Jul 30, 2013

Organize Your Ticket Stubs in a Memory Shadow Box!

***Post contains affiliate links. This means I earn a small commission off of purchases made through the links***

I have a confession to make: I hoard paper. I have a lot of trouble throwing things out- like my memories are somehow attached to the paper. Ticket stubs are particularly problematic since I was finding them all over our home. This solution makes me really happy!

I got the idea for the Memory Shadow Box from Pinterest. It was super easy to make. I picked up the box at Michaels using a 40% off coupon. I like this design because it has a slit in the top like a piggy bank so I can just drop the ticket stubs in! I then selected a piece of card stock that went with my decor and placed it in the box. I finished it with a sticker from Joann's that says "memories."

The total cost of this project is under $15 and I no longer am leaving tickets stubs everywhere. This one is definitely a success!

 Edit: I've been asked a bunch about the hole/slit in the top. Here is a link to one that has the hole pre-cut.

Jul 29, 2013

{Guest Post} A Few Little-known Facts About Recycling

***Today's Post is a guest post by Sophia Evans***
Few people today remain unaware of the importance of recycling and taking further necessary steps to better our planet. Some information about Eco-friendly activity is better known than other information. For instance, it’s pretty easy these days to find a recycle bin for used paper even if you don’t live in a neighborhood where recyclables are picked up at the curb, but you might not be aware of some of the steps corporations take to be Eco-friendly. Let’s take a look at some Eco-friendly corporations and a couple of things you can do to be more earth friendly yourself.

Recycling metals decreases the demand for freshly mined metals. In turn, this decrease results in fewer destructive mining practices worldwide. Brilliant Earth recycles precious metals such as gold, silver and bronze and refines them before incorporating the metals into engagement rings and other unique diamond pieces. Do your part by sorting through your old jewelry box and recycle any pieces of jewelry you no longer wear or want.

Under Armour is taking a new take on performance- by incorporating green technology in their performance products.  Under Amour’s green products are made from recycled plastic bottles.  Products made from recycled materials reduce waste to landfills and reduce the need for raw materials derived from fossil fuels.

If you put plastic bottles in the curbside recycling, but throw the caps in the trash, you will be interested to know that beauty retailer Aveda collects twist-on and flip-top caps for recycling with their “RecycleCaps with Aveda” program.  The Recycle Caps program accepts #5 plastic caps and/or lids for recycling. Once collected, they are sent to a recycler where they’re sorted, cleaned, melted down and ground into pellets, then turned into new bottle caps for Aveda hair care products.

If you wear out cell phones as fast as I do, you might be feeling guilty about the pile of unusable phones sitting in your desk drawer. Did you know that you can recycle old phones?  Most communities have collection sites for the recycling of old phones. If you don’t know where to take your old phones to have them recycled, ask at your service provider’s store or go to a local electronics store.

Having knowledge about eco-friendly activities doesn’t help unless we incorporate that knowledge into our everyday lives. Although most people know about available ways to recycle paper, not everyone does it. Did you know that if every American recycled a mere tenth of their newspapers, about 25 million trees would be saved each year?

More products can be recycled than those that are picked up on the curb. With a little bit of extra effort, many products can be saved from the landfill and be recycled into new items. This can have profound impacts on helping save energy, materials, and the environment.   

About Sophia:

I am a stay at home mom, living in Upstate New York and blogging about Eco-friendly lifestyle tips.  I find that it is easy to transition into a green lifestyle by making the small changes; I am always staying up to date with the latest news and trends in the green community.  I try my best to live the best green, sustainable life as I can!  I enjoy the outdoors, spending time with my family, and staying fit and healthy by running and biking.  For more information you can visit my blog:
Jul 28, 2013

The Dirty Dozen: Twelve Fruits and Vegetables That You Should Buy Organic

If I had my way I would buy all of my fruits and vegetables organic. Unfortunately, my budget doesn't allow me to do so. That is why I appreciate this list of fruits and vegetables that contain the most pesticides- if you can't buy everything organic you should at least try to buy these ones! I don't stick strictly to this- there are other fruits and vegetables I buy organic (like carrots which I feel I can taste the chemicals if I don't) but this list is a great starting point if you want to know how to get the best bang for your organic buck.

The Dirty Dozen:
  1. Grapes
  2. Spinach
  3. Lettuce
  4. Cucumbers
  5. Strawberries
  6. Blueberries
  7. Potatoes
  8. Peaches
  9. Nectarines
  10. Apples
  11. Celery
  12. Bell Peppers
Do you buy organic fruits and vegetables? Is it all or nothing or do you pick and choose what to buy organic?

Jul 27, 2013

Six Days Left on the Noxicare Giveaway!

Just a quick reminder that there are six days left on the Noxicare Giveaway! If you haven't entered, you should! If you have entered already, don't forget that you can earn another entry daily by tweeting about the giveaway.

Also, don't forget to follow me:

Jul 26, 2013

Cases of Brain Eating Amoebas Increase in US

As a Floridian, I was aware of the risk of swimming in lakes and rivers but I wasn't aware that the issue was creeping further north until I read this article that my cousin posted on Facebook. The amoebas, Naegleria fowleri, don't normally kill- it's when a person inhales water up their nose that the issue occurs. The amoebas attack the brain causing primary amebic meningoencephalitis or PAM. There is no known cure for PAM and the amoebas devour one’s cerebral fluid and gray matter, and almost invariably cause death. Researchers say that between three and eight people die each year as a result of PAM.

People are concerned that climate change is causing water temperatures to rise in northern lakes and rivers making PAM more of a threat. "That speculation seems to be reinforced by recent cases of PAM, once a health woe confined to fresh water in southern states like Texas and Arizona. In Minnesota, public health officials were stunned to see two fatalities caused by N. fowleri — both young children — in 2010 and 2012. The cases are the only in state history, and occurred about 550 miles farther north than any previous reported PAM fatality in the US. The amoebas have also recently killed swimmers in Kansas and Virginia, both states where earlier infections have been exceedingly rare. "You could certainly say it’s a concern of ours," said Jonathan Yoder, an expert with the CDC’s division of parasitic diseases, about the seeming progression of N. fowleri to colder regions. "We’re still trying to understand this." Source

Although PAM is rare, I do find it very concerning. Between amoebas, moccasins,  and alligators I pretty much avoid fresh water in Florida but I do find it scary that this is a problem further north. Public health officials recommend tight nose plugs but I think I would keep small children out of the water entirely.

Does this issue concern you or do you think the risk is small enough not to worry?
Jul 25, 2013

Seven Uses for Epsom Salts

I love Epsom salts. No, I REALLY love Epsom salts :) I can get a large bag at CVS relatively cheap and it is so useful! It doesn't have harsh chemicals and is seriously thrifty and frugal. What's not to love?

My Seven Uses for Epsom Salts:

Soaking for Muscle Aches
When I have sore muscles nothing makes me feel better than soaking in a bath with Epsom salts. I dissolve 1-2 cups in a tub full of water and soak for as long as the water stays hot. You can also make a compress by soaking a washcloth or towel in the water.

Relaxation bath
I know this is sort of the same thing as soaking for muscles aches but I think it is worth mentioning. Even if you aren't sore I find Epsom salt baths very relaxing and take them occasionally just to help me unwind.

Gentle Laxative
 I've never done this but my husband has. You dissovle 2-4 teaspoons in an 8 ounce glass of water and drink. It's much more mild than Miralax or other medicines.

Cleaning/soaking wounds and piercings
Epsom salts help promote healing and prevent infection.

Epsom salts can be used to feed plants. Dissolve 2 tablespoons per gallon of water and use at least once a month. Tomatoes especially love this.

Splinter Removal
Soaking a splinter in Epsom salts helps to draw it out.

Exfoliating Scrub
I mix equal parts shower gel and Epsom salts to make an exfoliating scrub. It leaves skin very smooth.

So, what do you uses Epsom salts for? Why do you love them?
Jul 24, 2013

Does Our Squeamishness Stand in the Way of Living a Green, Frugal Life?

I was thinking the other day about some of the changes we've made the past few months and how happy we are with the reduction in waste we are seeing. I realized that it was squeamishness that was really stopping me from taking the leap to doing what some may consider more extreme changes like family cloth, the Diva Cup and cloth menstrual pads. I've written before about the more "gross" side of going green but I don't think I really stopped to think about my own preconceived notions and why I thought certain things were gross.

The past two months I have been much more up close and personal with my body. I've done a lot of reading online about other people who have made similar changes and I've been forced to stare my own squeamishness in the face. I think society has conditioned us to view a lot of natural things as gross or unhygienic when that really isn't the case. For example, unless you have an infection urine is sterile- why are we so grossed out about our own urine?

I've also begun to view my cycle differently and not view it as unhygienic but as a really miraculous thing that my body can do. I'm not saying I enjoy cramps- but I have found the odor I once associated with it disappeared after I stopped using disposable products and I have come to appreciate that what my body is doing as pretty incredible. I feel that society in general views female sex organs as "dirty" and it's a shame. Products like douche that are bad for women are marketed as "necessary" to clean an organ that pretty much cleans itself.

 I feel like we are so disconnected from things because society (and advertisers) encourages us to use disposable products more often than necessary. My parents go through several rolls of paper towels a month on spills that could easily be cleaned up with a dish towel. Why are we so squeamish about things? Do we really need to add to a landfill because some milk or coffee spilled on the counter?

I really don't have any groundbreaking or mind blowing conclusions to share- I mostly hope this exercise in self-reflection causes you to think about the things that make you squeamish and really evaluate why. Maybe you'll think about things differently or maybe not. But I think it's an important thing to think about just the same.

Jul 23, 2013

"Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without"- Thoughts on "Making it Work"

I lost a button off of my favorite jean shorts while filling our bird feeder last week. Luckily, my husband came to the rescue and found my button (he's like a magpie- he can find anything!).  I've been busy with visiting company and teaching camp so it wasn't until this morning that I had the chance to sew the button back on. This got me thinking of a favorite phrase from my Grandparent's generation: "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." For people growing up in the Depression this was a way of life. After the Depression came World War II and rationing so people continued to "make it work."

 Somewhere along the way our culture lost this "make it do" attitude. Today we seem to see things as much more disposable. Skills our grandparents had have been lost to our youngest generation. Most schools no longer offer home economics type classes. I'm definitely not an expert seamstress- I don't even have a sewing machine (I do want to learn!)- but I can sew on a button and mend things when needed. 

It's not just with our clothing that we have a disposable mindset. We live in a society where we can eat off of paper plates, use plastic utensils, drink out of plastic cups, cook in disposable aluminum bakeware, wipe with paper napkins, and clean up the kitchen with a Chlorox wipe. I'm not saying these things are evil or not useful- think picnics or parties- but for many people this is the everyday norm. We don't even expect our appliances to last

When my husband and I were first married he walked in on my darning the small holes in the toes of some of my socks. He got a worried look on his face and asked if I needed money. I laughed and said "no!" He was horrified thinking his wife couldn't afford socks- I could easily buy new socks but knew these were still good and didn't want to waste them. To me, mending, darning, using cloth napkins, and "real" dishes isn't about cost. Sure, it saves money, but it's about not creating waste. I also think that when I spend time to make things last that I appreciate them more. The care I give to my things makes me feel connected to not only my "stuff" but the generations of women who came before me. When I sew a button I think of my mother teaching me to sew. When I launder cloth menstrual pads I think of my great grandmother and am appreciative of the modern conveniences I have. 

I worry about the disconnect we feel as much as the waste and lack of frugality. I don't want to become a person who mindlessly accumulates stuff. Lord knows I already have enough stuff. Taking care to mend a pair of shorts or darn a holey sock reminds me that I already have what I need and should wear it out. Then, when I really need something replaced, I can shop for the perfect replacement guilt free.

Jul 22, 2013

Baby Comfy Nose Review

When I first saw the Baby Comfy Nose it reminded me of a conversation I had with a former student. Another teacher had her sick baby at school and was using a blue bulb syringe to clear his nose. The student, who was from Cuba, was fascinated and shared with us how they cleared babies' noses in Cuba- the mom would put her mouth over the babies nose and suck the snot out! She would then spit the snot out and repeat if necessary. Needless to say I was horrified and very grateful to live in the US!

I share this story because I was similarly unsure when I received the Baby Comfy Nose in the mail. The idea of using my mouth (albeit through a tube) to suck out snot weirded me out a bit.

Once I tried it out, however, I instantly understood how useful of a tool the Baby Comfy Nose could be. It has much better suction than a bulb syringe and the tissue that is used as a "filter" prevents you from getting anything in your mouth. Even though it is a little yucky, if my baby was sick and I needed to to help him breathe I would be grateful for a tool like this to help him out.

The Baby Comfy Nose disassembles so you can put it in the dishwasher to clean and sterilize it. Bulb syringes are impossible to clean and meant to be disposable so I like the idea of being able to clean it. Also, you use a regular tissue for the filter so you don't need to buy expensive disposable filters like some products require.

Overall, I think the Baby Comfy Nose would be a lifesaver if you have a baby sick with a gnarly cold. This is one of those things like a humidifier that would be nice to have on hand for when your child inevitably comes down with something in the middle of the night.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.
Jul 21, 2013

Sunday Summary- July 21, 2013

So I was less than impressed today :/ I bought a paper only to discover there were no coupon inserts- bummer. So here are what I feel were the best deals this week:

  • Free paper towels with Coupon from red machine
  • $0.25 plastic cover 1 subject notebooks (limit 5)
  • $0.25 bic multi-color pens (limit 2)
  • 2/$5 organic grape tomatos
  • 2/$10 lobster tails + $2 off seafood coupon in paper today
So there weren't a ton of great deals for me this week but the CVS and Staples deals were worth the outing. I might send my husband to get me more pens, though :)
Jul 20, 2013

Lunapads Review

I've been waiting awhile (for obvious reasons!) to complete this review of Lunapads' cloth menstrual products. As odd as it sounds I was actually excited when the time came so I could try them out. Lunapads sent a pantyliner (left) and a maxi pad (right) for me to review.

The first thing I noticed was how soft the material was. Even after washing they remained very, very soft. One of the things I like the most about cloth menstrual pads is how soft they are. The snaps were different than other pads I've tried because they are made of metal instead of plastic. I was a little concerned but found that they worked just as well as the plastic snaps.

Pantyliner and maxi pad folded and snapped:

I tried the pantyliner first and it worked great! It is a little longer than my Imse Vimse panty liners
which was nice. They stayed in place well and I didn't have a lot of sliding.

 I decided for the maxi pad that I should use it without my Diva Cup to be able to write the most honest review. I wore the maxi pad to work at cheer camp and put it to the test.

The maxi pad comes in two parts- the pad that snaps around your underwear (left) and the insert (right). The pad has rik-rak type ribbon that holds the insert in place. I think the idea is that you can change the insert and use the same pad for multiple changes. I have such a heavy flow that the ribbon was soiled so I had to change it anyway. Otherwise, the pad worked really well. I didn't have any leaks. I was actually surprised by how much it held. Because the insert was red I didn't really think I had soiled it very much. When I rinsed it out I was shocked by just how soiled it actually was- these things are VERY absorbent.

Another thing I like about Lunapads is that they are a really great company. Their slogan is "eco positive periods" and they really do a lot of positive work. One program is called One4Her.
"For every eligible purchase, Lunapads will provide a girl in need with a Ugandan-made AFRIpad to support her education." I like this buy one give one model better than other companies' because Lunapads doesn't just send a product to Africa- they support women by purchasing Ugandan-made pads. In this way they are giving a hand-up instead of a handout and don't take jobs away from local women. The pads they distribute help keep girls in school who would otherwise be unable to attend during menstruation. Check out this video on how the program works:

Lunapads are made in Canada and the company is an ethical, social-mission based business. They support feminist values and are active in helping prevent waste from ending up in landfills. They are a company I feel good about supporting.

If you are unsure about trying out cloth menstrual pads but are curious, Lunapads will send you a  sample pantyliner for the cost of shipping ($5) plus send you a coupon for $5 off your next order. I think this is a great way to tryout cloth pads and support a great company.

Jul 19, 2013

Noxicare Natural Pain Relief Giveaway

Enter to win Noxicare Natural Pain Relief cream. Two lucky readers will win a full size tube of Noxicare cream that relieves all 3 common types of pain:How pain works
Other products might reduce inflammation, lessen muscle aches or increase blood flow to ease painful nerve endings.

Noxicare relaxes the muscle and reduces inflammation to alleviate pain, while working to increase blood flow to calm painful nerve endings.

Noxicare™ means fast, natural pain relief with:

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a Rafflecopter giveaway I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.
Jul 18, 2013

Teaching Kids About Money

***Post may contain affiliate links

I stumbled across this site on Pinterest the other day and loved it! It discusses 20 things kids need to know to live financially smart lives. It breaks the "lessons" down to ages so they are developmentally appropriate. I think it's a great idea to make sure you are teaching your kids about money early on so you set them up for financial success later on in life. The site is interactivive which makes it more interesting- definitely worth checking out!

If you are trying to teach personal finance to your little ones I LOVE the concept of the MoonJar. It teaches children to share, save, and spend their money. I love that there is a focus on altruism as well as saving!

Jul 17, 2013

Eco-Friendly Laundry Product Reviews

I had originally planned on including these reviews in yesterday's post about Eco-friendly laundry tips but I quickly realized that it would be way too long. When I decided to review various products to help create a more Eco-friendly laundry routine it was really important to me that I support work at home moms and North American made products. Therefore, I did not include any mass produced products by large companies. I might review some of those later, but for this post all of the products are made by small businesses. All of the products are available on Etsy and I have provided links to each store.

I think I have spent more time on this post than any other I have written. I have literally washed dozens of loads of laundry! One of the things I found most impressive was the quality of the products- they worked just as well as anything I have purchased at the local grocery store. I sorted the products into categories but they aren't in any particular order.

Laundry Detergents

Soaps N Paints By Niffer
If I had to pick a favorite all-purpose laundry soap these would be it! Niffer's laundry powders come in scented and unscented versions. I really liked the lavender one! The powders cleaned really well and left my laundry feeling fresh. They came in recyclable paper pouch which I thought was really great. Niffer's store started as a hobby but when they lost their income it helped support their family until things turned around. I love that her store has such a great story behind it!

Autumn Moon Soap Co.
Amber's herbal laundry soap would be my pick for cloth diapers. It handled tough blood stains really well and left everything smelling light and clean. She has even provided a coupon code you can use to save 10% off your order: Magnolia2013. Amber considers herself an expert on natural laundry care and diapers in particular so this is one I think you can be confident will handle your toughest cloth diaper challenges.

M and M Ranch 
Jess's soap would be my pick for people who want to try homemade laundry soap but prefer a liquid soap. The powder is made with Zote soap and the liquid used Fels-Naptha soap as the base. The liquid cleaned well and had a pleasant but faint scent.

Dryer Balls
Woodland Hills Alpacas
I think I was most excited to try out dryer balls and I was not disappointed! The Woodland Hills dryer balls came packed in the pretty striped bag shown below. They are very soft and very high quality. They are about the size of a tennis ball. I found that they shortened drying time and greatly reduced the static in my laundry. I'm also obsessed with Alpacas so that's an added bonus :)

M and M Ranch
The dryer balls made by M and M Ranch were smaller and less tightly woven than the Woodland Hills Alpacas balls.  I don't think it makes a difference performance wise- it's just an issue of preference. These dryer balls are roughly the size of golf balls and I found that these also reduced drying time and static.

Laundry Stain Stick
Vintage Lathers
I put this stain stick by Vintage Lathers to the ultimate test: I used it on my cloth menstrual pads. It worked as well as Spray and Wash did on my pads- it got out most of the stain but not quite all. This is glowing praise since this was a REALLY tough challenge! I like that this stain stick worked just as well as my "less green" store bought product.

Even though this was a lot of work, I'm really glad I did it. I found that I had preconcieved notions about homemade laundry products not cleaning as well. I put these products through the ringer (pun intended) and they really surprised me by just how great they were! They proved to me that you don't need the extra chemicals present in many commerical grade laundry products to have clean, stain free clothes. I hope you all will check out some of the Etsy shops and do your own laundry experiements. Let me know what you think!

Jul 16, 2013

Ten Eco Friendly Laundry Tips

This post is part 1 of a series on Eco-friendly laundry. Tomorrow I'll review some actual products you can use.

1. Do less laundry- Wear clothes more than once
One of the easiest ways to to make your laundry routine more green is to simply do less of it.  A lot of our clothes don't need to be washed every time we wear them. Jeans, blouses, dresses, bras, and PJs are all worn more than once in my home. I also don't use fresh towels every day. Socks and underwear, however, go straight into the wash.

2. Use a natural laundry detergent
Commercial laundry detergent includes a lot of chemicals. Some of these can be harsh on your skin and the environment. There are many Eco-friendly alternatives out there. Companies like Seventh Generation make laundry detergents. There are also some great homemade detergents available on Etsy.

3. Line dry when you can
I live in a condo so I understand that line drying is not always feasible. Some items (like towels and jeans) also just never seem to come out as soft when they are completely line dried. That being said, I do use my ninja skills to dry some laundry on my patio. The dryer is the second biggest energy user in the house after the refrigerator so the more you can line dry the better.

4. Green your dryer routine
Because the dryer is the second biggest energy user I try to use it less often. I only run it as long as it takes to actually dry clothes rather than turning the knob to the max every time. I also do not use dryer sheets as they contain harsh chemicals. You can buy wool dryer balls that reduce drying time and static. Some people even put natural essential oils on them to make their laundry smell nice.

5. Only run full loads
This one is pretty obvious- the more often you run the washer, the more energy it uses. Wait until you have a full load to reduce the number of times you have to run your machines.

6. Use cold water when you can
90% of the energy used to run a washing machine is to heat the water. Whenever possible use cold water. For items like family cloth, towels, and cloth pads I would stick with hot.

7. Use an eco friendly stain remover
I was a devoted Spray and Wash user for years. This has probably been the hardest switch for me since I am really klutzy and spill stuff all of the time. There are natural stain sticks available on Etsy.

8. Avoid bleach- use the sun!
The sun does a great job "bleaching" whites and is green and completely free! I have found it to work better than bleach and it doesn't degrade fabrics the way bleach does.

9. Upgrade to energy efficient appliances
When our washing machine died we upgraded to a front loading high efficiency machine. I really love it! Besides saving water and electricity, it also is more gentle on my clothes since there isn't an agitator in the middle like my old top-loader. I also love all of the special settings. I get a lot of use out of the hand wash setting and it's saved me from having to dry clean a lot of my clothes.

10. Avoid dry cleaning
Dry cleaning is one of the worst offenders.  Perchloroethylene or tetrachloroethylene (PERC) is used in 85% of dry cleaners and is a known carcinogen. I try not to dry clean ANYTHING- I have 2 dresses that I dry clean now and that is it. My cashmere sweaters, merino wool sweaters, and delicate items are now washed in my washing machine using a gentle detergent on a hand wash cycle. I lay them flat to dry. My clothes smell better than when I dry cleaned them and my sweaters are actually softer.

Eco-friendly laundry is definitely a process- I feel like I am still not all the way there. Each new step, however, leads me to a healthier routine for me and my family. I really feel the effort is worth it.

How have you changed your laundry routine? Do you have any Eco-friendly tips of your own?
Jul 15, 2013

They Don't Make Things Like They Used To

Last night we went over to my Grandma's to have Chicken and Waffles- my favorite! If you haven't had it, it's basically chicken with gravy served over waffles.

While we were there we were talking while Grandma made dinner. Someone commented that Grandma's waffle iron was great. She replied that it was a wedding gift-- 58 years ago! Now my Grandma has been making this dish several times a year for as long as I can remember. I'm sure she also uses the iron to make breakfast waffles. I can't believe this thing still works! I have wedding gift appliances that have died and it's only been five years!

This incident got me thinking about the things we spend our money on and the life expectancy that they have. I cannot imagine that any of my appliances will be working in 50 years. There used to be an expectation that things would last- they had to.  I think we view things as much more disposable in our consumer driven culture.

While things will break, I have learned that spending on quality items usually means they will last longer. While it seems counter-intuitive when you are trying to save a buck, sometimes it does pay to spend a little more. I applied this concept to my wardrobe awhile ago but I think it also applies to appliances. Buy less stuff but make sure it is of high quality and well loved. And maybe, if you are very lucky, you will also have something that lasts 58 years.

My beautiful Grandma with her 58 year old waffle iron.
Jul 13, 2013

Five Days Left on the Little Green Pouch Giveaway!

Today is crazy because I'm throwing my sister's baby shower but I wanted to take a minute to remind everyone that there are five days left on my Little Green Pouch Giveaway. If you haven't entered, you should! If you have entered already, don't forget that you can earn another entry daily by tweeting about the giveaway.

Also, don't forget to follow me:
Jul 11, 2013

The Case of Cruella Deville: Starbucks Drive-thru Etiquette

The morning was hectic enough- serving as a juror is stressful and draining. But a morning without coffee is inconceivable. I had already gotten off of the interstate at the wrong exit for Starbucks and had to get back on without coffee. I decided that I would go to the downtown Starbucks before heading over to the courthouse. The downtown Starbucks is the opposite direction from the courthouse and out of the way but it was worth it to have coffee. What I didn't know was that I would encounter the South Tampa version of Cruella Deville.

When I pulled into the Starbucks line Cruella Deville cut me off and nearly ran over a girl trying to walk to her car. This was reason enough to be irritated but the insanity continued. Cruella took FOREVER to order her coffee. I have no idea what could have possibly made coffee that complicated but it legitimately took over three minutes of talking into the machine.

Finally, Cruella moved her Hybrid Lincoln forward so the rest of us peasants could order our inferior, 15-seconds-to-order coffee. I waited in line as each car ahead of us took the expected amount of time to pay and receive their coffee.

Then it was Cruella's turn at the window. Not to be rushed, she imperiously waved the coffee that was handed to her by the Barista with a flick of her hand. She handed over a reusable cup and demanded that her super complicated coffee be FRESHLY made in her reusable cup (doesn't that completely defeat the purpose of a reusable cup?).  As I sat for 4 minutes behind Cruella staring at her wild white hair I wondered what made her think it was acceptable to hold the line up?

The Barista handed Cruella back her white reusable coffee cup and Cruella tossed (yes, she ACTUALLY tossed) her lid a the Barista to put it on for her. I mean, only peasants put their own lids on their coffee cups, right? She then accepted her receipt and spent nearly a whole minute examining her receipt to ensure she had not been overcharged- all while remaining at the window thus making it impossible for anyone else to get their coffee.

When I was finally able to reach the window the Barista and I shared a laugh over Cruella's rude behavior (yes, I actually called her Cruella).  I did eventually get my coffee but I will not soon forget the antics of the South Tampa Cruella Deville.

Nicole's List of Starbucks Drive-thru Etiquette Tips
  1. If you are ordering more than 2-3 drinks go inside so you don't hold up the line
  2. If you are using a reusable cup let the Barista know when you order or go inside
  3. Don't sit in front of the window after you have received your beverage to examine your receipt, fix your makeup, or organize your purse. Pull up so the line can keep moving
  4. Make a concerted effort to NOT run over other patrons
  5. Do not treat the Baristas like servants- be nice!

Jul 8, 2013

Little Green Pouch Review + Giveaway

I'm super excited to share this review with you all! The Little Green Pouch fills a need that I have wanted to find a solution to for awhile. My friend Aimee introduced me to squeezable fruit and veggie pouches and I love them! They are so convenient for school lunches and are a way of adding extra veggies to my diet without me having to actually eat vegetables.

The catch is that the cute little pouches of prepackaged purees are expensive and create quite a bit of plastic waste. I don't get them nearly as often as I would like because of this.

The Little Green Pouch solves both issues! You can make your own fruit and veggie purees for pennies on the dollar and the reusable pouch prevents adding plastic to landfills.

The pouches arrived in a set of four in a recycled cardboard box.

The pouches are BPA, PVC, and phthalate free and are dishwasher and freezer safe. They are recommended for ages 4 months and up. Each pouch holds 6 ounces and will last for several months.

Opening the bags was a lot easier than I anticipated. The tabs on the top made opening it a breeze. The zipper seal felt very solid- no worries about leaks!

The back of the pouch gave directions for filling the bag. You can use a spoon, funnel, or pitcher. There are also marks to show how many ounces are in the bag and a cute place to write your name.

While I found the spoon method to be acceptable, I MUCH preferred using a funnel because the opening is a little small. Little Green Pouch actually makes a collapsible mini funnel you can purchase for filling the pouches.

The drinking/eating opening was a good size and I didn't have any trouble with food getting stuck. To clean you put the pouch in the dishwasher. You can also use a bottle brush to give it an extra scrub.

Overall, I love the Little Green Pouch! my husband and I have been using it for smoothies but I look forward to trying some of the recipes on the Little Green Pouch website. 

Enter below for a chance to win a free Little Green Pouch 4-pack!

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Jul 7, 2013

Sunday Summary- July 7, 1013

This week has been super busy. My mom has been in town so I've done a lot of extra driving. I'm throwing my sister a baby shower next weekend so I've also had a lot of odds and ends to pick up. That also means extra grocery shopping for my out-of-town guests :)

Today's shopping was pretty successful- here are my favorite deals and coupons for the week:
  • Publix
  •  CVS
    • 10 ECB when you buy $30 of select P&G products-- How I did it:
      • Charmin 4 @ $5.99 - 0.25 coupons from today's P&G Insert
      • Pantene Pro V 2 @ 2/$7- BOGO coupon that rang up $4.99
      • Dawn @ .79 - .50 coupon from previous purchase
      • - $4/$20
      • -$25.50 in ECB
      • I also picked up 2 newspapers and Ivory Soap
What were your favorite deals this week? Let me know in the comments!
Jul 6, 2013

Grow Your Own Sweet Potatoes!

I love gardening and every year I come across a new project that I love. This year it is definitely my sweet potatoes! The plants in the picture were all grown from ONE organic sweet potato! I can't wait until the fall to harvest them. I wish I had known how easy it is to grow them years ago.

  • Slice a sweet potato in half. 
  • Place each half in a shallow dish with water- cut side down.
  • Wait for it to grow!
  • When plants begin to get white roots twist them off of the potato and plant in soil.
Seriously- that's all I did.  The only thing I would change was I would have put them in in a larger pot. Make sure to use an organic sweet potato... non-organics can be treated with chemicals to prevent them from sprouting.

I'll make sure to update as the plant grows and when I harvest them. They are supposed to get pretty purple flowers which I am really looking forward to.