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    The result was the new book Gorgeously Green, in which Uliano offers an eight-step program for living healthier without having to become a "crunchy granola, Earth-mother type who never wears makeup.... That's not the sort of woman I'm talking about," Uliano says with a laugh. Instead, she's talking about someone a lot like Roberts, who got an early draft of Uliano's book and was an instant fan — so much so that she wound up writing the foreword. Not long after, the two women set up a "green group" for Roberts and her closest girlfriends, who gathered at Roberts's home to learn about everything from nontoxic nail polish to safer cleansers.

    "There we were, on Julia's kitchen floor, huddled around this big bucket, making an all-purpose cleaning spray out of water and essential oils," Uliano says. "It was very hands-on." Roberts and her pals also kept journals, in which they wrote about their concerns and their hopes. "It got very emotional," Uliano recalls. "There were tears shed when we'd start to share about our children and what we want for them."

    Uliano found Roberts to be a particularly apt pupil. "Julia actually loves homework," she says. "Every week, she'd say to me, 'Okay, so what can I do now? I want homework!' And she really meant it! I think she wanted me to have a big red pen and to give her a grade!" So Uliano set her to work, telling her to start reading labels and rid her medicine cabinet of makeup containing harsh chemicals. Eventually, Roberts and Uliano tackled the great outdoors, planting an organic garden at the star's home. "We did all different lettuces and beans and carrots. And sunflowers for the children, which they planted themselves," Uliano says. Just watching Mom's garden grow taught Hazel, Finn, and Henry a valuable lesson in patience.

    "Julia is such an unbelievably conscientious mom that she explains everything to her kids," Uliano says. "But Finn wanted to know, a few hours after we planted the carrots, why they hadn't grown yet and if he'd be having them for dinner that evening. This taught him that a carrot is something that needs weeding and watering and caring, and that it's a great moment when you can pull it out of the ground and eat it. When a child understands that, he's so much less likely to waste food or think of it as gross. He's put such time and effort into nurturing it."

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