Thursday, January 31, 2013

Fruit and Veggie Wash--Worth It?

When I started my bundle subscription with The Honest Co, I added fruit and veggie wash to my 5 item bundle.  I didn't need a lot of the items when I placed my first order, it looked interesting, so I thought I'd give it a try.  I like the idea of cleaning my food.  Who doesn't think fresh, clean produce sounds great?  But is it worth it?  As I'm cutting corners and straying from some organic produce lately (I feel AWFUL about this!  I literally feel like I'm watching my kids ingest poison as they eat conventional peppers!  I don't care if it's more expensive, I'm going back to organics!) I started wondering, can fruit and veggie wash take the place of organics?  If I use this spray, will it just wash off the pesticides and make the conventional food just as safe as the organic?

The Honest Co.'s Fruit & Veggie Wash

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Alec Post

Horrible things are happening at our house.  Caden's clothes no longer fit on baby hangers.  Olivia's getting crabby and chewing on things, signifying the end of toothless smiles.  It's Alec Season and he's not here.  North Canton City School have stolen him from me.  This is the first winter in 5 years that I haven't had Alec.  It's just another sign of the passing of time, but it makes me realize, yet again, that it's important to follow the advice of the wise, Ferris Bueller. "Life moves pretty fast.  If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you might miss it."  When I thought about blogging about this, at first I thought that it didn't really relate to being green, but I think it does.  For some reason I associate living a slower, more fulfilled life with living a greener life.  It's the "natural" connection.  I think that getting back to a more natural life also means slowing down and taking time to reflect on the now.  I try to do that, but it's so hard.  So today I'm taking a moment to reflect on now, and remember Alec-Seasons past.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Attention New Greenies! I found a book for you!

I got an an Amazon gift card for Christmas.  I literally got chills thinking about the books I could buy to read on my Kindle.  I got a few of my book club books (we're doing Kid Lit this time.  This month is Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool--very good!) then I hopped over to the green books section.  I have been saying that I want to read something else "green" because it helps keep me inspired.  I found memoirs, which looked good, but I was looking more for a how-to.  Sometimes the memoirs make me feel frustrated ("They're doing ABC, I should too.") So I bought Green, Greener, Greenest: A Practical Guide to Making Eco-Smart Choices a Part of Your Life by Lori Bongiorno. 
Green, Greener, Greenest: A Practical Guide to Making Eco-Smart Choices a Part of Your Life
I started reading it yesterday and I'm halfway through it already!  It's GREAT!  I you're one of those people who's told me, "I'd like to live greener, I'm just not sure where to start."  This book was written for you!  It's set up by chapters of different green topics, Food, Cleaning, Babies and Kids, Home Improvement and Building, Etc.  Since I'm reading it cover to cover, I've noticed that she's repeated herself a few times, which signifies to me that the book is designed to be read in sections. Don't have kids?  Skip that chapter.  Not improving your house, just skim that part. 
The title, Green, Greener, Greenest is also how the book is set up.  After she briefly explains a topic, she tells you what you can do to be green, greener and greenest.  For example, when she was discussing energy consumption under green she lists, changing one light bulb to an energy efficient one.  For greener, it may be two and for greenest change them all.  Cool, right? 
It's great because I feel like it gives you permission to just do a little bit.  Everyone says, every little bit helps, but when you read about any of these topics, it all seems so overwhelming.  I feel like I should install solar panels on my house and fence in the front yard and get a cow to supply my family with dairy.  (Ooooh!  Now THERE'S an interesting blog project!)
I will say that I'm not learning a whole lot from this book--which is great for newbies.  I've read LOTS of books about going green and this one is really a basic summary.  It just gives the basics.  There hasn't been a part that I've had to go back and reread to make sure I really understand the chemical process of how Clorox becomes dioxin and ends up in the hair follicles of polar bears.  It's just the basic overview, with just enough research citations and stats to make it interesting and credible.  (Not like you're reading just some crazy's blog post.) I'm using the highlight feature on my Kindle so I'm planning to add some of the interesting stats she has on here. 
The other thing I love about this book has nothing to do with the author or her writing style.  It's the year that it was published 2008.  Not a significant year, but it's so encouraging to see how far we've come in just 5 years.  The suggestions she's making in some areas are more common now (like the energy efficient light bulbs).  The products she's talking about (in the green cleaning sections for example and the organic foods) are not much more readily available.  Some of the changes she says will be coming, are here.  A lot of the "green" steps to take, you're probably already taken just because the information is out there, the products are easy to find and "everyone's doing it."  We're getting greener and fast!  THAT is inspiring to me!  This book was just the little boost I needed to keep me on the greener path. 
Well, I'm off to research dairy cows and Canton City's laws on housing livestock in residential areas.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Organics At Aldi!

I've been trying to trim our budget lately, and the easiest place to do that seems to be our grocery bill.  So I've been turning back to the stores I used to frequent before I started going green, namely Wal-Mart and Aldi.  I was a little disappointed in the organic selection at Wal-Mart.  I wasn't looking for a HUGE organic section, but I was hoping they'd have a few more items than just apples, carrots and ketchup.  After seeing Wal-Mart's selection, I was shocked when I went to Aldi the following week and found...organics!!  I never guessed I'd see anything organic at Aldi.  They had organic milk (Organic Valley, only 2% and it wasn't any cheaper than I could get the Wal-Mart brand of organic milk, but still-it was there!) and organic pasta sauce, spaghetti, olive oil, some kind of fruit snack and diced tomatoes.  I was there on a Saturday afternoon, and it was really busy, so I was doing my best to keep my eyes open for anything else they had that was organic, but I didn't really see too much,  oh except for the yogurt.  That was organic too.  They now have bread without high-fructose corn syrup, a recent development, since last time I was there.  I was so excited to have these options at such a cheap price!  I'm so proud of you, Aldi, for making the jump to organics.  I think that speaks volumes about America's growing organic movement! 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Recipe Friday: Snow Ice Cream

After the big snow we got after Christmas melted and we found Vince's Christmas toys that he buried in the snow, I remembered Snow Ice Cream.  After the snow melted...UGGG!  So, even though I blogged about this a long time ago, I'm putting the recipe up again, hopefully in time for the next big snow.  It only works with big fluffy snow.  Sooooo good!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Christine Challenge Update

Last week I decided I was going to stop using my dryer as much.  I got two new drying racks and started hanging up my laundry in the basement.  So far it's going GREAT!  I only put my towels in the dryer, everything else goes on the drying racks.   I was putting some things in the dryer to "fluff" on low heat, then KM commented on here and asked if you used the same wattage with just the air dry cycle. DOAH!  Why didn't I think of just using the air dry cycle for this!?!?  So now that's what I do, but only with the diapers.  I found that everything else softens up as soon as you put it on.  I only do it with some of the diapers too.  Some styles don't really need it. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cool Tool--Salad Spinner

I already mentioned the cool green thing my mom got me for Christmas, the Lily Pad Lids.  I forgot to mention the cool green thing my husband/kids got me.  It's a salad spinner, which I know doesn't seem green, but let me explain.  Ellie's new obsession is salad.  She discovered ranch dressing and now wants a salad with ranch all the time.  (I got a Buttermilk Ranch salad dressing mix from Penzey's Spices that I really need to make for her.)  Feeding a family of 6 salad (yes, I'm aware that one doesn't actually chew food yet) uses a lot of lettuce.  It takes a long time to chop and shred all the veggies I put in it and to be honest, I hated making salad because it took so long! 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Recipe Friday: Sesame-Carrot Quinoa Pilaf

My friend requested a quinoa recipe.  So here you go, Magel!

Sesame-Carrot Quinoa Pilaf

1 C quinoa, rinsed and drained
2C water
1 carrot, shredded
pinch of sea salt
2 TBSP toasted sesame seeds
2 tsp toasted sesame oil

Place quinoa in a pan over medium-low heat. Toast quinoa, stirring constantly, until aromatic, about 5 minutes.  Add water, carrot, and salt.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes or until water is absorbed.  Add seeds and oil and fluff gently with a fork to combine. 

* Yet another recipe from Cathe Olson's The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Yet ANOTHER post on cloth diapering

I know I've blogged about cloth diapering before, but for some reason, something so simple requires a lot of work!  There's a lot to know about cloth diapering, which I think is part of the thing that's so to a lot of people and turns them off to the whole thing.  There are so many different brands and styles, it's hard to know what's best.  I don't really think there's a "best" out there.  Every kid is different and every family has different needs and expectations from cloth diapers.  Just for the record, again, I LOVE cloth!  I've been very happy with by cloth diapering experiences both with Vince and with Olivia.  I saw a new style of cloth at The Breastfeeding Center when I was there.   It's Kiwi Pie from Gro-Via and it's totally cloth, but cut alike an all in one.  Here's a pic.

It's totally cloth so you need a cover with it, unless you're planning to use it like I am, just around the house when I can check it frequently and change it often.  GroVia is also making a wool diaper cover that I was SUPER excited about!  I've seen wool diaper covers on Nova before and they look really interesting. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Wait, Why are nitrates bad again?

If you're like me, as you're learning more and more about living a greener life, eating healthier, eliminating toxins from your home, you're a little overwhelmed.  To sort it all out, I have created categories in my mind: Good and Bad.  Phalates-Bad.  Phytos-Good.  Parabens-Bad.  Antioxidants-Good.  Nitrates-Bad.  BPA-Bad. Houseplants-Good.  While this is worthwhile sorting system, it omits one thing...the why.  It's all fine and good that when I'm shopping I can read the back of a package and know what I want to see and what I don't want to see, but when confronted with someone how's asking me to back up my decisions...I get a little quiet. (" Because it's in the "bad" column in my head!" Isn't a really good argument.)  So when the other moms were talking about Lunchables, how they're on sale, how their kids only eat the meat, or cheese, or candy out of them, ect.  I stayed quiet.  I don't feed my kids Lunchables (much to Caden's dismay, "Why can't you send me junk in my lunch like everyone else?!")  because they're super processed and the meat contains nitrates.  Nitrates--bad.  But why is that again?  I couldn't remember.  So I did a little research, to remind my self why I never buy bacon for Breakfast-For-Dinner that has nitrates in it.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Christine Challenge

I was talking so some who reads my blog (I'm always shocked when someone says, "I read your blog!"  I guess I still think it's just my mom!) and she said she couldn't believe that I hang dry my laundry...which I don't.  I think I did a blog post about hanging it to dry outside in the summer, but I didn't even do that last summer.  I got that great outdoor clothes dryer from my mom LAST Christmas and I never got it up.  So I was feeling guilty.  I know that the electric dryer is a huge drain on electricity (it has the highest wattage in the house, but I think I've read before that the refrigerator is actually you're biggest energy drain.  Makes sense--it runs all the time.) and I really felt good about drying the clothes outside when I did it, but now, it's just not really an option.  In this same conversation, a third person (we were waiting for Girl Scouts to be over) pointed out that another mom friend of ours line dries all of her clothes...inside.  FASCINATING!  She has 4 kids, like me.  She has a smaller house, like me.  She has a few part-time jobs, is on the preschool board and is president of the PTO, unlike me.  If she can do it, why can't I?! 
I was at her house for a play date (her kids are the same ages as mine) and I asked her about her methods.  I asked how many loads of laundry she does a day (average of 2, which I usually average 3, but that's because of diapers), what she does put in the drier (towels, tees, onesies) and how it works for her.  It sounded manageable.  So, I'm going to do THE CHRISTINE CHALLENGE for a month and see how I do. 

On the way home from the playdate we stopped and bought two more drying racks (we already have one in the basement).  Yesterday Evan and I put them together (I got the on that just clicked the two parts together, Evan had directions and required a hammer...coincidence?) and started hanging up clothes.  I was starting to make rules for The Christine Challenge, but decided having rules was going to set me up for failure.  If my rule is "Hang dry the clothes and use the dryer less" I'm going to have a better chance of success than if I say "Towels can go in the dryer, jeans and heavy sweatshirts can't, blah blah blah)  I was using a 1800-5000 Watt dryer (that's from  I'm not sure where mine falls, but it's old and not energy efficient) an average of 3 hours a day.  If I cut that even in half, I'm still conserving energy, and electric costs. 

Yesterday I did 3 loads of laundry.  I hug up the lights and the darks and there the towels in the dryer.  I decided that I'll hang them if I can, but they take up a lot of room that I'd rather use for my clothes.  Plus, they're rough when they're line dried.  I still have everything hanging up, so I'm not sure if I'll have to toss anything in the dryer to fluff it up (when I dried outside some items got "crispy") but if I do, that's ok.  It's only a few minutes and only some items.  I think the more I do it, the easier it will get.  It IS a little more work, but only a little more.  That's why it's a challenge.  (And cue, Eye of the Tiger.)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Recipe Friday: Croutons

I made these guys two nights ago and they weren't so great, but I made them a year ago and I remember them being awesome.  I think the second time can be attributed to user error.  So, two things I learned.  1. Don't use bread that has been in the freezer for 6 months.  It will make your croutons taste like freezer burn.  2. Don't use more bread than the recipe calls for because you're trying to use up all the buns left over in your freezer from summer cook-outs.  It dilutes the flavor, but I will says, allows the freezer burn taste to shine through!

I was planning to blog about how these guys are great to make with leftover bread- that can be stored in the freezer- but I guess I should amend that.  I used the heels of a loaf we just finished and then dug out some old buns left over from the summer.  I think had they not been in there for 6 months, they would have been fine to use.  So I'm still going to stick with my comment, "These are a great way to use up those leftover heels of bread and buns!"  I know homemade croutons sound labor-intensive, but they're not.  They only take about 30 minutes total and 10 of prep.  So here it is:

Thursday, January 10, 2013


I was at my favorite store, The Breastfeeding Center, yesterday using Olivia's Christmas gift certificate from Meema.  There we SO MANY things to get there!  I got some more cloth diapers (Grovia Hybrids, I'm really liking this style) as well as a new diaper pail liner (it had a good run, 3 years is about all I would expect).  Those were boring-but-necessary buys, but I was able to get two things that were a little more fun.  First, I got Grovia's Magic Stick.  To a cloth diapering mom, it truly IS magic!  It's a diaper rash cream that's OK to use with cloth!  Usually I have to put a barrier (washcloth) between Olivia's skin with the ointment on it and the diaper.  It's tricky to fold the cloth, adds extra bulk and makes the diaper change longer.  This guy is a stick, so there's no messy hands after applying the ointment either.  It smells good and it seems to be helping her rash, which is what I call "Uncle Rob Skin".  (All my kids have one trait from my brother-in-law.  Olivia got his sensitive skin.) The other thing I got is kind of for me and kind of for Liv.  It's a necklace from Chewbeads

Chewbeads Jane 100% Silicone Teething Necklace

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Lily Pad Lid

Every year I blog about the cool green thing my mom got me for Christmas.  So here's this years, the Lily Pad Lid by Charles Viancin. 

The Lily Pad Lid

It's a really cool silicone, well, thingy.  It's hard to explain but AWESOME to use!  Mom got me 3 of them.  The smallest, is actually a Hibiscus lid, I believe, but it works the same.  They're a flat silicone mat with a little handle on them.  They're dishwasher safe and microwave safe and air tight.  Here's the website's blurb:

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

In Which I Determine Vince's Future

It's not a big deal.  I know this.  I keep telling myself this.  But I can't stop thinking about it!  I keep wavering and talking about it to everyone, hoping someone will give me the  "right" answer, but, of course, I won't really know if I've made the right choice until after it's made.  Perhaps even years after it's made.  Oh, what's the big deal, the big decision that will define who Vince is as an adult???...preschool. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Caden Update

Two days on meds and it DOES seem to be working well!  He doesn't seem to be having any side effects (even the decreased appetite that the doctor said he would probably have at lunchtime).  His behavior at school has improved as has his ability to focus.  I think the most notable thing I'VE seen is the change in his handwriting.  Whereas before it was dark, huge and messy, not it's much neater, smaller and clearly he's using less pressure.  Dare I say it...more focused?!  His teacher is writing me notes to let me know how it's going each day, but if things continue like this, I think we'll keep him on it.  For school days anyway.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Recipe Friday: Peanut Sauce

Every New Years' Eve we have appetizer dinner.  I make a Brie and Champagne fondu, Chicken Satay with Peanut Dipping Sauce and various other appetizers.  It's a tradition we started when we began having all these kids and it was hard to get out on New Years Eve.  Now it's a meal we look forward to all season.  Of course this year I didn't eat any of the Chicken Satay, but I did enjoy the peanut dipping sauce.  It's really good with chicken (grilled) or as a sauce for stir fry.  I also enjoy it over noodles.  It's quick and easy to make and it's honestly one of my favorites.  (It's from The Bride and Groom Cookbook--my favorite bridal shower gift!)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

I put Caden on Medication

Last month, at the STRONG urging of the school, I took Caden to Akron Children's Hospital's ADHD clinic for testing.  I'd had him tested before for ADHD, and both times the results were negative...well, he didn't *quite* have enough symptoms in a range of settings to be diagnosed with ADHD.  If you met him, you'd probably diagnose him yourself, but clinically, he wasn't diagnosable.  I was always on the fence with ADHD.  I felt, as a psychology undergrad, that there were lots of parents who had unreasonable expectations for children.  I STILL believe that a lot of kids diagnosed with ADHD are actually within the LARGE range of normal, but a little on the wild side.  There's a reason they say, "Boys will be boys."  I actually still kind of think this is Caden.  I have the paperwork in front of me, but I still kind of think, he's just a wild boy.  But the truth is, it doesn't really matter what I think.