Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bambu Hybrid Cutting Board Review & Giveaway


Most of the time when I'm sent a product to review, I like it. Sometimes, though, I love it. A tell-everyone-I-know type of love. The most recent thing that caused this reactions was sent to me by Bambu, a company that makes kitchen and eating tools out of--you guessed it--bamboo!

In case you didn't already know, the benefits of using the bamboo plant are incredible. It's an extremely fast growing plant (overall, it's estimated that the varieties of bamboo in general grow at a rate of 2" per HOUR), doesn't require the use of pesticides (though some growers will use it), and is largely versatile in its uses!

So what is the item that's brought me such joy, you ask? A bamboo and cork cutting and serving board--their Medium Hybrid one, to be exact. One side is bamboo with the cork coming around the long edges, and the other side is made of a smooth cork. Antimicrobial and not dulling your knives, this board allows you to have a beautiful way of presenting food on the table, as well as an amazing surface for cutting on! We have chosen to only cut on the bamboo side so to keep the cork side smooth, and we can't even see marks on the wood from our knives! The cork side is great to keep the board from skidding across the countertop, and I love that it's also a natural substance.

Frankly, I will never go back to another cutting board now. My plastic and glass ones were retired as soon as I tried this baby. You are supposed to do a little maintenance on bamboo boards by rubbing them with oil once in a while to protect the wood, but I'm thinking that's such an easy thing compared to spending 10 minutes trying to scrape out food caught in the cut marks on my plastic board...and I don't have to think of any nasty chemicals leaching into my food, or surfaces that will dull my knives.

I can wholeheartedly tell you to make a Bambu board your first purchase in 2010. Having awesome kitchen tools increases the liklihood that you will cook (according to me), and thus eat healthier, and thus be healthier and lose weight as a result. Yeah, that's the connection I made: Bambu Cutting Board = Weight Loss. Hey, it's working for me so far, and I'm pregnant! ;-)
Buy It! Click the Amazon picture above to purchase the medium board (or buy the large one for $43.95). Seriously, buy it. I don't say that too often.

Win It! Bambu is generously going to bless one of my readers with his or her own Hybrid board. To enter, you must visit their website and tell me where you can buy their products at. You must do this before any other entries will count. You must also leave a separate comment and an email address for each entry or they won't count. Contest ends January 11th at noon, EST.

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PS- Keep watching for some more AWESOME reviews and giveaways of Bambu products--particularly their Children's line!


While Bambu provided free samples for this review, all of the opinions are mine!

Enfamil Court Case--are you a wise consumer?

As 2010 approaches (quickly, I might add), I know that many peoples' "resolutions" involve finances. Unfortunately, unless you have the right resources and time to research products, prices, and campaigns before you buy an item, many people fall into the trap of trusting a store or advertising campaign a little too much. This was recently brought to my attention by Mom Select (BSM Media) when they sent me an email about an Enfamil formula court case.

Apparently, the makers of Enfamil "engaged in false and misleading campaigns against PBM’s competing store-brand of infant formulas, suggesting they do not provide the same nutrition as Mead Johnson’s brands." PBM Products, LLC, is a leading company that provides store-brand infant formulas to stores like Target, Walmart, Sam's Club, and Walgreens among others. Their false advertising involved direct mailings to parents insinuating that unless you were using Enfamil (as opposed to other formulas), your child would not be receiving adequate nutrition and would have developmental problems. Yikes! A full press release of the case and verdict is available here.

Dr. Brown's BPA Free Polypropylene Natural Flow Bottle Newborn Feeding SetThe truth is that the nutritive content of both Enfamil and PBM formulas is the same. Of course, neither even remotely compares to the nutrients and benefits of human breast milk, but paying 50% more for one type of formula over the other gives you no benefit.

How many people blindly followed that false advertising and decided to buy Enfamil instead of PBM as a result? I would imagine that a lot of people probably don't pick up comparable products and read every single ingredient and nutrition information to determine which item to buy. I do, but that's also why it takes me a year to go grocery shopping when I have to buy something new.

The same philosophy of being a smart consumer applies to a lot more than infant formula, though. My family receives WIC--a supplemental food program that provides specific food items to infants and pregnant or breastfeeding women. One of the food items is jarred baby food (which I, of course, would NOT buy on my own since I firmly believe you can provide your child with better, more natural nutrition by preparing your own baby food). You are given the choice between Gerber and Beech Nut, but are limited to the jars with only single food items and without any additions (including DHA or an "organic" label). What have I found out? Beech Nut products are better! They contain less additives than Gerber, but who would have thought unless you took the time to compare? Everyone knows the Gerber baby, so that's the jar most people reach for first. Remember, product recognition means nothing more than a good advertising campaign. It does NOT mean a good product.


Nutrition isn't the only reason to compare, though. It's ingrained in a lot of us that buying in bulk will save you money overall. Did you ever take the time to calculate the ounce for ounce savings, though? Most of the time, you won't need to because grocery stores will put the total price and also the price per ounce, pound, or count on the shelf's label. Take a moment to compare the price per ounce (or other method), and you'll find that buying the larger box of cereal or bigger bag of sugar does not always equal savings! Surprising, I know.

My point in sharing this information with you is to encourage you to take the extra few minutes to really know why you're buying an item. If you want to save money and live healthier in the New Year, this is one practical way to do that!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Pregnant Puker...at work

B-natal Lozenges for Morning Sickness, Green Apple, 28 eaWith LoveBug, I had morning sickness 24-hours a day for the entire 41 weeks and 4 days of being pregnant. I tried everything from Saltines in the morning to vitamin B6, papya, mangos, and B-Natal suckers (though they do taste really good). Nothing helped.

During the first half of my pregnancy, I was attending school full time and working ambulance full time. This led to a lot of traveling and a lot of interesting situations which promoted nausea. I didn't want to use my state of being pregnant as an excuse to get out of anything, so when I was given the task (in the hospital) of inserting a nasogastric tube into an eldery lady's nose so that we could draw out the feces that was backed up into her stomach, I did it. And I was doing okay until I saw the fecal material come up that clear plastic tube and into the bucket I was balencing on the patient. The head nurse asked me what was wrong and I simply uttered a meak "I'm pregnant" before she rolled her eyes, yelled at me for not telling her sooner, and had two aides whisk me outside into the fresh air.

On the ambulance, I didn't have the opportunity to run outside into the fresh air when I was hit with something bad. The first time it happened, I was chatting with a patient who was the CEO and founder of a local nation-wide company that sold cutlery. It was a routine transport and he felt fine--even promising to send me a pair of scissors when he got back home. During our conversation, I felt the nausea creeping up, so I just gently said "excuse me one moment," grabbed a puke basin, silently filled it behind him, and threw some drying chemicals and a towel over the bucket so no one would know what happened. Except for my partner who saw the whole thing and started laughing. He was male, obviously. I never got the scissors.

Other calls were worse, like the time I had a 16-year-old girl with a head injury who had made it all the way to the receiving hospital 1.5 hours away without puking. Then, as we're just about to the parking lot and I'm giving a radio report, she starts in. The radio report quickly ended as I grabbed a bucket for her and I to share. I had never, ever, thought I would break the cardinal rule of sharing a bucket for bodily fluids with a patient. There is just something seriously wrong with that picture, but when you're pregnant and it's coming up...

This pregnancy, my nausea isn't nearly as severe. Actually, none of my pregnancy symptoms are, and it's quite heavenly. I have a desk job this time and a short commute, so the gallon ice-cream bucket I keep in my car for those pregnancy problems hasn't even been used (I learned about the bucket after hitting my steering wheel and entire front dash one late night). I don't have to hug a disgusting porcelain bowl while waiting for calls, and I haven't had to throw up in front of anyone this time. No partner has had to hand me a towel after I've had to run to the side of a parking lot, and no one has laughed at me as I gag while cleaning up the back of a rig.

It's a beautiful thing, working while you're pregnant. The constant trips to the bathroom, trying to stay awake during boring meetings, finding clothing that allows you to go out into public...and the nausea and vomitting that can appear anywhere and everywhere. Thank God we can learn to laugh about these moments and catalog them away in our memory to share with our children when they're teenagers, giving us a hard time about something ("you have no idea what I went through to have you..."). And thank God it's women that have to go through this, because I don't know too many men who could live through 40 weeks of gut wrenching symptoms!

Take courage, pregnant women who must brave the world. Those babies are worth it in the end, and you can always move your car to another parking spot so as to leave the evidence behind when you go grocery shopping (just in case you forgot your ice-cream bucket).

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

H1N1 Vaccine and Pregnant Women


 My decision is final: I will not be receiving the Swine Flu vaccine.

This was a difficult decision and one that I've spent almost two months laboring over. Having finally made this decision after much research, though, I am also finally at peace. Working as a Paramedic in NY, the first word out was that I would be mandated to get the vaccine since all healthcare workers were being mandated. I didn't know too much about it at the time, and before I was even able to get vaccinated, a passionate nurse in Rochester blew the whistle and got the NY government to recant on their decree for involuntary vaccination.

Shortly after this, I was given word that there would be a "secret" clinic for EMS workers in the county to get the vaccine free of charge. It still wasn't available to the public, or to pregnant women, and I still hadn't made a decision even up to the day before the clinic--then I got a respiratory flu type thing and so my decision was made for me. One week later, the clinic was offered again, but I had been sick to recently to receive the vaccine.

The next time I was offered the vaccine, I randomly got a stomach flu (maybe this is God here?)...and thus couldn't get it. Yesterday, for the third time, the vaccine is being offered again to me, this time through my "regular" desk job. I signed my name on a paper stating that I was interested, and then did some serious research on the topic to help me really decide.

After spending hours on the Internet reading everything from how it's absolutely necessary for pregnant women to receive to how it's a consipracy of the government to control population rates (by causing abortions of the fetuses), I decided to call the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and see what they had to say on the matter. I told them of the huge amounts of personal stories I was finding online linking the H1N1 vaccine to miscarriages/pre-term labor in every trimester, and asked what statistics they had been putting together from themselves receiving these reports. I asked if they could really recommend that pregnant women get the vaccine, and if they would put out a warning if it seemed that there were an unreasonable amount of miscarriages happening within hours of women receiving the vaccine.

The CDC told me that they didn't really have any solid research yet to indicate the safety or risks of the vaccine to pregnant women, but that "in a time of national pandemic, it is recommended for pregnant women to receive it." To me, that says "we don't really know, but we figure that you'd better just get it." They told me that until the vaccine and reports of adverse effects among pregnant women have been able to be studied, they will not release any statement to the public--they will even NOT warn pregnant women to be careful about receiving the vaccine EVEN IF the CDC was receiving a lot of reports of miscarriages and pre-term labors linked to the mothers receiving the H1N1 vaccine!

Upon researching the media and government pressure for pregnant women to receive this vaccine because of the supposedly large amount of pregnant deaths associated with getting the Swine Flu, I found out that while 6% of deaths occuring from H1N1 have been from pregnant women, none of these women received early anti-viral treatment and all ended up dying from pnemonia (a complication of H1N1). Pregnant women are also representing a statistically larger population of hospitalizations due to H1N1, though I couldn't find any solid information on trimester or health history for these women.

Looking at the history of the H1N1 vaccine that was given during the 1976 pandemic of Swine Flu, one can see that it obviously wasn't tested enough and was given to people before it was determined to be safe. Again, we rushed to an "in times of a pandemic, we should all get the vaccine" attitude. As a result, we can now see that there were deaths and complications associated with receiving the vaccine, including Guillain-Barre Syndrome (a severe nervous system disease)! We don't, however, have information about pregnant women during that time. The good news is that this current vaccine is being studied by the NIAID, including for effects on pregnant women in their 2nd and 3rd trimesters. Unforunately, the long term effects won't be known for many years, and women in their 1st trimester aren't being studied as natural causes of miscarriage are more likely to occur before 14 weeks.

The last thing I considered before making my decision was the ingredients used in the H1N1 vaccines. I won't go into too much detail here, but even some of the "safe" versions for pregnant women include mercury, formaldehyde, eggs, and sucrose. Not to mention the other billion ingredients that I don't even KNOW what they are. Yeah.

So these are the reasons and the research behind my decision to not receive the H1N1 vaccine. I may look at things differently if I wasn't pregnant, but it appears to me that it's just not a good idea for me to get the vaccine right now. There are pregnant women whom I respect whom have chosen to receive the vaccine, and so far, everything is just fine for them. I think that whether or not to receive this vaccine is a difficult and personal decision for anyone since there just isn't research supporting either side of the argument.

My best advice? Decide what is easier for you to live with. Will it be easier for you to not get the vaccine, get H1N1, and lose your unborn baby as a result; or will it be easier for you to get the vaccine and lose your baby (or have him or her suffer serious consequences later in life) as a result? For me, I'm at peace with not getting the vaccine, but given the same information, another woman may be at peace only if she does receive the vaccine. Either way, we are mothers doing what we think is best for our children--and no one can judge us for that.

H1N1 Vaccine and Miscarriage:
http://miscarriage.about.com/b/2009/09/29/some-pregnant-women-fearful-of-h1n1-vaccine.htm
http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/health/62474237.html?elr=KArksc8P:Pc:UthPacyPE7iUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aUU

H1N1 Vaccine and Guillain-Barre Syndrome:
http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/vol12no01/05-1007.htm
http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/vaccination/providers_qa.htm

Reporting Adverse Effects from H1N1 Vaccine:
http://vaers.hhs.gov/

H1N1 Vaccine Study for Pregnant Women:
http://www3.niaid.nih.gov/news/QA/H1N1pregnanttrials.htm

H1N1 Vaccine Ingredients: 
http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/QuestionsaboutVaccines/ucm186102.htm

Monday, December 21, 2009

my new layout

*GASP*

What is going on with my blog layout, you ask? I'm not sure, either! The deal is that while I do spend much less time on my blog than I'd like to, I still want it to look professional. My research shows that the "header-entries on L-two columns on R-footer" layout is the most respected, especially when you offer advertising. I attempted to create this sort of layout (Blogger doesn't readily offer it) a while back but ended up with a real messy I-don't-know-what-I-just-did sort of layout. Until now....drumroll...a big thanks to Lawny Designs for creating an easy peasy tutorial that told me how to pull of such a feat.

The next "design" thing on my list is getting a decent background, fixing the links up top that you notice are now all clustered together in a little heap, and updating my graphics to match everything. gulp. My background on blog designing is rather limited, as I don't really know any CSS and must rely on the copy-paste method. Thankfully, back in my Jr. High days, I taught myself a good deal of HTML so that I could hack into other peoples' websites and mess everything up for them (oops, did I just admit that on the WWW?). Since technology is forever moving on and I have no graphic design training, I'm pretty slow in figuring out this blog design stuff.

So if anyone wants to do the rest for me, you just let me know and we'll work out an advertising for service deal. :-) Until then, please bear with me and be patient as I get through making all of the changes! On another note, my fabulous cloud widget has dissapeared since I added that extra column on the right. Does anyone know how to change that? What about my newly dissapeared "spell check" feature of Blogger? Without that, you may be in for some serious decoding...;-)

KumfyKozies Sale Alert!



I love finding hidden treasures on the Internet. KumfyKozies is a hyena cart shop that specializes in wool longies, fleece outfits, and skirt/dress outfits for newborns through Size 8. Recently, the owner has also developed a pattern for an adorable stuffed sheep (with NO parts to choke on) and is selling them now, too. I periodically stalk the store and have been dying to try something--the prices are fantastic during sales, and I have never seen cuter Twirly Skirts (seen on the right). I've seen her clothing on kids in real life before and the craftsmanship is excellent, so I'm very much looking forward to a review that I'll be doing for KumfyKozies soon (*shhhhh, don't tell!*).


So anyway, I checked out her store today and found out that she's got adorable fleece Christmas pants on sale for $4.00 a pair. Shipping starts at $2.00/$1.00 each additional and shipping is guaranteed within 36 hours of payment. I counted, and there's only 10 pairs left so you'll want to snatch them up quick. Visit http://hyenacart.com/kumfykozies/ and let me know what you think after you try something!


Good luck on getting a pair or two...or three...! PS- in case you're new to cloth diapering, fleece pants can make a great cover for a non-PUL diapers. ;-)

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Sound of Music Review & Giveaway!

Just released on November 3, Sony Music has brought us the 50th Anniversary special edition original Broadway cast recording of The Sound of Music featuring Mary Martin (remember Peter Pan?) and Theodore Bikel. It has all of the songs we know and love by Rodgers & Hammerstein like"My Favorite Things," "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," "Maria," "Do-Re-Mi," and "Edelweiss," but also includes three rare bonus tracks, new liner notes, and candid photos of recording sessions!

The bonus tracks are pretty fun:
  • "From Switzerland: The Pratt Family," a spoof of The Sound of Music created for and performed by Julie Andrews and Carol Burnett in 1962 on their TV special Julie and Carol Live at Carnegie Hall
  • A live recording of "Edelweiss," sung in German, from the historic first production (2005) of The Sound of Music in Vienna
  • and a soaring cover version of "Climb Ev'ry Mountain," sung in Swedish (as "Sök dig till bergen ") by Tommy Körberg, best known to American audiences for his vocals on the concept album of Chess.
The album is available at Amazon.com for $10.99 (and is eligible for Super Saver FREE Shipping), or for $28.80 when you buy both the CD and the gorgeous matching pop up book. Sony Music provided me with a copy of the CD for review and I immediately listened to it the whole way through. I already love The Sound of Music, having grown up with the video version and also having been in a full stage production of it after high school. I honestly had no idea that Mary Martin played the original Maria Rainer and was quite excited when I heard her voice on the recording! The CD is excellently done, especially for being an original recording. The sound is clear, the singers on key, and the story that just the music weaves is engaging.

On top of releasing such a neat CD, Simon & Schuster "adds to The Sound of Music phenomenon with a collectible pop-up book for every family's library. The heartwarming, classic adventure – adapted by Bert Fink from the story of the stage musical – comes alive with paper engineering as unforgettable as each timeless melody" (per SonyMusic).

The beautiful pop-up book The Sound of Music is available on Amazon.com for $17.81 and eligible for FREE Super Saving Shipping. I was also sent a copy of this book to review and could NOT believe my eyes when I opened it up. To me, this book is a keep sake treasure! I first went through it page by page, loving the intricate work put into the pop up parts, and also enjoying the narrative and lyrics included everywhere. My 1-year-old daughter sat on my lap and was enthralled with each turn of the page, as well. I'm sure this will be a story we read and re-read as the years go by! An interesting thing to note is that the story line leaves out scarier or more intense moments of the story. There's isn't talk of the Nazi occupation in Germany, and the reason why the von Trapp family must flee to Austria isn't really explained. I personally appreciate this, though, as it makes the book appropriate for little ears but leaves room for a parent to explain these details if he or she so desires. The photos don't do this book justice, so please check out the video of it here or just look through it at your local book store.

On top of that, you can download a free Sing-Along activity kit for the book here. It's seven pages long, reproducible, and contains colorful activities pertaining to the book (though you don't need the book to complete the activities--it can stand on its own). Math, writing, logic, and art skills are all part of the package.

Win It! Sony Music is providing one reader with a copy of the 50th Anniversary special edition CD recording of The Sound of Music. To enter, you will need to download and view the Sing-Along activity kit and tell me something you like or dislike about it. Be specific and don't copy someone else's answer, please! If you are unable to download the kit, you may instead tell me why you'd like to win this CD. Please include an email address in each comment--and leave a separate comment for each entry! Contest will end December 31, 2009 at 12:00pm EST.

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It's Okay


I've come to a new place in my WOHM-ness. I think I spent the first year of my daughter's life grieving about not being with her. I still cry, and I still hate it, but it's a little different now with her being almost 14-months-old. For the first time, recently, I realized I'm not so bitter anymore.

Previously, when I heard a SAHM complain about being home, I cringed. I would either burst out crying or fill up with anger wanting to strangle her for taking her gift of being home for granted. Last week, though, I found out that I've changed. I stood and listened to a friend state how she tries to send her baby (who is the same age as my daughter) to day care 5-days-a-week. Not because this woman has to earn money, because she is ill, or because she wants one day a week to herself so she can really get her house in order. No, none of these things. She explained that she wants to send her baby to someone else because, well, she doesn't really enjoy being a mother. WHAT?! While they're away at day care, she watches TV. Yup, I'm not exaggerating here.

Even thinking about it now, I'm surprised that I'm not irate. My initial thought would normally be something along the lines of "you have GOT to be kidding me! Don't you understand how LUCKY you are to be given the opportunity to raise your children, and you're willingly giving that to someone else? And then you aren't even using your time to yourself to be productive? What is WRONG with you?!"...of course, I never said this out loud to anyone.

This time, my thought was this: I'm sad for you, that you don't enjoy being a mother. For me, it's been the most amazing, rewarding, and humbling thing I've ever experienced and I love every single moment of it. I'm sad that you can't experience that as well. While I wish that one's ability to stay home with her children was dependent upon her desire to, I know that's not how it works, and it's okay. It's too bad, but that's how it is. We are all different, and I don't feel a need to judge you because you don't enjoy your babies and you aren't home with them when you could be. It's okay that we're different.

I'm not angry. Instead, while I continue to mourn my loss of my daughter's first year of life, I am also able to enjoy the fact that I know God has very specific reasons as to why I'm not with LoveBug. I'm able to enjoy knowing that she loves going to her Grandma-Mimi's house every day, and that my mother and sisters have had the time of their lives this last year taking care of LoveBug every day. I'm also finding comfort in the fact that LoveBug has a very special relationship with her daddy that she may not have had if they hadn't been given the opportunity to spend so much time together. For these things, I'm thankful.

So while it will still continue being hard to be a WOHM and I will still have my days where I feel like I'm not doing anything well, at least I can rest in knowing that it's okay. It's okay that I'm not able to keep up with everything in my life. It's okay that some women don't want to be with their babies all of the time. And it's okay that everyone's not like me.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Personal Update


Greetings!


I thought you may enjoy a personal update from life in upstate NY. As usual, I'm running a little behind on blog stuff lately. If you're waiting for reviews and giveaways to be posted, don't worry-- I do actually work on writing them every day Mon-Fri! I just haven't had enough time all at once to complete a writing in one sitting this week. :-p If you're waiting to hear back from me about the possibility of reviewing your product, I'm hoping to respond to you either later today or tomorrow!


For anyone who actually reads my blog because they find me to be an addictively interesting person, you may be interested to know what has been cause of delay in my blogging endeavours...


I'm pregnant! Okay, that isn't the only reason I'm delayed--mostly it's because I have to be sneaky about blogging at work and really just haven't had the time to do it lately (hint, hint--if anyone wants to purchase the Internet for me at home, I'll be happy to blog every day when I get home!)...but doesn't blaming it on pregnancy sound so much more interesting?

I wasn't expecting to be pregnant. In fact, I thought I had stopped ovulating due to breast feeding. The only reason I took a test is because I was offered a FT ambulance job and just thought to myself "I'd better take a test just to make sure that I won't have to quit my new job in 20 weeks and be jobless." Was I ever in for a surprise when I saw two little blue lines on that stick! WOAH! When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, LoveBug, I waiting 9 days until I could tell my husband in a special and unique way. This time, I started screaming for him to get his butt into the bathroom and verify what I was seeing.


Then, I cried (embarrassed to admit it, but I was a bit overwhelmed), ate a bowl of ice cream and drank a glass of coke. After a little while, I adjusted and decided I couldn't deny it. Long story short (if you want the long version, check out my personal baby-husband blog at http://octobersheart.blogspot.com/), I'm oh so very excited about bringing this new baby into the world. My children will be 20 months apart, cloth diapered, and even tandem breastfed if LoveBug hasn't self weaned by then. I'm fervently praying to be a SAHM at that point, but I know God may have other things in mind...so I continue to ignore the idea of me having to go back to work after baby #2 comes. Maybe if I deny the possibility, it won't happen?


Oh, and I'm due June 30th, 2010. :-)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mrs. Meyer's Review & Giveaway

I've fallen in love. I didn't think it'd ever happen with me and cleaning products, but alas, it has. I do NOT like chemical smells, dry skin, or scary ingredients. I DO like a clean house, aromatherapy, and natural ingredients. Combine these last three things and get ready to meet Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day!

The friendly folks over at Mrs. Meyer's sent me a whole bunch of awesome products to review and share with you after I stumbled upon them via the Internet. Since the day I received that package, I realized that my cleaning life had previously been missing something: great smells. The first thing you'll notice about Mrs. Meyer's products is that they smell fantastic and are scented by way of essential oils. In fact, they're so good that I have actually mixed up a batch of their all-purpose cleaning solution and left it to sit in my kitchen so that the aroma could fill my household! Their products span a variety of choices in fragrance including Baby Blossom (for their baby product line), Basil, Geranium, Lavender, Lemon Verbena (my favorite), Scent Free, and a seasonal scent of "Iowa Pine." The second thing you'll notice is their fun packaging. Simple characters and colors are used to send a down-to-earth personal message on each product.

Enough about how happy you'll be with these products, though. Let me tell you about the stuff that they sent to me, and then give you a chance to grab some of your own!


Countertop Spray $3.99
This is a great multi-purpose spray that actually combines their All Purpose Cleaner with a special Vegetable Protein Extract that provides a "naturally fresh way to remove odors." It works! I've used it in my bathroom, kitchen, and even on a coffee table. Each time, it's left my surfaces clean and with a fresh, pretty scent behind. It's a love.


Surface Scrub $4.99
Made with naturally safe ash and oxygen bleach, I've found you won't need a ton of this product to be effective. It creates enough scouring action to remove scummy build up in my bathtub, but not enough harshness to scratch anything. I've used it in both my shower/bath and the toilet, but it's recommended for tile, stainless steel, professional cookware, porcelain fixtures and more! The powdery scent is more potent to my nose than their liquid products and did make it itch a little.


All Purpose Cleaner $7.99
First, let me tell you that again, a little goes a long way. I just mixed a little bit in a bucket of warm water and was ready to rock and roll. My floors, counters, and surfaces have all been cleaned--and I didn't want to STOP finding things to clean because it smells so darn good and is very gentle on my hands! If I were to purchase just one thing, this would be it.






Shower Cleaner
$4.99
Squirt this on your shower/tub surfaces after using, and prevent soap scum and mineral build ups! I'm not a huge fan of scrubbing the bathtub, so a product like this is very handy when you're trying to save time in your life. I love that it's easy and quick to use, and also that the scent is fresh and not overpowering in such a small space.



Dish Soap $3.99
Of course, another awesome smelling product from Mrs. Meyer's. Their dish soap suds well very quickly (a few times, I had to scoop bubbles out because there were too many). The suds don't stay forever though, but I didn't find that this affected the cleanliness of my dishes. I did find that with my bottles--and bottles only--I had to rinse extra well because a greasy sort of film would build up on the inside of them. I didn't have this problem with any of my other dishes, and think it's just a rinsing issue. The overall effectiveness is equivalent to any name brand dish soap, but the quality of ingredients is far better than the regular leading brands.




Surface Wipes $3.99
My mom always keeps a stack of anti-bacterial cleaning wipes under her sink. While I love the convenience of them, I do not love the harsh chemicals involved and so don't buy them. THESE surface wipes though... they thrill me! They're biodegradable (the wipe is cellulose plant derived), gentle on the skin, durable, smell fantastic, and do the job! I have moved them from house to purse to car and back to the house. I can't decide where to keep them because they are so handy to have and use! I wouldn't mind if I found a few packs of these in my stocking...

BUY IT! I do suggest that everyone run out and purchase something from Mrs. Meyer's--you won't be disappointed and the stress level involved in cleaning your home may diminish! Select full size products are now available at Target, and I've also seen a few at my local Wegmans. If you want to purchase from Mrs. Meyer's website, they have free shipping on all orders of $50.00 through 12/17, and are also offering 25% off their Iowa Pine holiday items.

WIN IT! Mrs. Meyer's is giving away two different gift packs to my readers! Two winners will be chosen, one for the Holiday Hand Kit, and one for the Clean Day Kit. To enter, please visit http://www.MrsMeyers.com and tell me something you learned or a product you're dying to try from them. Please leave a separate comment WITH an email address for each entry. Contest ends December 31 at 12:00pm, EST.



Mrs. Meyer's Holiday Hand Kit includes:

Iowa Pine Liquid Hand Soap, 8 oz
Iowa Pine Hand Lotion, 8 oz
Iowa Pine Scented Soy Candle, 7.2 oz $14.99

Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Kit Includes:

Countertop Spray, 8oz
Liquid Dish Soap, 8oz
All Purpose Cleaner, 8oz
Window Spray, 8oz
$14.99 (on sale right now for $11.25!)

Extra Entries:

* Follow or Subscribe to me
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* Otherwise spread the word (tell me how you did)!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Rachel's Guide To a Low-Stress and Cheap (or FREE) Christmas!

My life is busy. I normally work a 37.5 hour week (plus meetings), but often pull a 50-hour-week by working an ambulance shift on the weekend. Tying that with having to pick up my beautiful daughter after work, rushing home to make dinner (or baking a frozen pizza), getting ready for the night and tomorrow--it's all I can do to just get into bed!

I often help the extra-business that comes with Christmas by doing my shopping throughout the year and particularly during the AFTER-Christmas sales. I have a cupboard where my gifts are organized by the type of gift (wedding, baby, adult Christmas, kid's Christmas...) along with organized wrappings (either bought on sale or recycled from gifts I myself have received!). This makes gift giving during this time of year pretty easy and stress free--and I get to avoid the overcrowded shopping malls which I so intensely despise!

This year, though...a little different. My cupboard is not as full, probably due to having a little one and thus less money and less time to snag deals up throughout the year. I'm finding that I'm spending more than usual (on a CREDIT CARD nonetheless, which is a huge no-no in our book!), and have had to find new ways to give nice gifts without making myself homeless or missing work to go shopping. If you're in the same boat, you might find the following options good ones as well!

What are your other ideas for having a low-stress and frugal Christmas? I need some birthday and baby shower gift ideas, too, so send them my way!

#1 Gifts in a Jar http://www.craftbits.com/gifts-in-a-jar
While you can buy some fantastic books with instructions, photos, and cards to attach for your Gifts in a Jar, this website provides a variety of recipes for food, drinks, bath products, and other things to make. Gifts in a Jar are easy to make, great for everyone, and quick to spruce up by adding some fabric and ribbons to the lid! My idea is to make "breakfast gift baskets" for family this year with mugs that I bought on discount during the summer and Gifts-in-a-Jar for pancakes, muffins, and hot cocoa!

#2 Discounts and freebies. My favorites this season are:


Fashion Playtes; this website allows girls to design their own clothing--and then have it mailed to them! It's so fun that I actually designed a shirt myself...now if only it would fit! I used the code


ONE20 for $20.00 off a $35.00 gift certificate. The only catch with the gift certificate is that you have to have a minimum of $35.00 to use the $20.00-off code and it has to be your first purchase.


Jillian's Drawers is a natural parenting store that's currently having a 12-Days-of-Christmas sale. I didn't know about it until day 3 (I think it's day 5 now?), but I snagged a bunch of diaper inserts for 50% off as soon as I found out! Each day, they're choosing different items to discount. They aren't always 50% off, but there's a lot of great products coming up and they'll hold out shipping your items until the end of the sale so you can combine your orders from each day if you ask them to!

Holey Donuts; first, if you didn't already enter my contest for Holey Donuts, then you need to--and QUICK because it will be ending soon (includes a bunch of pastries AND $150.00). Next, you should educate yourself about this company because it's genius, very tasty, and an awesome gift for, well, most everyone I know! This company makes low fat donuts and cinnamon buns with no artificial sweeteners and then ships them frozen to your door step! I've had the pleasure of trying these pastries and they are delicious enough that my husband has eaten them all while I'm at work. :-\ Seriously, they taste great and you don't have any guilt from eating them. They're constantly having fabulous sales, have a "box of the month" club you can buy, and will also hold off on shipping until Christmas-ish time. Here's the most current promotion:

buy 3 assortments, get $7 off code= LF7
buy 4 assortments, get $10 off code= LF10
buy 5, get FREE SHIPPING code= 5FRSH ... 5 box maximum order

Remember to hit "recalculate" after you enter your discount code

#3 Giveaways with few entries. I may be ruining my chances to win by sharing this with you, but here are some good options:

Caching Family Blog is holding a contest for a $30.00 gift certificate to TurtleTurtle. It ends on Saturday and so far, no one has entered (until I do in a moment!). Awesome for anyone who is pregnant or has a little one!

My Contests. I can't enter them, so please do enter away. :-) They aren't inundated with people, so your chances are excellent to win something at this point!

Prizey is a collaboration of blog giveaways and contests. I submit my listings there, and wish I had lots of time to spend entering other contests I find there! I could drool over a lot of the stuff that someone's going to win...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Seventh Generation Free & Clear Starter Kit Giveaway & Review

Green Cleaning Giveaway #2

The Free & Clear line from Seventh Generation are biodegradable, non toxic cleaning products that are free from fragrences, dyes, and masking agents. I had the pleasure of testing many of their products from this line and can highly recommend them to you.


The first thing that I like about Seventh Generation is that they're proactive in trying to reform how the US in particular looks at the safety and environmental impact of cleaning and personal products. The second thing I appreciate is that they genuinely want to help people out. They continually offer contests and send out free samples of their products to people, as well as offer ongoing education through their website in the form of Q&A and pages dealing with ingredients and topics specific to the products. It's often difficult to get a straight answer from companies when you ask them tough questions, but Seventh Generation has been quick and thorough in answering any questions I have had for them!




I found the Free & Clear line to honestly not have a fragrance. The liquid laundry soap has a slight odor to it, but you can tell it's just naturally from the ingredients used to make it. Everything worked just as well as a commercial chemical cleaner, but it was much more pleasant to use because it isn't harsh on your skin and you don't have to worry about breathing it in or pouring it down the drain! You can view all of the ingredients for any of these products on the Seventh Generation website.

Seventh Generation has packaged together several products from this line into a Starter Kit. They have generously offered to allow me to choose one of my winners to receive one of these, so here are my comments on each of the products that you could win (see bottom of the page to enter):

2x Liquid Laundry (32 oz.) - This unique, non-irritating blend of plant-based surfactants and enzymes powers out the toughest stains. This works quite well. I don't have to use very much, the container is small, and it doesn't seem to create any build up, though I would still not use it for cloth diapers.

Hand Dish Soap - Tough on grease, gentle on your hands and the earth. No phosphates, safe for even the youngest dish-washing family members. This is definitely gentle and still creates decent suds (though that is NOT necessary to clean). I do kind of miss having a good scent while I'm washing dishes though. :-) The non-irritating qualities would make this excellent for anyone sensitive to traditional dish soap!

All-Purpose Cleaner - Cleans and degreases hard surfaces, indoors and out. Non toxic, it creates no harsh fumes. Safe for your family and the planet, great for wet mopping; not recommended on wood floors. I use this for everything from counters to floors. It doesn't particularly get hard scummy areas (like a bathtub) to clean up easier, so I'd recommend another product for that. This is an excellent product to just have around for quick cleaning.

Auto Dish Tabs (15-count tabs) - Concentrated automatic-dishwasher packs deliver phosphate- and chlorine-free detergent in convenient packets. Environmentally friendly, safe for your family. These did get our dishes clean, but when combined with our soft water, we found that some of our aluminum/stainless steel dishes didn't fair so well. :-( Be sure to not use on metal dishes and silverware like this! Otherwise, it was a great product and dissolved quickly in the water. It also seemed to rinse off well and not leave any residue.

Glass & Surface Cleaner - Effectively cleans glass, mirrors, chrome and other hard surfaces – without streaks, toxins, fumes or harsh chemicals. Works as well as other commercial cleaners but without the scary chemicals and smells. However, the old vinegar/water solution still cleans windows best. I particularly like to use the Glass & Surface Cleaner for wood/glass or plastic/glass areas.

Liquid Fabric Softener - Free & Clear 40oz.Canola-derived fabric softener makes your laundry naturally fluffy and static-free. Add to your final rinse cycle or use for hand-washing delicates. Truly free and clear of fragrances, dyes, and masking agents. I have never had such soft clothes until using this! I don't know if I'm using too much or if it just REALLY works, but it works! No static, and very soft clothing. Be careful to not let it build up on your washer if you have cloth diapers.

Some other products (not included in the Starter Kit) that I was also able to review are:

Natural Fabric Softener Sheets - I didn't find these to work as great as the liquid fabric softener, but they certainly do lead to static-free clothing and aren't nearly as greasy as regular softener sheets. If I was in the habit of buying softener sheets, I would definitely purchase these.


Rinse Aid - Never having used a rinse aid for my dishwasher before, I wasn't sure what to expect from this product. However, I found it to last a long time and it did help to minimize water spots on my dishes!



Chlorine Free Bleach- This product is made from hydrogen peroxide instead of chlorine, so 1) it's safe for colors, and 2) it doesn't smell like chlorine. I stopped using bleach a long time ago because it is sooooooooo corrosive, stays in your body for a long time (even just from breathing it in), tends to ruin my clothing, and is just dangerous in general. I didn't realize the difference between chlorine bleach (which is what I grew up with) and NON-chlorine bleach until I used this product and asked Seventh Generation about it. If you like using bleach or would like a safer alternative, then this is definitely for you and worth the money! It works and isn't nearly as scary as chlorine bleach. :-)

Buy It! Through the Seventh Generation website or at many local retailers.

Win It! One winner will receive the Free & Clear Starter Kit with the six items listed above as well as a handy dandy tote bag to keep everything in. A value of $30.00. To enter, visit Seventh Generation's website and tell me one product you'd like to try (not listed here) or something you learned on their website. Be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry and include an email address each time! Contest ends December 23, 2009 at 12:00PM EST.

Extra Entries:

*Follow me publicly
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*Blog about this contest (2 entries)
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Good luck and be blessed!

Monday, December 7, 2009

SKOY Cloth Review & Giveaway

Cleaning Green: Giveaway #1

SKOY Cloth is...

  • 100% biodegradable (testing has shown it will break down in 5 months from beginning composting)
  • Absorbent (15x its own weight!)
  • Re-usable (one will last for the equivalent of 15 ROLLS of paper towels)
  • Clean (can microwave to sterilize or throw in the dishwasher or clothes washer!)
  • and Fun… (comes in a variety of colors and prints--including for Christmas)

Made from 100% biodegradable natural cotton and wood-based cellulose pulp, SKOY cloth is a chlorine-free product using water-based colors and inks. They were first designed almost ten years ago by two stay at home moms who were sick of the 2.5 million tons of paper towels that fill up our landfills every year. Since their beginning, SKOY cloths have been featured on O, The Oprah Magazine, Reader's Digest, and numerous other publications and radio/TV shows!

The Basics: SKOY Cloth sent me a free sample pack of 4 cloths. When dry, they're stiff. When wet, they act like a chamois to clean up spills and scrub down messes. I haven't had any tears yet, and even though I've been using them for months, they are showing no signs of decay.

The Good: They save a ton of money and are easy to clean (I throw them in the washer and dryer)! Very absorbent, and I also love the fact that they're manufactured with humane and green practices and also made of fully biodegradable materials.

The Not-so-Good: SKOY Cloth suggests throwing a wet cloth into the microwave to kill bacteria. Frankly, the steaming and temperature of the cloth concern me because 1) I don't want to start a fire, 2) I don't really like using microwaves, and 3) I don't want it to be too hot to touch. So I recommend the dishwasher or clothes washer for cleaning. I did let one sit next to my sink wet for a while, and sure enough, little spots started to form (mildew? mold?). Microwaving left them looking about the same. I threw it in the wash after that, and though the spots are still visable, I don't worry about anything growing on them. :-) Just make sure you wash them regularly!

Buy Them: You can buy a 4-pack for $5.99 directly from http://www.skoycloth.com/ . They even have a regular shipping service that will send you 8 cloths for $11.98 every 3, 4, 5, or 6 months!

Win Them: SKOY cloth also provided me with a 4-pack to give to one of my lucky readers. To enter, please first click on one of the SKOY links in this website to support them. Then, let me know something interesting that you learned from their website! Please include a valid email address in every entry. Contest ends December 23, 2009 at 12:00pm, EST.

Extra Entries:

* Follow me publicly on Blogger
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* Blog about this contest (2 entries)
* Sport my button
* Spread the word by Technorati-ing me, Stumbling, or otherwise promoting Life More Simply!
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*Share your favorite cleaning tip
*Comment on another one of my posts (tell me which one)! (max of 5 entries)

Good luck and be blessed!

Green Cleaning Week Has Arrived!


It's finally here! Green Cleaning Week has arrived, filled with useful, frugal, and SAFE cleaning methods, tips, ideas, product reviews, and--yes--giveaways! The week may extend into next week as I'm waiting to hear back from a few companies that are involved, so keep checking in the upcoming days. :-)

Why Green Cleaning? In a nutshell, there are a lot of toxic chemicals in our household cleaning products. Short term effects of exposure to these can be skin and eye irritation, but many long term and lethal effects are also found. Did you know that asthma and serious reproductive problems have been linked to various cleaning chemicals, as well as obesity, cancer, and other chronic illnesses. Green cleaning, for me anyway, isn't about saving the environment so much as it is about saving my family. I don't need to worry about what my daughter may get into under my sink, nor do I need to worry about keeping her in another room so she doesn't breathe anything in while I'm cleaning the bathroom.

What is "green" cleaning? To me, "green" cleaning means that I'm using my time, money, and God's resources wisely to clean my home without the use of harmful chemicals. Please remember, though, that just because something's "natural" doesn't mean it's completely safe! For instance, who wants vinegar in their eye?

Find out more! http://www.greenlivingtips.com/ and http://www.seventhgeneration.com/ are great resources to find out about the dangers in many commercial cleaning products, as well as some wonderful and safe alternatives.

Get involved! Since 1976, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has required safety testing on only 200 of the more than 80,000 chemicals on the market. This is bad news and it's time for a change! Click here to email congress and take part in the legislative movement that would require testing and safety to be a priority for household chemicals. Let me know that you sent an email by commenting below, and gain an extra entry into every Green Cleaning contest!

Building A Better Blog: Post Size



It's recommended that you keep your blog postings to a maximum of 500 words. In fact, most places who will feature you as a "guest blogger" have this as a requirement! The idea is that people lose interest fast when viewing web pages and especially when reading something online. If you find that you're not keeping readers for anything other than giveaways, this may be your problem.


I will even admit it--if I see a blog post that's really long, I will either skip the entire thing or just skim for details. Now a blog post with more photos, less words, and just main points--I'm hooked! To combat this problem, I often divide up posts with long content. Making a "Part 1" and "Part 2" can actually bring traffic back to you since more people are willing to read the shorter blog post, get interested, and then decide to come back to find out more.


As far as reviews go, stick to your review! Don't regurgitate the details of the product that someone can read on the retailer's website. They're reading your post because they want to know your opinion of what you liked and didn't like. Give them just the basics about the product, or you're going to risk writing that super long post again! Many times, authors of blog posts feel that the more details, the better. While that is the general rule for much academic writing, the same rule does not apply in the blog realm. Stick to the basics, write shorter posts (or continuing shorter posts!), and leave questions to the reader. You'll find that more people will take the time to read, and more people will leave comments relative to your post!




Friday, December 4, 2009

Building A Better Blog: Statistics

Knowing the statistics of your blog is important for many reasons. The first is that it will provide you with a lot of valuable information:

  • Location of your readers
  • The length of time that people are spending at your site
  • Path of entry, exit, and everywhere in between
  • How many visitors are new, returning; also how often they're returning
  • What search engines people are using to find you
  • The key words that people are searching to find you
  • Number of total hits at any given time, as well as trends associated with this
  • Number of unique visitors

Knowing this information can help you tailor your writings to appeal to the most people (for instance, I continue to post monthly "special days" since this is one of the top search ways I'm found), find out where you're losing people (I seem to have a following of people who will check to see if I'm having any giveaways, and if not, they leave!), determine what topics you're writing about that interest people the most (just see what pages they spend the most time looking at!), and it can help you find out what other sites are giving traffic to you.

The second way in which knowing your website's statistics is helpful is when you're looking to do any product reviews or offer advertising space. Many companies determine whether they want to work with someone or not partially based on that blog's traffic statistics. I'm commonly asked where my readers are located, and how many hits I receive per month.

The two best stat counters I've found for blogging and websites in general are Google Analytics at http://www.google.com/analytics/ and Stat Counter at http://www.statcounter.com/ . Both of these services are free and provide an in depth look at how your site is doing. For the beginner or general blogger, I'd recommend using Stat Counter. It provides an easy to read summary of your basic stats--numbers related to page loads, location of visitors, and traffic sources among other things. The graphical illustrations are easy to understand and can provide you with information that's quick to read. If you're hoping to find a deeper analysis of your site, then Google Analytics is for you. This site will provide you with details of all of the statistical analysis as well as comparing your goals and current statistics to all of your past ones.

I am registered at both Google Analytics and Stat Counter, but generally turn to Stat Counter since I normally just need a quick overview of things. If you have a blog or website and aren't already registered at one of these places, I think you'll find it to be worth your time and effort. The information you'll glean can be priceless in building a better blog!

Win a Holiday Prize Pack from Holey Donuts!



Holey Donuts is a small company that makes and sells--you guessed it--donuts! That's not all though. They also make a variety of cinnamon buns and donut holes. The neat thing about this company is that all of their products are low fat, taste awesome (I can attest to the cinnamon buns!), and don't include ANY artificial sweeteners or trans-fats.

At first, they seemed to good to be true. In fact, I was a little skeptical until I received a box of frozen pastries in the mail yesterday. Once I actually tried their Jumbo Low Fat Cinnamon Buns, I was hooked. Unfortunately for me, I have been gone to work during the day and my husband has been left back at home...eating the cinnamon buns! I'll be doing a full review and giveaway for Holey Donuts in early January, but wanted to give you a head's up on a fantastic give away that they're going right now:

Holey Donuts will be giving one lucky blog reader a Holiday Pack of...

1- Full box of Jumbo Low Fat Cinnamon Buns (4)

1- Full box of Our Awesome Jumbo Low Fat Blueberry Vanilla Buns (4)

1- Full box of Holey Donuts! Low Fat Cinnamon Bun Middles (16)

+$150 Holiday spending cash!

To Enter: send an email to info@holeydonuts.net. You will need to write "Life More Simply Blog" in the subject line in order to enter. Please only enter once. Holey Donuts will be randomly choosing a winner from all of the entries received.

Here's another sweet piece of the deal: comment here and let me know that you entered...and I'll give you an extra entry into the giveaway I'll be doing in January! Come on, who wouldn't like to eat home made cinnamon buns and donuts without the guilt or extra calories?

Special Days in December

Did you know?

December 1 Eat a Red Apple Day
December 3 National Roof over Your Head Day
December 4 Santa’s List Day AND Wear Brown Shoes Day
December 5 Bathtub Party Day
December 6 Mitten Tree Day AND Put on your own Shoes Day AND St. Nicholas Day
December 7 Letter Writing Day AND Pearl Harbor Day
December 9 Christmas Card Day
December 10 Human Rights Day
December 11 National Noodle Ring Day
December 12 National Ding-a-Ling Day AND Poinsettia Day
December 13 Violin Day AND Ice Cream Day AND International Children’s Day
December 15 Bill of Rights Day
December 17 National Maple Syrup Day
December 18 Bake Cookies Day
December 19 Look for an Evergreen Day
December 20 Go Caroling Day
December 21 Humbug Day AND National Flashlight Day & Look on the Bright Side Day
December 23 Roots Day
December 25 Christmas Day
December 26 Boxing Day
December 27 Make Cut Out Snowflakes Day
December 28 Card Playing Day
December 30 National Bicarbonate of Soda (Baking Soda) Day
December 31 Make Up Your Mind Day AND New Year’s Eve

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Upcoming Reviews & Giveaways


Alright, I think it's high time that I got myself in gear and ran some reviews and giveaways of the fantastic products I've been testing for you in the last few months. I'm pleased to announce that...


The Green Cleaning event will finally be beginning sometime next week (12/6-12)! You'll be learning about (and hopefully winning some things) from Activeion, Seventh Generation, Skoy Cloths, and Mrs. Meyers!


Following that, during the week of the 13th-19th, expect to see some great Christmas ideas like a gorgeous Sound of Music pop up book and music CD from Sony Music, the Pop-A-Tot portable child holder, Bummas cloth wipes, Dadoo Kids clothing, Organic Beginnings clothing, and a Rich Frog hat! In fact, there may even be a few extra goodies along the way for us Mama's, too. ;-)


Oh, boy, do I ever have my work cut out for me...Let's be honest, some of that second grouping of stuff (officially entitled "1st Birthday Bash," but nicely fitting in with Christmas as well) may actually appear the week of Christmas. :-)


Think I'll be out of stuff come the New Year? Think again! Look forward to learning about the natural and non-toxic paint from the Milk Paint company, safe eating tools and ideas for babies and kids, and then some interesting and innovative products related to healthy eating (including low-fat, homemade frozen donuts!).


Yup, I must love my readers. Start spreading the word about any of these contests now, and earn yourself an extra entry into the contest you talked about (rules: you can only write about one of these items at a time, and that item is the one for which you'll get the extra entry into. You can write on your blog, through an email (CC "lifemoresimply at yahoo.com"), or on your social networking page. Just comment back here with your info! Be sure to include some info about the company/prize you're hoping to win (Google.com works great) and a link back to my site).

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

How to Make A Ring Sling

Interested in sewing your own Ring Sling? Retailing for anywhere between $30-$130, making your own can be a great way to save money and make sure you get what you want! I initially began making ring slings as a way to save money for myself, and fell so much in love that this is now a popular baby shower gift that I give. Follow these free photo and written instructions to make your own! Comments and suggestions are welcome. :-)
Photo Instructions for Making a Ring Sling
Measure the baby-wearer from the right shoulder to the left hip. Triple this measurement and add 8 inches to find how much fabric you'll need. Buy two complimentary fabrics in this length. So if I'm 22"...
22 x 3 = 66

66 + 8 = 74" of fabric needed


Wash, dry, and iron your fabric.



Trim the width of both pieces to 33" (or 22" for a preemie sling)




Sew the fabrics wrong right sides together on both long sides and also one of the short ends.





Turn fabric right side out (it should make a big sleeping bag).



Iron the fabric around the edges so that it lays flat, then sew 1/2" along both long ends and the short end that you already sewed together. This will keep the fabric from rolling into itself.







Now comes the tricky part. Be sure to take your time with this part or you'll be in trouble!



Fold the unhemmed short edge of the fabric down 1/2" and iron. I like to fold down the "outside" fabric, as shown below.





Fold the same part of the fabric you're already working with down 5" and press.


Open the 5" fold and place both rings with the left hand corner of the fabric inside.






Fold the corner through the rings so that the 1/2" pressed line meets the 5" pressed line.


Ever so carefully, stitch a few inches at a time of the 1/2" pressed edge to the 5" edge.
Note: I reinforced both ends of my stitching with a backstitch to add more security.


Keep matching the pressed edges and sewing.

The finished product should look like this:



You're finished! Check the length of your sling, fold up and stitch into place any excess. This can either form a pocket or just add a nice thicker tail that's great for wiping up any messes. I also like the contrast it creates to have the opposite fabric against the front fabric.





A note about materials used in making a Ring Sling:
I suggest only using fabrics that are 100% of a particular material. Mixed fibers tend to stretch more (do NOT buy a stretchy fabric as it will not be safe!), and are also less fire resistant.
The rings that I use to make my slings are purchased from www.slingrings.com. They have undergone rigorous safety testing and come in a variety of beautiful colors. One can use aluminum or nylon rings, but I will only use the metal kind as I have more faith in them and like to use as little plastic as possible anyway. The great thing about Sling Rings is that the colors won't wear off, and they're safe for babies to chew on, too! Don't purchase rings from craft stores--you won't know how safe they are or are not.
When choosing the appropriate sized ring to make your sling, I recommend using the "medium" size from Sling Rings. I've used both the small size for a single fabric sling, and the medium ones for a double fabric sling such as what these instructions are for. The medium size is more comfortable, provides security, and allows for easy adjusting.
A big thanks to www.slingmemommy.com ! They are where I first found directions to make my ring sling. The directions in this tutorial are based off of theirs which can be located for free on their website.