Thursday, January 31, 2013

Green Washing -- What does that mean?

Greenwashing is a term that I've seen floating around for a while now. It's simply defined as a company advertising it's eco-friendliness in an untrue way.  Imagine that, people not telling the truth.  Greenwashing can be compared to whitewashing, a term used when one wants to cover the truth. Here's the definition taken right off of The Sins of Greenwashing:

Greenwash: the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.

One helpful website I've stumbled upon is The Green Washing Index.  It's a community based website where users post ads they see where companies say how environmentally friendly they are, and the community judges these ads as greenwashing or legit.

For example, Dawn dishwashing soap.  Everyone's seen the commercials of people using dawn to clean off animals that were victims of oil spills.  They give the impression that they're supportive of the environment, however a user here points out some harmful chemicals.

One of these concerning chemicals is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.  It's an ingredient added to many cleaners and soaps because it moves oil, and foams.  One way to avoid this chemical is to make your own cleaners, but I'll get on that subject on another post.

So here's a green looking item.  Lets pick it apart a bit.

  • Hypoallergenic disposable diaper.  So are most diapers, and disposable still fills up a landfill.
  • No perfumes added to the diaper.  Again, why does this stand out from other eco diapers?
  • Soft organic cotton used in the diaper.  Really?  What percentage of the cotton is organic?  Where did it come from?  Is it certified organic?  Huggies doesn't really say.
  • Few inks used in making the diaper. what kinds of inks did you use?  Water based?  Soy based?
What they don't tell you:
  • The diaper is not biodegradable.  In fact, huggies doesn't sell any diaper that is biodegradable, so your "green" diaper will sit in a landfill for who knows how long.
Bottom line, you really want to go green with diapering, stop using disposable diapers.  This is green washing, and a very sneaky way to sell you diapers that are more expensive.

Would love to hear any of your experiences with green washing.  Have you found any that just disgust you?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Revamping History -- Homeschool tweaking

It's this time of year I always seem to second guess myself and wonder if we're on the right track.  History has been's not the only thing going the way I don't want to, but I'm addressing this first. We've been doing the free history curriculum from Guest Hollow and don't get me wrong, it's thorough and quite awesome.  It's a wonderful history curriculum for my son.  He's an independent reader, and he gets so much out of it.  He's a gifted fourth grader.  It's not a good fit for my struggling second grader.

So, we're going to try Elemental History.  I love that it begins pretty much where we left off in Guest Hollow.  We just did Columbus, and that's week two.  I also love I can down load it and begin using it immediately.  It's my hope that by separating them into two different history curricula that my son will once again be able to move at his own pace instead of waiting for his sister.

I also love that there is less writing and more crafts.  The first week has us making a telescope, and coloring pictures about states.  I think at her level this type of work will be more meaningful, more fun.

This is the first of many revamps that will be happening this month, and next.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Menu Plan

Our menu plan always comes with a bit of challenges.  We're on a strict budget of $125 a week, and we're a family of four who eats primally.  Because of our strict budget, our meats are not organic right now, however our veggies and diary products are.  We make our menu on Sunday morning and hit the grocery stores before the church crowds let out, and post it up for Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Variety is the name of the game right now.  We don't want to get tired of the same old stuff around the house, however it's smart to stock up on stuff when it's on sale.  Last week hubs nabbed boneless split chicken breasts for .99 cents a pound.  Holy cow!!  Anyway, enjoy the menu.  We're looking forward to pizza on Friday! Might have a beer with it if money allows. :)

Monday: Bratwurst and cabbage (teaching night, must be fast!)
Tuesday: Moroccan Chicken Casserole
Wednesday: Taco Night!
Thursday: Primal Shake and Bake
Friday: Primal PIZZA!!!
Saturday: Pork Loin
Sunday: Leftovers

And since I'm writing this on a Sunday night, we have improvised tonight's dinner.  I have to share this with you. Braised Venison/Lamb Shanks and yes, we're using both meats because it's what we have in the freezer.  Off a bit from last weeks menu plan, but variety must be had! Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Food Journal Summary

I didn't do a good job keeping up with my food journal this week.  It's just been a crazy week, and I missed a day here or there.  I will do my best to remember what I ate, even when I didn't write it down.

I did well this week though, lost three pounds altogether.  Adding those veggies helped!

Breakfast: 2 eggs, 2 pieces of bacon, 2 cups of coffee with half and half (huge breakfast!)
Lunch: side salad, with half a bratwurst
Dinner: Primal Chicken Fajitas

Breakfast: 2 cups of coffee with half and half
Lunch: Chicken/Avocado Salad
Dinner: Spaghetti and meat sauce with spaghetti squash (by far one of the best meals of the week!)

Breakfast: 2 cups of coffee with half and half
Lunch: Leftover spaghetti sauce on salad greens
Dinner: Pork Loin Garlic sautéd spinach and side salad

Breakfast: 2 eggs, 2 pieces of bacon, 2 cups of coffee with half and half
Lunch: Ham salad (made from yesterday's pork) mixed with salad greens
Dinner: --- wasn't hungry

Breakfast: 2 cups of coffee
Lunch: leftover ham salad
Dinner: Butter Chicken!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Get in free at National Parks

Every year the parks have free days, or weeks. Here's the list of days for 2013.  Get out there and enjoy our parks! Just missed Martin Luther King Day's...but mark your calendar for the rest!

For more info check out the National Park Service.

  • January 21
    Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • April 22-26
    five days during National Park Week
  • August 25
    National Park Service Birthday
  • September 28
    National Public Lands Day
  • November 9-11
    Veterans Day weekend

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Wabibito -- A creative resource for parents

When I was asked by Ruth Haske, the author of Wabibito, I got pretty excited.  My kids and I are always looking for crafts and things to do.  Typically our resource is craft books from the library, which basically can be hit or miss as to how good they are.  We typically stick to seasonal crafts, and Wabibito falls right in line with the kinds of things we're always looking for.

This is more than just a craft idea book.  This is a Waldorf inspired, seasonal idea book for children, whether you homeschool or not.  There are ideas here for children as young as 2, to as old as 10 and older.  There's also a reading list of wonderful books, and recipes.

My son just turned 10, and readily leaped at a fun project that included nails and hammers.  I can't think that he's actually used a hammer before, I was so glad to have a quick and easy craft that taught him these life skills.  I approved of this project because it used a can from our recycling, and cost us nothing to turn it into artwork.

Her directions to complete this simple and creative project were easy to understand.  I sat back, and watched him go.  Initially he had a hard time with the hammer, and cans can be slippery when you're trying to hammer a nail in them.  My seven year old daughter wanted to do her own lantern, and is still working on completing hers.  She wanted to nail it herself, so I started every dot of her design for her, so she had little dents to nail into.  Helped the nails from slipping all over the place.

There are so many other light projects for the winter months to help add some sparkle to your home in fun crafty ways.  I'll be sure to show off post pictures of them when we complete them. I will be looking back in the spring to see what she comes up with next!!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Menu Plan -- All Primal

This week's menu plan is completely gluten free, and primal.  We run a tight budget, and keep our food budget under $125 a week.  Here's our plan this week.

Monday: Chicken Fajitas
Tuesday: Maple Brined Pork Loin
Wednesday: Spaghetti Squash with tomato meat sauce (Paleo Spaghetti!)
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Chicken Drumsticks with side salad
Saturday: Jalapeño Dijon Grilled Chicken
Sunday: Leftovers

Chicken was on sale again, this time it was buy one get one free.  We have to keep changing it up, because you'll get sick of chicken if you don't do it up real well.  Hopefully we'll enjoy this week!

Linking up with Organizing Junkie

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Friday, January 18, 2013

Food Journal Summary

This week is the third week of doing daily journals on my food blog.  It was a rather rough, as I got sick midweek with a cold.  Nothing too horrible, it wasn't the flu...and I'm still getting over it.

Anyway, here's what I ate this week.

Breakfast: 2 eggs, 2 cups of coffee with creamer
Lunch: Chicken drumsticks with side salad
Dinner: Crockpot chicken

Breakfast: 2 cups of coffee with creamer
Lunch: 2 hard boiled eggs with mustard and salad greens
Dinner: Leftover Chicken

Breakfast: 2 cups of coffee
Lunch: Chicken drum legs, and avocado/egg salad
Dinner: Pork Chops

Breakfast: 2 cups of coffee
Lunch: Egg salad (mixed with avocado)
Dinner: Chicken quarter and roasted cauliflower

Breakfast: 2 cups of coffee
Lunch: Leftover Chicken and cauliflower
Dinner: Pork Bratwurst, sautéd cabbage, and side salad

Over all this week I lost 2 pounds.  It's a light week, I'd have been ok with more, but I'm ok with two pounds too.  The bestie mentioned this week I wasn't eating enough veggies.  She's right, I'm not.  I'm getting sick of chicken and eating the same things.  Hopefully next week will be more creative, and hopefully I'll be feeling better too.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bucket list- updated

Two years ago, I made a bucket list and last year while I was on my writing hiatus, I actually accomplished quite a bit.

33.  See Niagara Falls!
73.  Go on a honeymoon!

Hubs and I went last June to celebrate our wedding anniversary.  This one actually killed two birds with one stone because it was also very much a honey moon for us.

62.  Start a successful business.

Well, last January I started a business in Colorado called Finnigan Strings, LTD.  It ran successfully for 5 months until I moved to Maryland.  I may end up doing it again here, but I have to have enough clients here first for it to be a successful endeavor.  It was definitely successful there.  Booming...sadly.  I had to leave it behind and start all over.  If I did it once though, I can do it again!

74.  Be secure with my own spirituality.  

Two years ago this month I met a fabulous group of people who moved me spiritually in ways that are difficult to explain.  My path is called Asatru.  Hail to those who know.

85.  Own my own chickens.

I started my own chicken adventure with these three ladies right here.  The one in the front is a white sussex, the brown one behind her is a mutt back yard mix, and the third in the back you can hardly see is a splash maran, americauna mix who lays pretty olive green eggs.  They have been a blast.  Now I have 4 others who hopefully will start laying in the spring.

Do you have a list?  Have you been chipping away at it too?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The flu craze

About three weeks ago, I noticed. People on my facebook feed getting sick. It's the flu. It starts with a fever of about 103 out of nowhere. Sniffles, cough, and generally feeling like they got hit with a mac truck. It seems to take about 7-10 days to get over.

image source:

I started doing research about the flu, and it's really hard to get a straight answer anywhere. So, my non-medical, non-doctor like self put together some stuff I could find. It was pathetically little.

 Here are some facts.

1.  The flu has many different strains. This year's flu vaccine was designed to protect you from H2N3, an influenza b virus (I love how vague that was), and H1N1 (the bird flu). Not all vaccines are created equal, and not all of them contain all three.
2.  The flu vaccine is 70-90% effective against the strains it contains.
3.  The predominant strain going around right now is strain H2N3.
4.  You can get your flu shot, and still catch the flu.

What you should do.

1.  Stay calm. Stop listening to the media, they sensationalize everything and blow EVERYTHING out of proportion.
2.  If you haven't gotten a flu shot, you need to decide if you want one. I'm not going to tell you to run out and get one. You need to make an informed decision on your own if you want one or not.
3.  Keep hand sanitizer around. Wash your hands frequently, and when you're out in public make a conscious effort not to touch your face.

What I think.

1. I think politicians are swayed to press the vaccine. I think pharmaceutical companies lobby so much, and invest so much in politicians that we hear get the vaccine all the time.  Think for yourself.
2. I think that because we homeschool, and aren't out in the general public every day that it's not necessary for my family to be vaccinated.

What I do.

1.  My family and I have not, and will not get the flu vaccine.
2. I did a Prefenz giveaway, a while back and I still have some of their product.  I use it on our hands, and what makes it different is that it is also an antiviral, anti-fungal along with it's antibiotic properties.  I feel this helps protect us when we're out to at least help with the flu.  Most hand sanitizers are only antibiotics, and will not help you against the flu.
3.  We eat a healthy diet and keep ourselves in the best physical health we can.

What I will do if we get the flu.

1.  If my husband or I get the flu, we'll stay home take care of each other until we're well.  We'll look out for bacterial infections along with it.  Usually those are noticeable when you start to feel better, and then feel crappy again.
2.  If either one of my kids get sick, we'll take them to their pediatrician immediately.  Children I feel need to have immediate help from their doctor to make sure it doesn't turn into pneumonia.  I will also watch for secondary bacterial infections.

I'd love to know what you do.  Did your family get their flu shot?


1. New York Health
2. FDA
3. Flu Shot info
4.CDC Admits flue Vaccine's don't work

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Snap Shot Sunday -- Birthday Edition

I forgot to bring my camera, so I apologize for the cell phone quality pictures.  I did my best to fix them, but meh...what can you do.

This week, my sweet boy turned 10.  I can't believe he's 10!!  My girlfriend made the lego cake.  Isn't it awesome?  She's so talented!

Here's my son enjoying himself in the pool.  This picture is so important, because as of last summer he wouldn't put his head under the water.  He's been taking swimming lessons all year, and they have paid off so much.  Look at him...completely unafraid of the water!

Linking up today over at Ni Hao Ya'll!

Ni Hao Yall

Friday, January 11, 2013

Food Journal Summary

This was the second week of being primal, and my food blog has a great detailed list of how my second primal journey has been going.  This week was particularly hard because Wednesday was my son's birthday, which of course involved cake.  I made the cake myself, and of course tasted it.

Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs, and 2 cups of coffee with half and half.
Lunch: Chicken leg, leftover lamb, and an apple with almond butter.
Dinner: Shepherd's Pie sans crust

Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs, 1 cup coffee with half and half
Lunch: leftover shepherd's pie, side salad
Dinner: pulled pork with sautéd cabbage

Breakfast: two cups of coffee with half and half
Lunch: Pulled Pork
Dinner: Shepherd's pie, pulled pork

Breakfast: 2 eggs, and two cups of coffee
Lunch: Last of the leftover shepherd's pie
Dinner: Pork Stew

Breakfast: coffee
Lunch: Pork Stew
Dinner: Chicken breast with mushrooms

This week only two pounds were lost.  Two pounds is a good start though, don't want to loose too quickly.  Overall I have lost a total of six pounds in the last two weeks.  Hopefully this trend continues. :)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tightening the belt loops

Lately our budget has been on our mind.  Last year when we moved from Colorado to Maryland, we went from a two person income to a one person income.  We thought it would be simple, because we also went to two households to one.  Generally speaking you'd think that would be a simple adjustment and that money would be fine.

Well, it wasn't.

Initially when we moved, we enjoyed living together again under one roof.  We went to Niagara Falls for our tenth wedding anniversary.  We weren't frivolous with our money, but we weren't exactly careful either.  Around August, I told my husband we needed to cut back a little.  We were depleting our savings, and that made me nervous.  Then it hit us.  A $1,500 car repair to get the car licensed in Maryland.  Our tenants in our old house called, the air conditioning wasn't working...luckily it didn't need to be replaced, but that was another $900.  Then the wham-o.  My car started making a horrible racket.  That was $2500.  Then my husband's car again.  Luckily that was only $500, because we refused to get the other $3,500 of work done.  Bottom line, he needs a new car.

So here's what we've done so far to tackle this budget problem:

  1. Food Budget:  We have set a strict $120 a week for food.  We use cash at the grocery store, and when we're out, we're out.  We typically set a meal plan and buy all our food on Sunday.  We go through what's on sale at our normal grocery store, and consider getting what they are offering on our weekly sales.  This is additionally hard now that we're strict primal.  We eat a lot of meat, and we used to get strictly organic meat.  Not right now.  It's not in the budget.  Neither is eating out.
  2. We've trimmed back our cell phones.  It wasn't much savings, but it boiled down to roughly $30 off our cell phone bill.
  3. We're only using our credit card for gasoline or absolutely necessary online purchases, AND we're paying it off every month no matter what.  Honestly, we've always tried to pay off our one and only credit card every month...but this will make it easier.  It's our goal to bring our bill down to less than $1000 a month.  It hovered between $2,300-$3,000 a month before.
  4. We've pulled our kids out of swim class.  This was a hard one.  They have a wonderful teacher, and the classes are one on one.  They have done so well, it was a heart breaking decision for us.  The good part is, we can sign them back up when life has gotten back to normal.  That's going to save us roughly $150 a month.
  5. Not going places unless it's a planned trip, and completely necessary.  My husband's car is on it's last legs.  He only drives it to work and home.  There are days when I don't go out at all, and since I homeschool my kids we keep busy at home with our school activities.
  6. Offset the cost of heating oil by keeping a fire in our wood stove going.  Heating oil is expensive.  Serious sticker shock this fall when it cost us $900 to fill the tank.  Holy cow, I should have listed that in our scary expenses up top.  I keep our heat low, and our family room toasty with a nice fire.  I went in with my neighbor a few months ago and split two cords of wood with him.  My cord will likely be gone by the end of the winter.
What do you do to save a few?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Food Journal Summary

On Tuesday I started a strict primal diet, and I'm keeping a regular food diary on my food blog.  For the next few weeks, I'm going to do a weight loss weekly summary...unless I forget and stop.

So this week, being a pseudo week one I started the week off with shame.  I stepped on the scale for the first time in about a month.  I never completely went off the primal diet.  I still stayed away from grains and legumes, but I didn't keep my sugars and carbs in check and I gained some weight back.  Ten pounds actually.  Hard cider and chips.  It's my weakness.

Back on the wagon though, as of the first with the goal to loose 30lbs.  So here's what I ate starting on Tuesday:

Breakfast -- 2 cups of coffee with a dash of half and half in each.
Lunch -- 1 bratwurst, side salad with home made garlic balsamic vinaigrette
Dinner -- Chicken quarter with roasted carrots, and a side salad.

Breakfast -- 2 cups of coffee with half and half, 2 scrambled eggs
Lunch -- Chicken quarter with roasted carrots (leftover from last night's dinner)
Dinner -- Turkey Hash with a side salad

Breakfast -- 1 cup of coffee (Turkey hash leftover for brunch)
Lunch -- Shredded Turkey and salad.
Dinner -- Deer Chili

Breakfast -- 2 scrambled eggs, topped with chili and avocado slices 2 cups of coffee with 1/2 and 1/2
Lunch -- Taco salad (or chili salad)
Dinner -- Roasted chicken and salad

This week was a great start with a 4 pounds lost in 4 days.  I'm sure most of that was water, but I'm still encouraged and hope it's a continuing trend! :)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Soaring with Spelling -- A Curricula Review

This year both of my kids have been working out of Soaring with Spelling as a part of the overall Language Arts curriculum.

So far, I've been pleased with this curriculum for my children.  I think we'll continue to use this program so long as it's successful with them both.  Each lesson begins with a pretest.  It's an assessment test to see if the student already knows the words being worked on this week.  This is great, because my son initially had weeks that he scored 100% on the pretest, and when he did, he was allowed to skip the week, and move on to the next.  My daughter however has been stressed by these initial pretests, and cries when she doesn't do well on them.

The lessons each take roughly 5-10 minutes long each day.  With my daughter, I've had to add extra flash cards occasionally when words seemed slightly hard for her.

One thing that perhaps would have been helpful is a placement test.  My son probably could have gone ahead a level in their program...where my daughter may have benefitted from an easier book.

Overall, I think if you're looking for a secular spelling program for your children this program is appropriate for a student who is not in need of any remediation and who is on target for their grade level.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's Resolution

I always make New Year's Resolutions.  It's always possible to better yourself, and I think it's important for my own personal growth to make a goal each year to be better than I am right now.

It's been one hell of a year.  The grandmother died, my dog died, and I moved from Colorado and left so many people I loved deeply. Then, I moved back east to where I'm originally from, with the perk of able to see my family and my best friend on a regular basis.  I went from financial stability to ending the year with financial fears and problems that must be corrected.

I met last years goal.  I put my condition into remission.  I wasn't even sure I could do it.  I lost fifty pounds.  I really did.  That with moving out of the mountains and back to sea level I believe put my condition into remission.  I get random flair ups now and then, but I live with out medication.  That is nothing less than amazing.

My husband and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary this last year.  This was also a miracle.  We separated in 2010.  Living apart for more than a year.  When I moved to Maryland this passed May, we finally put our family back under one roof.  We were at the brink, and put it back together.

I got chickens, and a new dog.  Chickens.  They're so super fun.  I will have to post pictures of them soon.

This year.  I hope this year will bring happiness.  Better financial stability.  My goals this year, are not as far fetched as last year.  I hope to loose just a bit more weight.  Maybe just 30lbs this year, instead of the staggering 50 that I lost last year.  I hope my marriage thrives.  I hope my children continue to grow and develop beautifully.  I hope to make new friends in my new town, and maintain old friendships...I need them.

Do you have goals for this year?  I'd love to hear them.


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