Friday, November 28, 2008

Homemade Holidays Bonus Project: Gingerbread house ornaments

Christmas gifts from the children are those that come most from the heart.

Granted, perhaps not as much "from the heart" as my husband's cousin's son was a few years ago. Inspired by a diamond commercial, he insisted his father let him buy his mom diamonds because mom was the woman he loved most. It's hard to argue with an eight year old's logic.

For those with a little tighter of a budget - and for those who desperately need an activity for kids this Thanksgiving weekend, consider letting them make homemade presents. Cookie tins or ornaments are two easy solutions that can keep your kids out of trouble and make them feel the holidy spirit.

I found these cute gingerbread cards online at Kaboose.com and decided it might be fun to adapt to homemade ornaments. The "recipe" for the cards state that they are for ages 3 and older, though that may depend on your child's ability. It does require parental help.

Here's what I did:
  1. Downloaded the template and cut out the house part only out of cardboard that was included in a bag from a scrapbook store to keep papers from bending.
  2. Let my 3 year old go wild! First step: Painted "frosting" with leftover acryclic paint from a long-ago project.
  3. Glued on buttons and slide mounts, long-ago acquired and unused for scrapbooking projects.
  4. I punched holes and inserted eyelets in the top of each ornament so the holes wouldn't rip.
  5. Threaded each ornament.

Total out-of-pocket expenditures: $0. (Not including the eventual replacement of the tablecloth, which suffered a few holes from my Silent Setter.)

The great thing is, the project allowed me to use up scrapbook supplies that I hadn't used in years but was hesitant to just throw out.

A bonus: My 3 year old was happily occupied for an hour and a half! And she's eager to share her creations with everyone she knows.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Small gifts have great impact

Driving downtown last Friday from a meeting, I noticed the Catholic cathedral. Remembering an article I'd read about some kind of pilgrimage there, I stopped inside and looked around.

I saw nothing that met the description, but instead saw a man, dressed head to toe in black, sitting quietly three rows from the back.

As I walked by, he asked me for the time. I paused, pulled out my work pager and told him it was 2:30. Then I sat down for a moment to pray.

A few minutes later, his shoulders slumped and he laid his head on his arms, putting his weight on the chair in front of him. I walked over and asked if he needed anything.

"I was thinking if there was a phone," he said. "I'd like to call my sister."

I asked the nearby janitor, who says no, and then my phone rings. I'd completely forgotten my cell phone. So I handed the man the phone and asked that it just be short, as I needed to return to work.

He called his sister and arranged for lunch. As he hands the phone back to me, he said, "I lost my job last month. I've never been homeless before."

I swallow, get my composure and listen. His sister's family is facing foreclosure; he's hoping to stay at the local shelter. Yet he's strangely optimistic and talks about his hope for the new administration and for a program he learned about in Texas.

We talk some more, and I realize I need to get back to work. I rifle through my purse to find my keys and pull out a granola bar - my one I keep on hand for diabetic emergencies. It's horrible, but it's all I have. I hand it to him.

"But I can't take your lunch," he replied. I explain that lunch was provided for me that day, and he relaxes and accepts the bar.

I notice a second homeless man is hovering, and I cringe. I apologize; I have nothing more.

But the first gentleman - the one I've been speaking with - doesn't miss a beat. Here he is, homeless, jobless, gladly anticipating that meal of macaroni and cheese at his sister's. And what does he do? He offers to share that little 100-calorie granola bar.

So many of us are worried these days. We don't know when our job will disappear - or perhaps it already had. But, regardless of where we stand in life, we have something to offer another in need.

So this Thanksgiving, I could tell you how thankful I am for family and friends, for a roof over my head, for my job (even on the most frustrating of weeks).

But really, I'm thankful most for the nameless man who reminded me that each of us has something to give in this world.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

December APLS Carnival is here

I'm happy to be hosting this month's APLS Carnival topic.

Why do we think green? What’s our motivation?For many of us, the answer is simple: To maintain this world for future generations.

It’s a lesson told to us generations ago, but did we listen as well as we should have?

“Children are our greatest natural resource,” President Herbert Hoover (and Lisa Simpson) once said.

President Theodore Roosevelt told Congress more than 100 years ago:

….there must be the look ahead, there must be a realization of the fact that to waste, to destroy, our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed.

What inspires you to help the next generation? How do you help preserve our greatest resource? What have tomorrow’s leaders – yes, those cute tikes or tenacious teenagers – taught you about what’s meaningful in this world? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

To participate in December’s APLS Carnival, please submit your posts to aplscarnival (at) gmail (dot) com by December 10. (However, if you need to reach me with other questions, please e-mail goinggreenmama (at) gmail (dot) com.)

The carnival will be published at Going Green Mama on December 15.

Thanks for participating! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Being green while saving green on Black Friday

Each Thanksgiving, while the bird is roasting, the women in our family rip apart the newspaper, scouring ads for promised deals for the next day. Our list is written by time of day, in the hopes of scoring the deal. Then, Friday morning, we join hundreds - OK, thousands - of bargain hunters. For us, it's about the camaraderie - and the hunt. (And for the record, we're usually done by the time the men wake up!)

If you, like our family, are on the hunt for deals this weekend, there are a few ways to make this ritual just a little bit greener. Even if you're not ready to give up this holiday tradition, a little common sense and courtesy can actually make a difference in overall consumption of our precious resources.

Make a realistic plan. Unless there's something you desperately need, hold off on the excess and camping out for hours outside of an electronics store or whoever has the 4 a.m. sale. The best case scenario is you'll freeze your buns and get that laptop your kid wants for college.

The worse case? You waste gas and electricity, trying to stay warm in the car, waste time and precious sleep, and come away empty handed (or with something not on your list, just to justify your time!).

Along the same lines, does driving across town to shop at a particular store really save you that much? If not, reconsider that stop on your schedule.

Park and walk. It's a concept, I know. You'd be amazed by the number of people who circle the mall lots like vultures, searching for a close parking spot. It's wasteful, and it's better to burn off yesterday's feast and park in the far ends of a lot and hike in.

Watch your excess. Sure, it's tempting to stock up on sales, but think twice. Not only does carrying lots of bags set you up to be mugged or your car broken into, but you also may be buying things you simply don't need.

Seek out local vendors. While they may not have the splashy ads the chain stores do, local stores may have sales, offer unique gift items and may have great parking. Plus, you have the added benefit of helping the local economy, and, depending on the store, purchasing locally produced or sustainable items.

Watch your plastic. Seek out gift items with as little packaging as possible.

Buy practical. It may not seem as much fun, but it's no less appreciated in a tough economy. Besides, how many lotion gift baskets can a girl need?

Shop online. It doesn't offer the same ambience as being with a thousand of your closest friends in the mall, but many retailers extend the same pricing on their Web sites. Shipping is already done for you, so you save an extra trip to the post office. It's convenient, and if you do miss the holiday magic, throw on a Christmas CD and sip a cup of cocoa.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Homemade Holidays: Spa baskets

Those easy-to-buy spa baskets at the local pampering store are cheap, but they don't offer much when you're trying to stay within a shopping budget. Plus, there's a lot of packaging involved - from the clear plastic that envelopes the entire basket and contents to the individual bottles and tons of shredded packaging inside.

Instead of running to the Body Shop or Bath & Body Works this holiday season, make a few spa baskets of your own. Create and bottle a few handmade items, and you can create a custom basket for your friend (or you!) in no time.

Here are some recipes to get you started:

For the bath:
Other items:
Not enough? Check out Natural Beauty for All Seasons for other ideas. You can read portions of the book through Google Books.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Binford Farmers Market report

The Binford Farmers Market made its November debut today at 62nd and Binford Avenue in Indianapolis, inside an empty store in the strip mall.

We arrived at the Binford Farmers Market just after 10 a.m., when the market opened, and it was already packed with shoppers trying to get goods for Thanksgiving weekend. While we didn't see the promised turkey vendor, we did see lamb and beef producers, a small number of produce tables (selling lettuces, shitake mushrooms, which I splurged on, and a few random items), and several stands offering premade cakes, bars and pies. Traders Point Creamery had samples of its egg nog, which was fabulous - if I wasn't diabetic and watching my weight, I'd have been all over that. Plenty of art booths were on hand as well. After all, Christmas is coming.

I credit anyone who tries to make a go of holding a farmers market in Indiana after November. It's a tough sell. Even with vendors selling homemade food items (pies, sauces, etc.) it's got to be a challenge to get a good variety of items out there.

If you're trying to eat seasonal and local and are looking for a basic mix of healthy produce or meats to round out your diet, you may have some luck at the Binford Farmers Market. However, if your budget is tight, this is not the place to do so. You will be able to find meats and produce far cheaper at the local grocery store, though it may not be local, organic or as fresh.

The Binford Farmers Market reopens in two Saturdays (Dec. 6).

Friday, November 21, 2008

My CSA Experience 2008

Wrapping up my first year with a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program in Indianapolis, I've realized I've learned a lot about the CSA process and local eating.

First, you learn you're at the mercy of the weather. You may not completely realize this when visiting a farm stand or farmers market, but when you participate in a CSA, you are at the mercy of Mother Nature. I was scheduled to start getting weekly shares of locally produced produce at the beginning of May - about a month before many farmers markets are open here - but weather derailed the aggressive plans.

Second, you may - or may not - get a more variety with a CSA plan than if you went to the farmers market. I signed up for the program with one of more established CSA programs in the greater Indianapolis area because of the wide variety of produce promised, and much of it didn't happen. I felt like I got a lot of expensive tomatoes, lettuce and green peppers, when I could have simply got those at the local farmers markets instead (organic and at a much cheaper price).

Third, quality can still be an issue. Unlike with farmers markets or shopping in a store, you get what you get with a CSA and can't pick or choose produce that looks better. And sometimes, you end up with unusable stuff. My husband commented again this weekend that "There's more produce we can't use, again," when tossing out some unripe tomatoes that couldn't be eaten. We've also had several weeks where I've had to toss produce before eating it because it was bad when delivered.

Fourth, cost can be a detractor. You do need to pay for the season up front, which can be cost-prohibitive to many families. You sign up in the winter and do not see a "return" until late spring/early summer.

Participating in a CSA was interesting. I did try some new foods and new recipes, with varying results. If you're adventurous in your eating or what to support local producers, it's certainly something to consider.

{ EDITED JANUARY 28, 2009 TO REMOVE THIS CSA'S SURVEY QUESTIONS. I do not agree with this from a First Amendment standpoint, Removal of these questions does not imply I included false, misleading or damaging statements about the company in my responses to the survey, as wrongly claimed in the comments by representatives of this organic CSA on my blog and via e-mail. May these person(s) never have their personal right to free speech or any other right guaranteed by the Constitution threatened!!! These are my comments, documentation and opinions about my experiences, both positive and negative, about the CSA. You may read a summary of my experiences with throughout the 2008 season here. }

[ Edited Jan. 30, 2009, to remove the link to the offending CSA. If you would like to have the names of OTHER CSAs in Indianapolis and Bloomington, follow this link.]

Related Links:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Share it: A lesson in generosity from a tiny teacher

Every parent has the bag of too-small clothes that they tuck away, meaning to pass them along.

My 3-year-old daughter found ours the other day. This time, instead of asking about wearing the "tink top" inside, she picked the bag up and said, "Let's give this to kids who need clothes."

I smiled, gave her a big hug and said, "Of course."

And the bag stayed there. After all, I had more things to pull together. And other thigns to do.

Last night, after receiving another bag of clothes she could grow into, I pulled out the bags and boxes into the living room and started sorting. I figured we could start with her current size, of which I knew we had too many shirts.

I piled the clothes into a stack, sorted by size, and called her over.

"Do you want to keep this or share it?" I asked, holding up the pink skirt.

"Keep it."

"What about this?" holding up a turtleneck.

"Share it."

"And this?" holding up another shirt.

"Share it."

"What about this pretty sweater?"

"Share it."

I asked one by one, holding each shirt, pants or skirt up. Each time, my daughter answered the same: "Share it."

"Are you sure?" I finally asked.

"Yes," she said, then, with a sweeping arm gesture towards the rest, she said, "Share all of that too."

In the end, her "keep" pile was two shirts, which I suspect I egged her into taking, and that one pink skirt. By my side, shoulder deep, was the pile to "share."

What if we all took a moment to share a little more? On the surface we may not have a lot. We may be struggling in our home life, or our work life, or have other burdens to bear. But what if we realized that the tiniest of actions, or the smallest amount of giving, makes a difference?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Making sense of eco-confusion: An open letter to an op-ed writer

Dear Kelly Jones Sharp,

Today I finally caught up with the stack of newspapers in our break room, and your column jumped out from me on the op-ed page. Trapped in a mix of politics and who's to blame for the economy, the headline "Even being green can be too much of a good thing" truly stood out.

But after reading 15 inches or so your writings, I'm convinced that you've succummed to the mass confusion and hype about being green.

Being green isn't about buying the latest, greatest, greenest product on the market. And it's not about flogging yourself for not springing for organic milk or eggs grown down the street.

Being green is about being mindful. It's about making small choices that, combined with the efforts of others, paves the way for a healthier community now and for years to come.

Maybe you're tired of all the hype. Sure, it seems that every label out there has slapped the word "green" in there somewhere, but I for one appreciate the fact that companies are starting to wake up and realize that environmentally friendly products may be a priority for some of us. And if you're still confused, there are plenty of green, simple and inexpensive choices for cleaning out there. Like baking soda or vinegar, to get you started.

Even if you're burnt out on the jargon - making sense of organic vs. locally grown vs. labelling, I'm worried you're on the cusp of giving up completely. Your column has me worried. You write:

Is my salad just a Bigfoot Audrey sucking down the carbon ("Feed me, Seymour!"),
with ingredients shipped from California, Florida, South America and New
Zealand?

How can I eat the way I'm supposed to if I give up over-fished tuna
and salmon and fruits and veggies from afar? It's not as though Central Indiana
is a hotspot for banana trees, orange groves and fish full of omega-3 fatty
acids.


Here's where you forget that being green is working with nature, not against it. The great thing about living seasonally is that we can still eat outside the "traditional" culinary box. You don't have to just eat corn to eat local Indiana foods. There are many, many local producers in Indiana - and things you may not consider. Just visit localharvest.org or pick up a copy of Home Grown Indiana if you don't believe me. Check out a late fall farmers market and enjoy something new for your Thanksgiving table.

Being green is about a culmination of simple steps. In the end, it's about consuming less and doing more with what you have.

Homemade Holidays: For man's best friend

Perhaps in your family, you've got a grand-dog instead of a grandkid. If your favorite pooch needs to be spoiled this holiday season (or for any other reason), there's little reason to dash to the store to buy a box of treats, or, even worse, a "pet stocking" filled with treats.


Here are some recipes for your favorite pet:

Read other Homemade Holidays ideas.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

What's on tap at Going Green Mama

I concede that this week has been a little quieter on the blog front. Life occasionally gets in the way, so thanks for checking back.

Here are some stories in the works on Going Green Mama:
  • My first season with a CSA wrapped up this weekend. I'll share my thoughts and offer my advice for people considering subscribing for 2009.
  • Yes, it's strange I am still picking Indiana strawberries from my front yard (particuarly since we had a dusting of snow overnight!). But even if the markets are closed for the winter, there are still ways to eat seasonally. I'll share some ideas and some recipes to try, including some you may want to consider for Thanksgiving weekend.
  • I'll be hosting the December APLS Carnival. Look for the announcement soon!
  • Find gift ideas for doggie parents and spa lovers in our weekly Homemade Holidays feature.
  • Next month, look out for a real-world review of several brands of cloth diapers. If you have squirmy babies, a day job and no time, this review is meant for you!

Thanks again for reading Going Green Mama.

Final CSA Week: What's in the box

Half-frozen strawberries are sitting in my Indiana front yard currently. I'm shocked that the plants have been producing into November, and even more so that they're not tart.

Yes, it's true that you can eat seasonally - and locally - in Zone 5 in November. Here's what was on hand with my final CSA share from our 25-week CSA program.
  • A couple of acorn squash, for which I stumbled on an amazing-sounding recipe from Bobby Flay this morning. (Guess my husband's Food Network habit is good for something.)
  • An apple.
  • A few unripe tomatoes.
  • Unidentifiable greens (I wish these would be explained better in the e-mails from NHO).
  • Shitake mushrooms! (A bright spot).
  • Bok choy - more veggie lo mein on tap.
  • A small cabbage, about the right amount for homemade egg rolls a friend and I made last night.

The season ended up being two weeks shy of what was promised, but I would rather have a refund than receive really bad produce for a couple of weeks.

Thinking about subscribing to a CSA for next season? I'll wrap up my thoughts on the experience later this week.

The name of this CSA was deleted from this post on January 28, 2009. I have been falsely accused of libel by this CSA and will no longer promote them by using the name of the organization. The link to the CSA was deleted on Jan. 30, 2009.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Staying local, supporting neighbors in an uncertain world

More than 200,000 of my neighbors are out of work, the state of Indiana says. It's a headline that's easy to shake your head at if you're not directly impacted.

But you can do something. What is you could make a difference and help ensure one person's job? Or keep dollars in your local economy? Would you do it?

Touching lives one person, one job at a time is one great benefit of supporting local agriculture and local vendors. Obviously there are taste, environmental and wellness benefits involved too. Food is shipped shorter distances and hasn't lost the nutritional value from sitting on store shelves.

In the end, helping out the little guy is a big part of supporting local food producers. It's a reason why I started going to farmers markets many years ago. I knew who was bringing me my Kansas corn - it was the guy outside of town. I met the people whose lives directly touched mine in a way we think so little about.

Truthfully, it's easy to shop locally. You've likely done it. If you've taken your child to the pumpkin patch or an orchard, you support local growers. If you go to a Christmas tree farm or a farmers market, you support local growers. I encourage you to find one opportunity to do it again, even if it's researching online and making a note of when next year's markets open.

We don't know what this economy may bring. Some say things will get worse. But what if we can make a difference, look someone in the eye and, together, make a mutual decision to have a healthier life, a healthier land and a more sustainable economy, just by shopping from the farmer around the corner.

Related posts for Indiana readers:

The name of this CSA, one of the oldest in Indianapolis, was deleted from this post on January 28, 2009. I have been falsely accused of libel by this CSA and will no longer promote them by using the name of the organization.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Homemade Holidays: For the chef in the family

For every person who struggles to get food quickly on the table, there's a family member or friend who thrives on the cooking process. Finding a gift for your favorite chef may on the surface seem easy. After all, there's always a new gadget on the market.

But if you're in a cost-saving mode or aiming to green your holiday gift-giving, you may want to consider creating a cooking basket.

Throw together a basket filled with locally produced or sustainable coffees, teas, sauces, or other cooking treats. Add in a bamboo cutting board, which is more sustainable than the plastic or silocone counterparts, or an out-of-print cookbook from a used bookstore.

You could also include homemade spices or rubs in bags or jars. Here are a few recipes to whet your appetite:

Read other Homemade Holidays ideas.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Making the most out of your gas savings

Last week, I was pleasantly surprised to fill up my gas tank for under $35. As gas prices have plummented in recent weeks - by more than half the peak prices we saw this summer - the temptation exists to drive more and relax about our overall use.

But wait. There's this little thing called "Supply and Demand." If we as a society drive more, gas prices are certain to rise again.

Instead, I usrge you to show the same sensabilities and restraint you showed when you were paying $4.25 or more a gallon this summer. And take advantage of these savings to reinvest in other energy-saving and environmentally friendly measures, such as:
  • CFL bulbs for your home
  • Weather stripping
  • Green cleaning products
  • Power strips (and use them to shut off power to items not in use!)

Or, save up for:

  • Edible landscaping
  • A compost bin
  • Energy-efficient appliances
  • A hybrid (ha!)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Happy Baby = Happy Kid? A review of Happy Baby and Happy Bites Foods

Frozen foods for kids? It's not much different than many moms' standby of chicken nuggets or fries baked in the oven. Convenience is key on many hectic nights. And in organic's benefits and squeezing in extra vegetables? Now you might be on to something.

So was my mindset as I set out to review Happy Baby and Happy Bites line of frozen foods (in Indianapolis, it's available at Whole Foods). Over a six-week span, we mixed a number of dishes into our diet with mixed results. The baby food was well-received, but the kid line, not so much.

Happy Baby

The Happy Baby frozen baby food line was great as a working mom and not much different than cracking open a jar. I tossed a series of cubes into the fridge in the morning, and it was defrosted by dinner time.

The cost may seem high (about $5 a package, but the cost per serving is comparable to other organic baby foods you'd find on the store shelf.

Our taste-tester gobbled up the Super Salmon and Baby Dhal, made hysterical faces at the quinoa (not sure why; he's enjoyed the grown-up version), and would not have a thing to do with the peaches or plums, which he normally likes. (The texture was a bit strange, kind of flaky, which may be a contributing factor).

But better than the baby food for the 9 month old was the "big kid line," Happy Bites. Our littlest tester enjoyed lapping up the dipping sauce (with "hidden veggies" inside) as well as pincher-sized bites of his sisters' fish.

Happy Bites

At about $5 a frozen dinner (at Whole Foods), the children's meals are more than I'd usually pay for a frozen meal for lunch, which makes it a bit pricy for everyday use. However, it might be a great back-up on crazy evenings or when the grown-ups just want to eat, well, grown-up food.

Reality bites, and the 3 year old didn't. My foodie fought eating these every step of the way.

I'll admit I couldn't sell it. We generally offer healthy meals including plenty of produce and occasional fish, but these meals were often tasteless and had an unusual consistency and texture. The Fish Bites and Salmon Stix had no flavor (and my daughter loves salmon). The Veggie Tots were unpalatable.

The dipping sauces? A mix of strange brews that resemble baby food (and enjoyed heartily by the baby, who lapped the green ones up). The "Orange Cheetah" cheese sauce tasted like out of a blue Kraft box (not necessarily a bad thing for this demographic), and the "Red Monkey" marinara sauce could have definitely been kicked up a notch.

I give the creators of this line credit for trying to increase the produce in children's diets and expose them to (slightly) new flavors. But the reality is, as a parent, hidden foods are still tough to pull off.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Binford Harvest Market confirmed

Looking for a little local food to round out your Thanksgiving holiday?

The Binford Farmers Market's Harvest Market will be Nov. 22 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. inside the former Entermann's location at 62nd Street and Binford in northeast Indianapolis. Organizers promise 35 vendors offering:
  • Thanksgiving turkey
  • lamb
  • roast beef
  • baked goods
  • root vegetables
  • pumpkins
  • lettuces, and more.

There will also be cooking demos.

A Christmas market is scheduled for Dec. 6 and 13, according to InShape Indiana.
More than 35 vendors, many of them at our outdoor Market, will be on hand

Learn more.

Homemade Holidays: Making memories

Memories fade over time, but preserving those memories can make for treasured gifts for Christmas, Mother's Day, birthdays or other special occasions.

Photographs of the grandchildren are prized possessions, but for both my parents and in-laws, keeping up with the kids creates a lot of clutter. Instead, we've come up with more creative ways to give them the latest cute kid photo without pushing piles of photographs upon them.

Photo calendars: These are a practical way to share photographs of the past year (12 to 18 or more). You can be creative and make your own with photo kits at local scrapbook stores, or if you're time crunched, a few drags-and-drops in online software can complete an order. Services that offer photo calendars include Snapfish, Walgreens, Shutterfly, Kinkos and most photo processsing studios.

Brag books: Buy or make small photo albums large enough to hold wallet-size school photos in.

Christmas memories book: Create a small album with room for photos, descriptions of family traditions, special food served, memorable gifts and more. Include pages for family members to highlight their favorite memories of Christmas. Even if you're not a scrapbooker, this can be simply done with a journal or even in your word-processing software.

Other photo-related gifts: You can plaster your photographs of the grandkid or granddog on just about any item these days, from coffee mugs to T-shirts to stamps.

Read other Homemade Holidays ideas.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Coping with the stash

Despite a near-meltdown over the kids in scary costumes last night, our Mary Poppins came home from trick-or-treating with quite a stash in hand.

Which leads us to a common dilemna: What to do with the Halloween candy. For most, the hunt is more exciting than the reality of overwhelming results.

From what I've seen over the years, parents seem to be grouped into three camps on this:
  • Let the kids gorge, spin in circles and race around for hours until they collapse in a diabetic coma.
  • Drag it to work, tormenting their stress-eating and chocolate-craving coworkers for a week until the candy is gone.
  • Toss it in the trash.

Let me throw in a fourth option, one I've heard from many a registered dietitian: Everything in moderation.

No, I'm not advocating a candy a day, though if it makes you happy and fits within your diet, you're welcome to do so. (I do wonder about encouraging a habit of daily candy for children, though.) But there are other options for families coping with bagfuls of candy that they suddenly don't want.

  • Bake. This afternoon, my daughter's chocolates are becoming reborn as chocolate-chunk cookies for a pitch-in we're attending. (The cookies are staying there, by the way.) And those lollipops can be crushed for the "stained-glass" cookies we'd make as a child.
  • Toss the candy in the freezer. Christmas is coming, and you'll save yourself the costs and the hassle of a trip to the store for chocolate for your cookie recipe next month.
  • Save it for stockings.
  • Share it with an organization that gives Christmas stockings to children in need.

Other ideas?