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.

Garden Drawing

It was a casual Saturday afternoon while the baby slept and it rained depressingly cold outside. I was sick of the immobility of winter, the constant laziness, so I picked up a pad and pen and insisted, “What do you want to eat this summer?”

Pulling poor Dave from his own restful thoughts, he gave me a list. “Well, tomatoes. We don’t really eat cucumbers. Maybe peppers?” Before too long, I jotted down the items we’d be growing. On the top of the page, I drew two rectangles — the main event (raised garden beds) — and a few smaller circles — potted plants to be located at a later date. Maybe near our garage, maybe one our deck.

This is what we came up with…

Hard to look at a bit, I know. Sorry! The asterisks are for marigolds or oregano (funny, we don’t each much oregano)…or maybe thyme, which are all good for keeping pests at bay and adding nutrients for the other plants. Oh, and pretty. They’re pretty. The jalapenos are for eatin’ but also to keep pests (namely, the neighborhood kitties) away. The numbers of the other plants are up for debate, but they’re a good starting point. The bell peppers are so “plentiful” because I’m hoping to have a few kinds.

Oh, and I’m also thinking of putting up some sort of short fencing to keep things looking orderly (and, yes, keep pests at bay).  

Last year, we tried to grow all of our raised bed plants and herbs from seed with middling success. (We also had a couple of hand-me-down tomato plants that took over our front porch.) If I had the space/capability of starting my seeds indoor without risk of cat interference, I’d be all over it. But, a few years ago (we’re talking pre-Jasper), Winston took matters into his own hands…and we remain a “let’s just buy the plants” family. Maybe some day.

I think half the battle when gardening (whether your gardens are massive fields of food or a tiny container set-up) is admitting your boundaries. Don’t over-buy, but don’t underestimate how much you can grow in a small area. Bringing this sketch along will help me to remember approximately what will fit where. It’s all in the planning.

While sketching, I also brought up a chart similar to this one on my phone to determine what plants work well together. This way, I knew that carrots and tomatoes could be in the same bed without fighting each other off. I also took into consideration that the tomatoes like to take things over, and since they’re a high-growing plant I put them in the back so that the carrots will *hopefully* still get enough sun. I’m also going to try to be obsessive about caging them this year. Good stuff to think about.

So, as I write this, I’m anxious to get my hands dirty. In Upstate NY, it’s wise to wait until the end of May to plant anything (frost abound), and I’m jealous of folks I know who have already been out working. We’ve had some crazy arse weekends that have left us with minimal time and/or energy to get much done. I mean, dude, I haven’t even weeded yet. It’s jungle city over here.

I’ll keep you posted on our garden journeys (anyone ever hear that phrase before? Our local news station has a segment called “garden journeys” and I always wonder if that’s a “thing” or if they pulled it out of their you-know-whats), and do tell — what are you growing this year? Anything?  

Summer Plans

Howdy! Now that the snow has sufficiently melted and we’re experiencing an honest-to-goodness springtime, I feel it’s safe to let my mind wander to the wonder that is S-U-M-M-E-R! Last year, I laid out a whole plan of what I hoped to accomplish and a few little “first timer” milestones I hoped to have fun with Hadley with. This year is really no different, although a lot of the stuff we’ll do isn’t a milestone; just “for fun.”

The biggest difference this year is Hadley. He’s so different, guys, it’s crazy. Last year, he was afraid of grass, wasn’t walking (hardly mobile at all, comparatively speaking), and couldn’t communicate. This year, he’s got a couple dozen (probably more) words and several gestures he uses to get his point across, walks/runs/trips/falls down/gets up/runs again, and enjoys dirt and grass and picking flowers (ie picking the heads of flowers off) and generally discovering the world around him with zeal. It’s exhaustingly fun.

So, you’ll notice some repeats from last year’s list. However, I think the actual experiences will be insanely different — for us AND for Hadman. Should be fun!

A touch more streamlined than last year, but still with a bit of an explanation (I’ll try to keep it concise):

1. We’ve all (adults, that is) got a lil’ family winter pudge going on. I need to be less vampirey/anti-social. Hadley loves bugs and dogs and dirt and saying “hi!!!” to big kids and attempting to run into the road. All ideal reasons to walk. A hike or two would be awesome, too.

2. T-2 1/2 months and counting until the monkey turns 2 years old (sniff, sniff). It looks like we’ve landed on a theme, which I’ll share soon. Our ultimate goal is to keep it low-key yet fun (I can’t NOT decorate, and I can’t NOT have a theme…it’s just not me. And he’s just too darn special.) It’s important for me to remember that we’ll have varied ages, and only a couple of little ones, so it’s not like we need much entertainment or giveaways or games. If you’re interested in seeing what I’m thinking, check out my Pinterest board for what I’m thinking. (Some are from last year, too. Speaking of which, here’s a link to how last year’s turned out!)

3. We went last year, and it was a blast. This year, Hadley recognizes animals, can point them out, makes tons of cool noises, and is generally a funner version of Hadley 1.0, so unless a crazy meltdown occurs, this should be awesomesauce.

4. Vague, no? We’re nailing it down, but Mama gets the itch to move every now and again. This could be one place far away. It could be several close-to-home trips. Who knows?

5. I’ve started bringing home some books for Hadley from my school library lately, but I thought it’d be fun to see if there are some family-related library events at our local book haven. If not, it’s cool. I’d just like to get there with him more often so he realizes there’s more than the overstuffed bookshelf in his bedroom. Plus, Mama can do a little more reading, too.

6. The sooner, the better! Maybe two!!

7. To simplify things, we’re not growing from seed this year. I’ve already made a garden plan, so at least I know what we need to go and buy. The Easter Bunny DID get the munchkin a little kit to grow one’s own basil plant, along with a cool little metal watering can and a mini trowel and cultivator, so he’ll hopefully be digging around, too. Yay, wormies! Oh, and I live in upstate NY, so it’s not really advisable to plant much pre-Memorial Day.

8. I’m not making any grandiose “I’m going to finish this monstrous project!!!” statements. Instead, I’m going to take a few of Hadley’s naptimes a week to get outside (or in the basement) to work on some organizing…and cleaning…and maybe painting…and stuff. My grandpa was a putterer, so it’s important to me to try to connect with that and have a hand in the care of the house.

9. Grilling, yes. Setting up and USING the outside table to eat, yes. Getting away from the TV set (regardless of how awesome Dick Van Dyke reruns may be), yes. I’m also hoping that our gate will fit at the top of our deck, so munchkin can eat up there with us and it’ll be a low-stress environment for all involved. Oh, and I’d also love to have a picnic. With pickles. ‘Cuz monkey loves a good pickle.

10. Don’t care where, this just must happen. We may have a picnicking day at a state park with my sis and her little one, so that may be our chance.

11. Last year, I mentioned writing a children’s book. I’ve got the ideas behind several simmering (and even outlined), but getting any of it on paper has remained elusive. This summer, I hope to change that. All I need is the focus…um, and an incredible artist to illustrate it. (I’m also mulling over chapter book. Loves me a good historical fiction.)

What’re you looking forward to most about summertime, summertime, sum sum summertime, summertime? Am I jumping the gun thinking about summer when it’s not even June yet? I think this school year has blown by so quickly (and Hadley has grown so much, so fast) that I’d rather take all the time that we can to hold on!

Embracing Self Care – Health & Spirituality

Last week, I did a self-analysis for the blog project hosted by The Humbled Homemaker called…

http://thehumbledhomemaker.com/2014/03/embracing-self-care-community-blogging-project.html

Is it weird that I feel a touch of guilt to turn the focus on myself vs. taking care of everyone else? Ack. That’s what this whole thing is about, though; recognizing that it’s imperative to take care of OURSELVES in order to properly care for our families and loved ones.

Anyhoo, back to the task at hand. One of the issues that I mentioned last week is that, thanks to the crazy scheduled, toddler-centric, over-tired aspects of our life, we seem to be out of touch with our spirituality.

*record scratch*

Okay. This would probably be a good time to state publicly: We’re part of that growing percentage of folks who don’t really identify with a religion. Read: We’re non-religious. Not atheist. Not nontheist, even. Just…don’t identify. I like to say that we’re both recovering Catholics, and I think Dave is a mix of atheist with a good dose of Buddhist. And I’m essentially “undecided” on the checklist.

It feels terribly taboo to even make such an announcement, but since this week is all about spirituality, it seemed a good time to mention it. See, I’m not sure the last time I read a blog from someone who wasn’t a known Christian. Not kidding. Most of the homestead-y blogs I follow are run by uber Christians. Even a lot of the shelter blogs I enjoy are run by super religious folks.

And I enjoy them, even when I think to myself, “Huh. I’m a tad uncomfortable that I’m not ‘part of the club.'” Read: I never write about religion because I don’t want to alienate anyone… So hopefully no one’s offended by our current religious decisions. It’s where we are, and I’d rather be honest than mute.

I’m actually quite well versed in the religions (I was very close to majoring in philosophy in college, and as I see it, religion is all about a person’s life philosophy) and have a plethora of priests/ministers on both sides of my family. I’ve been “converted” once [clearly didn’t stick…and my mom flipped, understandably so; I was, like, 10 years old]. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with traditional organized religion and experimented with Eastern religions in high school. (Thanks, Beatles and Peter Tork, for your influence.)

The most “in touch” I ever was with my spiritual side was definitely when I was in about 9th grade and had read A LOT about transcendental meditation. I’ve gotta tell ya…that $%&# is real. Meditation helped me to find myself during a normally confusing, crazy hormonal time. It helped me to recognize the “truth” of life. It helped me learn how to cope with stress and center myself in ANY situation. It helped me to connect with my surroundings and nature in deeper consciousness levels. Heck, I used to be so in-touch with my inner being that I still remember my first out-of-body meditation experience — in a very busy cafeteria during study hall the day of Mr. Hefner’s funeral. How’s that for specific? LOL.

So, let’s just say, I don’t judge folks for their religion if they don’t judge me. Can’t we all just get along? 😀

SPIRITUAL CARE

Needless to say, I’m not centered anymore. The life of a teenager is worlds away from that of a grown up mama. I can still analyze the stress level of a situation and calm myself mentally, but there’s zero meditation. Zero spiritual connection. Zero gravitational pull.

Dave has mentioned an interest in meditation before, but nothing has ever come of it. I’m going to bring it up to him and see if he’d be interested in a) learning how to do it (I’m rusty, but I’ve got a pretty good foundation) and b) actually putting it into our schedule rotation.

Even if he’s not interested, I’d like to be able to add PEACE into each day. Even a minimum of ten minutes spent with zero TV, zero phone, zero internet will hopefully help me start to center. A little at a time. 🙂 And I think that I’ll be able to find some patience to deal with an almost-terrible-twos munchkin and an ability to focus better on Dave and his needs.

HEALTH CARE

On a health note, we also need to analyze our sleep situation. We’ve been going to sleep earlier and earlier, to no avail. We still wake up relatively exhausted. Whuh??

According to this British article (love those!), there are a couple of things I’m doing wrong. Firstly, I hit snooze. Heck, I actually set two alarms on my phone — an initial one, then the “bonus!” one that makes me feel like I hit the ten minute jackpot. Silly girl. No more of that.

Secondly, the thing that makes the most sense AND helps us get in touch with our spirituality (hello, 2 birds + 1 stone) is GETTING OUTSIDE. It’s been one heck of a winter for, um, everyone everywhere, so we’ve definitely gotten in a “sit on our arses” rut. It’s time for us all (as a family) to get a-walkin’.

Remember when we were kids and the first nice day hit? We’d run outside and play with anything that wasn’t covered in cobwebs, or just walk around the block — LOVING that we just had to wear our brother’s hand-me-down light jacket (since we’d only needed it for, like, a week). Didn’t we sleep like babies that night? Of course.

Well, that’s the idea here. I wish we could do it daily, but with P/T two nights and dinner-making, I just don’t think it’s plausible. However, if I make a concerted effort to plan SIMPLE meals and get outside a few times each week, it might help recharge us enough to try it even more. Baby steps. 🙂

How are you doing with your spiritual and health journey? Are you in need of any fine tuning in any areas? Do you ever feel uncomfortable when your religious views don’t align with someone else who wears it on their sleeve? Or is that just me? 😉