Monday, December 5, 2011

No so "Natural" Flavorings

If you didn't catch this episode of 60 Minutes, the link is below:

This is really a great video on how food and flavorings are manufactured and developed for many of our favorite items on the grocery shelves. Food chemisty has come a long way - definitely an eye opening and informative video.

Thanks to 60 minutes to include this in their show.

Is going organic really worth the extra $$$$ ?

When I look at my grocery bill these days - sometimes I wonder..

BUT, I just came across this article on and it was good information:

I copied and pasted it below:

Is organic produce really worth the price difference?
That's up to you. A 2003 University of Washington study found that children who ate a diet of organic food had a level of pesticides in their bodies that was six times lower than children who ate a diet of conventionally produced food.

Many studies also show that organic fruits and vegetables are more nutritious — containing more vitamin C and antioxidants, which may help prevent heart disease, than non-organic fruits and vegetables. A 2003 study at the University of California at Davis, for example, found that organic fruit has up to 58 percent more antioxidants than non-organic fruit.

If you have the outdoor space, you might consider growing some of your own organic fruits and vegetables. Gardening is also a great way to teach your toddler about nutrition. Look for organic growers at your local farmer's market, farm stand, or food cooperative. Most grocery stores now have organic produce sections, as well.

if you'd like to read more, here's the link to the article:

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Making Progress

Just finished reading the report produced by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics - just released. Personal Care product manufacturers are finally starting to remove toxic chemicals from their product lines. Here's the link to the report below:

Check and see if your favorite product manufacturers made the list and are listening to the concerns of their customers. Vote for safer products - Vote with your dollars.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Safer Cookware

A while back I started reading a book called The Healthy Home by Dr. Myron Wentz and Dave Wentz (listed in my NOTED BOOKS list on the right hand side of this page). My good friend Dena had recommended the book as she has started trying to make healthier choices for her family. She actually started me thinking about all this stuff! This book talks about all the things you can do to change your home into a less toxic environment - an amazing read. But, I will warn you, It will scare the heeebeeegees out of you - and you can't change all this stuff overnight - you just have to be aware and try to change things little by little. And one of the items addressed in the book is non-stick cookware. And to get rid of it.

I also came across an article by Dr. Mercola about the dangers of using non-stick cookware (of which we are the owners of several skillets) and alas, I was not happy about what I read. Here's an excerpt from the article:

"More evidence has emerged regarding the dangers of Perflurooctanoic Acid (PFOA), which is used in the production of non-stick cookware and stain-resistant snack food packaging. PFOA is currently found in the bloodstream of 95 percent of American men, women, and children.

Now, a study has shown a correlation between PFOA and low birth weight in newborns. One of the head researchers in the independent study, Dr. Lynn Goldman, said that, “It appears that there is a relation between a higher level of exposure and lower birth weight, as well as the circumference of the head.”

Another recent study showed that PFOA caused an overreaction to allergens in mice.

PFOA has already been implicated in increased instances of cancer in the pancreas, liver, testicles, and mammary glands, as well as miscarriages, thyroid problems, weakened immune systems, and low organ weights.

A growing community of scientists believe the largest concentration of PFOA comes from the telomers used to make the stain and grease repellent coatings for fast food containers, apparel, and carpeting."

Well, that sucks. You can read more, and the full article here (and yes, there is more)

So, I've had my eye out for a safer replacement skillet ever since. Now, I would love to throw out all my cookware and buy a whole set of new, safe cookware, like the ceramic, glass or enamel coated cast iron. However, I have yet to grow a money tree in my backyard. ;)

But lo, behold - I found an enamel coated cast iron skillet the other day! And I found it at my local H.E.B. Grocery store for about $20 !
Yay! And it came in blue to match my kitchen - too good to pass up! :) Double yay!

The only obstacle left - to convince my husband to use it. You may not know that my husband, Jeff, does most of the cooking around the house. Not just because he likes to cook, but he is definitely GOOD at it. I married UP! :)

Jeff grew up using a plain old cast iron skillet so I was hoping he'd be open to giving it a try. So last weekend, he made our favorite breakfast in it - scrambled eggs. He was impressed. The eggs stuck a little here and there, but not much. It was a win, win.

Yay for toxic free scrambled eggs! And a husband who can and LOVES to cook.
I am blessed. :)

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Homemade Deodorant that REALLY works!!!!!!!

So excited to share this discovery with you! Last month one of my dear friends, Sarah, forwarded me a DIY deodorant recipe she came across on another blog. Here's the link to the recipe:

So, last Friday, I mixed up a batch to give it a try. I used 5 tablespoons of coconut oil for my batch and I also used bergamot oil like the author did. But you could use any of your favorite essential oils in it. I put my batch in a stainless steel jar that I got at Bed Bath Beyond. Here's what it looks like:

So you scoop a little bit out with your fingers and rub it in on each of your armpits...Ladies, you may not need much. Gentlemen, it may take a bit more for you. Because of the coconut oil its kind of solid, but still soft in the jar, but once you get it on your fingers it warms up with your body temperature pretty quick and melts into an oil-so be sure to put it on quickly after scooping from the jar.

So I am now on day 4 of using it and its GREAT. In fact, it works better than the last toxin free deodorant (that was also homemade) and better than the old commercial deodorants I used to use. My husband has been using it too, but it hasn't worked as well for him. So he is back to using his old commercial deodorant for the time being. I may try to modify this recipe a bit to suit him better. Will let you know of the results!

Let me know if it works for you!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Alternative Therapy for Breast Cancer...Food for Thought

The following link is to a blog that i read occasionally and today features the story of a medical doctor that was diagnosed with an advanced stage of breast cancer. She had some surgery but opted not to follow the regular route of treatment with chemotherapy and radiation. Instead she chose to use alternative therapy. And is alive and well now, fully recovered.

Positive outcomes such as these are what fuel my desire to continue to make the extra effort and question everything that me and my family put in and around our bodies.

People often ask me why I go through all this trouble-I'd like to think that the precautions that I take now, may save me and my family from developing cancer later in our lives. But I dont' know that. My grandmother died of pancreatic cancer-it was not only a painful way to die, but the last decade of her life was no cake-walk. It became more of a battle everyday for her to just live.

I don't know if my precautions will make a difference at all- but to me, its worth a shot. The alternative isn't very appealing and it seems that more and more people are getting cancer - and younger, all the time. Could I be a little jaded? - because my husband has already had cancer and we are only in our early 30s? Maybe, maybe not. I don't know.

The bottom line is:

No one is more concerned about what you expose yourself and your family to than YOU.

Be an educated consumer - do your research. And don't assume.....

Cause you know what happens when you assume, right?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Enough said....Soda is probably not the best thing for or not

Harmful Soda
Via: Term Life Insurance

Mascara - Can't live without it!

On the list of things I use everyday, mascara is one I can't live without.  I rarely go a day without putting some on.....even if I put no other makeup on......I still put on mascara.

It has been a challenge to find a non-toxic version of my favorite mascara.  My original favorite was the 2000 Calorie Mascara by MaxFactor - but that was recently phased out.  They don't make it anymore .....

It took me a while to find a replacement.  I finally settled for The Colossal (CoverGirl or Maybelline, I think)  It comes in a yellow tube with fushia writing on it.  And sadly, yes this mascara is loaded with toxic gunk too.  :(  But its about the closest I have been able to find to the 2000 Calorie mascara.

So, I checked out the list of mascaras on the Cosmetics Database - the ones with the lowest toxic scores also have poor comments that basically say they SUCK!  Am I doomed to toxic eyelashes?!?

I ordered and tried one of these mascaras called Coastal Classic Creations Whispering Seas mascara in Black.  Its ok, but its too feathery looking - I want some OOMPH added to my lashes.  Otherwise, why bother?

This morning I had a revelation - I took the brush that came with my Colossal mascara (the toxic one) and used it with my Coastal Classics mascara (after I rinsed all the toxic mascara off of course).  You know, the brush made a pretty big difference!  I was really shocked!  So just had to share this with all of you.  Now I wish I had saved some of the brushes that came with my 2000 Calorie mascara but those have been long since thrown away.  *despair*  Oh well, live and learn, eh?

So there is still hope for great non-toxic lashes after all!  Yay!  :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Be Informed about Vaccines

I'm not against vaccines, but I feel as a new mom that I owe it to my child to be educated on what is being administered to my child.

There's a compelling documentary that is not for or against vaccines, but raises some good questions and awareness.  Its available for free viewing at the link below until November 5th.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

"Think" Before You Pink

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

I love that America is all about awareness; I also just came across this website, Think Before You Pink.

 I challenge each of you who would like to support a cure for breast cancer to check this website out before you purchase products that are Pink.

Let's support this cause by supporting awareness of all cancers AS WELL as products that don't contain toxic chemicals.  :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

To Stink or Not to Stink...That is the question....

Wikipedia defines Deodorant and Anti-Perspirants as the following:

Deodorants are substances applied to the body to affect body odor caused by bacterial growth and the smell associated with bacterial breakdown of perspiration in armpits, feet and other areas of the body. A subgroup of deodorants, antiperspirants, affect odor as well as prevent sweating by affecting sweat glands. Antiperspirants are typically applied to the underarms, while deodorants may also be used on feet and other areas in the form of body sprays. In the United States, deodorants are classified and regulated as cosmetics by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Antiperspirants are classified as drugs by the FDA.

Hmm...interesting...never knew all that.  Especially the part about how differently these two products are classified......

I've read a lot about the toxic aluminum compounds that are in anti-perspirants.  I've also read a few articles that suggest not using anti-perpirants because they block or "stop up" your sweat glands in your arm pits, which is one way your body rids itself of toxins, (the others being, by urination or bowel movements).  Some go as far as saying that this might be a cause for breast cancer (starts in the armpit lymph nodes - toxins can't get out of body so they sit there and make your cells mutate).  

I personally just wanted to see if I could find something that kept me smelling good and was less toxic than the typical commerical brands on the shelves in the grocery store.  

I had asked around (family, friends, coworkers) to see if they had tried any deodorants/antiperspirants along these lines.....yes, some had (tried the crystal deodorant, Tom's of Maine, a few other brands I've never heard of) but none had found much success or were happy with the results. 

Well, darn it.  This means we will just have to go by trial and error.  I decided to start with a website(  I had ordered castille shampoo from.  Even though the shampoo didn't work out for me, I thought I'd see what else they had to offer.....

I found a pretty non-toxic deodorant on their site and its worked very well for me.  Its homemade by a lady in Illinois and she makes several other products from essential oils and other natural, organic ingredients.  I've tried the solid deodorant, the roll-on and the deodorant powder.  I found I liked the solid deodorant the best.  I did find that my armpits did get wet while using it if I was doing alot of strenuous or stressful activites, but I never started smelling bad (have to remember this is not an antiperspirant).  My armpits just got wet.  And to be honest, they dont stay wet for long, so it really hasn't been a big deal for me.  I've kind of gotten used to it.  I also have tried their deodorant powder (a light dusting ) over the solid deodorant and that has seemed to help some with the wetness.  

My husband tried the solid deodorant it and he liked the smell (very "herby" smelling) and it worked ok but it got stuck in his armpit hairs.....not too bueno.  He tried the roll-on but it didn't have much lasting power.  (It doesn't seem to last long on me either) So still looking for another alternative for my hubby there.

For deodorants and anti-perspirants - there may not be a perfect organic/natural alternative out there that works just like the commercial brands.  This kind of change really is a personal choice because everyone is so different.  Some people sweat constantly and constant wetness may not be an option for you.  Very understandable.  I personally don't sweat a whole lot - never have.  So, for me, a little wetness here and there under my arms, is not a deal-breaker.  but it may be for you.  However, you can bet that I will keep a bar of commercial Secret antiperspirant/deodorant on standby in case of the situation where there's no room for "error" - (think job interviews or some other socially uncomfortable event).  I'll definitely be bringing out the Secret for those occasions. 

HOWEVER, I am still searching for that "perfect" natural alternative - so I will be sure to let you all know when I find it!  And if you find it before me - please share your discovery  !!  :))))))))

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Not all soap is created equal.....

I'll be the first to admit - I have a soap /bath products fetish.  It is extremely difficult for me to walk into a Bath & Body Works store or a Victoria's Secret and not walk out with some new perfume, body wash or creamy lotion.  Pure bliss.......well, that was then.....(a few months ago....)

This is house has almost been purged of the likes of any bath products such as these - and all products used on my body and my baby's now must pass the test of the database. " What? " you say?

Yes, this all started when I saw came across a video called "The Story of Cosmetics".  You can google it.  Its a little cartoon - and yes, I will admit now - they did use alot of scare tactics in the video.  And yes, I was VERY scared after watching it.  However..........I did learn about the existence of a Cosmetics Database*.  You can go to the online database, enter in your beauty/bath product and it will give you a synopsis of all ingredients in the product and whether or not any of them have been linked to or are known carcinogens, reproductive toxins, etc....basically bad for you.  Each product is given a score from 0-9.  0 being the most safe, 9 being highly toxic.  The database has quite a few products in it but not everything.  But, for those products that are not in the database,  I have found that I can look up the ingredient(s) in it. 

*You can find a link to the Cosmetics Database on my list of Noted Websites.

I first used the database to find a "safe" or "toxin free" sunscreen for Ruthie this past summer.  I found one I was pretty happy with by the brand of Badger.  I started looking up the soap, wipes, ointments, etc. that I was using on Ruthie and was surprised to see that quite a few had some pretty toxic substances in it.  Do I know how much of the "toxins" were in the product?  No, I decided I didn't want to expose her at all -  if I could help it (or afford it!).  Now yes, I understand the arguement that all of us who are parents now have probably been exposed to all this stuff since we were infants too and we've all turned out fine........well, maybe. 

So I changed the baby wipes I used as well as the soap/shampoo I used on Ruthie.  I now use California Organics baby wipes on her - they are great, relatively inexpensive and are devoid of most of the chemicals that other brands have in their products.  My gifted friend, Katie, found a great recipe for making your OWN baby wipes - this means you can make them with whatever you want!  How cool is that?  You can check out the recipe - she posted it on her blog:
(Yes, I did try to make some myself, but used the wrong kind of paper towels - you need to use something that's got a little strength to it otherwise they fall apart in your hands -not so bueno.  To be continued....  :)

So, the first soap I tried on Ruthie was a castille based soap (made from olive oil) and it worked ok.  I decided to get some for myself to try.  Hmmmmm....well that didn't go so well.  I could not get the castille soap out of my hair!  And it did not lather at all.  I'd wash my hair and dry it and it would look like I hadn't washed it in a week!!!  It looked and felt extremely oily!  It was awful!  (I was thinking to myself - how do people use this stuff?!?!)  UGH!  Well, I was about ready to give up on it all and found that if you rinsed your hair afterwards with vinegar it got rid of all that "gunk" worked pretty well - except the comments from my husband that I smelled like vinegar.....hmmmm..not very attractive.  Ok, time to look for another alternative.  I researched other's suggestions online for using organic made soaps/shampoos and found many of the problems people had encountered were largely in part to having hard water.  We were meaning to get a water softener installed anyway because we already knew we had very hard water.  So, the soft water helped but the castille based soap still just wasn't doing it for me......taking a shower had turned into a chore - no longer a nice, relaxing experience :/

I started looking for other soaps to try and found a company called Soap for Goodness Sake*.  Many of their soaps had low ratings on the Cosmetics Database so I thought I'd order some samples and try them out.  It took some getting used to using a bar of soap on my hair for shampoo but they lathered up so well and the lather was so luxurious that I was over that in no time.  :)  AND they smell heavenly - some very herby, and some very yummy.  I no longer pine for the body washes and soaps from the chain stores I used to frequent.  I think the best part of all for me is it simplified my routine.  I use one bar of soap on my hair (no need for conditioner anymore), face, body and for shaving.

*If you'd like to check out the soaps by Soap For Goodness Sake, you can find a link in my list of Noted Websites.  And no, I am not being paid to endorse them - I just wanted to share my positive experience with their products. 

On another note, my face has cleared up dramatically - my deep pores no longer get clogged constantly.  I dont' use the myriad of face products anymore - just the bar soap to clean, witch hazel to tone when needed now and then and dab an essential oil on here and there for moisturizing - as needed.  I used to have VERY oily skin.  No longer.  My face feels good all the time and I am not doing much to it.  I hardly put much makeup on either - haven't needed it.  Its truly been a liberating experience for me.  I feel good and I like what I see when I look in the mirror.

Its alot cheaper too - I dont spend a fraction of what I used to on facial products.  One bar of soap costs me $4-5 and that's about all I need. 

So, I am back to enjoying my guilty pleasure of lathering up with some incredibly scented soap in the shower and feeling like I am doing something REALLY good for myself and my family.  :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Down the "Organic" Trail....

So, as I bumble along the trail on the "quest" to consume more organics in our family's diet, I found a CSA in our area!  This is very exciting!  I have read alot about CSAs on a few message boards for organic living as well as other health-related articles here and there.  CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.

One the hardest things about going organic is finding organic groceries.  Because currently every grocery store in my area may have a few organic items, but not all.  So this is what happens in my reality :  to find all ingredients for an organic dinner, I have to stop at one store to get the organic meat, another store for the veggies, another store for the onion that the other store didnt have, etc.  What ends up happening is I run all over the city buying an item here or there and probably waste a TON of gas AND give myself a headache for all the frustration.  Enter the CSA.  CSA's promise to help with this by pulling produce and products from local farms in the area and procuring and sorting and delivering to your door in one shot.  Sounds great.  Its just a little pricey.  But then again - If I counted up all the gas and the time I wasted running all around town to find these items - maybe the price isn't so bad after all.

So a few weeks ago i tried the CSA and signed up to receive a local box.  Not bad.  I just expected the box to be full to the brim, I guess and there was only enough in the box to cover the bottom of the bin.  :(
See my picture of the local box below:

So I was a little depressed by that.  But I may still give it another go.  Its a great concept, really.  And if you can use all the items in the box, how can you go wrong?  Will keep you posted on my next Greenling delivery....  :)

*If you would like to give Greenling a try - you can find the link to their site in my list of Noted Websites.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Oh, the changes a baby brings! :)

I think the first of the changes I implemented was for Ruthie's diet when she began to eat solids.  Some of my friends, with babies, had talked about saving money by making their own baby food for their kiddos and the thought had crossed my mind to try it but I thought it probably would be more trouble than it was worth. Well, one of those friends let me borrow a book called, Top 100 Baby Purees by Annabel Karmel.  (Thank You Katie!) And I thought, "Hey what the heck, I'll try one of these."  IT WAS WAY EASY.  Ridiculously easy.  steam the food, puree, put in a freezer tray, pop out of tray next morning and put in big Ziploc and keep in freezer till needed.  EASY.  and when you fix the food - grab a cube out of freezer - put in microwave for 20 sec and "Wha-La!"  instant baby food.  this was highly empowering to me - and it felt great  to know we were saving some serious money by doing this.  It was also great to know EXACTLY what i was feeding my baby and allowed me to go a step further by choosing organic fruits and vegetables to make her baby food with.

At this point i was really not concerned at all with what me and papa were eating (whether it was organic, natural, etc) or not.  Its all about Miss Ruthie at this point.

So my obsession with Ruthie eating organic began with fruits and vegetables, and as we added more new foods to her diet, I tried to find organic versions of those to feed her as well.  So at this point in time, Ruthie has eaten most of her solid diet from organic food.  probably 85-90%.  why not 100%?  well, some things are REALLY hard to come by in organic.  Like meat - and when you do come across it - ground beef for $7.99/lb.....its really difficult to fit that into our budget right now.  BUT I did find an alternative for that and that was the prepackaged baby food brand of SPROUT that started showing up on our HEB's shelves.  All organic and Ruthie loves all the different varieties.  And we've introduced her to alot of flavors this way of things we don't even normally eat - so hopefully she won't be as picky of eaters as we are.  ;)

At some point, I did wonder about the formula that she was consuming - (Kirkland's Signature from Costco) and what was in it.  But after doing some research and visiting several different grocery stores LOOKING for an organic alternative - I really didn't find much and what I did find would have been too expensive to change to.  So I decided to just "stick it out" on the formula and when the time came to transition to cow's milk - Ruthie would be drinking organic milk.  And so, that's where we are now.  Ruthie has been drinking a glass of organic cow's milk everyday for the past few days.  And after she's been doing that for a couple weeks we will slowly begin to wean her from the formula.

She loves yogurt so we feed her alot of the YO BABYorganic  yogurt made by Stonyfield Farms.  Its made from whole milk also.  And its some pretty darn tasty stuff - I can understand why she loves it!  :)  We've found organic versions of most of the Gerber snacks on the shelves, like yogurt bites and puffs and they all taste good and Ruthie likes them all just fine.

And because she is beginning to eat a little of what we are eating now, we are (ever so slowly) transitioning some of the foods we eat into organic versions.  For example, eggs.  We eat scrambled eggs on Saturday mornings - especially lately and Ruthie likes them a lot.  and they give her an opportunity to feed herself so we let her go wild with them.  We have found that the organic eggs taste better to us as well.  So, its a little more expensive for the organic eggs, but we feel we are making up for it in taste and a healthier value for our  bodies.  :)  We've also tried some organic pasta - pretty good - can't really tell a difference in taste.  Slowly, we are adding more and more items to our pantry shelves that are organic.  Now sometimes, there's just not any organic options out there - and in those cases, we buy what we always have in the past.  But we are always on the lookout for an organic option.  I will say that for some produce - with very thick peels, you can probably get away with consuming the conventional version.  There's a list floating around of the "Dirty Dozen"* on the internet.  If you're going to only do a few foods organic - these are ones that you would benefit the most from (the theory is that pesticides and such are stored and applied to the skin of the produce - most of the dirty dozen are produce that you would consume the skin)  So, you'd probably want to purchase organic fresh blueberries, but wouldn't need to worry about spending the extra on organic bananas unless you intend to eat the peel.  :)

*A link to the Dirty Dozen is included on my list of Noted Websites.

I know I'm not the only person out there that is interested in consuming more foods from organic sources.  Over the past few months, I have seen more and more organic items on the grocery shelves.  That's good - because every dollar you spend is like a vote.  Its telling the grocery chain what you want to continue to see on their shelves.  I remember my dad always saying that Money talks.  And that it always said, "Bye, bye", or you could read that as "Buy, Buy".  Money is definitely talking for us all in this situation.  :)  Guess Dad was right!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Where it all started...

I guess this all got started with a few random comments and conversations with friends a few years ago.  And some of those comments were "Do you really know what is in the food you eat?" or "What is in that lotion that you use on your body everyday?".  Frankly, I never gave these things a second thought - UNTIL I was pregnant with my first child.  There's something about being pregnant that changes your perspective on life - especially as you get closer to delivering.  Maybe its all those hormones!  Ha!

Well after that baby arrived - I began doing a little research, kinda for fun, kinda out of curiosity to see if I really could find some answers to these questions that have been looming and growing in the back of my mind, kind of like little pearls in an oyster.  I came across the Environmental Working Group's website for their cosmetic database and typed in a few of my lotions and wasn't really happy with what I read about the ingredients in those products.  And so my "quest" so to speak to live healthier had begun.  I've been slowly using up all my current toiletries and related items and replacing them with products that are made from more natural and organic ingredients.  It has definitely made me feel better about myself and my body.  But I really went an extra step with our baby, by trying to use organic products, food, etc on her as much as I can.

In this transition, I thought it would be hard, but really it has simplified my life somewhat - I don't use but a few products on my face and body anymore and I find that my skin is clearer and I feel just as good about using them as I did using the old favorites.  (Because yes, there is something therapeutic about lathering up with a fabulous scented soap in the shower - Its one of my guilty pleasures) :)

And so my monologue begins......

Thursday, September 22, 2011