Postpartum Pampering & Bright Planet Review/Giveaway

Disclosure: I received free samples for review from Bright Planet, but all thoughts opinions shared herein are mine…all miiiiine! Also, I only review products that meet my standards for environmental/social responsibility and are relevant to Meg Acts Out.

Ever since Harper arrived 7 (!) weeks ago and Hadley is still, well, a typical 3-year-old, I’ve been tossed back into the world of “what day is this and when was my last shower?!”

At a stage such as this, it’s all too easy to forget that I’m still part of the human race – a human living in sweats with semi-permanent eye bags, but a human, nevertheless. In order  to remind myself of this simple fact from time to time, I force feed myself some simple versions of pampering with what limited time I can steal.

So, what are my postpartum pampering go-tos to feel like myself again?

1) Time to bathe *like an adult*. I don’t mean the 5 minute shower where you spend so much time pulling the shower curtain aside to check on the baby in her vibratey (totally a word) chair that you forget whether you washed your hair. I mean the “lose track of time, select pretty-smelling products (conditioner, yay!) and remember to shave” type of bathroom experience.

2) Getting out in the fresh air. Much like a golden retriever enjoys the occasional car ride, so do I love getting out these days. Mind you, I don’t want to do it daily; the effort to get everybody cleaned, clothed, and packed up isn’t a treat at all. But, whether it’s going for a ride, taking Hadley for a walk, heading to a family member’s house to hang out, or actually attempting a fun family outing, the fresh air does a body (and mind) good.

3) Drinking something that’s actually hot. I haven’t been remembering to drink as much water as a lactating woman should drink, but I’ve been making up for it with tea. I find myself turning the tea kettle on throughout the day now (which isn’t the norm) just to refill my mug of green tea again. Some days even go by where I don’t have to microwave it. That, my friends, is the sign of a good day.

I know these things seem incredibly mundane and simple. Maybe they are. But, on those days when you find yourself happily singing Daniel Tiger songs all day or not so happily run ragged, they’re a godsend.

So, when Bright Planet contacted me to see if I’d like to try a few sample sizes of their bath and body products, I literally teared up a bit. “Spa experience, table for one!” As an environmentally conscientious company, Bright Planet offers hair and skin care products that you can feel at ease using.

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Group shot on stones crop

Overall, I was more than pleasantly surprised by the quality of all of the products. I can totally get behind Bright Planet’s 100% natural ingredients, which are paraben-free, phthalate-free, sulfate-free, petro chemical-free with no artificial fragrances or colors. Plus, the products are 100% vegan and made in the USA.

When you try out eco-friendly products, there’s a preconceived expectation that they’ll smell like…well…patchouli. If you catch my drift. But, the first thing I noticed was how calming and delicious-smelling all four items I tried were. If the scent’s right, it can be a downright spa-like experience, and these definitely were.

Here are some brief thoughts on each item:

Inspiration Sour Cherry Scrub – A gentle but effective scrub that utilizes walnut shells (rather than those now-illegal microbeads), I tried this out on my elbows, feet – any place that was looking a little rough, if you know what I mean. Not only did it work great, but the scent was absolutely wonderful. Like, “Calgon, take me away” but without being, y’know, chemical-laden Calgon. 😉 I felt totally pampered.

Orange Blossom Green Tea Facial Cleanser – Let me tell you…this was my favorite. It was mild yet effective, didn’t leave my face feeling dry OR greasy (how do they find the perfect middle ground??), and, as with all of their products, the scent was perfect. Not cloyingly sticky-sweet, definitely not “hippie.” Seriously, just right.

Inspiration Conditioner and Inspiration Shampoo – It could’ve been my “no poo” attempt awhile back or simply the changing of my hair’s pH after having kids, but my hair is like straw. Like, Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz could relate. I ALWAYS need to use a conditioner now (I wish coconut oil worked) or else my hair simply won’t detangle. So, I was apprehensive about these ones. Not all natural products work in my mess of a nest. But, they far exceeded my expectations. Plus, again, the SCENT was absolutely lovely.

In addition to the fact that Bright Planet makes legitimately incredible products, I love their social conscience. Take their latest initiative, for example. From now until the end of January, they’re partnering with KUTOA, a company dedicated to feeding children in need. With every purchase made using the campaign code HELPKIDS, they will give TWICE (once to an American child and once to a child overseas) to the KUTOA cause.

If you’re interested in trying out any of the Bright Planet products, now’s the time to do it, knowing that in doing so you can help fight malnutrition and childhood mortality worldwide.

And you can also get a chance to try a sample kit of the items I received by entering the giveaway Bright Planet has generously agreed to sponsor. Just click on the graphic below in order to head to my Meg Acts Out Facebook page and follow instructions to enter. Be sure to share how you like to pamper yourself (postpartum or not).
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Cleaning Your Washing Machine

Donna Reed, I am not.

Apparently.

I’m one of those “I’ll do laundry today” people who starts a load, gets distracted by life, then gets back to it a couple of days later. Please tell me I’m not alone.

So, I assumed it was my own laziness that led to THE STANK. You know THE STANK. It’s not necessarily a mold/mildew smell, but it’s that scent that, should you happen to finish the load without rewashing (SUCH a waste of energy and water, my Lord) and actually wear the clothing, your nose is perma-wrinkled all day. It’s a lingering smell that is downright distracting. THE STANK.

Then, I stumbled upon a little tip about washing one’s washing machine, particularly if it’s an HE. At first, I thought it was a total Danny Tanner move, like cleaning his rubber gloves or vacuuming the vacuum (which I’ve actually done…doesn’t work great). But, then I thought to myself, “Huh. Maybe this would help with THE STANK.” See, even after an overnight, THE STANK was seeping in quicker and quicker and getting to be a terrible nuisance.

So, I tried the tip and it worked. Here I am to pass along the wealth.

As with most of my natural cleaning favorites, this tip comes courtesy Clean Mama. Seriously, what doesn’t she know how to clean? Her post has great advice depending on the type of washing machine you have, and suggests either chlorine-free bleach or white vinegar. I’m working with a HE top-loader and, of course, used white vinegar.

Yup. Just that easy. And it has worked phenomenally! No more wasting precious resources (water and, of course, the soap!) to re-wash stinky clothes. You can do this monthly or as needed.

Bam!


Oh, and stop by last week’s post to weigh in about, well, this here blog. Please and thanks!

Today’s Tip – First Edition!

I’m starting a new series that I’m lamely calling “Today’s Tip.” I’m hoping to share little tips and tricks (or “life hacks” as the kids these days are saying) to make your life just a wee bit simpler. The topics will range from parenting to cleaning to green living to just general time savers…and anything else that pops into my brain.

“Today’s Tip” is a super simple way to cut back on waste that’ll save you time, money, and one by one, the EARTH!!!

{dramatic pause}

No, really. If you’re not already doing this, it’s completely worth the tiny amount of time and effort to get on it.

I know, I know. This tip has been around forever. Yet, I know a ton of people who still buy over-priced bottles of water at work or go through the {oomph} effort it takes to lug the &$#%@*$ case of water home from the store. Switching plastic for reusable and filling it with filtered water at home is by far one of the easiest switches we’ve make, and has made a huge impact on the sheer number of water bottle waste we produce.

I also have seen several news sources cite that there’s a possibility of increased cancer risk (particularly for females) caused by drinking water from a plastic bottle that has, say, sat in a hot car (due to the leaching of chemicals into the water). I know that there was a time that I did this — regularly. I’d rather not take my chances if making such a simple change can possibly help.

Now, we happen to live in a state that now charges a 5-cent fee per bottle (meaning that you can redeem it when you bring back your bottles and cans). But, between the effort of taking back ALL those bottles and cans, and the energy used to recycle that bottle into another (and, by the way, that’s not a never-ending process; one day, the plastic will no longer be able to be melted into another item…and where do you think it goes then?), it’s still a drain on our time, energy, and environmental resources. And, really, we used to have to bring bottles back at least monthly. Now, it’s a couple of times a year (more in the summertime…ahem, beer and hard cider).

The bottle that we happen to use is the Ello flip-top glass bottle (mine is in turquoise; Dave’s is in gray). We love the glass since it’s completely free of chemicals or leaching, and the silicone provides an extra layer of protection from breakage. Dave bought me a gorgeous glass one awhile back with a wood top and beautiful design, but a student knocked it on our *cushioned* library floor and, oye, what a mess. Still can’t believe that tempered glass broke. 

And one open-and-honest caveat: With our particular model, we have to keep an eye on the latch and ensure that the top is properly screwed-on. Totally user error stuff, but I’ve had the entire contents of my purse completely submerged (a couple of times). So, yeah. Keep that in mind! 

You don’t have to get this kind, though. Klean Kanteen provides durable aluminum options that are pretty cool, too. Just be sure that whatever you purchase is at least BPA-free and suits your needs. Some people like buying a larger option to ensure that they’ll get the recommended amount of water for the day; others want a smaller, more portable option. It totally doesn’t matter. Whatever you get, just be sure that it meets all of your own criteria.

And, remember that the price is a one-time thing vs. a continual cost that adds up over time. We grabbed our bottles at Target, but they were around the $15 mark. It sounds like a lot, but if you estimate a bottle of water is $1 (in our work vending machine it’s actually $1.50, but it’s far less if you buy in bulk, so let’s take the average), you’ll be paying it off in about two weeks’ time. I kid you not, though: I love having more than one on-hand to bring along (kept in a cooler…or not, doesn’t matter) when we hit the road. It’s worth its weight in gold since I’m far less likely to grab a beverage along the way.

So, raise your hand if you already have/use your own reusable bottles! What kind do you like? Do you use them for hitting up the gym (not I, says the pig) or for daily use?

The above post may contain affiliate links. This just means that, if you happen to buy the item (or anything else from Amazon purchased after clicking that link), you’ll be supporting this blog. Win-win! You’re under no obligation to buy anything.

A Star for the Tree

It’s the height in hilarity at our house that the second Hadley saw our finally upright tree after his nap (after shouting “Christmas tree!!! Goody, goody!!!”), he insisted that it needed a star on top.

Huh. Yeah. We didn’t have one.

As kids, we had our own hilarious time making fun of our omni-drunk angel tree topper (um, she was always crooked, no matter what we did or shoved up her dress to straighten her out). I guess we weren’t a star family back then, and I didn’t think I was part of a star family now.

It’s even more ironic since we’re a pretty non-religious group. We feel that we’re spiritual and insightful, but don’t relate to one specific religion. We’re all baptized Catholics, and at times (usually around Christmas), I feel the pull of mass, but all-in-all, we’d like to educate our son about morality more than doctrine. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

So, there he was, sweetly demanding a star topper, then again later that night, then again in the morning. After seeing some crappy store versions, I turned to Pinterest (clearly my real religion…that’s a joke, guys) to see if I could figure something out.

During my star search, I also heard a sweet story about my grandmother, who would annually cut out a star out of cardboard that came from my grandfather’s starched shirts, cover it in tin foil, and cut a hole in it. She’d stick it on top, pull a light up through the hole to let it “shine” and call it a day. Classic, sensible and creative. Apparently, everything my grandmother was.

So, I got to work. I cut a cereal box up to expose the two large sides. After printing off a star shape, I traced it onto each box and cut them out. Then, I creased inside each point for some dimension and glued each side together. (Before it was fully dry, I trimmed it further and pressed it together again.) Finally, I glued an empty toilet paper tube to the back.

You could paint the star, cover it in glue and glitter, or put foil on it. I decided to keep it natural this time. I’m not sure if the best part is the fact that it was totally free, that it appeased the little guy’s craving for a star, or that it was a pretty old-school way to handle the issue. And not to mention eco-friendly up the wazoo!

Oh, and while I’m at it, I thought I’d share another tree that has taken up residence at our house. It’ll probably be up until Valentine’s Day, with how long it took me to finally toss it up.

I just cut out a tree shape from a large piece of green felt, then a textured piece for the trunk and a “skirt” from red. Then, I cut out random shapes, including a little snowman and present, and of course a star for the top. I used Command strips (the poster kinds) on the back and the “ornaments” and such attach without any adhesive (one of the best parts of felt). I’ve also made a felt board for pretend play as a Christmas gift, a “piece of pie” to add to his collection of fake food, and may make another piece if I find the time before Christmas eve.

Felt = the perfect toddler plaything!

So, what type of tree topper do you use in your family? We’ve used bows in the past, and even a scarf last year (I’d LOVE to find an old antique top hat with holly berries!), but we’re always willing to change if the little guy dictates a better idea.
 

One-Ingredient Bathtub Fix

For as long as I can remember, I couldn’t find a product to clean all the years of built-up grime from our tub. I scrubbed as much as I could, so I resigned myself to pretend that it was clean enough for us. Y’know. The surface grime was “clean” so the guilt wouldn’t overtake me when I threw my 2-year-old in. *gulp* Seeing that written, I feel guiltier and guiltier about that.

Well, since my plumber-extraordinaire stepfather’s coming up with ways for us to deal with the horrible bathtub walls, I figured I should make another attempt at scrubbing it. He had suggested a highly toxic solution we’ve all heard of and a razor blade. Seriously. I’m nothing if not lazy, so I wanted to try something else first.

And it totally worked!

Yup, that’s all it took. After wetting the tub, I dumped in the baking soda. (Note that mine’s a generic brand. Use the cheapest you can find.) Be sure you toss it everywhere — sides, especially. You don’t need a HUGE amount, but be sure it’s thick, especially where any grime is particularly caked.

Allow it to sit. Since I was busy chasing a little one around, I let it sit for about 1-2 hours, but less may work, too.

Then, I got a green scrubby (technical term — you know the kind, not TOO rough, but enough friction to work) wet and added a little more water as I scrubbed. Most of it got loosened on its own, but the rough spots needed some good scrubbing. This took about 15 minutes, tops, for a HORRIBLE tub. Sorry I didn’t have a “before”, but I guarantee it’s as clean as it could possibly be. LIKE NEW.

I was worried I’d have to break out the white vinegar, too, but it wasn’t necessary. If you find that you’ve scrubbed (or don’t feel like scrubbing THAT much), do a wipe-down and rinse again, and throw some more on for another hour or so.

Just know that if you leave it too long, it’ll cake on and might be tough to scrape off. All you need is a little water to loosen up the situation and scrub your cares away.

And, now it’s time for the hubs and my stepdad to attack the walls. 😉 I have a feeling I had an easier job.

Do you have any cleaning projects that you’ve been putting off *gulp* years to finally tackle? I can’t be the only one…can I?

Green Guy

Hey, guys. Today’s post was inspired by my super sweet brother-in-law, Dan, who asked me my opinion on some green brands and products he was considering. Of course, I immediately thought, “Oh, cool! Maybe someone in blogland could use my thoughts, too.” So, here we are!

I’m not an expert at any of this stuff. I’m clearly not a dude. (Um. Hopefully you knew that.) But, after reading reviews and doing some research, I’m pretty confident that these are some kickass products. Of course, it should be stated that not all products work the exact same way for everybody. Like, our current shampoo works great for Dave and “eh” for me, but I still think my poo-free days changed my hair’s pH and I’ve lived with straw-like conditions ever since. But I digress.

Today’s post is all about the guys. And, because I’m me, it’s particularly about the eco-guys. You know who you are. The ones who are looking for ways to eliminate the earth-hurting crud from your daily grooming routine. Who still want to look good (and, ahem, smell yummy) without the tingling chemicals, drying foaming agents, and general nastiness that goes down the drain.

I’ve got your back. Since I’m unable to try these myself — do you really have to ask why? — I’ve decided to pick a couple of extra products (like two shampoos, etc). Check out the reviews for yourself and consider what will work for your needs. And, ladies, the next time you need a sweet little gift for your sweet, don’t do the Axe. Seriously. Just put down the Axe.


1 –  Maple Holistics Sage Shampoo (for Heavy Dandruff), 100% Natural and Sulfate-Free – I selected two shampoos because everyone’s head is different, and I thought it would be cool to give you guys some options. I know the bottle is purple and it may look a little feminine, but that’s actually because this is a shampoo that could work for both men and women. It’s so awesome that there are natural options out there for folks who have dry skin, dandruff, and dermatitis. (Are those all the same things? I don’t know. Maybe.) Oh, and it’s cool for color-treated hair. That’s pretty cool.
2 – Every Man Jack’s 2-in-1 Thickening Shampoo – Like I said, everyone’s head is different, and some guys are fighting an issue with thinning. I know how much thinning can affect a guy’s self esteem, so the fact that this phthalate-free option exists (and with a conditioning option) is awesome. Let’s just say that I may ask Santa to bring this to our house this year.
3 – Baxter of California Chrome-Plated Safety RazorThe Dorky Daddy loves his safety razor, although he admits that it does take a time or two to get used to a newer, short-fast strokes method. Seriously, this thing is awesome, and you’ll only need to buy the individual razor blades once in awhile. (Hint: If you dry off your razor well every time you use it, you’ll hardly need to buy new ones.) Plus, if you buy one package of blades, they’ll last FUH-RE-VER. Just try it. Oh, and this (along with a kit of the proper brush, a holder, and some soap in a cute bowl or mug) was his all-time favorite Christmas present. I kid you not.
4 – ManCave Natural Face Moisturizer – No parabens. No sulfates. No synthetic fragrances or dyes. No petrochemicals. No GMOs. No cruelty. No problem! Plus, it comes in super manly packaging. These companies are really catching on to what people want. Oh, and it helps firm your skin (thanks, caffeine), clear it up if you’ve got a bit of acne (thanks, borage oil), and has several anti-aging agents. Wonder if I could get away with using this…
5 – Kiss My Face Creamy Cleanser Clean for a Day – I wouldn’t usually support a face cleanser, mostly because everyone’s face is very much unique. As a teen, I had battles with moderate acne (wasn’t that bad, but it tore my self esteem to shreds enough to matter), so I know something that works for one person won’t work for another. However, the reviews were good enough for this one that I feel confident saying that maybe 8 out of 10 people will have success with this one. It’s great for sensitive skin, has a light citrus scent that could work for ladies or gents, and full of everything we like and has NOTHING we don’t like (vegan-friendly, not animal tested, etc etc)…yeah, I think I WILL be ordering this one myself.
6 – Moon Dance Soaps Refreshing Mint Lathering Shave Soap – This will work perfectly with #3 above! The reason I picked a mint soap is because it’s such a refreshing scent that leaves your skin feeling tight and gives you a morning aromatherapy session that will rival your cup o’ joe. I also hit up Etsy every year to put a different scent in the bottom of someone’s stocking. It’s always great to support a small business owner who supports the philosophies we live by. 
7 – Herban Cowboy Dusk Cologne – (How cute is that name?!) Here’s some more super sexy packaging containing an even better product. It’s another vegan product, produced completely in the US, and the Herban Cowboy series of products seem worth checking out. (Especially their deodorant, which people are saying “actually works for a truly stinky man.” Good to know.) ***Please make sure that you purchase the true brand of this since, apparently, there are knock-offs going around. Since this made the below list, which means a lot to me, I’m still supporting it, but some of the online reviews are warning against some sellers.***
8 – Burt’s Bees Cologne – If PETA thinks these colognes are great, I’ve gotta get behind that. We’re a Burt’s Bees family, so I decided to include this cologne because a) it’s a natural, animal-friendly option and b) it seems to be a completely different scent from #7. It is TOUGH to buy a cologne online, so I should mention that most reviewers love it, although there are one or two that find it a bit too…shall we say…hippie-ish. But, if your guy’s into that, awesome. That said, plenty of reviewers mention citrusy, Bergamot, Cyprus and Fir notes (which sounds pretty woodsy and manly to me).  

Do you have any earth-friendly products that you or your guy enjoy? Are you fans of a particular brand? Tell us all about it in the comments!

This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and buy something (even if it’s not on my list), you’ll make my day AND help us pay some bills. Seriously. So much appreciation.

Anti Clorox Wipes

In a house full of cats and an active toddler around, messes are inevitable. Namely, messes of the bodily function variety.

That’s right. Cat pee and potty training smears.

It happens. Daily. Gross, but it’s kind of a moot point when you’re in love with those little rascals.

So, when we recently ran out of my OCD-ish husband’s favorite clean-up tool, disposable Clorox wipes, I found myself hesitant to buy some more. I knew full well that it was contributing to an eco-hater status, which I cringed over every time we wiped a potty seat. Plus, the nasty chemical makeup of the wipes bummed me out.

Of course, I did what every mother does when faced with a dilemma: I took to Pinterest.

There actually wasn’t as much as I thought I’d find, but I really only needed to find one great pin. And I found an awesome resource for you guys at Live Renewed. You’ve got not one but TWO recipes for a natural disinfectant.

I decided to take her Castile soap (ahem, I hope you all know we mean Dr. Bronner’s when we say that, right?) and tea tree essential oil recipe and run with it, mainly because I had all the ingredients on hand.

Side note: My essential oil experience has been a fun experiment that’s working out quite well so far, and I still haven’t ordered my replacement lemon (and any new ones I’d like to try out, so any suggestions for new “flavors” would be welcome in the comments!), which is why I didn’t try the other recipe. I’m loving the quality and non-pressure system that Native American Nutritionals has in place compared to others.

Anyhoo, back to the wipes. Here’s how I put this shebang together:


 
For the reusable wipes, I just cut up a couple of (*cough* too small *cough) soft old T-shirts, which gave me…like…maybe 16-20 wipes per shirt, depending on how big you make your wipes. You can also use old cloth napkins (I cut up a few of those for the days I’m out of T-shirt rags) or your husband’s old boxers or whatever. Just check first. Let’s just say I’m waiting for mine to give up on a couple of crappy white tees to sacrifice for the cause. I’m not sure if color really matters or not; it’s not like I care whether they get stained since they’re rags, but I’ll be sure to update you if the color runs. (That said, if you have something white to cut up or use, um, choose that. Probably best.)


Here’s the stuff I mixed up. Per her recipe, I used about 10 drops of tea tree oil (which actually SMELLS like it’s disinfecting, I kid you not! Like Lysol, but natural!), two tablespoons of Dr. Bronner’s, and a cup of water. I ended up splashing a little more water in to moisten all the wipes, but I think it’s because I put the solution on the bottom of the container instead of pouring it over the top.

Doubt that this stuff works as well as Clorox? Behold…doesn’t this look all disinfecty? If that were a word, of course…

Right?? So, I put the solution at the bottom of my empty, de-labeled and washed Clorox container…

Sexy. Anyhoo, this is the point that I cut up my reusable wipes. I wadded them together, kind of in a roll, and pulled them up in the middle (I didn’t end up using the old white napkins on the outside since there wasn’t room in the tube)…



Don’t overthink it. Just shove it in and pull in the middle. It works. Okay, this is probably the point I should have poured the solution over everything, but I had already put it in the bottom hoping that it would seep upward. I’m sure it probably would have seeped just fine, but I’m an impatient mama and love to see results. So, I splashed a bit more water on the top and shook the thing. Here’s our final product:


Yup, I grabbed a marker and labeled it with a cheeky description. It also has the recipe in small lettering on the other side, just in case my husband feels like whipping some up next time, or in case my incredibly shoddy memory fails me. Again.

I’m keeping them where we kept our old wipes, under our bathroom sink. It’s where we dump Hadman’s potty and where they get used most frequently. This also happens to be where our laundry hamper lives, so it’s perfect. If I think it’s gross to toss these in with the laundry, I’ll grab our old wet bag from cloth diapering days and keep them in there ’til all the rags and linens need to be washed. No big deal.

Whatchya think? Would you try reusable wipes, or are you addicted to your current method of disinfecting? No judging here.

(By the way, there’s an affiliate link or two included in this post. Just a warning. It won’t blow up your computer, and if you purchase anything off of Amazon after clicking through my links, even if it’s not a product I listed, you’ll be helping to run this here little blog. Which is awesome of you and earns you a gold star for the day.)

Lemony Goodness

Apparently lemons are my thing lately. I’m hoping to make a lemon cake for Hadman’s birthday this weekend. But today’s not about recipes. It’s about essential oils.

I’ve had my starter kit for a couple of weeks now, and I’m discovering the awesomeness of each kind s-l-o-w-l-y. As a problem strikes, I turn to Google to see which oil will help me out. It’s been fun to learn about these all in a hands-on way. And it’s kinda funny to see how excited, amazed and clueless Dave is about these little viles of magic. I’ll never forget the first time he set eyes on them and said, “Aww! I’m so sorry they’re so small. Is there a bigger size to buy?” Sure, 15 mL is a small container, but for the most part you’re only using a few drops to maybe 10-20 in one use. So, they actually last quite well.

So, while I’ve been using lavender on my pillow (Dave says it’s the best sleep ever), an “arthritis” blend for my achy knees (I’m not old, really), tea tree on my feet when I feel like I’m coming down with a summer cold, and peppermint to chase away an upset stomach, I thought I’d share my current FAVORITE use for essential oils. By far the best.

See, while I’m not a laundry hater, and I stay on top of it pretty well, I have a tendency to get that smell goin’ on with it. You know the one. The I-forgot-the-load-and-left-it-in-too-long-on-a-humid-day musty smell that, if you wear the clothes, follows you all day.

I’m the queen of that smell, it seems. Am I the only one?

Well, the only EO that I’ve decided to relocate out of the handy carrying case is the lemon — next to the washer. It’s going to stay there until it’s empty…then I’m getting more to repeat the process!

There are two ways that I use the stuff. I’ve come to add it automatically (10 drops, give or take, depending on the size of the load) to the washing detergent before dumping it into the washing machine. If I don’t get to the clean-but-wet load in a day or so, I haven’t noticed that musty smell AT ALL.

Then, if the load has been in the dryer and is displaying any not-nice smell, I put about 10 drops on a washcloth (it can stain, so make sure it’s an old cloth or one you’re okay with staining; this hasn’t happened for me, but you never know), toss it in, and run it until everything’s dry (or run it for awhile to “fluff” the load). If it doesn’t take it away completely, repeat the process. It shouldn’t take more than two “fluffs” to rid the clothes of the smell.

The reason that the lemon EO is so ideal for laundry use is its disinfectant qualities. (It can also be used in other cleaning applications, too.) See? The stuff ain’t just for aromatherapy! I’ve found a couple of links (like this one – alternative to disinfectant hand gel?! – and this one) that give you far more information than I currently can on other incredible uses for this lemony goodness.

Does anyone have an EO uses that they can’t live without to share? I’d love to pick your brain!

By the way, I’m not a seller of any essential oils, so these opinions are just to help out anyone interested in the benefits of EOs, no strings attached. 🙂     

Digging In

So, the day that I shared this garden plan with you, I happened to be busy at work lugging picking up supplies, prepping the soil, and planting the darn thing. While I still have some more outdoor chores to tackle (*ahem*flowerbeds*ahem*), I’m ecstatic to have this checked off the list. After all, it can’t grow until it’s in the ground…or, in this case, the raised beds.

The drawing I showed you Monday, of course, got changed a little bit. As with all things, life seems subject to availability, doesn’t it? So, I grabbed 8 (9, although I didn’t end up using the last one; will keep it for next year) bags of organic dirt and some peat moss (as my mother calls it “poor man’s fertilizer” — although I always assumed that’d be manure), then headed out to get plants.

First, I ventured to a local joint, T&J’s, to see what they had. I got a handful of marigolds (wish I’d gotten a second tray, but whatevs) and two types of lettuce, then headed to Lowe’s. I would’ve hit up a couple of other local places, but I was on a time crunch and trying to avoid Memorial Day parades, so this was my last stop. This is where I had to hit the brakes on a couple of the veggies we were hoping for.

So, due to lack of supply, we cut out the peas (we were late planting those, anyway) and added a couple of squash plants and cucumbers (my husband’s new favorite water flavoring). I grabbed six bell pepper plants rather than, um, a ton (two red, two yellow, two green…like a stoplight) and juggled around the arrangements a bit. I also didn’t get any potatoes, but since those wouldn’t be ready until the fall I’m still considering them.

Here’s a pictorial play-by-play of how it all went down. (And feel free to use my example as a guide, but remember that I’m a trial and error type of gardener, so don’t blame me if something goes wrong!)If you already have raised beds, weed ’em. If not, build ’em. (This is the closest to how we did ours, although in hind sight we would have build them taller. Ya live, ya learn.) Yup, those are weeds, not veggies…

Then, rough up the bed and spread that dirt. We add a few bags every year to each bed; this year, we added FOUR bags each.

Oh, and that peat moss. Mix that in.

Sexy Band-Aid, lady.

 



Then, I like to take the plants out of their containers (unless they’re biodegradable) and place them where I may like them in the beds. This way, I can move them around and adjust accordingly BEFORE they’re in the ground. I also try to take into account what the packaging/tags say regarding distance from other plants and so forth.  


Then, dig your spot, plunk the plant in, and cover that business with dirt. I gently tamp it to ensure that any larger stalks are able to stand straight. It’s really pretty self-explanatory and simple.

Pretty cool, huh? So, in each of the four corners, I planted three different types of jalapenos. (Must say with inappropriate accent.) In the middles I planted four marigolds, but kind of wish I’d doubled up on both types of plants to evade cat and bug attacks.

Since the back bed is full sun (but still gets less of that super hot afternoon sunshine with a fence and tall bush/tree thingies behind it), I planted my romaine and “mixed” salad greens on the left, a cucumber in the middle, and two tomato plants (which will take over the planet if given the chance) on the right.

In the front, I planted the three types of sweet bell peppers on the left, some carrot seeds in the middle (hence lookin’ all empty), and the two squash plants on the right. And, in all honesty, I thought I was grabbing a squash and a zucchini, so this pissed me off royally.

I’ll be sure to provide some updates (weekly? Bi-weekly? Monthly? Does anyone caaaaare?? ;-)) to let you know a) how it’s growin’ (see what I did there?) and b) if the neighborhood cats win the battle. You know what I’m saying, right?

Right??

Oh, and it’s SO silly easy to plant plants that, of course, we made a video. I mean, how could you not?

Moderately Green

Am I the only 32-year-old who’s still trying to find her identity in a super awkward way? I hope that my son can see me as a fun, silly, intelligent, independent, take-no-guff sort of woman. He may be young enough still to naively see that, but I’m scared that he’s going to see me as the un-hot mess that I feel I truly portray on a daily basis…any day now.

Just puttin’ that out there. Am I alone? Maybe. And that’s okay.

To add to the un-hot messiness and my lack of real identity — I don’t identify as a librarian (although that’s technically what I am, in a school setting), I don’t identify as a 30-something most of the time (I’m still 12, right? Or am I 80?), I don’t identify with a million other things; I only truly identify as a wife and mother — I’m green. Er, well, I try to be green. I try as much as my oft-zapped energy will allow. And life sometimes gets in the way of that.
Thing is, seeing the levels of “green”-ness out there, it’s easy to deal with the dreaded green guilt. Actually, this happens in most areas of life these days — competition. It’s mostly a female thing, it gets greater and greater when you become a mom (WHY IS THAT?! As Arrested Development‘s Gob would say, “C’MON!!!”), and it can get overwhelming. Soccer moms. Urban moms. Christian moms. Heck, doggie moms.

“I did *such and such*.”

“Oh, yeah? Well, I did *a such and such deemed greater thing*.” {Thinks to self, “I’m the best.”}

It’s a thing, and it sucks.

It’s not always stated openly this way, but just seeing blogs and Pinteresty ideas and such things, it’s hard not to get dragged down that you’re not doing enough.

Like…for instance…I’ve failed at some of the things that a green mama might use to generally identify herself as a green mama. Our diapering situation never took a turn for the cloth. It just didn’t. I used them a bit, but it never stuck. (We have used eco-friendly dipes all through, but still, I’d have preferred cloth.) Next time around, we’ll do them, I swear. But it just didn’t happen this time.

Baby wearing never stuck, either. Or baby led weaning. Or co-sleeping. Or probably 30 other things that the cool kids are doing. They just didn’t work for us.

I try not to feel badly about it, and I’m really learning how to not feel “Less” anymore. This really is a HUGE thing for me in every aspect of life. I’ve had self esteem issues f-o-r-e-v-e-r, and saying “I’m sorry!” for everything has become the norm. So, I’m working on apologizing less, taking responsibility only for myself, and not letting the judgments make me feel — you got it — Less than anyone else. That’s capitalized for good reason, by the way.  

Which is why I love contributing to Green Child Magazine. It never feels like work. I’m able to learn about topics that are directly important to me, and can often write the pieces pretty quickly out of sheer excitement. Currently, it’s an unpaid gig, but that’s fine to me. I’m “meeting” (virtually…do we still use that term, virtual?) some incredibly genuine, dedicated, talented, kind women in the process, and what’s better than that? No, really. What’s better? Good people are hard to find.
I mean, what’s better than this article (written awhile back, but still one of my faves), which pretty much sums up the fact that NO ONE’S doing it perfectly. No one’s living the “greenest” life. Whatever we’re doing…it’s good enough, until we decide to do more. At least we’re doing SOMETHING.

So, I’m happy with the things I do. Which, come to think of it, are plenty.

I’ve chatted with y’all about green guilt before. A few times, actually. But, it’s always good to return, especially now that I’m a mama…and green mamas be some of the coolest (yet competitive) ladies on earth. I’m trying just to be “enough” in my own book, and the best I can be for my family and the future of the planet.

Now, off to research essential oils. 😉