health & wellness

A week or so ago I received my second VoxBox from Influenster. This one has a “natural” theme and was more more useful for me than the first which had a “love” theme and included chocolates, fake nail color things, and other crazy stuff.

This box contained seven products:
The Original Dish Drying Mat $4.99
LypSyl Intense Protection LypMoisturizer $2.81 to $2.99
EBOOST $28 to $39
CleanWell Individual Hand Sanitizer Wipes $29.99
GEODEO $5.99
NECTRESSE $3.99 to $6.99
SheaMoisture Raw Shea, Chamomile & Argan Baby Bar Soap $4.99

The Original Dish Drying Mat


I was immediately excited to use The Original Dish Drying Mat. It’s a layer of foam surrounded by microfiber and is mean to soak up all of the water that drips off of your dishes. Think big dishes washing loads and laying all of the dishes out on towels. For some reason kitchen towels are never overly absorbent so that is usually not very useful. I started using the mat right away and while I do like it I am happy that I didn’t actually purchase it.

We have little counter space in our kitchen so I’ve been setting the dish strainer on top of the left basin of our sink. Not ideal but it works. With the The Original Dish Drying Mat I thought I could go back to putting the dishes on the counter and simply put the mat away when finished – its way easier to put away than I an entire dish rack thing.


We don’t have a dishwasher so I’m constantly hand washing dishes. This has caused the The Original Dish Drying Mat to constantly be wet. I try to let it hang up to air dry overnight but sometimes its still wet in the morning. I’m concerned about mildew but so far it’s been fine. It is machine washable but I don’t want to have to regularly wash it.. that probably makes it more inconvenient than convenient.

So… I like the product but don’t run out to get one unless you really see how it will fit into your routine.

LypSyl Intense Protection LypMoisturizer


The tube is a little bulky but overall I really like this product. It’s made of pure beeswax, organic shea butter, and vitamins A and E. Instead of rotating the bottom to move the stick upward it has a little bee on the side that you push up. Cute, no?! I was concerned the bee would get pushed up in my pocket but so far this hasn’t happened, thankfully.


EBOOST is a powder (or shot) that is supposed to “boost” your mood, focus, and immunity. It claims to be “all natural” and comes in different flavors. I’m not really into things like this. I’ll drink water. And eat a banana. And I only got one so it’s hard to try it and actually gauge if it made you feel any different.

CleanWell Individual Hand Sanitizer Wipes

I’m sort of against hand sanitizer unless it’s a dire situation. I saw a funny thing the other day: “The first ingredient in hand sanitizer is paranoia.” HA. I’m sure you’ve heard… we over sanitize. For the most part bacteria is good. The world is filled with it. We NEED it. So I don’t want to kill it all. When in doubt… wash your hands. It should absolutely be the priority over hand sanitizing.

Only one little wipe was included in the box so it’s kind of hard to accurately tell you what I think, especially since I don’t even really want to use it in the first place. But if you need hand sanitizer this stuff is pretty mild and the ingredients are “all natural”.


I was really excited to find deodorante in the VoxBox. I use a natural deodorant that I like, has a subtle smell, and works well for me. Though I can go easily without deodorant so I’m not the best judge. I was excited because I’ve been making deodorante for Tyler but I guess he isn’t really enjoying it as much as I would have hoped. So when I saw the GEODO Natural Deodorant Plus Detox Complex in the box I thought it’d be great for him to try! But it’s super feminine smelling. We don’t use many fragranced things so I was pretty turned off by the smell – it isn’t terrible it’s just sort of strong. Though it’s worked great for me thus far.. so if you’re used to smells I’d say give it a try. It claims to be naturally-derived and specially formulated to be safe for your body and the world.



Eww. I’ll start by saying that I don’t like stevia and I don’t like Truvia. I wasn’t at all expecting to like NECTRESSE. I was only given two small packets in the box, which was disappointing. I don’t sweeten my coffee anymore and I am only likely to use sweetener while baking but two packets is not enough for that. So I put some in my coffee this morning and… I couldn’t finish my coffee. I just don’t like the taste.

But if you like stevia and Truvia it’s worth a try. NECTRESSE has no calories per tiny serving and is 100% natural – it is made from monk fruit and is also combined with other natural sweeteners. I wish I had more information about exactly how is was made and where monk fruit comes from. I could look that up.. but I don’t really want to. The first ingredient is Erythritol, the second is sugar, and the fourth is molasses. So… you decide. Just a friendly reminder to look at labels and use your brain. The cute little packet says “MADE FROM MONK FRUIT” all big and nice… but it seems more like a conglomerate of sweeteners made WITH some monk fruit all in the name of Splenda jumping on the natural sweeteners bandwagon.

Personally, I prefer maple syrup and honey. They’re pretty simple.

SheaMoisture Raw Shea, Chamomile & Argan Baby Bar Soap


So… seeing as how I don’t really use soap… I don’t have much to say about this. Tyler switched it out with our natural aloe bar though, so I think he likes it. It says “baby” but it isn’t just for babies… like most “baby” products. The soap contains sea butter, argan oil, chamomile extract, frankincense, and myrrh. It is sulfate free and super safe. It claims to sooth inflammation, irritation, and itching associated with eczema. I’m all about finding something somewhat natural to combat those things, or anything really. So if you need to clean your face or you are bothered by any of those things I just mentioned, it probably wouldn’t hurt to try.


I’m late. But in this case it’s better than never.

Last Saturday was National Car Seat Check Saturday. Ever hear of it? I wouldn’t be surprised if you hadn’t until now. And maybe you have but it went in one ear and out the other. Maybe you don’t have kids so you really don’t care. Or you have kids and car seats and think you’ve got it all right. And maybe you do. But maybe you don’t.

I just thought I’d post a little diddy with some car seat tips. Lots of people appear to be miseducated or unaware of these things.

1. The chest clip is a CHEST clip. Not a neck clip. Not a tummy clip.
If the chest clip is too high and you’re in an accident you risk strangling your child.
If the chest clip is too low and you’re in an accident your child very well may be ejected through the straps upward into your vehicle. You also run the risk of doing abdominal damage if your child happens to stay contained in their car seat in an accident.

2. Coats. Coats are to be removed before strapping a child into a car seat.
Sounds a little crazy but it’s true. Lots of car seat manufacturers will tell you this in their manuals. Coats cause the straps to be more loose around the child’s body and because coats are often a slippery material, you, again, run the risk of having your child ejected upward from their car seat in an accident. Here in Minnesota I have a feeling this one gets overlooked quite often. If you’re able, warm up your car first and take the coat off. If you can’t warm the car up take the coat off, get your child in their seat, and put their coat on backwards on top of the straps. It’s also easier for a child to adjust their temperature when the extra layers on the outside. It probably gets pretty uncomfortable in warm being wedged into a car seat with a giant winter coat once the car has warmed up.

3. Extended rear facing is SIGNIFICANTLY safer than forward facing.
I see all kinds of reasons that parents want to turn their kids around as soon as possible. Easier to see them, the child prefers it that way, better view, easier to hand them snacks, etc. etc. But the facts are (rf vs ff): 50kg neck loads in a 30 mph crash vs 300kg neck loads. WOW. 8% risk of severe injury vs 40% risk. AH. 96% injury reducing effect vs 77% injury reducing effect. It is FIVE times safer for children under 4 year to be rear facing. FIVE TIMES.
Here is some super great info.
The American Academy of Pediatrics states, “All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of their CSS.”
We purchased the Diono Radian which has one of the highest rear facing allowances. Sure, legs begin to get a little cramped in the back but there are very very very few instances of injured legs in a car crash. You know how when you stop quickly or are in an accident your neck sticks out in front of you and maybe even gets hurt? When rear facing the car seat absorbs that force, isn’t that great? Honestly I think all passengers should rear face.. why not?! High speed very damaging rear end accidents that are bad enough to injure a child’s legs when rear facing are rare – accidents involving the force stopping in front of the vehicle are extremely common.

4. Make sure the car seat is installed well.
Seems like a no brainer but wiggle the seat back and forth.. if it gives a lot it’ll give a heck of a lot more in a car crash. And check it every once in a while in case the belt loosens. People make a big stink about car seats being difficult to install.. we’ve had two different kinds and I could probably install them with my eyes closed. It’s kind of like putting on a seat belt. Or a belt. So give it a try and use some elbow grease to make sure it’s tight. Basically just make sure you do it super tight and if you’re not confident get a second opinion. Any fire station will be gladly to give you assistance.

5. The child’s straps should be tight.
If you can pinch the straps they are too loose. An accident with exert more force than you. You don’t want there to be any chance at all that your child will budge or be ejected from their seat. You also don’t want them to be able to wiggle and arm out.. this is a big red flag that they would like come out in an accident.

6. Children under 12 should be in the backseat.
No matter what kids under 12 should be in the backseat. It’s way safer. I saw a carseat for a kiddo Olive’s age in the front of a truck the other day. So scary.

7. Don’t forget the booster seat.
Booster seats are very important. If a child is under 4’9″ they are likely not big enough to use only the lap and shoulder belts without a booster. The booster helps put the belts into the correct location so they secure the child and do not cause major damage to their neck and abdominal organs in an accident. Lap belt should never be on the tummy and the shoulder belt should never be across the neck.

8. Don’t forget the expiration date.
This one stinks.. but car seats expire. The foam, strap material, and plastic all break done. This is especially true when in a hot/cold car every single day for years. You don’t want to risk that these things will not absorb impact or that something may actually come apart during a very bad accident. You’re also supposed to replace car seats after accidents. Check with your manufacturer for specific speed allowances. Some manufacturers will replace the seat for free if your vehicle is totalled. Helps a little..

9. Don’t submerge the straps.
Who knew?! Regardless of what terribly gross thing happens to the straps of your car seat DO NOT submerge the straps to clean them. This loosens the fibers thus severely impacting the integrity. You don’t want to risk that.

Well… those are 9 things I came up with off the top of my head. Hope it helps someone! :)

Oh hi. I’ve been busy. :)





I can’t remember what I’ve made with this. Lots of things. The kale is often used in Dal. The corn is often cooked in the oven along with some small potatoes and chicken sausage. Everything else is pretty varied.

Our garden is giving us entirely too many zucchini and cucumbers. Both of which you see we aslo get from our CSA share. The zucchini is used in place of pasta for simple dishes and lasagna, as well as in fajitas and for brownies. Lately I’ve been juicing cucumbers and drinking the juice as well as making popsicles with it. But the popsicles are tiny. I need more molds to keep up! Our garden has recently started giving us ripe tomatoes. A million, to be exact. I’m borrowing a dehydrator and hoping to do something useful with some tomatoes and zucchini.

Our jungle of a garden:


A giant zucchini:


Olive, quite seriously, enjoying her first corn on the cob:




This week’s share includes carrots, onions, beets, basil, green peppers, sweet corn, eggplant, and cabbage.  I was lucky enough to get more carrots and eggplant, as well as okra, kale, and a bouquet of flowers as extras!

In other vegetable news I finally figured out what the mystery squash growing in our garden is.

Drum roll…..

Peter Pan Pattypan!

And guess what?  It’s one of many mystery vegetables growing in our garden from last year’s compost.  Including tomatoes, potatoes, onions, and this squash!



Also I have to apologize for falling through in the what did I make with last week’s share portion of my CSA post.  I was thrown off one week when we had family in town and am now occasionally left with produce from the previous week’s share when I write the new post so it just seemed too difficult to continue.

Today marks the start of World Breastfeeding Week. I didn’t know much about breastfeeding until after I had Olive. I knew right away that I wanted to breastfeed her but even up until her birth I knew very little about why it’s so much better. To be honest I still probably have only scratched the surface. But in celebration of this wonderful week I wanted to share some reasons why I breastfeed Olive and why we’re still going strong.

I know some people can’t. I know some people think they can’t. Others lack support. Others are terribly miseducated. And others don’t just because they don’t want to. I’m not judging you or your choices but I do, wholeheartedly, believe that breastfeeding is, in fact, the best choice for mother and baby.

1. Breastfeeding is natural, the way it’s meant to be. Did you know that breast milk contains many many things that formula does not? Formula continues to try to match the benefits of breastmilk and their advertising makes it seem like its exactly the same but the truth is.. it’s not. Did you know that breastmilk grows along with baby to deliver exactly what baby needs at any given time? It’s amazing.

2. Breastfeeding is free. Maybe this seems silly to you but it’s true. As a work from home mom I don’t work that often. We live on a relatively strict budget. Canisters of formula are certainly not doable for us. It’s mind boggling to me how much is spent on formula. It’s also mind boggling to me that due to so much miseducation and completely absurd and overpowering advertising and coercion from formula companies many low income women formula feed. But just so I leave little to be argued there can be costs associated with breastfeeding – breast pads for the leaky mom, nursing bras, tanks, and/or shirts, a pump if you’re working or need one (I was luckily to be gifted a hand me down), bottles, breast milk storage bags, etc. But the cost of those things pails in comparison to formula. And formula needs bottles anyway.. many more than breastfeeding.

3. Breastfeeding allows for so much closeness between mom and baby. know some people can’t. I know some people think they can’t. Others lack support. Others are terribly miseducated. And others don’t just because they don’t want to. I’m not judging you or your choices. Do you have a wiggly baby? A little one who refuses to cuddle or lay down with you? Chances are if that’s the case and you breastfeed you can still enjoy relaxing cose time with your little one. It’s truly an amazing feeling.

4. Breastfeeding protects a baby from harmful things such as viruses and bacteria. Of course breastfed babies still get sick but they certainly get sick less often than formula fed babies. Olive has actually not really been sick yet. She’s had a night or two with a runny nose or minor fever but not a single full blow cold. I pass on my immunity to various things to her through my breast milk. It is recommended that babies who do not receive vaccinations be breastfed until at least the age of two. Why? Because breast milk protects them from so many things. Another reason that it so deeply saddens me to see low income mothers not breastfeeding as well as so many mothers in third world countries where diseases run rampant. Unfortunately things like witchcraft and absurd advertising strategies from companies like Nestle have screwed up the perception of breastfeeding in many places.

5. Breastfeeding is recommended until AT LEAST the age of two. The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding until at least 6 months of age and breastfeeding along with eating healthy foods until at least the age of two. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends “extended” breastfeeding. So why do people think its so strange to breastfeed an “older” child. Why do we even call it “extended” breastfeeding?

6. Breast milk is all natural. You can probably call it local, too. Maybe even stretch it and call it organic? I suppose it depends on what mom consumes, but still, my point is that it is natural. Have you peeked at formula ingredients lately? You know what’s in there? Corn syrup, for one. I avoid that. I don’t let Olive eat that. Why would I have possibly let her consume that as a baby? In my opinion there is not a single positive thing to be said about corn syrup. Except that, I suppose, it’s an avenue for our country to use the extreme surplus of corn that we seem to have. It’s true, there are organic and more natural formulas out there, but that further complicates #2 from above.

7. Long term health benefits for baby. Breastfeeding has been proven to contribue to a lifetime of good health. Having been breastfed as a baby correlates directly to a lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, lower rates of obesity, and lower rates of type-2 diabetes in adulthood. It also seems that people who were breastfed have a higher IQ than those who were not.

8. Convenience. Save for the initial difficultly some women may face or simply getting use to it when starting to breastfeed your first baby, breastfeeding is pretty darn easy. No need to heat a bottle in the middle of the night, no need to pack bottles, and water, and formula for trips away from home or long vacations. Simply bring yourself and you’re set.

9. Peace of mind. Like most little ones Olive goes through ups and downs when it comes to food consumption. She is currently going through a phase of wanting to be fed by me (which is odd because we’ve never really spoon fed her… ever). That isn’t always easy or quite possible with what I’ve prepared for a meal. Or sometimes she doesn’t seem to like or be interested in anything I offer. Or I forgot to pack snacks for our day away from home. None of that matters because I know she is getting exactly what she needs via breast milk. I don’t need to be concerned about how much protein is on her plate, if she ate her vegetables, etc. Of course I like to see her eat a well rounded meal but I don’t have to be stressed about it. And I don’t have to be pushy or anxious about her food.. which contribues to a much better food relationship for her.

10. Breastfeeding is comforting. A fussy baby, a sick baby, a tired baby, a teething baby, an overstimulated baby… can all find comfort in breastfeeding. The close contact with mom, smelling her, touching her skin, feeling her warmth, is often exactly what a baby needs. Baby may fight it, it may not always be the answer, but often it is. In the very first hours of life baby’s body learns so much from mom’s during their first breastfeeding experiences. Baby’s body learns to regulated it’s temperature and breathing and begins building a close and trusting relationship with mom. It truly is beautiful.

I think I’ll stop there.. that’s 10 things. 10 reasons that I breastfeed Olive and plan to continue until she is done.

Again, I don’t mean to offend… I simply want to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week and possibly share some information with you that maybe you didn’t already know. I think it’s perfectly capable for people to turn out just fine without breastfeeding – in fact I wasn’t breastfed.

If you’re a new mom or a mom to be do your research and find some support. Breastfeeding came easily to me but that isn’t the case for everyone. Seek out help if you need it and don’t be afraid. Find the right sources. Some doctors will push formula. It’s amazing and so discouraging but true. Others will make you feel like you’re failing because your baby is gaining weight slowly or your baby is taking a long time to learn to latch. Push through it – your body was meant to breastfeed.

If you’re already a mom and you feel like you failed in the past or didn’t have the right information or didn’t care to breastfeed.. don’t look back on the past and get discouraged. Breastfeed your next child. Done having children? Think about what you can do for your children today that will help them excel as amazing people today and tomorrow. And support other women in their choice to breastfeed.

Still don’t want to breastfeed? That’s okay, too.

I’ll leave you with a photo of Olive appearing to latch on to my leg.


Why don’t you link up your story?  And go read some more!  :)

world breastfeeding week blog round-up


This week’s share from McKinley CSA in north Minneapolis, Minnesota includes green beans, zucchini and summer squash, cucumbers, broccoli, swiss chard, carrots, and onions.

Last Saturday I took photos at the Cityview site and created a detailed smart spreadsheet to keep track of the produce being put into each type of share box on the various pick up dates as well as their weights.

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