Sunday, December 30, 2012

Nearly A New Year!

Due to the Christmas festivities, I haven't been around much lately. But I'm back and I'm ready to make Mama Making Changes better than ever for you in 2013! I have plans to improve the overall site, in addition to my New Year's Resolution: to post relevant material more often.  

To help me learn more about you, my audience, my readers, my friends...and thus improve your experience on Mama Making Changes...won't you please take just a moment to complete a four-question survey?

The survey can be found in the sidebar at right, or by clicking the link below: 


Click here to take survey


Thanks so much for your support in 2012. I hope we get to know each other better in 2013. Have a safe and happy New Year's holiday!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 25

Today's prompt: Good Morning!
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Photo-A-Day Challenge: Day 19

Today's Prompt: Tree

I know that a Christmas tree would have been the 
obvious post, since it is Dec. 19, but who likes the
obvious? Besides, live oaks are my fave kind of tree.
I love how the branches eventually come down all the 
way to the ground before starting to grow up again,
so that often what appears to be several trees is really
just one. We had a live oak in the front yard when we 
lived in Charleston SC. I miss Charleston often.

Little Pnuts Giveaway

Hosted By: My Four Littles                                                  Sponsored By: Little Pnuts
Included in the Age 4 December Special Delivery
Little Pnuts is a quarterly subscription box service with three to five toys that fit your 
child's age and development. This is your chance to win a box for your child. 
The winner will receive the March 2013 Special Delivery from Little Pnuts
Click HERE to learn more. Here are some item from past Little Pnuts Special Deliveries!
Included in the Age 4 September Special Delivery 
Included in the Age 2 December Special Delivery 
Included in the Age 1 December Special Delivery
Included in the Age 2 December Special Delivery
Included in the Age 4 September Special Delivery
Included in the Age 3 December Special Delivery
Included in the Age 2 December Special Delivery
All entries will be verified. Mama Making Changes is not responsible for sponsor prize shipment.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Photo-A-Day Challenge: Day 18

Today's Prompt: Warm and Cozy

This sunset was gorgeous. Not only are the colors
warm, but the winter evening was unseasonably
warm also, which is why we were outside enjoying
it till the very last minute of sunlight was gone. 

Support our Firemen!

Now let me warn you. This really is not a post about anything green or eco-friendly, or even parenting. This is just good clean fun in the spirit of Christmas. I'm sitting here tonight playing Christmas songs and singing at the top of my lungs, while the girls are dancing and blowing bubbles. I love how Christmas songs put everyone in a good mood.

But then I came across this video. I had to play it and we all had a great time watching it, singing along, and "laughing all the way, ha ha ha!" 

Hartsville is a neighboring town in which one of my sisters lives. This is the Hartsville Fire Department's new music video. If you love it, please share it. I'd love to see it go viral!


Homeschool Materials

Where do you buy homeschool materials? I've been getting most of ours from Christianbook.com because they were recommended by our local support group and I've found that they are generally less expensive. I'm wondering if anyone has other recommendations, however. Is there a site where we can sell back our gently used materials? 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Photo-A-Day Challenge: Day 17

Today's Prompt: Toy

We had our first Christmas get-together over
the weekend and my daughter got this toy from
her aunt and uncle. It's the Wonderama (As
Seen on TV!) and it actually makes the little foil
butterflies float in the air. It also made water move!

Photo-A-Day Challenge: Day 16

Today's Prompt: Two

Two freezing people watching the Geminid meteor shower. Their eyes look 
spooky in this photo! I told them it looked like the meteors had put them 
into a trance! Did you watch the meteor shower. There was another one the
same night in the opposite direction, behind where they are looking!

Photo-A-Day Challenge: Day 15

Today's Prompt: I Love...

I love...this ornament! My son made this and 
several more in other shapes when he was in
1st grade. He brought them home and gave them
to me as a Christmas gift. He is now soon to be 
21 years old and this is the only one of those
ornaments that has survived. AC is his initials.
1D is his room number at school. This is my 
favorite ornament!

Photo-A-Day Challenge: Day 14

Today's Prompt: Wrap It Up!

december photo a day challenge
We didn't buy paper or ribbon last year. We used leftovers from last year and
even reused many of the ribbons, tissue paper sheets, and gift bags from last
year. This package is shiny so I love it. Silver paper with glittery red and green
ribbons tied in a bow as big as the package! Merry Christmas!

Photo-A-Day Challenge: Day 12

Today's Prompt: Local

upcycled art stool
We bought this stool from a local artist. She said
she found the stool in a trash pile, cleaned it, painted
it, and recovered the seat with the fuzzy purple stuff!
It's perfect at my daughter's vanity table!


Friday, December 14, 2012

Moment of Silence

I will not be posting anything tonight. It seems inappropriate to even try to get you excited about anything on such a sad day. Please pray for the children and their families and everyone else who was affected by today's tragedy.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Photo-A-Day Challenge: Day 12

Today's Prompt:  Candy Cane

This is my sister doing her best impression of a candy cane!
What do you think? How'd she do?
Click here or the tab at the top of the page to see the other photos in the December Photo-A-Day Challenge!

Pass the Cocoa Please!

Tis the season for sweets! We all know how difficult it can be to walk by the desert table at those Christmas get-togethers and not get at least a little taste of everything! I truly believe that's why we pack on the pounds. It isn't the real food that gets us, but rather those delightfully sugary deserts! 

But there is hope for us yet! Before you get to the deserts, have a cup of hot cocoa! Drink it when you're baking, too. Believe it or not, cocoa is the one sweet you should not pass up this Christmas!

The latin name for cocoa means "food of the gods." Understandably! Chocolate is so amazing! Ever wonder how it's made? When cacao beans are pressed and 1/2 to 3/4 of the cocoa butter has been removed, the remaining solid is processed into the fine powder that we use to make chocolate. Dutch processed cocoa has been washed with a potassium solution that neutralizes the natural acids in the cocoa. I recommend natural cocoa powder, or cacao powder, which will give you a darker color and richer, fruitier taste anyway. In recipes calling for dutch cocoa, natural cocoa can generally be substituted, but not the other way around. 

Even though it tastes sweet, pure cocoa powder is low in caffeine and sugar free, and it's also high in antioxidants! So you can skip the guilt! On a diet? 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder has just 20 calories, 1 gram of fat, and only 2 grams of carbs. The only guilt is in the milk, but it's so good for you in moderation! If you prefer milk alternatives, I'm betting almond milk would make delicious hot cocoa, although I haven't actually tried it.

When mixed with whole milk (we prefer raw milk, which still has the cream!) and simmered on the stove-top, this delicious treat will satisfy your sweet tooth and leave you feeling full. Thus, the other sweets won't be so tempting! Of course, we'll still have to try a few things on the desert table (like the homemade butter mints), but maybe we'll show a little more control!

Do skip the packets of instant cocoa. They include sugar and dry milk and additives and often chocolate flavor. Even organic hot cocoa mix will typically include sugar and dry milk.

Instead, look for organic fair trade cacoa powder.  1 teaspoon per cup of warm whole milk makes a great cup of cocoa! There are several different brands available on Amazon.com, including the one I use, Dagoba.

Do you indulge in hot cocoa during the winter? Will you feel a little less guilty about it this year?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Photo-A-Day Challenge: Day 11

December 11 prompt: Friendship

See that cute little one in the center? That's my
sweet niece with her friends from ballet after the
opening night of their Christmas performance.
She actually got two bouquets of flowers, but
gave one to the girl on the right who didn't have
any. That's a true friend! And a sweetheart!



Monday, December 10, 2012

Photo-A-Day Challenge: Day 10

Today's prompt: Lights

Last night my daughter and I went riding around to look at lights.
One neighborhood nearby has "Luminaries" every December. Every
street in the neighborhood is lined with the little paper sacks holding
luminary candles and all the houses have their Christmas lights on.
That's where we saw the house in this picture, which was amazing.
There was music playing and many of the decorations were animated.
Afterward, we drove down Christmas Lane, another traditional place
to see Christmas lights here. It's amazing how ya never outgrow this!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Photo-A-Day Challenge: Days 7 - 9

I apologize for missing a few days. I was out of town for the weekend and didn't have the access or the time to post anything. I'm catching up in this post!

December 7 prompt: Flashback 
Oldie but goodie! I love the abominable snowman!


December 8 prompt: Green
These are new to my tree this year.
Green glitter and green sequins!


December 9 prompt: Yummy

My daughter's birthday cake. It's PinaColada Cake. Chunks of banana
and pineapple baked into it and the icing topped with toasted
coconut and strawberries. That was definitely yummy!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Photo-A-Day Challenge: Day 6

December 6 prompt: One

I love this book. It makes it easy to add
new green choices to your daily routine.
She even gives you the ups and downs
to each of the suggestions for change!
Learn more or buy it here!

Photo-A-Day Challenge: Day 5

December 5 prompt: Decorate

This is our Christmas tree. I couldn't seem to get a great pic
with the sun pouring in , but I love the glittery ornaments :)
The photo I used for the blog button is a close-up of this tree.



Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Photo-A-Day Challenge: Day 4

December 4 prompt: It's so cold!




I love this photo of Dean Martin. Whenever I think of it being cold outside, I hear this song playing in my mind :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

National Cookie Day

Today is National Cookie Day! 

Did you know that cookies are said to have originated as little test cakes? Bakers would place a small amount of batter in the oven to test the temperature. Remember, ovens didn't always have knobs, dials, or buttons! How blessed we are to benefit from their lack of modern conveniences! And to have those conveniences we when bake our own cookies, of course. 

Turns out the "test cakes" were tatsty! By the 14th century, cookies were sold by street vendors in Paris. Renaissance cookbooks included recipes for cookies. In the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution brought about new technologies that allowed bakers to improve recipes. In early America, the cake section of cookbooks typically included a few recipes for "jumbles" or other types of small cakes that we now call cookies. 

I found the following cookie recipe on Wikipedia, pulled from a 1596 European cookbook and thought it was too wonderful not to share!

To make Fine Cakes.- Take fine flowre and good Damaske water you must have no other liqeur but  that, then take sweet butter, two or three yolkes of eggs and a good quantity of Suger, and a few cloves, and mace, as your Cookes mouth shall serve him, and a lyttle saffron, and a little Gods good about a spoonful if you put in too much they shall arise, cutte them in squares lyke unto trenchers, and pricke them well, and let your oven be well swept and lay them uppon papers and so set them into the oven. Do not burne them if they be three or foure days olde they bee the better.



So I wish you a happy National Cookie Day! 

Go by Quiznos and get a free cookie today! 

Or better yet, get the kids into the kitchen and bake your own! 

As you can see in the picture at left, my daughter loves really gets into making cookies from scratch!


Monday, December 3, 2012

January No Spend Challenge


No Spend Month Blog Badge
Mama Making Changes has joined Growing Slower's January No Spend Challenge. 

What a perfect time to seriously monitor spending and challenge myself to be more frugal! 
Being frugal is a big part of being green and it's an area in which I still have a long way to go. I will be posting my plan for the month at the beginning of January and updating you on my progress, challenges, successes, and failures throughout the month. 



Click the button above, which is also in the right sidebar, or click the link above to find out more and/or join the challenge. Let's make frugality a New Year's Resolution!


Photo-A-Day Challenge: Day 3

December 3 prompt - Red

Nothing like a cherry red muscle car!

See the other prompts and more info on this blog hop by clicking here!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Photo-A-Day Challenge: Day Two

Prompt for December 2:  Event in 2012 that I won't forget...

20 year high school reunion ... can't believe it's been 20 years! Do you see me?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Photo-A-Day Challenge: Day One

December 1 Prompt - Smile :)

If this doesn't make ya smile, what will?!!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Winter Wonderland Giveaway Hop

snowman Here is yet another chance to win some gifts for Christmas! Mama Making Changes is participating in the Winter Wonderland Hop sponsored by Andersons Angels and Joy of Momma Joyner. This event will run from 12:01 AM EST on Saturday, December 1, through 11:59 PM EST on Saturday, December 15, 2012. 

It's super easy to join in on the fun! After you enter the giveaway below, just click on one of the links at the bottom of this post, below the Rafflecopter entry form, to go to the next giveaway. From there, you can click on one of the links to go to another giveaway until you hop your way through as many as you want to enter!




For this giveaway, Mama Making Changes is proud to have Bee Alive as a sponsor. 

Bee Alive is giving one lucky reader their Spa Essentials Balance Petite Collection, which has a retail price of $49.95, although the products in this collection are valued at $88.40 if sold separately. 

Learn more about Bee Alive by clicking here to read the review of their Spa Essentials or click here to see them in our 2012 Green Gift Guide




Disclamer: Andersons Angels, Joy of Momma Joyner and the Winter Wonderland bloggers are not responsible for sponsors that fail to fulfill their prizes.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

December Photo-A-Day Challenge Hop

Mama Making Changes is sponsoring a Photo-A-Day Challenge Hop for December 2012! Below is a list of dates in December and beside each one is a prompt, which is a suggestion for your photo that day. Let's see how creative we can get! Think outside the box! And have fun! 



Each day, after I post the photo of the day, I will change the suggestion to a clickable link. Just click the link to see the photo! 


Calling all Bloggers! Would you like to join me? Just copy and paste the button and the intro above and the list below to your page and add your blog to the linky at the bottom of this post. I'll email the linky code to you after you sign up. Feel free to make some changes to the introduction to customize it to your blog, as long as you give include the link to Mama Making Changes.


December Photo-A-Day Challenge


12/1      Smile :)
12/3      Red
12/4      It's so cold!
12/5      Decorate
12/6      One
12/7      Flashback
12/8      Green
12/9      Yummy
12/10     Lights
12/11     Friendship
12/12     Local 
12/13     Candy cane
12/14     Wrap it up!
12/15     I love...
12/16     Two 
12/17     Toy
12/18     Warm and cozy
12/19     Tree
12/20     Special
12/21     Sweet
12/22     White
12/23     Homemade
12/24     Joy
12/25     Good morning!
12/26     Relax
12/27     Me
12/28     Three
12/29     Family
12/30     Resolution
12/31     Celebrate!



Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sponsor Spotlight and Review: Bee Alive

Bee Alive is a company that makes natural supplements and skin care products from honey and royal jelly. What is royal jelly? That's what I wanted to learn, too! Here's a nice summary from the Bee Alive website:

Royal Jelly is a natural nutritious complex with many bio-active compounds, including 10-HDA found nowhere else in nature. Within the bee hive, Royal Jelly is produced as the exclusive food of the Queen Bee.

The number of worker bees in a hive may be in the tens of thousands, but there is only one Queen. Royal Jelly is eaten by the Queen Bee, and because of her exclusive Royal Jelly diet, the Queen Bee becomes different from the other bees in three significant ways:

- The average worker bee lives about 6 weeks, while the Queen Bee lives an astonishing 4 to 6 years.

- The Queen Bee is twice the size of female worker bees.

- The Queen can lay up to 2,000 eggs a day, often laying 100,000 to 200,000 eggs each year.

When it comes to providing the Queen Bee with sustenance, growth, and long life, Royal Jelly can only be described as one of nature’s miraculous foods. No where else in nature does the food fed to one member of a species, genetically identical at birth with other members, determine its morphology and lifespan.

Known for boosting energy, vitality, and stamina, royal jelly is used widely in Europe and Asia as an anti-fatigue compound. The following are naturally occurring in royal jelly: B Complex vitamin, amino acids, minerals (including calcium, magnesium, pottassium and zinc), peptides, nucleic acids, and a substance that is unique to royal jelly called 10-HDA.

Honey is naturally anti-bacterial and I already used honey for the occasional bump or blackhead. Honey masks are known to help prevent acne breakouts because they don't just cleanse, they inhibit the growth of bacteria. 

Recently Bee Alive sent me a 120 day supply of royal jelly supplements in two different forms. I will be reviewing those in early 2013 because it typically has to build up in the system to see results. 

But they also sent me their Spa Essentials Balance Petite Collection, which I can tell you about now.



Spa Essentials is the name of Bee Alive's skincare collection. This Balance Petite Collection is only available for a limited time. Designed for Christmas gift giving, it comes in a very cute, re-usable, jute gift bag. Included inside are the following:

  • 1.8 oz Foaming Honey Cleanser
  • .5 oz Enriching Royal Jelly Creme
  • .5 oz Royal Jelly Serum
  • .6 oz Honey Masque
I love the cleanser. It's in a plastic bottle with a foaming pump dispenser and is very mild and gentle. The Masque goes on smooth and silky and gets sticky as it sits, but it was fun to pamper myself with a facial masque and my skin felt much smoother after using it. My sister and I had a great time trying it! Girl time! The Serum is designed to go under your face cream if you use one or use it alone. The Serum firms without making my skin feel tight. This is by far my favorite of the products in this bag! The Royal Jelly Creme is thick but not heavy, having the consistency of a thick mousse. It went on smooth and light and moisturized without feeling or looking greasy. 

I was very pleased with these products and would highly recommend them to anyone looking for a natural skincare regimen! 


OR

Win it now! Bee Alive has also generously decided to give one lucky reader a Spa Essentials Balance Petite Collection during the Winter Wonderland Giveaway Hop. You can enter by clicking here between December 1 and December 15, 2012!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sponsor Spotlight: Sprout San Francisco Patemm Pad

I was thrilled when I learned that the super-cute eco-friendly boutique, Sprout San Francisco, was sending me there patented Patemm Pad to try! Sprout San Francisco's website features hundreds of natural and organic items for babies and your home. They even have an online registry for expectant families! The Patemm Pad is their brand new, unique item designed to replace both your changing pad and your diaper bag, supposedly making it easier to take baby on the go. 



I received the El Patemm Pad in Storm White Twill, which is actually gray with white elephants on it. It was folded in such a way that one handle strap kept it closed and another served as the actual carrying strap. There were no snaps or buttons or velcro. The organic cotton fabric is covered in a substance that feels like plastic, which their website lists as a CPSIA-certified laminate that is BPA free. It's waterproof and machine washable, too! Which means, it's okay if your little wants to chew on it! 

Opening the patemm pad, I found that it's a large circular pad with pockets all the way around the outside edge. My niece is 15 months and tall for her age and she fit on the 28 inch pad easily. 




Next I stuffed the pockets with diapers and wipes and baby powder and folded the pad up to see how it handled the extra items. It folded up easily and the items inside were completely out of sight. There is a handle on each side of the pad so you don't have to fold the sides in a specific order. I was actually quite surprised! It's much more compact than a diaper bag and lightweight, too.



Bonus? She thinks it's a pocket book so now she wants to carry her own bag! 


To find out more or get your own Patemm Pad, click here to visit Sprout San Francisco.


Between November 28 and December 7, 2012, you can win a Patemm Pad in the Green Gifts Giveaway Hop! Click here to go to the giveaway now!


Monday, November 26, 2012

Green Christmas Giveaway Hop


Green Christmas Giveaway


Welcome to the Green Christmas Giveaway Hop, hosted by Happy Mothering, Going Green with Grizls and The Reynolds Mom

50+ members of the Green Moms Network have come together to offer you tons of chances to win green-themed Christmas gifts! There’s sure to be something for everyone on your list. We hope you’ll discover some great new brands to add to your Christmas list too! 

Mama Making Changes is giving away two prizes! 



One winner will receive a SUG7 Smart Strip from Bits Ltd. To read the full review of this amazing surge protector with a remote control and valued at $34.95, just click here










One winner will receive a pattem pad from Sprout San Francisco valued at $65.00! This online eco-baby boutique has patented their unique "pattem pad", a diaper bag and changing pad in one!  See the full review by clicking here






Below my entry forms, you'll see the links to the other giveaways to enter, as well as information about the grand prize giveaway. It's easy to hop from blog to blog and enter them all!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Our hosts are featuring 5 fabulous grand prize packages from these green and natural brands: 
For Your Bug-a-Boo, Blue Manatee Boxes, Bulk Herb Store, 
Snug Bug Diapers, Nosefrida, My Pretty Playhouse, Wonder Forge, 
Kelly Kits, Kerrific Online, LibreTea, Grounds for Change, 
Zulka Sugar, Justin's Nut Butters, Better Life, ReuseIt, 
Strawesome, generationMe, Soybu, Purely Gorgeous, 
A Mothers Design, Dr. Bronner's and Xmittens!. 


This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. You understand that you are providing your information to Happy Mothering, Going Green with the Grizls and The Reynolds Mom, and not to Facebook. Please note that Happy Mothering, Going Green with the Grizls, The Reynolds Moms and the Green Christmas Gift Giveaway bloggers are not responsible for sponsors that do not fulfill their prizes. We have represented each sponsor with the expectation they will fulfill their prize and in a timely manner. We will contact the sponsor regarding your prize(s). The sponsors, in most cases, are shipping their items to you directly. We will make every effort to assist you obtaining your prize. If there is an issue with a sponsor, please notify the blog you won a prize from within 4-6 weeks for assistance, after that we may be unable to assist you.

Green Resolutions Giveaway Hop

Mama Making Changes is pleased as punch to be participating in the 
Green Resolutions Giveaway Hop!

Come back in January to win lots of prizes from the participating blogs, all of which will be chosen carefully to help with your eco-friendly New Year's Resolutions!


Green Resolutions Giveaway

Blogger sign-ups are now open, so click on the button above to participate!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sponsor Spotlight: Bits Limited Smart Strip

Recently I had the opportunity to review a product that promised to be quite amazing. Bits Limited has a wide variety of surge protecting power strips that go a little further, actually saving energy usage! 

Often called phantom energy usage, or black energy, many devices pull power even when they are turned off. If the device is plugged in, it may still be using expensive power. The Bits Limited Smart Strips are designed to help prevent phantom energy usage.

The SUG7 Smart Strip is the model that I was given to try. At first glance, I was confused. What were these different pieces and why the different plugs? What should go where? Fortunately, I opened the directions and found them to be easy to understand and to the point. I was excited to get started now!



The three outlets on the left area always on. Whatever you plug into these outlets will work just like they do when you plug them into any power strip. They are protected from power surges, however. On the far right, there are several convenient usb inputs for chargers, too.

The 4 outlets on the right, circled in green, are the smart outlets. The items you plug into these outlets will not pull any power unless you tell the strip it's okay. But how do you do that? 


The SUG 7 uses a remote! The little white remote pictured can be mounted on the wall or sat on a table.  Just press the button on the remote to turn the smart outlets on, allowing the devices to receive power. Press the button again to cut the power off again. 
Remove the remont from the mount and plug it into a USB port on your computer or any other device for a different experience. Turn the computer on, the smart outlets turn on. Turn the computer off or let it go to sleep, the outlets turn off again. This is my favorite method. My printer now comes on when I turn the computer on! Better yet, so does my space heater that sits beside my chair! 
There is also a third way to turn on the smart outlets. The power strip has a switch on the side to turn them on and leave them on until you turn them back off. You can turn them off with any of the methods. This is great when I want my heater on but I'm not using the computer. 

One might think this is similar to just hitting the on/off button on a regular power strip. However, with this you can leave some items always on and cut power to others. And, with the wireless remote, I can do it from the sofa!

I'm very impressed by the SUG 7 Smart Strip! It's easy to use and yet is very advanced. I have surge protection and I'm saving energy and money! And the $34.95 price tag is very reasonable.

Have you tried a smart strip before? What did you think? Would you try a SUG7? If you'd like to get one, just click here to go the Bits Ltd website

November 28 through December 7, 2012, you can click here to enter to win the SUG7 in the Green Christmas Giveaway Hop!