Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Parabens, to use or not to use?

I have been scrutinizing every single item our family owns and uses, looking for red flags that may be dangerous to my family's health. Parabens are a funny thing. Some people think they are linked to cancer, others say they are totally fine. Either way, they are in a LOT of everyday items (toothpaste, lotion, shower gels for example....good thing I make my own of these things)
Here are a few sites I have read that have looked into.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Eco Friendly Birthday

With my husband's birthday having just passed, and my daughter's only a few short days away I have had birthday on the brain. I really wanted to make sure this year we did a better job of creating less waste, and not showering my daughter with ideas of consumerism.

Last year I think we did pretty clever things. I started planning a few months before by saving Macaroni and Cheese boxes after we ate them. The size of the cardboard was perfect for making block letters that spelled out "Happy Birthday". I also stockpiled all our Sunday newspapers. I cut strips, and made paper chains from them. I sprayed painted them to liven them up a little (not the most eco-friendly, I know....but it was a little blah). I saved the letters I made, because they were flat and easily fit into our file cabinet, the paper chains made it to the recycling bin when we were finished.

This year we are planning on reusing the letters (with a new coat of paint). We are also wrapping our daughter's gifts in festive cloth bags. I did this for Christmas this last year, and loved it. It took a whole 10 minutes to sew up the bags, and mere seconds to put the gifts inside, which is way less time than it would have taken for me to using actual wrapping paper. I love that we can reuse them.

We are also trying something new this year. We asked in our invitations (which were all sent via the internet except for a few for the grandparents) for guests to split their gift 50/50. Half the gift goes to a small toy for Tootsie Roll, and the other half is cash that is going to be collected to provide a goat or a cow to a family in need (we are doing this through Compassion International).

Now, onto the food. I am still throwing around ideas for this one. We don't want to push our ideas onto our family and friends by making them eat our exceptionally healthy diet. I am fine splurging and letting our daughter and our family eat junk food once in a while. This birthday party is going to probably be one of those times. I am planning on dipping small balloons in dark chocolate to create bowls, and then filling them with mousse and fresh fruit.

Our theme for the birthday party is a Tea Party, so we will be using a combination of corn-based throw away utensils, and my great grandmother's china she gave me (gasp, I know. Nobody uses china, but I think it is silly to have it and not use it).

Well, I think that about sums up most of what we are doing. I will probably put another post up here, after the party with how everything played out.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Make your own Face Wash

Here is a link to a couple of great ways to clean your face.

Recipe Goldmine also has some great ideas for making your own body products from everyday items.

Friday, March 25, 2011

It's Spring! Time to Detox

We have been away from home for 6 weeks, and I can't wait to get back home! Back to our normal routines, back to healthier meals, and my bed!
To celebrate, my family and I are detoxing from are extended trip. We were inspired by Planet Green's article to detox.
Some of the things we will be doing are:

1) Detoxing our bodies. We have been eating so much junk food I am embarrassed to own up to most of it. Our daughter knows the name of several fast food joints (this really devastates me). I received a 21 day detox diet from a friend of mine, who does it with her 5 children and husband a few times a year. She loves it, so we are going to try it as well. It avoids gluten, most fats (except the omega 3's and what not), salt, sugar. It will be a rude awakening after a few days I am sure!

2) I am really big on teaching my daughter in a Montessori style, and I found some great yoga nomenclature cards over at Sew Liberated. I am going to print these out and work on them with Tootsie Roll, as well as do my own version.

3) I am going to do a thorough scan of all our bathroom products and get rid of any items that contain the following parabens, diethanolamine (DEA), or phthalates.

4) Open my windows. It's been weeks without anyone in our house. I think it will be in need of some serious airing out.

5) Cutting out the microwave use. Did you know if you microwave something on a plate that is not specifically microwave safe it can cause toxins to get into your food which hinders fertility?

6) Doing some major research on our current diet while we are on the detox. We are going to be more aware of what is in our food. I have currently been looking at the ingredient list to make sure I can pronounce the names and avoid high fructose corn syrup but I am also going to start avoiding Red dye #40, and BHT. Although I bake our own bread and doing a lot of cooking from scratch I think I am going to amp it up a bit, by doing freezer meals. I tend to want to grab quick meals rather than be in the kitchen all day, so I think this will help us .

Happy Spring Detoxing!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Birth Control (Continued)

In light of yesterday's post, I have another article to share....

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Birth Control

The first time my husband told me birth control had an effect on fish, I laughed. For whatever reason, I didn't think of what happened after it left my system...... Here are some interesting reads.

Although this one is a little heavier on the science jargon it's worth a read

This one looks like it was in a newspaper, so it's easier to understand

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sing along

I know it is a little silly, but as my husband says I am a walking iPod for children's songs, and lately this song has been in my head a lot.
Enjoy! (you can youtube it)

Good Garbage
John Forster & Tom Chapin © 1990

I had a turkey dinner, threw the bones away
They hauled them to the county dump without delay
By the following Thanksgiving they had turned to clay
They’re bio-de, bio-de, biodegradable garbage

Good garbage breaks down as it goes
That’s why it smells bad to your nose
Bad garbage grows and grows and grows
Garbage is supposed to decompose

Styrofoam is bad, it lasts a thousand years
Once a packing peanut’s born it never disappears
So crumple up your comics when you ship your chandeliers
‘Cause comics are bio-de, biodegradable garbage

Bridge: Well every time that you buy food you also buy the package
Bottles, boxes, cans, and bags; they end up in the garbage

Half of all our cash we’re spending on our trash
For the sake of Mother Earth let’s get our money’s worth!
Only buy bio-de, biodegradable garbage

Monday, March 21, 2011


here are a few sites that offer ideas for how you can upcycle your stuff. I just want to say ahead of time, at first glance some seem crazy but you may want to give it a chance and you just may be surpristed.

100 Amazing Upcycling Ideas

Recycle Denim: Floor mat from Waistbands and inseams -- This site has a plethora of ideas, but in particular I like the green section. Some ideas they have are making a rug from the inseams and waistbands of jeans (you can make a jean quilt with the rest of the jeans),
Go Green Upside Down Hanging Planters
a generic version of the Topsy Turvy Tomato hanger (love this idea, minus leaving the logo on the bottle),

Sunday, March 20, 2011

I have been throwing around the idea of getting Forrest a reusable razor from this place for his birthday or Father's day. I love that there is nothing to throw away if we get the straight razor but it does looking a little frightening. Even if we decide to go with the standard style we will still have way less to throw away and buy (the refills are way cheaper than refills for say a Mach3)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Daily Rhythm

Lately I have really been trying to figure out what my family's rhythm is. What we doing daily, weekly, monthly, and trying to do less. Less structured activities, less running around, and spending more time wisely doing what we really want to be doing. I have (for a while now) felt that so many of the items we use daily to make life easier actually cause more hassles and take just as much time. Say, the dishwasher for example, how much time do we actually save by having a machine do our dishes? We have to maintain the machine, and when my family had a dishwasher there were always dishes in the sink waiting to be put in the dishwasher. Then there were the discussions with my husband about a lid melting in the dishwasher, so we should not put ____ in the dishwasher any longer. Not to mention the dirty dishes that came out after the dishwasher was ran. We have since given up using a dishwasher (our new house doesn't even have one). At first I was annoyed that I had to use my valuable time to wash dishes, but honestly I rather enjoy slowing down a bit and having my daughter "help momma" or just stand on her step stool and watch.
How many other items in our home our actually making our lives more of a hassle? The washing machine? I am not saying this method is for everyone, but I do like how I now actually think about what I am doing, why I am doing it, and the cost-benefit analysis.

Some great inspiration for daily rhythms is the site They have simple crafts to do with your family, recipes, celebrations, and all of these are under the theme of the season. They have just updated it to the spring season. It is a Waldorf-inspired site (it's a style of education).

Friday, March 18, 2011

Clean Home

Organic Housekeeping: In Which the Non-Toxic Avenger Shows You How to Improve Your Health and That of Your Family, While You Save Time, Money, and, Perhaps, Your Sanity

I have to say that I have checked this book out of the library not once, not twice, but three times. I love this book. I love the simplicity, and how eco-friendly it is and how I have to be aware of what I am doing. Ellen Sandbeck does a wonderful job explaining how to clean, organize and keep a sense of peace in your home. I HIGHLY suggest it to anyone looking for some great tips on household management

Thursday, March 17, 2011

random yet interesting reads
This site sells reusable sanitary napkins and a nifty little device called a diva cup. Interesting. Even if one has no interest in making the switch to cloth reusable pads, I would still check out their info in the "tips and advice" as well as the "about" section for the company.
I love this man's story. He is a Christian from San Diego, and he felt like he had too much stuff, so he did something about it. He limited the amount of things he owned to just 100 items. Now we are talking just his items. He has a family with teen girls (I think teen girls), and they did not participate. He wrote about his experience (it has been some time since he did this).
I think it is awesome that he is finding happiness with less stuff. He had somewhat of a cheat because he had a large collection of books which is counted at "1 library" but I think that gives people with hobbies (sewing, scrapbooking, etc) the motivation to limit their other things. The point of the story is not following the rules to a T, it's about changing your perspective on why you buy, what you buy, and how much you buy. I think all of this has a huge part of being eco-friendly and green. There is so much stuff on this planet do we really need to get more of it?

on that note, another interesting site I found...
Basically a group of women pledged not to buy any new clothes for a year.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Traveling with a Toddler

We have been traveling for the last 3 weeks in the Florida/Alabama/Georgia area, and we still have another 3 weeks to go. Before we left I planned, organized, and assembled various activities for Tootsie Roll to do (mainly for the 13 hour car ride). My goal was to find items/activities that would both entertain her, and not just be used once and tossed. Although several other moms I talked to, thought pipe cleaners was the best toy, I just could not justify buying them because I know my daughter, and just didn't think she would find them entertaining or stimulating.

Since I am so particular about what my daughter plays with, I set about making my own activities. Here is what I came up with.

1 inch 3 ring binder
plastic cover sheets
Reusable/reposition-able stickers
Various colors of card stock
Dry Erase markers and a towel or something to wipe off marker

I made a variety of puzzles, mazes, activities for my toddler to work on. I made simple mazes with markers and then made them a little more interesting by adding reposition-able stickers at the beginning and end (as in help the baby duckling find his mama at the end of the maze). I also did an assortment of matching games. The sticker book I bought had various animals and then animal prints, so I have several pages of matching the print to the animal. I also had matching adult animals with baby animals, and colors (I picked up some paint chips at a hardware store).
Since we are starting to work on letter sounds with her, I had several pages with letter sounds as the theme. I made an "A" page with the letter on top (made in dots for her to trace), and various items that begin with the "aaaa" sound (alligator, Africa, apple, ant, ambulance).
I felt a little better about making the books because they offer a bit more variety and they really did seem to do the trick. Plus, everything is removable and reusable. When I get back home I can take the stickers off and make new mazes or use the as a completely different activity.

Another activity that I made for our road trip was a button snake.

It is felt squares (about 2 inches) with a slit cut in the middle. I strung a piece of ribbon through a wooden button, and tied off the end with a piece of felt. Tootsie Roll can then put the felt pieces on the ribbon to make a snake and then take them off. Honestly, this one wasn't as big of a hit as some of my other activities but it did occupy her time for a little while. Like the binder book, when we get back I can disassemble this activity and use the felt for other projects as well as the ribbon and button.

I have no idea what kind of seeds these are, but Tootsie Roll and I found them at a playground one day, so we collected quite a few of them and have been using them as counters.

I made these felt pieces a while ago after we picked up the book "We're going on a Bear Hunt" by Michael Rosen. We brought along a smaller felt board (which doubled as a hard surface to work on in the car seat) and Tootsie Roll had several felt play sets to play with.

More felt board items.
Hearts to sort by size and color.

And finally, last but not least one of my more ingenious ideas. On a trip out to eat we passed by some toothpicks, and I grabbed a few and some straws to entertain Tootsie Roll while we waited on our food (she put the toothpicks through the straw). She enjoyed it so much, that I grabbed a few more on the way out for back at the hotel. Well, instead of dropping them through the straw, I gave her a sheet a paper that I had drawn an outline of Australia on, and had her use the toothpick to poke holes in the paper (she was sitting on the carpet). She LOVED the activity, and so did I. Fine motor control, concentrating, pre-writing pincer grip, etc., etc. for the early childhood educator in me. Since then we have used newspapers with interesting photos to poke holes in as well.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wheat Berries

Although I have been on a hiatus because tootsie roll and I have been traveling with my husband, I have not stopped looking for ideas for how to improve our home/lifestyle. One idea I have come across (several other blogs/websites talked about this) is using wheat berries to grow grass for Easter baskets.

The process is pretty simple. Choose a basket of your liking, and line it with plastic. Next fill with soil (if you are planning on using the wheat grass later to make nutritious smoothies make sure to use good soil). Plant the seeds, water, and wait.

I am not sure if our grass will be very long considering we won't be able to start this project until later, however the grass can be trimmed and put in a food mill. The juice can be drank straight up (I have heard/read mixed reviews about the taste, and I have not tried this personally yet) or you can add to a smoothie.

Here are some of the common health benefits noted from wheat grass.

  • Increases and sustains energy naturally
  • Detoxifies and cleanses your body
  • High alkalinity helps balance your body’s pH level
  • Strengthens your immune system
  • Insoluble fiber gently cleanses your digestive tract and promotes regularity
  • Complete food with enzymes and all essential amino acids
  • Natural source of antioxidants to help repair damaged cells
  • Excellent source of beta carotene, folic acid and vitamin C