Posted by: suzan | March 2, 2017

2017 Healthy Start – 10 Week Strategy

newyear

It’s hard to believe that we’re in the third month of 2017 already! Now is the right time to start evaluating all the New Year resolutions you promised yourself at the strike of midnight last year. Although I’m not really one to make new year resolutions because well, I tried that in the past and the pressure to fulfill them was just too unreasonable. So, for the past few years I realized that making easy to reach goals  throughout the year was much more realistic and attainable. It has worked for the most part and I don’t feel as pressured or disappointed if I’m unable to fulfill the bigger goals and aspirations.

This year let’s start off with some easier goals to make and achieve. I’m going to start the first week with a healthy topic that is suitable for both kids and adults. With each new year the desire to start fresh or new is just waiting to jump out of my body. While children may not truly understand this concept or desire since everything is practically fresh and new to them, for grown ups however having a fresh start is invigorating and exhilarating. I’m not referring to anything big or major, but just the thought that I can do something to make my life better is always a nice thought.

The new year is a great time to start getting rid of things. Things that may tie us down or hinder us from moving forward in our lives. It could be eating cleaner and healthier, or clearing out unnecessary items in our home, or negative thoughts that cloud our minds day in and day out. To do these cleansing rituals, let’s start off with a list and then deciding if they are attainable. Each person can have a different goal set but keep in mind that the new year brings in a healthier and happier outlook in life.

Commandments of a clean mind and body:

1 – Toss out any leftover Christmas/holiday items from last year: scraps of wrapping paper, Christmas lights that don’t work, holiday decorations that are old or torn, ribbon scraps, and bows that are misshaped or damaged. Toss out gift boxes or re-purpose them into something else. Gift boxes tend to clutter up the home if you have too many. If you’re particularly attached to any of them, keep the fancy ones and reuse them as container boxes. To further help the environment, find recycling centers in your area that can recycle these items. If not, ask your local elementary schools if they would like wrapping paper, bows, and ribbon for classroom projects. Or, have your kids make some fun projects that can be placed in picture frames or re-purposed into their growing home projects.

* Tip for tossing these items out: Seeing extra scraps of paper, torn ribbons, bows, and anything broken just leads to frustration of the mind and eyes. Sometimes we tend to hold onto objects that we think we might use again. Seriously consider what you would reuse them for and if you don’t plan on reusing them within the next three months, then toss them out.

2 – Toss out “junk food” in your fridge and pantry and replace them with healthier versions. Yes, there are healthier versions to the conventional types of junk food out there. While once in awhile we may indulge on the occasional junk food snack, keep in mind that if you don’t keep them in the house, you won’t feel the need to eat them.

* Tip for tossing these items out: Go to the natural grocery store and head straight to the natural and organic food aisle. There you will find many alternatives to the conventional unhealthy versions. Food products can be organic and made without any artificial ingredients. Trade unhealthy versions of yogurt with healthier organic versions. Trade greasy GMO chips with non-GMO, baked, or kettle style chips. Trade ice cream for gelato and dairy-free ice cream. Most importantly read labels and ingredients to get a better understanding of what you’re buying.

3- Toss out old, unworn, and damaged clothing. Sometimes we tend to buy clothes when they’re on sale or if we need them for an emergency occasion or function. But if you haven’t worn the articles of clothing for over six months and it’s already a new season, donate them or give them to someone you know. For damaged clothing, see if they can be fixed or re-purposed into rags or other types of clothing (jeans into shorts; long sleeves into short sleeves; long skirts into shorter skirts, etc.)

* Tip for tossing these items out: The general rule for keeping clothes is if you haven’t worn them in over a year, then toss them out. For clothes to have some value they would need to have been worn at least three times. Great places to donate are donation centers and consignment shops where you get a percentage back from the value of the sale.

4 – Yard cleanup is probably one of the most satisfying endeavors for a healthy home. Start by clearing out all the debris that’s in your yard such as fallen leaves, trees that need to be pruned or trimmed, dirt and soil from all the rain, and any broken flower pots and furniture. This will clear up space in your yard and help create a calmer and more serene scenery.

*Tip for cleaning up the yard: old debris in the yard left untouched can create germs, bugs, and even rodents! These are dangerous to have around the yard if your kids like playing in them and might accidentally touch or pick some up.

5 – “De-junk” your snacks. Yes, there is a way to “de-junk” all of the snacks that we see in grocery stores. While our brains may have been trained at a young age to buy the big name brands, we are also getting smarter and more adept at discerning between what is healthier for us and how certain ingredients trigger the “addiction” to unhealthy food. Unhealthy snacks are snacks that contain artificial ingredients, high fructose corn syrup, chemical preservatives, and many others. For a list of the top 7 scariest ingredients found in food, visit: http://digest.naturallysavvy.com/scary-seven/ for a complete list.

*Tip for cleaning up your snacks: Most children love to snack, whether it’s sweet grapes or greasy potato chips. But as parents we need to be extra diligent in the kind of snacks we buy and give to our children. Children’s bodies are best nourished with foods full of vitamins and minerals and not the sugary, artificially colored and flavored treats you find lurking in the grocery aisles. While some conventional snacks are unavoidable, it’s best to remember that children’s bodies absorb more of these harmful ingredients so try to keep it at a minimum.

6 – Toss out plastic containers. Those plastic containers that are either from restaurant leftovers or purchased from the store create more landfill than necessary. Most restaurants use plastic containers that can’t go into the recycle stream thereby ending up filling the landfills which takes thousands of years to fully decompose if at all. If you do end up with lots of plastic to-go containers, consider upcycling them into something you can use around the house or give away. And instead of buying more plastic containers from the store, consider reusing the restaurant containers a few times to really get some good uses out of them. Most store-bought containers are made from materials that can’t be recycled although more and more companies are changing to containers made from recycled materials. Also consider purchasing and supporting environmentally conscious companies that use recyclable materials in all of their products.

*Tip for tossing out plastic containers: Many plastic containers are made from materials that can’t be reheated in the microwave or can break or crack if used too often. If you do find plastic containers (from restaurants or store-bought) that are made from recycled materials, consider reusing them or upcycling them to give them a longer life. Certain chemicals in plastic have been known to cause certain illnesses so avoid them when possible.

7 – Toss out chemical cleaning products. Cleaning is important in our lives in order to maintain a healthy body and environment. But cleaning with toxic chemically-made products actually does more harm in the long run. Non-natural cleaning products  can leave behind toxins that we wouldn’t want to inhale, touch, or eat off of. Chemical cleaning products may seem like  they’re actually disinfecting and cleaning, but they leave behind more harmful residue than actually cleaning anything. Naturally made cleaning products, whether store bought or homemade can clean just as well as conventional cleaners if not even better. Certain ingredients such as vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils are naturally designed by nature to clean, disinfect, and get rid of germs. Using naturally derived ingredients to clean your house will prevent toxic residues and end up on surfaces and inhaled by your young ones.

*Tip for tossing out chemical cleaning products and using naturally derived cleaning products: consider that conventional cleaners were manufactured in a lab with unpronounceable ingredients and can actually cost more to purchase. DIY cleaning products using ingredients found in nature and probably in your house saves you money, time, and your health. For recipes on how to make your own natural cleaning products, check out my previous post here.

8 – Clean up your computer. At one of my old jobs I had to keep all the emails that I received for documentation and resourcing. But in order not to get inundated with insignificant emails I had to sort and categorize almost every type of email. Well, the same should be applied to your home computers. Whether you use your desktop/laptop for personal use, business, or both, keeping it clean and free of junk helps streamline your work and optimize your computer to work at its best. Make folders of certain categories so that when you get emails that are important or you need to go back to later, you can easily find them in their designated folders. And deleting junk emails is just like throwing away your junk snail mail. Read them quickly and get rid of them. And then don’t forget to delete all of the emails and documents in your trash folder too.

*Tip for cleaning up your computer: Consider how easy it would be in the future when you have to find something quick. Instead of searching through your thousands of emails, you can simply look through the designated folders and find what you need there. It will save you time and insanity and free up your computer’s memory.

9 – Toss out old periodicals, donate books, and revisit your craft supplies. A new year is the perfect time to decide if you should renew your magazine subscriptions or renew them as digital copies only. Digital magazines and books are easier to reuse and saves tons of paper and ink that end up in our landfills. Books that you no longer read or care about, such as outgrown children’s books can be donated to schools and libraries or start a book swap with your friends. Perhaps there are books that your children would love to swap with their friends and vice versa. It’s okay to keep favorite books or books that are autographed or rare, but when in doubt donate them or give them to friends and family.

*Tip for clearing out unwanted paper goods and craft supplies: Books are never ending journeys that can be revisited without costing any extra money. But when books are completely worn out, outdated, or outgrown, they inevitably clutter our home and take up space. Same goes to the craft supplies that we think to ourselves, “we might just need that extra scrap of ribbon for another project”. Unless you’re a professional crafter or you craft regularly, there’s really no need to hold onto that 1/4″ scrap of ribbon or construction paper. And instead of throwing them in the trash, see if your kids can make creative projects out of those scraps for you to frame or them to give away as gifts.

10 – Clear out the clutter in your mind and life. Most of us nowadays have either more than one job or are working parents or stay at home parents with several kids. No matter what, we all have some kind of clutter lingering in our minds and lives. Ask yourself is it necessary to hold on to damaging thoughts and feelings. Think about what those detrimental thoughts are doing to your health and to your life. Are they affecting your way of living or your loved ones? Do they cause you so much stress that you barely have time for doing anything relaxing? Find healthier solutions to resolving these harmful lingering thoughts in your head and move on. Even a little bit of stress can cause health problems later on in life.

*Tip for a peaceful mind: Meditation and being aware of what bothers you can help you find better solutions to live a healthier life. A healthy life equals healthy eating and healthy mindset. Determine what is holding you back and what is triggering you from making harmful choices and decisions. When you can let go of things that are preventing you from living your life to its fullest potential, you’ll be happier and possibly live longer.

So this year try something different that will make your life better. If you have children, teach them and lead them to make healthier choices in life so that they can grow up into happier and better individuals.

 

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

Posted by: suzan | March 2, 2017

Chick-fil-A Upcycling Project

chickfila

As a Chick-fil-A mom panelist I was given the opportunity to try their Chicken Tortilla Soup for a fun upcycling project #chickfilamomsDIY. While my husband had tried the soup and thought it was spicy and filling, I took the container and turned it into something that I already normally do – upcycling cartons for the garden. The challenge was to turn the Chick-fil-A soup bowls into something that is usable and in turn, helping to reduce waste for our planet. I thought up and down, left and right, turned around in circles and finally decided to reuse it as a seed planter. It was hard to think of something different having seen my fellow Chick-fil-A moms create some truly wonderful projects, but gardening is a great love and enjoyment of mine so why not turn the soup bowls into something I can use in my garden?

Whenever I do end up with plastic containers, I always use them for seed starting for plants that I can transplant into my garden or for the garden club students at my son’s school. A plastic tray can be easily carried and sturdy enough so that the seeds can grow on their own and at a much faster pace than if they were in the ground. I can move the tray in various spots around the house to absorb some sunlight or underneath a lamp during the days when the sun is hiding.

My upcycling project this year for the Chick-fil-A moms panel was easy but serves so well in what I need it for. I always tell myself that if something can be upcycled and given a new  chance at life, then reuse them whenever possible.

If you’re interested in learning how to upcycle your plastic containers, think about what you can use them for that gives them a longer purpose. Planting seeds and starting seedlings is a great and healthy way to grow your own vegetables, herbs, and even certain fruits. Below is a photo of Arugula seeds that I planted a few days ago with my garden club students. It’s super easy to achieve – all you need are some organic seeds of plants or flowers you wish to grow, organic soil, water, sun, and a safe place to grow them. Plant the seedlings outside according to their instructions or growth limit so that they can grow to their full potential.

cfa-dyi

If you’re interested in learning more about Chick-fil-A and their endeavor to help protect the earth, visit their website: www.chick-fil-a.com for more info.

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

 

Posted by: suzan | March 2, 2017

Chick-fil-A Upcycling Project

Posted by: suzan | January 16, 2017

Thayers Natural Products

 

 

thayers

With the rise of environmental and health awareness around the world, it’s no wonder we are getting smarter and more conscientious of the products we buy and companies we support. I came across Thayers (https://www.thayers.com/) while at the Natural Products Expo and was happy to learn that Thayers has been around for over 100 years in the natural health industry. With a generous variety of personal care and health remedies, Thayers has steadily grown to be well-known throughout the country. Family-owned and operated, Thayers originally began with a family of doctors and grew their products using ingredients found in nature to help relieve certain ailments and illnesses. Their witch hazel formula can be found in many of their products and is a major component in personal health remedies.

thayers

Currently, Thayers products include Witch Hazel (made with organic ingredients), Witch Hazel Body Bars, Dry Mouth Sprays, Lozenges, Lip Balms, and their newest editions of Healthcare Remedies. The Healthcare Remedies include Allergy & Sinus Relief, Dry & Itchy Skin Relief, and Arthritis & Joint Relief. I was given samples of their Witch Hazel astringent and toners, body bars, lip balms, and healthcare remedy collection. I have to say that the Lavender Mint Witch Hazel smelled wonderfully and cleansed my face really well after each wash. Witch Hazel has been used therapeutically for many centuries and are used mainly for beauty treatments nowadays.

witch-hazel

There are many health benefits to Witch Hazel but it is mostly known for its astringent and antiseptic properties, which are useful for treating inflamed or irritated skin. The tannins found in the Witch Hazel plant have potent antioxidant properties and can be used to treat many types of skin conditions including minor cuts and abrasions, skin inflammation, and eczema. Witch Hazel is best used as a topical treatment and should not be ingested.

Besides the Witch Hazel astringent, my other two favorites are the lip balms and the soap. The lip balms gave me a nice minty feeling and kept my lips moisturized for awhile. But since I tend to bite my lips more often than I should, I did have to reapply the lip balm several times a day. The Witch Hazel soaps stayed in its shape quite well and that’s one thing I’m always concerned about. My husband uses soap and it makes me sad when I see soap being wasted in the shower because of the running water. The Thayers soap kept its shape well enough that the soap lasted a long time and lathered up pretty well.

You can find Thayers at most natural grocery stores or at online retailers including Thayers own website: https://www.thayers.com/.

 

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

Posted by: suzan | January 6, 2017

Review of The Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen

ewg

Ever wonder why certain foods must be purchased organically grown and others are not as strictly enforced? Well, that’s because organically grown food are not sprayed or treated with toxic pesticides and herbicides. The soil and irrigation do not contain pesticides or toxic chemicals thereby ensuring a much cleaner crop down the line. Non-organic food however, are grown with heavily used pesticides and herbicides to maintain their growth along with being genetically modified for a bigger crop.

Each year or so, The Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes their “Dirty Dozen Clean Fifteen” Shopper Guide listing twelve of the most heavily contaminated fruits and vegetables versus the “cleaner” fifteen most popular fruits and vegetables that are not heavily sprayed with chemicals. I’ve attached the graphic for you to see, but you can also go online to their website to download a copy to print out and keep (https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty_dozen_list.php)

VEGGIE GARDEN - NEW

Here is the infographic for 2016 which I’m sure in 2017 one or a few of these will change. These types of food are tested and measured for the residual amount of toxic pesticides so the most heavily treated ones are on the top.

The Dirty Dozen are ones you should always buy organic while the Clean Fifteen are ones that, while may not always be organic, the residual toxic chemicals are at lower risk.

 

ewg

We might not always have the luxury of buying organic food all of the time. But there are certain foods we should really pay attention to how they’re grown. Now more than ever, we need to be diligent about what we buy, who we support, and how to keep our bodies and mind clean. Organically grown food are easier to find now and prices are more reasonable than years ago. When you plan your shopping and know what you’re buying then organic food will naturally become the first choice when you shop.

 

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

 

 

 

Posted by: suzan | January 3, 2017

California Water H2O Challenge

 

Cal Water H2O Challenge

Living in California definitely has it’s advantages – fresh air, sunshine, and beautiful coastal scenery. But like any other state, there are also drawbacks in the rewards. Take for instance the water drought California has been dealing with for the past few years. One would think we would get an abundance of rain with the sunshine, but rain just hasn’t been a friend during the last couple of years. That’s why conserving water is so important for the state of California. Without water and clean water that is, our health would be greatly affected and the environment will deplete as well.

This year I was approached to write about California’s Cal Water H2O Challenge. As an environmental advocate, I find the value of conserving water and educating others on this matter an important part of living in this world. It’s not just California who needs to concentrate on conserving water but everyone around the country. Water is one of the most precious resources and we need it to survive. Below you will find details about the Cal Water H2O Challenge and how you can get involved.

waterchallenge

The Cal Water H2O Challenge is a project-based, environmentally-focused
competition for classrooms, grades 4-6. Designed in conjunction with
NAAEE, the WestEd K-12 Alliance, and Cal Water, and aligned with the
Common Core State Standards and complimentary to the Next Generation
Science Standards, Cal Water H2O Challenge offers a unique opportunity
for upper elementary teachers to facilitate their students’ learning of
standards-based content, while developing the core understanding of
environmental principles necessary to becoming science-literate citizens.

Since running the Garden Club at my son’s school for the past 3 years, I’ve learned a lot about water conservation as well as teaching the students the necessity of it. As the drought no doubt will continue for another couple of years it’s important for me to teach my son and the students about conserving water. One of the important lessons I impart on the kids is about distribution of water. While my son learns to dump his unused water in our garden to feed our plants, at school I try to teach the students to do the same. Too often I see kids just throw away the water bottle instead of recycling at the school. I’m not sure if the teachers dump the water in the plants around the school – which I hope they do – but whenever I see a child pour out the water on the ground, I stop them and tell them to pour it in the plants. I then explain to them that not only are they helping to water the plants but because of our drought situation, the school is watering the grounds less. And the “ah-ha!” moment that alights in their eyes is such a delight as they realize that there is no need to waste water. Kids are constantly learning and it’s important to teach them the values and structures of being responsible and caring.

calwater

Although the Cal Water H2O challenge is for certain school districts in California, on the site you can take a pledge for your school or classroom to show your support for water conservation. But the most exciting part of this competition is winning prizes! Here are the prizes offered to the winners:

Grand Prize
Class Celebration: Classroom tent-camping
trip to the Santa Monica Mountains with
NatureBridge
Class Funding: $3,500 grant
Extras: Cal Water prize packs for every student

2nd Place
Class Celebration: A Pizza Party
Class Funding: $2,500 grant
Extras: Cal Water prize packs for every student

3rd Place
Class Funding: $2,000 grant
Extras: Cal Water prize packs for every student

4th Place
Class Funding: $1,000 grant
Extras: Cal Water prize packs for every student

All Participant Prizes
Student Recognition: An official certificate of
participation for every student
Teacher Recognition: A teacher certificate
Teacher Gift: An AMEX gift card

And here are the important highlights of the competition:

* Registration for the Cal Water H2O Challenge ends on January 31,
2017

* The students of participating classrooms initiate, develop, and
implement a 4-8 week-long project (or longer at teacher discretion),
focusing on caring for water. This class-based project explores water as
a global resource and as a local resource, while tackling a local water
problem in an individual and community-based endeavor.

* Upon completion of the project, students create a final portfolio
documenting their work. This portfolio, along with accompanying
cover sheets, student reflections, and a teacher reflection, constitute
the final submission. Submissions are due February 28, 2017.

* Objective Rubric: Judging of the competition will be conducted by a
panel of experts working in education and/or an environmental field
and will use an objective rubric, developed with the help of the West
Ed / K-12 Alliance. This rubric evaluates the water topic choice, project
goals, action plan, and outcomes, long term benefits, integration with
student learning and curriculum, student participation, impact on
student learning, presentation, and impact on teacher practice.

So if you do live in California and would like your school to participate in the challenge, please visit the contest website for more info about registration:

https://challenge.calwater.com/

Remember that registration ends on January 31, 2017, so as soon as school resumes after winter break, tell your teachers, your principals, anyone who is involved in the school district about this exciting, educational, and rewarding competition! Even if your school doesn’t win tangible prizes, remember that the students will win merits in responsibility and caring for the environment.

Best of luck to your school and don’t forget to register!

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

Posted by: suzan | December 19, 2016

Give the Gift of Nature – Holiday Edition

BAY LEAF TREES

Jingle bells are jingling, cold weather approaching, and bright colorful decoration are upon us as the winter holiday season has quickly arrived. Each year it seems as if stores are putting up their holiday decorations earlier than the last and advertisement for Black Friday deals have literally attacked my inbox even months before. I have barely put away my Halloween decorations before ads of sales and savings make their way into my mailbox. And each year I tell myself to start shopping earlier so that I don’t stress out during the holiday season when everyone else is buying presents at the last minute. I want to relax and savor moments of freedom and quietness from the rush of crowds sure to camp out at my favorite stores.

But buying should be done responsibly and with the environment in mind. Not only are the holidays the most festive time of the year, it is also the most wasteful. We may spend thousands of dollars buying gifts and wrapping paper and decorations without really thinking about the impact all of these things create for our planet.

If you’re still looking for gift ideas, below I’ve listed companies and gift ideas with the environment in mind. Most of these items can be found at natural grocery stores as well as certain major supermarkets and specialty stores. You can also find their products on their website.

FOOD GIFTS:

Sure, most people enjoy receiving gifts of food for the holidays but choosing the right ones are important if you take extra care in buying the right kind. Food gifts can be gourmet or simpler depending on who you’re giving it too and how personal it is. And if you’re a great baker, baked goods should look as delectable as possible and try to only use natural and organic ingredients.

Gourmet Coffee and/or Tea – when giving coffee or tea, choose brands that take coffee and tea seriously. We may feel inclined to buy the ones we see in supermarkets, but take care in choosing companies that grow coffee from Rainforest Certified plantations and are Fair Trade. Both certifications verify that coffee is grown without damaging precious land and resources and proceeds go back to the farms and workers. Tea should be high quality and preferably grown without any pesticides or herbicides. There are many varieties of tea but the most popular ones are green, black, oolong, and chai. Coffee should be organic as well to ensure the beans aren’t sprayed with toxic pesticides or grown in chemically treated soil. Just like any other non-organic food, chemicals can leak into the food you eat and into your body. Good organic and fair trade companies include Newman’s Own Organics (http://www.newmansown.com/) which donates all proceeds to charity and Equal Exchange which supports small farmers, their communities, and the environment (http://equalexchange.coop/).

Gourmet Snacks – I love making food baskets for individuals who enjoy opening up the gift and selecting something different to try each day. When it comes to snacks or food in baskets, it’s a nice thought to pack items that the recipient don’t usually get for themselves because they’re hard to find. Buy items from brands that are the recipient’s favorites and in similar categories so you can include several different products. Recently I tried a new brand of organic popcorn called Quinn (http://www.quinnsnacks.com/) and I was so impressed with their products that I had to buy a few bags to give to my nieces and nephews. I enjoy freshly popped popcorn but not the kind that you find in chemically treated plastic bags. Quinn Microwave Popcorn come in a special non-toxic microwavable bag using only organic, Non-GMO Certified corn. The ingredients are simple yet the flavors are full of complex sensations. The popcorn are airy and light and taste as fresh as if you plucked the corn from the field and popped them on the stove. There are currently five different flavors of microwave popcorn and the boxes are cute and whimsical enough to put into gift baskets. If you’re making a theme out of the gift baskets (which is always fun!), I recommend a movie theme to include Quinn Microwave Popcorn, healthy sweets such as organic chocolates and gummy candy (http://www.surfsweets.com/), some natural soda or juice, and DVDs or movie theater tickets.

quinnsnacks

(Sorry, Elf on the Shelf…all the Quinn popcorn were popped!)

NATURE GIFTS:

In going along with the theme of natural gifts, giving gifts that come from nature is suitable for many. Nature gifts include anything that comes from and gives back to nature. When purchasing gifts made from nature, try to buy sustainable products which means products that can regrow and does not take away from its natural source.

Plants – There’s something quite unique about plants as gifts. Plants can be great gifts for virtually anyone of any age and interest. The recipient doesn’t have to be a plant lover to enjoy plants. When you see a beautiful plant in a decorative pot it always brings a smile no matter what. But take care in buying plants that are easy to manage for the novice and for the more experienced gardener, give them something unique and more complex. Visit your local nursery or buy online from well-known nurseries and farms. Be careful when buying plants from grocery stores as most of them are conventionally grown and may not last as long. Plants make great gifts because they can last many many years and can also be planted into the ground to last even longer.

Experiences – While experience gifts can fall into almost any category, this year give the gift of nature. A great and meaningful experience gift can be an annual membership to a museum or park. Many museum memberships can be low cost but offer so much for members. If you know the interests of your recipient, give them museum memberships tailored to what they like – art museum for art lovers; nature museum for the conservationist; automotive museums for the car lover, and so forth.

GIFTS FOR THE HOME:

Buying gifts for the home can be tricky especially if you don’t know the recipient well. But gifts for the home can be meaningful and useful no matter who you give them to. Just keep the gift simple yet elegant and consider a gift that can be used multiple times.

Keeping the house clean – For that one person who is a clean freak but also an environmentally aware shopper, consider giving gift baskets from companies who produce eco-friendly supplies. A great company to try would be If You Care (http://www.ifyoucare.com/) where all their products are sourced and manufactured using renewable, recyclable, and sustainable materials. And of course one of my most favorite home care company is Earth Friendly Products (ECOS). With their new line of environmentally-friendly and non-toxic cleaning products (http://ecos.com/), you’ll definitely find some great products to put inside the basket. Try their newest Hypoallergenic Dish Soap in Winterpine scent which is perfect for this holiday season.

Putting together a non-toxic, sustainable household gift basket is a great way to show you care about your recipient and help them become more “green” as well. The gift basket can include items such as natural cleaners for the home, natural sponges and reusable cleaning cloths.

winter

For the gardener – Gardening is one of the most relaxing and rewarding experience a person can have. When you grow your own garden whether full of edible plants or not, you are enjoying the beautiful gifts of nature while giving back to nature as well. Consider a garden basket for a specific garden or yard. Try a butterfly garden where the recipient can plant flowers and plants that attract butterflies. Add in seeds, some plant seedlings, gloves, shovels, and pruning shears and your recipient will enjoy a bountiful garden for many years.

For the food connoisseur – Who doesn’t love food, right? Especially if the food is delicious and healthy. But consider giving gourmet food to make the recipient feel extra special and appreciated. Go beyond even that and buy from farmers markets and locally sourced farms and manufacturers. Locally produced products helps these smaller companies, reduce carbon footprint, and are usually very unique and special. You can find locally sourced products at natural grocery stores and your neighborhood small business shops.

There are many factors to consider when buying gifts to help the environment as well as making it special. When you give gifts of nature that are sourced responsibly, promote healthier living, and are naturally beautiful, you are showing your gift recipients that you care about their health and well- being.

Happy Holidays and have a fun and safe shopping experience!

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

Posted by: suzan | November 22, 2016

10 WAYS KIDS CAN ROCK IT HEALTHY – WEEK 10

thanksgiving

Finishing up the last week of our “10 Ways Kids Can Rock It Healthy” journal, let’s talk about gratitude and giving thanks. As Thanksgiving Day is coming up this week, let’s go beyond how this day began over 400 years ago and teach our children the true meaning of “giving thanks”.

Every day we hear about some kind of injustice in the world and yet we very rarely hear about kindness, gratitude, or generosity. As we approach Thanksgiving Day, it’s easy to just host a big dinner, eat our favorite foods and then end the day stuffed and happy. We go through days of stress preparing for the celebration, but do we really appreciate and understand why we “celebrate” Thanksgiving? While years ago it was meant to give thanks and to join a union between two groups, now, is it really just a grand excuse to indulge on rich foods and watch the parade on TV?

This Thanksgiving, let’s teach our kids to be just a bit more thankful, a bit more appreciative, and a whole lot more giving. With Christmas fast approaching it’s even more crucial for our kids to learn about giving rather than taking. Below I’ve listed 10 ways our kids can show appreciation during Thanksgiving and the upcoming holidays. These are fun and easy ideas kids of any age and gender can try. And for some fun and natural crafting ideas for your kids, check out Green Craft Kids (http://www.greenkidcrafts.com/3-upcycled-thanksgiving-crafts/).

10 Ways Kids Can Give Thanks:

– Find a charity that you like and donate what you can this holiday season. If you can volunteer your time, all the better. For more info about charity donations visit: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0074-giving-charity

– For school aged children, show thanks to your teachers by making them handmade cards or gifts they can use and display. While you’re at it, make handmade cards to give to other school staff that you interact with on a regular basis.

– Help clean up around the house without being asked by your parents.

– Help clean up your neighbors front yards. Pick up any leaves or debris that may be on their lawn or front yard.

– Make little “thank you” packs to hand out to the local police station/fire station/military base. You can include items such as healthy candy, a gift card to a coffee shop or restaurant, and other healthy snacks.

– If there are siblings, be extra kind to them. Show them that you appreciate them as much as possible.

– Be kind to nature and the environment. Plant extra flowers and trees to help create cleaner air.

– Make a Gratitude Box. Write down what you are grateful for (could be anything small or big) and put it in the box. Encourage your parents and sibling to do the same. Then, at the end of the week take out all the grateful notes from the box and talk about it as a family.

– Make a Kindness Box. Write down a kindness act you want to do and put it in the box. At the end of the week pull out a kindness note from the box and perform that act the next day or following week, and so forth.

– Be thankful to yourself. Appreciate who you are and what you’ve accomplished in life. Know that you can do great things as you get older.

Being kind, grateful, and compassionate shouldn’t be a hardship nor should it seem like a chore. Children are inherently accepting and kind and we should encourage them.

Happy Thanksgiving!

*Photo courtesy of MarthaStewart.com

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

 

Posted by: suzan | November 16, 2016

10 WAYS KIDS CAN ROCK IT HEALTHY – WEEK 9

 

 

nutrition

I’ve always been an advocate for teaching kids to eat healthier and I wholeheartedly support parents who try every technique available to get their kids to eat better. And while there may be many ways to get your own kids to eat more vegetables or fruits, I’m not as favorable for having to “hide” vegetables and fruits into food. The reason for that is simple – teach kids to eat food in their natural state so they know where it comes from.

Eating food in its natural state is much like the Farm to Table method where what you grow is what you eat. When you take a child to a local farm or even to the grocery store, they’re bound to see fruits and vegetables in their natural forms.  Even better when you have your own garden where you can grow lots of delicious and healthy fruits and vegetables. Imagine your child going to the yard and plucking a fresh and juicy apple and then biting into that delicious sweetness. Do you see the delight in their eyes? Do they not immediately go “Mmmmm” as the sweet juice drips down their adorable little chin? No doubt that kids would much rather eat a fresh and sweet apple than find them hidden and overly sweetened in a pie or cake. When you teach your children to enjoy food in its original state, you’re bringing them back to nature, back to when things are simpler and easier to manage. Children don’t have to worry how many calories are in an apple or strawberry or whether there’s too much sugar or sodium in their fruits and vegetables. If you let your children enjoy food in its natural state, the way the food is grown, you’ll get a healthy eater in lesser time than if you had to trick them into something healthier.

I work at an elementary school and I see students eating a packed lunch of Cheetos and cupcakes. Maybe the “cheese” in Cheetos signify getting some kind of protein? Or the cupcakes contain some eggs so it’s gotta be healthy right? Well, getting your kids to eat healthier and to choose a healthy lifestyle starts as soon as they can eat. When they’re infants, you wouldn’t dream of feeding them soda or chips so the foundation for good health should already continue well into their early childhood and into adulthood. Raise a healthy eater and I’m pretty sure your child will grow up with a healthier outlook on life.

Below I’ve listed a few steps you can take to offer food in its natural state to your children. There’s also a great website on choosing to eat healthier with some great tips: http://www.rodalewellness.com/food/learn-how-to-love-healthy-foods

Tips on appreciating food in their natural form:

– Take your kids to the grocery store (preferably a natural grocery store) and show them all the different kinds of food in their original state. If you have a grocery list, have your kids write the list of vegetables and fruits they want to see at the store.

– Have your kids pick out some of their favorite fruits and vegetables and also pick out something they haven’t tried before. You’ll most likely find some oddly shaped fruits and vegetables at natural grocery stores and that’s okay – these produce were not genetically grown so they’re as natural as your kids are!

– Have your kids try out some of  the samples at the produce section. Most natural grocery stores will have cut up fruits for customers to sample (and they’re usually deliciously sweet!)

– Try some homemade dressings or dips or purchase all-natural ones at the store for kids to dip their vegetables in.

– Depending on the age, have your kids help you cut up their freshly bought vegetable and fruits to make into salads or as crudites.

– For school lunches, cut up thin slices of sweet and juicy apples or easy to eat vegetables and provide them along with their meals. When the fruits and vegetables are easy to hold and chew, your kids will most likely eat them.

– Keep a good amount of fresh produce in your fridge at all times. When possible, try to buy organic to avoid toxic chemicals and treatments. For a current list of clean produce to buy, check out this website: https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty_dozen_list.php.

– Resist the urge to bury their vegetables in heavy sauces or oils. Raw vegetables and fruits have the most nutrition and health benefits. Once food is cooked down, you loose most of the nutrients.

– Explain to your kids that fresh fruit and vegetables, natural milk, and whole grains are the foundation to healthy brains and bodies. These types of foods will help them think clearer and play harder.

– Planting a garden. When kids have the opportunity to see how certain plants are grown they’re more apt to eating the fresh harvest. Give your kids their own planting spot and plant easy to grow herbs, fruits, and vegetables. If you have limited space, planters work really well and grow plants just as beautifully.

So take a few moments to teach your kids about eating food as they’re grown. Children are naturally fascinated at nature and if you allow them to enjoy fruits and vegetables in as much raw form as possible, they’ll learn valuable lessons about nature and healthy habits.

 

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

 

Posted by: suzan | November 9, 2016

10 WAYS KIDS CAN ROCK IT HEALTHY – WEEK 8

rak

“NO ACT OF KINDNESS, NO MATTER HOW SMALL, IS EVER WASTED.”

—Aesop

This week and particularly on Sunday, November 13 is World Kindness Day (WKD). It’s the day we celebrate kindness, acceptance, and respect for all things around the world. It’s certainly not a new event but for many who have never heard of World Kindness Day, now is the time to start planning on what you can do to show more kindness. While we may think of being kind to those we care about, this day goes beyond that into showing kindness and care to strangers who most need it. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture or even cost any money. It can be something as simple as helping an elder lady with her grocery bags or giving your seat to someone else on the bus or train. Or, it could be something magnanimous as handing out food bags to the homeless.

The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation (https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/) started with a single idea to spread kindness in schools, communities and homes. With that mission in mind, RAK has grown around the world, spreading the word of kindness and acceptance to as many places as possible. The act of kindness is like a single seed. It may start off small but it blossoms into something beautiful and great and it spreads through the winds of change. We can all strive to be kinder, to be more accepting of others and of ourselves, and to spread the joy of the simple act of being kind.

“WHEN WE FEEL LOVE AND KINDNESS TOWARD OTHERS, IT NOT ONLY MAKES OTHERS FEEL LOVED AND CARED FOR, BUT IT HELPS US ALSO TO DEVELOP INNER HAPPINESS AND PEACE.”

—DALAI LAMA

Children are perfect examples of teaching them to be kinder to others. Like little sponges they soak up everything around them and without prejudices at most times. Children learn from watching others – mostly their family – and mirroring what they see. So let’s teach our children the simple act of being nice and to not judge.

Below I’ve listed a few ideas that children can do to show more kindness. To understand that kindness begins with one person. To believe that even one person can start the change for good.

rakbelieve

10 Things Kids Can Show Kindness:

1- Smile every day. Even on sad or troublesome days, think of something that makes you happy and smile. It will dramatically change your mood and outlook.

2- Let the person behind you go in front of you in the lunch line.

3- Bring your teacher a hand drawn card or note telling her/him how much you appreciate the hard work.

4- Help teachers and staff pick up trash in school.

5- Smile kindly at a stranger in the grocery store.

6- Depending on the age, offer to pick up mail and newspapers for the neighbors while they’re away. Or water the lawn/garden for them.

7- Leave little notes of encouragement throughout the school while no one is watching.

8- Open the door for someone at school.

9- Befriend a new student in school.

10- Gather items to donate to donation centers and encourage your friends to do so.

Being kind to someone shouldn’t be a hardship on anyone. Children are inherently kind unless taught otherwise. So even if it’s as simple a gesture as smiling at a teacher or giving her a hug, or helping the teacher clean up in class, any small movement of thoughtfulness and kindness will be appreciated and rewarded.

RAK_did_you_know_yellow

For more info about the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation and about World Kindness Day, please visit their website:

https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/

 

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

 

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