Sunday, September 20, 2015


My 39th year is here. Contrary to what you might think, I am truly looking forward to the impending four-zero. Mid-life is here, y'all! It's time to do something exciting!

I made a big decision this week to launch a business. For months now, I have been using beauty products that I love and I have decided to join forces with Beautycounter in their mission to get safe products in the hands of women everywhere. Beautycounter is committed to providing quality products that are free of chemical junk and things that are harmful to human health into the hands of everyone. 

Honestly, it never occurred to me to march up to my department store cosmetic counter and ask the question, "what is actually IN this stuff?"  If it looked beautiful, I bought it. I have done this for most of my adult life. But after making great changes in my lifestyle over the years, it only makes sense that I should question what I am putting on my face and skin every single day (and on my children!). I am back in my skinny jeans, eating well, staying active, and now, I am finally tackling my makeup bag. The mission of this company is to be a part of changing what is offered to women - changing it to include products that aren't made of toxic chemicals and other ingredients that are harmful. And I feel passionate about being a part of it. 

And you know what? The products perform. I have browsed health food stores for "natural" non-toxic products in the past, but I have never found anything that actually performed like the makeup and skin care items I used from the department store. So, even if they had lots of junk in them, I couldn't bring myself to change. Until now.

Beautycounter launched in 2013 and they are doing great work in an industry that is basically self-regulated. While most companies literally use any ingredients they choose (regardless of the health risks), Beautycounter's standards are above everyone else. It is about time that a company put the needs of consumers before the bottom line...they are continually working to create safe and beautiful products for everyone.

Here's a great video by the founder of Beautycounter, Gregg Renfrew, and her vision for this company and industry:

Cheers to launching a new role in life! I'm adding it to wife, mom, friend, volunteer & faith-filled woman. I am staring the 39th year with gusto!

Please visit this site to see all of Beautycounter's products and learn more about their mission to offer safe products to everyone. Need help figuring out where to start with your cosmetics clean out? Contact me and I can help. You can email me directly from my Beautycounter page - and shop there too.

This list called "The Never List" is one you should use as you evaluate your own product stash. Bet you'll find something you didn't know was there. It's time to get in there and clean it up!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Favorite Upcycle Projects

 Over the past few years, I have made several things for the house by upcycling stuff. Much of it was throw away or free stuff, but I felt like it had a new purpose. This has become my favorite house decorating strategy because, first and foremost, it's inexpensive. But it's also fun to create something unique for your space! This is not a how-to post. I wish I were that intentional. ;) But it is merely to inspire you to look around your house - or your neighbor's trash - and see what you can repurpose for decorating!
I found this scrap wood on my neighbor's curb after they ripped out an old deck they had in the backyard. It was great wood, it just needed a new life as a rearranged background for the Good 'Ol USA. It hangs in my office/entry and I love its rustic and patriotic feel.

 These Mega Bloks were headed to Goodwill because my boys are now into "big kid" Legos. For my son's 7th birthday, I completed cleared out his walk in closet and made it "The Lego Room", which meant the door could be closed and I didn't have to see the mass of legos scattered all over. It also keeps it closed off from the baby, because Heaven knows the last thing I need is a 14 month old swallowing Legos! I made it from leftover Mega Bloks and a new fixture from Lowe's. Lowe's has some great pendulum lights with glass square globes for about $30. Go to work on it with some heat-safe Gorilla Glue and presto - Lego Light!

I also had some scrap wood in the garage that I painted in bright colors and put on the wall to decorate the walls in the Lego Room. It cost me nothing. ;)

 This pallet bookshelf took a little work but it was worth it in the end. My neighbor gave me the pallets and my husband helped me to nail them together how I needed them. Then I went to work sanding, staining, and painting it. It is the perfect bookshelf for the baby's books. She can reach in there and pull one out anytime.

 Thanks to a stick from my backyard and some paint sample papers from Lowe's, this centerpiece in the nursery turned out lovely. This took a long time to get right - I won't lie! It was a tedious project. But I love the organic and colorful pop it adds over the crib. 

 Here's a closer look at the paint papers (cut with a circle puncher), thread holding them together, and gradual color differences in the colors. Love it! And it was virtually free.

This project was one of the first I completed. I found this great old window frame at an architectural salvage store, then painted a thin piece of chalkboard to nail behind it. It's the perfect piece for a weekly family calendar!

Now, Y'all go browse Pinterest, get some ideas, and then dig through the neighbor's trash to get some materials to make something fabulous!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Kids+Food: Closing Thoughts

I promised to end this series of posts with some positivity and encouragement about how to move forward from here...

So far, we've covered these things:
1. The health of our kids in this country is not improving - many are overweight, inactive, and struggling with preventable diseases.

2. At every turn, adults in our culture are offering kids the very foods that have ruined their health - candy, soda, too many sweets, fast food, and other just plain bad foods.

3. We can make a difference by working to change our kids' food environment for the good, with the goal of eliminating the foods that make our kids sick and adding the foods that improve our kids' health.

Embrace True Quality Time. The first thing each of us can do is to reject the idea that there won't be any fun at events involving children if there isn't a ton of candy, soda, treats, and junk food. We have to shift the thinking in our culture to what truly makes for fun and meaningful time spent together. There are many ways to enjoy genuine quality time without it being centered around junk food. Maybe you grew up eating donuts every Saturday morning as a family tradition, and now you do the same with your kids. Think about how you can implement another way to spend time with your kids without eating donuts. Maybe you get up and make the breakfast together? Maybe you take a family bike ride on Saturday mornings? Maybe you visit your local Farmer's Market? It may be time to seriously consider how even regular family activities can include food and actions that actually improve the health of kids.

Be Reasonable. Many people might read my previous posts and think I am anti-junk, all the time. Not so. As a family, we enjoy visiting grandparents at their homes. We do NOT request that others eliminate certain foods from their home, nor do we deny our children some of grandma's famous cookies. That's unreasonable and steals joy from others. We also still make Christmas cookies at home, celebrate birthdays with cake, and do our best to celebrate normal cultural events. It is impossible to reject any and all treats and some of these are important traditions. We still encourage moderation at these special times and if we can help it, we celebrate outside of the home (so the leftover gallon of ice cream isn't left in the freezer!) These are special times and we try to keep them so. As far as regular events (weekly sporting events, birthday parties, school, school lunches, after school snacks, etc), we still work to provide healthy food and good choices. These events are regular parts of our life and not considered "special events" because of their frequency.

It's OK if Progress is Slow - Persevere. The commitment to change our kids' food environment is a long term one. It may take years for it to catch on that bottled water should be the drink kids enjoy after team sports. Or it may take many school holiday parties with downsized treat selections and upsized fruit and veggie options for parents to see the difference. I'll be honest: Other adults are your biggest hurdle. It is best to build a strong community with the parents of other kids around you and figure out how to work together. Remember - other parents don't like to be educated about what is "healthy" - but you yourself can implement change and see who joins you. Probably more parents will support your efforts than you think. And they may also start gradually changing their practices. I have seen it happen. The change is slow, but it does happen.

Talk to Those in Charge.  There is another level of change you can approach. Think about how you can request a time to talk to those in charge (Directors of Sports Program Concession Stands, Principals, Teachers, School Event Planners) about making positive change to the food and drinks that are offered. Does it bother you that your local Y concession stand only offers candy, soda, and other junk food? Ask around about who's in charge and chat with them about if there is a way to start offering fresh fruit. This may require work on your part - you might even have to BRING the bananas for a few weeks! - but try it as an experiment to see how receptive the community is. Maybe even go so far as to chat with them about a progressive change to a "healthier choice" concession stand with a marketing strategy, goals, etc. Come at it from the angle of a parent (or even a business/marketing person if this is in your skill set!) - the ones who hold the dollar bills the kids spend at the concessions - and help them to see that they may actually make more money than they think if they offer healthier options.

Your school may also have some "rules" about sweets and junk at school. In Texas, the schools only allow three parties a year where non-nutritional food can be offered. Other times, it is not allowed. But you may find that many schools fudge on this. They allow teachers to create math lessons counting Smarties, or a treasure box containing candy. For me, this means it's time to talk with people in charge about how we can honor the rule all the time, which was made with the intention to keep bad food out of the school environment. If your school doesn't have a rule, see about how you can work with other parents to lobby for one. Again, people will say, "Really? It's okay to count Smarties!" But in my experience, these things creep in more and more and before you know it, your kids are getting rewarded with candy every day.

You might ask if it is worth it to work so hard for a candy free/soda free/junk food free school...? After all, your kids are only at school part of the day, etc. But you know what? They are there A LOT. It is worth it to try to make changes for a good food environment there as well. Good choices should be provided as much as possible to our children, so they can see that the adults around them are serious about implementing the things being taught in health class.

Others may argue that it's hard to be "that parent" who is complaining about this issue, and it is easy to get branded as a difficult parent. A good rule of thumb for me is to ASK about and OBSERVE the policies of the teacher, the team, etc. and gather information from other parents before you rashly march in and demand that sweets be outlawed. Yes, that will make it difficult for you and maybe even difficult for your kid. But, it is worth it to work for change, especially if your kid is in a school environment you pay for (which is basically everyone, right?!)

It is worth it to try to implement change for better food for our kids. Again, this starts at home. But, for me, I saw the need to start moving out to the other regular places my kids are. This means sports events, parties, and other times when food is offered. Let's face it: Food is a huge part of our culture! We eat it to celebrate, gather together, reward, and even grieve. It's everywhere. So it is absolutely worth it to think about how to create healthier options for our kids. Perhaps it will be a way to help set this generation on the right course to good health.

I think you will find that MOST parents are totally supportive of changes that benefit our children. So why not be the one working for change and inviting others to join you?

There are a few books/movies that are great resources if you are interested in learning more:
Documentaries concerning food environments and kids:
Fed Up
Two Angry Moms

Books that are great:
100 Days of Real Food by Lisa Leake (if you need a book to get you started at home!)
Disease-Proof Your Child by Joel Furhman (if you are already making good progress at home and want to make even MORE changes for good nutrition and promote your children's health)

Hope that is helpful!