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.
August 26th, 2015

Building a Better Big Kid Bed with Naturepedic Two in One Kids Mattress

naturepedic

With the growing knowledge of phthalates, VOCs, and toxic flame retardants in conventional mattresses, new parents are increasingly interested in organic mattresses for their babies and children. After all, babies and young children spend at least half their time in bed!

I’ve written before about my regret using a conventional mattress for my newborns and made the switch to organic cotton for both of their big kid beds.

Unfortunately, without proper knowledge, you might find yourself buying a fake organic mattress. Since greenwashing know no limits – and no government agency regulates the labeling of mattresses as “organic” or “natural” – several companies label their mattresses ‘organic’ when they are technically not.

Fortunately there are brands we can trust like Naturepedic, backed up with meaningful certifications and a genuine concern for children’s’ health.

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We chose the Two-in-One Organic Cotton Ultra, which combines waterproof and quilted sides for an ideal children’s mattress. You can us the waterproof side when they first come out of the crib and aren’t fully nighttime potty-trained. The waterproof side also functions as a dust-mite barrier. When the child gets older, flip the mattress over for a more comfortable feel.

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The top side is made of Organic Cotton Waterproof Fabric with easy-to-clean 100% polyethylene waterproof surface (so pure it meets food contact standards). The bottom side features a luxuriously quilted organic cotton fabric for a more mature mattress feel. The organic cotton filling is a healthier alternative to synthetic fabrics and foams. Naturepedic uses only U.S. grown and certified organic cotton as filling for its mattresses and buys directly from USDA certified sources. This ensures purity, organic reliability, and support for U.S. farmers.

With a built-in dust mite barrier on the top and sides and no wool or latex, there is no need to worry about these high allergy materials.

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And with innovative mattress construction, Naturepedic passes all federal and state flammability standards without the use of fire retardant chemicals or flame retardant barriers. The finished mattress is certified organic to ensure that all components meet a healthy non-toxic standard. Certified by OTCO to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). All Naturepedic products are also tested for chemical emissions and certified according to GREENGUARD® Gold certification standards.

A good organic twin-sized mattress starts at $649. I know – it’s a lot. But it’s justified by the cost of the raw materials, the quality of the manufacturing process, and, of course, piece of mind.

I suggest splurging on the mattress and saving on the bed! We got our convertible IKEA twin bed for $20 on Craigslist. It’s also easy to find affordable organic cotton sheets places like Target.

What if you’re stuck with a traditional mattress in the meantime? Here are some tips:

  • Let your new mattress off-gas outside or in a well-ventilated area for awhile before using it.
  • Cover your mattress with an organic cotton cover or a natural latex, wool or cotton mattress topper.
  • For adults and older kids, consider buying a less expensive natural futon.
  • Get a HEPA air purifier – I am a big fan of these things for various reasons. Not only do they help absorb some of the yucky stuff and allergens in the air, they also make great white noise machines.
  • While we are purifying the air, try some plants!

Sweet dreams!

Disclosure: Naturepedic sent me a sample for review. Regardless, my opinions are honest. See my full disclosure here.

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August 17th, 2015

Make Money, Do Social Good, and Avoid Landfills: How to Do the Most Good Discarding Unwanted Items

Did you read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up? Did it lead you to throw away every item in your house or was the only thing you threw away the book?

It was a lovely sentiment, especially for someone who loathes clutter and takes pleasure in moving unwanted items to new homes. But what Marie Kondo was missing was the next step – what do you do with all that unwanted stuff? Can you make money with it? Do social good? Upcycle it? Give it to a neighbor?

For all you unclutterers out there, I have created a flow chart to help you figure out exactly what to do with the items you no longer need or want.

Learn more about the options included like Yerdle, Poshmark, and the Buy Nothing Project.

CLUTTER

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August 10th, 2015

Getting a Tattoo for my 36th Birthday: The Eco Risks Versus The Rewards

“My tattoos represent much of the pain and suffering I have endured. They are part of me, just like my scars, my fat, my eternal struggle with gravity. None of our bodies are ‘perfect’. We live in them. They aren’t supposed to be ‘perfect’.” – Margaret Cho, who got her first tattoo in her mid-30s.

Did I really need to get a full color tattoo the size of my hand three days before my 36th birthday?

By the grace of God I was wise enough to avoid tattoos in my teenage years. So many people I know have ill-advised butterfly tramp stamps that cause them to grimace apologetically. A girl I knew in high school – and still know today as a fellow Philadelphia mother – impulsively got a tattoo of the sun and moon on her left buttcheek. It was, unbeknownst to her, the sign of Islam.

At 26 I decided to take a shallow plunge with a tattoo I had always wanted – the astrological symbol for Leo on my left shoulder. It is small, black, and easy to cover up with a well-placed bra strap. And ten years ago I still like it, and feel secure in the decision I made as a 26-year-old woman – not quite who I would fully become, but old enough to have a semblance of self awareness.

The O.G.

The O.G.

And for a long time I thought that would be it. I was never impressed by tattooed arms and chests, massive portraits and “sleeves” of winding images that clash with the wrong color dress. A simple quote, a tribute, a small image with deep meaning – those were the tattoos I liked. And around the time of my 35th birthday I developed a secure sense of what I wanted to do next.

Tattoos are about using our bodies as a palette to tell the story of who we really are. And who we really are typically isn’t evident until after we have lived past the age of college partying and relationship hopping. I am now closer to 40 than 30, I have had my children, and I know what my true passions are. After a year of dallying, I was ready to tell my story.

My story is simple: a rose for my June baby girl and an aster for my September baby boy. And the words “Nothing But Flowers.”

The quote is the title of a Talking Heads song that talks about taking back the earth from over-industrialization. And it’s lyrics are the intro to my book, which David Byrne’s people kindly gave me permission to use.

The meaning is many-fold. Obviously, these flowers are my children. But all children are flowers. Nothing else matters.

This ink represents my children, my writing, my work, my passion. And even more meaningful to have it done just miles from the pristine Pocono mountaintops I am fortunate enough to have the strength to hike.

Ironically enough, there are eco implications to getting a tattoo. A furious Google search days before my appointment had me more confused than ever, coming across articles that pan the inks used in some tattoos as toxic and laden with heavy metals. Maybe this wasn’t such a great idea?

I continued to weigh the risks and rewards and decided to use the safest pigments I could find. I sought out a highly accredited artist who used one of the recommended brands of vegan inks that had a transparent MSDS sheet available. I also decided to stay away from red ink, which is generally the most worrisome, and tone the rose down to a more muted pink.

Overall, I decided that since I am so cautious to minimize my general toxin exposure, I could afford a little flirtation with mercury. I’m no longer breastfeeding or planning pregnancies. I was willing to take a calculated risk.

I was really not concerned with pain – I had gotten a (small) tattoo before, gone through several hours of unmedicated labor, and do my own Brazilian waxes. But I’m not going to lie – those two hours were pretty rough. I just put on my headphones and tried to breathe through it.

I literally incorporated my stretch marks into this hip tattoo

I literally incorporated my stretch marks into this hip tattoo

The result is beautiful. Sure, it is a bit muddled by the stretch marks on my hip, but that just makes it even more poignant. I know who I am and I know what my story is. It may evolve and it may expand, but I can confidently say that there will never be anything but flowers.

“(Nothing But) Flowers”

Here we stand
Like an Adam and an Eve
Waterfalls
The Garden of Eden
Two fools in love
So beautiful and strong
The birds in the trees
Are smiling upon them
From the age of the dinosaurs
Cars have run on gasoline
Where, where have they gone?
Now, it’s nothing but flowers

There was a factory
Now there are mountains and rivers
you got it, you got it

We caught a rattlesnake
Now we got something for dinner
we got it, we got it

There was a shopping mall
Now it’s all covered with flowers
you’ve got it, you’ve got it

If this is paradise
I wish I had a lawnmower
you’ve got it, you’ve got it

Years ago
I was an angry young man
I’d pretend
That I was a billboard
Standing tall
By the side of the road
I fell in love
With a beautiful highway
This used to be real estate
Now it’s only fields and trees
Where, where is the town
Now, it’s nothing but flowers
The highways and cars
Were sacrificed for agriculture
I thought that we’d start over
But I guess I was wrong

Once there were parking lots
Now it’s a peaceful oasis
you got it, you got it

This was a Pizza Hut
Now it’s all covered with daisies
you got it, you got it

I miss the honky tonks,
Dairy Queens, and 7-Elevens
you got it, you got it

And as things fell apart
Nobody paid much attention
you got it, you got it

I dream of cherry pies,
Candy bars, and chocolate chip cookies
you got it, you got it

We used to microwave
Now we just eat nuts and berries
you got it, you got it

This was a discount store,
Now it’s turned into a cornfield
you got it, you got it

Don’t leave me stranded here
I can’t get used to this lifestyle

 

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August 6th, 2015

Packing the “Perfect Lunch?” At Least I Can Count On Stonyfield

A six-year-old and a two-year-old. Two separate schools and two packed lunches every day. And, despite all efforts, the pickiest eaters in the world.

It seems like I can never get them to sit down for a proper breakfast or dinner. Threats, rewards, hiding vegetables in cake, cutting potatoes into letters and arranging fruit into smiley faces – I have tried it all. But for whatever reason, the one thing they (and almost every other kid I know) can agree on is yogurt. Thankfully there is Stonyfield stocking us with every variety of organic yogurt under the sun.

Smoothies, squeezies, frozen, or old-fashioned, with every kind of topping and texture. This is the easiest way to create variety for children who even fail to accept new foods when I give them blindfolded taste tests. So when those lunchboxes come home empty, I just have to hope the teachers aren’t letting them cheat!

Preview Document

One of our newest discoveries is freezing Stonyfield Squeezers, creating healthy ice pop snacks perfect for summer days. Something about squeezing just enthralls children (p.s. remember these things? Ew!I even loathed them as a child!)

New varieties from Stonyfield include the indulgent Petite Creme and Oh My Yog! as well as Greek, Squeeze Pouches, Chia Blends, and YoKids Cups. Warning: you might want to keep the Oh My Yog! all to yourself. Especially the pear one.

Disclosure: This post was created in partnership with Stonyfield. Regardless, my opinions are honest. See my full disclosure here. 

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July 27th, 2015

My Brush with the Big Screen: Being an Extra on Equity

When I was in the fourth grade something so truly bizarre happened, I actually would be sure I imagined it if there were not other witnesses.

I grew up in a super quiet suburb outside Philadelphia. Hours could go by without a car passing. But one morning in 4th grade I woke up to see a bunch of people and cameras directly in front of my house. I went outside to inquire and was told they were filming a Pepsi commercial. Why? Because my front yard had a good hill for skateboarding.

The premise of the commercial was that an 11-year-old girl bets her brother she can get a Pepsi before him (or something like that). Then there is some adventure to try to obtain it, involving said skateboard. This was a real commercial with real actors – a 4-year-old with a professional headshot and a sound guy who let me and my friends use our bikes to capture “bike sound.”

The fact that this happened in Huntingdon Valley, PA is still completely unexplainable and, despite exhaustive searching, I am quite sure it never aired.

That was my closest brush with Hollywood.

Sure, I have been on television. Mostly local TV where I play “myself,” or more accurately, play a possessed Martha Stewart-like caricature of myself.

Alas the big screen seemed far from my reality.

So it sounded like a pretty cool once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be an extra in my friend’s film.

I got to know Alysia Reiner before she became uber famous as “Fig” in “Orange is the New Black.” She contributed to my book as a “celebrity eco-mom” and we have been friends ever since. I was thrilled to learn that her new production film was shooting its first film in Philadelphia, a female-driven Wall Street story called “Equity.”

She was happy to let me be an extra, but warned me that it would be a long day’s work. I figured it would be a cool experience – and how bad could it be?

With "Equity" star and producer (and "Orange is the New Black" star) Alysia Reiner

With “Equity” star and producer (and “Orange is the New Black” star) Alysia Reiner

Turns out being in a film is really hard work – and being an extra is that much harder! Extras can spend hours perfecting their “pantomime” while the director makes sure the set is absolutely perfect – and that is before they even bring the real actors on to the set! Then once the real actors are ready to roll, there can be a dozen takes to just get ONE of the angles correct. Hurry up and wait because then everything starts over to shoot from several different perspectives. A 30-second scene can take HOURS.

I was fortunate enough to get amazing placement, seated between Alysia and leading actress Anna Gunn (“Breaking Bad”) for a pivotal scene where Anna gives a killer monologue. It would be pretty hard to cut me out of that scene, so expect some possibly frightening close-ups of me sweating under the bright lights when this thing hits the big screen.

With Anna Gunn, star of Equity and "Breaking Bad"

With Anna Gunn, star of “Equity” and “Breaking Bad”

Meanwhile, follow the amazing work Broad Street Pictures is doing bringing women-driven, produced, and directed films to Hollywood…and Philly!

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July 20th, 2015

Finance Your Life Through #Unshopping with Yerdle

I talk a lot about the sharing economy and all the fun, interactive ways to be a part of it. One of my favorite things has been bringing the Buy Nothing Project to Philadelphia and watching it blossom and grow!

But my latest obsession is a place to turn when you can’t find the free items you need in your neighborhood, or there isn’t a match for something you have to give – YERDLE!

yerdle

Yerdle is an app that allows you to give and receive using a point system. Items are – however arbitrarily – assigned a point value. The more you give, the more you can get! You just have to pay for shipping the items you receive, unless you can pick them up locally or they are small enough to fit in a thin envelope.

For me, things like Yerdle, Poshmark, and the Buy Nothing Project are partly about financing the life I have using items from the life I used to have. Or, in some cases, the life I thought I had, where I would regularly use a tool designed specifically for squeezing limes.

I'm sorry, you can squeeze lemons OR limes.

I’m sorry, you can squeeze lemons OR limes.

In my new life, a barely-used garlic press yields two pairs of uniform pants for my kindergartener. My dog’s old puppy clothes earned me the points to purchase a cute Calvin Klein dress and a bunch of cute toddler shoes.

It’s all about taking all the crap you bought when you were single/childless/thinner/heavier/still eating gluten and using it to purchase the things you now genuinely need.

 

One day's Yerdle Haul: Two pairs of toddler shoes, toddler jumper, toy phone, bath toy organizer, 8 kids books, and 3 jars of homemade jam

One day’s Yerdle Haul: Two pairs of toddler shoes, toddler jumper,  toy phone,
bath toy organizer, 8 kids books, and 3 jars of homemade jam

Frugal, thrifty, eco-conscious, and clever!

Sign up for 10 bonus Yerdle Dollars here!

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July 13th, 2015

Blue Mountain PA Spartan Sprint Review

My mid-life (OK mid-30s) fitness journey has taken me some places I never thought I’d be: completing The Broad Street Run, entering CrossFit Competitions, hiking backwards up a mountain. I’ve been crossing things off the Bucket List left and right.

So a Spartan Sprint seemed like a highly achievable goal. I’d done the Merrell Down and Dirty Obstacle Race which was a 40-minute cakewalk. The obstacles were things like stepping on some tires and crawling through the equivalent of my kids’ play tunnel.

Don’t get me wrong – I knew the Spartan would be harder. I knew I would be doing 30-burpee-penalties several times. I can’t throw a spear to a target or traverse Ninja-style rings. But it’s advertised as a three mile beginner’s course. The average sprint takes an hour and a half. No sweat.

Fast forward to the starting line where the announcer states, “by the way, this is like a 5 mile race and it’s pretty much a Super so good luck.”

Now, before I take you on this journey, let’s note that it is 11:45 a.m. and about 90 degrees. I am with my husband, Mike, who has one Tough Mudder under his belt, and our friend, Danielle, who has never done a mud run but is an avid Crossfitter.

We begin by sprinting up a hill with around a 70 degree incline. Halfway up the hill, every single person started walking. This was the beginning of a hike that would take us up 1700 feet. For perspective, the top of the Empire State Building is 1,250 feet. Also bare in mind that this is some rocky, unkept terrain that is not regularly hiked by humans.

From another reviewer, “Norm, the course designer, had full access to the terrain and would send runners through parts of the terrain that no skier or person had probably been on for years. We crossed more hiking trails than actually used them.” 

I later learn that “Norm” is known as the most hardcore Spartan Course designer and is so revered/reviled that he has his own Facebook page called “#EFFNORM.”

Along the way we climbed over some pretty high cargo nets, where I was very pleased with myself for coming down without panicking (I generally don’t like to go down stairs without a railing). I hoist myself over some walls and have my husband push my ass over the higher walls. We make it to the top of the summit exhausted and incredibly thankful we listened to a friend who suggested we bring a hydration pack as there is no water for a good 1.5 miles – and we are only moving about one mile per hour. (I bought this cheap Teton Hydration Pack on Amazon and it was perfect).

Then the obstacles start to come hard and heavy. The monkey bars were wide both in grip and space, so that was a fail (30 burpees). The spear throw was an expected fail for most people (30 burpees). Fortunately we were permitted to help each other on obstacles like the Hercules Hoist (not too terrible for the women but apparently awful for the men); the Tyrolean (rope) Traverse (I felt like I was pretty good at this, but can’t say for certain, as Danielle was cradling me the whole time); and the Z-Wall (If I had like 20 tries I could have nailed this. But I had one so Mike held me up against the wall).

At one point we saw what must have been a 20-foot-high blue metal wall in the distance. Everyone panicked. But as we got closer we realized it was not an obstacle – it was a random hunk of metal that probably had something to do with the ski slope.

The mud trenches are a necessary evil at these things, but these smelled worse than any I have experienced. Truly like trudging through sewers. And at the very end, you are forced to go completely under the muddy water to go under a wall. Which is an awesome way to get flesh eating bacteria. Fortunately my skin is still in tact.

Then there were the “carries.” First the Sand Bag carry, which at first felt like an easy 20 pounds, considering I am regularly made to run with a 20 pound slam ball in CrossFit. And this was like a comfy pillow! But try carrying it downhill for about 300 meters and then back UP a hill so steep it would be difficult to walk it empty-handed.

sanbag carry by Lola Seidl

Here is a small taste of that

There was also the Bucket Brigade where women were asked to fill a bucket with more than 70 pounds of rocks, carry it down another long hill, and then back up the steep ass hill. You weren’t permitted to carry on your shoulder, which would have been easier but hazardous, so you had to find some way to cradle it. This was the only point in the race where I said out loud, “I don’t think I can do this.” Of course, because it is Spartan and awesome, some random dude said, “Yes you can!” So I did.

 

photo by lejandro Lozada

Those people with the buckets on their shoulders are about to get yelled at.

I was really looking forward to the rope climb, a skill I have perfected through CrossFit. However, when a rope is soaking wet and covered with mud, it is almost impossible to get a foot grip. Here is where I saw plenty of ripped dudes taking their 30 burpee penalty along with me.

And then there was the part that everyone said would be the worst: The Barbed Wire Crawl. Rolling makes me totally dizzy and nauseous, and I know I am not the only one. So after a couple of rolls I had to find other ways to get through this roughly 300 meters of hell. Using my knees was out of the question because they were already jacked up and burning. So I did sort of a crab-walk-limbo. Toward the end of the muddy uphill climb, grown men were just lying there, waiting for someone to kick them so they were forced to move forward.

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Roll, baby, roll

Once I came out of that I finally hit a mental wall. This had to be close to finished. And thankfully it was. Just 30 more burpees for the ninja rings, a submersion in muddy water, and a jump over the fire to the finish (I was initially really worried about the fire, but it was by far the easiest thing I did all day).

At the end, we had absolutely how long we had been gone. And we were shocked to find that it had taken us almost four hours!! Our team time was 3:53, which was not great – like 79th percentile. I was pretty surprised because we definitely saw plenty of people stopping for full-on picnics.

But if I’m being honest, we weren’t exactly racing for time – we were just trying to get through the damn thing. There was not more than about 100 feet where you could actually run with any sense of self-preservation. We stopped so Danielle could pee and then stopped so Mike could have a snack. My teammates waited while I spent 15 minutes trying to climb the rope before I accepted defeat and took my burpees.

I’m further content with our time after seeing a bunch of posts on social media about how many people truly cheated – perfectly capable people skipping obstacles and not doing the burpees. While I applaud anyone who wants to try the race and simply can not finish, it sucks that their times count against people who followed all of the insane rules.

At the end of the day, I will say this: that bitch was no sprint. When it comes to the Blue Mountain Spartan, the Sprint was a Super, the Super was a Beast, and if they had a Beast it would be some unnamed act of Satan. Mike said it was just as bad, if not worse, than Tough Mudder.

And now, for better or worse, I know I’ll have to eventually give the Super a try at a different location. Because after that race I know I can rock at least 2/3 of the Trifecta. Aroo!

spartan

A couple quick points of advice:

1. Groupon often offers great deals on Spartan Races but they are only for the afternoon heat. They are strict about your start times and they will check. So if you want to be sure you start before noon, skip the Groupon and search for another coupon code.

2. I forgot to wear high socks and they were sold out at the merchandise booth. They would have been helpful with the ropes. Buy yourself a nice, cheesy pair.

3. I accidentally checked my gloves with my bag and almost cried when I realized that at the start line. But in retrospect I’m not sure how helpful they would have been. But if you want your best fighting shot at those monkey bars, try a pair.

4. Wear sneakers with grips – no minimalist shoes. This is not a CrossFit WOD – it is a hike. If you don’t have an old pair of sneakers with treads that you never want to see again, check Craigslist, Yerdle, or your local Buy Nothing Group, which is where I got mine.

5. Bring a hydration pack! If you are lucky enough to have a partner you can use as a sherpa, make them wear it (husbands are excellent for this). One is enough for the whole team since you can refill them at the water stations.

Thanks to the good folks on the Spartans of the Northeast page for some of these images!

 

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July 9th, 2015

Asbestos in Crayons: How I Salvaged My Recycled Crayon Project

moonstone

Now this is the kind of stuff that makes me want to write a second book:

For months, my 5-year-old Sam and I have been planning a very special project to share with his preschool friends. The school agreed to set aside a time for me to come do a short presentation on “upcycling” with a fun hands-on project – recycling broken, old crayons into new fun-shaped crayons!

What a treat it would be to teach the kids a great way to recycle and make a cool craft at the same time! For weeks we collected broken crayons from families and Sam spread the word that “Thursday was going to be a special project with my mommy!” Even the blackboard in the preschool entrance read, “Thursday is Crayon Day!” We were stoked.

Wednesday afternoon, just after I packed up everything I would need for the following day, I opened my laptop to see a steady stream of THIS on my Facebook Feed:

asbestos in crayons

asbestos in crayons

Awesome.

And this is not some urban-legend stuff. These are legitimate studies done by trusted organization Environmental Working Group. This was covered by CNN. This is a very real thing.

Now, reading these reports, I am naturally appalled – but sadly not surprised – that crayons could contain actual poison. And though this information is frightening, I would still probably let my kids color with whatever crayons were given to them in a restaurant and keep the ones in their goody bags (typically one of the only goody bag items I don’t throw out).

But I am about to present a project to a classroom of children in which we literally COOK ASBESTOS. And then go home to tell their parents how they would like to do this on a regular basis.

You see, the crayons have already been collected and there’s a good chance some of them would test positive for asbestos. So it seemed like melting them couldn’t be a great idea. Turns out, I’m right.

“Toxic substances embedded in wax as in encaustics sticks or crayons are often deemed safe. But if encaustics are fused by heating or using torches, or if crayons are melted to make into candles (a common project), the wax converts into toxic airborne emissions and toxic pigments can fume into the air.” – Alternet

So what do I do now that I’ve promised a bunch of children I would essentially turn their art room/lunchroom into a meth lab?

First: panic. Then cry. Then ask everyone on the Internet what they would do.

Some suggest scrapping the project altogether. Some suggest saying “screw it” and teaching the kids how to burn poison over an open flame. But the most rational minds helped me to find a solution better than trying to create an incredibly lame project where we just glue broken crayons to paper and call it a mosaic.

1. Sort through the collected crayons and cherry-pick only those that can be identified as Crayola, a made-in-the-USA brand that does not contain asbestos. Sadly this means I also have to discard any “naked crayons.”

2. Ask the school if I can send a note home in the children’s cubbies about what we did, how to replicate the project, and why they should only use Crayola!

Fortunately everyone was receptive to crayon sorting and accepting this new information along with the learning experience. For any children who asked, I simply explained that some crayons don’t melt well – which is also entirely true.

Overall “Crayon Day” was a great success!

kids3

IMG_5029

 

 

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July 1st, 2015

True Down to Earth Decadence with Juniper Seed Mercantile

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 9.37.38 AM

Juniper Seed Mercantile is proof that luxurious, effective, organic beauty does not have to be expensive. Their motto is “Down To Earth Decadence” allowing you to  take care of your skin and the environment at the same time, without spending a fortune!

With it’s best availability on Etsy, Juniper Seed Mercantile is grassroots enough to keep you on budget, but savvy enough to package with polish. And that’s why their Etsy shop is blowing up!

At only $11, the Soft Whipped Facial Creme Soap with Ground Walnut Shells and Tea Tree Oil is everything I’ve ever wanted in a face wash. I use tea tree oil all the time to soothe skin redness but I also love the exfoliation of walnut shells. And I love even more that it comes already whipped to perfection, unlike many cleansing grains meant to be mixed with water – leading to a serious mess in my bathroom sink.

The Cucumber Eye Cream is rich with cucumber and calendula oil, and great for super sensitive skin around the eyes. And the Cucumber Rose Facial Toner is a skin-softening, hydrating cleanser for all skin types.

One of their coolest products – and one of my 2015 Best of Natural Beauty Winners – is their lip balms – 100% plastic-free and compostable! The waste-hater in me is simply giddy with these compostable paper tube lip balms, which are double the size of a typical plastic tube so they last even longer! My favorite is the Chai Spice blend, sweetened with stevia and scented with cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper and other spices – completely natural and perfect for anyone with sensitivities to artificial flavors. It’s also beeswax free for the vegan crowd.

Plus each order usually arrives with a sample item which you can even pick out yourself!

Joan and Tiffany are the incredibly sweet mother-daughter team that makes up Juniperseed Mercantile. They are passionate about using earth-friendly ingredients, responsible packaging, and ship all of their orders using reclaimed materials and paper tape. Many of their ingredients are organic, and they source their palm oil from Brazil to protect the Orangutan habitat in Indonesia. They are hardcore eco in the best way possible! :)

Check out their Etsy shop and stock up at https://www.etsy.com/shop/JuniperseedMerc. (p.s. Did you know Ebates now gives back 1% on Etsy purchases?

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I received samples of these products for review as well as monetary compensation. 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.

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June 22nd, 2015

Best Natural Beauty Products 2015 – 4th Edition

beauty

It’s time for my annual round-up of the best natural beauty products, gleaned from trying and testing almost every brand around!

After spending another year trying out some of the best organic luxury beauty products on the market, I have a few new favorites to share and a few that have stood the test of time. Others have been removed from the list because of purity of ingredients, annoying repackaging, or simply finding something that worked better.

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Moom Organic Hair Removal System

Just admit it – you have always wanted to wax your own bikini line. I know it’s been a long time dream of mine, fulfilling both type-A hair plucking fantasies as well as saving time and money. I googled “natural waxing” and remained totally skeptical when I ordered Moom Organic Hair Removal system. But O-M-G it works! And the pain is far less than I remember feeling at the waxing salons. Probably my favorite product of the year (even though it’s possibly been around for ages).

Also, a tip for the eco and budget savvy – don’t waste money buying more fabric strips! You can tear up old sheets and pillowcases – I even used a stained tuxedo shirt!

 

Juniper Seed Mercantile Chai Spice Lip Balm

What’s better than a delicious all natural lip balm? One that is 100% plastic-free and compostable! The waste-hater in me is simply giddy with these compostable paper tube lip balms, which are double the size of a typical plastic tube so they last even longer! The Chai Spice blend is sweetened with stevia and scented with cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper and other spices – completely natural and perfect for anyone with sensitivities to artificial flavors. It’s also beeswax free for the vegan crowd.

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Board and Batten Glowing Solution

I had the opportunity to work with this brand this year and this product was the favorite of all our celebrity testers. It’s a lightweight, concentrated blend of oils and extracts that saturates your skin with omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. I wear it day and night.

Acorelle Perfumes

My love for these natural perfumes warranted its own post earlier this year. My personal favorites are Divine Orchid, R of Rose, and Absolu Tiare. So, if you are like one of my many friends who swears she can’t give up her beloved perfume, I urge you to give these a whiff!

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Deep Steep Body Wash

I love everything about this rosemary mint bodywash apart from the fact that the container tends to leak, leaving me constantly needing to buy more. The scent and texture is perfect and I like to stock up majorly when it is on sale.

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Miessence Purifying Skin Conditioner
My friend Erin has been selling this Australian brand for a while and raving about how natural and effective the formulas were. After trying a few for ourselves, both my husband and I were hooked. This skin toner is one of my favorites, especially for breakout problem areas

Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil

I’m not the first to tell you about the wonders of coconut oil. In fact, I am probably late to the party. But I love this stuff! I use it straight from the jar to moisturize and heal, and mixed with essential oils for all sorts of remedies. I also use it to make everything I cook taste five times more delicious!

 

 

Tried and True: These rock star products have remained on my list and have yet to be replaceable.

Piperwai Natural Deodorant
I met these two girls at a Philly flea market and couldn’t believe how amazing this natural deodorant is. The scent is totally pleasant, fresh, and unisex, and activated charcoal is the special ingredient to make it last through your toughest summer workouts. I like to credit myself for turning this into a cult fave!

Stinky Girl Beauty Company Hair Powder + Dry Shampoo
Also made locally in Philadelphia, this product has made it possible for me to only wash my hair 2-3 times per week while doing CrossFit four times per week. And it comes in a salt shaker!

Acure Organics Brightening Facial Scrub
I like my facial scrubs gritty, and Acure Organics Argan Stem Cell + Chlorella Growth Factor Brightening Facial Scrub leaves your skin feeling super clean and polished. Organic Sea Kelp, Organic Lemon, and Organic Cocoa Powder gently exfoliate your skin while French Green Clay and removes impurities from your pores.

Goddess Garden Natural Sunscreen
This is the absolute best natural sunscreen I have found. It comes in an easy to apply spray – but not a traditional aerosol spray. It’s closer to a liquid that goes on sheer unlike most natural sunscreens that leave a thick white film. And it has worked great on my super pale child.

Vapour Organic Beauty Siren Lipstick in Coquette
Ever since I found this perfect color it is pretty much all I wear. Sometimes I wear it with no other makeup just to wake up my face and I always get compliments. I have also found that it looks amazing on every complexion.

Kure Bazaar Nail Lacquer in Stiletto
I usually only wear polish on my toes but this brand is the best non-toxic polish I’ve ever tried. The unique formula is made from up to 85% of natural origin based on wood pulp, wheat, cotton, potatoes and corn – and still maintains top notch glamour.

Kjaer Weis Mascara
The ingredients in Kjaer Weis Mascara contain nourishing properties, with 99.8% sourced from organic farming. It glides on easily, with a sleek wand that adds the perfect amount of product, delivers great definition, and adds layers to eyelashes.

W3LL PEOPLE Elitist Mineral Shadow
Pure pigments in a beautiful finish. Perfect for easy shading, highlighting, contouring and lining.

Chocolate Sun Sunless Tanning Cream
The answer to streak-free, toxin-free, sun-ray-free beautifully tanned skin! And it smells delicious.

Yarok Shampoo and Conditioner
I have tried it all for my big mess of hair, and this is my favorite.

RMS Beauty Living Luminizer
Brings you back when you look like death warmed over.

Vapour Organic Beauty Atmosphere Soft Focus Foundation
So light and luminous – like silk.

Have you tried these products? What do you think?

 

Disclosure: Some of these brands are past or present clients and some have sent me free samples. But most are simply items I have purchased, loved, and bought again and again! 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.

 

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