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.
November 23rd, 2015

How to Not Spend a Fortune on Children’s Birthday Party Presents

how not to spend a fortune on presents

I have two children – two different ages, two different schools, two different little groups of friends. That equals a LOT of birthday parties. Sometimes two or three in one day.

We are super grateful that our children (and ourselves) are well-liked enough to be included in so many birthday celebrations. And we are thrilled to attend, even if that means two separate trips over the Ben Franklin Bridge to Bounce U in one day.

But with more than 30 parties per year, if I spent the typical $20 per gift plus $5 fancy paper gift bags, I would be out a solid $750. And the broken toys ending up in the landfill would take an immeasurable toll.

Here’s how I do my gifting – thrifty, crafty, and eco-minded – without looking like a total cheapskate:

  1. Regifting. This one is pretty obvious but only doable in select circumstances. When we had a full class party for my son’s 5th birthday, we had more presents than he could even handle. We hid most in the gift closet, distributed select toys on rainy days, and re-wrapped the rest for re-gifting. You just have to be careful not to give the same present back to the gifter. But, honestly, what kid or parent would even notice they had even seen that LEGO set before? This option has not been readily available to us recently, as we didn’t do a big party for either of my children’s last birthdays. So I’ve been working with the following options.
  2. Stock up on Green Toys sales. Made in the USA from recycled milk jugs, this is my go-to brand for supporting a sustainable toy company. I keep on my Zulily alerts for big clearance sales, offering regularly $25-$30 toys for $14.99 and under.
  3. My favorite trick for gifting kids and doing good at the same time, is hitting the little shop on my corner that sells secondhand children’s books. Philly AIDS Thrift at Giovanni’s Room began as the country’s oldest LGBT bookstore, but now offers all sorts of traditional resale items to benefit local organizations involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS. They have a wonderful little children’s section with mint condition books. Classics and new books marked $20 or more are discounted to $2.99. We carefully choose a couple of titles with the birthday child in mind to create a present that will make the child and parents happy. Of course, we are careful to peel off the sale stickers, but considering that I am posting this publicly I have no shame about spending left on a thoughtful gift for a three-year-old!
  4. I will never, ever, ever buy gift wrap. Not a ribbon, not a bow, and certainly not a bag. I love VZWraps fabric gift bags – especially when they come back around to me! But when I am out of those, I use the following materials to create crafty little packages:
    • Collected ribbons, bows, and wrapping paper from gifts received. I like to cut the paper gift bags and fold them into gift wrap.
    • The brown paper that comes in every Amazon box
    • My children’s artwork
    • Newspaper and random free calendars with interesting artwork
    • Random things I have laying about in my craft stock like yarn and paper flowers



November 16th, 2015

Top 5 Reasons for Renting vs. Buying New Toys with PLEY


If you are anything like me, clutter is a demon in your house. The LEGOs pile up in  insurmountable numbers – and your children are over them after a few days.

Pley is a new toy rental service that helps parents save money, reduce clutter and live more sustainably. For a monthly fee, members receive unlimited toys (one at a time) delivered directly to their door. Once they’ve finished playing with their toy, they can simply swap it out for a different toy. No more wasting money on toys that are left gathering dust on your shelves.

It works in just 3 easy steps. Simply fill in the form with your details and then have fun creating your personalized Pleylist based on your favorite toys and LEGO themes. Lastly, just sit back and wait for your toy to be delivered to your door. Once you’re done building your set or playing with your toy, just send it back in the pre-paid packaging at any U.S. postal mailbox and await delivery of your next Pley rental.

Pley offers access to a large selection of educative toys, including 400+ LEGO sets and popular robotics toys. Besides having access to a variety of toys, kids learn the concepts of sharing and reducing waste for the environment.

  1. Reduce Clutter: Toys come in – and go out! No fuss or broken hearts over lost toys as they get replaced with something new and exciting!
  2. Fight Boredom: With Pley, your children are never bored – they get a new surprise every month!
  3. A More Eco-Conscious Way to Play: The savings in plastic alone from reduced purchases amounts to at least 240 pounds fewer C02 emissions per annum per Pley member.
  4. Save Money: Recent studies show that families will spend on average $1000 per child per year on toys – which is crazy! At $20 per month, this is a great deal.
  5. Instill Anti-Consumption Values: Pley teaches children the value of renting and sharing over buying and hoarding!

Try PLEY for $19.99/month or give as a gift this holiday season!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I received monetary compensation for this review. Regardless, my opinions are honest. See my full disclosure here. 

November 11th, 2015

Pumpkin Chia Muffins with Chosen Foods

pumpkin muffins

Sneaking superfoods into something palatable is particularly tricky with my picky eaters. I can’t tell you how many times I have cooked and baked delicious dishes only to have them turn up their noses and ask for cheese sticks. This is perhaps the greatest fool-proof recipe: a sweet treat recipe perfect for fall and easily adjustable based on your choice of gourd, seeds, and even chocolate chips!



2 cups pumpkin puree – no cans please! (Halve and remove seeds from a leftover Halloween pumpkin or any type of squash and roast cut side down in a 350 degree oven for about an hour. Scoop out flesh). You can also use grated zucchini.

1 1/4 cup flour (I like to use half whole wheat)

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup Chosen Foods Avocado Oil

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup Chosen Foods Chia Seeds


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat muffin tin with Chosen Foods Avocado Oil Spray.

Blend all ingredients with a hand mixer. After blending you can also add hemp seeds, flax seeds, nuts, chocolate chips – whatever you like!


So many recipes call for separately mixing wet and dry ingredients. Why? I am a one bowl chef.

Cook for about 30-45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

I have also done this as a bread, which takes about an hour to cook through.

pumpkin bread


November 9th, 2015

PrAna Giveaway and Discount Code: Stonyfield #JustBeYou Campaign

This blog is sponsored as part of the Stonyfield and PrAna #JustBeYou campaign

We all have a style, flavor, and personal expression unique to who we are. I was lucky enough to be asked by two brands that share my values to choose my my favorite items, things that are a natural part of my day.

PrAna is known for  creating versatile, stylish, and sustainable clothing and accessories that you can wear during every activity, every adventure, every day. Their clothing is ideal for an active lifestyle and easily transitions outside the gym, yoga studio, or hiking trail.


Ideal for my regular transition from the gym to school pick-up to an evening event, The prAna Georgia Wrap is perfect for elegant and conscience friendly layering. This 100% organic cotton sweater knit is Fair Trade Certified, ensuring ensuring fair wages, high working standards, and investment into community development. If it weren’t for washing, I would wear this wrap every single day – and could probably get away with it!



As for snacktime, when Stonyfield named its line of cream top yogurt OhMyYog! they weren’t overselling it. I’m obsessed with the Stonyfield OhMyYog! Gingered Pear TriLayer Yogurt, a delicious cream top whole milk yogurt with organic pear and ginger.

These to favorites epitomize cozy indulgence for me. Find yours by using my exclusive discount for 15% off PrAna with code JBYF15STOB  (Valid Nov 1 – Dec 15, 2015)

GIVEAWAY: Enter to win my favorite prAna Georgia Wrap ($75 value) in the size and color of your choice (based on merchandise availability)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

November 1st, 2015

DIY Teen Titans Go Halloween Costumes: How I Made It – And How We Actually Wore It

Because I am cheap, green, and love a challenge, I love to DIY Halloween. It’s particularly challenging because I can not cut a straight line or properly sew, so I rely on a glue gun and ingenuity. Last year I pulled off two Jake and The Neverland costumes for $2. This year I plan to dress the whole family, including the dog, as the cast of Teen Titans Go!

Teen Titans


Sam = Robin

Cut sleeves off red shirt and put over long-sleeved green shirt. Construction paper for the accents. Old Super Why cape gets turned inside out. It’s green instead of yellow but will work. Yellow belt also from old Super Why costume. Black mask made from cutting up a black fabric bag.

Evelyn = Starfire

She already owns purple shirt and shorts and silver leggings. I inadvertently inherit a suitcase full of princess costumes, and some wide, silvery ribbon from one of the dresses does well cut into pieces and stitched up into arm bands and a neck piece. I have no large green buttons, so I use a magnatile.

robin and starfire

Mommy (Paige) = Raven

Blue hoodie clasped with a brooch to serve as cloak. Batman mask slightly altered.

Daddy (Mike) = Beast Boy

Green wig courtesy of Yerdle ($4 for shipping). Mike’s long sleeved black shirt under a purple T-shirt with the sleeves cut off, courtesy of Buy Nothing Group. My black leggings, silver belt, and purple shorts (I don’t know how to feel about the fact that they fit him).  Some eco-friendly green face paint.


Dog (Gizmo) = Cyborg

Random Robot Mickey Mouse ears someone once bestowed us and his Darth Vader T-shirt.


Total spent = $4 for the used wig shipping only.


Evelyn has been telling me for the past couple days that she wants to be “a pizza and a cookie.” Sadly she is too late. She immediately tears off the magnatile, refuses the belt, and there is no way in hell I’m getting pink ribbons in her hair. She spends the entire evening in a coat so she is pretty much dressed as herself.

At the last minute I fear being too cold and swap out my dark blue hoodie for my husband’s warmer light blue hoodie with no zipper. I improvise with construction paper, but, looking at photos later that night, see that in my haste I’ve pasted the whole thing on upside down. So I look like I am wearing a Nazi concentration camp badge.

Mike is a great sport and his legs look way better than mine. He does, however, refuse the face paint. And he thinks the wig may have given him lice. Everyone thought he was dressed as The Joker.

The dog barely accepts the costume long enough to take one picture.

But, ultimately, Halloween is all about the six-year-old. And he rocked it. 

Teen Titans

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 8.04.26 AM

October 22nd, 2015

Do You Have Trypophobia? A Fear of Clusters of Bumps and Holes


Recently my friend told me about a colleague who was seriously freaked out by her Lifefactory water bottle. Apparently she has a fear of holes and it sounded totally bizarre.


But then I thought more about it and realized maybe it wasn’t so strange. I wasn’t afraid of the holes punched in silicone, but I have a serious fear of fern spores.

Yes, it’s a little known fact about me that the spores on ferns inexplicably traumatize me. I will not accept any bouquet with ferns in it and will remove fern centerpieces from dinner tables.

And I thought I was alone – until I realized these two fears are likely very much the same.

Trypophobia is not officially recognized by Webster’s dictionary, but it is loosely defined as a fear or revulsion of patterns containing clusters of holes or bumps. The fear has been written about by Popular Science and an article in The Atlantic said 16% of people actually have trypophobia. There is a Facebook group with almost 12,000 members.

People with this affliction vary in their triggers and responses. Like others I’ve read about, I’m not typically bothered by anything man-made. For instance, this tactile paving on the corner doesn’t bother me.


I’m not bothered by my shower head unless I stare at it for a really long time.


I’m also cool with Swiss Cheese. I remember an old episode of Maury Povich where a woman had a massive fear of pickles. I’m not afraid of pickles, but I’m wondering if it was the bumps that freaked her out – maybe she was just a fellow Trypophobe?


However, as the poster image for trypophobia, this picture of a Lotus Pod Seed haunts my dreams.


But nothing freaks me out more than this. The dreaded fern spore.


I also did an ill-advised Google Search and I am still reeling from images of Surinam Frogs. I am hoping this blog post will serve as some kind of exposure therapy, but it’s mostly been an exercise in self-torture.

Do these images bother you? Are you a closet Trypophobe?

October 19th, 2015

A Look at the Past Reaffirms My Public School Choice

There is no denying the Philadelphia School District is woefully underfunded, understaffed, and under fire. I’ve written before about the budget and management crisis in Philadelphia, offering some small ways families can offer support. In some ways things are getting better, but in other ways, not so much.

The drama in the district is no small part of the reason why many families flee to the suburbs or choose to put their children in pricey private schools. I am fortunate enough to live in one of the better elementary school catchments. Though due to record parental involvement and a renaissance of community interest in grassroots public school improvement, the definition of better has expanded from a formerly elite three to more than a dozen thriving community elementaries that families are excited about.

While I was nervous about my son starting Kindergarten in such a scrutinized and unsure environment, the more I compare his experience to my own, the more I realize it’s not so different.

I went to elementary school in a very white, Jewish section of Abington, PA, where many of the students lived in the mansions of the “Biddle Estates.” These parents could have afforded to send their children anywhere, but Rydal Elementary it was. Looking back on what I remember, as privileged suburban youth in a top public school district, we didn’t have it all that different than the students at McCall.

elementary school

I still have shoes just like that.

  1. Class Size: One of the biggest sticking points for families in consideration of public school is class size. Undeniably children in need of individualized attention for a variety of reasons may do better in a smaller setting. But looking back at class pictures confirms my memory of having about 25 students in a class with one teacher. No student teacher, no aid, no parent volunteers. Just all of us and a questionably qualified handler. (I say questionably qualified as I specifically remember my second grade teacher being fired mid-year for a combination of abusive behavior and money laundering. The bright young teacher who replaced him is still teaching at Rydal).My son’s kindergarten class tops out at 30, several of whom are learning English as a second language. As daunting as it sounds, the teacher seems to be able to handle the classroom with ease. He also has the full time assistance of a student teacher and parent volunteers throughout the week.
  2. Phys-Ed and Enrichment: One day per week, we had art, music, Phys-Ed, library, and computers. My son has exactly the same schedule. The main difference is that in computers we played Oregon Trail, and he is probably learning code.
  3. Space and Amenities: My son’s gymnasium doubles as the lunch room. My school’s gymnasium doubled as the lunch room, auditorium, theater, bus line, and 6th grade school dance venue. For lunchtime, the tables folded out of the wall like Murphy beds.
  4. School Lunch: My school lunch cost $1.05 and was absolute garbage. My son’s school lunch, if I allowed him to partake, would be free. It would still be garbage but probably slightly less so than 30 years ago. Ketchup is no longer considered a vegetable.
  5. Field Trips: I remember exactly one school field trip – Styer’s Orchards in Langhorne. And to be honest, that might have been in preschool. It’s only October and my son already has a field trip scheduled to Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art to learn how to “properly admire and discuss fine art.” Oh, and to Styer’s Orchards in Langhorne.

I realize that it’s because I am in a better catchment that my son’s educational experience mirrors the 1980s experience that churned me out into a somewhat civilized member of society. Our parents can afford to chip in when it looks like the librarian could be laid off. We have a full time nurse so I don’t have to live in panic that my son will die of an asthma attack without anyone noticing. There is an actual crossing guard.

They may no longer offer Mandarin or hand out free violins, but I’ll be damned if anyone is going to take away the 1980s education my children rightly deserve. It’s been proven by the students at Rydal Elementary that even without a pool in the building or a crew team, children who spoke no English upon arrival could go on to Ivy League universities.

Philadelphia public schools are far from perfect. But our families won’t allow the bickering powers that be strip away our basic rights to Scholastic books, an overhead projector, and very small wooden chairs. If you live in one of the “better catchments,” your kids will be just fine. And, hopefully, we can strip that “better catchment” nonsense from our vocabularies soon.

October 12th, 2015

I Tried Advocare: An Honest, Unbiased Review


Any good blogger is basically a guinea pig. I’ve tried it all for you: a three-day juice cleanse, moxibustion to flip a breech baby, putting essential oils in my vagina…I will spare you no detail.

But when a friend of mine starting using and selling Advocare I had absolutely no interest. Firstly, I loathe multi-level-marketing (also called “referral based marketing” or simply, “pyramid schemes.”) If you have been unwillingly added to a Facebook group for false eyelashes or Jamberry nails you know what these are. They are also why I held off on trying essential oils, which have been co-opted as the new Tupperware party. But when I actually liked essential oils, I was forced to become a link in the sales chain to get them at a reasonable price.

Then my friend showed me her six-pack. And her biceps. Defined without making any changes to her relatively mild workout routine.

Look – I like my body. And I work out hard to look and feel fit. But I have to admit, my belly bothers me. I have birthed two children and I rarely turn down ice cream. I can’t wear an empire waist without being asked when I am due. Maybe I did need some amino acids in my life?

I had been toying with the idea of increasing my protein intake and incorporating some shakes into my diet, so it didn’t seem too crazy to buy $150 worth of pills. I was also hopped up on Spark at the time.

Spark is hallmark of Advocare, a drink that I would describe as a cocktail of Red Bull, Adderall, and Kool-Aid. It will make you want to organize your closets and pull a truck down the street with your teeth.

That said, I was not willing to add it to my diet. It contains sucralose (aka Splenda), artificial flavoring, and a shit ton of caffeine.

I will not be drinking Spark.

What was I willing to do?

The initial 10-day-cleanse includes Catalyst (amino-acid supplements), a probiotic and herbal cleanse, a fiber drink, Omega-3 fatty acids, and Muscle Gain protein powder. The plan recommends incorporating much more protein into your diet and cutting significantly back on carbohydrates, as well as eating every 2-3 hours. These suggestions were not completely foreign so I was willing to give them a try – within reason.

I take a before selfie in the mirror wearing only underwear and sext it to my friend. I also use some kind of electric bodyfat monitor at my gym, which tells me I am 31.9% bodyfat – one/tenth of a point away from “obese.” I’m not buying the accuracy on this thing, but at least I can use it as some kind of baseline.

As I mentioned, I was not willing to replace coffee with Spark. So black coffee was still on the table for me. The downside of no Spark was drinking the fiber with nothing but water, which wasn’t my favorite thing. But once I tried simply adding it to my protein shake, it was fine.

I try the Muscle Gain protein powder and immediately my mouth began to tingle and my throat felt itchy. I had never experienced an allergic reaction to food before apart from one month prior when I ate a whey protein bar. I quickly realize I likely have a random whey allergy, and replace Muscle Gain with Orgain Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder.

For the rest of the day I eat a tremendous amount of turkey and vegetables, which is not problematic. I was hesitant to take the Herbal Cleanse pills before bed, insisting that I was not interested in a laxative, but my friend insisted that it would be “gentle and uneventful.”

I wake suddenly at 12:30 a.m. with severe abdominal cramps and lay awake half the night in the fetal position. My friend insists that this is not a bad thing – my body is simply ridding itself of toxins. I go through a pound of organic hemp seeds a week and should by stock in kale. How toxic could I possibly be?

I will no longer be taking Herbal Cleanse.

I continue with the plan on the second day, forcing down the fiber drink. I continue to feel low level nausea, stomach cramps, and general malaise throughout the day.

I go to dinner with friends who all order dessert and actually don’t feel particularly tempted, which I suppose is a good thing.

By day eight I am actually starting to see a difference. My belly feels a bit flatter, the scale has gone down a bit, and, most importantly, I finally feel some increase in my strength at the gym. Maybe I’m just having a good day, but I feel like I am killing those wall balls and double unders.

I believe I am finally getting results from my change in diet and supplements – as I should. Adding protein and decreasing sugar and carbs is not revolutionary – it’s a time-tested weight loss and muscle gain program. In fact, I really should have tried it sooner and will credit Advocare (and my friend who sells it) for giving me the kick in the ass I needed. But Advocare did not invent the core ideas of this program – it just monetized and promoted them. Which is good and bad.

I thought I was finished after the ten-day-cleanse but my friend informs me that I have actually moved on to level two – the “Max Phase,” which sounds frightening. But it’s pretty much just vitamins and supplements that don’t cause me any adverse effects. Many people continue to use these as their daily multivitamins – but it is a lot of pills.

I continue to explore the Advocare product line and I’m bothered by some of the product ingredient profiles. CitriZinc is an immune system booster similar to Cold-EEZE (and its more natural counterparts). For $21-$35, depending on your place in the pyramid, you get 60 Starbursts laced with vitamin C. Think I’m kidding? The first three ingredients are sugar, corn syrup, and palm oil.

Stuff like “LeptiLean” and “Fibo-Trim” which promise to control appetite and limit fat absorption just seem wrong. I’m not a fan of anything that promises “block fat”  or fill you up by making you bloated on crustacean shells. It’s just too close to something I’d see in an infomercial, like Lipozene. There are no clinical studies to say these things work, and I would be shocked if they didn’t reek havoc on your digestive system.

As for the supplements I like, they can be found at equal or better quality and lower prices. The OmegaPlex capsules are basically fish oil capsules, which you can buy significantly cheaper just about anywhere.

Advocare Catalyst costs $31.50 retail for 30 servings of Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA). If you are an Advocare distributor, you can get from 20-25% off so that is $23.70. If you are superstar seller (advisor) and get at least 10 friends buying Advocare, you get 40% off, so that’s $18.90 at the absolute best.

NOW Foods Amino Complete Supplements  are $19.35 on Amazon (less if you “Subscribe and Save”) and contain 90 servings (360 pills with a 4 pill serving). So even at Advocare’s best possible price, you are spending 3 times more on quality BCAA alone.

Look, I am all for anything that helps people to get in better shape. And Advocare may be a great program for people who need a kick start. The basic principals of cutting back on sugar, carbs, and alcohol; adding lean protein; incorporating omegas and BCAA, and making fitness a priority are something anyone can and should embrace.

I believe Advocare’s supplements are better than some on the market – but not the best. There is simply too much artificial junk and filler for me to support the brand. And MLM companies will always be a turnoff, even if they are selling the actual fountain of youth.


NOTE: I cheated a handful of times – one vodka drink, three slices of pizza, a couple mini cupcakes, a scoop of gelato, and a handful of granola here and there. I probably stayed true to about 95% of the diet.

Weight: I go from 142.6 to 141.2 – a one pound, four ounce difference. This is unremarkable, but I realize I am building muscle and the scale is an unreliable measurement.

Fat Monitor: The handheld monitor drops from 31.9 to 31.3. Again, doesn’t seem like a lot and still does not paint me as a woman who does CrossFit and its psycho hybrid “Intensity” 4-5 days a week. But at least it didn’t go up.

The Visuals: In the name of science, here are some photos of me in my underwear. Here is where we actually see some evidence that I was doing something right:

before after

My tan may be fading but I am definitely articulating my abdominal muscles – and I am not even sucking in. There will forever be evidence that I birthed two children and have reached the metabolism tipping point, but I would feel much more confident in a bikini. Which is great timing – only 8 months til Memorial Day!

Would I recommend Advocare to a friend? Maybe. If someone is looking for a jumpstart to a healthy lifestyle it can be a good prescriptive routine. But if you understand the basic principles, you can probably get better quality products at a cheaper price. My plan is to stick to the principals of the diet and continue to drink protein shakes and take Branched Chain Amino Acids and Omega supplements. Still want to try Advocare? I’m happy to give you my friend’s number as she is a great coach!

p.s. Here are a few great products I’ve found as high protein, lower carb substitutes:

Stonyfield Organic Protein Smoothee – a great sub for a protein shake on the go. But you might have to fight your kids for them.


Nutritional Yeast: Subs well for parmesan cheese. I said “well” not “amazing.”

thinkThin Protein Nut Bar: These are not organic but they are non-GMO. The best high protein/low sugar snack bars I have found. Also great when kept in the freezer.

Zucchini Noodles made with a spiralizer – Subs well, for, um, noodles

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts: I love these high protein suckers and use them in everything, from smoothies to oatmeal.

Note: I am not a doctor or a certified nutritionist. As always, I am just giving my honest opinion. No one paid me to write this or gave me anything for free. However, I have included Amazon affiliate links within to products I would personally recommend. Read my full disclosure here.

October 7th, 2015

Back to The Roots Water Garden Aquaponics Review

As soon as I saw the Back to The Roots Water Garden at my friend’s house I knew I had to have it.

This fish tank with a garden on top is a closed-loop ecosystem – the fish feed the plants, and the plants clean the water!

I was looking for a way to keep herbs alive inside over the long, dark winter. I wasn’t too excited about trying to keep a fish alive, though betta fish are meant to be hearty survivors.

Aquaponics is a closed-loop, sustainable farming method that combines traditional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals) and hydroponics (growing plants without soil). It uses 90% less water than traditional farming. Here’s how it works:

  • Fish produce ammonia-rich waste which can become toxic for your fish if allowed to accumulate.
  • Beneficial bacteria in the Water Garden converts the ammonia into nitrates. These naturally occurring bacteria grow really well in the plant pots.
  • Nitrates are amazing food for plants! As the plants continuously uptake the nitrates as nutrients for growth, they are also cleaning the water for your fish.

We set up the tank without too much hassle – though I was dismayed to learn I did actually have to remember to feed the fish.

Because I don’t have a trusted sun source in a convenient place for the tank, I bought a little grow lamp.

The tank comes with seeds for wheatgrass, a superfood great for juicing, and radish sprouts, which I have never tried but I imagine would be inoffensive in a salad. Those seeds took off in just a couple days and in less than a week we have significant growth. I also planted basil and parsley seeds, which haven’t responded as quickly but may need some more time.


You can also see that my careless planting has allowed seeds and sprouts to fall into the tank. I am just hoping the fish doesn’t eat them and explode. But so far he has lived for one week, which is pretty remarkable considering that I can’t even keep alive a basil plant. I’m hoping this tank continues to do the work for me so we can have fresh herbs, better indoor air quality this winter, and a pet fish to add to our crazy family.


Disclosure: Back to the Roots sent me a sample for review. Regardless, my opinions are honest. See my full disclosure here.
September 24th, 2015

A Better Mid-Day Snack – Stonyfield Organic Fruit Snacks

I’m fortunate that my son’s kindergarten has parents provide the afternoon snacks for their own children. I was afraid it would be a class where parents were assigned rotating snack provision duties that could run the gamut from Pop Tarts to Yodels to McDonald’s French Fries.

But vacation day camps, summer camp, and after school care are more of a challenge. In fact, one of the “vacation camps” where I send my son limits its snack choices to Oreos, Doritos, and Bugels. Even he was appalled by the snacks, knowing that filling up on these poor choices would lead to a belly ache.

I tried to make in-ways with the camp, pointing out the low snack quality and inquiring about healthier choices that would still be affordable. You can purchase a five-pound crate of clementines for as low as $2.99 and one article points out healthier snack choices that are cheaper than their conventional counterparts!

But while I collect an ammunition list of organic snack foods available for a steal at Costco and co-conspire with their PTA, I’m providing my own snacks for the days my son attends camp.

New to my arsenal are Stonyfield Organic Fruit Snacks. My son has a serious sweet tooth for gummy candy, and these bite-sized fruit snacks are made with organic ingredients you can feel good about, including real fruit and vegetable juices.

fruit snacks

This is Stonyfield’s first venture beyond the dairy aisle, and it’s a welcome expansion for a brand that is affordable and accessible yet stays true to its mission to provide healthy, organic foods. The fruit snacks contain no artificial ingredients or preservatives, contain 100% DV of Vitamin C, and, of course, they’re shaped like little cows!

I’m hoping they are such a hit with the other kids they’ll beg the camp to buy them instead of the Lance Peanut Butter Crackers!

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