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Archive for Healthy Living
June 25th, 2014
Strange title for a post, isn’t it? Right now there’s a chipmunk in my life. I feel like I’m in my own little Caddyshack -remember Bill Murray chasing a gopher? That’s me right now. There’s one big problem - I have no idea where the chipmunk is.
This is not quite how I envisioned my first few days of summer. My vision was in fact very different. Me working quietly from my office, going on a mid-day run, hanging with my husband while my kids kick off 4 weeks at overnight camp.
Everything came to a screeching halt when I saw a small tail peeking out from behind our family room sofa.
Let me take a minute to share the backstory.
Way back around Halloween I decided to store old, unopened bags of Halloween candy on a bench in our garage. I forgot about them. Mistake number 1.
About a month ago my youngest son reported finding an empty candy wrapper outside the garage and proudly proclaimed “it wasn’t me!” We found another wrapper in the garage a few days later, which led us to the bags of unused Halloween candy on the bench. A chipmunk had broken in and stolen a few chocolate bars.
I tossed the half eaten candy and moved a second bag of unopened, untouched candy into a closet in the house.
Fast forward to yesterday. While working, I left the door from our garage into our house open. Mistake number 2.
The chipmunk decided to come in and somehow managed to find the unopened, uneaten bag of old Halloween candy. Seriously smart chipmunk. I found another candy wrapper on the stairs before spotting the chipmunk.
I freaked. Yes, I know that I’m a lot bigger than a little chipmunk, but it was in my house. It had crossed a line.
How I got rid of the chipmunk……I think
I called for help. Thankfully I was able to reach a sweet friend who’s in the know when it comes to this sort of thing. I certainly was not. This was well beyond my pay grade.
I went to a local hardware store and purchased a Have a Heart Trap. This was the two door, easy set trap that took me over a half an hour to figure out. The goal was to capture the chipmunk and set it free outside.
All the bedroom doors were closed before going to the store. When I came home my son’s door was slightly ajar. Then I spotted the tail again in his room. Smart chipmunk.
The Have a Heart Trap was set with peanut butter in my son’s room. I was also advised to open a window and remove the screen so the chipmunk could escape. Done.
His door was closed and I patiently waited for the sound of the trap working. Nothing.
So here’s where I’m at right now: No chipmunk in the trap. No chipmunk sighting. No idea if it exited through the window. No sleep for me.
What would you do? Assume that it’s out? Call wildlife rescue to come over and confirm that it’s out (this one is high on my list right now)? Keep the room sealed for a few days and hope for the best? Advice needed……
photo credit: beckstei via photopin cc
June 23rd, 2014
One question that I’m constantly asked is: “What green cleaning products do you use?”
That’s a tough question to answer since I’m always testing out new and improved green cleaning products, but I’m going to give it shot.
My overall advice when making the switch to green cleaning products is to replace products you’re currently using as they run out with a safer version. Take the time to research safer, non-toxic products and then make the switch.
So here you go….. Take a rare peek into my somewhat disorganized cabinet under the kitchen sink to see what green cleaning products I’m using right now.
That BIG tank is part of a reverse osmosis water filtration system. Let me know if you want to hear more about it. I’m happy to share the pros and cons.
Here are some of the green cleaning products under my kitchen sink:
Better Life Even The Kitchen Sink
This product is great for cleaning tile and grout, stainless steel, toilets, showers and tubs. I’ve been using Better Life green cleaning products for a few years. I’ve written about Better Life before and shared with you that I was an official blogger for the company. This essentially meant that I had a chance to test out some of their products and share my honest opinion. And I did!
Seventh Generation Free & Clear Natural Glass & Surface Cleaner and Earth Friendly Products Window Cleaner both work well on windows and other glass surfaces.
Oh how I love this stuff. It can be used for cleaning so many different things. HERE are a few ideas to get you started.
Branch Basics is an interesting concept. If you don’t want to make your own cleaning products this is the next best thing. The starter kit comes with concentrate, an Empty Refillable Spray Bottle and foamer bottle. The unscented concentrate can be diluted with water to make the cleaner. There’s a guide that comes with the kit which spells out how to mix the concentrate. It can be used for laundry, dishes, stains, removing streaks and more.
Check out Earth Friendly Pear Dishmate Dishwashing Liquid. I use this for all dishes. It seems to cut through grease and grim without a problem.
I just made the switch from a powder dishwasher soap to Earth Friendly Products Wave Auto Dishwasher Gel and so far it’s working well.
What are some of your favorite green cleaning products hiding under your kitchen sink? I’d love to hear!
Disclosure: These products were all purchased by me and can be found under my kitchen sink. Some links are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may get a small commission if you make a purchase. Thanks for your support!
photo credit: judith511 via photopin cc
June 16th, 2014
The One Fruit to Eat Organic: Apples
Organic apples are a must.
Each year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases a list of 12 fruits and vegetables called the “Dirty Dozen”. For over 10 years EWG has published this annual guide to help people eat healthy and reduce their exposure to pesticides in produce. The Dirty Dozen™ list of produce lists the top 12 conventional fruits and veggies with the most pesticides. It’s a helpful guide when deciding where to spend your hard earned dollars on organic food.
EWG’s Dirty Dozen™ list of produce includes apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, imported nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes. Each of these foods showed high concentrations of pesticides when tested.
Why Chose Organic Apples? Apples at the Top of the Pesticide List
When we shop for produce we have many choices -one of the most difficult being whether to invest our hard earned dollars on organic fruits and veggies. While buying organic is always the better option, it can be cost prohibitive to buy everything organic.
Year after year apples have been at the top of the list as a fruit which is doused in pesticides. According to EWG, apples are the single most pesticide-contaminated produce item available at the supermarket.
We eat a lot of apples over here. Going through a dozen apples in a few days is nothing. I do my best to buy only organic apples for my family.
We are very picky about the type of apples we eat. My son loves organic Fuji apples and the rest of us will only eat Pink Lady. They’re hard to find year round at a farmer’s market or our local Whole Foods Market. The conventional version seems to always be available, but I’m not willing to go that route. I only buy organic apples.
Are there certain fruits and veggies you only buy organic?
photo credit: msr via photopin cc
June 13th, 2014
Father’s Day. A time for honoring fathers, celebrating fatherhood and recognizing the influence of fathers in our society.
This Father’s Day I celebrate all the fathers in my life. Those here now and those no longer with us.
Born in Queens, New York I was destined to be a city girl. When I was about 5 my family picked up and moved to Madison, Wisconsin. Just like that, this city girl was plopped in the country. I was not happy. And now I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
One childhood memory stands out. When I was growing up in Madison we joined a community garden. At the time I was so angry at my father for making us do this. My valuable time as a tween was spent lugging milk containers filled with water from our home to this garden. At a very young age I had a chance to connect with the food we were eating and the opportunity to eat seasonal, fresh, organic food that came from our very own garden. Thanks to my father I try very hard to instill that same connection with my own children, whether it’s through a CSA, farmer’s market or gardening. I’m not always successful, but good intentions are always there.
In honor of Father’s Day I asked a few bloggers to share their thoughts on any ‘green’ lessons (or not so ‘green’ lessons) learned from a father figure in their life.
Here’s what they had to say:
My father taught me not necessarily about the art of living green, but about the art of living simply. He is a man who does not need much to be happy. No flashy car, fancy clothes, or other materialistic item can light up his face. All he needs in life are his wife, his daughter, and now his grandsons. What a fabulous lesson about what is really important.
~Jessica, Eat Sleep Be
My dad, Bob, he’s always been “green” so to speak. In fact, he’s the first person who ever told me to not use bottles with BPA and I thought he was crazy at the time. What did my dad know about bottles and BPA!? Well, father knows best and I’m glad I listened to him. He’s the man who shared with me how to garden, cook and not waste food. When I didn’t like to go into the woods or be outside because I was too girly, he encouraged me and took my sister and me out hunting, four wheeling and fishing. I might not have enjoyed all of it back then but now I appreciate what he did for me and I’m thankful. He’s really a great dad and so many of his attributes have rubbed off on me and helped make me who I am today.
~Sommer, Green and Clean Mom
While I had an abundance of fresh produce around growing up in tropical South Africa, I never had the experience of growing my own fruits and vegetables other than my grandfather’s mini farm. He lived in a small town called Ladysmith 3.5 hours away from me and he had a decent amount of land where he grew things like carrots, cabbage, plums, peaches, and he even had a grape vine. I recall him yanking a huge carrot out of the ground, rinsing the soil out under the faucet and giving to me to eat. My grandmother was fussy about eating it right there, but he kept watch for her as I munched on it. I don’t think anything tasted better than that carrot or anything that grew on that land. I’ve always been determined to grow something and each year I try with our veggie garden and each year I learn to do it better. I don’t think I’ll ever get over the miracle of seeing food come out of the ground.
My father instilled a very strong work ethic in me. He taught me to stick to my values and not be afraid to go out on a limb for what I believed in. From him I learned that hard work pays off and that loving your job makes all the difference!
What’s your favorite Father’s Day lesson?
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June 12th, 2014
Summer Camp is just around the corner for all three of my kids. They’re headed to an overnight camp far away from home. This will be the first year for my youngest. My boys will be joined by 7 cousins for four weeks of fun.
We’re in the thick of packing and it looks like a bomb went off in our house. There are piles of clothing, sleeping bags, and underwear everywhere. Somehow everything will make its way into a duffel bag by the time we need to head out the door. Right?
Here are a few must-haves for anyone heading to summer camp (*affiliate links):
I’m a big fan of Mabel’s Labels for labeling clothing. Everything that goes to camp has to be labeled or it won’t make it home. Unfortunately, even with labels something is always left behind. My favorite labels are Mabel’s Labels Tag Mates, which stick directly onto the clothing tag and don’t come off. This year I decided to get the Limited Edition Camp Combo Packs, which includes a variety of labels (the shoe labels are awesome!).
Mabel’s Labels has a deal for Groovy Green Livin readers. This exclusive code is valid for $2 off any Mabel’s Labels purchase with the exception of Loot Bags & Write Aways. This code can’t be combined with any other promo offers and expires on June 30th 2014. Enter APY5SG2V at checkout.
Badger SPF 30 Sunscreen is a new formulation which isn’t greasy and is easy to apply. We started using it last year and it worked really well. HERE are a few other favorite sunscreens, perfect for those summer camp days in the sun.
I recently spotted Acure Organics Shampoo on the shelf at my local Whole Foods Market and decided to give it a try. Our entire family has been using Acure for a few months and we all love it. It’s an easy container to pack for summer camp-very flexible.
I’m sending all three kids to camp with a DEET free bug repellent. We’ve been using Buzzaway for a few years and it really works well. If you’re looking for natural ways to treat bug bites take a peek HERE.
Toothpaste is a tough one. They’re going to be brushing with Redmond Earthpaste Toothpaste.
I love the peppermint flavor. Every ingredient is safe to swallow!
My kids actually requested chapstick this year and it’s on the packing list as “optional”. I’ve been using Eco Lips Sport Spf 30 Organic Lip Balm Tube and just bought a few tubes for them to take with them to camp.
Writing letters has to be easy or you may never hear from your children. Last summer my son sent us several letters….without stamps. They never arrived! This Fold Over Stationery Set is perfect. No envelopes needed. There are two options: Tie Dye Fold Over Stationery and a Sports Fold Over Stationery Set.
Emily Baby & Adult Skin Soother (Unscented) is the absolute best for eczema. Love this stuff. My son also swears it takes away the itch of a mosquito bite.
Bug Bite Relief
Bug bites and summer camp go hand-in-hand. Try All Terrain Natural Kids Itch and Rash Cream to help relieve the itching.
Bar of Soap
A bar of soap is always on the packing list for summer camp. Tom’s of Maine Moisturizing Bar is heading to camp this year. We’ll just have to wait and see if anyone actually uses it!
My list changes a bit each year. Here are a few summer camp favorites from years past:
What are your favorite summer camp essentials?
*Some links are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may get a small commission if you make a purchase. Thank you for supporting this site!
photo credit: bruna camargo via photopin cc
June 10th, 2014
AntiGravity® Aerial Yoga (also known as “Aerial Yoga”) is all the rage. No yoga mat required. All you need is a silk hammock hanging from the ceiling and a few Cirque de Soleil moves.
I’ve been wanting to try it out for a while and this weekend I had the chance at Raffa Yoga in Providence, Rhode Island. The ride was just an hour from Boston in my Toyota Highlander. Toyota was kind enough to let me test drive the car for the week.
I was ready for a little R & R when I arrived at the yoga studio/spa.
Looking into the AntiGravity® Aerial Yoga room before class was a bit intimidating. I was starring into a room filled with the same Hammocks that Pink used during her performance at the Grammy’s.
I wasn’t quite sure how I would like dangling from the ceiling in a hammock doing yoga poses. As much as I love Cirque de Soleil, I like to watch the performance from a stable seat in the audience.
What is AntiGravity® Aerial Yoga?
Founded by former gymnast and dancer Christopher Harrison, AntiGravity® Aerial Yoga is a comprehensive fitness technique which allows you to practice yoga poses using a hammock. The hammock acts as a soft trapeze throughout the practice, much of which is spent in an inverted position.
Here I am looking happy in a pose. What you don’t see are the multiple steps it took to actually end up in this pose. I was in an inverted position for what felt like an eternity and then had to pull myself up using the sides of the hammock into this position.
Benefits of AntiGravity® Aerial Yoga
- Conquer your fears. You’ll probably be doing flips and inversions by the end of class.
- Huge core workout.
- Decompression of the spine through zero-compression inversions.
- Total body workout.
- Keeps your workouts interesting.
- Enables creativity through the use of poses.
My thoughts on AntiGravity® Aerial Yoga
The class was interesting and challenging. It was also empowering. Several postures seemed impossible initially, but when I tried them they were doable. I did flips, hung from my feet and laughed a lot.
I did feel a bit nauseous from all the inversions. There were times when the hammock was digging deep into my hip flexer and I wanted to scream. My understanding is that this intense sensation is part of the practice and gets better over time.
My favorite pose was Shavasana in the hammock. I had my own private cocoon.
Have you tried or are you interested in trying AntiGravity® Aerial Yoga?
June 6th, 2014
Breaking Green News
Life is a bit crazy over here with work, year end school activities and packing up three boys for overnight camp. I know I’m not alone, we’re all feeling the crunch right about now. I wanted to leave you for the weekend with a few breaking green news stories worth a share. I’m always amazed by what can happen in a week. Some stories seem bigger than others, but all are steps in the right direction.
Panera Bread to drop artificial ingredients from its menu
Panera Bread says it will remove artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives from its food by 2016. One more example of how consumer pressure works! There are about 1,800 Panera Bread cafes in the United States. Unlike Chipotle, Panera isn’t dumping genetically modified ingredients, but their new policy also does state the chain’s commitment to ‘‘transparency”. This action by Panera is a step in the right direction, with room for improvement.
Obama’s new proposed climate rules
In an historic step to fight climate change, the EPA released its “Clean Power Plan“ this week. In a nutshell, the EPA is seeking a 30% cut in power plant carbon emissions by 2030. I listened as EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy delivered the plan on Monday. She said “When we think about our children, it’s easy to see why we must be compelled to act.” According to Grist, Electric generation accounts for about 40 percent of current U.S. CO2 emissions. Take a look HERE for The nine things you need to know about Obama’s new climate rules
Groups call on Method and Ecover to stop using SMOs (synthetically modified organisms) in their products
Many of us have Ecover and Method products in our cabinets so I thought this was something we all need to consider before purchasing these products again.
17 groups combined forces this week and sent an open letter to Ecover and its American subsidiary, Method, demanding that they cancel plans to use oils and other ingredients derived from synthetic biology, a new and unregulated type of genetic engineering.
The New York Times reported that synthetic biology ingredients are rapidly entering consumer and food products. Since there are no regulations in place and labeling isn’t required, consumers have no way of knowing whether or not these genetically engineered ingredients are in products. There’s also a glaring absence of studies evaluating the safety of these ingredients.
Parent organizations unite against climate change
In other breaking green news, Moms Clean Air Force put together a post highlighting a variety of parent organizations (including me!) committed to fighting climate change. I truly believe that our voices do make a difference. As Dominique Browning so eloquently stated: “No politician wants to make a mother angry. And nothing makes us angrier than threats to the little (and big) ones we love so dearly.”
Thanks to Moms Clean Air Force for all their hard work on this issue and for including me.
Do you have any breaking green news to share? Have a fabulous, groovy green weekend!
photo credit: PhOtOnQuAnTiQuE via photopin cc