Monday, July 29, 2013

Monday A La Mode: July 29, 2013

This week's Monday A La Mode will be brief. I've spent much of my weekend prepping for a trip with the youth at my church. I'm volunteering as a chaperone, which means I will have 3 or 4 teenage girls with me at all times for the next 5 days! Wish me luck! I did round up a few tidbits to share with you, however. I might also have thrown in a shameless plug for my church that I love so much! 

You May Want to Read This...

What I'm Reading...
  • Eat, Pray, Love  by Elizabeth Gilbert is a memoir of her travels to Italy, India, and Bali in a search for balance between the earthly and the transcendental. I started this a while back and got sidetracked so I thought this week would be a good time to pick it back up! Of course, I downloaded this on my Nook. I believe in using digital media whenever possible to save on paper. What are you reading? Do you love your Nook or Kindle like I do?
Freebie Alert!!!
  • This week I discovered a great website that offers free personalized tutorials, videos, helpful hints, and reading to help you move forward toward a healthier lifestyle. Because it's personalized, it doesn't matter where you are in your journey currently. You will get information that's suitable for you. Check out by clicking here. I signed up and started already!
  • There are lots of books and apps and magazine subscriptions available to help you make the best shopping choices, but this one is absolutely free! Ethical Consumer offers a very comprehensive list of product guides on the part of their website that is available for free. Check it out by clicking here!
Why You Might Like Newspring...

  • If traditional churches are not your cup of tea, you may find it refreshing that we have a band instead of a choir and that we don't dress up for church. In fact, you can watch at home on your computer via live feed at every Sunday at 9:15 and 11:15 am EST. I prefer being there but watching online is a great option to have! 
  • If you have trouble staying awake during sermons, you haven't heard Pastor P.! We often have guest pastors that are amazing speakers, too, like Dan Lian from Australia. We don't mind laughing and enjoying ourselves during church. Church should be fun!
  • Newspring is growing fast and that isn't an accident. Christ never wanted the church to be small. Newspring has doubled in attendence since this time last year! Check it out to find out why!
That's all she wrote today folks! Have a happy Monday and wish me luck on my adventure this week!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: What Does Fun Look Like?

I haven't done a Wordless Wednesday post in quite a while, even though I've taken an absolutely massive number of pics this summer. So, I figure it's about time. And I thought it would be fun to share some of our fun! So I hope you enjoy this brief summary of our summer so far...
kid-free, ladies-only evening at our fave restaurant

at the arcade

my "babies" at the beach

birthday pool party

never get enough pool days!

After a day at the lake

Basketball with cousins and friends

Christmas in July
Fireworks for the Fourth

Family around a board game

Pink hair and blue skies

sunshine, live music, and lots of laughter!

As you can see, we have been outdoors as much as possible this summer! I'm so thankful to live near several lakes and the Atlantic Ocean. What outdoor activities have you been able to enjoy lately? Hope you are having as much fun in the sun as we are! 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday A La Mode: July 22, 2013

It's that time again! What's new and now? What info will green moms appreciate? If I come across I share it here each week. Here's what we have this week...

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Contest Alert:

  • Glass Dharma is choosing finalists this week for their #midsummersip photo contest. If you participated by tagging your Instagram and/or Twitter photos of your glass straws, you must still send your Twittter handle or Instagram name to cn (at) glassdharma (dot) com to be considered as they are choosing finalists. My daughter and I had a great time with this contest!

Money Saving Tip:

That's it for this Monday. Have a happy week! And don't forget to share this with your friends using the Twitter and Facebook buttons below. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Shopping for Health

I was thinking today about something I heard once ... maybe it was Weight Watchers, but I'm not sure. The advice was to stick to the perimeter of the grocery store for food. Great advice!

I mean think about it...

  1. The produce department should always be the first stop in the grocery store. Grab your fruits and veggies, preferably organic. Maybe you can even find locally grown. The healthiest part of the store! You can often find veggie meats and tofu in this department, too.

  2. The meat department is next. Unless you are a vegetarian. Many grocery stores are now carrying more "natural" meats, but buyer beware. Know what you are getting and read the fine print. Natural just means no artificial additives. You may still being buying grain fed and factory farm raised and it may still have gone through a large meat processing plant. However, choosing the lesser evil is still better than buying that Smithfield vacuum packed meat. 
  3. Next you have the frozen food department. If you stick to healthy foods like fruits and veggies this department isn't so bad. It's actually full of healthy choices. And frozen fruits and veggies retain more vitamins and minerals than canned ones. Just don't cook them in a big pot of water. Many of the nutrients leach out into the water. Buying prepared foods in this department is not such a good idea, however. Typically, they contain tons of additives and preservatives and are highly processed.
  4. Last but not least is the dairy department. This department is full of protein and healthy fats. Remember that non-fat versions often have other added ingredients to enhance flavor so read labels carefully for carbs and artificial ingredients if choosing low-fat or fat-free. Whole milk, cheeses, and butter are good for us in moderation. I prefer to choose organic and choose free-range whenever available. In health food stores you may be able to find local raw milk in the dairy section, which is what we drink.  The taste cannot be matched by supermarket milk. 
  5. Then there's the rest of the store. Think about this: the shelf life on some of that stuff is years. That's not natural. Food spoils. If it doesn't spoil fairly quickly, be suspicious. Most of the center store is NOT healthy and DOES contain artificial ingredients like preservatives and sweeteners. Most of it is highly processed and much of it is high in saturated fats and low in vitamins and minerals. This is the icky part of the store. Not convinced? Download the app Fooducate and try scanning some items in the center part of the supermarket. You may be shocked at what you discover! And remember that these overly processed foods have negative consequences for your health and the health of the planet.
Of course, I still recommend and personally prefer buying from local farms. We are in a small-ish city and I am able to get fresh, local, organic products including free-range grass-fed meat, sustainably farmed veggies and fruit, raw or low temp pasteurized milk, eggs, and even honey, jams, and jellies. We also could get grains but we don't eat many grains. I buy soap from a local farm, too! 

If you aren't sure where your local organic farmers are, check

Questions or comments? Please leave them below! I love to read them! Find this information useful? Share it using the buttons below for Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ and let your friends in on it!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday A La Mode: July 15, 2013

Another Monday is upon us and that means it's time for the 3rd edition of Monday A La Mode. This Monday is a special day at my house. My stepson is officially a teenager today. Yep, that's right, thirteen years old. So first and foremost I want to wish him a very happy birthday!

And now, let me share some of the things I discovered recently...


  • Trayvon Martin's killer has been acquitted to the shock of most of the nation. What do you think of the verdict? The best news article I've seen on this and the one which most accurately mirrors my own viewpoint is from Mother Earth News. Click here to read the article. 
  • If you don't already subscribe to Mother Earth News, give it a try. You will receive a single daily email from them.


  • Shea butter is in many bath and body products as a moisturizer, but it happens to be good for many skin conditions as well. Try a sugar scrub or bar soap that contains a good amount of shea butter to help with eczema, psoriascis, or rosacea. I tried a sugar scrub and spent a great deal of time analyzing the ingredient list to find out why my eczema cleared up while using it! The best way to make sure a product contains more than just a trace of the ingredient is to make your own. Speaking of making your own...
  • The Complete Idiot's Guide to Making Natural Beauty Products - You may not want to follow these recipes exactly and some of them require too many ingredients to justify making a small batch just for yourself, but this is a great guide to get you started. Most of the recipes are super easy to adjust to make them into just what you want! 
  • As for fiction, I was reminded recently of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, which is (in my opinion) one of the greatest books ever written. It's sheer simplicity is part of the wonder. I bought a first edition of this book as a gift for my son for Christmas 2012. He told me last week that it was the best gift he got last Christmas and is now a prized possession. If you haven't read it, I recommend an immediate trip to the local library!
  • The August issue of Real Simple Magazine features seven centenarians. Great inspiration for keeping healthy and active and a great reminder to enjoy life, some of these seniors workout more often than I do and have more active social lives too! All at 100+ years old!
  • Never buy air freshener again! Instead, simmer one or more of your favorite scents in water on the stove. Use a fan to spread the scent if you need. For starters try lemon peel (save the peels from lemons you've used) and cinnamon. If you have a stubborn odor you need to get rid of, add a few spoonfulls of baking soda to the pot.
  • Later, pour the cooled mixture into a spray bottle and use in any specific areas, like bathrooms or pet areas. Remember this mixture may not keep long, depending upon what's in it.
  • If you use soap nuts for your laundry, save the used ones! I keep a container on top of the dryer for mine. When you have a few cups of them, simmer in water on the stove and strain the resulting liquid into a spray bottle. You have a great multipurpose cleaner! Use it on countertops and stoves, on dishes, or on floors. 
  • If you haven't tried soap nuts for laundry, I find I save a ton versus store bought detergents. Click here to see more info on soap nuts and/or buy your own.
  • The Joys of Simple Life is a blog written by Mai Songalia and I really enjoyed reading her post this week titled "Five Inspirational Quotes to Remind You Why Money Isn't Everything." I don't want to spoil it for you so I won't say more. Just click here to read it for yourself.
  • I'm doing a lot of physical conditioning lately but sometimes I just don't have time to drive to the gym for strength training. Enter Sworkit, an app that lets you enter the time and type of workout you want. You can choose to have sound or not, workout for as few as five minutes, and choose cardio or strength. The app guides you through exercises and times you. 
  • Then try the Runtastic Heart Rate app to measure your heart rate after (or before) your workout. Yes, your phone can measure your heart rate! You hold your finger over the camera and flash for just a couple of seconds.I love it!
  • If you've heard a lot about fracking lately, but wish you knew the facts, watch Gasland 2, a documentary series on HBO. See the trailer below and go have a great week!

GASLAND 2 HBO trailer from JFOX on Vimeo.

Don't forget to leave your comments or questions below. And if you like this post share it with your friends via the Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ buttons below. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Do Your Kids Know What Real Food Is?

I came across this great infographic on Pinterest and I wanted to share it with you. Please pass it along if you agree that kids need to be better educated about food choices. If you have trouble seeing the infographic, click here to see the pin.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Kickin' Butt or Gettin' a Butt Kickin'?

The team is picked and the training has begun. I, my friends, will be doing the USMC Ultimate Challenge Mudrun in Columbia, SC on October 13, 2013. The Mudrun is a 6 mile course with 36 obstacles designed by Marine Corp drill instructors to be hard as hell.

Why am I excited about this?

If you've read before about my weight loss journey, you know from whence I have come. I come from obesity. I come from an ankle injury that took two years and surgery and pins to be mostly okay now. I come from an atrophied leg and week muscles all over. I come from aching knees and back and neck. I come from high blood pressure.

So, I really have come a long way, baby.



I'm doing circuit training equipment three days per week and cardio three days per week. I met with a personal trainer and put a plan on paper so that I have specific tasks to complete each time I work out. And I'm working hard. I'm eating right of course, too. Sometimes I feel like the training is really kicking my butt, but I know it will be worth when I complete that course in October. When I decide I'm going to do something, I don't do it half-way. I'm gonna do the thing! I'm nothing if not determined, and it will feel so good to cross that finish line!

It really helps me to have a goal and a specific date by which I need to meet that goal. I also have found that I having a workout partner really is great motivation to get to the gym and to get busy while I'm there. And the more I see results, the more I want to keep going.

Eating the right foods is a great basis for keeping yourself and your family healthy, but physical fitness is important to overall health, too. I'm feeling great about the new healthier me and my daughter is following my lead without any coersion! Yay!

What helps motivate you to stick with your health or fitness routine? Have you ever done a mudrun or similar challenge? Or considered it? If you're in the great state of South Carolina, get together a team and sign up! Just click here for more info. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Monday A La Mode: July 8, 2013

It's Monday and that means it's time for the 2nd edition of Monday A La Mode. The 2nd edition should technically have been last week, but since my daughter and I were both blessed with food poisoning Sunday night I could not possibly have written anything. Heck, I couldn't possibly have turned on the computer! Thankfully this Monday is better, so without further ado, let me tell you about some of the things I've discovered lately...

  • In 2003 a band named The Postal Service released an album titled Give Up. Many of the songs have been featured in movies and commercials, so you may be surprised to recognize them. Check out Mama's Marvelous Musical Playlist in the sidebar at right to hear them now. I'm loving this album!
  • Check out before you buy your next toothbrush. For every sustainably produced, biodegradable, bamboo toothbrush you buy from bogobrush, one is donated to someone in need. (According to their website, 80 million Americans lack access to dental care.) They are accepting pre-orders now and expect to start shipping by the end of this summer.
  • Re-usable shopping bags are an important step in becoming more earth friendly, but good-looking bags can be expensive. I was so happy to come across this week! Their bags a fold-over flap that snaps closed at the top of the bag. When not in use, fold the bag and the snap closure keeps it folded. Bonus? Their grocery bags are only $3.99 and come in a variety of cute styles!
  • It can be difficult to find eco-friendly clothing. Who has time to browse and scour the clothes racks? Or for that matter the internet? Two companies that only sell sustainable organic clothing are Earth Creations and Autonomie Project. For shoes, try The People's Movement - they pick up plastic off California beaches and turn it into shoes and wallets with minimal processing. I ordered a pair!
  • I'm not a fan of soft drinks or, therefore, soft drink manufacturers. But I am a fan of any contest that gets people outside more often. Coca Cola is sponsoring the Take It to the Park contest. Just click here to vote for your favorite park and get extra votes by checking in at your park using FourSquare. The winning park receives a large grant from Coke!

  • July is Baked Beans Month! If you didn't have enough at your Independence Day get-togethers, now you have an excuse to treat yourself. Do you use brown sugar? Molasses? Maple syrup? Honey? Do you top yours with bacon? Have you ever tried baked beans on toast? 
Hope you found something new and useful this Monday! Have a great week!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Learning Green Lessons the Hard Way

My family has long been watching our energy usage at home, even in the area of air conditioning, which can be a touchy subject here in the deep south! It gets pretty darned hot around here in the summertime and people typically keep the air set somewhere between 70 and 72 degrees to keep things cool and comfy indoors. 

My family learned that if we kicked that thermostat up to 76 during the hottest part of the day and 74 at night when the a/c unit wouldn't have to work quite so hard, we could indeed bear it. In fact, we got used to the temperature change fairly quickly, in a week or two, so that we didn't feel hot or icky at all when the house was 76 degrees!

Then one of our two air conditioner units went kaput! Uh oh! Not in June, just when the summer is really gearing up and the humidity is through the roof! 

Well we quickly learned that by closing off the part of the house that has air conditioning during the day, we could limit ourselves to that part of the house for the most part and still stay cool. All it took was a curtain rod hung over a doorway and pretty red curtain hanging from it. In the early evening, we pull back the curtain and open the bedroom doors to allow more air flow. Ceiling fans in the bedrooms help pull the air so that by bedtime our rooms are about 78 degrees. Though it's a bit warmer than we were used to, again it only took us about a week to acclimate ourselves to the new temperature. 
image courtesy of

Then the power bill arrived. We are using half the energy we were using this time last year! And we are perfectly comfortable! 

There are several lessons we've learned here and will carry with us into the future:

  1. Our bodies can be comfortable at temperatures above 72 degrees.
  2. Air conditioning accounts for a HUGE percentage of a home's energy usage.
  3. A small amount of effort can net a large amount of savings on your power bill.
  4. Ceiling fans are wonderful things and don't use nearly as much energy as air conditioners.
  5. Curtains are cute in a doorway!
(Note: Don't fill all 8 of those light bulb spots on a ceiling fan! Who needs 8 lightbulbs in one room? Besides, lightbulbs create heat! Use energy saving bulbs and fill every 2nd or 3rd spot.)

Have you ever discovered a greener way of living by accident?