Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Back to the Start (Presented by Chipotle)

This is just a reminder that there ARE healthy and sustainable alternative choices out there for "fast, inexpensive and convenient" foods, and Chipotle just happens to be at the top of our list.  Enjoy!

Amazon Kindle Books to Help You Live More Green, Simple, and Frugal

Every month, Amazon posts up 100 Kindle books for $3.99 or less.  I found a few that you might find interesting to add to your cart:

"Fast, Fresh & Green" by Susie Middleton - $3.99 -  Price Expires May 31, 2012

"Fresh From The Farmers Market" by Alice Waters - $2.99 - Price Expires May 31, 2012

"The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Business and in Life"
by Leo Babauta - $3.03 - Price Expires May 31, 2012

"Zen to Done: The Ultimiate Simple Productivity System" by Le Babauta - $2.99

"Simple Ways to Be More with Less" by Courtney Carver - $ .99

"Simplify" by Joshua Becker - $2.99

"Frugillionaire: 500 Fabulous Ways to Live Richly and Save a Fortune" by Francine Jay - $ .99

"Living Frugally: Tips on Saving Monday and Living Within Your Means" 
by Pepper Rosanne - $ .99

Act fast and download them to your Kindle.  Don't have the Kindle?  The slim, light-weight tablet is a great way to declutter your home library and save space for other valuables. Purchase a reader now or download a free Kindle reader app.  These great reads are priced right to start saving you money and living with more "green."

Monday, May 28, 2012

Minimalist Monday: The "One In, One Out" Rule (And Actually Sticking To It)

As a craft enthusiast, it is very easy for me to get sucked in with all of the great deals that my favorite craft stores have every week.  Before we became organic-aholics and spent all of our extra budget on just groceries, I always had a little bit of extra change here and there that I would occasionally spend stocking up on craft supplies.  Now I have bins full of them, and these days, I hardly have any time to even start on any craft projects.  So here they are taking up room in my clothes closet (and sadly, part of my daughter's closet), waiting to be opened and used.

As I struggle to make a decision about whether or not I should just go ahead and sell them at our next garage sale, I am doing better with the "One In, One Out" rule with other areas in our home.  Before bringing in anything into our home (bought or given for free), we have made sure that something else was going out.  The kids needed new summer clothes, so out went the winter attires.  They wanted to new books to read, so we sold some of their old ones to Half Price Books store.  We are wanting to switch their play items to non-toxic, BPA-free toys only, so we have been slowly gathering up as much as we can to bring to children's consignment stores.  This one is more of a "One In, Three (or even Four) Out" rule, as the kids have too many toys.  We have been focusing more on the kids, as most of the stuff my husband and I have been getting rid of we didn't care too much to replace.

Since the hot summer temps have arrived, here are some items that are easy to "want" new, but sometimes we forget that we have their older counterparts from past summers that need to be removed from our homes first:
  • swimsuits
  • swim towels
  • wide-brimmed hats and baseball caps
  • beach toys
  • beach bags
  • gardening shoes
  • gardening supplies
  • luggages
  • backpacks
  • coolers
  • picnic baskets
  • kites
  • sports equipments
  • summer clothes
  • flip-flops and sandals
  • books
  • DVDs
  • BBQ grills
  • outdoor patio furnitures
  • cookware and cooking utensils
  • fishing gears and supplies
  • camping gears and supplies
  • surfboards, wakeboards, skis
  • cameras and video cameras
  • and everything else under the same

It's easy to get caught up with deals and sales online and at stores, but if you follow the "One In, One Out" rule before purchasing something you thought you just had to have, chances are - when you return home to get "something(s)" out, you may end up forgetting what it was you wanted in the first place.

Take The "Switch 2 In 2 Challenge" on June 1-2, 2012! Sign Up Today!

The challenge is to switch 2 plastic items you use to more sustainable materials (glass, stainless steel, wood, aluminum, etc.) in 2 days.

WHY?  Because most people are unaware that plastic is a huge issue, not just to our planet, but our health.  Plastic will NEVER break down. 2oz. of plastic will ALWAYS be 2oz. of plastic & can only be recycled or upcycled so many times.  When plastic is used for food or skin care containers, there are health concerns because plastic can leech, especially when warmed up. BPA is not the only harmful chemical in plastic, it's just one that has come to the public's attention.

Here are some ideas to help you get started: 

  • plastic cups to reusable glass or stainless steel containers
  • plastic hampers to wooden baskets
  • plastic baskets or bins to wicker storage containers
  • plastic disposable diapers to cloth diapers
  • plastic grocery bags to reusable totes

When you sign up you will be entered to win a "THE" BALM! $50 Gift Card!  "THE" BALM! products are always stored in sustainable containers.  By submitting this form, you are agreeing to participate in the "Switch 2 in 2 Challenge." And hey, we understand - things happen, so if for some reason you aren't able to participate after signing up, please be honest and email Thincskin so that they can take you out of the giveaway and keep a correct count.

Sign up TODAY!

Shop the Memorial Day Blowout Sale at One Kings Lane

On Memorial Day, head on over to the One Kings Lane site and check out all their sale items.  Summer is here, and you can complete the family barbecues and friendly gatherings with simple home decor, bright and colorful serving dishes, and wine coolers that are sure to get everyone talking and having a good time.  Here are some of these cool products you could buy for yourself or to give as hostess gifts:

If you haven't signed up to become a member yet (it's FREE!), now is the time.  You'll receive a $15 credit for purchases of $30 or more!  Great way to save some moolah!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Save Our Planet Saturday: Living a Non-Toxic Lifestyle (Part 1)

We finally did it!  It was inevitable, almost predictable.  After researching websites and personal blogs, reading books and magazines, and watching countless documentaries and movies in the last couple of years, it was bound to happen. Per my Wordless Wednesday post this past week, our family has officially declared war on harmful chemicals and toxins in our home.  We have combed through our cabinets, cupboards, closets, drawers, and even our garage, searching for products that been contributing to the toxicity in our home, however invisible it may have been all these years.  

For a while, I was one of those "extreme couponers," making sure I didn't pay full-price for anything. I may have not had my own personal garage or closet(s) that were filled from top to bottom and wall to wall with items I got for awesome prices, but for a time, I had stockpiles of food, drinks, cleaning products, laundry detergents, air fresheners, perfume samples, hair products, etc.  I was happy and proud of my accomplishment, thinking to myself, "We did good. We saved lots of money, and we have bought enough to keep us going for weeks, if not months."

Little did I know that I by saving all that money, I was inviting discomfort, irritability, uneasiness, and possible unhappiness to our home.  All those chemicals, some claiming to be non-toxic, in small doses and portions all add up to huge and profound effects later, if they haven't already. Before making the switch to organic foods last summer, we were already adding unhealthy products into our bodies, but I was oblivious to everything else that could be harming me and my family.  Maybe, just a little bit of me, knew, or at least, thought that these awesome deals I was bringing home in bulk weren't as great in value as I had thought, but I felt so good not paying full-price for them.  I was elated that we were able to continue being a one-income family, raising multiple kids...AND without going broke!

Last weekend, we packed up our bins of awesome deals and headed for the toxic waste drop-off center.  In that short time it took us to get there, my husband and I were feeling light-headed and squeamish.  And at one time, we actually had to pull over, because my daughter needed to vomit. A few years back, I felt guilty and nervous about letting anything go to waste.  I hated the feeling I got when I overspent or threw things away.  But this time....when I saw the influence that those "proud moments" had on me and my family, I was glad and unregretting about throwing away money.  We walked into our home, and we smelt out first real clean, priceless accomplishment. Now, we are on our way to finding and having only all-natural products in our home.

Our motivation and journey to living toxic-free was inspired by the documentary, "Chemerical," by activist and filmmaker Andrew Nisker.  Here's a little snippet of the movie that is helping cultivate and shape our green home.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Frugal Living Friday: Fill Your Toy Box With One Kings Lane

In the last few years, I have become pretty particular about items we as a family purchase for ourselves, our home, our healths, etc.  And with the arrival of baby #3 last summer, it became very apparent just how serious we really were.  Thus far, we have only fed him organic foods, and we have bought BPA-free, non-toxic toys only.  That's why I love it when I find awesome deals on kid products that I know my children will love without having to worry about any long-term health problems later.  One Kings Lane has such a section on their site called The Toy Box.  They offer crowd-favorites like Melissa & Doug, KidKraft, and Tree Hopper Toys, and right now, they're having a sale!

Head on over to One Kings Lane and check out the sweet toys your kiddos will sure to love having this summer (and always):

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Going Non-Toxic

After watching the documentary, "Chemerical," and visiting the Environmental Working Group website and finding out we had some of the worst cleaning products in our home, we have decided to go non-toxic.  Here's our stash:

Getting Ready For Simplified & Organized Summer Camps With Mabel's Labels

It's almost summertime, and children are counting down the days until they're dropped off at camp! Help the summer campers in your life stay organized this camp season with Mabel's Labels. The Limited Edition Camp Combo Packs are UV resistant, waterproof labels and tags designed especially for everything that goes to summer camp. Identify clothes, footwear, toiletries, swim gear, backpacks and more with this seasonal essential. Best of all, save 10% when you buy 2 or more Limited Edition Camp Combo Packs now through 6/22 with promo code KIDS2CAMP. Happy Summer! 

Amazing Deals from Plum District - Limited Time Only!

If you're a bargain-hunter like me and love the idea of finding awesome, not to mention eco-friendly and sustainable, deals online in a comfortable and wonderful shaded place we call home, then Plum District is another site you should definitely visit, if you haven't already.  They offer daily deals, and sign-up is easy and free!  Here are some of this week's awesome steals:

These deals end soon - get them while they're hot!!!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Minimalist Monday: Waking Up To A Different Monday

At one time in my life, before I became a wife and stay-at-home Mom to 3 loving, yet demanding children, I had an even busier schedule, which is hard for me to imagine that it was even at all possible.  But I did.  All day long, I ran around like a chicken with her head cut off, trying to stay afloat at my day job till about 6 or 7 at night, picking up a small dinner on the way home, turning on my computer to work on magazine articles till about 2 in the morning, attending a networking event or show every other day, all the while having my phone attached to me as if my life depended on it.  And it did.  That was how I ran my life for a few years.  All work, no (real) play.  I think if I kept at it any longer, I would have had a breakdown.

These days, my life is hectic in different ways.  I still feel that there are days I want to pull my hair out and just cry for no reason, but it's something that I'm learning to fix slowly and carefully.  Even though my days now revolve around raising children and keeping them happy, managing and keeping the home clean (enough) and welcoming, leading a new Girl Scout Troop and making sure they stay busy, finding creative ways to keep us living healthy and green on one income, and trying very hard to keep this little blog going, it seems my life is not any less hectic or crazy as it was years ago.  I still have my phone attached to me, and I'm constantly checking my emails.  Ah!!!

Originally, I was going to title this Minimalist Monday post, "No More Mondays."  But after I started writing, I realized, I will always have Mondays.  And as my husband said this past Sunday when he grunted about how the weekend was ending, and how I agreed that I can't stand Mondays, "Your days are the same everyday.  They run all together."  And that's true.  My weekdays are no different from my weekends, except for the the fact that I get to enjoy them with my hubby, and it gives me a break from running around after the kids. We will always have Mondays, no matter what kind of job you land, where you settle your home, and even when you become debt-free.  It's just a matter of how you choose to wake up Monday morning, and what you decide to do that day and the rest of your week.

Life is funny like that.  We grow and adapt to our environments, only to transition to the same type of life only in different settings and different perspectives.  So, what can we do to change that?  What can we do to live a simpler, less stressful life? It's all in our behavior.  It's all in what we choose to change - the habits we have made, the schedules we have created, the people we surround ourselves with, the endless lists that never gets thrown away.  It's not going to happen for us.  WE have to do it!

Now, it doesn't have to occur all at one time.  And it doesn't have to happen in one area of your life.  There are so many different aspects that we didn't know we could lessen or remove all together to help breathe easier and live better.  Here are some of my suggestions that I know I can work on, and perhaps they strike a chord with you:

  • Email accounts.  I have 9.  Why?  Don't ask.  But I do, and having that many means receiving 9 times more emails than I need to have.  Time to reduce and get more time back.
  • Books currently reading or perusing.  I don't know why I thought it was a good idea to have two different books, along with another one on Kindle, to take turns flipping through, but I did.  I have yet to finish one of them.  Definitely a bad idea!
  • Craft projects.  I like to tinker in a lot of different, artsy things.  They don't take too long, but when I start to do them all at the same time, I get so involved, and it takes all of my time from everything else, including my kids.  And let's not mention that mess it makes in my home.  Fabric, ribbons, hot glue guns and glue sticks, scissors, pictures, envelopes, craft paper - you name it - they take over FAST.
  • Magazine subscriptions.  Now, I've actually gotten pretty good about canceling subscriptions to parenting, kids, home, and cooking magazines.  Now, if only I can make time to read all of the ones I have accumulated since 2010.  Ah!
  • Shows on DVR.  We don't actually have a DVR.  We haven't had cable in almost a year.  But, we do have Netflix.  And they have an "Instant Que" section that is almost like a DVR where you add shows or movies you want to watch later.  I won't even begin to tell you how many are on there, most of which are documentaries that I would really like to see, but I have no idea when I'm ever going to get to them.
  • Sending out birthday cards.  For a good while, I was a very organized and punctual person when it came to mailing out cards to family and friends.  Then when the kids came, I resorted to mailing out cards and letters at the end of the month, still proud that they went out even though they were late.  And now...well...I'm lucky if I remember to look on my calendar.  But I've gotten better at looking at my phone reminders, and if I do anything at all, I at least text message people.
  • Scheduling in a girls night.  My husband has gone camping or tubing with his friends every year for the past 3 years.  They know that it's the ladies' turn.  But somehow one of us is always pregnant or nursing and unable to enjoy a margarita or two.  And this year is no different.  So, instead of trying to pencil in a weekend getaway, we're trying to at least work in a couple of hours of relaxation every few months.  I would definitely be happy with one of those every now and then than have nothing at all.
  • Having too many activities for the kids.  Summer is practically here, and when the kids are not in school, we want to make sure they stay as busy and free of boredom.  I homeschool my children, so their schedules kind of run together like mine, but it doesn't stop me from looking for classes and events for them to attend.  Children get burned out as much as adults, if not faster.  They can only do so much in a 24-hour time period before they begin to show you that they've had enough.  Slowing down and enjoying more of your life also means making sure your kids are on the same track.
  • Removing negativity from our daily lives.  This one is a toughy, especially if that negativity is from someone at work, your family, or your marriage.  And it may take a lot of planning, counseling, and mediating, and in the long run, the negativity may still be there, but we all deserve happiness.  We all deserve a healthy, peaceful, stress-free state of mind, and we all have to do whatever it takes to achieve that.
I know I have more that I would like to work on, and as mentioned before, some of these may ring a bell with you.  Not everyone who will read this post are SAHMs, and so your "list" will be different from mine.  I don't workout at a gym, but maybe you do, and perhaps spending an hour there everyday after work doesn't leave you much time for anything else.  Or social networking  is marked down in your calendar more times than your planner has room for.  Or there are freelance jobs that need to be completed in addition to your 9-5 job.  We all have different lives and different circumstances that result in our Mondays being different.  But as I start to list things off for me, I'm noticing that writing this is already taking up much of my day.  I'm going to take off, work on having a different Monday for me and my children, and breathe a little.  I hope the same for you.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Tea Collection Facebook Liking Spree

If you haven't shopped at Tea Collection yet, now is definitely the time!  Logging onto Facebook has become a daily habit for most people, so when you are checking out your family or friend's statuses today and adding your own, be sure to visit Tea Collection's page and vote for your favorite girl dresses and/or boys tops. Once an item has received 1,000 Facebook Likes, it will go on sale - $15 dresses and $10 boys tops! Pretty cool, right?  I have already voted for some of my favorite items like the Artisan Ikat Knot Dress for girls and the Bali Rocks Tee for boys. Vote for your favorite girls dresses and boys tops to be sure that the items on your Wish List go on sale. Happy Liking! 

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: And It's Not Even Summer

Just A Few Fun Facts About Mums, Mum's Day, & Some Gift Ideas from Plum District

Still don't know what to get the awesome Mom in your life for Mother's Day, Plum District has some awesome last-minute gifts she is sure to love, including:

  • $20 for $40 towards Eco-Friendly Bath, Beauty and Home Products from Nordicals
  • $24 for a 6-Month Subscription to Gluten-Free Recipe and Menu Planner
  • $18 for an 8.75" x 11" Hardcover Photowrap Photobook from PhotoBin
  • $8 for a DIY Beauty Cookbook + $15 to Spend on Beauty Products from Bloom
  • $15 for $30 Towards Vitamins, Supplements, and More from Pure Matters + FREE Shipping

Also, have the kiddos get in on the fun by creating a mini-video for Mom, and she could win $500 Plum dollars!  How about that for a gift?!

Remember, with Plum District, you can always sign up (for free!) to get daily deals emailed to you to surprise Mom any day of the year.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Gifts For Your Mother and Mother Earth

Lower mom’s carbon footprint this year by giving green this Mother’s Day, May 13th.

"Making changes in our lunchtime habits is an easy first step toward a more eco-friendly lifestyle," says Sandra Harris, president of specializing in no-waste and non-toxic lunchware for children and adults.

"I was so tired of our family's over-reliance on leaching plastics food containers, plastic baggies and other throw-aways," explains Harris, a Lafayette, Calif. resident. "I started so people could choose to pack their lunches in a way that's healthy for people and the planet. I truly believe that lunch by lunch we can green the world a whole bunch."

An average U.S. family spends about $400 extra on disposable lunchware and creates about 4,320 pieces of trash unnecessarily, according to the results of a Lunchbox Waste Study completed by ECOlunchboxes.

How to pack waste-free lunches:
  1. sandwiches and other main dishes, fresh fruits and  vegetables, and treats packed in a reusable, non-plastic container
  2. machine washable cloth napkins
  3. stainless-steel forks and spoons
  4. reusable, non-toxic drink containers
  5. reusable, dishwasher safe non-toxic BPA free lunchbox
"There are multiple bottom lines," says Sandra Harris, whose company is certified through the Bay Area Green Business Program. "When we green our lunches, the environment and our pocketbooks are both winners."

PROMO OFFER: Enter "motherearth" in the coupon code field at check-out to receive your FREE ECOdipper stainless steel snack container! $25 minimum purchase required. Expires 5/20/2012.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Tea Collection Wins 2012 Cribsie Award

A couple of months ago, I had posted for the first time about Tea Collection, a unique clothing line that offers beautiful, worldly-inspired fashion for children and women, giving you a chance to look like you had traveled a thousand miles to another country without actually ever stepping one foot onto a plane.  Tea Collection has recently been awarded with the 2012 "Stylish Tot" Cribsie Award! Tea Collection is committed to designing distinctive fashion collections for children influenced by different cultures around the world. I am overjoyed that Tea Collection has been awarded one of the most coveted awards in the Baby Industry! Tea Collection was one of 6 nominees up for the award with popular brands such as Ralph Lauren, Stella McCartney Kids, J. Crew, Splendid Littles, and Appaman. It's definitely well-deserved!  Visit Tea Collection today and view their new summer collection - perfect for those upcoming family vacations. Enjoy! 

Wordless Wednesday: My Newest Favorite Animal

This animal is known as the Leaping Bunny, a symbol that you can find on the packaging of products that have not been tested on animals.  Pretty awesome, right?  Stay tuned for a more in-depth post on this bunny, and how you can find cruelty-free products at your favorite stores or online sites.

Don't forget to enter the giveaways on our blog.  Good luck!

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