Monday, July 16, 2012

Hot Fluff Cool Baby Giveaway!

Welcome to the Hot Fluff Cool Baby Cloth Diaper Giveaway! This awesome cloth diaper stash starter event is sponsored by Greenie Beanie Bottoms and hosted by Just Add Cloth, along with over 75 wonderful and influential bloggers who all love cloth! Cloth diapering is a great way to reduce our waste, help our planet, and save money. Cloth diapers are Hot items and Cool for your baby! Not only are cloth diapers more breathable in warm weather, but they make adorable accessories in Summer!
Starting your stash can be daunting, so this prize from Greenie Beanie Bottoms is a great way to get a variety of diapers to try out. Greenie Beanie Bottoms is an online retailer of cloth diapers, accessories, amber teething jewelry, and reusable menstrual and nursing pads.They offer totally free shipping for all orders in the U.S. and low flat rate shipping to Canada.

Now on to the prize!
Our Hot Fluff Cool Baby cloth diaper prize comprises everything you need to get started with cloth!


One lucky winner will receive:

5 Fold-to-Fit Bamboo inserts by the Cloth Diaper Company
That's 10 pocket diapers in winner's choice of colors and closures, two wet bags, 12 cloth wipes, two pair baby leg warmers, diaper cream, two diaper covers, and five bamboo terry cloth inserts!
Bringing the grand prize total to over $300!!
With 15 diaper changes and accessories to match, this is a great beginner stash for anyone just starting out in cloth diapering. This giveaway runs from 12:01AM July 16 through 11:59PM July 31, EST. It is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada. Must be 18 or older. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Entering means you agree to the terms and conditions stated in the form. Entering is easy! Simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below. a Rafflecopter giveaway *The participating blogs are not responsible if sponsor fails to provide prize. Bloggers did not receive review items or compensation for this event. ********************************************************************

Monday, July 9, 2012

Winners and a White Flag

Here are the winners for my last giveaways:
Theraneem: Teresa T
Tropical Traditions: Jennifer R

Congratulations and thanks to everyone who entered!

Ah, Summer Blog Challenge...
I enjoyed plugging away for about a month but then:
  • I went on vacation, got out of the habit, and lost my momentum, 
  • It got hot and I didn't want to go near the laptop, 
  • I didn't have time to hop around to read other blogs and that's half the fun!
So I raise the white flag to the Challenge and will go back to posting whatever I want to--hopefully a few times a week.
Sunset on Lake Erie

Friday, July 6, 2012

Friday Flowers, 7/6/12

Vacation to Lakeside, OH was great! Yet its so nice to be back in the garden again (though my abs, back and quads don't think so).
'Better Boy' tomatoes growing in containers. These are much more vigorous that the 'Brandywine' that I grew last year and it is a challenge to prune them to one stem. Lots of blossoms though!

Cool whites in the Pool Garden

Echinacea 'White Swan'
I love the Gaillardia 'Burgundy'. It has spread itself around quite nicely.

Daylily 'Fairy Tale Pink'. I only spread around the daylilies that I really like. The rest are left to languish in the shady back yard.
I'm surprised that I don't mind the cool blues and the hot reds, pinks and yellows together.

Thyme in the foreground, lavender in the background--smells amazing!
Variegated yucca and Daylily 'El Desperado' (Why don't you come to your senses, you've been out riding fences...oh geez.)

Monarda 'Raspberry Wine'

Daylily 'Bama Bound'

Finally, the container annuals just barely survived vacation and are starting to perk up!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

How Do you do your laundry? #BlogChallenge Day 28

I like to go pretty crunchy (natural, green, whatever) with my laundry.
To a one gallon container add:
  • 1/2 cup Borax
  • 1/2 cup Washing Soda
Fill 3/4 full with hot water and shake until powders are mostly dissolved (I use a plastic 1 gallon vinegar jug so that its easier to shake and pour). Add:
  • 1/2 cup liquid castile soap (I'm currently using Dr. Bronner's Almond Hemp)
Fill the rest of the way with water and invert to mix. This will separate and become a little lumpy, but I just shake it before each use. This recipe originally called for two gallons of water but I made it more concentrated to save space. More water may equal less lumps. I use two Tablespoons per load in my HE front loader. There are 256 tablespoons in a gallon, so I should get about 128 loads.

I have noticed some fading of dark colored knits when using borax in the laundry. This doesn't bother me too much since most of our cloths come from thrift shops :-)

Fabric Softener:
Distilled white vinegar
4 homemade dryer balls
Myers Green Day Lemon Verbena dryers sheets (not as effective on static as the dryer balls! I only use these 'cause I got them on sale).

For Diaper Laundry:
I'm trying out Eco-Sprout right now and am happy with it so far
Dawn Original dish detergent worked well for occasional "stripping" of noxious fumes that accumulated over time. I soaked the diapers with the detergent for a few hours and then washed them without any soap until there were no suds left.
I always add a little vinegar to the fabric softener compartment for diapers too.  

I do a lot of cleaning with cloths instead of paper towels. I have learned from experience that you should hang wet cloths to dry instead of throwing them in the laundry pile wet. That will prevent stinky gross stuff from growing on it! 

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Dream "Me" Day: #BlogChallenge Day 25

What is your Ideal day of "me time", without thinking of money, time or any of life's other normal stresses?
 I wonder, in thinking about this subject, will I become discontent? No, because it is such a fantasy I don't even long for a day like this. I am so blessed!

I wake up at 8am, eat my oatmeal and drink my tea in peace. I head out into the garden to take pictures, dead-head, and putter. Then I head out for a few hours at the spa with friends--massage, mani-pedi, light lunch. The afternoon is spent at a local yarn store picking out skeins of hand-spun and/or hand-dyed yarn and then a garden tour. Supper is king crab legs--lots of them! Dessert: creme brulee and tiramisu. Then a romantic evening with the hubby includes a Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra concert, dancing (in this dream we both salsa :-), and a walk on the beach (oh, look! Now we're in the Caribbean! I think I'm getting carried away.) Getting home, I snuggle with my sleeping little boy and look forward to being climbed on all during breakfast tomorrow.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Blendtec Blender Giveaway!

I have teamed up with Kate n' Kaboodle to celebrate the final giveaway in her Funtastic Summer Event. The Funtastic Summer Event started June 10th with dozens of fun, summer themed giveaways! You can find all the giveaways here! The Blendtec Designer Series Wildside Blender is the Swiss Army Knife of Blenders because it can do the job of many appliances. It a whole juicer, a meat grinder, a latte machine, a bread mixer, an ice cream maker, a grain mill, coffee grinder, milkshake mixer, and a blender all in one! The sleek design features an illuminated, easy to read, touch screen with universal icons. This enables effortless selection of blend cycles. Blendtec created pre-programmed blending cycles to to produce optimum results for a wide range of blending tasks. Making a smoothie is as easy as a touch of a button! Just add your ingredients and press the "smoothie" icon! Want total control? The revolutionary new slider interface gives you absolute control over your blender speed. Touch anywhere on the slider to jump right to any speed, and slide your finger up and down to fine tune your blend. The Wildside Jar is BPA free and has a total volume of 90 fl oz. Clean up is a breeze with the flat, sealed, touch area and smooth motor base design. Just wipe it off with a damp cloth! No more messy buttons! The small, sleek design allows the Blendtec Designer Series Blender to fit under most cabinetry so it is easily accessible. This blender is more than a pretty face! With over 1500 watts of power, the commercial grade motor is the most powerful motor available for home use. The Blendtec blender is build for speed and power! The precision-machined socket connects directly to the motor, resulting in a finely-balanced motor assembly. This reduces vibration and noise, which is critical at the motor speeds you will see with the Blendtec. The air-flow design keeps the blender cooler enabling the blender to have a longer life.
Want to see the Blendtec Blender in action? Check out all Kate n' Kaboodle's Blendtec reviews!
Make sure you also check out all the giveaways in Kate n' Kaboodle's Funtastic Summer Event!
Blendtec Online Blendtec Facebook Blendtec Twitter Blendtec Pinterest
Buy It
The Blendtec Designer Series Wildside Blender can be purchased on the Blendtec site for $499.95.
Win It
One very lucky reader is going to win the Blendtec Designer Series Wildside Blender, a $500 value!
Open to U.S only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Favorite Eco-friendly Thing: #BlogChallenge Day 24

My favorite eco-friendly choice is to buy what I can in bulk and store it in glass jars. It is thrifty, reduces packaging waste, and is just plain pretty! I found someone on Cragslist who was selling 2 huge boxes of jars for $20

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Dumbarton Oaks, One of My Faforite Gardens: #BlogChallenge Day 23

Some of my favorite blog posts of the past are from my trip to Dumbarton Oaks Garden in Washington D.C. They were so beautiful to visit and inspiring to photograph! This is my favorite:

Dumbarton Oaks Part 3: From Formal, to Fanciful, to Gardening Pebbles


Here are the others:

Dumbarton Oaks part 1

Dumbarton Oaks part 2

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday Flowers: June 22, 2012

Short on words, long on flowers.

Clematis 'Jackmanii' and Digitalis ambigua

Oak-leaf Hydrangea 'Sikes Dwarf'

Oak-leaf Hydrangea 'Sikes Dwarf'

I haven't killed the container flowers yet!

Primary colors: Salvia 'Caradonna', Sedum 'Oracle', Gaillardia 'Burgundy'

Monochromatic: Geranium 'Rozanne' and Lavendar
Linked up at Fertilizer Friday

Childhood Aspirations: #BlogChallenge Day 22

As a child, what dis you want to be when you grew up?

Initially I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher, but that didn't last much past kindergarten. When we did mash-ups as tweens I think the three most commonly picked professions among my friends and I were
  1.  Homemaker
  2. Photo Journalist
  3. Interior Designer
Interior designer is such a laugh for me since I've always had a horrible time making any type of decorating decision, and I find so many styles appealing that I have no style of my own. I don't know why we always picked interior designer--too many episodes of Designing Women, I guess!

Hey, I also wanted to let you know that there is an awesome yarn giveaway going on at Not Your Average Crochet! Its open until 6/26/12.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Words of Wisdom: #BlogChallenge Day 21

I saw this on the white board at my pediatrician's office:

Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

Well, I'm sure now I will hear about people putting tomatoes in a fruit salad! What I like about the saying is the simple illustration of wisdom--simple enough that I remembered it!

Win One Gallon of Coconut Oil! #SummerCelebration

Summer Celebration
Welcome to the Summer Celebration Giveaway Hop, hosted by Happy Mothering and Organic Mama through the Green Moms Network! As part of this fabulous event, a group of bloggers is each is offering an eco-friendly giveaway worth $25 or more on their blogs! After you finish entering my giveaway, be sure to visit the other participating blogs, which are listed below the Rafflecopter form. Good luck everyone!

The latest thing I've been doing with coconut oil is grilling! I oiled the foil on which I grilled some fish tonight and yesterday I grilled up sweet onions to go with our burgers. Just brush slices with coconut oil, and season with salt and pepper. Grill on skewers, in a grill basket, or on foil to keep them from falling through. Absolutely delicious!

I like them more well done, so I should have put them on 5 minutes before the burgers.
Now for the giveaway!
Gold Label Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
Win 1 gallon of  Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil!
Tropical Traditions is America's source for coconut oil. Their Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil is hand crafted in small batches by family producers, and it is the highest quality coconut oil they offer. You can read more about how virgin coconut oil is different from other coconut oils on their website: What is Virgin Coconut Oil? You can also watch the video they produced about Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil:
Tropical Traditions also carries other varieties of affordable high quality coconut oil. Visit their website to check on current sales, to learn about the many uses of coconut oil, and to read about all the  advantages of buying coconut oil online. Since the FDA does not want us to discuss the health benefits of coconut oil on a page where it is being sold or given away, here is the best website to read about the health benefits of coconut oil.

The giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents 18 and over. There is one mandatory entry and all the rest are optional. Have fun and happy hopping!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I am proud of...Sweeping: #BlogChallenge Day 19

Before our son was born, my husband swept the house once a week. I love that man! Now, with a toddler, a cat, a dog, and babysitting, it needs more attention than that. A lot more. I struggle with housecleaning. I am working on growing the desire want  a clean house, rather than just ignoring dirt because I don't want to clean. For the past week I have swept the kitchen and dining room at least every other day! I'm quite proud of myself :-)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Garlic Lover's Roasted Chicken Breasts: #BlogChallenge Day 18

Sometimes I try to do my weekly shopping trip "early" (9am) in the morning so that I can find meat that is price-reduced for a quick sale. I recently scored a club pack of split chicken breasts for $0.99 per pound. I often cook and shred chicken to put in the freezer so that I can save time cooking dinner. But chicken be so blah and I rarely get excited over chicken. I decided to up the flavor of my roasted shredded chicken with garlic and lemon. I couldn't keep this chicken out of my mouth! And it goes perfectly in any dish I add it to. I think it would also be great for a pot-luck batch of chicken salad or bbq chicken sandwiches. Love it!
Garlic Lover's Roasted Chicken for Freezing
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
  • 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4-5 lbs. split chicken breasts, skin removed
Preheat oven to 350F. Mix the first 5 ingredients together in a small bowl.

Place chicken on a baking pan with meat side up. Pour mixture over the chicken and rub it around, if you feel like it.
 Bake for 1 hour or until juices run clear when you poke it with a knife.
Let sit until cool and remove chicken from bones, storing in freezer bags or containers of your choice.

Makes 8 cups shredded chicken

Linked at these yummy sites:
Kelly's Passion for Nutrition

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Renting Textbooks Makes Life Easier

Recalling my cash-strapped college days, I have some very clear and bitter memories involving textbooks. The worst scenarios, in my opinion:
  • At least one of your classes, maybe organic chemistry, decides to upgrade to the newest edition of the textbook. Consequently, there is no way to buy a used copy = $$$$.
  • You stand in line at the bookstore for hours only to get $12 for a book you paid $70 for. Or to find out that next year they will be using a new edition. Argh!
These memories are why I am impressed with
Some of the aspects that appeal to me:
  • You can save 40-90% off bookstore prices.
  • They have flexible rental periods and a 30 guarantee to get your money back if you drop the class.
  • You can highlight in the books!
  • No membership fee.
  • Free shipping both ways.
  • No need to box up the books--they provide pre-paid envelopes.
  • The option to buy the books if you want to keep them. This seems like a good idea for homeschooling families who want to try out a curriculum. Just for kicks I looked for my highschool math, Saxon, and they have it! 
On top of all that, CampusBookRentals gives a portion of their proceeds to Operation Smile, an organization that provides life-changing operations to repair cleft palates in children whose families cannot afford it. What a great way to give back! 

This is a service that definitely could have made life easier for me and I would recommend that those looking for textbooks should check it out. 

This a sponsored post for which I received some form of compensation. All opinions are my own and I only recommend that which I would personally use or think would be beneficial to my readers.

Am I a Couch Potato? [#BlogChallenge] Day 16

Uh, yes, I really am. I grew up loving to read and hating the sun. I love staying at home and doing "nothing". Reading, cruising the internet, watching sports--I am very good at sitting still. That's one reason I was surprised by falling in love with flower gardening. Its active and it takes place outside! But it is just so fulfilling.

This week, Caleb had roseola. He had a fever of 102 for 4 days and just cried and slept the whole time. I did very little as I tried to mother him through this most miserable time so far in his little life. He feels better, thank God! Now I have to wrench my lazy brain out of the do-nothing rut its is in. So I forced myself outside into the garden for a few hours--and I feel so much better. I like to spend three or four hours gardening in a week. We also take some short walks a few time a week. Short because our old Great Dane starts to drag after just a little ways.

I'm looking forward to the two vacations that we are taking this summer, since they will involve a lot of outdoor activities. Its good to put ourselves in the position to be active. I really do enjoy it! As long as there is shade :-)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday Flowers: Late Spring

Clematis 'Jackmanii' and Digitalis ambigua


Thalictrum glaucum or Dusky Meadow Rue

Hydrangea 'White Dome'

Astilbe 'Peaches and Cream'

Surprise! A friend in the compost pile.

A Humble Photo of a Proud Knitting Accomplishment [#BlogChallenge Day 15]

Today's prompt is: Post a photo I've taken that I'm proud of.

Goodness, isn't that what I do all the time? I am unjustifiable proud of my photography since its my camera (point and shoot, no less) that's doing all the work. I highly recommend the Canon Powershot A590IS (there are newer models out). Moving children are not its forte, but its great for still life!

So I'll change things up a bit--no flowers! I'm proud of this humble picture because this is the bootie that taught me how to knit. I knew Caleb needed something to keep his feet warm and I thought this pattern was so cute. It was way beyond me though, so I watched youtube and videos over and over again. I pursued this project obsessively and ended up with two slightly-imperfect but workable booties that I was very proud of.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Afraid of Giving Advice: BlogChallenge Day 14

I have always been afraid of giving advice, as well as of making decisions or taking the lead, because I don't want to be the one responsible for the results! Also, I hate to disagree with people, so its easier to keep quiet and not risk stepping on toes. I have been trying to change this mindset, though. I realize that I do have wisdom sometimes and its good to share it. The results are not in my control and that's ok. So here are 15 things I have learned from experience that will help you in life.

  1. That voice you hear that says "you suck" is a lie. Everyone hears it and you are not alone.
  2. Accepting God's love changes everything.
  3. Most people are struggling with their own insecurities while you're worrying about yours.
  4. Giving in to fits of anger only leads to more. If I punch the wall, I am not satisfied and am more likely to throw something.
  5. Cursing only makes me angrier.
  6. Prayer, gratitude, and words of blessing help diffuse my anger.
  7. Praying for people on the roads has helped me overcome my fear of semi-trucks and my quick temper (anyone see a theme? :-)
  8. Depression is a sucking black hole that feeds on itself. When you see the first signs, fight it! Identify lying thoughts and face them with the Truth.
  9. If your the forgetful type like me, write things down, set an alarm, and ask someone to remind you (I so need to work on this one).
  10. Don't be shy, you have something to give.
  11. Judgmental people are wrong, but we are not their judges either.
  12. Seasons of the year and of life will pass. Find what you can to enjoy and treasure in each of them
  13. Children are a blessing from the Lord. Not an easy blessing, but not a curse.
  14. Get enough sleep whenever possible--you'll feel better
  15. Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Me of the Future: #BlogChallenge Day 13

Where do I see myself at the end of the year? A few thoughts:
  • Mothering an almost 2-year-old
  • Praying, asking friends and searching the internet on how to mother a two year old
  • Knitting up a storm
  • Hopefully still blogging
  • Eating things I preserved this summer
  • Loving, trusting, and serving more
 I planted Blanket flowers (Gaillardia 'Burgundy') in my front garden, but I was excited to see them growing wild in the sand in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Consequently, I added a lot of sand when I planted my gaillardia.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Nordic Naturals Review

Do you eat 7 ounces of fish a week? I rarely do. That’s the amount recommended by the American Heart Association in order to receive enough essential Omega 3 fatty acid. I have seen many advertisements for Nordic Naturals fish oil and omega-3 supplements in several organic and green living magazines. The ads always appealed to me because they declared that their fish oil had no fishy taste. Tasting fish for hours after taking the generic brand is unpleasant and discourages me from taking them regularly. I recently learned more about Nordic Naturals.

Nordic Naturals was founded by Joar Opheim, a Norwegian who came to California in the 1980’s to finish his MBA. He couldn’t find the high quality fish oil that he used at home so he would bring suitcases full of Norwegian fish oil with him. “Driven by his Norwegian heritage, knowledge of fish oil, and love of science, Joar was inspired to contribute to advancing fish oil quality and industry standards.” Some of what they have achieved in their products:
  • Exceptional Freshness
    Protection from fishy smell, taste, and harmful free radicals
    Freshness, which ensures product integrity and biological efficacy, may be the single most important quality of fish oils. Nordic Naturals' patented, oxygen-free manufacturing process maintains the freshness of fish oil used in our products, with peroxide values (indicators of freshness) well below the European Pharmacopoeia Standard limits. The lower the peroxide value, the fresher the fish oil. 
  • Award-winning Purity Levels Protection from harmful environmental toxins Every batch of oil used in Nordic Naturals' products is third-party tested for environmental toxins including heavy metals, dioxins, and PCBs, ensuring that every product exceeds international pharmaceutical standards and is at least 750 times purer than fish. Nordic Naturals was ranked #1 out of the top 10 fish oil brands in Norway for freshness, purity, and highest concentration. 
  • Great Taste
    Unsurpassed freshness equals great-tasting fish oil
    The key objections to taking fish oils are taste and aftertaste. Nordic Naturals utilizes proprietary enzymatic and oxygen-free processing technologies to ensure a completely burp free product. Our patented encapsulation process also adds natural fruit essences into both the soft gel and liquid oil for a light, fruity taste.  Excerpted from Why Nordic Naturals

I was really impressed with the taste of the Algae Omega—a light, clean lemon flavor. Not a single fishy burp! It is also about to be certified as vegan.

Another exceptional quality of Nordic Naturals is their commitment to environmental and social responsibility. They strictly use sustainable fishing practices and they give back to communities all over the world, including in Norway and the U.S. It feels good to support such a company.

You can find Nordic Naturals in stores or at their website. I was psyched to learn that my local natural foods store, Green Hut LLC, will be carrying Nordic Naturals products!

I received a free product in exchange for a review of Nordic Naturals. All opinions are my own.