Saturday, September 29, 2012

FLOW photo contest ends tomorrow!!

Reposting my previous post because voting ends 9/30/12! That's tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!!!


As you may know I showed some work at the FLOW Northside Artscrawl this summer in my neighborhood. I showcased photos of an urban CSA that I've been working with. I brought my camera along to document the day a bit and entered a few of my photos in a contest that FLOW is hosting.

The submitted photos have been narrowed down to 25, of which 2 are mine. The winners will receive a cash prize as well as the privilage of having their photos used in FLOW 2013 promotional materials.

I would appreciate it if you would stop by FLOW's website and vote for your favorite three photos. If you're curious, my photos are the first two (numbers 1 and 2) but I encourage you to look at all 25 and vote for your favorites.

Thanks!! :)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

natural's voxbox 2012 #influenster #voxbox #naturalsvoxbox

A week or so ago I received my second VoxBox from Influenster. This one has a "natural" theme and was more more useful for me than the first which had a "love" theme and included chocolates, fake nail color things, and other crazy stuff.

This box contained seven products:
The Original Dish Drying Mat $4.99
LypSyl Intense Protection LypMoisturizer $2.81 to $2.99
EBOOST $28 to $39
CleanWell Individual Hand Sanitizer Wipes $29.99
GEODEO $5.99
NECTRESSE $3.99 to $6.99
SheaMoisture Raw Shea, Chamomile & Argan Baby Bar Soap $4.99

The Original Dish Drying Mat


I was immediately excited to use The Original Dish Drying Mat. It's a layer of foam surrounded by microfiber and is mean to soak up all of the water that drips off of your dishes. Think big dishes washing loads and laying all of the dishes out on towels. For some reason kitchen towels are never overly absorbent so that is usually not very useful. I started using the mat right away and while I do like it I am happy that I didn't actually purchase it.

We have little counter space in our kitchen so I've been setting the dish strainer on top of the left basin of our sink. Not ideal but it works. With the The Original Dish Drying Mat I thought I could go back to putting the dishes on the counter and simply put the mat away when finished - its way easier to put away than I an entire dish rack thing.


We don't have a dishwasher so I'm constantly hand washing dishes. This has caused the The Original Dish Drying Mat to constantly be wet. I try to let it hang up to air dry overnight but sometimes its still wet in the morning. I'm concerned about mildew but so far it's been fine. It is machine washable but I don't want to have to regularly wash it.. that probably makes it more inconvenient than convenient.

So... I like the product but don't run out to get one unless you really see how it will fit into your routine.

LypSyl Intense Protection LypMoisturizer


The tube is a little bulky but overall I really like this product. It's made of pure beeswax, organic shea butter, and vitamins A and E. Instead of rotating the bottom to move the stick upward it has a little bee on the side that you push up. Cute, no?! I was concerned the bee would get pushed up in my pocket but so far this hasn't happened, thankfully.


EBOOST is a powder (or shot) that is supposed to "boost" your mood, focus, and immunity. It claims to be "all natural" and comes in different flavors. I'm not really into things like this. I'll drink water. And eat a banana. And I only got one so it's hard to try it and actually gauge if it made you feel any different.

CleanWell Individual Hand Sanitizer Wipes

I'm sort of against hand sanitizer unless it's a dire situation. I saw a funny thing the other day: "The first ingredient in hand sanitizer is paranoia." HA. I'm sure you've heard... we over sanitize. For the most part bacteria is good. The world is filled with it. We NEED it. So I don't want to kill it all. When in doubt... wash your hands. It should absolutely be the priority over hand sanitizing.

Only one little wipe was included in the box so it's kind of hard to accurately tell you what I think, especially since I don't even really want to use it in the first place. But if you need hand sanitizer this stuff is pretty mild and the ingredients are "all natural".


I was really excited to find deodorante in the VoxBox. I use a natural deodorant that I like, has a subtle smell, and works well for me. Though I can go easily without deodorant so I'm not the best judge. I was excited because I've been making deodorante for Tyler but I guess he isn't really enjoying it as much as I would have hoped. So when I saw the GEODO Natural Deodorant Plus Detox Complex in the box I thought it'd be great for him to try! But it's super feminine smelling. We don't use many fragranced things so I was pretty turned off by the smell - it isn't terrible it's just sort of strong. Though it's worked great for me thus far.. so if you're used to smells I'd say give it a try. It claims to be naturally-derived and specially formulated to be safe for your body and the world.



Eww. I'll start by saying that I don't like stevia and I don't like Truvia. I wasn't at all expecting to like NECTRESSE. I was only given two small packets in the box, which was disappointing. I don't sweeten my coffee anymore and I am only likely to use sweetener while baking but two packets is not enough for that. So I put some in my coffee this morning and... I couldn't finish my coffee. I just don't like the taste.

But if you like stevia and Truvia it's worth a try. NECTRESSE has no calories per tiny serving and is 100% natural - it is made from monk fruit and is also combined with other natural sweeteners. I wish I had more information about exactly how is was made and where monk fruit comes from. I could look that up.. but I don't really want to. The first ingredient is Erythritol, the second is sugar, and the fourth is molasses. So... you decide. Just a friendly reminder to look at labels and use your brain. The cute little packet says "MADE FROM MONK FRUIT" all big and nice... but it seems more like a conglomerate of sweeteners made WITH some monk fruit all in the name of Splenda jumping on the natural sweeteners bandwagon.

Personally, I prefer maple syrup and honey. They're pretty simple.

SheaMoisture Raw Shea, Chamomile & Argan Baby Bar Soap


So... seeing as how I don't really use soap... I don't have much to say about this. Tyler switched it out with our natural aloe bar though, so I think he likes it. It says "baby" but it isn't just for babies... like most "baby" products. The soap contains sea butter, argan oil, chamomile extract, frankincense, and myrrh. It is sulfate free and super safe. It claims to sooth inflammation, irritation, and itching associated with eczema. I'm all about finding something somewhat natural to combat those things, or anything really. So if you need to clean your face or you are bothered by any of those things I just mentioned, it probably wouldn't hurt to try.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

car seat safety.

I'm late. But in this case it's better than never.

Last Saturday was National Car Seat Check Saturday. Ever hear of it? I wouldn't be surprised if you hadn't until now. And maybe you have but it went in one ear and out the other. Maybe you don't have kids so you really don't care. Or you have kids and car seats and think you've got it all right. And maybe you do. But maybe you don't.

I just thought I'd post a little diddy with some car seat tips. Lots of people appear to be miseducated or unaware of these things.

1. The chest clip is a CHEST clip. Not a neck clip. Not a tummy clip.
If the chest clip is too high and you're in an accident you risk strangling your child.
If the chest clip is too low and you're in an accident your child very well may be ejected through the straps upward into your vehicle. You also run the risk of doing abdominal damage if your child happens to stay contained in their car seat in an accident.

2. Coats. Coats are to be removed before strapping a child into a car seat.
Sounds a little crazy but it's true. Lots of car seat manufacturers will tell you this in their manuals. Coats cause the straps to be more loose around the child's body and because coats are often a slippery material, you, again, run the risk of having your child ejected upward from their car seat in an accident. Here in Minnesota I have a feeling this one gets overlooked quite often. If you're able, warm up your car first and take the coat off. If you can't warm the car up take the coat off, get your child in their seat, and put their coat on backwards on top of the straps. It's also easier for a child to adjust their temperature when the extra layers on the outside. It probably gets pretty uncomfortable in warm being wedged into a car seat with a giant winter coat once the car has warmed up.

3. Extended rear facing is SIGNIFICANTLY safer than forward facing.
I see all kinds of reasons that parents want to turn their kids around as soon as possible. Easier to see them, the child prefers it that way, better view, easier to hand them snacks, etc. etc. But the facts are (rf vs ff): 50kg neck loads in a 30 mph crash vs 300kg neck loads. WOW. 8% risk of severe injury vs 40% risk. AH. 96% injury reducing effect vs 77% injury reducing effect. It is FIVE times safer for children under 4 year to be rear facing. FIVE TIMES.
Here is some super great info.
The American Academy of Pediatrics states, "All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of their CSS."
We purchased the Diono Radian which has one of the highest rear facing allowances. Sure, legs begin to get a little cramped in the back but there are very very very few instances of injured legs in a car crash. You know how when you stop quickly or are in an accident your neck sticks out in front of you and maybe even gets hurt? When rear facing the car seat absorbs that force, isn't that great? Honestly I think all passengers should rear face.. why not?! High speed very damaging rear end accidents that are bad enough to injure a child's legs when rear facing are rare - accidents involving the force stopping in front of the vehicle are extremely common.

4. Make sure the car seat is installed well.
Seems like a no brainer but wiggle the seat back and forth.. if it gives a lot it'll give a heck of a lot more in a car crash. And check it every once in a while in case the belt loosens. People make a big stink about car seats being difficult to install.. we've had two different kinds and I could probably install them with my eyes closed. It's kind of like putting on a seat belt. Or a belt. So give it a try and use some elbow grease to make sure it's tight. Basically just make sure you do it super tight and if you're not confident get a second opinion. Any fire station will be gladly to give you assistance.

5. The child's straps should be tight.
If you can pinch the straps they are too loose. An accident with exert more force than you. You don't want there to be any chance at all that your child will budge or be ejected from their seat. You also don't want them to be able to wiggle and arm out.. this is a big red flag that they would like come out in an accident.

6. Children under 12 should be in the backseat.
No matter what kids under 12 should be in the backseat. It's way safer. I saw a carseat for a kiddo Olive's age in the front of a truck the other day. So scary.

7. Don't forget the booster seat.
Booster seats are very important. If a child is under 4'9" they are likely not big enough to use only the lap and shoulder belts without a booster. The booster helps put the belts into the correct location so they secure the child and do not cause major damage to their neck and abdominal organs in an accident. Lap belt should never be on the tummy and the shoulder belt should never be across the neck.

8. Don't forget the expiration date.
This one stinks.. but car seats expire. The foam, strap material, and plastic all break done. This is especially true when in a hot/cold car every single day for years. You don't want to risk that these things will not absorb impact or that something may actually come apart during a very bad accident. You're also supposed to replace car seats after accidents. Check with your manufacturer for specific speed allowances. Some manufacturers will replace the seat for free if your vehicle is totalled. Helps a little..

9. Don't submerge the straps.
Who knew?! Regardless of what terribly gross thing happens to the straps of your car seat DO NOT submerge the straps to clean them. This loosens the fibers thus severely impacting the integrity. You don't want to risk that.

Well... those are 9 things I came up with off the top of my head. Hope it helps someone! :)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

ethan turned two!

Olive's friend, Ethan, just turned two and had a great party over the weekend. Unfortunately our lovely Minnesota summer suddenly ended and the feelings of late fall were in full swing. Despite the shivers it seemed like everyone had a great time! I thought I would bring my camera along because I've noticed that parents never seem to remember or to find the time to take as many photos as they want. I didn't take as many as I wanted to since I was there to enjoy the party and hang out with Olive but I captured some great moments, especially with the cupcakes. :)

Olive was ready to paaaaaarty:


As was Ethan:



Ethan tried his hand at the spinning helicopter things:





Amber made yummy gluten, dairy, and sugar free cupcakes:


Naomi modeled the birthday boy's cupcake:


And threw in an Angry Bird's tattoo:


Ethan seemed intrigued by the candles being lit:




I like this series... You can probably hear the "fffffffftttt":










Olive seemed intrigued:


Yet cautious:




Diego seemed to be inspecting the cupcake as well:


And considered the flavors splashing across his palate:




I asked Amber's sister if she wanted a cupcake eating photo like the kids, she just laughed:


Olive seemed interested in more:


But was still thoughtful:



Ethan was pretty darn excited:


And opted for the handsfree approach as well:



And then he did this super cute thing:




Amber's mom attended the party via Skype from the Philippines. Some of the guests were a little confused about the talking compter:


I took a bunch of gift opening photos but I'll spare you and post a few highlights.


Most of my photos had a big Olive in the way:


Oh hey girls..


Ethan was gifted one of the same Bibles that Olive has. He said "Jesus!" right after he opened it. I have a feeling his will have fewer bite marks than Olive's..


Amber made Ethan a busy book. Which reminds me I need to keep working on Olive's!


Overall it was the best Angry Bird's themed party I've ever been to!  hehehe.  It was a really good party.  Lots of fun!  And it was really neat to have been able to attend both his first and second birthday parties so far.  Actually it was neat to also visit him in the hospital just after he was born, too.  We go way back... ;)

Happy Birthday Ethan!!!