Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Green Review-Squooshi Reusable Pouches

Squooshi Reusable Food Pouches

12-2012 062

Squooshi sent me this lovely pack of goodies.  Two 4.5 ounce pouches and two 2.5 ounce pouches.  Each with their own lid and comes in a cotton bag which allows for storage and pouches can get air circulation.  I have to note that the box was very small and had no plastic in it at all except for these pouches.

Here is a little info from their site:

  • Squooshi reusable food pouches are BPA-free, Phthalate-free, PVC-free, and Lead-free.
  • Squooshi reusable food pouches provide more flexible and healthy nutrition options: fill with your favorite grain, veggie, legume, dairy, and fruit combos!
  • Squooshi reusable food pouches reduce waste: no more throw away food pouches piling up in landfills and contributing to air pollution!
  • Squooshi reusable food pouches save you money on your food bills: pre-filled pouches cost between 1.50-2.25 each!
  • Squooshi reusable food pouches save energy: empty pouches require a lot less fuel for shipping and most pre-packaged food travels over 1,200 miles before it reaches your table!
  • Squooshi reusable food pouches are easy: in the car, at the park, in your kiddos's hands, less mess from broken jars, spoons, and trash!

  • 12-2012 067

    Here you can see my arsenal of reusable items for my girls lunches.  From plain white linen napkins I use to wrap a sandwich, small Velcro fabric bags my good friend Theresa made my girls and a few fabric snack bags I have bought over the years. Anything we can use to hold food is put into this container.

    My review:
    At first I was thinking these would be perfect for my girls. I have two older girls which could use the larger ones and I have twins that are younger and could use the smaller pouches.  Well that didn't work out so well.  The small pouches are way too small and not enough for my 8 year old twins.  Good for a toddler but not for 8 year old. But that being said the larger size was perfect for all 4 of my girls.  When Monday came along I washed them in warm water (never ever heat plastic especially when food is in them because it will leach any plastic/harmful additive into the food) and let them completely air dry. 

    I started with the small ones and found it was really hard to get applesauce into them without getting applesauce everywhere.  Just too small to pour from a container and was even hard to use a teaspoon to spoon applesauce into them. So far not liking this.

    The larger two pouches were no problem to get food into. Easy peasy food in and zipped shut.  I sent my girls on their way to school and waited till they came home to give me some feedback.  They said they loved them and kids at school were asking where they got them.  I think the flashy colors, animals and had a "way cool" look to them. 

    I then took them in the kitchen and rinsed them out completely and put in warm water with soap.  Thought I had cleaned them all up and let them air dry.  After a few hours I checked and nope not the case.  Applesauce is stuck in the zip style seal.  If I had small kids and a bottle brush this wouldn't be a issue but I don't have either of those.

    Would I recommend these?
    Yes and no.  If you buy pouches often from the store then you would save lots of money by using Squooshi pouches. If you have no issues with using plastic products then this would be great.  If you would love to have control over organic and healthy food then this would help you encourage your kids to eat healthy and organic food. 

    BUT if your anything like me (a bit obsessed with green living almost borderline crazy) then you might not want these.  These are BPA free but who knows if they have any additives in them.  They are a little too expensive for me to buy online considering I would have to pay for them and shipping. If I could buy them local I might not hesitate to buy them. If I bought them new online I would be spending $19.99 for the pouches and then $4.50 for shipping. End result I would be spending $6.12 a piece for them.  But that being said my girls like them and want the in their lunches. On one hand I want to keep my kids healthy, live sustainably and avoid all plastics or harmful packaging. But on the other hand I have to remember my girls are kids and life is about learning and having fun.  These are fun and pretty darn cute. 

    Jenny Bradford from Conscientious Confusion says "I am doing a Squooshi review tomorrow and I LOVE them. So much. I have been looking for an alternative to the "disposable" food pouches forever and they are perfect, as far as I can tell. I tried a silicone version about a year ago and it was TERRIBLE so these are a lifesaver."

    She goes on to saying " I just use really hot water and a bottle brush. Since my kids are so young (2 and 3 yrs old) I still had a baby bottle brush and I just use that. However, I also do not let the food sit in the pouch very long. I try to rinse them out as soon as possible, although I've gone as long as 7 hours before washing them.  In my review, I am going to mention that although they are plastic, I am less concerned about chemical leaching because they have to be handwashed and therefore aren't exposed to the high temperatures in a dishwasher which typically facilitate chemical leaching. I know they're not perfect, but my readers are typically people who aren't even 100% convinced about "being green" at all, so this is still way better than the "disposable" option."
    As soon as Jenny post her review I will add it here for you to read as well.

    So check Squooshi out for yourself and who knows maybe this would even be a great gift for Christmas!

    NOTE: Squooshi were gracious enough to send me these pouches free of charge and didn't pay me one cent to do this review. These are my honest opinions and Squooshi had no part in them.  My blog is non profit :)

    UPDATE: 4/10/14
    I have since stopped using these. After a few uses it was really hard to get the food out of the zip closures. Although they didn't mold I wasn't taking any chances.  I'm not recommending these any longer due to the short life of these products. Cute idea but not practical.  

    Thursday, November 1, 2012

    Gathering Wood the Frugal and Free Way

    Want to save a bundle of money each year? I knew that would get your attention.  Enjoy these helpful tips that I have learned over the years.  Hopefully you won't be spending so much money on firewood anymore. Better yet even FREE!

    The first year we bought our house we had to have some firewood delivered. After spending $250 on a cord of wood we came out of the situation thinking we spent way too much money.  Happy to be warm but from that moment on we were on a mission to get wood for free or at least cheap.

    What you see here is our wood shed.  My husband worked so hard on building it and couldn't wait to fill it up.  Soon after it was built a friend of ours needed some help working on his truck. Lucky for us he gave us some wood for free. Woot! But it was wet and needed to dry out for a while. This wood made the back row completely filled up.  In December of 2010 my grandmother passed away.  She lived in a large farm house that had only a wood stove for heat. Since we were the only family members with a fireplace we were able to keep most of the wood.  This wood filled our wood shed up completely. 

    Earlier this year a friend of ours had cut a tree down on his property. He called my husband and said come and get it. Of course we did! The wood sat outside all summer until my husband split it and set it out to season.  This will be next years winter fire wood. We feel so lucky to have such amazing and kind friends.

    We replaced our broken down back yard fence because it was falling down and unsafe for our children to play back there anymore. The fence was original to our 45 year old house and made from really good quality wood.  So section by section we tore down, replaced and took apart our old fence.  As he would take down the old fence, I would sit and took all the nails out of the wood boards.   Big boards were cut in half and broken boards were cut into pieces for kindling.  It was a long and boring process but in the end we had free fire wood.
    Our neighbors next door also replaced a side fence.  Once he was done he let us have all their wood as well.  His fence was made of good quality wood but in much thinner boards.  They made perfect kindling.  Kudos to my neighbor Jim who is in his 90's and built his new fence in the summer heat.  Jim and his wife Hazel are hard working people who take stride in everything they do.  I just hope we can be like them one day. We love them very much!

    Anytime we do house projects we stash away any wood on the side of the house in a dry place.  We use it for random house projects and also can use it for kindling.  My neighbor gave me this cool wood box. I just love it.

    I am in a group on Facebook called "Haves and Needs"that's a free site to post things you need or want to get rid of.  Everything from clothing, food and even wood.  Someone had replaced their fence and wanted to give away this wood instead of putting it in the landfill.  I just picked it up and set it here till I can get the chance to take the nails out.  If you don't have a Facebook group like this maybe you should start one.  Our group is for just a few cities so that its not a far drive for anyone to get stuff for free. Plus you need to know someone to get into the group for safety reasons. It has helped so many people in my community.  A big thank you to all who is in this group!

    I was going to take this gate apart but instead I'm keeping it to incorporate into my garden some how. How cool is this? I love old stuff!

    We never pass down free wood.  Just last night as we were walking our girls around trick or treating we spotted this.  Earlier in the day I heard a chain saw for a few hours and this must have been why.  On the side of the street was all this wood with a "free wood" sign on it.  My husband quickly walked home and drove back to get the wood.  By the time I came home with our girls he had filled the truck up completely and came home with the free wood. Its filled with sap and not the best quality wood but hey its free.  This will be set outside to season and next year be in our wood shed. 

    So here are a few things to take away from this post.

    -Never pass down free wood.
    -Sometimes it takes hard work but its worth it in the end. Never be afraid to get a hammer out and take nails out.
    -Tell friends or family you would take any unpainted wood or trees they don't want. Just make sure to tell them to call you.
    -Any left over wood from projects could be fire wood.
    -Be willing to read the newspaper, online ads or even social sites. There is always free wood you just have to look for it and be willing to pick it up.
    -Be willing to barter!
    -Some places let you buy a pass that's good for a few weeks.  You can drive into the woods and take any fallen trees you want within the time limit. Not free but still WAY CHEAPER.  Just need at truck.
    -Any tree in bad shape that needs to be cut down is another chance to get free wood. Just need to let sit and season for a year before you can burn it. 

    Now have fun gathering wood and enjoy the savings!

    Tuesday, October 30, 2012

    Penny Pinching Preparation for the Holidays

    Halloween has yet to come and I'm already thinking of Christmas. Ive been gathering Christmas decorations for over a month now and hiding them in my room.  I just love vintage Christmas decorations but they are hard to come by.  So as I rummage through thrift shops I always keep my eyes open for beautiful things to bring home. These things have been around for generations and will continue to do so in our home. Not only does this put a smile on my face but they also don't break our bank. Woot!

    Ive learned over the years that it doesn't take much to save money.  There are little things you can do to save some big cash. You can start saving on your grocery, electric, gas and household bills even with only a months time. True you only save a tiny bit with each tip. But remember that small change adds up to big savings. If you want to keep saving money just keep going with the tips and enjoy keeping your money in your pocket. Don't forget that these things are also helping your mother earth. Come be a penny pinching santa with me!

    One easy thing you can do it stop using disposable napkins, utensils and plates. What a waste of money and trees.  Once you use them you toss them in your laundry. I also use these to wrap my daughters sandwiches in their lunches. There is a commercial on TV that shows a mom getting grossed out by having to use a fabric towel. How is having to go buy paper towels just to throw them away any easier than just using a fabric towel and washing it? Why don't you just go throw your money away? Goodness don't get me started on that subject!  While your at it stop buying anything disposable. Seriously get smart and stop throwing your money away.  This tip alone will save you over $100 each year.

    One thing that has saved me $24 a year is not buying any shaving cream anymore.  Remember that thing your grandmother had in her bathroom sink? That square slimy thing? Yeah its called a bar of soap. It's pretty simple actually.  No packaging, no plastic involved and it last a long time if you take care of it.  I would suggest a soap holder with holes for air circulation.  Keep your bar dry when not in use and your soap will last a long time.  Instead of grabbing your shaving cream try grabbing a bar of soap and getting a good lather going.  Apply the same way you would your cream and shave away. Using a bar of soap also saves you from having to scrub your tub so much.  Shaving creams are filled with so many oils that stick to the side of your tub and leave a ring. Not with soap!  You can use the soap to wash your tub too! Some even use soap to wash their hair. Shut the front door! Its true.  Seriously stop buying shaving cream!

    Another great way to save money is making your own medicine.  Obviously go to the doctor if you have something more than just a simple cough.  But for the regular old yucky cold this will do the trick.  You can make your own cough syrup easily. Even just some chamomile tea with honey will do the trick.  For a nasty cough sprinkle some cayenne pepper to quiet it. Works every time. And yes even my daughters will drink these.  Each time your kids get a cold you will save yourself  $5 by just making it yourself.  This tea my friend Tamara Rubin gave me Marshall's Farm Natural Honey and its her moms company. So if your from California keep an eye out for it. Taste amazing!

    Good old vinegar has numerous uses for the home.  Stop buying cleaners and use a spray bottle with 50% water and 50% vinegar.  Use just like you would any cleaner.  Don't worry about the smell because after a few minutes it goes away.  I also use a 50/50 combo of water/vinegar in my carpet cleaning machine. Vinegar gets rid of any smells and cleans so well. 

    Did you know that many stores pay you to bring your own bags? Yep! Bring your own bags and you get a few pennies off your bill for each bag you bring.  These pennies add up! Woot for no more plastic bags!!!! This tip alone would make Beth Terry a very very happy lady. This is my milk crate full of bags I have bought or I received for free from stores.  Don't forget to wash them once a week to keep them clean.  Just let them air dry.  If you master this tip try reusing containers in the bulk section.  For example I have a plastic container for liquid amino's that I wash when it runs out and then refill at the store.  I also use fabric bags for my produce and dried bulk foods.  You can bring your own glass container for things like flour/sugar but remember to bring it to the cashier to weigh before you fill it. Master that and you are one hard core green super hero!

    Ever heard of DIY? Do it yourself is what it means. Instead of buying prepackaged foods you just add water to how about making it yourself?  Google what ever you want to make and find any recipe for any meal.  Not only will you save money but you will also keep preservatives, BPA and plastic out of your food and body. Woot! You simply cannot go wrong with homemade. 

    Think you can master these simple tips? Then be hard core and enjoy these helpful tips from my older post and fellow bloggers. You can thank me later!

    Lisa Sharp from Retro housewife Goes Green has some money saving food tips, homemade shower spray, homemade chocolate syrup and she can even save you money on your period

    Amity Hook-Sopko from Green Gifts Guide has a great post on planning your holiday with less stress.  Look for her Holiday Budget Worksheet!

    I also have another great post on steps to stop throwing your money away. It's packed with things you need to stop buying and I share with you so many things you can make yourself. 

    You might also enjoy these:

    DIY Mint Tea
    DIY Chai Tea
    DIY Banana Carrot Muffins
    DIY Ketchup
    DIY Beans
    DIY Liquid Laundry Soap
    Pack a waste free lunch

    Save on your energy bill by heading over to The Crunchy Chicken or sign  up for her Freeze Yer Buns Challenge on Facebook. I do this every year!

    Good Girl Gone Green shows you how to use your water responsibly and how to conserve water. She also has a great post about 10+ ways you can conserve energy.  See you can save money just about anywhere!

    Condo Blues has a whole section on reducing your household energy up to 15%. Now thats sweet savings!

    Make sure to come back and visit this page. I will continue to add on links as my amazing blogger friends share them with me. Saving $$ can be fun and its a never ending process.  Even I still learn new ways!

    I just wrote a great post on gathering Free and Frugal Firewood.

    Celebrate Green Blog helps you cut back on food waste.

    Jen and Joey Go Green-
    Water Conservation
    Energy Conservation
    Stopping those household drafts

    naturemomsblog with 30 ways to save money, conserve energy and stay warm this winter.

    Monday, October 22, 2012

    Just another day

    Hi, my name is Riley and I'm addicted to anything that smells good. I also have secret thumbs that my owners have yet to find. This weekend I opened up 2 glass jars of food when my owners were gone. This is where the secret thumbs come in handy he he he.  One jar was full of corn meal but was pretty empty so I couldn't get to the corn meal with my tongue. But the other jar was full of sunflower seeds and I was able to get a tasty treat for myself. True my owners couldn't eat the sunflower seeds with all my slobber in it.Your welcome chickens!   But hey it was worth it right? Well not so much. Now for some reason my owners kept me out of the main part of the house. Apparently they don't like the smell of my farts.
    The end.

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

    Beans, barley and bacon soup

    What you will need
    1 lb Beans of your choice (soaked over night)
    4-5 slices of thick nitrate free bacon
    1 cup Barley
    1/2 Medium onion chopped
    1 tsp Salt

    Serves 6

    Night before:
    Soak your beans in water over night.
    Next day:
    Chop bacon into small pieces and cook on medium heat.  Toss in chopped onion and cook both till crispy. Toss in those beans, barley and salt.  Add enough water to cover all ingredients.  Bring to a boil then reduce to low and cover. Cook on low for 1-1.5 hours. Done!

    Additional notes: I used a smoke salt which added a great smoke flavor to the soup.  The beans I used were white canellini beans because they have a wonderful smooth texture in the soup.  We like to add a dollop of sour cream to our soup when served. Just adds a nice creamy flavor to the soup. If your cutting back on fat you can drain the fat off the bacon. I like the flavor so I leave it in. By all means use this recipe as you will.  Add in anything you love. This is just the basic recipe and you can alter it anyway you like. Use what you have, use seasonal items and you will enjoy the savings along with the soup. Enjoy!

    Monday, October 8, 2012

    Natural Earth Paint Review

    I feel pretty lucky to be able to review this amazing companies products. It's one of those I know someone who knows someone type of things. Gotta love blogging! I was super excited because this is a Oregon company that is local to me. Woot! Leah and Drew one day I would love to meet you one day (and little Django!). What a fantastic life story you two have. I have a feeling this Capricorn would get along with you two perfectly.
    " An organic, Eco-friendly paint kit made from natural earth pigments (pure clay). The naturally colored clay was collected from the ground, dried, crushed and sifted into pure pigment. Mix water with these six powdered colors to create a creamy paint similar to tempera or add more water to create a watercolor effect. Earth Paints are different from other children’s paint in that they are high quality, rich, vibrant paints that are free of fillers and preservatives. They are perfect for adults to create quality works of art as well on paper, stones, fabric, canvas or wood." You get that? pure clay and milk powder. That's it. Seriously how cool is that? Mega cool!
    This is what the box contains. 6 packs of pure clay/milk powder in different colors and 6 Greenware cups made from plants not petroleum.  Plus a great little pamphlet with information about the company and even some craft ideas. This is the Children's Earth Paint Kit Petite.
    Instructions state 1 tsp powder to 1 tsp of water. Perfect consistency for our project.  We used room temperature water and it mixed up just fine.  Paint has a light smell of powdered milk which we enjoyed.
    I asked my girls to draw the base of a tree in black or dark brown with the idea of using their fingers to paint leaves on the trees.  Fall is my favorite time of the year and I love my girls Fall artwork on our walls.  What started off with 2 girls ended up involving all 4 of my girls. Not only did my 7 year old twins love it but even my 11 and 14 year old daughters enjoyed it. Gotta love that!
    My girls went to work adding leaves of all colors.  Each time they switched a color they washed their hands. They said they barely had to wash them and there was no struggle to get the paint off their hands. With acrylic paint it was a issue of getting it off and cleaning the sink quickly so they paint didn't stain the sink. Not with this paint!

    You could easily use paint brushes but I thought the ultimate test would be fingers.  This way you would know how easy it would be to clean your hands.  Here you can see I covered our table with yellow paper so clean up was easy. But the girls did get some on the bathroom counter and it cleaned up super easy with no staining. 

    And here is the end result.  See that smile? There you have a happy camper. Need I say more? Just a little more! I would recommend this paint to anyone with children. Heck I would recommend this paint to anyone. They not only sell children's water soluble paint but they also sell a larger Children's Earth paint Kit which is a bit larger and a Earth Oil Paint Kit. They even ship International orders. Best of all my kids loved this product and project.  They are already thinking of their next project to use these paints on.  Here are a few things going for this company.
    Shipped in a cardboard box with no plastic on the inside. There was plastic tape on the outside but that is my fault for not asking for paper tape. Something I need to work on.
    Non toxic paint that will last forever. When you mix the paint you have a week to use it up because it has milk powder in it.
    Earth tone colors that can easily be mixed to make new colors. These colors are so bold and beautiful.
    Super easy to clean up with soap and water. This is a must when kids are involved.
    Oregon residents this is a LOCAL company!!!!!
    At $19.95 its not going to break the bank. Remember these have a long shelf life when in powder form.
    Run out of a color or need the oil? Simply order a individual color online!
    You can ask questions anytime with no problem.
    Now head on over to Natural Earth Paint and check them out for yourself. Don't forget that the holidays are coming and this would be a perfect gift to any family with kids or that artist who loves to paint. Go!
    Note: I was sent this kit for free and I am not getting paid one penny to review this product. This is my personal opinion and I was not influenced by the company to give a good review.

    Thursday, October 4, 2012

    Corn, chili & chorizo soup

    Serves 4

    1 tbsp oil
    2 onions, chopped
    1 lb corn kernels
    2 1/2 cups chicken stock (sub with any stock)
    2 cups milk
    4 chipolte chili seeded finely chopped (optional)
    2 cloves of garlic chopped
    2 links of chorizo sausage
    2 tbsp lime juice
    2 tbsp fresh cilantro

    Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottom saucepan.  Add the onions and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until softened.  Stir in the corn, cover and cook for an additional 3 minutes.

    Add the stock, half the milk, the chile's, and garlic and season with salt.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, then cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

    Stir in the remaining milk.  Set aside about 3/4 of the soup solids, draining off as much liquid as possible.  Transfer the remaining soup to a food processor or blender and process to a course puree. 

    Return the soup to the pan and stir in the reserved soup solids, the chorizo, lime juice, and cilantro.  Reheat to the simmering point, stirring continuously.  Ladle into warmed bowls and serve at once. 

    My notes: I used 1 pint of my tomato sauce and one of my roasted tomatoes for the stock.  I tossed in some roasted pork left overs along with pork sausage I had on hand. I didn't have any chorizo. Whats great about this recipe is that you can sub just about anything.  We like to crush tortilla chips on top, add some fresh tomatoes for that fresh added flavor and then a dollop of sour cream of course. 


    From the cook book-Soup Bowl by Love Food.Parragon Books Ltd 2008

    Wednesday, October 3, 2012

    Fall cleaning

    As most of you know my washer (in the picture) has completely died on me. My husband gave me heads up on a friend coming over to take my dead washer and replace it with a used working one.  Thank goodness he called me because my laundry room was a disaster.  After 30 minutes its clean as a whistle! I just cleaned up the floor, swept and dusted. The washer and dryer came back to their "new" look with only vinegar and water sprayed on them.  Smells nice and clean now. Woot! See that ugly floor? Yeah its in my kitchen as well. Um 1977 called and wants their flooring back! One day...one day....for now it hides our dirt very nice.
    This room looked like a bomb went off in it. A bomb in the size of two cute little 7 year old.girls...How can such small little girls make such a HUGE mess? This room took me 3 hours to clean with the help of my oldest daughter. We packed away all summer clothes and unpacked all their winter clothes. Organized all their Barbie stuff, Littlest Pet Shop stuff and their Polly Pocket stuff into separate containers.  This wonderful organizing unit you see here isn't as wonderful as it looks. Previous owners installed it and I'm pretty sure they didn't have any idea how to do it right.  It's not level and shelves constantly fall our.  That tacky wallpaper and this organizer will be gone one day. Hopefully its my next project. For now I'm just happy its organized. Woot!
    This beauty took me 2 hours today.  It also was hit by the twin bomb. I had to empty my recycling bin 3 times just to clean this out.  Organized all the art supplies and washed down the table. Paper on it helps it look nice. The seating area has lots of storage so I keep the girls paper in there.  Years ago we saved money up for this table set.  We took it home, built it and stained it ourselves.  Can you believe all 6 of us ate at this table every single day?  There is no way we would fit in it now.  Perfect for our girls to use in the art room.  I say art room but its actually my kitchen dining area that we don't eat in. We have a more formal dining room with a much bigger table to eat at.  And then you have that ugly flooring again. I sweep and mop it and it still looks like that.
    Well there you have my exciting day. I didn't spend any money and I didn't use any chemicals at all.  Just elbow grease and good old vinegar.  As you can see we don't have brand new furniture and our house is rather old. But I think we have the best house in the world.  I hand picked everything that someone else had loved.  We do 99% of our handy work ourselves. And were proud of what we have.  Well except for that butt ugly flooring.

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

    DIY Chai

    It's now officially Fall and I am happy beyond words. Fall is my favorite season for a few reasons. Cold chilly mornings, cold chilly evenings, boots, sweaters and anything knitted. Woot! It's also the only time I have anything with cinnamon in it. This way I look forward to it! Chai tea is also something I will only drink during the Fall season. This year I plan on making my own and saving some pennies along the way. I found this recipe on Pinterest and quickly added it to my Falltastic board. A Wooden Nest is the writer and check their blog out when you get the change. Pretty darn cool!  I had so many people ask to share so here it is. Enjoy!

    Chai Concentrate

    4 1/2 cups water
    1 cinnamon stick
    1 3-inch stick of fresh ginger chopped
    7 whole cardamon pods
    2 whole star anise pods
    10 whole cloves
    1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
    1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1 tbsp honey

    I only changed a few things. I bought all from the bulk section including my tea.  I heated up the water till it was boiling and then tossed in all the other ingredients. Mix until the sugar has disolved.    Once it started boiling again I turned off the heat and let it steep till it was cool.  Your done!

    I do a 50/50 mixture with milk. Super delish! Last up to 2 weeks in our fridge. Trust me when I say you will never again pay for chai tea in any coffee shop ever again. Unless your lazy and need a fix! If this is the case please bring your reusable mug!

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

    Go Green Get Fit Challenge Earth Mama Angel Baby Review

    This amazing (and LOCAL!!!!) company was kind enough to send me a few products to review for them.  Can you say awesome? Woot! You might be wondering why am I reviewing these because I'm not pregnant or have small babies anymore. You would be correct. The baby factory has been shut down and my babies are now 14, 11 and the twins are 7 now. Sad face! But I have two amazing friends that are either pregnant or just had a baby.  They were more than happy to try these out and give me their honest opinions. 

    Before I get to that I wanted to give you a little background information on this amazing company.  Earth Mama Baby Angel is a local company to me. They are located in Clackamas Oregon which is special to me because I grew up in Clackamas. Shout out to all my peeps in Clackamas!  They are made up of a group of strong women and a father of two that you can read about here. Love that you can see who is behind the great products. That is rare these days. 

    Something I love about this company-"We use the highest-quality, certified-organic or organically grown herbs and oils for our teas, bath herbs, gentle handmade soaps, salves, lotions and massage oils. Our products are 100% free of toxins, cruelty-free, gluten-free, vegan, and free from all artificial preservatives, fragrances and dyes. Our commitment to honor the earth and her valuable resources extends to our packaging as well - we use only eco-friendly recyclable or reused/reusable packaging and packing materials. It's true - we are even the proud recipients of the BRAG (Business Recycling Award Group) for our green practices." EMBA website.

    Review by
     Tanya Zelen mommy of 4 including a 3 month old baby boy.
    Crystal Caldwell mother of 1 son and soon to be a baby girl.

    -So...Happy Mama Spray is nice, refreshing. Tanya
    -I didn't use the new mama bottom spray as I think it's supposed to be used right after but it smells nice. Tanya
    -The Calming Lavender shampoo is great, I love the lavender/vanilla scent. Tanya
    -Natural Nipple Butter is way nicer then the stuff they give u in hospital-mild smell and refreshing. Tanya
    -I really like the Angel Baby Bottom Balm(I've used it before) -does the job and doesn't reek like Desitin. Tanya
    -The Organic Milkmaid Tea tasted ok and for some reason makes me really sleepy which can be good or bad.  Tanya
    -Mama To Be Sampler I like them because they are not too strong.  The Morning Wellness Tea was good tasting and helped with my tummy ache.  Crystal
    -The Organic Heartburn Tea helped with my hiccups. Crystal
    -The Organic Peaceful Mama Tea tasted good and helped me relax before bedtime.  I have a hard time sleeping so it seemed to help. Crystal
    Review by me

    Mama Bottom Balm-"Prenatal and postpartum hemorrhoids, postpartum vaginal swelling and bruising, episiotomies... New mamas and mamas-to-be got bottom problems! Mama Bottom BalmMama Bottom Balm soothes and cools with an organic olive oil base infused with healing organic herbs - St. Johns wort, yarrow, Witch hazel, Calendula, Shea butter, and more. And it's not just for mamas, perfect for papas, grandmas, or ANYbody with sore nether regions. Store it in the refrigerator and apply often! You'll be sitting pretty in no time."
    This may sound strange but I use this on my hands. I have eczema really bad on my hands and need to apply lotion/oils often to keep them soft.  I keep a bottle of bottom balm on my night stand and apply it before I go to bed and when I get up in the morning.  The smell is very soothing to me and my hands get plenty of moisture while I sleep.  I credit this product in making my hands soft once again. THANK YOU!!!!
    Would I recommend this company? Yes!!!!!  Not only because they are local to me. You will love these reasons.

  • No parabens or other artificial preservatives

  • No petroleum by-products

  • Toxin-free

  • Cruelty-free

  • Certified Vegan

  • 5 reasons alone to try these amazing products!
     They sell products for pregnancy, postpartum, breastfeeding, for the baby, amazing soaps and also sell gift bags stuffed with lots of great products you can give to others.  You can also get baby loss comfort/healing support and even a baby loss memorial. Now that's support on a whole other level. Amazing.  Don't forget to get your free Herbs and breastfeeding e-book. They published their results of clinical testing and their products are now in hospitals!  Last but not least Earth Mama Angel Baby gives you their promise that their products are organic, natural, safe and work.
    You can find their products online and in natural stores everywhere. Here in Oregon they are in all Whole Foods and New Seasons stores.  If your looking for a particular product call the stores ahead of time. They are also on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and even Pinterest.

    Go Green Get Fit Challenge

    Note: I was sent these products to review and give my honest opinions. I was not paid one cent to try these, review them or publish this post.  I simply love reviewing local organic products from amazing companies.

    Update: Since this was written sadly my friend Crystal Caldwell has since passed away.  She was my best friend and a Aunty to my children. She will be missed forever. 
    RIP Crystal 

    Tuesday, September 4, 2012

    Sleeping frugal? You betcha!


    Yes sleeping can be frugal! Sure you can go out and buy a new mattress set and get some matching bedding to go with it.  Go drop a few hundred on a frame while your there too!  But lets face it, not everyone has that kind of money.  Even if I had that kind of money I still wouldn't do that.  I have 4 daughters and anything we spend would be that times four. Lets see.....be broke or save some money? Yeah I'm going to go with saving me money. 
    Xhilaration® Zebra Bed in a Bag
     Photo by Target.com


    You can find bedding sets, single pieces, pillows, cases, drapes, sheets, lamps, rugs and just about anything you need for a room.  Best part is that they are selling them for 50% or more less than retail stores. Don't be afraid to buy something ripped. These things are easily fixed.   Just make sure you wash everything before you put it in your room.  Better yet hang it to dry on the line. Nothing better than sheets/blankets on the line!


    You can find anything you want in stores but be ready to pay the price.  A new bedding set will set you back $50+ depending on the size of your bed.  A simple changing your look project could end up costing you a few hundred dollars by the time your done.  Check the clearance area and keep an eye on ad's in the paper.  Sometimes you can find a better deal for the same item but online. Don't forget to do your research!


    Have friends with kids? Maybe you can barter some work for a set they are giving away.  Tell your friends/family your trying to freshen up your room and need a few things.  When they go through their stuff you will be the first that comes to mind.  Let it be known on social networks too! Someone always has a few sets around I swear. 


    Again someone is always refreshing their rooms or changing color schemes.  Take advantage! Don't forget to look in the free section.   Might find a piece that matches your set. 

    People leave things along the road side all the time.  Just yesterday I picked up a 3 bin storage system for free.  Would of cost me $15 if I bought it new.  This will organize our girls barbie stuff great. 

    My recent problem was my twins mattresses are a little on the hard side.  I don't have the money to buy new sets just because they are a little hard. Instead I kept my eyes open for foam pads for them. I found 2 of them pretty cheap at Target. I think I paid around $8 each for them.  One foam pad adds so much comfort to the mattress.  I found another one at Goodwill Outlet and only paid about $2 because you pay by the pound. Woot! I still have one more to find but until then we have used 2 mattress covers and a duvet comforter which no one was using. We put this all under her sheet and her mattress is a little more comfy and will get her by till I find another foam pad.  All in all its still WAY cheaper than buying a new mattress.  We did have to invest $99 on a new mattress for one of my girls. Hers completely went flat and springs were poking her.  That $99 only bought us the mattress and not the box spring. Yikes!

    Let's not forget that any flat sheet can be turned into drapes.

    Wall art can be made by your children.  Pictures out of magazines can be framed. Dollar Store sells cheap frames which can be spray painted.

     Cans can be decorated with paper and turned into a pencil holder. 

    Instead of changing your whole room theme how about just moving your furniture around? Sometimes a little change makes you feel better.

    By buying used you are bringing less plastic into your home.  Less packaging you will have to figure out how to recycle or reuse.  Most items in thrift shops have been washed several times and you are exposed less to toxins which companies spray on fabrics.  Try to look for cotton options if you really want to avoid plastics.  Most things now days are some form of plastic so look for older items that were made very well and with quality fabrics.  Aways avoid anything from a smoking/pet soaked previous owner.  No matter how many times you wash the item it will not go away. 

    Remember all these things next time your looking to redecorate any room in your house.  All of these idea's can be applied to any room in your home.  And don't forget to GET CREATIVE!!!

    Need more ideas? Check out my fellow green bloggers and their amazing ideas!

    Anna from Green Talk shows how you can save money on green fabrics by using remnants. Very cool!

    Ronnie from Care2 shares 15 Ways to Reduce Your Stuff & Redecorate Your Home.

    Charise from I Thought I Knew Mama with suggestions for finding eco-friendly and non-toxic furniture and home decor.

    Now go get busy!

    Sunday, August 19, 2012

    Go Green Get Fit Challenge WK 8 & Planet Shoes Review

    Well I missed a few weeks in the Go Green Get Fit Challenge. Its now week 8 and I'm feeling a bit left behind.  Ive been having some personal stress going on and just could not write a darn thing.  Maybe that should be my next challenge huh? Finding ways to reduce my stress! Freeing stress from your life can improve your life and make you a much happier person. Note to self-REDUCE STRESS.

    I was lucky enough to be sent some amazing shoe's from Planet Shoes when I started this Go Green Get Fit Challenge.  I was a runner for many years but this last year I have seem to all but forget to run.  So instead I thought I would try new things.  I was planning a surprise zip line day for my husband on his birthday and knew I would need some good hiking shoes. Of course Planet Shoes has exactly what I was looking for. I mean seriously look at these!
    "Sleek and unsaturated, the Merrell Chameleon Arc 2 Waterproof uses waterproof construction to keep your feet dry when wet conditions threaten to slow you down. Stride-specific QForm® comfort cushions every bound, along with a trusted Merrell cushioning platform that never lets you down. Grabby 4mm lugs claw their way to the top through mud and mountain streams, making the Merrell Chameleon Arc 2 Waterproof a must for your next hike." From Planet Shoes website.

    When I first put these on they felt pretty stiff.  But by the time we came home that evening they were broken in and very comfortable.  I cannot vouch for the waterproof aspect because its super dry and hot here in Oregon. One good thing about living in Oregon is that we get a TON of rain so it won't take long before I can test that aspect out. Plus there are endless places to go hiking here.

    I am afraid of heights. There I said it. Afraid of bridges, high platforms, or anything high for that matter.  This planned day was a surprise for my husband but also a challenge for myself.  Something I knew he would never in a million years think we would be doing.  So our first challenge was this bridge.  I was easily able to navigate along this bridge.  No slipping what so ever! I was shaking like a leaf but managed to walk the whole way by myself. Phew!

    And then came the zip lines. I'm not going to lie. I screamed like a baby every single time I went on a zip line. Only thing comfortable was my shoes. Literally.  Look at those bad boys! Pretty sexy huh? Or is it the braces were wearing? Nope its the shoes! Talk about constant wedgie and nothing left to the imagination. Ha ha!! In this picture we are 80 feet up in the air and overlooking Hagg Lake. Felt comfortable here in the trees and even hugged a few. Love me some trees!

    A special note to my husband. Happy birthday baby I love you! I love you so much that I risked my life high up in the trees for you. I love you with all my heart and feel like I am the luckiest girl in the world to be married to such an amazing man. 

    Next time your looking for some great shoes and your pretty green and crunchy like myself, keep Planet Shoes in mind.  They sell anything you could be looking for. From vegan shoes,  Plus they are proud partners with Soles4Shoes, World Wildlife Fund, Sierra Club, Green America, Carbonfund.org, The Conservation Alliance and 1% for the Planet. Whats not to love about that? Pretty friggin awesome if you ask me!

    I'm so glad I signed up for this Go Green Get Fit Challenge. Its not too late to sign up! Check it out on Facebook and also on Twitter! Even if you don't sign up check these pages out and get inspired!

    Presented by:

    Note:These shoes were sent to me for free and I have not been paid one cent for this review. All thoughts and recommendations are from me personally.  I also get not once cent for clicking on any of these links. My blog is non profit and written by me and me only. I am honest and only give honest opinions.

    Monday, July 30, 2012

    My oasis

     Over the years I have tried growing sunflowers and never was able to get anything. I think those damn squirrels have been eating them.  Well this year I planted them inside my garden and not along our fence.  Guess who decided to come out and play today? Look how pretty she is! So nah nah nah nah nah squirrels!!!!

     I have been getting many volunteer tomato plants in my compost and moved them into my garden beds.  This one is simply too big to move and would probably not make it if I touched it.  So it stays! All that compost is giving it lots of good vitamins. 

    I harvested my sage for using in my kitchen.  I dehydrated it for about 24 hours then put it in a mason jar in the kitchen. The rest of the plant will be used in making smudge sticks.  Ive always been interested in trying one of these out and heck it will be a free project with the kids.  Love this stuff!

     Found some basil plants for 75% off woot! I have 3 different kinds to try out.  I harvested the large leaves and they are in the dehydrator as I type this.  Now I will plant them in the garden and hopefully get another harvest to make fresh pesto from.  I want to some how blend them with oil and freeze them to use them all year. Looking into that.  I also bought some beet berry plants and can't wait for them to fruit so my girls can try them out.  This plant is a first for me. Love new stuff! Check some info out here.

    My hens and chicks have lots of baby plants so we moved the babies to my cute not-so-water-sealed fountain.  Perfect for them!

    Once they get bigger and fill this in it should look really cute. 

     Don't you just love when you forget what you planted? I think this is a squash but who knows. Could be a pumpkin! Either way I'm happy its doing well.

     I have a pretty good green thumb. Well except for lavender which I suck at growing.  This is the first plant I have not killed. Throwing salt over my shoulder a lot!

     Scarlett beans are doing well and looks like we will get to eat some tonight.  Woot! These are my ultimate favorite plant to grow because they are so beautiful.  One day I will plant some to grow up some cattle wire hanging from our gutters. I will get so much beans and the plant will shade my house keeping it cool.  I can just imagine all those red flowers!

     I told myself I wasn't going to plant very many beans this year.  Last year I went over board and my daughter says she will never eat another bean again.  Well I might have planted....some.....more...oops. I can't help it!

     Another first is this lettuce which I cannot remember the name of.  Love the colors!

    Okay and last but not least I wanted to share this with you.  Anyone wanna guess what it is? It's another first for me and I can't wait to eat them. 

    So did you have any first this year?