Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Goody Simple Styles Spin Pin, and Other Fun Stuff

I haven't been writing much lately. Well, that's sort of an understatement. I haven't been writing at all lately. But I have been doing stuff, which is always good.

One of the things I've been doing is Influenster. If you aren't doing this yet, you should. Sure, it's another internet time-suck, to be certain - but it lands you free stuff. And actually, it's rather fun - you just have to have to enjoy writing, and answering questions. How it works: basically, you'll write reviews for products you love (or hate), in hopes that they'll send you more products you love (or hate), for free.

My first shipment of free goodies, called a Vox Box, came last month, and it was pack to the gills with goodies. Like this little doo-dad, from goody. Goodies from Goody! Golly Gee!

$7.29 at Walmart, Target, CVS, Walgreen’s, Kroger

Now, in all fairness, neither Goody or Influenster could have possibly known I had recently cut 8" off my hair off, leaving less than a shoulder-length bob behind. For that reason, this product didn't stand much of a chance in my house. Not even Princess Crabigail, my 2 year-old, has enough hair to really use it.

But even so, I can tell you this - it's a nifty little product, and it does hold a bun up, if you have enough hair. I particularly liked the easy release. Just turn the thing counter-clockwise and it comes right out. No pulling, no yanking, no loss of hair. 

Should I decide to grow my hair long again, I'd definitely use these. Thank you Goody, for sending me this complimentary set! Hopefully I'll still have them in a year.

If you want to try Influenster too, leave me a note here with your email address. The first two posters will get invites (that's all I have left!). 

Coming Soon: I finally committed to Stainless Cookware! Yay! Let the learning begin!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Real Tips for a Healthy Home

After last night's soap-box entry, where I put the fanatics of the Natural Parenting Facebook page on blast, I figured I best back myself up with something that's actually useful. Now that I've laid claim to being a "real" parent, versus a "natural" parent, how about we start talking about some real ways to make some real changes, in our real lives? 

Most of these ideas were not my own, but I thought it might be nice to compile them into one list. Please, help me out here by adding your own suggestions - here in the comments section, or on my Facebook page. I want this to be a team effort. Less yelling at each other, more working together and all that. 

So here we go. 

10 Real Tips for Making your Real Home Real Heathy:

1. Replace your disposable paper products with linen versions. This is something I'm in the process of doing right now. In fact, I spent the first half of nap time today researching cloth napkins, like these, made from recycled cotton. 

2. Stop using plastic tuperware. Buy glass. Not only does glass last longer, you eliminate the risk of exposure to lots of nasty chemicals, including BPA. While many manufacturers of plastics are starting to go BPA-Free, they aren't all there yet. So why take the chance? 

3. Replace your plastic utensils with wood. Again, reduce your risk of chemical exposure by going with a natural material, instead of something man-made.

#2 & #3 are courtesy of the Eco-Friendly Family; a fabulous blog that my sister-in-law introduced me to. 

4. Use, all-natural, unbleached coffee filters. They are better for the environment, and better for your health. We did this a few months ago and noticed absolutely no difference in taste. These actually advertise a better tasting brew than the traditional white filters. 

5. Recycle, Recycle, Recycle. 

6. Throw away your Swiffer. Use a classic mop, or an eco-friendly version like this, and make your own cleaning solution. Try this very basic recipe, courtesy of The Daycare Lady

1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon liquid dish soap
1/4 cup washing soda
2 gallons tap water, very warm

7. If you absolutely cannot break-up with your Swiffer, make your own covers, like these from Heather at Dollar Store Crafts. 

8. Make your own laundry detergent, like this version from blogger Why Not Sew

10. Stop using plastic grocery bags. Invest in reusable bags to take with you. Some stores even give you a credit of up to .5 for each bag you bring (each time).

And don't just stop at the grocery bags! I recently purchased these mesh bags, and I love them. Stop putting your (very expensive!) organic food into plastic bags. These are washable, breathable and a much healthier alternative!

For an organic cotton mesh version, check these out. 

Replace plastic sandwich bags with these adorable reusables from Kohl's.

11. Add your suggestions!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Why I Am No Longer a Natural Parent

A few weeks ago I was delighted to sit and have a nice conversation with one of my sisters-in-law, about what it means to be a parent these days. How some ideologies on the subject seem to come and go, in and out of style, much like everything else in the world. How hard it is to live up to ridiculous standards, and how we always seem to be each other's worst critics. (Moms in general, not her and I. I'm her biggest cheerleader, and I like to think she has my back.)

We agreed that we find ourselves parenting now, in a much "crunchier" environment than our parents raised us in. Back then (waaaay back in the 70's) it was much more "in style" to do things like formula feed your newborn. And man - when those disposable diapers hit the market it was a considered a god-send! 

Of course, everything being full-circle in life, we find ourselves now at a point in time where formula feeding is likened to child abuse (much like fast food?), and using disposable diapers lands you in the ecology hall of shame, right alongside people who drive gas guzzling SUVs, and fly in private jets. Carbon footprint is the buzz word, and on the parenting side of this movement we hear phrases like "Natural Parenting" and "Eco-Friendly Families". Buzz words that have taken on a life of their own. 

Right around the time I was making the transition from this being "just another Mommy blog", to a more green-focused version, I started liking a bunch of social media sites related to this idea of Natural Parenting. One fan site, on Facebook, is most aptly name "Natural Parenting". It's a sister site to The Stir, or Cafe Mom. And it is the very site responsible for my now immense resentment of the term "Natural Parenting". Yes, that's right - immense resentment

What I learned in the very few short months I was a fan of this Facebook page is that no matter what, you will never win. You will never be the best Natural Parent you can be. Ever. You will never live up to this pie-in-the-sky standard that was created somewhere in the 4th dimension, otherwise known as "cyber-space". You know that place I speak of; where every parent is the best parent ever, and if you don't agree with everything those best parents do, well then, you're not worthy of even sharing their eco-friendly green space on this planet. 

In order to gain access to this elite group of parents, you best be willing to go all out. We're talking cloth diapering with only the finest bamboo products, breastfeeding until at least junior high, co-sleeping until high school. Don't even THINK about vaccinating, use only organic foods, organic clothing, earth-friendly cleaning products, and hybrid cars (at the very least!). And, ultimately sell your soul to the idea that ANYTHING LESS THAN THIS IS JUST BAD PARENTING. And yes, it must be said in all caps. That's what we DO on social media, when we really feel passionately about something! We YELL-TYPE.

The thing is, my snark... it's not much of an exaggeration at all. Don't believe me? Let's just look at a few of the gems I've recently picked up. 

How about this status from our friends at NP: 

"I'm a Natural Mom because __________ " (fill in the blank!)

Followed with responses like:

"Make my own baby food and use cloth diapers. Plus we have been researching vaccines and only have been allowing one a month starting at 6 mths and only the ones we approve."

(Did I mention that good parents also receive PhDs in internal medicine? At the very least!) 

"I gave birth naturally, I breastfeed which is natural, I allow my children to wean naturally, and I kept their peepees all natural"

(Honestly, I'm not even sure what that last part refers to, but I'm guessing this is will now become a circumcision debate as well.)

Or how about: 

"I had a homebirth with a naturopathic doctor and I don't use shampoo anymore."

(See that!? No Shampoo! That, people, is called dedication.)

And my personal favorite: 

"My baby only gets the best vitamins, pharmaceutical grade manufacturing facility vitamins and uses the only self preserving technology skin care line for her bath time."

(Part of me hope she's being sarcastic, although sadly I do not think she is.)

That's just one topic, posted earlier today. If you browse the page long enough, you'll find so many other gems, in arguments about vaccines, cloth diapering, even politics. Remember how Big Bird made the news a few weeks ago? Well, according to the Natural Parenting fans, it's a good thing Romney wants to do away with Big Bird and his brain-eating companions on Sesame Street - after all, you should be READING to your kids every minute of every day, not plopping them down in front of a television set! DUH!

One commenter even suggested taking those poor kids of yours to the library, instead of watching so much Big Bird. Too bad she missed the memo that the library is also a publicly funded entity, just as PBS is (and NPR, and Planned Parenthood, and WiC…). But I digress. I think you get the point. 

The level of one-upping, back-patting, arguing, and name-calling on these sites has just completely turned me off to the idea of commiserating with like-minded people about being the best parent I can be, within my means. It's not a lifestyle, as I sadly realized - it's a competition. And not one I want to be a part of. 

So, The Stir, or Cafe Mom, or Natural Parenting… you can keep your fanatic fans and daily pissing competitions. I'll be over here, enjoying the Calm in the Chaos. Living life in a world where Big Bird is a fun distraction on a rainy day, disposable diapers saved my (baby's) butt in more than one scenario, and where decisions like whether or not to vaccinate are still personal, private choices

Since I no longer qualify as a "Natural Parent", I'll gladly just remain a *REAL parent.

Oh, and just as a fun little after thought - for all the "natural parent" fans out there who claim to use nothing but organic foods, never serve their families any processed junk, and are solidly against corporate America and the government… you might be tickled to find out who actually owns your beloved "Natural Parenting" site. 

From Wiki:

CMI Marketing Inc. primarily makes money via advertising revenue; their clients include leading mom companies like General Mills, Kmart, P&G, Nestle, Coca Cola, Kellogs, Johnson & Johnson, Target, Unilever, Dell, Chase, Samsung and dozens of others. They also have investors, as noted in the online newspaper MediaPost Publications; in 2007 the companies Highland Capital Partners and Draper Fisher Jurvetson invested some $5 million in the company.[17]
Since the end of 2008, CMI Marketing has been growing. CafeMom reaches 8.1 million unique visitors (ComScore, July 2011) and more than 20 million unique visitors to the CafeMom Plus Network.[18] CafeMom Plus is a network of mom-oriented websites who are in partnership with CafeMom, including: Birthday Partnership Ideas; Coupon Cabin;; and

*As a disclaimer, I am still striving, every day, to find the Calm in the Chaos. I've not given up that fight. I've only given up on a few particular sites relating to the issues I find important, because they waste my energy.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Hey Moms, Spit for Research. Please.

Just as soon as I saw myself diving head first back into this blog with nothing short of a renewed fervor, Princess Crabigail fell ill. Ill enough to warrant a few days on the pediatrics floor at our local hospital. Which, of course, made me stop thinking about all else except leaving the hospital.

It's always a sobering, eye-opening experience, spending time with the children and families you meet in the hospital. This was our second stay in her short two-and-a-half years of life, and we were in for pretty run-of-the-mill kid illnesses; this time it was croup. The first time was for a stomach virus.

It's watching the kids dealing with cancer, severe allergies, birth defects, and all other debilitating illnesses that really make me really stop and realize how lucky we are. How incredibly vulnerable we are. How there really is no rhyme or reason why, either. It can happen to anyone, at any time.

But there are things we can do to product ourselves, each other, and our children. Those are the things I'm starting to dig into with this very blog. And as timing would have it, just before Crabigail got sick, I happened by chance upon a survey for a genetics study on Spina Bifida.

Taking on-line surveys is one of the ways I pass time when my husband is traveling for work, or when Crabigail's going through a sleeping spell, or when I just need something to do. One day a few weeks ago, I chanced upon a this survey about birth defects, and I signed up to receive a test kit to collect some saliva to be tested for the study. The basic criteria I met was: 1. I'm not currently pregnant, 2. I've had at least one "issue free" birth, and 3. I was willing to spit in a tube.

To see if you qualify for this very important research, please visit SBG Genetics to learn more about the survey, or click Enroll at the top of the page. It's a very small thing you can do that could make a big difference.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Challenge: Clean this Recipe!

I must admit that I've been waiting for the temperatures to dip a bit, just to have an excuse to make this recipe. It's my absolute favorite fall/winter stick-to-your-bones recipe. It's reminiscent of a dish my mom used to make, although I'm quite certain she didn't use canned rolls or cream-of-anything soup.

Now, if you don't mind the occasional cream-of soup, or using canned rolls, then I urge you to try this recipe as is. We made it tonight and I'm still thinking about it.

However, in light of my recent pledge to eat healthier and cleaner, I want to try to make this recipe better. I'm pretty sure that with a little digging I could find a recipe for home-made dumplings, but if you have one you'd like to share, please do!

My real challenge lies in replacing the cream of chicken & mushroom soup. Tonight I used just that; an actual combination of both soups in one can. That just screams healthy, no? (wink,wink)

Still, it was delicious, and I fear it may be hard to replace the soup and still achieve the same level of deliciousness. Which is why I'm turning it over to you, the reader. Come up with a suitable replacement, and I'll try it out and report back. Let's see if we can clean this one up.

Crock-Pot Chicken & Dumplings



  • 2 organic boneless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 can condensed cream of chicken (or cream of mushroom) soup
  • 1 cup low-sodium organic chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 small-medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 bag of baby carrots (or approximately 1 cup of chopped carrot)
  • 1 can of organic sweet peas (or a bag of frozen peas)
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, sliced (or 1-2 tsp of garlic powder)
  • Salt, pepper & paprika to taste
  • 1 tube of Pillsbury Reduced Fat Crescent Rolls


  • Cut chicken into bite site pieces; season with salt, pepper & paprika to taste.
  • Combine soup, chicken broth, and water in crock pot, stirring well to mix.
  • Add chicken, onion, carrots, peas, and garlic.
  • Cook 4-5 hours on high (or 7-8 hours on low)  *Note that mixture will still be soupy at this point.
  • Tear crescent rolls into pieces, ball the dough and add to crock pot.
  • Cook for an additional 30-45 minutes on high.
  • Enjoy!

Monday, September 17, 2012

What IS this Blog, Anyway?

What IS this blog anyway? That, my friends, is the question I've been asking myself a lot lately. When I first started the blog, I thought I would post about the fun things my daughter and I do together around town. That worked, for like a week. Then I realized that I'm actually quite boring, and outside of our usual classes and activities, we don't actually do a whole lot of "around town" kind of stuff. Just one more area I've been fooling myself guys. I mean that whole "Where Bear" thing? Yeah... it lasted two weeks, and then I gave Princess Crabigail her pacifier back. I lost, and I'm over it.

After that megaflop, the blog took a "let's cook!" turn, in a very amateurish, "I'm going to use your recipe, but change three things because I'm so smart" kind of way. Which is fun, don't get me wrong, and tasty at that. It just hasn't been enough. Enough to bring me back to writing every week, which is my first goal for this blog. Enough to satisfy that need to do something productive, my second goal.  And not enough to hold anyone captive, even for a second, while they try to get over their laughter that I thought I could replace a pacifier with an adventurous stuffed animal.

Then something interesting happened last week. I got into this sort-of half argument, half discussion here on my Facebook page. I found myself engaged in what was being said, not just for the sake of the debate (which I love), but because this truly is something I'm interested in. "This" being the concept and practice of "natural" eating, paired with some "going-green" kind of household and lifestyle stuff. Not necessarily in the same way as some of the other blogs on these topics though, like 100 Days of Real Food or The Food Babe (both favorites of mine). No, not like them in the sense that I don't necessary want to dive that deep. What I want to do is figure out a real (to me) balance between going completely natural in all aspects of my life, and, well, keeping my sanity. 

Where is the balance between making sure my kid doesn't ingest enough preservatives to pickle her, and still being able to enjoy my coveted Pumpkin Spice Latte? (See guys, I'm truly not a Starbucks-hater, I swear!) I just want to find ways to stay as healthy as possible, for as cheap as possible, all while keeping off the baby weight that took me two years to lose, and making sure my daughter is getting the best life that I can reasonably give her.

Those are realistic ideals, right?

Up until this point in the blog, my favorite posts haven been the ones like this, where I found a really good substitute for taco seasoning packets, with a DIY mix. It seems like every other Pinterest recipe these days calls for either seasoning packs or canned cream of (insert variety here) soup, so why not try to make it at least a little healthier?

And that is where I landed today, and what I think the focus of my blog needs to be. More stories of our attempts at this natural living stuff, and less complaining that I don't have a fancy camera to take pictures of my mediocre looking recipes. We'll see how this goes.

Monday, July 30, 2012

DIY Taco Seasoning

So many of my favorite dishes call for taco seasoning packets. To avoid the msg or other preservatives, I've been mixing my own. I use this very basic recipe from All Recipes.

Taco Seasoning



  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper


  1. In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients. Store in an airtight container.