And sometimes I want to eat thick and creamy soup... without the cream.

Yes. That's right. No cream. Which means no dairy. Which means safe for vegans, lactose-intolerants and calorie counters alike.

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Eco-Friendly Gardening Items

Eco-Friendly Garden by Of Houses and Trees | 'Tis the season! For gardening that is. Here are nine eco-friendly garden items - from seeds to shears - that every green thumb needs.

'Tis the season! For gardening that is. There aren't many things in this world better than sticking your hands in freshly turned garden soil. (Except eating it when pregnant - which I did. Don't judge.) Last spring, I wrote a post featuring a Homemade Garden Fertilizer recipe, but I only tried it out once due to the fact that I had a newborn and a two year old at the time.

Now that my kids are one and three I obviously have so much more time on my hands.

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Subscribe to My Blog and I'll Plant a Tree!

Plant a Tree by Of Houses and Trees | Subscribe to my blog and I'll plant a tree! Because as the proverb goes: "The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now."

"The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now."

This Chinese proverb is one of my favourite quotes of all time as it reminds me that it's never too late to do good. There's something so simple and pure about the act of planting a tree, caring for it and watching it grow. Of course, not everyone has the time, funds or space for a sapling that will one day become a towering version of its former self. To be honest, I don't have a lot of time or funds myself. But something I do have - courtesy of the land - is space.

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Planting a Forest: The Remarkable True Story of Forest Man

Planting a Forest | Jadav Payeng has been single-handedly planting a forest for over three decades, proving it takes just one person to do something remarkable.

Today I wanted to write a post about a very remarkable person. The other night I stumbled upon a 2013 short documentary on YouTube called Forest Man, directed by William Douglas McMaster. It briefly details a story that spans more than three decades. A story about a man single-handedly planting a forest.

In 1979, then 16 year old Jadav Molai Payeng was hired as a labourer for a tree plantation project initiated by the social forestry division of the Golaghat district in the state of Assam, India.

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5 Facts About Earth Day

5 Facts About Earth Day | Here are five facts about Earth Day accompanied by five simple ways to integrate the philosophies of this one day into your daily life.Happy Earth Day friends! If it feels like we just celebrated Earth Hour it's because... we did. But really - is one hour plus one day enough time to fully acknowledge this planet that gives us so much? I think you know my answer to that question. Which is why I've created an enjoyable - yet informative - post featuring five facts about Earth Day. Just for you!

But first, let me boldly suggest we celebrate Earth Day 365 days a year. If this sounds like a daunting task - relax - it isn't! It really is about the little things we do every day.

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5 Earth Hour Activities

Earth Hour is only 60 minutes, yet it's the small actions that make a greener world. Here are five Earth Hour activities to do when the lights go out.Are you going to turn off your lights and electrical devices between 8:30pm and 9:30pm for Earth Hour? We are, which means our daughters will be participating in the event as well except they'll be doing so in their sleep.

Well... maybe we'll cheat a little and keep their nightlights and fans on because if we don't they'll wake up and then no Earth Hour activities for us adults.

Keep reading for a few things we - and others - like to do during Earth Hour!

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How Trees Talk to Each Other

How Trees Talk To Each Other by Of Houses and Trees | We all know trees are living organisms, but did you know they can talk? Learn how trees talk to each other and how you can help them continue to do so.We all know trees are living organisms, but did you know they can talk? I read Jane Goodall's Seeds of Hope last year and was absolutely entranced with the chapter on trees (surprise, surprise, given the name of this blog). In my favourite section she talked about the ability trees have to communicate through their underground network of roots.

Then, only a few months later, I was YouTubing it up one night and came across a TEDTalks by Suzanne Simard about - you guessed it - the communicative abilities of trees.

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Simple Teriyaki Stir Fry

Simple Teriyaki Stir Fry by Of Houses and Trees | A super simple, super delicious, super nutritious version of a healthy veggie stir fry that's easy to customize. Let the sauté-ing begin!

It's... finally... HERE!!! You may now be asking, "What in tarnations are you so excited about?" Why it's my first recipe, of course. A healthy veggie stir fry recipe, to be exact. When I redesigned Of Houses and Trees about a year ago, I was faced with a major life decision. I'm talking should-I-buy-the-regular-or-the-eco-concious-but-expensive-toilet-paper major.

The question: Do I start blogging about food and posting my recipes? I wrote about this conundrum in my inaugural sustainable eating post.

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2017 Resolution: Do Less

2017 Resolution: Do Less | www.ofhousesandtrees.comHi. My name is Larissa and I am a chronic over-doer. Aren't most of us though? The thing is - doing stuff makes me happy.

I like cooking and cleaning. I like taking my kids to the park. I like going to yoga and dance class. I like hanging out on the couch talking to Devin for hours because we're too tired to go to bed. I like working. I like running errands and going to appointments and grocery shopping and visiting with friends and family and gardening and organizing my basement and doing crafts and working out and - of course - blogging.

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Happy Holidays 2016

Happy Holidays 2016 |

Instead of a Holiday Home Tour this year I present to you a photo of my family, because every once and awhile I like to break my own rule and post a picture of my kids online... which kind of creeps me out, but for you? I'll do it. (Actually, I do it because they are just so damn precious I'll explode if I don't share their beautiful faces approximately once a year.) PS - This photo was taken out on our land!

I have about five posts partially composed that I've been meaning to finish up and just haven't gotten around to.

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Homemade Garden Fertilizer

Garden Fertilizer by Of Houses and Trees | Banana peels, black tea, molasses and eggshell make up a super easy organic home garden fertilizer. Just add to an empty jug, mix with rainwater and go!

I've been trying to learn the ropes of vegetable gardening for about three years now. Before that I was more of a "plant a perennial that my mom gave me and then forget about it" kind of gal. Back then I used Miracle Grow, but when I decided to start growing my own food I got all crunchy and stopped using any commercially made fertilizers or pesticides.

I've dabbled in the realm of homemade bug deterrents. (I'm all for letting bugs be bugs, but when they start decimating my runner beans, well – they gotsta go.) However, I've yet to attempt making my own fertilizer.

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Baby Superhero Onesie

Baby Superhero Onesie by Of Houses and Trees | One-of-a-kind baby superhero onesie featuring baby Batman – hand drawn by the extremely talented Devin Patterson. Next up? A baby Catwoman toddler t-shirt!

Devin and I are nerds. If you know us, then you know this. We adore fantasy and sci-fi movies and have been known on occasion to pretend we are ninjas. We geek out over superheroes, routinely discussing them. Mostly it's me asking him extremely detailed questions about lesser-known characters and seeing what he can recall from his comic book collecting youth. We have both avoided ever playing Dungeons & Dragons for fear of falling into an obsessive vortex and never being able to climb back into the real world. So yeah... nerds.

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5 Food Additives to Avoid

Food Additives to Avoid | Once you learn the five food additives to avoid there's no looking back. Somewhat bad for your tastebuds, truly amazing for your health.I have been feverishly working away on a new design for my blog (and I'm not being metaphorical about the fever as I have been sick, sick, sick). After debating long and hard over the course of this little blog's life (three years and three months to be exact), I've finally decided to include a section on my new site where I can share recipes and write posts on food topics I'm passionate about. (So, basically, everything – as I love all the foods.) The reason I hesitated for so long over including recipes and such on this blog is because it seems like the interwebs is absolutely dripping with recipes.

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Freewriting... About Trees

Freewriting... About Trees

So I just wrapped up rehearsing and performing in a dance piece called DIG by Edmonton-based choreographer Kathy Ochoa in which we explored automatic writing/automatic talking.

If you're unfamiliar with the practice, the non-vocal version is usually called freewriting (something I was often required to do when I was working on my degree) and consists of a person writing for a set period of time without stopping to consider what should come next or edit what came before.

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3 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Save the Planet

Ways to Help the Environment by Of Houses and Trees | Looking for simple ways to help the environment on a day to day basis? Think before you buy, clean with care and eat less meat. That's it!Much like I was inspired by a few home blogs I follow to do an online Holiday Home Tour, I was almost inspired to do a "Design Resolutions" post. But, you know what? You'll read about my upcoming design ideas and projects if/when I get around to them.

For now, let's talk about something a little bit bigger. Something we all should be trying to do – every day – and not just as a New Year's resolution that invariably will fall to the wayside come February. What I'm talking about, my dear friends, is saving the planet.

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Mugo Pine (Pinus Mugo)

Mugo Pine Facts | Ah, majestic Pinus mugo! Also known as mountain pine, dwarf mountain pine, scrub mountain pine, Swiss mountain pine, creeping pine and mugo pine.

It's been a long time since I've done a "Tree of the Day" post (the last one was way back in my pre-motherhood days of January 2013). So I've decided to dust this series off because my Google calendar keeps reminding me I have a blog post "due." (Since I'm the kind of person who enters every one of their to-dos into an online calendar and then procrastinates on actually doing them.)

Ah, majestic Pinus mugo! Also known as mountain pine, dwarf mountain pine, scrub mountain pine, Swiss mountain pine, creeping pine.

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Mr Sun, Sun, Mr Golden Sun

Mr Sun, Sun, Mr Golden Sun

I don't remember when I got hooked on being green. I mean, I've always adored nature. Trees. Lakes. Dirt.

My family's annual (and sometimes bi or tri-annual) camping trips (usually to the majestic Rockies) led to a love of the great outdoors and all that it represents being wound into the very fabric of my being.

But did I always recycle? Was I always that person? You know, the one who dies a little inside when someone at a birthday party throws away a paper plate.

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Mahalo Back Girl

Maui Family Vacation by Of Houses and Trees | Pictures of my recent Maui family vacation! These have nothing to do with houses or trees, but nobody will care because Hawaii is so effin beautiful.

An epic failure has occurred over here at Of Houses and Trees, folks, and my heart is a-broken. I probably put a good two to three hours into a post about my favourite locally-owned Stony Plain home decor stores and – right as it was ready to be posted – Safari crashed and only a fraction of the entry saved.

The ironic part (using ironic in the Alanis Morrisette way and not in the I have an English degree and thus know better way) is that Safari crashed because I was trying to watch episodes of my new obsession, Tiny House Nation, online for free.

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Cruelty-Free Duvet Options

Vegan Bedding by Of Houses and Trees | What goes into collecting the down or silk used for duvet fill? The story isn't pretty, but thankfully vegan bedding is a readily available option.

Back when I was redesigning our master bedroom, I had a hard time answering a kind of silly question. Do I want a duvet? Now, is it important whether we fall asleep beneath a duvet, a quilt, a comforter, or a pile of dirty clothing? No. Of course not. What's important is that we fall asleep in a warm home in a safe neighbourhood where our biggest problem is what type of bedding to buy. I know this. However, there is a dark side to everything – even blankets. Impossible, you say?

I wish it were true.

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