Monday, June 28, 2010

Seeking Significance - Becoming Minimalist

Becoming Minimalist has a wonderful article up today about Seeking Significance instead of Success.  This couldn't come at a better time for me because I'm on the brink of a major life-changing decision about my job.  I hope you find something of comfort and inspiration in it too.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Free Shipping on CleanWell

CleanWell is having a free shipping offer! Don't miss it.  If you're not sure why to get it, read this previous post heralding the product =)

Here's the info:

"It's summer time - you've got your flip flops on and you're ready to get out and explore. Those outdoor adventures might make your feet more than just tired. New York Magazine's Summer Beauty Survival Guide recommends CleanWell wipes when your exposed dogs need a little refresh!

Use discount code "shipsummer" at our webstore and you can easily take us along on picnics, beach outings, wading in the creek, and on family BBQs!

• Kills 99.99% of germs

• No Alcohol

• No Triclosan

• Kids safe formula

• Safe for sensitive skin

• Never tested on animals

Clean feet AND clean hands! Remember enter discount code "shipsummer" at checkout! Good until midnight July 1, 2010.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Homemade Yogurt - Yogolicious?

Homemade yogurt was all the rage a few months back.  I've just now caught up with it since I've been too busy discovering self-serve frozen yogurt...come to find out it's a few years old already.  So much for keeping up with the times.  Or my diet.  Yogolicious, our neighborhood self-serve joint is helping me eat enough to be my own house and home.  Dulce de Leche Caramel with Mother's Animal Cookies and Gummy Bears.  Heaven!!

At 33 cents an ounce, it's the cheapest sin I commit, but in order to hide the frequency from the Mr., I have to save money elsewhere so I've decided that in order to afford such a luxury (weekly) the kids can sacrifice their organic "vanana" yogurt from Trader Joe's and eat Mommy's homemade organic vavavavaoom yogurt instead.

Justified, no?

Intimidating at first, it's actually quite easy if you have all the materials needed!

Here's the recipe I've used twice with success from Small Notebook.

1) Boil 1 quart of milk until it reaches 180* (to kill all the bacteria).  "Mommy?  Why is there a clock sticking out of the pot?"

2) Let the milk cool to 110* which is the temp at which yogurt cultures.  I stick mine in the fridge so that I can complete a million other tasks because a watched pot never cools or something like that.

3) Add 2 TBS of live active cultured yogurt to a jar.  I purchased mine at Trader Joe's for the first batch and used Stonyfield for the second.  (Be sure to thoroughly wash your jar and lid first =)  As you can see, I've repurposed one - applesauce, thank you very much.

4) Add a little bit of the cooled milk and swish it around to mix with the yogurt already in the jar.

5) Wait.  Or don't wait.  Or sing a song.  Add the rest of the milk to the jar.

 6) There are a few options for this step, but I just chose to put my jar in the oven overnight with the oven light on.  Easier for me to remember it in the morning.

There are all sorts of mix-ins you can add (nuts, fruit, anything these people suggest or you can be really cool (blaring techno music a must) and put one of the Yogolicious toppings for their FROZEN yogurt.  Forgive them their spelling errors.  The music is REALLY loud in there.  But I really want to try putting actual cinnamon toast on mine next time.  The "rownie Bites" are a personal recommendation from Scooby Doo.
Fruit Toppings
Strawberry, Mango, Blueberry, Pineapple, Kiwi, Banana, Raspberry, Blackberry, Cantaloupe, Fresh Peaches, Fresh Oranges, Honey Dew, Lychee, Pomegranate Arils, Seedless Grapes, Watermelon
Chocolate Custard, Hawaiian Delight, Kiwi Strawberry, Mango, Pomegranate/Raspberry, Vanilla Custard, Orange

Yogolicious Dry Toppings
Almond M&M, Butterfingers, Captin Crunch, Chocolate Chips, Chocolate Sprinkles, Cinemon Toast (cereal), Cocoa Puffs, Coconut Flakes, Frosted Animal Cookies, Fruity Pebbles, Garham Crunch, Granola, Gummi Bears mini, Gummi Bears reg, Gummi Worms-sour, Heath Bar, Holiday Sprinkles, Kit Kat (Chopped), Lucky Charms, Lucky Charms, M&M's (mini or reg.) Mochi, Nilla Wafers, Oreo Chocolate, Peanut M&M, Peanut Pieces, Raibow Nerds, Red Bean,Reese's PB Cups, Reese's Pieces, Semi Sweet Choc. Chips, Sliced Almond , Snicker, Sour Patch Kids, Walnut sm Pieces, Yogurt Chips

Yogolicious Wet Toppings
Banana, Blackberry, Blueberry, rownie Bites, Cantalope, Cheescake Bites, Condensed Milk, Cookie Dough Bites

Fuit Flavored Syrup,
Honeydew, Kiwi, Lychee, Mango, Peaches, Pineapple, Raspberry, Seedless Grapes, Seedless Wtermelon, Strawberry, Condenced Milk, White Chocolate Syrup, Chocolate Syrup, Caramel Syrup

The boys did reject the first batch.  I think because it was too thin.  But toss in their usual request - frozen organic blueberries and they drank it right down =)  Haven't ventured to strain the excess liquid with a colander yet.  But I did pull out the coffee filters in preparation...and then thought "Now that wouldn't make this so easy, would it?"  And happily decided not to...

*Update - This recipe is very similar to the one I used today (7/8/10) from Super Baby Food - the thickest but most informative kiddie foodie book to hit yourself over the head with.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Love these fashionable re-usable bags!

Some people might frown or scoff at the sight of my kid eating peanut butter crackers out of a Coach pouch.  Or they might think we're really hurting when they see me serve carrot sticks out of my pink organic pouch that's sewn diagonally across the bottom corner where the dog chewed a hole and ruined the perfect rectangular shape.  But, of course, I don't care.  Even though my kids might when they get to school...we have about 12 reusable bags/pouches that I throw snacks and sandwiches in in my quest to save the world one ziplock baggie at a time.

I tried to give them a pouch to be proud of (like they care) and so when a friend suggested PouchPals, made by a local mom, I was sold.  I got three pouches in different sizes and called it a day.  $7 and $9 for the different sizes.  BPA and all other bad stuff free.

When the topic came up in our local Mommy and Me class, I was happy to show off our PPs.  Come to find out, it's an idea that's catching on.  Another local mom is brilliant and has great taste too - check our her reusable bags at PBGreen

I loved the idea of a sandwich wrap that could be used as a placemat too.  And the fabrics were much cuter than the denim I had emailed to my MIL as a gift suggestion for my husband two years ago.  Thankfully, she passed on it.  I picked out the Giraffe print with a different background color and the two other coordinating fabrics are just as sweet, but we need more than just that one lunch set since the sandwich wrap is unique to our random bag collection.  Maybe the UCLA hibiscus print?  $20 for the set is a good price and individual bags are $6.50.

We don't see much of a difference in the way the boys access their snacks or use each bag so let personal preference and price be your guide.  Either way it's good for the environment, good for your kids and a way to help out a fellow mom. =)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

All-Natural Green Cleaning - Laundry

As a family of five, with two dogs who shed enough to clean up oil spills and at least one nightime diaper leak a day, I wash a lot of laundry.  Note: I wash  it.  I do not claim to fold it.  Instead it rotates between the machine, the kitchen counter, the couch, our bed, the pack-n-play, our bodies, the hamper and back.  Occasionally there's a detour into drawers, but highly unlikely recently.  It's very helpful when Curly runs to the couch to find his clothes and offers Spike one of his shirts along the way.

During my pregnancy with Curly and my 25-week relationship with the toilet, I noticed that the smell of my toxic, vomit-inducing long-loved Tide scent was causing me to heave each time I dried my face with a bathroom towel.    Welcome to the start of my personal green revolution. (Can you hear the angelic music?) 

To avoid reliving those puke-filled days, I banished any artificial scent or chemically induced high from our house.  Bye-bye Tide.  Since then, I've gone back and forth between the "traditional" Borax/Washing Soda mix and Seventh Generation which I can get from  After seeing the white residue on our dishes, I sai, "No, Hell No, Absolutely NOT" to the dishwasher recipes using Borax. Funny thing, my stomachaches stopped too... It still didn't sit well with me that such ingredient was sitting on my kids' skin.  So I went with Seventh Gen and their 6-pk delivered to my door.

I hate that I'm wasting all that plastic using 6 bottles each time I order and I'd like to save a few pennies here and there so I'm going back to making my own.

After ordering some more Dr. Bronner's - find it here and here - from Amazon, I'll venture out searching for Arm and Hammer's Washing Soda and try this recipe from Passionate Homemaking.  No interest in the Soap Nuts so far...there are enough nuts in my household already...

I'll let you know how it goes!  (What a great excuse to get a cute Mason jar for storing my detergent and scoop.  My MIL has one, but I have no clue where she got it....Mary?)

PS - I do have some OxiClean in the cupboard and I hesitate to use it but sometimes the stains from Poopgate are just too powerful and I quiver in their presence.

Here's a wonderful way to make your own safe bleach. Except I don't know what to use bleach for. Dope!

Color Safe Bleach via Retro Housewife Goes Green

In a plastic Gallon Jug (I used a old laundry soap bottle, any clean gallon jug will do) add:
2 c. hydrogen peroxide
enough water to fill.

Store covered.

To Use: Soak items in this solution for 10 to 30 minutes.
The detergent recipe below is a back-up. I found it on TipNut.

Recipe #10 – (Powdered)

1 cup Vinegar (white)
1 cup Baking Soda
1 cup Washing Soda
1/4 cup liquid castile soap

■Mix well and store in sealed container.

■I find it easiest to pour the liquid soap into the bowl first, stirred in the washing soda, then baking soda, then added the vinegar in small batches at a time (the recipe foams up at first). The mixture is a thick paste at first that will break down into a heavy powdered detergent, just keep stirring. There may be some hard lumps, try to break them down when stirring (it really helps to make sure the baking soda isn’t clumpy when first adding). I used 1/2 cup per full load with great results.

A lean, mean, green smoothie drinkin' machine! Or "Can I do this without a VitaMix b/c I'd rather spend $300 on a Silhouette?"

I've had this link on my favorites menu for ages and with my ADD setting in tonight, I decided to check out what other food ideas I want to try with the kids this summer instead of making my 4th batch of strawberry jam.

I know this one is going to be at the top of my list and the bottom of the boys'.  This Green Smoothie from Happy Foody.    My friend KDGW impresses me every day...most recently b/c she claims states that her kids will drink whatever veggies are left from that week's CSA box.  How nice.  My kids eat their veggies, but I doubt I could convince them to drink anything that's not white and starts with an "m."

At KDGW's Mother's Day gathering, her sil also claimed touted the amazingness of a smoothie-a-day in her three's diet.  At the risk of using too much of our CSA greens in yet, another, salad (please, no) I'm going to test out their exaggerated state of happiness claims and see if it can indeed produce the same results here at the P Ranch.

Here's my shopping list for this coming weekend's test run.  (i.e., Mr. P get ready to drink the leftovers)

Frozen bananas
Whole peeled orange
Fresh pineapple
just enough water to blend it at this point

and finally...

Baby spinach (She also recommends swiss chard, mustard greens or romaine).  I tried this in my first batch and obviously put tooooo much greena bit of sweetener, like Stevia

I don't have a VitaMix but she did recommend blending it for 2-3 minutes.  Green smoothies shouldn't have chunks...20/20 hindsight, right?

Note - wide straw helps the kiddos...

She says that, "Adding a green smoothie to your day is the BEST thing you can do to get on the path to a healthier you. When you drink a big green smoothie in the morning, it fills your body’s need for those vital nutrients to function throughout the day. You will slowly STOP CRAVING junk food."

I'll drink to that...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Not what it was meant for...a different kind of repurposing..

On each of the boys' beds I have this little basket from IKEA filled with appropriate board books or cuddlies. I liked them for two reasons - 1) matched the Russian orphanage nursery decor and 2) they are flimsy, yet sturdy, with a simple and safe zipper closure diagonally across the bottom.

Since the nightmare of Poopgate 1.9 and Mr. P not coming home this past weekend to reassemble the disassemble- so-it-can-be-scoured crib, I've been juggling 3 kids between 1 bed and 1 crib. NOT FUN.

Tonight it took Spike a bit longer to fall asleep and just as Trilogy was drifting off on our bed I heard Spike call for me with a wimper and a slight scream.

Ran in there to find....

He had put his head through the zippered bottom and was stuck. Since I didn't come right away, he had resigned himself to this new sleeping position and was sucking his thumb with his head on the bumper.

Scared the crap out of me. As I'm lecturing him on how unsafe and dangerous that was and how much it scared Mommy, all he could think of was "More mi Mommy." I guess if you think it's your last meal, it might as well be something you love.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Free bottle of Safe and Effective Cough Syrup

Zarbee's is giving you a free bottle of their Honey Natural Children's Cough Syrup if you post on their Facebook page or email them a picture of your recalled Tylenol or Motrin. You know you probably had 5 of them, but they're all tossed worries at $9.95 a bottle, trying something new and safe won't break the bank, especially if you factor in the cost of peace of mind after all the problems with Tylenol the past year.

I signed up for the bottle swap, but couldn't wait long enough to see it supplies were still available, so I jumped the gun and ordered a bottle for myself and a bottle for a friend whose kids are frequently sick. Although my kids don't get coughs that much during Spring and Summer, I know we'll put this bottle to good use before it's 2011 exp. date.

My Mommy&Me class has been brainstorming other safe remedies for fever....let's hope Zarbee's gets the memo.

I'll let you know when we use it for the first time!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Safety Q&A with Gavin DeBecker

I've heard his name a dozen times. Mostly with regards to celebrities and stalkers, especially Tom Cruise.

But a few months ago, Mr. P brought home an excerpt about intuition and looking for danger signs from this book. I was hooked.

Not that I have stalkers or anything, but why can't I be as informed about my personal safety as say, Cameron Diaz?

Macaroni Kid, a local kids' activity newsletter, had a Q&A session with DeBecker and I am so interested in reading his other books now. Especially because I had a heated debate with my father and 3 younger brothers tonight about why I was upset that Curly saw a preview for the new Tom Cruise/Cameron Diaz thriller. A preview with guns. And explosions. And blood.

Why should I have to explain a decision I'm making NOT to expose my kid to violence?
Maybe that explains why my brother left the birthday gathering early to hang out with his friends and why the others were on their iphones most of the time that my kids and I were there. No values for what's important in life - family. Rather than edge-of-your-seat action that makes you numb to all other feelings.

Pay special attention the part about sleepovers. Brilliant.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"The beauty of sharing our history is that our children can learn the easy way what we learned the hard way."

Wow. For more inspiration, chcek out yet another great post on Zen Family Habits. I love #2 the most. If my kids only knew what went on in my head all day long...uh-oh!

Family Happiness - can it be achieved?

Here's a great reminder of what's important and how to really live like you mean it. Zen Family Habits A reminder to get off the computer during daylight hours =)

National Wildlife Federation: Great American Backyard Campout - Home

National Wildlife Federation: Great American Backyard Campout - Home

Saturday, June 26th...Dad and the boys will be taking over the backyard...wonder what I'll do with the whole house to myself...
Get your tents ready too!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Car Seat Safety - never too careful!

I'm seriously thinking about being certified. Here's your reminder about what you can do to ensure your precious cargo stays where they should =)

Why Great Teachers Quit: And How We Might Stop the Exodus: Katy Farber: Corwin - Helping Educators Do Their Work Better

Why Great Teachers Quit: And How We Might Stop the Exodus: Katy Farber: Corwin - Helping Educators Do Their Work Better
I get her feed and answered some questions when she was doing her research. Curious to see how it all plays out...

Are you prepared?

The Southland has been rocking and rolling and I'm getting a wee bit nervous. Hiccups are good for the fault lines, right? Uh....Great website to remind us all about how to prepare for an emergency.

Tell Nickelodeon to stop promoting violent games on their websites

For all the details and a link to fill out the form, click here. I've been getting emails from Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood for awhile now and they're informative and helpful. No worry re: spam.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Healthy personal care products for babies and kids

Great list for starters =) from Healthy Child, Healthy World. My online BFF. You should also check your products for these hazardous ingredients.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Took the two little ones to Target today and did major damage. But not to my boys' teeth. As we strolled up and down the aisle, Spike gnawed away on an apple. I was so proud of myself for grabbing that snack on the way out and not relying on the Annie's Bunny Snacks that I knew were in the diaper bag.

Spike was very helpful and picked out a new toothbrush for himself and each of his brothers. Up until now, I've been getting the Oral B Stages brushes because I know they are BPA free.

Inhabitots has a great review of eco-friendly and safe brushes and I think I'm going to take the Preserve route once and for all. They sparkle at me from the Trader Joe's aisles, but I love the idea of a ToothBrush Subscription plan that the boys can look forward to getting in the mail. The price isn't too far off from what I paid today for the Oral B and we're helping the planet keep cavities away too =)
If you want some fun toothbrush songs and a chart to help them (and you) remember to brush twice a day, check this out. We sing ours during breakfast and I make up silly ones while they're actually brushing.
As for toothpaste, we use Tom's of Maine for Mr. P and I and Weleda Children's Gel for the kiddies. I've actually caught Mr. P using it too =)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Toxic America

The Hubsters hadn't seen Food, Inc. yet so we watched it last night while dining. Thank goodness we didn't have chicken...
I'm really happy to see that the toxic bandwagon is getting bigger. Less people are calling me crazy lately...
You may want to know what's in your stuff too. Check out this special on CNN tomorrow and Thursday nights. Great site for information too. Let's hope Sanjay doesn't goof this one up though, like he did when he called Dementia a form of Alzheimer's...