My TOP 10 Favorite Earth Day Deals!

Today is Earth Day!

It’s a day of awareness of all things “green” and it can be a great time to try out something green for around your house. I wasn’t planning on this post, but I kept finding such great deals on green stuff that I had to share them. So here’s my top list of the best Earth Day deals!

  1. Spoonk Organic Accupressure Mat

    Spoonk Acupressure Mats…I’m addicted to mine and use it everyday. I HIGHLY recommend the organic one. The price is amazing for this mat…(47% off) $36…normally $60 …today only!

  2. Conscious Boxes: On Totsy and Plum District today for half off a 3-month subscription of food and home goods. Been dying to try this one for several months and I finally bit the bullet and snagged the voucher. I can’t wait to get my first box in the mail! (Update on this…after 3 months of getting my Conscious Boxes in the mail, I LOVED them!)
    .
  3. Great Cash Back Deals on FatWallet. My fave is $10 off $25 at Origins.
  4. Kids Organic Sleepwear & HAPE Eco-Collection: Starts at 8pm central on Totsy. Featuring Agabang, PB Couture and New Jammies. Our kids have Agabang and New Jammies and we love them both…super cute and I would recommend them as great organic PJ’s. I’m setting an alarm to check back when the sale starts later tonight. We also have a few HAPE toys and love them. They make terrific gifts for kid b-day parties!

    Agabang Organic Kids PJ’s

  5. 25% off Lunch Bots: Perfect for packing healthy lunches for grown ups or kids.
  6. TONS of Earth Day Deals on Zulily! There are too many to list them all…a few are: Make Love, Not Trash, lots of organic apparel for babys, kids and moms, including maternity. Also, eco-friendly shoes, eco-friendly bath sale, AMAZING outdoor sale with greenhouses, rain barrels, compost bins and lots more…the greenhouses are absolutely drool-worthy…one of my “wish-list” items!
  7. Eco-Chic Nursery: If you’re shopping for nursery stuff, this is the sale for you! Possibly the CUTEST nursery furniture ever…I especially love the toy boxes, but there are cribs, Nook mattresses, changing tables and more. Completely adorable!
    .
  8. 4 Great Sales on PlumDistrict: $30 for $60 Clean Couture Eco-Friendly Home & Body Care, Melissa & Doug toys, $20 for $40 for Babo botanicals skincare for

    Lunch bots stainless steel food containers

    kids, and Conscious boxes. We use Babo botanicals and love them!  Plus you can buy 2 vouchers for Babo and you get an additional 20% off the second deal so the second voucher ends up being $16 for $40…AWESOME DEAL for a great product!

  9. Non-toxic kids toys at Little Rue, including MiYim, books and adorable wooden puzzles.
  10. Great eco-kitchen deals…yoga sale, reuseable lunch items, earth pans and refurbished kitchen appliances. We got a refurb coffee grinder here over a year ago for a great deal and it was like new…no problems. This is my go-to for high-end refurb appliances. I love buying refurbished b/c it keeps an appliance out of the landfill and is cheaper than buying a brand new one. Plus whatever was going to go wrong on the product already has and the problem has been fixed.

Perpetual Healing Soup – Homemade Bone Broth Recipe

This year, our family has taken to making a homemade bone broth recipe when we’re starting to feel under the weather.

Did you know that bone broth is sometimes referred to as “Jewish Penicillin”? 

The effect of drinking this homemade bone broth recipe as a feel-good booster have been dramatic. We’ve actually had a couple of times where one of us was under the weather enough that we probably would have gone to the doctor and we starting downing bone broth like there’s no tomorrow and noticed such an improvement that we ended up not going to see a doctor. Now my husband requests it at the first sign of a cold.

Here’s my recipe for homemade bone broth. This recipe for homemade bone broth has become one of our favorites.

Below are the ingredients for perpetual healing soup. It’s always best to use organic if you can. The beauty of this homemade bone broth recipe is that  you can adjust these for personal preference or tailor it to your own liking. The one essential ingredient is the bones from a chicken. Do not use bullion in place of the chicken bones. The minerals from the bones are a major part of what make this a healing recipe.

Ingredients:

  • bones from a chicken (we use rotisserie as a time saver, though if I’m on my game, I’ll roast my own chicken and then use the bones for the soup)
  • garlic cloves (3-6, depending on preference, we prefer more because of garlic’s health benefits)
  • 1 cup of organic baby carrots (or 3 full-size carrot)
  • 2-3 onion, chunked up (can sub a few shallots if preferred)
  • small handful of whole peppercorns (we use multi-color)
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated and sliced (can substitute a few pieces of dried galangal for an asian twist)
  • organic dried grated lemon peel (you can get this in many bulk spice sections or fresh lemon zest also works)
  • 2 bay leaves (I freeze fresh bay leaves and keep them on hand in my freezer)
  • small bunch of Italian parsley (cilantro also works)
  • optional: handful of thick leafy greens like kale, spinach, beet or turnip greens (my favorite). you’d be surprised at the flavor greens add!

 

Directions:  This homemade bone broth recipe is so easy that all you need to do is dump all of the ingredients into a cock pot and fill it up with water. Filtered water is best. (We use Aquasana and they have an amazing deal on drinking water filters right now: Save 30% on all drinking water filter systems, or 50% if you buy them with Water for Life. WFL is their auto ship for filters option.)

  1. Turn on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.
  2. Strain the broth through a metal coffee filter or very fine sieve to strain out the junk.
  3. After it cools, skim the remaining layer of fat of the top of the soup and voila…healthy bone broth. It’s not only nutritious, it’s delicious and hits the spot when you’re feeling under the weather.

Make it perpetual

Then, keeping everything in the pot, add more water and repeat the process. You can use the same chicken bones and continue making healing perpetual soup for several days in this way. You will need to occasionally remove the old veggies and spices and add new ones. I do this every couple days.

I make as much of this homemade bone broth recipe as I can and then freeze the leftovers so I don’t have to buy chicken stock at the store. Even though the flavor is stronger than most store bought chicken broths, it works great in any recipe and the flavor does not overpower the dish you’re making. It especially works well as a base for other veggie soups.

Have a variation on bone broth? Let us know your best variations in the comment section below.

Is There MUCK in Your Kid’s Cup?

I want to know that when I give my kids water, they are drinking water…not water laced with toxic chemicals. I can honestly say I’d never thought a thing about what kind of cup I drank out of until I had kids. When my first child was born, the very first bit of hype was coming out about BPA and most parents didn’t know a thing about “Bisphenol A” and didn’t care. Luckily for me a friend strongly recommended a brand of bottles that were BPA free and thus started my quest to learn more and find muck-free cups, sippys and bottles for my little one.

So what is Bispenol A? It’s an industrial chemical found in certain plastics, including plastics that store food and drink, toys, the linings of canned food, and even some of our cash register receipts among many other things. So BPA is very hard to avoid.

Beyond that, research has shown that BPA can seep into our bodies from touching products that contain it as well as into our food and drink. It’s a known endocrine disruptor, is linked to reproductive disorders and is thought to be especially harmful for children. One possible side effect is early puberty in children. For some further info on the harmful effects of BPA, here’s an eye opening article from Medical News Today, where I got the following quote.

A CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) study found 95% of adult human urine samples and 93% of samples in children had bisphenol A.

Scary, right? I personally don’t want my kids drinking out of beverage containers or playing with toys that contain BPA. Thankfully, many states have take proactive action on BPA and have banned them from children’s products and some states are taking steps to ban them from products that contain consumer goods. Stores like Babies R Us refuse to carry bottles and sippy cups that contain Bisphenol A. Good for you, Babies R Us! It’s a start and a better place than we were in a few years ago.

However, as a mom, I’m still mad! Even when I go into a major retailer, that has effectively stopped carrying stuff with BPA, what about other known harmful chemicals and carcinogens in plastic? What about Pthalates? Lead? PVC? What about all those other chemicals I don’t even know to look out for?
.
Why in the world does a parent have to HUNT and HUNT for a product that’s not going to hurt our kids? And what about the parents who don’t know to ask the questions? Who haven’t been informed or who trust that if it’s on the shelf it must be ok? What about the many families in our nation who can’t afford a $20 muck free sippy cup and are stuck purchasing the cheapest plastic out there?!?!
.
I don’t want to live my life scared of the next chemical on the block, but I do want to be proactive in doing what I can to protect my kiddos. There are some “better” plastics out there that you can buy as well as some great stainless steel and glass products. Here’s a list of safer alternatives to most of the plastic cups you’ll find on the shelfs.
.
.
I currently use SafeSippys, Klean Kanteen and Lifefactory and would recommend them all. I have 5 Safe Sippys that I’ve used through 2 kids. They are dented and well loved, but still going strong after years of being tossed around!
 .
There are also numerous “better” plastic options out there, such as ThinkBaby, Born Free that MOMObaby that are made from better plastics and do not have PVC, BPA or phthalates. These may be great options for some parents who prefer plastics and at one point I used some of these brands, but now I prefer stainless or glass containers.
 .
Stainless sippys or bottles are a terrific gift option for families with babies and toddlers, especially since these stainless bottles and sippys are often hard to find in stores. They are cuter options and are more durable.Thankfully, prices are dropping and these options are becoming more affordable. I actually saw the Safe Sippy recently on Zulily for around $10. I should have stocked up on these for gifts and I’m hoping they go back on sale again soon.
 .
I still hurt for all the children whose families can’t afford a higher end sippy or bottle. I wish there were a “Tom’s” of sippys…a reputable organization who donated a bottle for each one purchased or a way to recycle stainless cups to families in need…if you know of anything like that, please leave a comment and let us all know how we can help others. Every little bit helps!
.

Natural & Organic Beauty Products on Triple Sale!

Trilogy Triple Savings

I’ve just recently found a store, called Beautorium, that only sells all natural, certified organic beauty products. I’m thankful that there’s a company out there with higher standards for what they tell women to put on their bodies!

They have some terrific brands and very stringent qualifications for what brands they carry. I wish I had discovered Beautorium years ago! They’ve got an amazing sale going on right now on Trilogy products…$20 off with purchase of the Trilogy Anniversary Collection PLUS 15% off all Trilogy products AND a free gift when you spend over $75. The Trilogy Age Proof Radiance Collection is the free gift. Sale ends April 1st.

Three ways to SAVE on Trilogy Today..!

I can’t wait to try the bestselling Trilogy Rose Hip oil. It’s supposed to be great for stretch marks and wrinkles…2 things I could use some help with…couldn’t everyone over the age of 30, right?

I try to do things as naturally and organically as possible in my house. I’ve recently started using olive oil as my face wash (with great results.) But there are some things that you can’t grab out of your pantry and for that I’ve got my eye on Beautorium products. I have no idea how to make my own nail polish, nor do I have the time or desire to figure it out. I’ve also got on my “wish list” 2 other Beautorium product lines, “Hopscotch Kids” and “Scotch Naturals”…both non-toxic brands of nail polish. Have you tried either of these products? Which would you recommend?

(*Note that the sale this week is only for the Trilogy brand.)

 

What Happened to EcoMom.com?

Update on 3/18/13: I just checked EcoMom again, as I do every few days in hopes that maybe…just maybe…they might come back, and the notice on their website has changed. There is an option for people interested in acquiring the company. If you know anyone…

It is with a sad heart that I share the news that my very favorite company to purchase green, non-toxic and organic baby/kid/parenting products has shut its doors….EcoMom.com.

For those of you who have ever shopped on EcoMom, you know what I mean. EcoMom had a strong commitment to bringing families the best product out there and they did all the research for us, so we knew we could trust the items they hand-picked for their store. They had parent reviews, a ratings system for how products “made the cut” and why they were considered non-toxic.

If you’ve never shopped on EcoMom, you missed out on a truly fantastic site and one that will be SORELY missed in the parenting sector. Every couple days I hopefully check the site that maybe it was all in my head…but no, EcoMom has shut its doors.

For those of you who want to read more, here’s an article with some in-depth information on what happened to EcoMom and why. I can only hope another company will catch the vision that EcoMom started. What an inroads they made for green parents everywhere…and what a resource they were…EcoMom…I miss you already!

3 Great New Ways to Detoxify Your Life with Olive Oil

I’ve always had a “thing” for olive oil. Call it a fascination with an ancient crop, a love for such a versatile kitchen ingredient, but I’ve always loved it! Now I have 3 brand new reasons to love my favorite kitchen staple. In the past few months, I’ve been using olive oil as a non-toxic stainless steel cleaner, a non-toxic furniture polish, and I’ve been using olive oil to clean my face with the oil cleansing method.

1) Use olive oil as a non-toxic stainless steel cleaner. That’s right, just use an old cloth (I use cut up old t-shirts) and rub it on stainless steel appliances in a circular motion. I recently used olive oil as a non-toxic stainless steel cleaner on my coffee maker and I was actually amazed to notice how sparkly clean my coffee maker was every time I walked in the kitchen.

Image Credit

2) Olive oil can also be used as a non-toxic furniture polish. It’s SO simple! I’ve been looking for a non-toxic furniture polish for a while now with no luck and finally tried this with great results. Here’s how to make your own non-toxic furniture polish. Simply mix one part fresh squeezed lemon juice (preferably from an organic lemon) with 3 parts olive oil. I like to mix only what I need at a time in a small bowl. Again, I use old cloths like old t-shirts to apply my homemade furniture polish. Ex: 1 tbsp lemon juice and 3 tbsp olive oil.

Did you know? The best olive oil for cooking comes from Crete, Greece. Look for extra virgin, cold pressed organic olive oil. The greener the olive oil, the better it will taste!

3) You can also use olive oil as an all natural facial cleanser. I was a little skeptical at this one but it works wonders. I’ve been using it for a few weeks now with great results! I expected breakouts or for my face to feel greasy afterwards, but it leaves my face feeling squeaky clean, softer and I think it even has a glow afterwards. You can use straight up olive oil (which I’ve been doing) or you can mix it with other non-toxic oils to make a custom non-toxic face cleanser for your own skin care needs. For some great info and tips on the oil cleansing method, check out this post on the Mommypotamus blog. For an occasional exfoliator, add a little bit of baking soda to your olive oil. (*Note: I keep a small amount of olive oil in a squeeze bottle in my shower and use it just like normal face soap — at the end of my shower so my pores are open. The only difference is that it takes a bit longer to get it off. I rinse first and then use a very soft washcloth to wipe away the excess.)

So what kind of olive oil should you get for these things? You don’t need much for any of the above 3 uses. I use the same olive oil that I use for cooking. After all, I want the least amount of toxicity in the air in my home and on my body as I do in my body.
.
Know of other non-toxic uses for olive oil? Leave a comment and let us know!
.

How to Quickly Disinfect Reusable Shopping Bags

Did you know that shopping carts at the grocery store are particularly bad in terms of harboring bacteria? Also, “about half of reusable shopping bags have faecal bacteria in them” according to a recent article on BBC news.

I’m all for using reusable shopping bags when buying groceries. I use my cloth grocery bags for just about everything now, (although I’m going to start purposing some just for groceries and others for non-grocery use after reading the BBC article mentioned above.)

I love how one family can make a difference by using reusable shopping bags. In one year, the average family goes through about 720 plastic grocery bags! So using reusable shopping bags can keep 720 plastic bags out of landfills, which reduces oil consumption and keeps non-biodegradable trash out of the landfill.

However, the majority of reusable shopping bag owners do not wash or disinfect their bags in any way. Thus, a high percentage of not-good bacteria is found in reusable shopping bags.

Here’s a Quick Tip to Disinfect Reusable Shopping Bags

Liberally spray your reusable shopping bags with disinfecting spray with tea tree oil to quickly disinfect between washings after a store trip.

You can throw your reusable shopping bags in the washing machine on cold on a hand wash cycle and hang them to dry as one solution, but in between washings, I like to give mine a quick spritz with my homemade disinfecting spray with tea tree oil. Simply spray disinfecting spray liberally on the bags, inside and out, and let dry before storing and reusing.

 

Super Quick 1-Minute DIY Disinfecting Cleaner

Image

Make Your Own Disinfecting All-Purpose Cleaner
This Formula is Ridiculously Cheap & Easy 

One of the easiest ways to green up your life and save a little green (money, that is), is to make your own household cleaners, like this homemade DIY disinfecting cleaner. I’ve come to love trying out new recipes for home cleaning products and I’ll be posting some of my favorites here over the next few months.

DIY-Disinfecting-Cleaner

What you’ll need to make Super Quick 1-Minute Disinfecting Cleaner:

  • an empty spray bottle (can be new or repurposed)
  • a funnel (or piece of paper folded into a funnel)
  • tea tree oil
  • warm water
  • vinegar (optional)
Directions:
  1. Put 10-20 drops of tea tree oil in bottom of empty spray bottle for every 16 oz of liquid that your spray bottle holds (Note: using 20 drops will result in a stronger, although not unpleasant, smell.)
  2. Using the funnel, add 2 tbsp vinegar for every 16 ounces. You can omit this step if desired. (The smell of vinegar will go away shortly after using solution when the spray dries.)
  3. Fill bottle with water and put spray lid on. Gently swirl to mix solution.
  4. To use, spray surface you want to clean liberally and let sit for about a minute if surface is gunked up (for example if you’re cleaning your stove after cooking and a pot boiled over and dried or if you have batter stuck on your counter from baking).

I haven’t figured out the exact cost of this recipe, because I’ve never thought to count how many drops of tea tree oil come in one bottle, but it’s crazy cheap (a few cents-ish). A bottle of tea tree oil lasts me over a year at $5-6 dollars a bottle. If you repurpose an old squirt bottle from something else, then you’ve got really cheap, 1-minute disinfecting cleanser.

My favorite bottles to repurpose my homemade cleaning solutions from are old “BabyGanics” bottles (shown in picture), like “BabyGanics, Stain Stain Go Away” (which works fabulously, by the way). I haven’t gotten around to making my own laundry stain remover yet, but I’ll keep you posted when I do.

This homemade disinfecting cleaner is not as concentrated as store bought cleaners. Expect a solution that is very watery. You will have to spray surfaces more liberally to use.
If you want to get really creative with your homemade cleaners, you can make your own labels. For now, I’m not that fancy, so I just use a marker to label mine as you can see in the picture.
Note: Although this solution is natural, be sure you keep it out of reach of kids. Essential oils, while beneficial in moderation can be harmful in concentrated amounts, so be sure to keep essential oils far out of reach of kids and always use essential oils carefully.

10 Easy Green Kitchen Ideas

Greening up your life isn’t something most people do overnight. If you’re just putting your toes in the water, take it a step at a time. Even baby steps are a step in the right direction and will make a difference for your family and the environment. Here are some easy green kitchen ideas to help you green up your house today.

  1. Start using cloth napkinsfor meals. You can find them online or you can easily

    Make your drink more fun, fancier and greener…all with 1 straw!

    make your own out of scraps of cute fabric.

  2. Use stainless steel mixing bowls instead of plastic. They will last forever and you won’t have to worry about yucky chemicals leaching into your food.
  3. Install a Reverse Osmosis water filtration system to purify your tap water into healthy water.  A good water filtration system will remove heavy metals like lead and mercury as well as herbicides, pesticides and industrial solvents (yikes) that make their way into your drinking water supply. This is the most expensive thing to do, but is so worth it. My husband was a little doubtful when we installed ours and was skeptical that it was significantly better than our Brita filter (it is). We installed it ourselves…very easy…and a year later, he doesn’t know how we’ve lived without one for so long! We have the Aquasana one pictured above.

    Drinking Water Filters

    This is the water filter we have and we love it!

  4. Use glass containers for storing leftovers. You can get some great ones online that nest for space saving and you can also repurpose your recycling, such as old glass spaghetti sauce, peanut butter and jelly jars. One of the benefits is that glass containers will go straight from the fridge to the microwave as opposed to plastic bowls, which are not microwave safe. So you’ll save yourself the time of having to dump your food into a microwave safe dish by having glass storage containers. They also don’t stain, need to be throw away from overuse, or start flaking off on you.
  5. For an accent of class and a fun accessory, get some stainless steel straws. Yes, they sound odd at first, but once you try them, you’ll want to drink out of these fun and trendy straws all the time. Every time someone uses them at our house, they want some!
  6. Put your old plastic pitcher to the curb and repurpose it for watering plants outside and use a glass one for serving beverages to family and friends.
  7. Have you ever thought about how a coffee maker works? Hot water filtering through plastic components do not make a great combo. Full-bodied, earthy undertones with a hint of berries and chemicals? Not how I want to describe my lovely morning coffee. Use a BPA-free coffee maker, or better yet a french press, to enjoy coffee sans nasty BPA. I for one would like my coffee free of BPA, thank you.
  8. Use non-toxic cleaners, like Seventh Gen, Mrs. Meyers, BabyGanics or make your own. (I’ll be posting recipes for making your own soon.)
  9. Store sandwiches and lunch items in reusable sandwich bags, like Lunchskins , PlanetWise or SugarBooger.
  10. Replace plastic hot beverage containers for coffee and tea with stainless steel. (This is also a terrific gift idea for others that almost everyone will appreciate.) You can find some great ones with BPA free lids by Contigo (found at most major retailers).

Recycle or repurpose your old stuff rather than just tossing it in the trash. Donate to a charity, sell on Craigslist or eBay or give it away to someone in need who can’t afford to buy their own.

While most of these ideas do involve replacing something you probably currently own, you can find a lot of these items at garage sales or on Craigslist. You can also subscribe to your local Freecycle.org and list things you’re looking for and you may just get lucky and get some of these for free. (Just remember not to be too picky if you follow this route.) Don’t forget that most of these also make great items to put on your Christmas or birthday list.

Remember that going green doesn’t have to break the bank and it doesn’t happen over night. Do a little at a time and you’ll be amazed at how quickly the changes add up!

Make Your Own Liquid Hand and Body Soap…EASILY!

“Go wash your hands, you’ve been in public!”

These are the words my siblings and I heard from our mom every day as soon as we walked in the door. I respected the almighty “antibacterial” soap as my invincible protector from all sickness. I can remember the shocked feeling I had for an entire day when I learned that triclosan may not be good for you.

Did you know that the chemical triclosan is thought to cause birth defects, reproductive issues, and hormone disruption? It is a known endocrine disruptor and is also suspected to be a carcinogen. It can also weaken the immune system and has been associated with increased asthma, allergies, and eczema in children exposed to it at a young age. And we just thought we were washing our hands!

So many things I’ve never given a second thought to all my life, such as the soap I wash my hands with, have turned out to not be so great for you. Who knew? Thus began my quest for better (and cheaper) hand soap. There are dozens of ways to make your own liquid hand and body soap, but this is the easiest I have found so far. And it’s SUPER CHEAP and ridiculous easy!

What you’ll need:

  • 1 bar of good quality soap
    (preferably organic and very pure, such as olive oil soap where the ingredients are saponified olive oil and sodium chloride.  Kiss My Face has a good one and you can get 3 bars for $6 on Amazon. Bonus…Olive Oil soap is a terrific face soap. It’s ok and will smell better if it also has essentials oils, just make sure they are organic)
  • a cheese grater (or a food processor)
  • Containers of some kind
    (milk jugs or large water bottles work perfectly and if you want to use it as a body wash, I like to reuse old body soap dispensers too since they are the perfect size and shape for the shower)
  • a funnel
  • a large mixing bowl
  • something to cover your bowl with (foil, bowl cover, tea towel, etc.)

Instructions:

  1. Grate the soap (or put in food processor). The cheese grater method is a bit slow if you have a hard bar of soap, like olive oil soap, but quicker if you use a softer soap.
  2. Put soap shavings in a large mixing bowl and add water. Just fill it up where it’s not so full that you can’t still your mixture. (Note that too much water and your soap won’t be soapy enough. Resist the temptation to make your soap go further and add a second mixing bowl of water from the one bar of soap.)
  3. Stir it a little immediately and then cover it and let it sit.
  4. Let it sit 24-48 hours until all of the soap shavings have dissolved, stirring a few times a day. Feel free to test it out along the way by washing your hands to see if it’s ready.
  5. Pour soap into your containers using your funnel.
  6. Note that you may need to shake your containers ever so often to remix the soap and water, but they should remain mostly mixed on their own.

Voila! You have liquid soap, sans the dreaded triclosan, great for washing your hands or using as a moisturizing body wash.

Let us all know if you try a soap that you really like using this method in the comment section below.