Friday, July 16, 2010

Better Blueberry Muffins

My girls and I went blueberry picking with a friend today and came home with just under a gallon of perfect, organic, warm-from-the-sun berries. Of course, we couldn't do a thing when we got home until we made some muffins! I dug out my grandma's recipe and made a few adjustments to make them just a bit healthier. Don't get me wrong, these are still a treat, just not too bad ;)

Preheat oven to 375.

Whisk together in one bowl:
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/3 cup date sugar (or 1/2 cup white sugar)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder (make sure it's aluminum-free!)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Mix in a second bowl:
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
scant tablespoon lemon zest (optional)

Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ones until just incorporated (don't overmix). Fold in 1 cup (or more!) fresh or frozen blueberries.

Spoon in to paper-lined or well-greased muffin cups. Bake 20 minutes for regular muffins or about 14 for minis. This recipe made me 12 standard and 16 mini muffins...DELISH!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Canning: Homemade Pasta Sauce

You asked for it! Making and canning your own pasta sauce is easy peasy. Use any recipe you like. I recommend a simple one--tomatoes, veggies, and herbs. Simple recipes are more can use one for pasta, soups, chicken parm, meatball subs, etc, and just gussy it up as needed. Mine contains tomatoes, onion, garlic, basil, parsley, carrots (for sweetness), salt, pepper, and just a touch of date sugar. It's organic and refined sugar-free. You can use canned or fresh tomatoes. Fresh ones will need to be peeled, which is done by cutting an "x" in the skin on the bottom and dropping in a pot of boiling water, then an ice bath. Canned ones save you this step, but don't forget that the lining of cans contains BPA. I think the perfect solution would be to self-can some whole, peeled tomatoes. Hmmm. Add that to my list :)

Make your sauce according to the recipe. While hot, ladle through a funnel into sanitized canning jars. Wipe the rims with a clean cloth, place lids on top. Screw on rings. Place jars on a canning rack in enough boiling water to cover the tops of the jars by at least an inch. Process for 30 minutes (for altitudes up to 1000ft). When your jars cool, the button on the top of the lid will depress, indicating a good seal. If one of your jars doesn't process properly, cool it and freeze or use within a couple of days.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

GIVEAWAY: Stylewipes!

My friend Heather recently starter her own WHAM business, Stylewipes. I immediately thought of how cute these sylish cases would be for holding cloth wipes on the changing much cuter than my unplugged warmer or a plastic tub.

Even if you use disposable wipes, wouldn't changes be a bit more fun with a Stylewipes box? You want one, don't you? :)
On Monday, July 19, we'll randomly choose one winner who'll get a large Stylewipes case, custom made in the fabric of her choice.

Here's how to enter.

1. Follow this blog and comment.
2. Become a fan of SNM of Facebook, comment.
3. Become a fan of Stylewipes on Facebook, comment.
4. Leave a comment sharing your favorite Stylewipes fabric.
Dont' forget to leave me your email so that I can contact you if you win!

Good Luck!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Why Boycotting BP Stations Isn't the Answer

Due to recent environmental catastrophe that is the Gulf Leak, people everywhere are declaring their disdain for BP. They plan to demonstrate their anger by boycotting BP gas stations. Unfortunately, this will do little to nothing to the petroleum giant. Instead, it causes major damage to small business owners. Most gas stations are independently owned. That small local BP station is someone's livelihood. Furthermore, only some of BP's petroleum is used for gasoline. The majority goes to other petro proucts...the ones that are everywhere in the day to day lives of most people. How many petroleum products have you used today?

-Your shampoo bottle, maybe even the shampoo in it
-Your toothbrush
-Your lotion
-Your make up
-Your lip balm
-Your travel mug
-The peanut butter jar
-The bag you put your sandwich in

and it's only 9am. You haven't even left the house.

Yes, we're angry at BP. We want them to pay, and they are. But the only way to really send the message that we've had enough is to reduce our reliance on petroleum products. The more we use, the more they drill.

It's a tough change. Petro products have infiltrated our lives. Make better choices where you can, and demand alternatives where they don't exist. We live in a capitalist country, right? You are the consumer, the driver. Each time you buy a safer product, you are sending a message to the petroleum industry.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Today, a friend posted a link to this story on Facebook. In a nutshell, Mom is at a baseball game with the family, sitting in the nosebleeds. Newborn needs to nurse. Mom moves up into an empty row even farther up. Security comes over, tells her she can't be there. Offers family restroom. Mom is livid. Calls media. Lactivists Unite!!! Boycott the Rockies! Their Sponsors! Major League Baseball!

My immediate reaction:

stories like this tick me off. and not for the obvious reason. i think she's blowing this out of proportion. i have a feeling security came over and said that the section was closed, to which she replied that she was there to nurse. they told her there was a family restroom. not because they didn't want her NURSING there, but because they didn't want her nursing THERE. she had obviously felt uncomfortable nursing in her seat, so they offered an alternative. had she been nursing in the seat for which she had a ticket, i doubt there ever would have been an issue.

i get seriously ticked off when lactivists get all up in arms over stuff like this, twisting it to fit the bill. it makes us all look like angry nutjobs :(

No woman should ever be asked to breastfeed in a bathroom. But I see this as an uniformed male security guard offering what he thinks is a helpful alternative. Like I said, mom clearly wasn't comfortable nursing in her crowded seat. Instead of accusing this man of being a discriminating bully, we should be focused on educating the general public about breastfeeding in a peaceful, non-accusatory manner. They don't know what they don't know...ya know? I bet this guy feels like a total jerk. Who hasn't been a similar position. Has there never been a time when you were ignorant about something and put your foot in your mouth? Did someone take you aside and kindly inform you of your mistake, or were you accused of being a bad person?

I am a breastfeeding mother. I support breastfeeding mothers. I get furious as hell when a nursing mother's rights are truly violated. I am woman, hear me roar. I would attend a nurse-in in a heartbeat if I thought a mother had been the victim of discrimination, but COME ON ladies! Let's quit looking for reasons to roar!

Did security have the right to ask that woman to leave a closed section? Yep. If she's not allowed to be there, she's not allowed to nurse there.

Are mothers who feel the need to nurse in the lounge of a restroom lesser breastfeeders? No way.

I nurse with a cover. Am I bringing shame to the name of nursing? Give me a flippin' break.

Let's rally behind moms, however they choose to nurse. Society makes it hard enough...sometimes I think over jealous lactivists only hurt their cause. We're so much less likely to be taken seriously if we go around being Judgy McCriticals and looking to start something.

I'm just sayin'.

I'll leave you with this 100% true and relevant story.

It was October. I had a one month old. I took her with me to the airport to pick up my mom, who was visiting from the west coast. While sitting in the car in front of Baggage Claim, Sweet E began to cry. She was hungry. I took her out of her car seat and began to nurse her in the driver's seat. Airport cop pulled up. "Lady, no parking here." "I'm waiting for someone." "No waiting, move along NOW." "Okay, just a second, I'm nursing my newborn." "Put your kid in the car seat and move along NOW."

I was pissed. I had to put my crying baby back in her seat and make a lap around the airport, listening to her shriek with hunger. I cried with her. But the signs said no waiting. I was chancing it, and I was wrong. I pulled into the garage, parked, and nursed my baby. THE END.

Now, I could be wrong about this particular case. If I am, I'm truly sorry. But there are dozens of others just like it, and I have to wonder what actually went down.

**currently editing to add more thoughts.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Recycled Post: Bug Protection

Originally Posted July 08

When I heard that a friend wasn't using any bug protection for her 5 month old because her pedi had recommended holding off until 6 months, it reminded me to post my rave for California Baby Natural Bug Blend Bug Repellent Spray. I'm one of those people who's blood is particularly attractive to mosquitoes and the the like. I've been using the CABaby stuff on myself as well as MJ, and it works great for both of us. I also have their Citronella Sunscreen and like that as well. Neither of these products contain DEET, so they're safe to use on babies of any age. Other companies make similar essential oil products...I know Burt's Bees is one.

Warning: Digression Incoming

This takes me to a recent blurb in Parent's Magazine. I have a free subscription, but I don't know why I read it. It usually finds some way to annoy me each month, most recently with one-sided pieces on cloth diapering and circumcision. This month's issue contains an article on the topic of summer insect protection:

"Apply an insect repellent containing DEET to your child's exposed skin--avoiding face and hands--before the child goes outdoors. The AAP recommends using a product that contains no more than 30% DEET. Don't use DEET on babies under 2 months old.

After your child comes indoors, wash the treated skin with soap and water. Avoid products that combine sunscreen and insect repellent because you could expose your child to excess DEET when you reapply every couple of hours.

For extra protection, apply a repellent containing permethrin to clothing, shoes, and sleeping bags. Permethrin is a virtually nontoxic chemical that kills ticks, mosquitoes, and other bugs on contact. Spray items outdoors, and allow clothing to dry before wearing it. Don't apply permethrin directly to the skin."

Let's tackle the DEET first. Avoid the face and hands. Don't use more than a 30% concentration. Don't apply to babies less than 2 months old. Wash it off as soon as you're inside. Don't overexpose. Yeah, this sounds like good stuff! Here's more:

DEET is a toxic compound, partially absorbed into the bloodstream, and associated with dermal and neurological reactions. Several cases of toxic encephalopathy (brain damage) associated with the use of DEET in children have been reported in the medical literature. Generalized seizures have also been temporally associated with the use of DEET.

And Permethrin? "Virtually nontoxic?" How's this sound:

Permethrin, like all synthetic pyrethroids, is a neurotoxin. Symptoms include tremors, incoordination, elevated body temperature, increased aggressive behavior, and disruption of learning. Laboratory tests suggest that permethrin is more acutely toxic to children than to adults.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified permethrin as a carcinogen because it causes lung tumors in female mice and liver tumors in mice of both sexes. Permethrin inhibits the activity of the immune system in laboratory tests, and also binds to the receptors for a male sex hormone. It causes chromosome aberrations in human and hamster cells.

Permethrin is toxic to honey bees and other beneficial insects, fish, aquatic insects, crayfish, and shrimp. For many species, concentrations of less than one part per billion are lethal. Permethrin causes deformities and other developmental problems in tadpoles, and reduces the number of oxygen-carrying cells in the blood of birds.

Permethrin has been found in streams and rivers throughout the United States. It is also routinely found on produce, particularly spinach, tomatoes, celery, lettuce, and peaches.

A wide variety of insects have developed resistance to permethrin. High levels of resistance have been documented in cockroaches, head lice, and tobacco budworm.

I'd call that pretty darn toxic. And the most widely read parenting magazine is encouraging people to use it for their babies. Nice.

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Dirty Dozen/ Clean Fifteen

The EWG list of produce with the highest instances of pesticides has been revised for this year. There are quite a few changes from the last list.

Here are the "dirtiest" fruits and veggies...the ones you really should buy organic:

1. Celery
2. Peaches
3. Strawberries
4. Apples
5. Blueberries
6. Nectarines
7. Bell Peppers
8. Spinach
9. Kale
10. Cherries
11. Potatoes
12. Grapes

And these items tend to be "cleaner," that is, have lower amounts of residual pesticides.:

1. Onions
2. Avocado
3. Corn
4. Pineapple
5. Mangoes
6. Sweet Peas
7. Asparagus
8. Kiwi
9. Cabbage
10. Eggplant
11. Cantaloupe
12. Watermelon
13. Grapefruit
14. Sweet Potatoes
15. Honeydew

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How Does Your Garden Grow?

I just placed an order for cedar garden beds. They'll be installed this weekend! It's something we've been planning/hoping to do ourselves, but planning and hoping doesn't get it done, especially when combined with laundering, mowing, playing, and all the other constant -ings.

I'm so giddy about this is a bit silly :)

I'm planning a bed for veggies and another for a cutting garden, which has always been a dream of mine. I haven't completed my list of veggies yet, but you can bet there will be bell peppers...i just spent $6 on TWO organic peppers...yikes! We also plan to plant 4ish blueberry bushes this year.

I'm dedicating my garden to my late grandma and hoping she left her green thumb to me when she went to heaven.

Monday, April 19, 2010

I Feel Pretty!

What do you all think of the new look? Next step is getting down to business with the post tagging. Oh, how I wish I'd done it along the way!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Nuke It!

Eco-conscious families seem to have a multitude of conflicting arguments about microwave usage, each one as valid as the others. I myself have mixed feelings about the ol' nuke boils down to this for me:


Microwaves are appliances. They are just one more thing--and not at all necessary one--that will end up in a landfill.

They cook food using radiation. Determined to be safe? Yes. A little creepy still? Yep.

They make it easier, and therefor more tempting, to eat processed convenience food.

But I have one. Here's why:

It came with my house.

I don't stand directly in front of it when it's in use (which is often majorly inconvenient).

Sure, it's easier to cook processed junk, but it's also easier to reheat my leftovers and pre-(home)cooked meals.

It uses less energy to thaw/reheat/cook than my stove top.

It uses less energy indirectly during summer months, because my stove and oven make my house hot, which makes my air conditioning work harder.

So, what are your thoughts on microwaves? Do you have one? Do you use it often? Do tell!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Great Sling Debacle

I've been avoiding talking about all the sling stuff in the news, frankly because it annoys me. ONE TYPE of sling (the bag sling) is being recalled, and it's one that was exposed as dangerous years ago.

Babywearing is a wonderful thing. It soothes and comforts babies. It promotes bonding. It allows mom to hold her baby and still go about other chasing toddlers. Like anything in life, it needs to be done with common sense.

1. Do not cover your baby's nose and mouth with fabric. There, don't you feel enlightened?
2. Do not position your baby in a position in which you would not normally hold him. (Like in a u shape across your belly)
3. Make sure you feel secure. If something feels off, adjust and reposition.

Used properly, most slings are perfectly safe. But if you don't feel comfortable using them, here's a list of alternatives:

-Wraps (ie Moby, Maya, homemade)
-Soft Structured Carriers (Ergo, Beco, Bjorn, Snuggli)
-Mei Tais (Babyhawk, homemade)

A few closing tips from SNM:

Don't put your baby face first in a sleepsack.
Don't put your baby in a Bumb0 on the top of the refrigerator.
Don't let your baby practice handstands in the excersaucer.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Story of Bottled Water

Almost exactly two years ago, I urged you to watch a short documentary, The Story of Stuff. If you haven't seen it yet, I'll urge again! It is really a great commentary on our country as consumers. I think about it just about every time I'm about to make a major purchase.

The folks behind The Story of Stuff have created a new must-watch doc, The Story of Bottled Water. If you're a follower of my blog, chances are you aren't a bottled water drinker...unless of course "bottle" refers to your stainless steel reusable vessel. Still, take the time (it's just a few minutes) and watch.

Go ahead, I'll wait.

Good, wasn't it!

Now, share your thoughts! I really thrive on hearing from you. Seeing your faces up there----^ is what motivates me :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Naturally Sweet

I've been trying to reduce the amount of refined sugar we eat. I cut out devilish HFCS, but the yummy white stuff isn't angelic either. I'm trying to save it for occasional treats like birthday cake or other special desserts.

For more everyday-type baked goods (muffins, quick breads, etc) I replace oil with applesauce and reduce sugar by 1/3 to 1/2. If I'm leaving out brown sugar, a little added molasses maintains that warm sweetness. I sometimes use honey, depending on the recipe.

For breads, I always use honey.

Popsicles, yogurt, and oatmeal are sweetened with fruit purees or juice.

I usually don't sweeten my coffee, but I had an itchy tooth for a sweet cup this morning. I glanced at my sugar bowl, then opted for a drizzle of real maple syrup. Oh My Goodness. It is delightful! Try it!

Here's a list of sweeteners in pure form that I've tried:

Honey- Remember, if you buy local, you get great allergy protection! And for a touch of fun, check out my adorable new-to-me vintage honey pot!

Maple Syrup- The real stuff. Pancake syrup is sketchy. This is one of those things you probably want to buy organic...many brands contain formaldehyde. Gross. Did you know that maple syrup has more calcium than milk? For use in baking, sub 1c maple syrup and 1/4t baking soda for 1c sugar and reduce liquid by 3T for ever cup used.

Fruit Purees- Applesauce is easy, but be adventurous! Purees have the added benefit of moisture, so you can replace oil or egg yolks in baked goods.

Fruit Juice- Juice is sweet on it's own, and concentrate is even sweeter. Many commercial concentrates are stripped of any nutrients, so I recommend making your own by bringing juice to a boil and simmering until reduced to 1/4 the original amount.

Molassas- Made from cane juice and high in calcium, potassium, and iron.

Sorghum Syrup- Sorghum cane juice, boiled down. Even if you don't buy organic, it has a low instance of pesticides because the cane is naturally insect-resistant.

I used to tout agave nectar, but I've been reading some sketchy things. Consumers are led to believe that it is some natural wonder, pressed from the leaves of the agave plant. Apparently, it goes through about the same level of chemical processing as HFCS. I will try to dig up some article links for you. For now, I'm looking for sweeteners whose processing involves no more than boiling.

There are other things out there that I want to try (especially date sugar!). I'll be sure to let you know what my results are.

Friday, March 19, 2010

It's Consignment Sale Season!

There are so many things I love about spring, and a good consignment sale is one of them!

Today I scored:

6 dresses (three with matching tights or leggings)
1 skirt
2 sets of jammies
1 shirt
1 pair of shoes
1 pillow case dress made from a vintage hand-embroidered, hand-tatted case
5 wooden puzzles
1 toddler computer game
2 art smocks

...all for around $60.

Everyone knows consignment shopping is cheap, and most know that it's a great way to reduce waste, but did you know that previously-loved clothing is safer? Yep. We can't all buy organic handmade clothing all of the time. But commercial clothing made in China (or wherever) has lower levels of toxic chemicals after it's had years to off-gas.

So search the local paper for a sale near you, load up the reusable bags, and shop shop shop! Your wallet (and therefore your husband), your kids, and the earth will be glad you did.

A Word About My Giveaways

I felt the need to clarify something for my readers. Every product I have reviewed on my blog is one that I went out (or clicked) and purchased. I have never received one thing free for reviewing or giving away, and I don't want to. I don't ever want to feel "paid" to give a good review. If I say I like it, I do. Sometimes, I like something so much that I write to the company and ask if they'd consider giving an item to one of my know, share the love.

So there you have it. My reviews are straight up from me. Nothing free, nothing paid. That's just not the point of my blog. For product review blogs, that's great. But this is more of a helpful hint blog with an occasional "Oooh! I love this! Want one?" thrown in. I like giving away free stuff :)

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Quicky Update of the List Variety

I have so many posts in the works right now, but I thought I'd let you know what's going on in the life of SNM these days. Details, pictures, and fun to come :)

- I got my deep freezer! Woohoo, Yippee, and Yay! Well, I don't HAVE it yet, but it's waiting for me to pick it up.
- We've had some days warm enough to hang laundry. I'm planning a new clothesline so I can hang more.
- Easter baskets for MJ and E are almost complete...and not a corn syrup-y chick or strand of plastic grass in sight. Wait 'til you see the delightful goodies.
- My dear grandmother passed away last month. I got so many wonderful handmade and vintagey things from her home to remember her by. This has inspired a bit of a dining room make-over, in eco-friendly fashion, of course.
- MJ and I picked out some bulk wildflower seeds to fill our yard with local color. Can't wait to plant!
- Along those lines, I'm planning out my first real veggie garden.
- I've been baking. Bread. And lots of it.
- Materials are gathered for our hand-made Easter decor. The peanut and I have some serious crafting to do!

The first hints of Spring never fail to bring on a new surge of Green Motivation! I've got a newly renewed passion and desire to be SuperMommy/Domestic Goddess/Eco Warrior. I can do it, right?

Oh! How could I forget!?! SNM blog is getting a MAJOR makeover. It's going to take a few weeks, but I'm super-stoked :)

Friday, March 12, 2010

GAP Demin Event

This weekend, when you bring old denim to the GAP, you get 30% off the purchase of new denim. The old stuff will be upcycled into eco-friendly insulation for homes!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Oh, the Irony!

Consumers who want to know just which chemicals are lurking in their stuff can surf right over to What was once a great website for checking toys, now covers all sorts of household items. I check it occasionally just to see if a suspect something sneaked into my home. Imagine my dismay (and shock) when I found this onesie on the list of worst kids' items. It's irony at it's best and sad because my Sweet E got this every one as a gift...and wore it.

Test results show that it contains high levels of both lead and arsenic. Sad.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My Book List: Pregnancy, Birth, Babies

My friend Jana recently blogged about her favorite books for moms. She inspired me to share my own list of favorites.

I truly believe that it is near impossible to read an entire book and agree with every point. You need to think for yourself. Read a few, find what resonates. This is especially true when it comes to baby books. Why blindly follow some sort of "plan" written by an author who doesn't know you or your baby?

There is a popular book called Babywise. The premise is that it will make your baby sleep longer at night by following a strict schedule during the day. Sadly, moms who completely buy into Babywise follow a schedule written by an author rather than their baby's cues. This means that hungry babies are being made to wait to eat; tired babies are being forced to stay awake. The Babywise plan has actually been linked to malnourishment and failure to thrive. Do some's all out there.

Mommas, you have a gift more powerful than any book...your intuition. If it doesn't feel right, don't do it! I've heard so many moms say things like, "I'm so sorry, baby. Just 20 more minutes!" or "It just kills me to hear him cry!" Feed your baby, pick him up, hold him, rock him. Babies are only babies for a short time. When he's older, you'll wish you had rocked him to sleep more instead of standing in the hall listening to him cry. That's a promise. You don't get this time back.

That said, many moms have had success by taking a few of the book's pointers and using them in a way that suits the individual baby.

::Making an effort to steer this away from a parenting post and back to a book post::

Okay, here are some books that are on my shelf:

Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn by Simkin et al
The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer
The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin
The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers by Jack Newman
The Baby Book by Dr. Sears
Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp

and just for fun

Belly Laughs by Jenny McCarthy. She's laugh-out-loud funny, in a brutally honest kind of way.

Read. Enjoy. Think. Make educated choices. Don't do things just because it's what your friends do. If that's really what you want and what works for you, great. But arrive at that decision yourself. I think if you do your due diligence, you just might decide that the "way it's always done" is seldom best in our day and age.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Spread the Word, Get a Gift!

I have a Flip and Tumble bag for you! Yes, you! Want it? Here's how.

1. Tell your friends about SNM.
2. Ask them to follow the blog (and become a facebook fan if they're on FB!).
3. When you've recruited 5 followers, post here and let me know who they are.
4. First 5 posters will get a Flip and Tumble bag! Don't forget to leave me your contact email!
6. I'll also draw from the pool of new followers and give out two more bags!

Why am I so desperate for followers?

A bigger fan base= More giveaway opportunities! Come on, Share the Love!

Green (Literally!) Air Purification

A website dedicated to reviewing air purifiers (you know, those expensive, ugly, power-hungry appliances) recently combined results from four studies (NASA and Wolverton) to determine the best houseplants for removing toxins from your home. Turns out, a small plant (6") per 100 square feet of your home can significantly lower the amounts of these common household toxins:

-carbon monoxide
-nitrogen dioxide

Here are the leafy super-cleaners, starting with strongest purification power:

1. Areca Palm

2. Lady Palm

3. Bamboo Palm

4. Rubber Plant

5. Janet Craig Dracaena

6. English Ivy **potentially poisonous if ingested**

7. Dwarf Date Palm

8. Ficus

9. Boston Fern

10. Peace Lily **potentially poisonous if ingested**

11. Aloe Vera **potentially poisonous if ingested**

12. Spider Plants

13. Chrysanthemum **potentially poisonous if ingested**

14. Heart-Leaf Philodendron **potentially poisonous if ingested**

15. Mother-in-Law Tongue/Snake Plant

One trip to Ikea and just $75 later, my house has it first round of air purifiers--in cute pots of course! The plants were much more affordable than those at the home improvement store. Ikea also has a wide variety of decorative pots. I chose simple neutral ones because I wasn't sure for which room each plant was destined. :)

A few of our new leafy friends

I still need to add more to get to that 6"/100sq ft sweet spot, but I'm happy to be on my way. I'm also pleased with the element the plants bring to my decor!

[My apologies for leaving out the link to my source...fixed!]

Friday, February 26, 2010

My Cloth Diaper Wash Routine

1. Empty pail into washer. Toss in pail liner.
2. Add 1c vinegar
3. Cold Rinse
4. Add detergent (currently Green Mountain Baby--it was on super clearance at Kroger)
5. Hot Wash with a Cold Rinse
6. Additional Cold Rinse every other time
7. Hang Dry in warm weather or Tumble Dry Medium

Clean Fluff!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Traveling with Cloth

I mentioned in a post last week that Sweet E was in disposables on our recent trip to California. It's not because traveling with cloth is difficult...I've done it many times (including two in cloth at Disney World!). Sadly, the new airline baggage restrictions have made it tough to fly with my diapers. They take up a lot of space...I usually pack a small duffle just for dipes. I didn't want to spend $50 to take my diapers, so disposables it was. BUT, if you have room in your suitcase or are taking a road trip, cloth diapering is a snap.

* Like I said, I like my diapers all together in one place, like a duffle bag. If you're road tripping, a laundry basket is perfect for the job. Diapers can be organized and right where you can see them.

*A nice, big wet bag is a must. This replaces your diaper pail. I love my extra large from Leslie's Boutique so much that I ordered one for dirty clothes too. When MJ has stayed at Giggy's house, my mom is amazed that the cute zippered bag does not smell in the least.

*Take a smaller wet bag or two for the diaper bag for outings, just like you would at home.

Now, if you're gone more than a couple of days, you'll have to wash your diapers at some point. I bring a tiny jar of detergent with me. If you're staying with family, hopefully you can use their washer and dryer. If not, bring a roll of quarters for hotel laundry or laundr-o-mat.

[NOTE: It has been said that public machines contain residue of heavy detergents and dryer sheets. I believe this is very true, however, one wash won't hurt your diapers, especially if they are natural fibers. Microfiber can be a bit more finicky...You know I can't stand the stuff.]

If you're lucky, you'll find a new HE machine with more options, like a pre-rinse and additional rinse. This is AWESOME, because it will save you a couple of bucks from not having to run those cycles alone. For the sake of this post, let's say you aren't so lucky. How you wash your diapers is kind of a judgment call. If they aren't super-soiled, you can skip the cold wash. You'll have more stains, but they'll be just as clean, and you can sun out those stains at home. You can also also rinse the diapers first to save a buck on that first wash. Again, it's totally up to you.

1. Cold wash, no detergent (use pre-rinse instead if available, or rinse by hand, or skip)
2. Hot wash with detergent
3. Cold wash, no detergent (use additional rinse if available or skip entirely.)
4. Dry on high. In my experience, public dryers do not run as hot as mine at home. If I don't dry on hot, I need like 4 cycles...and that's ridiculous.

Using cloth diapers on the road isn't much different from doing it at home. Do it once, and you'll never go back!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Two Ingredients, 1 Hour, 5 Meals

One way I've been trying to stretch our dollars is to make the most of the meals I prepare.

- I always make enough to have leftovers for lunch
- If possible, I double the recipe and freeze or freeze smaller portions for quick lunches
- I think of ways to use the ingredients for other meals, like leftover spaghetti for a pasta bake

One of my favorite recipes is one for Roasted Butternut Squash and Sausage. I saw a recipe somewhere that inspired it, but I can't cite it now. It doesn't really matter anyway, I always take a recipe as more of a guideline than something to be strictly followed. Anyhoo, it's super simple:


two big butternut squash (or three smaller ones)
sausage of your choice (i like preservative and nitrate-free organic chicken apple)
one sweet onion*
olive oil*
balsamic vinegar*
herbs (optional)*
pure maple syrup (optional)*
brown rice*

*I'm assuming these ingredients as pantry staples in my "two ingredient" count.

Peel the squash and scoop out seeds. Dice into bite-sized chunks. Cut sausage and onion about the same size. Toss in a baking dish, reserving some squash. Drizzle with olive oil and season with herbs if you choose. I fly by the seat of my pants and make this a bit differently every time. Place the reserved squash in a pan of it's own. Roast both pans on 350 until squash is soft, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare brown rice.

Remove the pan of just squash. Drizzle the Squash and Sausage with balsamic vinegar (and a tad of pure maple syrup if you choose), and return it to the oven, under the broiler, for a few minutes. This will allow the vinegar to reduce a bit an the veggies to caramelize.

Here's what you've got:

1. Dinner- Balsamic and Maple Glazed Squash and Sausage over Rice

2. Baby Food- Puree that plain squash and freeze in ice cube tray. Don't wash the food processor yet...>>>

3. Pasta Sauce- Put leftover squash and onion with all the pan goodness (vinegar, herbs, etc) in your food processor and pulse. Freeze two cups for a delicious sauce to serve over whole-wheat bowties. Keep the rest in the food processor for...>>>

4. Soup-Add a touch of vegetable broth (or water if you don't have it) to the puree and blend until it has a soupy consistency. Serve for lunch or freeze for later.

5. Rice pudding- Spoon leftover rice into ramekins. Microwave 1C Milk until warm. Stir in 1T honey and 1/4t cinnamon. Beat an egg in a separate bowl and temper with a bit of the warm milk, then mix together. Pour custard over rice and bake in a 1" water bath in your already-hot oven for about 45 minutes, or until set.

Viola. All I bought was the squash and sauasage, and look what I have to show for it!

Another Budget Post

A long while ago, I wrote about some comments I've gotten. People have told me they'd love to be greener and healthier, but they don't have the time or money.

Yes, making these changes does take a bit more time. Our society has become one of convenience. It takes about 4 seconds longer to measure a scoop of oatmeal than to open a packet. It takes 15 minutes longer to make your own pasta sauce (coming soon!), It takes 10 minutes longer to hang clothes on the clothesline, and 3 minutes longer to start a load of cloth kitchen towels. All of those little increments add up, and when a mom feels she's already in the red for time, it can be a bit discouraging. Instead of looking at these accruing minutes as time lost, just look at it as an overall lifestyle change. There are plenty of days when I wish for just 20 more minutes, but I've never once considered sacrificing the things I mentioned for those minutes. The extra time it takes to do these things is time spent outside or cooking with my daughter...things many moms are in too much of a hurry to do.

As far as the money goes, I'll reiterate: Going green will SAVE you money. One of the major pieces of the puzzle is consuming less. The consumables I've given up (paper towels, disposable diapers, etc) are things I no longer have to buy. Cleaning supplies? Not on my grocery list.

I've saved so much money by buying second hand. A fun little anecdote for you: I recently had to take inventory of the items in our house for insurance purposes. When calculating for insurance coverage, you use replacement value--that is, what it would cost today to buy a similar item--not what you paid. The inventory was a fun little revelation of my thriftiness. Nearly all the big items in my home are second hand, antique store or garage sale finds, or scratch and dent. I simply don't pay full price for things. So for each item, the replacement cost was far and above what I actually spent. I hope I never have to replace these things though; their charm and character cannot be duplicated.

I do spend more money on buying organic. What goes into my family's bodies is just not something I'm willing to compromise. BUT, I think the grocery budget balances itself when I also refrain from buying expensive packaged and prepared items.

Although I've always felt my green ways save us money, I've had to kick the savings up a notch. My husband recently started a new job after being laid off. The new job is wonderful, but comes with a substantial pay cut, forcing me to evaluate every dollar I spend. So I'm meeting a new challenge head-on: Be Green, Be Healthy, Be Thrifty. I know I can do it. I hope you'll read along with me as I try!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Follow and Become a Fan!

I have had several cool companies offer me awesome stuff for giveaways when I reach 100 followers and/or Facebook fans. I can tell you're reading, so click that button!

When I reach 100 fans, I'll host 5 days of Giveaways!

Tell your friends!

Bargain Alert! Hanna Unders

Through Sunday, underwear is on sale at Hanna Andersson. Hanna is my absolute favorite place to buy new kids clothes, and the Unders are a favorite item. They are made of organic cotton in a kid-friendly style with flat seams. I'm not a fan of bikini cut on toddlers...these have a nice, low leg and high rise. Unders also come in a training style with extra layers of cotton for catching small accidents.

Hanna Unders are somewhat pricey, so snatch 'em up while they are on sale!


Year ago, the FDA decided that it was okay to add "meat filler" to ground beef. Problem is, the filler, made from various parts of cow, was often infected with salmonella and other bacteria. A brilliant scientist (or team of them) came up with a way to "sanitize" this filler. Ammonia. Yep, the patty on your McCheeseburger contains ammonia. So does much of the ground beef you find at the grocery store. Disgusting, no? Even more infuriating. What is going on with our country that this is deemed an acceptable food? The more I read, the more turned off I got. So much so, that I have given up ground beef. It's not really a leap for me; I'm not much of a red meat eater. If I must have it for some reason, I'll order it from the local farm in my CSA.

Here's a link to the US patent for the device that treats meat with ammonia. A quick G00gle search will tell you everything you want to know.

Just another reason that I'm making a huge effort to use only "clean" ingredients when I cook.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Dirty Dozen- Cosmetics

I've told you about the Dirty Dozen fruits and veggies, but here's a list of twelve things you should avoid in your health and beauty products...and why.

I'll admit, I'm pretty terrible about remembering the why. I'll read up on a particular substance and make the decision to avoid it, but I can't back that up with a reason if someone asks me. I like this handy little cheat sheet for a quick reference. I plan to tuck a small version in my wallet so I can sneak a peek when standing in the beauty aisle.

Hope you find it helpful too!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Disposable Diapers Suck.

When I first wrote about cloth diapering, I mentioned these benefits:

5. Better for snugglin': They're soft, comfy, and super cute
4. Better for the wallet: $250 for multiple kids v. over $1500 for one kid in 'sposies
3. Better for the Earth: fewer diapers in landfills, eco-friendly production
2. Better for the bum: No Leaks, No Rash
1. Better for her health: No harmful chemicals against my baby's tush!

I feel like I might not have emphasized that "no leaks" part enough. Most parents of tiny ones will tell you that newborn poop has a way of escaping the diaper. This is simply not the case with cloth. I have had to change Sweet E's clothes due to a diaper leak four times in her whole five months. Guess what? Three times were in the last six days, when she was in disposables while we were out of town. The other was when she was in a 'sposie in the hospital with flu.

Not a coincidence, folks. Any cloth-diapering mama will tell you the same thing.

I'm so glad to be home to my diapers!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

And the Winner is...

#41 MrsEAM!!!

She said:
My DD isn't ready to sleep limb-free, but she's definitely outgrown her swaddlers! This would be a great stepping stone for us!

Email me at mjsmomma07 at gmail to claim your Woombie!

Redraw for non-response---#16 Erin!

Friday, February 5, 2010

You Are What You Eat

I've been paying very close attention to the things that I eat. Until now, I'd been very selective about what I feed my toddler, but not nearly so choosy for myself. I decided that needed to change. I stared by refusing to buy things that had ingredients I wouldn't find in my kitchen (monoglycerides, anyone?). But then, If what I'm getting has such simple ingredients, why not just make it myself?

This has led me to a new post idea, "The Replacements." I'll take an item I used to buy and find a healthier, greener replacement. Most of the time, it will be a recipe, but I'll occasionally replace with a store-bought product. I'm all about the homemade...

1. It's healthier (I control what goes in)
2. It's greener (Again, control of ingredients, less packaging, manufacturing, shipping)
3. It's cheaper (Budgets are tight these days!)

...BUT, there are times when it's just not practical. Pasta is the first example that comes to mind. I love the idea of making my own pasta. I dream of seeing oodles of noodles piling up on my counter as I turn the crank on a gorgeous stainless steel gadget. Then I wake up. I'm not sure how I'll fit in a shower today. Fresh pasta isn't gonna happen, ya know?

So I need your input. What store-bought item can you not live without, even though you know it's not the best choice?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

GIVEAWAY: The Woombie!

My little E is a swaddle junkie. She loves the cozy confinement of a swaddle. Long before she was ready to sleep with limbs free, she outgrew traditional swaddle blankets, and I worried about developmental delays from being tightly wrapped at an older age. So how could I keep her from startling herself awake while still giving her a little wiggle room? Enter the Woombie.

This adorably peanut-shaped sleeper met all my needs. Keeps E's arms contained? Check. Let's her move them around? Check. Fits her long leggy frame? Check.

It's now on my mommy-must have list.

The Woombie comes in three styles. Original, Deluxe, and Winter Fleece. A tighter "Lil' Houdini" Woombie will join the line-up in a few weeks.

Want one? The folks at KB Designs are giving one away to one Super(Natural)Momma reader. Here's what you need to do:

1. Leave me a comment telling me why you want a Woombie.
2. Become a follower of my blog, comment to say you did.
3. Become my fan on Facebook...another comment!
4. Join the Woombie Group on Facebook...comment 4!
5. If you have a blog, post this giveaway and put your link in a comment for a bonus 5th chance.

It's that easy. I'll pick a winner randomly from comments at 10am on Thursday, February 11.

Good Luck!

Friday, January 29, 2010


I'm leavin' on a jet plane, but stay tuned for my very own giveaway when i get back Tuesday!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Everyone Loves a Giveaway!!!

Almost as much as I love the Ergo Baby Carrier. I have several baby carriers, but my Ergo is by far my most versatile. I can wear my toddler or my infant...even when she was a newborn. In fact, I wore baby E in the Ergo for three straight days at Disney World. She even rode the rides in it!

My friend over at Once Upon a Baby is hosting an awesome lucky momma will score an Ergo carrier! So scoot on over and enter...I know I did!

Monday, January 25, 2010


Here's a quick recipe tip: Substitute an equal amount of unsweetened organic applesauce for oil when baking. You'll want to reduce the amount of sugar too, as apples are naturally sweet. The result? Less fat, less refined sugar, a serving of fruit. Good Stuff!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Bargain Alert!

I found Flip and Tumble reusable bags on clearance at Caribou Coffee...just $4.50 each! I got three. :P

I love these bags. They have a flat bottom, unlike my Chico Bags, and a long enough strap to fling over a shoulder. I want more!

ETA: I should have been more clear...these were in my local Caribou Coffee store.

Blog Changes

You've no doubt noticed the new look of the blog. It's still a work in progress! One of the things I've added is a list of labels to make post-hunting easier if you're looking to read about a certain topic. I'm still going back and tagging all of my old posts. It's quite a task, but I should be finished in a couple of days. I hope you like this feature!

Farmers' Co-Op

I finally joined a local Farmer's Co-Op. I've been wanting to join for over a year, but didn't pull the trigger. I got an email last week offering $5 off the annual membership seemed like a sign. I'm really excited about it for several reasons.

1. The Goods

  • Locally grown organic produce
  • Eggs from happy chickens (until I get my own!)
  • Honey, jams and more
  • Locally raised, grass-fed meat
  • Artisan breads and cheeses
2. All of the above delivered to a central location for pick up

3. "The Farmers' Pick"
  • This is a pre-selected assortment of produce, based on current crops. It costs less than picking and choosing your own produce, but perhaps my favorite thing about it is that I don't pick. I'm excited about the prospect of a box of mystery fruits and veggies. I can't wait to see what I get and plan recipes accordingly. I think it will make all of us more adventurous in our eating. We've paid for the whole box, so I'll find ways to serve every healthy morsel!
The Farmers' Pick this week includes Lettuces, Florida Citrus, Swiss Chard, Sweet Potatoes, Snap Peas, Avocados, and Popcorn! I have three days to plan my menu before I pick up my box of goodies on Tuesday...Fun!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

How are you resolving to be more "green?" Let's inspire each other!