Family Cause of the Year: Changing Our Food Story

fresh food

For those of you who read my post about finding a family cause to get behind in 2014, we have finally decided on something: food.  No, we are not all going on a diet. Neither are we trying out a new restaurant each week (as lovely as that sounds!)  2014 will be a year we dedicate ourselves to understanding the foods we consume, where they come from, why they are good or bad for us and how we can ensure that we as a family stand up for ourselves when it seems that industry can seem to be at odds with our best interests.

By way of wanting to become aware of potential toxins in our lives as we began our family,  we jumped on the organic/ natural bandwagon years ago.  I don’t pretend to know enough to say outright organic is always best or that processed or conventional foods are behind the ailments and diseases of the world.  But innately my husband and I feel like something has gone wrong with the way we’ve been eating and the way we’ve been marketed to for most of our lives.  So we want to take a hard look at our food habits, through the lens of health and humanity, and get behind this issue of real foods in whatever ways make sense for us.

This is not a research project, nor is it a way to make everything in our lives better.  It is simply about listening to our guts (literally and figuratively), getting educated on something that speaks to us, and trying to make a difference, first in our own lives and then, as it makes sense to, in our community-at-large.  So we begin by doing some reading, some watching and some talking.  I’ll share with you our learnings on this  journey.

This week I read Michael Pollan’s book, Food Rules:  An Eater’s Manual.  Michael is a reknowned writer of all things nature and food.  He argues that we need only look to our ancestors to understand how, what and when to eat.  In Food Rules, he provides a breakdown of 63 simple “rules” that help guide a way of eating that promotes health, sustainability and appreciation of food.  Its a short easy read full of fantastic information.  He begins by addressing three basic facts:

1) Populations consuming the typical Western diet (consisting of a lot of processed foods, meats and added fat and sugars) results in high rates of Western diseases (type 2 diabetes, 80% of cardiovascular disease, and more than 1/3 of all cancers
2) Populations who eat more traditional diets (diets traced back to historical cultural norms…maize and beans, as an example in Central America) do not suffer from these above diseases
3) Populations who change from the Western diet to more traditional diets dramatically improve their health.

This intrigued me enough to read through all 63 Food Rules.  And they are already impacting how we eat.  The gist of what Pollen advises: Eat food.  Not too much. Mostly plants.  Easy.  Some of my favorite rules:

#2, Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.  Like, say no to spaghetti-o’s.
#27, Eat animals that have themselves eaten well.  Grass= good.  Processed corn and antibiotics= bad.
#40, Be the kind of person who takes supplements- then skip the supplements.  While generally people who consume vitamins and supplements are considered healthier, its more likely that they are healthy because they do the other things that TRULY keep you healthy: exercise and eat well.  So the supplements are not necessarily the reason for good health.  A good diet should give you all the nutrients you need.
#51, Spend as much time enjoying the meal as it took to prepare it.  Eating slowly is key to avoiding over-consumption.  But it also allows you to savor what you eat, and also respect what it took to bring the food from seed to garden to market to kitchen to stove to table.

On the agenda this month in changing our food story:

Read:  Michael Pollan’s book In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto
See: The documentary, Food Fight & TEDxManhattan Changing the Way We Eat Teleconference on 3/1
Visit: local farmer’s market and organic farm
Do: plant herb garden

Quote of the Day:
“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.” -Brillat-Savarin

Links I Love:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-mcinerney/changing-the-way-we-eat_b_4380401.html

http://www.vogue.com/culture/article/ted-talk-changing-the-way-we-eat/#1

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DIY Home and Body Care Recipes

Herbal Recipes

It seems like every week there is a new story on the news about some toxin found in food, body care or cleaning products.  The great news is attention is finally being paid to what manufacturers are putting in the products we purchase and they are actually making some changes to eliminate or change questionable ingredients.  The bad news is it will probably be a long time before we can just trust that what we purchase is first of all doing what is intended and second of all doesn’t contain anything that could possibly harm us in the short or long term.  So, in the meantime, I’ve decided to try to remove the risks all together and start making most of  my household products.  I’ve already told you what an amazing product coconut oil is, but my repertoire of natural ingredients is growing by the week and I’m having so much fun experimenting with DIY body care and household cleaners.

The thing with creating DIY home and bath products is you do have to make a bit of an investment up front in ingredients.  But you’ll find, as I have, that these items last forever and can be used for so many different products that its well worth it.  Plus, it’s so nice to open up the pantry and bathroom cabinets and see natural, great smelling and SAFE items on the shelf instead of rows of manufactured crazy-colored solutions with unpronounceable ingredient lists.  There’s also something really rewarding about not depending on a Target run to stock up on everything needed to make my house and family clean and healthy.  Making my own feels like such an accomplishment.

Today I wanted to share my latest concoctions…we’ve used them for the past few weeks and are addicted!  The recipes are included below.  I’m also giving you my general on-hand ingredient list in case you feel like stocking up on supplies to get experimenting too!  Note, there are plenty of blogs and pinterest pages out there with amazing recipes and ideas…some even include downloads of printable labels to make your products look super cute (soapdelicatessen.com and tipjunkie.com  are a couple.)  I’m not organized enough to get on that yet, but maybe someday…

Supplies for DIY home and people care products:

  • Variety of glass jars, spray bottles, shampoo containers
  • Distilled White Vinegar
  • Coconut Oil
  • Shea Butter
  • Jojoba Oil
  • Vitamin E Oil
  • Grapeseed or Olive Oil
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Aloe Vera Gel (100% pure)
  • Baking Soda
  • Liquid Castille Soap
  • Dried Calendula Flowers
  • Essential Oils (lavender, lemon, tea tree, rosemary, sweet orange, peppermint, eucalyptus, etc)

 

Kitchen Counter Disinfecting Spray

1/2 C Water

1/2 C Distilled White Vinegar

3 drops tea tree oil

3 drops lavender oil

3 drops lemon oil

You can adjust the quantities up or down based on how much solution you want to create at a time.  Simply add the ingredients to a spray bottle, shake well, and you are done.  I use this on my kitchen counters, as a dust solution and general cleaning.  It’s so simple, fresh and healthy.

 

Rosemary Mint Whipped Shave Cream

This recipe is amazing for rich, moisturizing shave cream.  It is oil based so the only downside is it doesn’t rinse off your hands as easily as store-bought shave creams and gels.  The positive to that is it is incredibly moisturizing and smells great so you probably won’t mind a little leftovers on your hands!

1/3 C Coconut Oil

1/3 C Shea Butter (pure unrefined, like this one: )

1 Tbs Jojoba Oil

5 drops Peppermint Essential Oil

8 drops Rosemary Essential Oil

5 drops Lavender Essential Oil

Melt coconut oil and shea butter in small saucepan on low heat.  Once melted remove from heat and pour into mixing bowl.  Add jojoba and essential oils.  Mix until well blended.  Put bowl in refrigerator until ingredients harden.  Remove from fridge and whip using hand mixer or stand mixer.  Whip until light and creamy.  Scoop into a glass jar (I use the empty Trader Joes 9oz jars that jams, sauces etc come in).

 

Orange Calendula Body Butter

This body butter is my favorite go-to moisturizer.  It makes an incredible diaper rash balm, soothes dry itchy skin and is a great eczema combatant!  It requires calendula flowers which can be found at most natural goods stores as well as on amazon (where I found mine.)

1/2 C Coconut Oil

1/2 C Shea Butter

1/4 C grapeseed or olive oil

4 Tbs Vitamin E Oil

4 Tbs Jojoba Oil

small handful of Dried Calendula Flowers

10 drops sweet orange oil

Put grapeseed/olive oil,  vitamin E oil, jojoba oil and calendula flowers into a small saucepan.  Heat over low heat until oil becomes infused with the calendula, 20-30 minutes.  About 10 minutes before the calendula infusion is complete, put coconut oil and shea butter into medium size saucepan and heat over low until both are melted.  Remove from heat and add sweet orange oil.  Removed calendula infusion from heat and strain flowers from oil using a cheesecloth or fine strainer.  Pour infused oil into coconut/shea mixture.  Mix thoroughly and pour into glass jar and refrigerate until cream solidifies into creamy texture.

Quote of the Day:

“Taking joy in living is a woman’s best cosmetic.” -Rosalind Russell

Links I Love:

http://frugallysustainable.com/naturalhealth/

http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/search.php#

 

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Finding The Blessings in the Bleh

Light through Trees

It has been a rough few weeks.  Let’s just say parenthood and a stomach bug gave me a good old one-two punch.  My energy has been nonexistent, my moods have swung like a wrecking ball, and its been difficult to focus on, let alone accomplish, anything.  I can’t say I feel like a failure, but I’ve certainly failed at many of my new year intentions.

My husband and I had to emotionally recover from an unexpectedly dramatic trip home for the holidays, our daughter came down with a vicious cold, the chores kept piling up, we hit a financial roadblock, my husband’s job became unbearably stressful, then the stomach bug hit.  Ohhhh my goodness, the stomach bug from hell.   It was all we could do at the end of the day to just sit and stare.  At each other.  At the television.  At nothing.  Just stare.

And when we would finally have a moment out of the dullness that became our brains, we’d ask each other: what are we doing?  How are we going to ever feel our life is in order?  Isn’t this supposed to be easier?  No answers came.  But we have become very good at saying the words, “we are so blessed” regardless of how tough things have became.  I guess its our way of trying to diminish the difficulties and focus on the wonderful things we are grateful for.  It goes something like this: “I’m so stressed/ I’ll never have a clean house/ something has to change/ will we ever feel financially free?/ I feel like I’m sucking as a mom…BUT we are so blessed.”

But, we are so blessed.  Yes, we are.  Very blessed.  It just doesn’t always feel that way.  There seems to be two sides to the face of life:  the blessings and the struggles.  The sweet and the sour.  The joy and the pain.  And while we are grateful for the good things, we wish the bad didn’t have to be there quite so much.  And so, we have this idea of being blessed, BUT.

I recently heard about a high school friend whose wife was just diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.  They have 4 children.  The youngest is just 8 weeks old.  Devastating.  The week prior, a close friend had to say goodbye to her childhood friend who died less than 8 weeks after being diagnosed with cancer.  Heartbreaking.

Of course, you hear these stories and you think how grateful that you aren’t going through things that difficult.  You think, wow I really am so blessed.  Despite that struggles.  Despite the sour.  Despite the pain.  But, it finally occurred to me.  Aren’t we also blessed BECAUSE of the struggles, the sour and the pain?  Wouldn’t someone living their last days on earth be thrilled to have the opportunity to leave a pile of dishes in the sink a few more times?  Wouldn’t someone taking their last breath be grateful for the opportunity to brainstorm a new venture to make a change in their lives?  I get to worry about protecting my daughter from yet another virus.  Some moms no longer have the ability to do so.  I get to make plans to make our lives more fulfilled than they are today.  Some people won’t get that chance.

My family had the flu.  The blessing: we got to spend a Monday together recovering, unable to be distracted by chores, work, meaningless errands.  We had drama over the holidays.  The blessing: we experienced real and personal emotion together, bringing us even closer.  We have debt.  The blessing: we get to make plans to strategically work through it together. The house is (still) a mess.  The blessing: I know I prioritized what we as a family value.

Life will never be all roses.  That’s not what the human experience is about.  Its about the dichotomy of the peace and the pain.  And finding meaning in the pain.  Growing from it.  Leaning into it so that it draws you back to what really matters.  Love.  Hope.  Connection.  Change.

If you haven’t read the great article about relationships by Glennon Melton on the Huffington Post, you should (see below for link.)   There’s a great paragraph that sums up how it feels to be asked as a stay at home mom, “How was your day?”  Our days are messy, frustrating, hysterical, energizing, exhausting, boring and fulfilling all at the same time.  We complain, not because we want it all to change, but because we need to know that we are supported through the more challenging moments.  But the challenging moments are meaningful.  And though it rarely feels that way at the time, they are blessings.

We are so blessed.  Period.

 

Quote of the Day:

“Our real blessings often appear to us in the shape of pains, losses and disappointments; but let us have patience and we soon shall see them in their proper figures.”  -Joseph Addison

Links I Love:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/glennon-melton/the-questions-that-will-save-your-relationships_b_4618254.html

http://shakeoffthegrind.com/positivity/are-you-grateful-for-your-life-13-blessings-you-may-be-overlooking

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Get Grounded: Reconnecting with the Earth

IMG_3599

I subscribe to a blog called Food Renegade that I follow for healthy recipes, interesting food facts and other natural food related information.  The other day I read an article posted about the idea of “Earthing,” or getting closer to the natural state of physical connection to the earth.  It discussed how the human body is naturally positively charged (from a molecular perspective) and the earth is negatively charged so that when in physical contact a neutral state is reached.  And because we no longer walk around barefoot, sleep on the floor and work in fields and gardens on a daily basis as our ancestors once did, (most of us anyways),  AND because our homes are filled with positively charged electronics and technology, our bodies are in a constant unnaturally high positively charged state.  This leads to unhealthy inflammation, poor sleep, and many other ailments.   The remedy: getting “grounded” or “earthed.”  In other words, much like electrical circuits can be grounded to the earth to prevent buildup of static electricity, we should make sure our bodies touch the earth to prevent buildup of inflammation.

Ok.  That’s an interesting and scary idea to ponder.  But it really does make some sense.  And it is helping me to understand at least part of the reason I have been finding myself yearning for some quality time in the great outdoors.  I feel best when I’m in and around nature, but it’s honestly rare that I am in it these days.  I see nature out my windows, but when do I really touch it?  My yard is natural and full of plants, but is so sloped it’s dangerous to walk through.  And standing on the deck doesn’t cut it.  My neighborhood is tree-lined.  But you have to walk on pavement.  There is not a park within walking distance.  The park I drive to has a man-made lake and stream that have a faint odor of chlorine: you’re not even allowed to get in.  The beach is a good 30min to hour drive away.  And is so crowded with sunbathers and tourists that “nature’ is never the first thing I notice.

Those of us in metropolitan, urban or even suburban parts of the country may not even realize how disconnected from the earth we truly are.  So we have to get a little creative.  It’s even harder to do in the winter time.  “Earthing” sheets, mats and pads have been developed that provide a close connection to the earth while you sleep, work and relax indoors.  Sounds pretty strange, but apparently Dr Oz, a prior skeptic, was convinced that there is something to these “earthing” sheets.  Since I’m not in a position to invest in these items at this point, I am working on exploring other options.

Here are some ideas:

  • If you have a garden, use it.  Without gloves.
  • If you don’t have a garden, use planter boxes.  Again, without gloves.Walk around your yard barefoot.  Or the beach.  Or a park.  Use discretion.
  • Camp.  In a tent.  In a sleeping bag.  On the ground.  No mat.
  • Unplug and turn off your electronics at night.  Even your phone.
  • Wear leather soled shoes when possible.
  • Lay in the grass (or sand) often.
  • Visit parks that have space where you can sit on the ground and soak up the sun from the sky and the energy from the ground

Consider finding ways to get yourself reconnected with the earth and let me know your ideas.  For now, I think I’ll skip the sheets and stick my feet in the mud.  I’ll let you know how that goes.

Quote of the Day:

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”  — Margaret Atwood

Links I Love:

http://www.foodrenegade.com/can-earthing-help-adrenal-fatigue/

http://www.motherearthnews.com/nature-and-environment/nature-restorative-power-zbcz1309.aspx#axzz2lc5BMXOz

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The Dirty Dozen (Plus) and the Clean Fifteen

2013EWGPesticideGuidesml

Wouldn’t it be nice to head to the grocery store or farmers market each week and know that your only concerns were following a shopping list and entertaining your child?  For me, and I’m guessing most of you, it is such a chore to just get out of the house with a little one, sometimes the last thing I want to do is read labels and make decisions about which apples or potatoes to buy.  I wish that the decision of which apple to buy were just about the sweetness and crispness factors.  Today we are faced with also having to decide to go with the organic or non-organic versions.  Because if you are also, like me, on a relatively tight budget you don’t get the luxury of going organic every time.

An important component of my attempts to live a cleaner life is being aware of what I feed my family and where it comes from.  Fruits and vegetables, while generally regarded as the cornerstone of a healthy diet, are also susceptible to contamination by pesticides and to other unnatural farming practices.  Until organic becomes the rule and no longer the exception (side note: doesn’t it seem unfair that the most natural form of foods have to be slapped with the label (non-GMO, organic etc), while the processed and pesticide-ridden foods get to sit pretty without having any such labels?  I will now step off my soapbox.)

Most of us have heard of the “Dirty Dozen,” those fruits and vegetables that are the most contaminated by pesticides and therefore best to buy organic.  Now, the Environmental Working Group (EWG.org) has expanded this in 2013 to include two additional crops that, while they don’t technically qualify as “dirty dozen”, are prone to contamination to the degree they can be harmful and should also be organic whenever possible.

As it can be rather expensive and difficult to buy all organic produce, EWG also provides a list of those crops that are relatively safe when grown conventionally.  Eating more fruits and vegetables should be a priority in living a healthier life, but knowledge is power in ensuring the benefits outweigh the costs, from a financial as well as safety perspective

Here’s a quick glance at the Dirty Dozen Plus and the Clean 15

Dirty Dozen:

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Grapes
  • Hot peppers
  • Nectarines (imported)
  • Peaches
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Kale/ collard greens
  • Summer squash

 

Clean 15:

  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Cabbage
  • Cantaloupe
  • Sweet Corn
  • Eggplant
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwi
  • Mangos
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Papaya
  • Pineapples
  • Sweet Peas (frozen)
  • Sweet Potatoes

Quote of the Day:

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Hippocrates

Links I Love:

http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php

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New Year’s Resolution: Taking a Stand as a Family

2014 New Year

Becoming a mother changed me in more ways than I’d imagined.  I am still the same person to the core, but what my life has become in practice is so different I can hardly recognize it.  I’m not talking about the new bags under my eyes or language of baby-talk I have acquired.  I’m talking about how I feel about the things that have always mattered to me.  There’s a sense of urgency that is hard to explain.

Sometimes I feel a sense of fear when I look at our world.  I know that my daughter and any future children may have to face more problems and worries than I had growing up.  The earth is in trouble, the economy is weak, the news is filled with stories that (sometimes over-dramatically) portray a scary world.    But that very same fear ignites a sense of duty, a feeling that as a parent I am in a powerful position to try to change the trajectory of these conditions.  Because when I look at my daughter I see what the future could and should look like:  more innocent, more playful, more loving.

Children are born with such a natural connection to what really matters that they are the perfect muses for positive change.  My daughter and all children have the opportunity to bring harmony and love back to the world in ways that many of us adults today feel incapable of.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t.  It just means we have to take a step back and start again.  See the world through the eyes of our children and we can start to let our hearts lead the way.

My husband and I often talk about what we can do to make this world a better place.  It’s amazing how difficult it is to put our fingers on how and where to start.  The pattern goes like this:  we get inspired by something we see or read, then we discuss how unjust or not right the particular issue is or even how wonderful someone’s efforts are, next we say something like “we can’t let this happen…what can we do?” or “this is so great…we should join the cause.”  Then the phone rings , or a lightbulb burns out, or we spill marinara sauce on the carpet and we are instantly transported from worldly inspiration to daily obligation.  The chores win.  The cause loses.  And we forget about how great it felt to be motivated for a cause.

We took a family trip to a local aquarium several months back.  And while my daughter didn’t fully understand anything we encountered, there was wonder in her eyes and it was contagious.  My husband and I looked at images and models of the Blue Whale, a highly endangered species, and felt compelled to learn more about these beautiful creatures.  And find a way to ensure our child wouldn’t someday ask us “where did all the whales go?”  So I said out loud, “Maybe we should make the Blue Whale our family cause.” The idea faded, but now I’m wondering if that is along the lines of what we should do.  Giving our family opportunity to promote good in more concrete ways may help to save us from losing the hope that she so naturally radiates.

Perhaps if we all decided that our families were really going to stand behind something meaningful, on a global level meaningful, our world would begin to change for the better.  So, the Piazza family New Year’s resolution is to find ways to actively stand for the causes that we are moved toward.  Beginning in the new year, I will share our efforts with the Bloume life readers and would love to hear about any of your efforts as well.

“We believe in PURE beginnings” is part of the Bloume baby mantra.  And just as babies are born pure, we too can purify our lives by taking a step, even a baby step, towards bringing our world back its innocence, its playfulness and its love.  So join with me and my family in taking a step towards taking a stand.

Happy New Year!

 

Quote of the Day:

“In any situation, the best thing you can do is the right thing; the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing; the worst thing you can do is nothing.” – Theodore Roosevelt

 

Links I Love:

http://www.parents.com/parenting/better-parenting/teaching-tolerance/childrens-volunteering-resource-guide/

http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=280#.Unk8MZWwA3w

http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/950625/how-to-get-your-kids-off-the-couch-and-involved-in-charity-work

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Why I LOVE Coconut Oil. And You Should, Too.

Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil.  Its uber hip right now.  And I fall more in love with it everyday.  Oh, coconut oil, where were you the first 30 something years of my life?   Believe me, if you don’t already use and love it, you should and will.

Like many soon-to-be mommies, while pregnant I started researching the ingredients of my go-to household cleaners and cosmetics and decided that many of them would have to go.   One of the first was deodorant, but that also proved to be one of the more difficult to replace.  I tried several natural and organic brands, only to be off-put by their high prices and inability to control my hormonal aroma effectively.  So that’s when coconut oil entered my life.  And it was love at first smear.

I found multiple recipes online for homemade deodorant that used coconut oil as the base, played around with the proportions and now my husband and I have used our favorite recipe ever since. But that was only the beginning of my coconut oil adventures.  The more I used it, the more I researched (just in case I was missing something and there would be some terrible downside to this wonderful goo) and the more I learned the better I felt.  And we now have one jar in the kitchen (to use as cooking oil and in the delicious fudge cup recipe below), one jar in the bathroom (as a general moisturizer) and one in the pantry, just because.

A few of the reasons to love coconut oil (the unrefined cold-pressed virgin type)

As a topical ointment, coconut oil:

  • Moisturizes skin without leaving greasy residue
  • Acts as a sunscreen for your hair and skin (blocks only some of the sun’s ultraviolet rays so should be used in combination with other more powerful skin protectants)
  • Can kill bacteria and prevent some yeast infections (great for diaper rash!)
  • Improves dental health and bad breath when swished or “pulled” in the mouth

Ingested, coconut oil:

  • Curbs hunger and increases metabolism
  • Kills internal bacteria and viruses and help prevent infections
  • May reduce your risk of heart disease
  • May improve brain function

Luckily coconut oil is fairly easy to come by these days.  Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, any health food store and Amazon carry it.  It usually comes in a glass jar and is in the olive and assorted oils section.  Be sure to look for the terms “virgin”, “cold-pressed”, and “unrefined” to ensure it is unprocessed and in its pure form.  Note that it is in a solid form at room temperature so if you need it in a more liquid form you have to warm it up a bit.  To apply as a moisturizer, I usually just rub between my palms until it is a silky liquid.

I could go on forever about my love of coconut oil, but instead will close with my favorite (thus-far) edible coconut oil recipe, courtesy of the blog Modern. Healthy. Mom. Enjoy!

http://www.modernhealthymom.com/2013/05/recipe-paleo-fudge-cups.html

Oh, and here’s the basic recipe for homemade deodorant that I use:

6 tbsp coconut oil

¼ cup arrowroot powder

3 tbsp baking soda

a few drops of essential oil (I love two drops of peppermint and one drop of lemon)

Melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan.  While oil is melting, add dry ingredients to a small mixing bowl. As soon as oil is in liquid form, pour it into the dry ingredients and stir until all lumps are removed and powder is well incorporated.  Finally add a few drops of your favorite oils.  Pour into a short and small glass jar or other container and seal.  The oil will re-harden (you can put in refrigerator to speed up the hardening process) and then it is ready to use.

Note that you may need to adjust the proportions to find a consistency that works for you.  I had to use less baking soda than the original recipe I used because too much was irritating my skin.  Also, this deodorant is applied using your fingers so unless you decide to purchase empty deodorant sticks you do need to wash your hands off after applying.

Let me know your favorite ways to utilize coconut oil in your life!

Quote of the Day:

“If one way be better than another, that you may be sure is Nature’s way.”  - Aristotle

Links I Love:

http://wellnessmama.com/5734/101-uses-for-coconut-oil/

http://authoritynutrition.com/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coconut-oil/

 

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How to Be a Better Parent

How To Be A Better Parent

 Don’t we all want to know the instructions to being a great parent?  Don’t we google search or purchase books or read blogs or bring a list of questions to our play groups?  “How do I fix this situation?”  “What should I do now?” “Am I doing the right thing?” It is inherent when we become parents that we want the best for our kids.  And so we constantly look for guidelines, assurances, feedback or comparisons to guide our way to perfecting our parenthood.  Sometimes we try to put a name on the type of parent we want to be.  I, for one, found myself believing pre-child that I would be a this-is-my-world-you’re-living-in type of parent and then became the exact opposite.  She’s got my world in her tiny sharp-nailed hands.  And I often question whether that means she’ll be spoiled.  Or entitled.  Or attached.

We all know that there’s no way to be a perfect parent.  However, in the back of our minds (and all too often on the front) we all believe “I could be a better mom.”  And a better wife. And a better employee.  And a better cook.  And a better boss.  And a better housekeeper.  Wow, that’s a lot of “better pressure” to put on ourselves.  There is only so much time in the day and only so many limbs on our bodies.  But somehow we expect to be able to extend ourselves JUST a little further and be in JUST one more place.  Oh and with JUST a little more under-eye concealer on.

Let me bring us back to the title of this post.  Here’s how I think we can begin to be better parents:

How to Be a Better Parent

Just Be.

As the saying goes, “we are called human beings, not human doings.”  Yeah.  That’s right.  Beings.  So maybe it’s not about what you do for your kids that counts so much as who you are for them.  It’s your presence.  It’s your personality.  It’s your openness to letting them be who they are.  You being you is the very best gift your child could receive from you.  You were born to be the person you are (flaws, quirks, neuroses and all) and your child was born to be parented by you.   The real you.  Not the you trying to become the parent you wish you were.

The truth is, someday our kids will find fault in our parenting.  They will wish we pushed them harder or wish that we didn’t push so much.  And they will probably try to do a few things intentionally opposite with their own children.  Heck, don’t we?  But when it comes down to it, we love our parents the most when they are there for us, even if just in spirit.  Sometimes because they are just there in spirit.  And that spirit we feel, that indescribable sense of “someone’s got my back”, is the core of what our kids need most.

I’ve been trying to take some time each day to just be in the present with my daughter.  I don’t worry about my to-do list.  I don’t fret about the mistakes I made yesterday or follow her around picking up toys and crumbs as she drops them.  And I don’t carry my iphone around with me (this is a tough one for me!)  For as much time as I can, I just let her see me as I am.  Available and present..

For a few moments, today, just show up as the makeup free, stained-covered mom you are right now.  Our kids could use a whole lot more of who we are and less of what we do, schedule, purchase and organize.  When you look at your child, don’t you feel you are looking at a miracle?

Well, you are one, too.

Who is the best mom for your kids?  You.  So go be you.

Quote of the Day:

“Being there” is about being attuned enough to notice when your kids eyes shine so you can make your eyes shine back.  -Iris Krasnow

Links I Love:

http://life.gaiam.com/article/calm-mom-5-ways-be-present-parent

http://www.katsandogz.com/onchildren.html

 

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Have Yourself A Green and Clean Kitchen

Natural Cleaning Supplies

It’s that time of year: the Holiday season brings with it festive parties and lots and lots of scrumptious feasting.  And elaborate cooking and baking.  And our kitchens really go through the wringer.  So it’s a great time to think about how you go about getting your kitchen spic and span pre-party as well as post-cookathon.

Rather than reaching for the Lysol, Windex and Tilex  or even an eco-branded cleaning product, consider making your own!  Nature has provided us with some pretty incredible substances that do what those store-bought cleaners do…without harsh chemicals and unnatural scents.  There are countless DIY cleaning recipes online to help not only make your kitchen gleaming clean but free of the junk that wreaks havoc on your health as well as the earth.  I’ve found a great example for each kitchen cleaning need, but you can adjust and adapt to your liking.  Here are the basic ingredients to keep on hand, as well as the basic function of each.

Ingredients you should stock up on:

Baking Soda- cleans, whitens, deodorizes, scours for scrubbing, softens hard water

White Distilled Vinegar- disinfects, cuts grease & wax, removes stains, removes mildew and odors

Lemon Juice- removes stains and odors, cuts grease & wax , brightens

Hydrogen Peroxide- removes stains, disinfects, brighten

Liquid Castille Soap- cleanses, adds soap suds,

Essential Oils- multiple uses and fragrances to suit your needs and taste

  • tea tree/melaleuca for disinfecting and removing odors
  • lemon for freshening, brightening, removing stains, cutting grease & grime
  • orange for removing sticky spots, cleaning cutting boards and countertops
  • lavender for disinfecting, eliminating odors
  • peppermint for eliminating bacteria and deterring pests

Here are some of my favorite DIY natural cleaning recipes:

Disinfecting Countertop and Room Spray:

http://themarathonmom.com/homemade-all-purpose-cleaning-solution.h

Oven Cleaner:

http://yumuniverse.com/make-your-own-inexpensive-toxin-free-natural-oven-cleaner/

Floor Cleaner:

http://www.organicauthority.com/sanctuary/natural-cleaning-for-clean-floors-that-you-can-make-easy.html

Microwave Cleaner:

http://homemademothering.com/2011/03/the-homemade-way-to-clean-an-icky-microwave.html

Stubborn Sticky Residue Remover:

http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2013/03/2-ingredient-homemade-kitchen-cabinet-gunk-remover.html

Granite Cleaner:

http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2012/06/diy-homemade-granite-cleaner.html

Tile & Grout Cleaner

http://naturallysavvy.com/live/how-to-clean-grout-naturally

 

This holiday season, enjoy your delicious homemade pies & roasts in your green & clean kitchen!

 

Quote of the Day:

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not. ~ Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

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A Moment of Yes: The Birth of Bloume Life

My name is Melanie and I’m a mom-aholic.  I absolutely love being a mom.  It has humbled me, grounded me and challenged me like nothing I’ve ever experienced in my life.  And becoming a mom brought me to a place where I feel moved to share the things that matter to me as my newfound self, cloaked in motherhood but rooted in womanhood.  So when my dear friend Annie, founder of Bloume baby, asked if I would be interested in blogging for her amazing business, without hesitation I said yes.

But it’s important to tell you that this was a different kind of yes for me.  I’ve always been a people pleaser, someone very invested in making sure I’m there for the people who I care about.   Someone who might say “yes” even when what I feel is “no”, or “I’m not sure” or “I guess I should even though I don’t want to.”  And I think that has shown up to other people as kindness and thoughtfulness even when sometimes its really selfishness…I sometimes say yes so that I can say (even just to myself) that I said yes.  And so I can keep track of those “yes’s” to give myself a pat on the back on the days when I question myself as a friend, a wife, a mom.  That was hard for me to admit, but one of the side-effects of momhood for me has been speaking my truth more often.  The hard truth.

Ok, now that I’ve admitted that, lets go back to the “yes” to blogging.  Oh wait, first you should also know that I’ve also always been very cautious and a worrier.  I have been known to over think things, especially when it comes to how I come off to other people.  Like, you’ll never catch me playing in a pick up game of volleyball or softball…I know I’m no good and I’m too embarrassed to even try for fear of looking stupid.  And I think through anything I’m going to say to a crowd (even a small one) because I don’t want to come off as anything but smart and put together.  So if I’m fairly certain may come across in a way I don’t want, I’m hard-pressed to put myself out there.  Yikes, that’s a tough one to admit.

And SO, this “yes” is a big one.  First, it’s a yes from my heart.  I feel deep down that this is something I should be doing.  Doesn’t mean it’ll be perfect or groundbreaking or even helpful every time.  But it’ll be coming from my heart.  Second, I’m putting myself out there in a very uncharacteristically-me way.  And that’s scary for me.  And I’ve had moments of fear and even doubt.  But I’m doing it anyways.  And I’m trying to not think this all through to the point of self-defeat.  Because mommy hood has taught me to be more vulnerable and take more risks.  I recognize that I’m my worst critic, but I’m tired of that job, so I’m trying to retire as soon as possible.

Now, why was I called to say “yes” to blogging for Bloume life?  Because its purpose, to support moms who are living in a daunting world that sometimes makes it tough to make it through the day, let alone live green is something I struggle and work through everyday.  I know that the earth is in trouble and I know I’m just one person.  But I know that everything we do to move towards putting nature a little closer to first in our lives makes a difference.  And sometimes the biggest difference is in instilling in our children the truth: that their future matters and that someone has to be worried about it.  And that someone is not someone else.  It’s me.  It’s you. It’s us.

You are probably a supporter of Bloume baby because you are invested in the future of the children in your life as well as the future of the earth.  You know that sometimes that investment costs more financially than the standard ways of the world today.  You know shopping organic and sustainable comes with a price-tag that stings a little sometimes.  You know greening your home and life isn’t always easy or convenient. But something in you knows that its worth it.  That its not a choice anymore, but a necessity to preserve, protect and bring back health to our homes, our communities and our planet.

It is very nice to meet you, modern mommies and friends.  I hope to hear from you:  comments, feedback, ideas all welcome.  I’ve prepared myself.  Don’t be shy.  Thank you for allowing me to share with you my thoughts, tips, challenges, and hopes for the future of my kids and our world.  It may be a bumpy ride.  But you’re worth it.  And so am I.

Welcome to Bloume life.

 

Quote of the Day:

“If you must say yes, say it with an open heart. If you must say no, say it without fear.”― Paulo Coelho

 

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