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Archive for March, 2012

LOOT Handmade Necklace GIVEAWAY ~ US/Can ~ CLOSED

This is the one I bought.

I am pleased to be sharing a review and giveaway today from Andrea of LOOT – a WAHM with one of the coolest products I’ve come across yet!

The moment I saw these necklaces I knew I had to have one (and hopefully will be adding a few more to my stock in the near future!). And really, I’m not a big jewelry buyer – it’s just not normally my thing – but LOOT totally caught my eye and immediately went on my wish list.

The coolest thing about these necklaces – aside from how pretty they are - is that they are upcycled! Andrea makes them out of used t-shirts – isn’t that awesome? I know I am gushing but really I’m so impressed.

I bought the one pictured to the left there. Every time I wear it I get tons of compliments (and of course I have to respond with, “Guess what it’s made of!”) which probably most people don’t really need to know but I’m OK with it. :)

I also received great customer service from LOOT – my questions were responded to promptly, the pricing seems to me to be more than fair and there were no issues with quality or shipping.

Because I like these necklaces so much I asked Andrea about donating one for a giveaway here at Becoming Crunchy, which she generously agreed to. Read on to find out a little bit more about Andrea and how you can enter to win one of her lovely creations… Read the rest of this entry »

Mindfulness in the Kitchen – an Everyday Challenge

Welcome to the March Mindful Mama Carnival: Mindful Mama Challenge

This post was written for inclusion in the Mindful Mama Carnival hosted by Becoming Crunchy and TouchstoneZ. This month our participants have challenges they’ve set for themselves toward becoming more mindful. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

***

A cook sautees onions and peppers.

A cook sautees onions and peppers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over the past few months as I’ve had this carnival in mind, I’ve been challenging myself to become more mindful in everyday, ‘monotonous’ tasks – things like cleaning, putting the little one to bed – even laundry – but most of all, in my cooking.

Cooking is something I’ve always enjoyed but over the past year as I’ve become both more busy than I’ve ever been and more aware of the importance of consuming real, healthy food, the act of cooking itself has become something of an obsession for me – and not always in a good way.

I have begun to develop very high ideals that frequently crash with the reality of a background of fake food and rushed dinners – all too often it just leaves me feeling disappointed and unhappy with myself when I fail.

And yet the joy of providing a truly healthy, nutrient and colour filled meal for my family is just…indescribable. It leaves me feeling so fulfilled and at peace…sometimes for days when I get on a good roll – sometimes just until the next meal.

It may seem strange to talk so of food, but in all my journey of becoming more healthful, mindful and respectful of the environment around me and the resources I consume, food has been and continues to be absolutely the biggest challenge.

This awareness of what I am doing when I provide a meal for my family began when Bean was tiny. When I made her bottles, some pride and joy just welled up in me. I would think on some level, “I am caring in one of the most basic and important ways for the dearest person to me on this earth by providing her good, safe and clean food to eat.” (I’m sure breastfeeding moms have felt similarly, if not more so)

I began, slowly but surely, to learn more and more, and to develop what I like to think of as my own personal food philosophy. I won’t go into all that here, but to repeat that it’s been at times an extremely frustrating journey. My personal mindfulness challenge in the everyday act of cooking has taken me several long steps along the path toward the goal I have in mind.

In The Organic Family Cookbook, Anni Daulter shares:

I learned how to cook at a Zen Buddhist community called Tassajara, in Carmel Valley, CA. They taught me the art of conscious community cooking, where each of us was responsible for one ingredient, and we had to put our full love and attention to it, whether it was chopping tomatoes, picking over lettuce leaves, baking, or cooking rice. That’s because it’s all sacred, every job. Bringing our presence and full awareness to our cooking and allowing our children to have special jobs in the kitchen ends up creating a community meal that is filled with love and tastes great. I have found that this lesson also translates to other aspects of our lives. The more we practice living in the moment, the more we appreciate each one.

Though it’s a bit of a different twist, the book Like Water for Chocolate puts me in a similar mindset.

What both of these express in better words than I could is the importance of consciousness and mindfulness in the kitchen. There are 4 areas in particular in which I’ve been challenging myself to this ideal: Read the rest of this entry »

DIY – A Natural Parents Network Volunteer Blog BLITZ!

It’s that time again! You might remember the great post in December 2011 that highlighted the Natural Parents Network Volunteer’s most popular or favorite posts from the year. Well, we are back and this time we are bringing you a collection of posts that focus on Do It Yourself projects, How To’s, Tutorials, Recipes, and anything related to a step by step guide or informational how-to.

I consider it such an honour to be part of this awesome group of volunteers and benefit from their wisdom all the time. There are so many wonderful posts here and I hope that this serves as an excellent resource that you can pass on to your friends! Enjoy!

Jorje of Momma Jorje.com shares her Family Cloth Tutorial in pictures. She includes step by step photos with some tips for making very neat family cloth. You can find Momma Jorje on Facebook, too!

Lani at Boobie Time Blog shares “How to Help a New Breastfeeding Mom.” This post provides some tips on helping a new mom while she is learning to Breastfeed. You can also find Boobie Time Blog on Facebook and Twitter.Momma Jorje: a slightly crunchy momma

Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro shares “How I Make Cloth Wipes.” This post details how Amanda made all of her cloth wipes. You can also find Let’s Take the Metro on Facebook.

Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy shares “Lessons in a Picture Book.” A Lesson plan for pancakes and how to make your own butter! You can also find True Confessions of a Real Mommy on Facebook and Twitter.

Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction shares “Tips for Road Tripping with a Toddler.” A long car trip with a young child can be a great way to make some wonderful memories if you are prepared to meet the challenges. You can also find Monkey Butt Junction on Facebook and Twitter. 

Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter shares “Maple Cinnamon Swirl Bread.” This recipe tutorial shows you how to make a sweet whole wheat bread with beautiful cinnamon swirls in each slice. You can also find Farmer’s Daughter on Facebook and Twitter.

Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares “How To Consume Coconut Oil Plus Coconut Oil Candy Recipes.” This post provides some tips on how to get your daily dose of coconut oil down the hatch. It also provides some very tasty recipes for coconut oil candy! You can also find Hybrid Rasta Mama on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.

Alicia at Lactation Narration gives some ideas for how to accomplish Partial Weaning for moms who would like to cut down on nursing without completely weaning. You can also find Lactation Narration on Facebook and Twitter.

Cynthia at The Hippie Housewife shares “A Learning-Rich Environment.” This post provides a number of suggestions for creating a learning-rich environment and incorporating learning into everyday life, with a particular focus on the preschool age. You can also find The Hippie Housewife on Facebook, Pinterest, and Google +.

BecomingCrunchyKelly at Becoming Crunchy shares “Kale Chips = Awesome! This post shares a super easy recipe for making a super easy (and surprisingly tasty) snack from one of the most healthful greens around. You can also find Becoming Crunchy on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Shannon at Pineapples & Artichokes shares “How to Move to California.” A silly how-to she wrote while she and her then fiance were driving to their new home. You can also find Shannon on Pinterest, Flickr, and Google +.

Gretchen at That Mama Gretchen shares a recipe for “Homemade Fruit Leather.” It’s easier than you ever thought and the perfect snack for you and your family. You can also find That Mama Gretchen on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Julia at A Little Bit of All of It shares “How I Cloth Diaper (Part 1).” This post details the way Julia has cloth diapered her daughter along with the products she uses. You can also find A Little Bit of All of It on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.

Joella at Fine and Fair shares “Our First Sensory Bins.” In this post, she shares how she made a “Scoop, Measure, and Pour” themed sensory bin, as well as an “In the Garden” themed bin. She also shares some tips for making your own sensory bins! Fine and Fair can be found on Facebook and Twitter. 

Visit Code Name: MamaFor all of you breastfeeding mamas, Dionna at Code Name: Mama has the ultimate DIY experience with the main ingredient being your breastmilk! 58 Medical, Cosmetic, and Other Alternative Uses for Breastmilk includes a cradle cap remedy, an anti-itch salve, weaning jewelry, lotion, and more. You can also find Dionna on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.

Melissa at Vibrant Wanderings offers several ideas for “Keeping a Toddler Happily Busy on a Long Flight.” The list includes handmade felt activities, among many other things. You can also find Melissa on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.

Shannon at The Artful Mama shares “Preparing Toddlers for Birth.” This post features MamAmor dolls and shows some alternative ways to talk to toddlers about pregnancy and birth. You can also find The Artful Mama on Facebook and Twitter.

Kym at Our Crazy Corner of the World shares her “Family Binder DIY.” This post shows how to put together a family binder, to help organize cleaning, meal planning, shopping and budgeting all in one convenient location!

I Thought I Knew Mama: A window into the adventures of stay at home mamahood, natural parenting, & green and healthy livingCharise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares “5 Green Living, Spring Cleaning Tips.” This post provides easy ways to keep the toxins out of your home and to freshen up your home for spring. You can also find I Thought I Knew Mama on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.

Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings shares “Daily Bread: My Favorite Whole Grain Bread Machine Recipe.” This recipe is easy, highly adaptable, and a great starting point for creating your own daily (or almost daily!) homemade bread. You can also find Intrepid Murmurings on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest.

Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children shares “10 Tips for Toddler Carseat Woes.” Check out these ideas of dealing with toddler carseat issues without resorting to punishments. You can also find Living Peacefully with Children on Facebook.

Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment shares “DIY Mom’s Night In.” A somewhat humorous solution, this post provides exhausted Mamas the recipe for the perfect way to recharge!

Stacy at Sweet Sky shares “Ways to Bring More Mindfulness Into Your Days.” This post provides tips and tricks to bring yourself back to the present moment, so you can be the parent you want to be. You can also find Stacy on Facebook.

AnktangleAmy at Anktangle shows us how to make your own popsicle stick puzzles, a fun and simple “busy bag” activity for toddlers and preschool aged children. You can also find Amy on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.

Hobo Mama: A Natural Parenting BlogLauren at Hobo Mama shares “How to sew a mei tai baby carrier.” The mei tai is Lauren and Sam’s favorite carrier for baby Alrik: as comfortable and simple as it is beautiful. You can also find Hobo Mama on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.

Visit African Babies Don't CryChristine at African Babies Don’t Cry shares “How to Make Rainbow Coloured Rice (Without Alcohol) for a Toddler Sensory Bin.” This post provides a step by step tutorial for making vibrantly coloured rainbow rice for sensory play, includes a printable PDF. You can also find African Babies Don’t Cry on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.

Luschka of Diary of a First Child shares “How To Send A Hug In An Envelope.” This post is a creative way to send more than just the standard card to love ones. It literally is a hug in an envelope! You can also find Diary of a First Child on Facebook, and Twitter.

Tips for Parenting a Child With Special Medical Needs

Welcome to the March 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting With Special Needs

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how we parent despite and because of challenges thrown our way. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


It is a huge honour to have Jorje from Momma Jorje guest posting here for this month’s Carnival of Natural Parenting. Please make sure to stop by and check out her blog and Facebook page if you’re not a fan already!

We were very lucky in that we got advanced notice that we would be having a child with special needs. We received Spencer’s Down syndrome diagnosis about mid-pregnancy. I kind of saw this as having a new hobby thrust upon me.

Spencer's TherapySpencer’s first therapy started with something
as simple as putting a toy in his hands.

I don’t mean to make light of the situation, trust me. However, I now had a new passion to research. Isn’t that what you do with a new hobby? Then I came up with a plan to manage his care. I put together a notebook with tabs for all the different types of problems he might have, so we could avoid overlooking anything. I added paper to each section and jotted down which tests he needed to have and when.

I’d been told that babies with Down syndrome don’t really require much special assistance for the first 6 months. That isn’t entirely true. Aside from low muscle tone (which is very common, but Spencer does not have), babies with Down syndrome tend to have small mouths. The reason this is a problem is that their tongues are not so small. They tend to thrust them forward and out. So far, Spencer doesn’t do this too much, but he did need to work with a Speech Therapist when we were in the hospital. What? Speech? Yes, because they work with the mouth, not just speaking. It is hard to eat if you continuously push the food out of your mouth, ya know?

Spencer's Hearing Test in NICUSpencer had his hearing tested in the hospital and again shortly after leaving. He’ll be tested again at 6 months old and then annually throughout childhood.

Spencer has required several extra medical appointments by comparison to “typical” children. (At 2 months old, he has already seen a pediatrician several times, a cardiologist, an audiologist, and has had 2 x-rays done, soon to be another. He also has blood-work to be drawn soon.) I had originally thought I’d purchase a Day Timer or other such calendar book, though I really love my Google Calendar. As a minimalist and being broke, I put off the purchase and never did get to it. Instead, I now print a month or two ahead (from my Google calendar!) and keep it in his notebook. This makes it easier to book follow-up appointments while I’m on site without the risk of double booking. You do, however, have to make sure to keep all calendars synced. I have to come home and immediately add appointments to my online calendar.

My quick tips, from my minimal experience parenting a child with special medical needs: Read the rest of this entry »

Planning My Straw Bale Garden

Aside from a small plot of sunflowers I planted in our backyard as a kid (which grew surprisingly well, now that I think of it), last year was my first year ever attempting a garden.

It grew mostly out of a whim – my mom mentioned she and my grandma had signed up for a class in learning how to make a garden out of straw bales. The idea intrigued me and I decided to give it a try; it ended up growing bigger and better than I ever would have imagined.

Last year's garden - lotsa Zucchini!

I had such success and enjoyed it so much that this year I’ve decided to expand.

We have the very good fortune of having our (relatively small) backyard back right up against a protected green space that essentially gives us a giant backyard for things like letting the dog roam, exploring nature and going for walks; because of that we don’t have huge need for our own backyard. And since we pretty much suck at mowing the lawn anyway, this year’s garden is going to be allocating most of the space we have available for growing.

My plan is to have 10 straw bales under cultivation; I’ll also be doing some container gardening on the deck and planting herbs in a small rectangle of the front yard as well as within the house. I’m tempted to try a vertical herb garden, but I don’t want to go into too much experimenting at once.

Last year the things I planted were pretty much determined by what was available at the grocery store garden centre – I didn’t have a lot of confidence in my abilities so made it easy on myself and bought plants that had already been started.

With a little bit more confidence (that hopefully is not premature) and a little more knowledge on the importance of organic, open pollinated seeds (along with a total lack of desire to give anything more to Monsanto than the inevitable), I’ll be starting all my plants this year from seed, both in the house and outside.

A few weeks ago we attended an organic seed exchange in a nearby city (where vendors were also selling seeds), and as exciting as it all was, I ended up going a little seed crazy – we came away with 26 little packets of potential. I had my husband hissing at me in a whisper, “Are you sure we’re going to have room for all these?Read the rest of this entry »

In Her Own Bed

Sleeping Angels

Since the day our little Bean was born, we’ve been practicing a form of co-sleeping known as bedsharing, something that has been a sweet, sweet bonding experience – especially since I’ve returned to work full-time.

We hadn’t set any expectations for this practice to end, but simply waited on a time that seemed right.

This bittersweet time has now (sort of) come for us.

It started a few weeks back as Bean approached the 18-month mark. She sleeps between my husband and I on our queen size bed, which has generally provided enough space for all involved, until she decided to start taking a little more than her fair share!

How could a tiny toddler take up so much space??

And yet one or both of us (my husband and I) would all too frequently find ourselves hanging on to the side of the bed by a hair, curled up in a bottom corner, or simply relegated to the couch or guest bed when we couldn’t take it any longer.

This grew progressively worse, to the point where for several nights in a row I was being pushed, kicked and prodded by a little Bean who was no longer seeming to get the concept of bed ‘sharing’ and seemed all too consumed with the idea of bed ‘hogging’.

I don’t mind admitting – I lost my patience with this idea pretty darn quickly. Read the rest of this entry »

Mindful Mama Carnival – Call for Submissions {March}

We all talk about how we want to bring more connectedness into our lives. We may want to connect with spirit, our bodies, acceptance, forgiveness or simply to find peace. Whether you already have a practice that centers you or you want to have a practice, but haven’t yet begun, here is a chance to write about what keeps you going or keeps you from starting and read what others are experiencing on their own journeys.

Kelly from Becoming Crunchy and Zoie from TouchstoneZ are pleased to announce the Fourth Mindful Mama Carnival.

Topic: Mindfulness Challenge

This month’s carnival is a little different – we’re asking you to come up with some sort of challenge to bring yourself a step closer to whatever aspirations for mindfulness you may have – whether that means finally getting started or deepening your current experience. One aspect of mindfulness being discipline, this spring we invite you to take your chance to truly challenge yourself when it comes to being a mindful mama.

That doesn’t mean it has to be difficult! We are all at different points on our journeys and what may be a challenge to one may not be to another – we want you to make this experience unique to your own needs. There are no time limits, difficulty levels or requirements – you are free to set yourself a challenge before the carnival and write about your experiences, to write about how you plan to challenge yourself, or write in the midst of your challenge – whatever feels best to you.

Some suggestions:

  • Commit to engaging in some sort of mindfulness practice daily – meditation, yoga, prayer, etc.
  • Take the opportunity to finally get started on the path toward becoming a mindful mama – whatever that means to you
  • Learn a breathing exercise and commit to putting it in action when you feel stress or frustration
  • Decide to consciously ‘let go’ in an area you’ve always felt you’ve held on to with too much control
  • Look for an area of your life that you can engage in with more mindfulness – putting the kids to bed, exercise, cleaning the house, etc.
  • Pick a specific relationship you would like to approach more mindfully and some simple strategies for doing so proactively
  • Give something up that is keeping you from being as mindful as you’d like to be

Remember, these are just suggestions to get your creative juices flowing. You don’t have to have a goal and you don’t have to succeed in your challenge in order to participate. It is the experience from your unique perspective that we are looking for.

Submissions Deadline: Tuesday, March 20, 2012. Fill out the webform (at the link or at the bottom) and email your submission to mindfulmamacarnival{at}gmail{dot}com by 11:59 p.m. Pacific time (please note the new email address).

Carnival date: Tuesday, March 27, 2012. Before you post, we will send you an email with a little blurb in html to paste into your submission that will introduce the carnival. You will publish your post on March 27 before 9am PST and email us the link if you haven’t done so already. Once everyone’s posts are published on March 27 by 9am PST, we will send out a finalized list of all the participants’ links to generate lots of link love for your site. We’ll include full instructions in the email we send before the posting date.

If you have any questions, you are welcome to contact us: mindfulmamacarnival{at}gmail{dot}com

We hope you’ll join us in this challenge to create more mindfulness in your life. Please submit your post on the form below by Tuesday, March 20th 11:59pm PST and have your post up on Tuesday, March 27th by 9am PST. We will send you code for the top and bottom of your post that will link to any other participants in the carnival Monday, March 26th with final update on March 27th.

If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below or email mindfulmamacarnival{at}gmail{dot}com.

Copy this Updated badge code and add it to your blog sidebar:

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To stay connected:

We are so looking forward to reading all the contributions for the March Carnival!

Zoie & Kelly

www.Touchstonez.com & www.BecomingCrunchy.com

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