Grocery Guides – All in One Convenient Spot

Hey!  Check out my updated Grocery Guides tab at the top of this page.  I will continually be updating this page, so let me know if you know of any good links. 

These organizations that I link to have painstakingly created printable guides and online searchable databases to make it easy for you to buy things that are healthy and safe for your family.

Why?  Because everytime we look up (for example) dishwashing detergent and make a purchase based upon this information we are actually voting for better products with our wallets.  Many small votes add up to big messages to companies to give us healthier and safter products.

Enjoy!

 

Halloween Fun

Proof of Fall Fun

We have been so busy lately – I haven’t planned much Halloween fun.  Although, I have proof that we have had some fall themed fun.  OH – just incase you were wondering, the girls were riding bikes while I was raking leaves. 

Looks like I have a few days left anyways before Halloween.  

Here is a round-up of fun Halloween things that are also eco-friendly.  Clicking on the pictures will bring you to the websites with tutorials.

Paper Mache Spooky Houses:

Make a spooky Victorian looking house out of newspaper and a flour/water mix.  This would make a truly cool decoration that we could pull out year after year.  Hope those aren’t candles inside…

Upcycled Tombstones:

Make your front yard look super scary with these cool tombstones. 

Green Halloween: 13 Eco-Creepy Crafts & Decor

 

Add Fun (or Scary) Color to Your Hair:

Actually, I am planning on adding very light whitish-green streaks to Jane’s hair for her costume as ‘Frankie-Stein’.  This might be fun for any occasion.  All you need is chalk and some water – when I did this with Jane’s hair, I didn’t bother with gloves or a hot iron and it turned out fine. 

For Spooky-Time After the Kids Have Gone to Bed

Super-fun – martinis that look like they are dripping in blood!  They use red cake decorating gel here – but you could also make a simple syrup with sugar and add some red food coloring.  I like the nice touch of the raven stamped on the napkin… although this being a green site, I would suggest cloth napkins (o;

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Apple Nachos:

Yeah, seriously – right?  This is a viable option for me because I’m too impatient to get the caramel just right for dipping a whole apple.  Also, this is good for grab-and-go at a party.  However, I think this is sprinkled all over with peanuts… we would go no peanuts for our peanut-free home.

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Hope you enjoyed these fun ideas.  What kinds of things do you have planned for Halloween?

Pressure Points to Relieve Pain and Discomfort

So, this is not necessarily a ‘green’ thing, but I have found some success with pressure points.  You know, when you squeeze your brows or your hand to get some pain relief from headaches.  I also used them in my second pregnancy when the morning sickness was ‘totally sucky’.

Typically, I try to run through the pressure points before I grab my pain meds for a headache.  Sometimes using pressure points brings me about 80%-90% relief, I’d say.  If the pressure points are a no-go then usually a hot compress or heating pad does wonders to relieve pain.  I also know people who use cold compresses on their migraines but I have been really unsuccessful with cold.  If all else fails, I’ll definitely go for the pain meds.

Why am I so ‘try everything else first-ey?’ because recently I discovered I have an allergy to Advil, so acetaminophen is my only friend.  Plus, the pain meds don’t always knock a headache completely out for me, so sometimes it’s pressure points, heating pad and acetaminophen.

Anyways – I just run through my pressure points at about one to two minutes per set of points.  I’ve found that you really need to commit to the pressure point for at least 30 seconds to feel some relief.  It’s a good idea to time yourself because it’s easy to underestimate how long you’ve been pinching your face.  🙂

Here are some links that describe pressure points for common ailments:

Headache

Nausea

Congestion – haven’t actually tried these when I’m congested enough to notice; let me know if they work.

More Pressure Point Links:

Also, I really enjoy Dr. Ben Kim’s blog he is a chiropractor that recommends pressure points for many ailments.  Go to his site and search for “pressure points” (or just click the underlined link).

Here is a site where you can search alphabetically by ailment – I haven’t tried any pressure points from this site although I plan to.

Finally, here is a good article where you can learn more about the benefits of and medical community acceptance of pressure points by WebMD.

Well, happy pressure-pointing.  Please, share with me some of your go-to pressure points, if you  use them.  Also, what home remedies do you use?

Disclaimer:  There are some situations where some pressure points may not be a good idea (such as pregnancy or in the location of varicose veins), please do some research if you have a medical condition.  I’ve consulted with a doctor for what generally causes my headaches.  Don’t use my article as medical advice.

Real Mom Story – Karen’s Greener Points

I am happy to write a post on one of the coolest people I know; my friend Karen.  She is a busy mom of two young boys and still finds time to help coach tee ball.  Like many mom’s I know she aims to give her family the best possible while still adhering to a budget.

Karen is my food guru because during a stressful time a couple of years ago, she overcame a painful and chronic health issue by eliminating foods that she had a sensitivity to.

Now when our mom’s group goes out to eat, I crack a smile as Karen orders her drink:

“Ummm… can I get the gluten-free cocktail with no added sugar or artificial sweeteners… “

Okay, but we love Karen – and we completely understand – so it’s cool.  (:

So, this gal isn’t afraid to whip out some holistic medicine when necessary.  Here are some more of Karen’s greener points:

Organic and Whole Food Nut

Karen and her husband Ted plant an organic garden every year and they have an incredible sunny spot for it.  It’s good for their boys too because they are interested in eating the veggies that come out of the garden.  (sheesh, maybe I should plant a garden for just that reason…).

Karen also buys organic at the grocery store as much as she can.  She strives to eat and feed her family whole foods (non-processed). 

Watch Out World, Here Comes Karen

Sporty Spice

Outdoorsey, exercizey, mountain-bikey, rock-climbey are good ways to describe Karen’s family.  They are totally into muscle-powered (not engine powered) activities that get them out and enjoying fresh air in the great outdoors.

Karen, Ted and the kids also bring along their own water in reuseable stainless steel water bottles.

My older daughter even recognizes that Karen is more responsible than me as I don’t always remember to bring my own water to the playground.

Jane:”Mom, is Karen meeting us here?”

Me:”No, not today”

Jane: “Uhg, well did you remember water this time?”

So, Karen has inspired me to carry my reuseable water bottle with me, especially to the playground.  I really am inspired by the big and small changes that people in my life continue to make even with time and budgetary challenges.  

What are your greener points?

Henna – Why You Might Want to Try it

Okay I’ll admit it, I have been coloring my hair with henna for the past year or so.  My hair is brown – and I know what you are saying that there is no such thing as brown henna.  You are right!  I still use a natural product though that is a mix of henna (red), senna (yellow) and indigo (blue), all those beautiful primary colors can be mixed to make different shades of brown.  I’ll just refer to it as henna though from this point on 🙂

2072129816 5013635e20 Having Gray Hair At Young Age

This is Not Me – I don’t Rock-the-Gray Like This Gal… if I Did, There Would Be No Post on Haircolor…

I don’t like to brag but I started getting gray hairs when I was in my twenties… and since now I am turning 29 (for the 8th time), I’ve got some decent salt and pepper going on.

Sucks for me.

ANYways -I had been coloring my hair with L’Oreal for a while… and I really disliked the strong chemical odor and how it made my eyes sting.  I had also heard rumors of hair coloring causing cancer.  So, I went on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database and found that the color I was buying was very toxic – even among its toxic peers.

Then I saw it  – Light Mountain Color the Gray which was rated completely non-toxic and it was totally affordable (like $8-$10 online) and I decided to go for it.  It worked really well with a natural looking color (without enduring stingey eyes) that covered my gray hairs and also had the added benefit of coating my hair so- I don’t even need to wear hair gel anymore to contain my frizzies.

My Actual Hair All Gloriously Lit Up in the Sunlight.

I’ve gotten application down to a science and here are some of my top tips:

* Put newspapers down on the floor (or old towels) for easy clean-up.

* Make sure and put vaseline (or another type of oil) liberally along your hairline and a few inches or so out from it.

* Even though you will be applying with gloves, put oil or vaseline on your hands and wrists too.

* You don’t have to apply heat (sometimes you just need to go out on a limb to test things out…)

* Use conditioner to help rinse out the henna – for some reason it rinses out much faster

Here are full instructions on how to apply if you are curious.

All Good Experiences? Really??

Well no, henna does smell like hay – and not in a fresh field kind of way.  Also, the indigo adds a bitter smell to the hay smell.  Which is okay with me considering the typical hair color smell is pretty rank.

Okay, other issue with Henna is that every time I apply it, I seem to get a headache.  This could be from all of the applying and rinsing and wrapping (color the grey has two applications).  Also, I have other headache triggers so I had really been wondering if it was just a coincidence.  However, I did some research online and some people do find it to be a headache trigger.

All in all, henna is a great alternative to chemical hair coloring.  Especially if you are not headache prone (like me).  I may need to decide if I can put up with the headache after application or if I need to consult the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Cosmetics Database for another suitable alternative.

Have you tried Henna?  Are you looking for a change from your chemical haircolor?  What has been your experience?

My Favorite Simple Recipes for the Basics

Here are some of my favorite simple recipes for the basics, I’m talking a short list of ingredients and simple prep.  The cool thing about these recipes is that you are putting all good stuff into them so it will taste wonderful and be top-notch at a low price.

No worrys about any ingredients on packaged food that you have to Google to figure out what they are.  Also, I filed this under ‘reduce’ because you can make as much as you need and you won’t need to have bottle for this and a bottle for that.

A side note – I usually just use regular vinegar for any recipe where ‘rice vinegar’ or ‘red wine vinegar’ ect… is called out and it seems to turn out fine.  Personal (lazy) choice.  Also, I usually substitute sweeteners for what I have on-hand (honey – agave – sugar).

Easy Basic Recipes:

Salad Dressings:

Vinaigrette 1        Vinaigrette 2

Sauces:         

Teriyaki Sauce     Enchilada Sauce

Ketchup                  BBQ Sauce  (within a recipe)

Spice Mix:                Scroll to the bottom of these links for the simplest recipes

Chili Spice Mix       Taco Spice Mix

Great From-Scratch Cooking Websites:

Also, here are a couple of my go-to sites for from-scratch and frugal cooking:

Money Saving Mom Recipes

Tammy’s Recipes

Enjoy!

Are there any basic recipes that you routinely make?  Please share your recipes!

Why Avoid GMO Foods?

So, recently I have been learning more about genetically modified foods (GMO).  I knew the term ‘GMO’ had some negativity associated with it and honestly, it made me think of this:

Well, the foods won’t actually bite you back, but you should be afraid, be very afraid.  Here are the main GMO crops – which is a surprisingly short list but ingredients made from these crops are used in most products at the grocery store: (sorry, this super-stylistic list is the best graphic I could find…)

My particular concern is with the GMO corn, specifically the kind that is it’s own pesticide.  The BT toxin in the corn bursts open the stomachs of bugs  (barf) when they try to eat it. The Evil Empire of Monsanto claimed it was not toxic to people although it surprise-surprise bursts open cells in our gastro-intestinal tract – not enough to kill us obviously but enough to cause inflammation and pathways for undigested proteins to enter the blood and produce an immune response. Oh, and the toxin kills kidney cells.  If that’s not enough to freak you out, it is in cord blood and breast milk.

Yeah.  Stick that in your pipe and smoke it…

I actually developed two new allergies this year to advil and pecans.  That sucks, seriously – advil, right?  Oh, and fate – why are you taking pecans away from me – WHY???  So, I am totally on board with avoiding something that has the potential to cause new allergies.  I needs to keep me my acetaminophen!!!

This film is a little corny for the first few minutes, but it will teach you everything you need to know about why you should avoid GMOs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11Dmw5MCBLU&feature=player_embedded

My philosophy isn’t really to completely avoid every single crumb of GMO – not because it isn’t a good idea but because in this market it really isn’t possible for the average consumer.  I can at least try to make small and reasonable changes to get rid of the biggest offenders.  Here’s some good advice on how to avoid the GMOs (since The Evil Empire of Monsanto has been pushing against labelling).

Here are some good ways you can avoid buying GMOs.

Also, you can use this handy free shopping guide (click for the link)

Personally, I love corn chips – I don’t buy them every week but when I do, I’m down to eat the whole bag.  My plan is to buy the corn chips that are certified non-gmo.  Yes, they are usually a brand which is a dollar or so more expensive but I think I’m worth it.  Also, since the GMO corn is fed to the cows, pigs and chickens – my plan is to buy more organic chicken and grass-fed beef from Trader Joes (when I can, that is).  Organic meats are usually twice the price, although in general I try to use less meat in my recipes.

So, that’s my plan…

Do you avoid GMO foods?  What kind of changes have you made (or plan to make) in your buying habits?