Apr 27, 2014

Burt's Bees Baby and Giveaway

Ever since my girls were born, I have been on a quest to clean up our home.  I am not talking sweeping and scrubbing - I'm talking about tossing all the chemicals and using natural products in our home for cleaning, bath, health and baby.  We have changed a lot of things around here and we are definitely noticing an improvement to our health and wellbeing.

Thanks to House Party, I was able to try out several awesome baby products from Burt's Bees.  I am not being monetarily compensated for this post - House Party did provide me with products to give to friends, and an awesome book to give to one of you!

So here is my take:

There are very few brands out there that provide an all natural baby product that is readily available in stores and affordable - Burt's Bees meets all of these qualifications. 

I have had the pleasure of trying out a few of the Burt's Bees Baby products - the baby wash, the diaper cream and the moisturizer.  All of which were incredible products that I would recommend and buy again.

Have you heard of EWG's Skin Deep?  This is an awesome web database where you can search for individual products that you use and find the level of toxicity based upon the ingredients.  I was shocked to learn that many of the items I was using on a daily basis on my children received terrible ratings.  Luckily, Burt's Bees receives 0-1's (this is excellent). 

So, for ALL of my readers, if you will follow this link, you can get a $1.50 off coupon for Burt's Bees - click the link about half way down the page.

And, thanks to House Party and Burt's Bees, one lucky reader will receive:

- One Burt's Bees canvas tote
- Burt's Bees Baby Bee Kissable Cheeks Balm
- Sage Spoonfuls by Liza Huber (Includes 66 easy to prepare recipes for baby)
- Burt's Bees coupons

So, how do you enter?  Leave a comment here (or on the facebook page!) telling me WHY you have decided to eliminate chemicals from your home and use natural products.

That's it!  I hope you win :)

Giveaway ends Wednesday, April 30th, so leave your comments quickly!

Apr 23, 2014

Happy Birthday, Baby!

Today, my baby turns 2.

My heart both soars and grieves as she grows into a beautiful little girl - no longer a baby even though that is what we all call her.  Each day, she brings a brightness into my life, and my mama heart is sad that the days of snuggles and kisses are slipping through my grasp like sand, but so thankful for who she is and what she means to me.

I truly never knew that my heart could hold so much love until this beautiful little one entered my life. 

10 Beautiful Things I Don't Want To Forget:

1.  Your amazingly beautiful smile - you can literally brighten a room just with your sweet smile and you certainly brighten my days.

2.  Your singing - I love when you wake up in the mornings singing at the top of your lungs the "Baseball Game" song, or "Let it Go!"

3.  "Knee-Knees" when you get your diaper changed - you stand with your feet apart and wiggle your knees back and forth in a dance that is so sweet and funny.

4.  Your laugh - bubbly and contagious

5.  The way you say certain words and phrases - my favorites are "No Ma'am", "IzzyBell", "Awebell", "That's my favorite"....

6.  Your adoration of your big sister - you want to play with her, hold her hand, and you always want to be around her.

7.  Your love of books - you can go to the book shelf and take a book and be so enthralled looking at the words and pictures.

8.  Your love of shoes - never have I met a child who was so in love with footware.  You would rather match shoes and try on every pair than play with most toys.

9.  Your intelligence - at 2 years old, you know so much that it surprises me on a daily basis!  And you are learning so quickly from your big sister and from books.

10.  Your "huggles" - oh my sweet baby how I love your snuggles.  And I so love that you still WANT to snuggle with your mama. 

Olivia Catherine - your mama and daddy love you SO.  We pray everyday that you will continue to grow into a strong, smart, healthy young woman of God.  I look forward to everyday with you and I am so thankful for you!  Happy birthday to my beautiful Baby!

Apr 22, 2014

The Natural Way, Recycle Revolution

Welcome to the sixth installment of The Natural Way, a series in which we are showcasing individuals and companies that are making a difference in their community by doing things "the natural way" with a focus on sustainability.

Take a look at the rest of the series in which we have talked to ranchers, humanitarian aid organizations, back yard chicken enthusiasts and more!

When I was in Elementary school, I developed a love for all things environment.  My mom and dad gave me a book called 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do To Save The Earth.  I read it from cover to cover, over and over again.  I adored knowing that I wasn't just a kid, I was someone who could contribute to SAVING the Earth!  And I did - I remember being in Elementary school and starting a recycling program at our school, and it just snowballed from there. Now we recycle far more than we put in the garbage, compost our kitchen scraps and reuse, fix or donate items rather than place them in the landfill.  So thankful my parents started me out young knowing that the simple things I do on a daily basis really do contribute to the overall health of our world.

All that to say, I am very excited about this week's "The Natural Way" post.  Joining us today is Maria Lott, Owner of Recycle Revolution.  Without further ado, please check out her interview!

Q:  Hi, Maria!  Can you introduce yourself?  Tell us a little about who you are.

A:  I am the mother of Recycle Revolution's founder, Eddie Lott.

Q:  You haven't always been involved in Recycle Revolution, what did you do before you dove into this lifestyle?

Before joining RR, I taught and retired from teaching at public schools until 2008.  My son needed my help in the Revolution's start-up and it was an impeccable timing to begin the second career in my life.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about WHY you decided to make this leap?

To champion the cause for Mother Earth and leave my children, grandchildren, and the future generation of children a cleaner environment with an abundance supply of natural resources for them is the most wonderful feeling I could never have imagined!  I am passionate about this recycling business, Marcie, and it is the one thing that has kept me going throughout these six years.  I have also always wanted to own my business, and so when RR was born, I knew that my passion for working for Mother Earth was going to be a dream come true through this company.

Q:  Why is what you do important?

RR's mission revolves around community and sustainability.  Our mission is "to foster a culture of recycling in North Texas, provide outstanding service to businesses that care, and use our success to rally for the causes of good neighborhoodship and environmental awareness."  We offer recycling to mom and pop businesses, offer valet services from floor to floor levels, offer one-stop recycling including paper, aluminum, glass, all plastics, cardboard, electronics, lamps, ballasts, batteries, and our newest program is composting food waste.  We also have clothing and shoes collected to benefit a community (was Deep Ellum where we just moved from, and will now be towards a charity instead).  We offer our free community drop-off of recyclables for all multi-tenant residences (apartments & condominiums) here at our facility.  And we participate in community events for their recycling and give free tours for individuals/groups who want to witness the beginning of the recycling process (we collect and aggregate the recyclable materials here at our facility where they are weighed, recorded, baled, and then brought to various manufacturing facilities for processing).

Q:  What is the hardest part about what you do?  The best part?

RR is now on it's sixth year and it has been a long, difficult, and exciting journey; it has a lot of many many ups and downs.  I had to learn how to make sales, take care of clients, keep up with the invoices and payables, use the computer (I only knew word processing and internet back then!) and work on all various administrative tasks such as hire, fire, make deals with vendors, be friendly to complaining customers, understand how Operations work, and many other roles and responsibilities.  In other words, the most difficult part of my job was being an owner of a company; I work days and nights, including weekends, and wear many hats.  When things need to get done, I have to get things done;  there were no excuses.  There are time lines to deal with, and priorities to set straight. Another challenge that I have to overcome is hiring and firing; I am very aware of the different attributes that people have and it is difficult to learn from employees that work out from those who don't; relationship makes it difficult to let go.  At the same time, it is also a wonderful feeling to know sooo many people in the community that share the same passion for the environment; they truly help to energize me.  They remind me all the time of the importance of our mission on why Recycle Revolution was founded.  I equally enjoy working with everyone here at RR where we work hard, share laughter and stories, and go through our journey on a day-to-day basis. They are my other family, and they also help to make my days here memorable!

Q:  Any other things you want to add?

If there is one thing that I would like to add to this Interview is that, following my passion is the greatest feeling on earth and one that I am thankful to my lucky stars, for this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Thank you, Maria, for sharing with us about your mission!  I look forward to hearing about the great impact RR makes on our community! 

If you are interested in how you can participate, check out the Recycle Revolution website and Facebook Page. Be sure to check out the awesome chart they have on their website that shows where and how they recycle various items!

Join me next Tuesday for the next installment in The Natural Way!

Apr 1, 2014

The Natural Way, Backyard Chickens

Welcome to the fifth installment of The Natural Way, a series in which we are showcasing individuals and companies that are making a difference in their community by doing things "the natural way" with a focus on sustainability.

Take a look at the first part in the series - we talked with Lauren Nitschke of Nitschke Natural Beef about ranching and the importance of knowing your farmers.

In the second installment, we talked with Catalina, director of Art of Peace Montessori about "non-traditional" early childhood education and the importance of teaching children about sustainability and the environment.
In part three, we talked with Mike Randall, founder of All Who Are Thirsty.  Mike and his team help to bring clean drinking water around the globe in a sustainable manner.
Part four, we talked with Andrea Bithell, Garden Lady of Oak Cliff Organics.

Today, we are hearing from Sunday, Backyard Chicken enthusiast (and too humble to call herself an expert, even though she is!).  Sunday runs a group on facebook which discusses Urban Homesteading and Self-Sustainability, as well as Backyard Chickens.  This is how I met her and I am so very glad to introduce her to you today!

Q:  Hi, Sunday!  Can you introduce yourself?  Tell us a little about who you are.

Well, I like to consider myself a Renaissance Woman, but in all actuality, I'm just a gal with a bunch of hobbies.  I'm a reproductive scientist by training, ran an infertility program for 15 years, artist, farmer wanna-be, and single mom to 3 incredible kids.  I love the creative aspect of science and nature!

 Q:  You haven't always been involved in raising backyard chickens, what did you do before you dove into this lifestyle?
Moving toward a more simple lifestyle has been a journey for me.  About 8 years ago I recognized the attachment that people had to "things" and the realization that we've given up so much for the sake of convenience.  That's not a path I wanted to travel.  We started small at first - giving up television, making better choices with the food we ate.  But I came to enjoy the work that went into providing a more wholesome lifestyle for my kids - the time it took to make homemade bread or planting garden seeds with my children.  It was love that went into all of that. So, it wasn't so much "diving" into the project, but slowly slipping my feet in.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about WHY you decided to make this leap?

For me, having chickens was a sign that I had "made it in life" - that things had finally started settling down to the point where I could enjoy taking on the project of raising chickens.   I longed for beautiful, fresh eggs and realized that if I kept saying "One day I'll have chickens..." that time would continue to slip by.  We decided to hatch our chickens so that the kids could experience the entire process.  It was such a marvel to them.

Q:  What is the difference between the white eggs you buy at the grocery store and the eggs your chickens lay?

There is nothing that can compare to the taste of a farm fresh egg (or backyard chicken egg).  My hens are spoiled with a diet of oatmeal, left-over veggies, scrambled eggs, and good quality feed.  They also get to free-range, eating wild grains and insects, providing them with a well-rounded diet.  Backyard and farm hens also generally have easy access to fresh air and sunlight.   

Typical grocery store eggs come from caged hens fed a diet of commercial poultry food, with little or no access to any additional nutrients, fresh air or sunlight.   

The most obvious difference can be seen when a grocery egg and farm egg are cracked side-by-side:  a grocery egg yolk will typically be pale yellow and a farm egg will be dark yellow to orange, depending on the diet.

Q:  Why is this important? 

I'd much rather know what's going into my food! 

Q:  What is the hardest part about what you do?

The hardest thing about raising chickens has been losing them to predators.  Much of the loss has happened while they were free-ranging, taken by coyotes and hawks in broad daylight.  However, I had raccoons get into the coop a couple of times with devastating results.  When you raise them up from chicks, spoil them, talk to them, pet them, they become like any other pet.

Q:  What is the best part about what you do?

Aside from having beautiful, fresh eggs, I love the community of people that have come together in our area because of chickens and wanting a sustainable lifestyle for their families.  Some of us live in the city, some in the country, some in between, but with a common thread of wanting a better way of living. 

Q:  Can you explain a little about how you participate in sustainability?

We recycle as much as possible, built a compost bin out of pallets (great place for chicken poo!), garden, and hoping to start bee-keeping.  I treat each moment as a teachable moment for my children, showing them how we have to be good stewards of what we have.  It is important that they not lose sight of the simple way of doing things - canning, baking, gardening - so that they will always be able to provide for themselves if need be.
Q:  Do you have any advice for our readers who might be considering raising their own chickens?  

Chickens are addictive.  You'll start out with 2-3, see chicks at the feed store, and soon have a flock of 15.  So, it is important to plan accordingly.   Some general advice:   (1) Buy/build a coop slightly larger than what you think you'll need.  (2).  Be sure your flock is protected from predators.  In the city, this may mean cats or dogs.  In more rural areas, it will be raccoons, coyotes, hawks, owls, etc.  (3).  If you are introducing new chickens to an existing flock, buy from a reputable seller and QUARANTINE.  Respiratory illnesses (and others) can take out your entire flock.  Generally not a good idea to buy at a flea market.  

Q:  Any other things you want to add?

Chicken math is real - you'll gain more than you ever thought and lose along the way.  But all-in-all, the chicken experience has been nothing but awesome!

Thanks so much, Sunday! I love those teachable moments for our kiddos!  I am seriously looking forward to joining you in being a Chicken raising family :)

Next week, same time, same place - more on living life The Natural Way!  Stay tuned!