Thursday, March 29, 2012

Vanity Strikes Again!

A few months ago (about 4) I blogged about researching a "safe" temporary hair color. I posted that I had done some research and found Clairol Natural Instincts Demi-Permanant. So I'm officially making a post that says this brand is NOT temporary!!! I decided that black would be fun to play with. I did blond in college, red in high school, highlights my first year working, but black was new. And what the heck? it only lasts 28 days, right??? *Not Quite.* After 4 months (and using Dawn dish soap to wash my hair) it was STILL in there, but only in the middle, the roots and ends were my natural color. So I was stuck with a mess. I turned to my stylist who suggest a bleach/shampoo wash would work...but it didn't...neither did just the bleach wash. So now my hair was slightly lightened from the bleach, but still black from the "temporary" color in some spots. So I had to color it again, another demi-permanant that my stylist matched to my natural color...but it didn't work because it was too light to color that !@#$%^ black!!!!! So we had to do a shade darker...and I'm back to dark brown hair, which is what I went in to fix!! (At least now it's all one color and not splotchy).
So what did I learn from this?? First, if you're trying to be green and natural--STICK TO YOUR NATURAL hair color!! I'm not really sure what part of adding chemicals to my hair to make it change color seemed OK to me, but now I've learned my lesson. I also learned that coloring your hair while pregnant can make it do funky things. Had I KNOW I was pregnant when I did the black I never would have tried it, but I didn't and I did so now I have to live with my mistake. It's just like the acrylic nails. I sit in that salon and everyone around me looks so PRETTY! I have on my maternity yoga pants and a too-small sweatshirt of my husband's that I've claimed that I don't care if it gets bleach splashed on it. It all combines to make me think, "I need this to look pretty, just like them!" (FABULOUS marketing by the way salon-folk!) But then my little girl (?? the ultrasound tech said she was being uncooperative so she's only 60% sure this kid is a girl.) fluttered a little and put things in perspective for me. I remembered why I started on this whole journey 3 years ago when I was pregnant with my third. I don't want ANY of those chemicals leaching into her little world, no matter HOW much I feel like I need to beautify myself.


I was talking to some friends/family last weekend about healthy eating. Again and again, dairy comes up. We eat quite a bit of dairy, or I should say, I do. Yogurt, cottage cheese, milk on cereal, cheese on salads and in casseroles. I use dairy as one of my main sources of protein (Greek yogurt has almost 20 grams of protein per serving!) After talking to these people I decided I need to cut out dairy. So I started trying to do it mentally first. Each time I ate something dairy, I would make a mental note and see what I could substitute instead. (As I think I mentioned before I'm also trying to cut out this is going to be a little more difficult.) I realized that I eat dairy and don't really even notice that I am. I got ice cream at the lunch in which we were talking about how bad dairy is for you!!!! Didn't even connect until I started eating the ice cream. (I'm going to go ahead and play the "baby brain" card here. I never believed it existed until this 4th kid! I forgot the term "laundry detergent" and had to call it "the soap you use to wash your clothes"!!!!) Anyway, I had a realization last night at the grocery store as I was standing in front of all the milks (I got rice and coconut, just for variety). I don't have to cut out all dairy. I get so caught up in this stuff that I want to fix it all NOW. I don't NEED to do that. If I just switch to non-dairy milk to start with, that's a good start. I've stopped adding yogurt to my smoothies and I'm going to stop giving my kids yogurt as well. "Inch by inch, life's a cinch. Yard by yard, it's very hard." Why can't I ever seem to remember that?!?!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Winter Farmer's Markets

We're always told to eat locally. That's hard in Ohio in the winter...or is it? I never knew that there are a few winter farmer's markets near me until my co-author :) sent me this video clip. I'll have to check it out!

I looked up the Kent Farmer's Market and these are the dates/times they're open:
Remaining Haymaker Winter Market Dates
At Kent Roosevelt High School in the auditorium lobby, 9am – noon:
March 17
March 24
April 7
April 21
May 5

The Green Off-Season Farmer's Market is open these dates and times with these vendors:

The City of Green Off-Season at the John Torok Community/Senior Center will continue once a month throughout the winter months. The next Off-Season Market of 2012 is Tuesday, March 13 from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., followed by Tuesday, April 10, and Tuesday, May 8 from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Off-Season Market Vendors:

Aida's Bakery - Pastries
Bittner Bees - Honey and bees wax
R & T Hawk Meats, LLC - Grass-fed Beef, pork, and free-range chicken
Noon Sharpening - Blade sharpening
Our Daily Bread - baked goods
Out of a Garden - Vegetarian patties
The Pierogie Lady - Pierogies and sausage sandwiches
Whipple Farms - Eggs

I didn't post everything from Kent, but they have a lot more produce, greens, herbs and such. Or you can always just order from Breezy Hill Farms and pick up your order in North Canton! (I sent my second order in today!)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Home-Made Potato Chips

My mom got me yet ANOTHER fun green present for my birthday. It's a Mastred chip maker. It came as a set with a mandolin and a microwavable plate to make the chips. It's really fast, just slice a potato, sweet potato, mango or pear, put the slices on the plate (which can be stacked in the micro if you have more than one plate) and microwave for about 3 minutes. We've only done white potatoes so far, but they tasted like baked potato chips. If you want to add any kind of seasoning, you're supposed to do it once they're cooked. We added my daughter's favorite sprinkle (Seasoned Salt) but just like I thought, it didn't stick too well, which I guess isn't really a bad thing. I'm really excited to try pear chips and baked potato chips as well. I'll be honest and say I'm TERRIFIED of the mandolin, but it works pretty well and I feel like as long as I'm careful, I won't lose the tips of my fingers! My complaint is that the plate is pretty small (it holds about 1/2 potato, sliced) so it took a long time to make enough chips for the 5 of us, especially when they kept disappearing from the bowl as I was making them! Of course I could solve this problem by getting another plate, because as I said, you can do more than one at a time in the microwave. So there you go Gervasi Lunch Crowd. There's the blog about my chip maker!

Friday, March 23, 2012

News from The Wilderness Center

I've blogged about The Wilderness Center, in Wilmont, OH, before. I think I talked about their Enchanted Forest we went to around Halloween. My mom is a member and gets their newsletter online. She thought I might find this article interesting, and in fact, I found it so interesting, I'm going to repost it here. It's written by Joann Ballbech, their Education Director. If you've never had the chance to visit the Wilderness Center, it's not far from the Canton area and I'd recommend going. It's really a neat place. I always forget it's there, but I'm thinking about it now, it might be a great place to visit this spring break with my kids. It's a great way to get outside and DO something! Anyway, here's the article.

Hypocrites for the Environment
This month, in honor of Earth Day, I'm going to indulge in
a little environmentalism.
I care about the environment. I try to act for the environment.
To me, that's what an environmentalist is-a person
who cares about the environment and acts, in big or small
ways, to protect it. I'll bet, since you're reading this, you care
about the environment, too. You probably act to protect it.
Yet, although I think of myself as an environmentalist, I don't
read environmental books. So many of them are "preachy,"
doom-and-gloom, or both. Those approaches to the environment
(or, really, to any subject) leave me cold. They don't
inspire or empower me-they make me want to run away.
So I was delighted to find an environmental book that was
neither. I actually read it! My Green Manifesto: Down the
Charles River in Search of a New Environmentalism by David
Gessner is funny and inspiring. We interviewed Gessner for
Wild Ideas...the Podcast, in episode 147.
Gessner puts forth many ideas. I found myself thinking
"amen!" over and over again. One idea in particular was brand
new to me-environmental hypocrisy.
I know I'm not perfectly green. I drive a car and heat with
gas. I create trash, eat non-local foods, and waste electricity.
I'm not a paradigm of environmentalism and look up to many
of you who do much more than I do.
I try. I drive a higher-mileage car and keep the thermostat
down. I reuse what I can to generate very little trash, join a
CSA each summer, and replace worn-out appliances with
more energy-efficient models.
Yet, there are some things I just don't want to give up. I love
long hot showers and sit coms. (Talk about wasting electricity!)
I like having an automatic transmission. I love some
very non-local foods like oranges and tea. (That's enough.
I don't want to tell you all my environmental "sins.") And
I'm sure there are some environmental actions I've barely
Before My Green Manifesto, I really let that bother me.
How could I take a stand on anything, when things I do
cause the demand for it? I felt like a hypocrite and let my
hypocrisy handcuff me.
But of course no one's perfect. In fact, no one can be perfect.
We all, even the "greenest" among us, impact the environment
simply by existing. Even though we care for and about
the environment, we have to be hypocrites. We can't live up
to our own best intentions perfectly. We are hypocrites. We
act for the environment.
So, here's the environmental advice I'm taking to heart.
First, know that I can't be perfect. I will damage the environment.
Then do what I can to damage it less. If we all let
our environmental "sins" stop us from all action, no action
will ever be taken.
I'm convinced that every effort helps, even though every
effort made is by us, the hypocrites. We'll "talk the talk" and
do our best to walk the walk. We know we'll stumble on the
way. But, when we do, we'll still keep trying.
By: Joann Ballbach, Education Director"

Pick-Up Part Two

Yesterday was pick up day at Hazel Artisan bakery for Breezy Hill Farm. IT WAS GREAT! I got some whole wheat chocolate chip cookies for the family for dessert. We had the salad last night and it was really good! Lots of mixed greens, it looked like baby swiss chard, which is FANTASTIC for you. I haven't tried the eggs or the spinach yet, but it all looked good. The eggs are very pretty, different sizes and shades of brown--they LOOK healthy and natural at least! I was really impressed with the bakery/cafe too. It smelled SO GOOD in there and their cafe menu looked VERY good. I can't find a web page to link you to, but while I was in there I overheard a meeting with the owners(?) and a web designer, so I think there's one coming! I'm excited to give the cafe a try and I was very happy with the whole Breezy Hill pick-up experience. There were about 3 other people in there during the time I was there that were also picking up from BHF so I'm hoping it's going to be a lasting venture. I can't wait to see what they have next week!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Pick Up Day

Today it Thursday and it's my day to pick up my produce and eggs that I ordered from Breezy Hill Farm. I only ordered a dozen eggs, salad and spinach, so it's a small sample to begin with, but I'm excited to see how it is. I liked how they tell you EXACTLY how much you're going to get (in oz) instead of saying a "bunch" or a "bag". I know what to expect, which is one thing I didn't like about my CSA, but that wasn't really their fault, it just depended on the harvest for the week.

This also has me thinking about what I'm going to plant in our garden this year. I keep asking the kids for suggestions, but apples keep coming up so I'm not really sure they really GET the whole garden thing. This might be a decision I make on my own. I'll have to go to the garden center and see what they have. I DO know that they're all really excited to DIG in our garden so that might come in handy when it's time to clean it up for planting!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wash Day

This title is kind of silly since EVERYDAY is wash day for me, but I was digging out my Easter decorations over the weekend and found a Christmas gift that I had stored until the weather got clothesline! I was JUST thinking the other day how I needed to get the diapers outside in the sun to bleach them a little and then I remembered about my clothesline! I know that as soon as I finally get the thing up outside it will either rain the next day or the weather will go back to being all gross and Ohioy, but maybe I can at least get a few days out of it.

Speaking of the nice weather, I was out running errands with the little kids Monday and almost drove over the the nursery to get some seeds or plants to put in the vegetable garden...then I realized it's only mid-March. I'm still a novice about gardening, so I'm not sure what the rules are when the weather turns warm so early. I got my email from Breezy Hill Farm (that does the organic produce that can be picked up at Hazel Artisan Bakery) and he mentioned how detrimental it will be to the fruit plants and trees if we get a frost now that they've all bloomed so early. Guess I should probably wait on my plantings.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Book Club

OK, so I keep mentioning this book that I'm reading and I hate to say I'm enjoying it, because it's kind of disturbing and scary, but I will say I'm fascinated with it. I keep reading and thinking, "I need to blog about THIS!" But I realize this is not a book club and if you WANT to read the book, you will, so I won't bore you with weeks and weeks of blog posts that are summarizing my news book obsession. So what I've decided to do is post a link to the Kiwi College Webinar that I took in which I "won" the book for free. It's put on by the author, Robyn O'Brien, and it's a pretty good summary of what I've read so far. The entire webinar is 45 minutes, but the last 15-20 are actually questions for attendees so you don't really need to listen to all that, but it's REALLY an interesting! She talks about the growing allergy epidemic, GMOs and our food supply. So here it is. I'll do my best to stop talking about the book now.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

It's What's For Dinner

Since I've been reading this book, The Unhealthy Truth, I've changed my dinner planning. I usually sit down once a week, plan dinners for the week and make a grocery list. This week, as I was planning, I decided I was going to COOK since I've been reading about all the dangers in processed foods and I'm going to make a conscious effort to try to reduce the amount of soy my family eats...which from reading boxes is going to to be harder than I thought! I've decided to start making our bread again, much to my husband's dismay, I'm sure. I read the list of ingredients and I feel a lot better feeding my family bread with only 6 ingredients that I know are natural and organic, than grabbing a loaf which doesn't contain high-fructose corn syrup, but DOES contain a two inch long ingredient list on the label!
In addition to cooking, I'm planning the meals differently. I'm going to use the new food pyramid, MyPlate, and make sure my family's plates are divided into about equal quarters of veggies, fruit, grains and protein. As usual, I'm struggling with the grains...why is it so hard to find good rice recipes?!?! For this week, I think I'm doing ok. Next week I'll try to delete even more processed foods from our diets, I'm thinking breakfasts, and see how it goes. I think if I work at this slowly, and I've BEEN working on it for awhile, so it's not like we've been eating nuggets and mac n cheese every night, I can transform our family meals into something I feel comfortable with. Maybe THEN I can read books about the dangers of our food supply and feel GOOD about what my family eats. Of course, I think I might need to quadruple the size of our backyard garden and buy a few chickens and goats for that to REALLY happen, but for now, I'll start with homemade bread.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Dangers of Soy

I'm really enjoying this book I'm reading, The Unhealthy Truth. The last section I read last night before I went to bed was about soy. I've know for awhile that soy is an estrogen mimic and that it can cause various problems in both males and females, but it was good (?) to reread the information again and be reminded just how harmful these estrogen mimics can be. This is especially true since I've been taking short-cuts with both my family's and my meals, using cans of chili for lunch, veggie dogs and burgers for the was just eye-opening (again!) to hear about how harmful soy can actually be. I've read so many books and so much information that it's hard to keep it all in the forefront of my mind. Rereading things about soy, for example, really helps cement it in my head. So I've been checking labels in my house today to see what soy has been added to, that I wouldn't think it was. So far, I've only checked 3 labels (it's still early!!!) and out of those 3, I found that 2 of them contained soy. So when I previoulsy read about the dangers of soy, and filed it in my brain that it's not bad, if in moderation (I was thinking about the occasional side of edemame) it's ok, but then I realized, I'm not getting it occasionally. I'm getting it in multiple doses at each meal! So I'm going to keep going with my book and read more and more about how I'm poisoning this poor fetus as well as the rest of my family, but this time, instead of feeling overwhelmed, I feel a little stronger, and better able to answer the questions, "Then what AM I supposed to eat?!?!?!" Hopefully this book answers THAT question too! It's really a pretty good read, I recommend checking it out!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


In past blogs I've whined about needing to read something that keeps me motivated to keep eating organic foods, and living green. Yesterday I started reading a book that I won from a Kiwi Webinar I did over the summer. It's called "The Unhealthy Truth" by Robin O'Brien. So far it's mostly talking about food allergies and why they're on the rise in our kids. It goes on to talk about our food supply and all that other stuff that I love to read about that everyone in my family calls my "hippie stuff". No one in my family has food allergies, but I still found it really interesting. She did talk a little about eczema (which my oldest has) and some other uncommon manifestations of allergies, including inattention and dark circles under the eyes. THIS really interested my because THAT's my oldest! I'm excited to read more and see what I may be able to tweak in his diet and see if it really is an allergy. It's not light reading, but I'm ready to get back in the game and start reading more than just novels (although I do highly recommend my book club book for this month Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger!).

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


I'm so excited about this. I've posted before about how we did the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) a few years ago and the pros and cons for our family for buying a CSA share. I've decided against it again this year, but now I have another option...and so do you (if you live in the Canton area.) Breezy Hill Farm in Homeworth, OH is a sustainably run farm that is offering a CSA like program. When you sign up for their newsletter (by emailing they will send you a newsletter on Monday giving you available produce and prices for the week (they also have cage free eggs). You respond back by email or phone by Wednesday and then on Thursday, you pick up your order at Hazel Artisan Bakery in North Canton (behind Ro's Ice Cream stand). I will no longer get produce I don't want or need, I can get local, free-range eggs for over a dollar less per dozen than I'm paying now and the pick-up is 5 minutes away! SUPER COOL!!!!! The down side to it is that my kids don't experience the farm part, which I found was actually a really educational and eye-opening experience for them, but it's a trade-off. The other great thing about Breezy Hill is that they grow some of their produce in high tunnels, kind of like greenhouses, so right now, they have a fresh crop of greens for sale! It's a great idea and I'm excited to try it out!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Signs of Spring

I got an email from Slow Food (I know, you get to hear about ANOTHER email I got!) but this one started out with a message from the president talking about spring in his town in Vermont. He talked about tapping the maple trees and said that you need to boil 40 gallons of sap to get 1 gallon of syrup (and there's your fun fact for the day!). I guess that explains why it's so expensive to buy pure maple syrup! So his email got me thinking about signs of spring that I see. Yesterday felt so springy in Ohio. I had the windows open and the kids were running inside and outside and dragging in dirt to my freshly swept floor, the air smelled fresh, my husband got out the bike the kids got him for Christmas and went on a short bike ride (side note, a $80 bike from Target is not the best buy), we took ALL the kids (there was a bit of an episode when only my oldest got to go with Dad) across the street and let them ride their bikes in the HUGE church parking lot. It felt like spring was truly here and I remembered what it felt like to be outside again. Of all the seasons, spring is actually my least favorite, but there is something about those few spring days when I can best describe it as "hopeful". Winter feels like it's over, summer isn't far away, hopeful.

Some people count on the crocus to tell them spring is here, for some, it's the green stalks of tulips and daffodils, but for my, it's the !@#$% willow tree in my back yard. That tree and I have a love/hate relationship (actually, I'm not really sure of the Tree's feelings for ME, but I can speak to how I feel about The Tree.) If you've ever seen my willow in my back yard, you can't deny that it's a beautiful tree. My kids can hang from the wispy branches and swing like Tarzan. When the wind blows you actually CAN hear it whisper in the willow. However, that !@#$% tree drops branches ALL YEAR! It is the messiest tree EVER! But, you take the good with the bad, and my willow is my season-meter. The earliest signs of spring I see are the teeny tiny yellow buds that start on my willow. I watch it from my kitchen window and as the weather turns warmer, those buds get bigger and bigger, until they're tiny green leaves. It's always encouraging for me as we slide back into gross cold weather after these few warm days to see that my willow is still forging ahead to spring, no matter how it may look outside today. Next thing I know, I'll be sitting with my family watching a summer thunderstorm on the glider in the Florida room counting, seconds between lightening and thunder and hoping no big limbs fall off my willow.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Dip For Dinner

Last night we had dip for dinner. Most kids love dips, but mine really aren't that big of fans. My daughter had been asking for chocolate fondue so I thought I'd try doing mostly dips for dinner. So for our fruit we dipped bananas, apples and strawberries in chocolate fondue (from Deceptively Delicious so it's made with avocado and carrot purees) and our veggies were raw peppers, carrots, cucumbers and broccoli in a greek dip (also from Deceptively Delicious made with chickpeas and artichoke hearts). Just to make it not too healthy we also had hot dogs (veggie dogs and all beef organic hot dogs--I'm not TOTALLY losing it!). It was a pretty popular dinner for the most part. My oldest ate mostly his hot dog and the raw veggie and fruit, without dipping, which was fine, my youngest son ate everything except the veggie dog (which is fine because he ate a TON of broccoli, albeit dipped in the chocolate fondue!) and my daughter, who usually eats about two tiny nibbles for dinner, no exaggeration here, ate pretty well. A few bites of hot dog, and lots of fruit dipped in the chocolate fondue (and the just dipped her finger in the fondue, which is also great because she was eating avocado which she normally wouldn't do.) I really felt like it was a pretty good dinner, even though it was centered around hot dogs. I love that my kids are eating raw fruits and veggies and that even the dessert part of the dinner was healthy for them. Thanks Jessica Seinfeld!

OK, just decided to add a link to Jessica Seinfeld's page for the reference to her cookbook and found she has written another one! This is not the same idea, but I'm excited to check it out just the same. It also looks like she has a lot of recipes listed on the site...woohoo!! Check it out!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


As you can tell from my lack of blogging lately, I'm starting to lose a handle on things a little. I now have 3 kids in swimming and gymnastics, 2 in school, and one in dance, plus working and cleaning and household things...with this little one "sucking the life out of me" I'm having a hard time keeping up. So that's why I thought I'd look into Method products. I've been on the look-out for a good brand of green products that I can trust and I think I've found them. And the best part about Method products is, they're ACCESSIBLE!!! Giant Eagle carries them, Target carries them, I don't have to make a special trip out to get dish-soap. I've seen Method on the shelves for awhile, and I honestly thought that because they WERE sold at these kinds of stores, they probably WEREN'T that great, kind of like Clorox's GreenWorks line. But after doing some research online, not only are do Method's products look good, the company looks pretty green. All of their packaging is recycled, and designed to reduce waste. I LOVE that I can buy a bag of laundry detergent to refill my pump bottle of Method laundry detergent! It's also SUPER concentrated so I don't use as much! I also found that the company itself has a green agenda, buying energy credits to offset the energy that is produced from producing their products. Another thing that I like about Method is that, although I try to stay fragrance-free for most things because I feel like adding fragrance is just adding unnecessary chemicals to my products, Method's products smell really good! I've had lots of compliments on my Waterfall-scented hand soap. Also a bonus of Method products---price! I'm not saying they're the cheapest thing on the shelf, but they're not as expensive as some of the other green products, like Seventh Generation (also a great brand, but not as easy to find) or ECover (also a good brand). So hopefully my new friends and I can help conquer the dirt and grim that is my house in a fast and green way to leave me more time for the things I enjoy, running kids places, running errands and hopefully, sleeping!