Spit That Out!

The Overly Informed Parent's Guide to Raising Children in the Age of Environmental Guilt by Paige Wolf

Blogging about green guilt, eco-anxiety, and finding practical, reasonable ways to keep our families safe and healthy.
October 16th, 2014

Don’t Muddle the Movement: How Can the Real Food Movement Speak with One Clear Voice?

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Being part of a movement is empowering and inspiring. Nothing fuels one’s passion and purpose like being surrounded by likeminded people – whether in person at events like ShiftCon or even on a Facebook group or message board. It’s thrilling to see the power of numbers, working together for a common cause.

But what happens when not all of your causes are common? What if something you spend your life working towards gets lumped together with something you don’t even agree with?

Not all animal advocates agree with PETA’s tactics (Hi!). Not all liberal democrats are against the death penalty (Right here!). And not all advocates for real food, GMO labeling, organic farming, and a sustainable, healthy food system are anti-vaccinnation!

In fact, the connection that is made in this final instance has me extremely troubled.

There is a movement against healthy food advocacy and GMO-labeling that labels us all as “anti-science.” These groups use examples of extremist news sources like Dr. Mercola and Natural News to feed the notion that all health and environmental advocates also believe we should eliminate vaccines and can cure Ebola with essential oils and prevent polio with breastmilk. So I can see why they might find us all a little crazy. There’s just one problem. MOST of the folks who want to see a change in the food system don’t agree with these things!

According to a recent study, 93% of Americans show support for GMO labeling. I don’t have any statistics on how many Americans are keeping their children entirely unvaccinated, but it’s probably the vast minority.

I have quite a few friends and colleagues who I deeply respect and who chose not to vaccinate or not to follow the the prescribed schedule. This is an instance where we simply agree to disagree. People and their belief systems are not black and white. I know environmental advocates who carry a gun in their purse and love to go hunting on the weekends. I also know environmental advocates who are so vegan they wouldn’t even be comfortable if I ordered a steak at dinner.

By definition, environmentalists are pro-science. We believe the 99.9% of scientists that say climate change is real and man-made. We think it’s crazy that only a small percent of the 80,000 chemicals used in our products are scientifically tested for safety. We think it’s insane that the food and products produced for other countries are held to a higher health standard than what is sold in the U.S.

And that link brings us to FoodBabe, the subject of so much controversy and ire. There are at least three separate well-followed Facebook pages dedicated solely to making fun of her and “taking her down.”

In my opinion, Food Babe is not the ideal spokesperson for the healthy food movement. I don’t agree with her post on claiming to have food allergies in restaurants and I sure don’t agree with her stance on flu shots. I don’t like her policy of deleting comments from her social media, and she wouldn’t be my personal choice for leader of the food movement. BUT, she has managed to rally people against misleading marketing, unfair health double standards, and horrific ingredients in manufactured food. And by rallying these people, she has produced great change and gained plenty of attention. Do I wish she agreed with me on everything in life? Sure. But I have to be realistic and appreciate her for the good she has done.

It’s the “liberal lumping” that’s the problem. And it goes both ways. Certainly, not all Republicans are pro-life or against marriage equality.

Just because I consider myself a “green mom,” doesn’t mean I don’t take tylenol (and Zoloft). I use air-conditioning. I’ve bought cases of baby formula. I have never, nor do I intend, to brew kombucha. And I was first in line for the flu shot this fall.

Everyone within a movement has their own views and opinions – Occupy Wall Street went to hell in a handbasket because no one could articulate  a clear vision. So as different as we may be, us “healthy  green moms” have one clear vision in common, and it has nothing to do with vaccines or religion or veganism.

Our vision is for transparency and honesty from the food, cosmetics, and other manufacturing industries.

We undeniably agree that products produced for Americans should be held to the same standards as those manufactured for use abroad.

We want more accessible, affordable access to food that has not been genetically-modified or treated with dangerous pesticides.

We want fair farming practices that support the farmers, the environment, and humanely raised animals.

We want to be heard. And when too many other controversial issues get lumped in there, we just become white noise.

Promote any lifestyle you like and shout your beliefs from the mountaintops.

But we have to find a way to make the public hear us speak to these key issues with one clear, unwavering voice.

P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy my monthly newsletter. Receive green living news, discounts, giveaways, and events delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.

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October 14th, 2014

Giveaway Naturepedic Trio Organic Pillow System

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We talk a lot about the importance of an organic mattress and organic linens. But what about your pillow? This is where your face is spending about a third of your life!

Personally, I need a firm pillow, and many of the organic pillows on the market just weren’t cutting it. So when I tried out the Naturepedic Trio Organic Pillow System I was thrilled to find something natural, pure, and sturdy!

A great pillow requires a soft surface for comfort and a contouring support system for proper postural alignment. Many pillows approximate this balance, but to fully realize it requires some out of the box thinking. The Naturepedic Trio Organic Pillow System, is an innovative and customizable pillow designed to address this inherent duality. Featuring dual action compression, the quilted outer encasement offers a fluffy cloud-like feeling, while the shredded latex core provides comfortable balanced support. You can even machine wash and dry the quilted encasement!

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Of course, there are no flame retardants for a healthy non-toxic design.The inner core is made of organic cotton sateen fabric and organic shredded latex fill, with an easy access zipper for adjusting the amount of fill. The quilted encasement is made from two layers of organic cotton stretch knit fabric and PLA filling for resiliency and washability. And the outer pillowcase is made from luxurious organic cotton sateen fabric.

Naturepedic specializes in the design and manufacturing of quality organic mattresses for infants, toddlers, children and adults that promote natural and organic materials, a non-toxic design, fire safety, and overall health & safety. All Naturepedic natural and organic mattresses have been designed with the help of pediatricians, orthopedic specialists, chemists and engineers, and are constructed by Amish craftsmen. They have done the research and gathered the right materials so that you can focus on what really counts – giving yourself or your child a healthy sleep environment.

Giveaway: Enter to Win a Trio Organic Pillow ($139 value) 

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Disclosure: I received samples of these products for review. Regardless, my opinions are honest. See my full disclosure here. 

P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy my monthly newsletter. Receive green living news, discounts, giveaways, and events delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.

Naturepedic Organic Baby Mattresses

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October 8th, 2014

TV That Inspires Kids to Get Crafty: Amazon Studios: Creative Galaxy Review

Screen Time, Screen Time – it’s always a controversy. But realistically, children are going to be using gadgets for everything from communication to schoolwork. So if we are going to let them watch and play, it’s a huge plus if it’s something interactive and educational.

We are always looking for new craft ideas and a new show on Amazon Studios offers great incentive and imagination. Creative Galaxy, produced by Out of the Blue Enterprises with Angela Santomero (Blue’s Clues, Super Why!), is a make-along, create-along, interactive art adventure series for preschoolers. Characters Arty and Epiphany travel around the galaxy to solve problems with art, inspiring creative thinking through crafts, music and dance. To give kids and parents the real-life tools they need to re-create Arty’s experience, a live-action piece at the end of each animated episode will take viewers through the craft project that Arty showcased in the galaxy.

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Without even being prompted, my five-year-old informed me that he liked how the show “teaches you how to be creative.” And our creativity started with a lesson in “pointillism,” which may seem like an advanced concept for a preschooler, but is actually pretty simplistic – paint with dots! We just happened to have a couple of artist canvases and a “Do-a-Dot” paint set Sam received as birthday gifts. The paint set didn’t entirely conform to my standards of non-toxic and left days of hand stains, but he thoroughly enjoyed them.

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This series is designed to support a child’s natural inclination to use their imaginations, make, and create.  In every episode, the characters will use “fix it with art” to model the importance of art as a resource for life. The series helps kids at home feel as if they are making art along with Arty, through its interactive story format. As “helper artists”, the kids at home will “create” alongside Arty, empowering them as “makers” in a media format.

It is important to develop a child’s relationship to art to get them comfortable with the idea of taking chances both artistically and throughout their other spheres of development. Art is instrumental in building fine motor skills, engaging the senses, and opening up problem-solving abilities.

The series also brings awareness to the fact that people literally find themselves immersed in art most of the time: Sculptures, posters, fashion, music, landscape design – whether we think of our world as art or not – it is!

If a show can actually encourage my child to want to turn off the TV and create when it’s over, it’s worth the screen time to me.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

 

P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy my monthly newsletter. Receive green living news, discounts, giveaways, and events delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.

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October 6th, 2014

What I Learned at ShiftCon

What does it take for me to leave my two young children, buy an airline ticket, and fly cross-country by myself for four days? Well, it would either be a tropical vacation in which I am being fanned by pool boys OR the first annual ShiftCon Conference.

Imagine hundreds of the country’s most influential bloggers and social media movers gathered under one roof to talk about how they can charge the national discussion around the way our families eat, live, impact our environment? Add in 60 of the brands (think Stonyfield, Earth Mama Angel Baby, Boiron, Dr. Bronners, and Organic Valley) and non-profit organizations that could help energize that effort and you have an event I would not miss for anything.

I had the opportunity to speak at ShiftCon, the first international conference for bloggers and activists in the health, wellness, and eco-conscious sphere. It is a space for sharing ideas about using our voices to actually create change, something that is rapidly happening as we leverage our collective influence.

ShiftCon is a three day catalyst to further empower those who shape the conversations filling our social media news feeds and status updates. Many of the attendees have already done that, featured in the national media for their efforts – and successes – in everything from getting artificial ingredients out of major food brands, taking toxic chemicals out of mass-manufactured toys, and changing national legislation.

ShiftCon presented three days of panels, parties, organic meals, heavy hitter keynotes, and the opportunity to connect with non-profits working to change laws and get new ones on the books. I got to rub elbows with renowned Gary Hirshberg, Chairman of Stonyfield Farm; Dr. Alan Greene; Robyn O’Brien, founder of the AllergyKids Foundation and author of “The Unhealthy Truth;” Vani Hari (aka The Food Babe); and so many more brilliant authors, writers, filmmakers, non-profit leaders, and activists. Most importantly, I got to spend time just hanging out with a group of the most amazing friends from around the country who are leading the charge for a better world.

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I hope the audience at my panel learned a few new things to help and inspire their shift.

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I know there are plenty of new things I know now because I attended ShiftCon:

1. I need to trademark my blog name and “brand” Spit That Out before it inevitably becomes co-opted for pornographic purposes.

2. You should always consult a science partner before launching an advocacy campaign in the chemical/toxicity/health arena. Also, get legal review – or the partnership of a nonprofit with legal review – before launching a major brand-specific campaign.

3. Save your citrus rinds and add them to white vinegar for a powerful grease-cutting cleaner

4. One blog post CAN change a company. It happened with Vani Hari and a massive frozen yogurt company labeling itself as organic. Then it happened with Subway’s “yoga mat” bread and Johnson and Johnson’s toxic chemicals in baby shampoo. It happened with Lori Alper’s petitions to Disney and Tide.  It CAN happen.

5. And it has to happen. Because here is the craziest thing I learned – this isn’t a whole world problem. It’s mostly just an American problem. There are INSANE double standards in what companies are putting on American shelves versus European shelves! You might know that most nations are already labeling GMOS – just not America. But did you know that Europe has banned more than 1300 cosmetic ingredients, while the U.S. hasbanned or restricted only 11!?  It’s the same story with our food ingredients.  In fact, the Kraft Mac & Cheese or Ritz Crackers or even Starburst candies you buy in a European market have completely different and SAFER ingredients than the ones you buy in the U.S.! As long as we allow these companies to serve us toxic crap because it’s cheaper for them to manufacture, they will!

If you aren’t pissed off you aren’t paying attention! So wake up. We’re moving fast and we need you to help us accelerate. Buckle up and join the SHIFT.

P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy my monthly newsletter. Receive green living news, discounts, giveaways, and events delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.

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September 30th, 2014

Giveaway: Stur Natural Water Enhancer

Back when I was in the process of writing Spit That Out I was still drinking Crystal Light. Some habits become so ingrained it takes a while to even realize what you are doing! Fortunately I was able to easily make the switch to home-brewed iced tea and cucumber water for times when I wanted something more flavorful than plain water with my meal.

So when I was introduced to STUR at Healthy Brand Showcase I wasn’t immediately sold. STUR is an all-natural liquid water enhancer made from only natural fruit and stevia extracts. Sure, it was a great alternative for folks hooked on artificial drink enhancers or even Kool-Aid or cola, but what was so hard about just drinking water? Then I thought about all the times I have spent the money for $4 iced tea at restaurants which was likely out of a Minute Maid container. I also thought about the painstaking cucumber peeling and chopping every other day.

And then I just tasted the stuff. And it was really, really good. I mean this stuff tasted exactly like coconut water or iced tea – and that’s because it is actually made with those completely natural ingredients.

Stur’s mission is to inspire people to drink more water which is a good motive considering the average American drinks a mere 2.5 glasses of water and otherwise “hydrates” with sugar-sweetened beverages! Stur was made by a husband for his wife, so she could drink more water naturally and stay hydrated while pregnant with twins. Having no interest in consuming all of the artificial sweeteners, flavors, and colors on the market, he headed to the kitchen to create a natural water enhancer to add flavor to his wife’s water—and Stur was born.

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Stur is unique in that the brand uses stevia as a sweetener but they handle it with care. Stevia leaves are steeped in warm water (no chemicals are used in the processes—it may cost more money to do this but it is less processed and the result is no bitter aftertaste) to extract the sweetness.  The natural flavor and color of the products come from non-GMO real fruit and vegetable extracts. The results are zero calorie flavors like Strawberry-Watermelon, Coconut Water (which is made from fresh coconut water), Iced Tea with Lemon (which is made from steeped black tea), Orange Mango and more. Each serving of Stur is also fortified with Vitamin C.

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Each little bottle of Stur makes 20 8-oz glasses of flavored water — pair that with your reusable water bottle and you are making a healthy and eco-friendly drink choice.

So now I’m hooked. And I’m about to hook one of you lucky readers!

Giveaway: Enter to win three STUR variety bottles:

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Disclosure: I received samples of these products for review. Regardless, my opinions are honest. See my full disclosure here. 

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September 26th, 2014

Rhythm Babies Music Classes Offer a Different Beat for Philly Families

Whether you live in the city or the ‘burbs, there are plenty of music classes available for children and babies. But there are only so many times you can repeat “If You’re Happy and You Know It” ad nauseum until your brain melts.

Fortunately Rhythm Babies takes a more creative approach to their early childhood music classes at various locations throughout Philadelphia. Each week employs a different theme and you never know if you’ll be listening to international drum beats or singing jazz standards a cappella. Of course, the ribbons, maracas, and sticks imperative to all baby and child music classes are available to keep things interesting – and keep the kids out of your handbag.

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Rhythm Babies mission is to improve young children’s auditory senses, cognitive and musical skills through singing, rhythm, and creative movement activities. Owner Julie Salvano, was trained through the Kodaly Method, which focuses on learning music through singing, movement, and listening. While enhancing activity in the problem-solving and decision areas of the brain, Rhythm Babies classes focus on a music readiness program. This program hones skills such as rhythm, melody, and beat. Activities and programming follow a curriculum based on singing and rhythm chant; pitch recognition; call and response; performance ability; rhythm realization; and music appreciation. Every week a new musical theme is introduced to the children along with their favorite creative play activities, giving them a positive outlook on learning through music.

Perhaps most importantly, Julie has a beautiful singing voice. And after listening to the off-pitch mommy-and-me class singing on the Babies First Channel (really, couldn’t they find someone who could carry a tune?), it’s a welcome refrain.

To find a schedule of classes in your neighborhood, visit www.rhythmbabies.com. You can even buy an eight class punch card for $70 which gives you one class free – no expiration!

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Disclosure: I have a paid relationship with the brand featured in this post. Regardless, my opinions are honest. See my full disclosure here. 

 

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September 23rd, 2014

Don’t Let One Dim Bulb Spoil The Whole Energy-Saving Bunch

It’s such a shame when good green intentions leave consumers frustrated with the results. Have you been hearing from people in your community that energy efficient bulbs may not be all they’re cracked up to be? Some people have said they bought a CFL or LED and it just didn’t perform. It makes them want to shift back to energy-wasting incandescents, just so they can have reliable light. Plus, they end up telling their own communities about their negative experience. One bad egg spoils the whole bunch, except this time, it’s a bad bulb!

Why exactly does this happen? As with all consumer products, the label makes a big difference—bulbs that have earned the EPA ENERGY STAR save significant amounts of energy and money because they are independently certified to save energy, undergoing extensive testing to ensure high quality and the performance you expect. Most people who go shopping for an LED probably look for the words “energy saving,” which any company can slap on any bulb. What they really need to be looking for is the ENERGY STAR label.

LED PKG ENERGY STAR logo

LED bulbs offer one of the most effective and affordable ways we can save energy and money. The best LEDs are those that have been independently certified to meet ENERGY STAR criteria to deliver the high quality and performance consumers want and have a right to expect. The best, most reliable LEDs bear the ENERGY STAR label. Here are specific reasons why it is important to encourage consumers to purchase ENERGY STAR-labeled LEDs.

FIRST, WHY SHIFT TO LEDS?

Making the shift to energy-efficient lighting offers big benefits for people, the planet, and our pocketbooks.

PEOPLE – LEDs help reduce air pollution, making the air healthier to breathe for kids and others who suffer from asthma, heart disease and many respiratory ailments.

  • Reduce air pollution – Most household energy still comes from coal-burning power plants. About 25% of the energy we use at home powers our lighting – from ceiling fixtures and under-counter lights to table and bedside lamps. An LED uses 75% less energy than a standard bulb, limiting the need to burn that much more coal.

PLANET – Speaking of energy, if every household replaced just one light bulb with one that has earned the ENERGY STAR, we would save enough energy to light three million homes for a whole year.

  • Reduce climate change – We would also prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to that of 800,000 vehicles. LEDs are a terrific solution to climate change.

POCKETBOOK – Any time we save energy, we save money. Though an LED bulb costs a little more up front, it saves a whole lot more during the life of the bulb.

  • Save money – According to ENERGY STAR, a single LED bulb can save $80 in electricity costs over the lifetime of the product.

PLUS – LED technology is so efficient, one bulb can last as long as 20 years or 25,000 hours. That’s particularly convenient for hard-to-reach places like ceilings and outdoor fixtures.

LED bulb

WHY PREFER AN ENERGY STAR LED? BETTER QUALITY, MORE SAVINGS!

Some LEDs claim to save energy but fall far short when it comes to what they actually deliver. ENERGY STAR means high quality and reliable performance, particularly in the following areas:

  • Long Lasting: ENERGY STAR certified LED bulbs are put through rigorous long term testing to simulate real life use and carry a minimum 3 year warranty. That’s why one LED bulb can last more than 20 years!
  • Energy Savings: ENERGY STAR certified LEDs use 70-90% less energy than standard bulbs, and last up to 25 times longer.
  • Money Savings: A single LED bulb can save $80 in electricity costs over the lifetime of the product. That means you’ll save $80 on every LED you install.
  • Light Distribution: LED bulbs that have earned the ENERGY STAR will match the light distribution of the incandescent bulbs they advertise they are replacing.
  • Color Quality: 6 different color metrics are used to make sure that consumers get the best color quality from the first day of purchase to after years of use.
  • Dimmability: All ENERGY STAR certified bulbs must indicate on the front of the package whether or not they are dimmable. If they are, a list of compatible dimmers must be provided.

WHAT DOES IT TAKE FOR AN LED TO GET ENERGY STAR CERTIFIED?

  • All ENERGY STAR certified lighting products are subject to thorough testing and review before they can bear the label, including:
    • Verified compliance with more than 20 separate industry standards and procedures
    • Third-party testing of products off the retail shelf
    • Rapid cycling of bulbs thousands of times to find early failures
    • Testing to stress the products in operating environments similar to how you will use the product in your home


With 70% of U.S. light sockets still containing inefficient bulbs, there is huge potential for American consumers to find lighting options that save them energy, money and help protect the environment from climate change. LED bulbs are quickly gaining steam as the most innovative and long lasting alternative to incandescent bulbs.

The great news – ENERGY STAR certified LED bulbs are experiencing dramatic changes in price! At some stores you can now buy an ENERGY STAR LED bulb for as low as $5 with in-store rebates. But remember, even if the bulb costs $10, it will save you $80 in reduced electricity costs over its lifetime.

ENERGY STAR is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) voluntary program that has been helping businesses and individuals save money and protect our air and climate through superior energy efficiency for over 20 years.

To learn more about ENERGY STAR certified LED bulbs, visit www.energystar.gov/lighting

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September 15th, 2014

I Ran the Philly10K – Lived To Tell and Didn’t Smell (A Piperwai Review)

I wanted to write a blog post about my amazing new client Piperwai Natural Deodorant. I also wanted to write a post about my experience with the Philly10K. Then I realized it only made sense to write these two together.

Let’s start with a flashback: Three years ago I posted about my foray into running with great excitement about running for a grand total of three minutes.   After much training, Crossfit, and a pregnancy thrown in, I shocked and astounded myself with the ability to run 6.2 miles.

After completing my first 5K more than two years ago I really had no desire to up the distance. I didn’t love running. I liked obstacle courses, CrossFit competitions, and silly scavenger hunt races. But long distance running was not my cup of tea.

Then my husband heard about the Philly 10K  and e-mailed me, “Paige, if you are ever going to do a 10K, do this one.”

Hmmm. It is right around my neighborhood. I’d have three months to train. Eh, what the hell, let’s sign up!

And training went surprisingly well. I started by just getting myself back up to a 5K and started increasing farther and farther. Discovering the Schuylkill River Trail just over a mile from my house was extremely helpful, allowing me to run by the breezy river, passing hundreds of other people with the same goal.

I managed the 6.2 mile run three times in advance of the race. Each time left me a little tired, but I was able to go about the rest of my day with minimal trouble. I had zero concerns about race day. And then:

85 degrees with 88 percent humidity. And this was not the breezy river loop – this was hot sun beating down on cement. This was the smell of foul garbage roasting on the oven that is Spring Garden street. This was hell. 

And I am used to working out in some gnarly conditions. I go to CrossFit in an un-air-conditioned garage in the midst of heat advisories (and then do a workout called “Heat Advisory” – you can only imagine). I am no stranger to sweat.

The Philly 10K team planned well, but clearly did not expect the need for so much water. In fact, with only two water stops I know I was not the only runner who felt like I was on the verge of a heat stroke. When I felt like I was starting to get chills running past Market Street, I stopped at a newspaper kiosk and begged a stranger to buy me a bottle of water. Then I drank it too fast and got a cramp. By the last quarter mile I was ready to vomit. And when I crossed the finish line, I proceeded to sweat for a solid 30 minutes, just sitting on a bench.

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Despite the conditions, I was fairly happy with my time. While my Map My Run app had me running a 9:13 mile and mapped a total of 6.5 miles, in reality I timed 59:33 on the actual chip (9:36 min mile). This placed me right around the top 25% in my division! Hooray!

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However, this race took a massive toll on me. Four days later I am still sore and reeling from a virus that has me bedridden. I pushed my body too far in treacherous weather conditions. Stupid? Probably. But I have no regrets and plan to sign up for the Broad Street Run in May.

Now, let’s back up to those 30 minutes where I sat and sweated out the entire water content of my body. Immediately after my friend Elana sniffed under her arm and said, “Hey! I used that Piperwai Deodorant you gave me and I don’t smell at all!” I smelled myself, “Wow! Neither do I!”

So that is pretty much all you need to know about Piperwai Natural Deodorant apart from the fact that it is handmade in Philly by two cool young girls who have been best friends since they sold lemonade together in the fourth grade (kinda like me and Elana!) This unisex charcoal creme is so effective, you’ll never want to use anything else on your underarms again – I promise!

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September 9th, 2014

Greening a Five Year Old’s Birthday Party on a Budget

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Here we go again with the birthday party planning – and FIVE is a big one! My son wants to invite everyone he ever met, load them up with goodies, and have a grand piñata finale. So how do we keep a party for 30+ kids fairly green and under a $500 budget? Fortunately, I have been thinking about this for a while.

September is a great time for an outdoor party and we have plenty of lovely public parks and playgrounds. But I, for one, am not taking a chance on a rainy day. So we found a small local playground with a no-frills recreation center that we can rent for $100. Done.

On to the theme: Our family is not averse to well-timed doses of television or celebrating fictional characters. This year we are going with Special Agent Oso, a Disney Junior program that breaks down everyday tasks into preschooler-sized “missions.” We’re going to take the special agent theme a step further with scavenger hunt missions around the playground and even find a way to green that piñata! Ready for your “three special steps?” Because we actually have like 30…

Scavenger Hunt Treasure

We gathered rocks and random slabs of granite from around the neighborhood, painted them, and doused them in glitter.

Total Cost? $5 for glitter. Total Environmental Cost? Rocks are as green as it gets. Conventional paint and glitter don’t help the planet, but I consider them an acceptable evil when it’s all about upcycling!

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Brilliant!

Tablecloths and Serveware

Paper and plastic tablecloths are a total waste. I was able to find plain white fabric tablecloths for $6 a piece that I will be able to use over again for events! And if you are better with a scissors than I, you can even buy a bolt of tablecloth fabric and cut it down yourself! Four tablecloths = $24 (and will never need to be purchased again). I will tally this total cost as $6 – price per use – as I am sure I will use these at least four more times

Compostable and biodegradable plates, cups, and cutlery are an imperfect science. Chances are they will not be disposed of properly and will not simply dissolve into the earth. BUT, using them avoids petrochemical plastics and uses more eco-friendly resources for manufacturing. We bought this all-inclusive-plate-and-cutlery-set for 50 guests for under $40.

Total Cost? $46 Total Environmental Cost? The amount of time it takes bio-based materials to degrade in Philadelphia landfill conditions + possible methane off-gassing.

Party Favors

I wanted to keep the party favors simple and functional and thought the kids would have a good time using magnifying glasses for the scavenger hunt. I refused to buy any worthless trinkets from Oriental Trading Company and scoured the internet for something affordable and actually useful. These kids magnifying glasses got decent reviews and I was able to buy 30 for a total of $42. I only wish they didn’t come individually wrapped in plastic baggies. Add some stickers and we have unique party gifts for all!

Total Cost? $42 Total Environmental Cost? Lots of plastic. But at least the products are useful and should make it home in one piece.

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Fine five-year-old handiwork.

Pinata

You can buy a conventional party pinata filled with absolute garbage for about $30. I found a Pinterest tutorial describing how to make your own piñata using a large balloon and paper mache. I bought a pack of three super big and sturdy latex balloons (the two extra are just for at-home fun!) Newspaper and water are free and a few tablespoons of flour costs pretty much nothing.

For the filling – here is where I got to have some fun! I spent a bit of money buying organic gummy treats and lollipops in bulk. But the rest of the stuff I threw into the pinata included things I had around the house like random samples of green baby shampoos and bodywashes and even a few little trinkets like stamps and stickers from previously received goody bags!

candy

There may have been a few gummy vitamins in this picture but they did not make it into the piñata because my husband reminded me that would be highly inappropriate.

And my most brilliant innovation for this thing was sticking a wire hanger through it for hanging! I’ll be honest, I am more proud of this thing than most of my life accomplishments. It’s going to be devastating to see it axed.

pinata

You know you are impressed!

Total Cost? $35 spent mostly on organic candy. Total Environmental Cost? A giant latex balloon is not very sustainable. However, I have recycled a wide variety of items, including the newspaper, and introduced kids and parents to some healthier treats!

Food

Here is where I say screw it and purchase plain ol’ conventional pizza. Seriously there are more than 30 kids showing up at this thing! (13 pies for $140). I make up for the junky pizza with cases of Honest Kids organic fruit drinks (on sale for $10.69 for 32 at Fresh Direct). But to my dismay I am pretty much forced to purchase bottled water as there is no realistic potable source in this rec center ($15 for two cases).

Total Cost? $166. Total Environmental Cost? Pretty high.

Cake

Our friend’s sister is a very talented “hobby baker” and always does a great job with our themed cakes. We don’t put any parameters on her as far as ingredients or even artificial icings – it would have been unreasonable to have asked her to make a Special Agent Oso cake for 60 people out of blueberries and organic buttercream. But we feel like homemade is still better than store bought and she gives us an amazing deal. (She asked for $50, we gave her $75).

The icing may be artificial but the contents are all real. Yum.

The icing may be artificial but the contents are all real. 

Total Cost? $75 Total Environmental Cost? Plus points for homemade, minus points for sugar content.

+ Balloons + Helium Tank

TOTAL: $495

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These kids LOVED the rocks and spyglasses.

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I will not shed a tear.

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Much chaos and a few tears ensued over the spoils of the piñata – until they realized they were fighting over shampoo.

Overall a success!

Overall a success!

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August 27th, 2014

The Real Dangers of Crossfit: My Dumbest, Silliest Crossfit Injuries

crossfit

There has been an insane amount of media buzz lately about the “dangers of CrossFit.” Everyone and your grandmother is suddenly concerned that you are taking part in this perilous new activity where you will certainly break every bone and get rhabdo.

I am far from a fitness expert but I think have enough personal experience –  CrossFitting for three years including a pregnancy – to have a bit of insight on this issue. CrossFit is dangerous and people do get injured. But debatably less so than skiing, football, driving in rush hour traffic, or being like the 80% of Americans who do not get recommended exercise at all. 

I think all the negative attention CrossFit draws stems from the fact that 1. Exponential growth in gyms and memberships = more potential for lousy trainers and sloppy training. 2. Exponential growth in gyms and memberships = increased physical activity by people of varying athletic abilities = more physical injuries. The same math could be applied to rising numbers of yoga injuries, running injuries, or ankles sprained while country line dancing. But where the intensity goes up the stakes inevitably get higher.

I can only speak for myself and my spouse, whose CrossFit gym experience has led to lowered cholesterol, lowered blood sugar, increased muscle mass, decreased body fat, increased confidence, energy, endurance, flexibility, and capability that applies itself well outside the “box.” There but for the grace of God have I avoided any serious injury despite my own occasional stupidity and failure to follow good form. But I know that all great rewards include some level of risk – and most likely, any serious injury would likely be my own fault.

Have I gotten hurt? Sure. But let’s break down a few of my “Top 9 Crossfit Injuries: Because There Simply Was Not a 10th  – yet”

1. Banging the kettlebell into my chin while being overzealous with a sumo deadlift high pull.

2. Pinching my own stomach fat between the kettlebell and rack upon return.

3. Stepping on a nail on the sidewalk on my way back into the gym after a run.

4. Rope burn on my thighs due to poor dismount and poor attire.

5. Whipping my ankles during double unders (this is a given for anyone on the learning curve).

6. Randomly walking into a rower/box/barbell/human (no real excuse for this one. Also not Crossfit exclusive).

7. Dropping a plate on my ankles trying to disembark from a prison squat.

8. Slightly bruising my wrists performing kellebell cleans.

9. And – the only one worthy of actual physical concern – tweaking my lower back while attempting a one-rep-max deadlift six weeks post-partum. By myself. For no reason. I mean, honestly, I pretty much deserved that one.

Not rhabdo. Just tired. (14.5 for those in the know).

Not rhabdo. Just tired. (14.5 for those in the know).

All of that said, if CrossFit is not your cup of tea, don’t do it. Find whatever motivates you to stay fit – yoga, pilates, biking, Zumba, running with your dog – really, whatever. Just don’t sit on the couch chastising CrossFit. It’s tiring. Not as tiring as actually doing CrossFit, but nonetheless, exhausting.

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