You Asked; I’m Answering! My Recommendations to Replace the Plastic Items You’re Afraid You Can’t Live Without.

I am asked everyday for product recommendations. What do I use for cleaning products, which deodorants and lotions are safe, which brands of shampoos are safe, what do I send to school for lunch- and what do I pack it in? I am always happy to be asked these questions because it means that people are paying attention and wanting to make safe choices- for themselves, their children, their pets, and the planet. Since this article hit our Facebook newsfeeds, lots of people are wanting to ditch plastic- YAY!! (Please don’t rush to throw away in the trash though- recycle, reuse, or donate!)

Let’s tackle things in order of importance- For parents, that means:

Baby Bottles & Milk Storage
There are “safe” plastics but I really don’t trust that any plastic is safe, so I chose glass Evenflo bottles. I pumped and stored milk in Evenflow 4oz glass bottles- but you could also use Ball jars! They would stack really well, but you might lose some of the ease of pouring or just popping a nipple on a bottle. Cap rings and sealing disks are made of plastic, but I don’t worry because they won’t really have any contact with the milk. These bottles also pack well with the Medela ice pack (which I still use to pack drinks and snacks for long trips or outings!) For baby and kid food storage, glass is an obviously great choice- tiny Ball jars and plastic lids (for easy use and washing!) are more budget friendly than these adorable Wean Green sets, but sometimes cute is called for! Stainless steel is another great option. If you have a severe nickel allergy, or if you just want to add some color to your tot’s lunch, use silicone baking cups to hold the food in place. I love LunchBots Trio and LunchBots Cinco for packing lunches and snacks. My kiddos have food allergies, so we bring food pretty much everywhere we go (except Chipotle, Blue Dragon, and Lime Leaf, where they can easily accommodate our allergies!) If I’m sending food that needs to be kept cool, I sit the LunchBot container on top of a slim ice pack. To send hot/warms foods, Thermos’s Foogo Line is great. They come in basic blue and pink!

Sippy cups & water bottles
These are a big source of leaching chemicals because the drink inside sits, exposed to the plastic, for long periods of time over varied temps. I’m a big fan of letting kids drink from real sturdy glasses at home. When your out and about, you can use glass with a Lifefactory silicone covered bottle. I have dropped mine from above my head, onto the pavement and not had a break, but if you prefer another option- I also love the thermos line of water bottles- they have sleek 16oz and 24oz bottles for grownups and cute Phases and FUNtainer bottles for the kids. The grown-up versions are great for water or coffee or tea! These are all super easy to clean with the OXO water bottle cleaning set or a soapy pipe cleaner if your feeling crafty!

Meal Time
Being a believer in trusting kids to learn to use real glasses, I also think stainless steel child size utensils are the best way to go- nobody needs to be chewing on plastic utensils! (If your kiddo has a nickel allergy and will be chewing on them, you can opt for this great wood set.) If you feel strongly about not risking your dinner plates, or if your little one insists you “keep it separated” try this cool divided dish. It’s sturdy and can go right in your fabulous dishwasher!

Food Storage
Plastic wraps is something I hear so many people say they can’t give up-but it’s not healthy and it’s terribly wasteful. I love covered glass dishes for food storage. My favorite is Snapware by Pyrex. You can see what’s inside, they’re stackable, and they just pop in the dishwasher to wash. If you must wrap something, opt for aluminum foil (it’s recyclable,) parchment paper or this nifty bee’s wax wrap. (*contains jojoba)  Instead of plastic snack bags, opt for unbleached paper snack and sandwich bags by If You Care or this really cool silicone sandwich bag!

Other Things to Consider

  • Choose restaurants whose take-out containers aren’t styrofoam. If they use solid plastic, transfer the leftover food to glass as soon as you get home. Opt for compostable take-out containers whenever possible. Read more, interesting info about chemicals used in take-out and food storage containers here.
  • Skip canned food and opt for jarred or frozen. It tastes better and won’t be soaked in the chemicals that line the cans.
  • If you’re a smoothie or juice fanatic, consider a glass vessel instead of plastic for your blender. Even if you’re ok with the plastic while you’re making your drink, store extra in glass in the fridge or freezer. I like the tall Ball jars. I also love to freeze smoothies in silicone popsicle molds like these.
  • Use stainless steel or cast iron cookware. I love the stainless steel pan the lives on my stovetop and my Le Creuset enameled cast-iron!. The less expensive Lodge skillet gets good reviews, too.

If I left out what you were hoping I’d answer for you, let me know. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have or recommend my favorite products in the comments below.

 

This is not a sponsored post, but Amazon Affiliate links are included in the text. All opinions and recommendations are my own. If you choose to purchase any of the products I recommend, Mommy Business will receive a tiny portion of the sale price at no additional cost to you.

A good habit that has stuck! NaBloPoMo challenge day 5

Today’s challenge question…. Do you have any good habits that were hard to start but you’re happy you worked to build them?

My family went GMO free about a year and a half ago. Reading about what this country does to our food system makes my blood boil. For a few years, I would read about GMO’s and get mad. Read and get mad, read and get mad. I was walking around mad which wasn’t helping anybody, especially myself.

I had been searching for a solution to the GMO problem but it just seemed so overwhelming that I would just kind of give up. Three out of four of my children have food allergies so I felt like I had to make a choice, purchase products from the big companies who are excellent at labeling ingredients but use all GMO’s, or go with the smaller companies that are organic/GMO free and risk cross contamination and not so great labeling. (Legally companies only need to list ingredients that are IN the food you are eating. They do NOT have to label what else is made in the facility or on the equipment. When dealing with nut allergies and anaphylaxis, this is not optional.) I felt I had to make my purchases through the big companies and just eat the GMO’s. I did this for a long time.

About a year and a half ago I decided that I would choose one product at a time and do my research on it. I chose products that we use the most of first, like cereal and bread, figuring I could make the biggest impact there.

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I spent a lot of time on the phone and on the internet and found out that eliminating GMO’s wasn’t going to be as difficult as I originally thought. I started with Kashi’s “non Gmo certified project verified cereals”. More info on that here. There are a few that are nut safe and non GMO that we use.

Bread was trickier. There aren’t a lot of bakeries that are nut safe. I did manage to find two that are organic (GMO free), nut safe, and most importantly, that my kids like.

Organic and GMO free is more expensive for sure! I have had to cut other expenses to make sure we can afford non GMO food and it is worth it.

Instead of walking around angry, I know that each and every purchase I make is making a statement. I am creating a demand for non GMO products and not providing funding towards the companies that use GMO’s and don’t label them. I have also dug a little deeper and have created a list (in my head) of companies that not only use GMO’s but also fund the campaign against GMO’s being listed on products. I will not buy anything from them either. You can find a good list here.

I am so happy I turned my anger into something positive. My youngest son who just turned 7 had the most positive allergy appointment he has ever had, just last month. I think there is a direct link to the choices we have made these past two years and his allergies. That is a different story for another day but I am so very grateful for working hard to build this good habit of ours :-).

We are far from perfect, nor are we 100% GMO free.  My kids still eat pizza and they have snacks that are not all GMO free.  I would say we are closer to 85% GMO free and that is SO much better than we were two years ago.  I hope more people will consider joining us with building this good habit and really cut out GMO’s and having your dollar matter.  🙂

 

*Image from shutterstock.com

That little negative voice in my head…. NaBloPoMo day 4

Daily challenge question: Have you ever tried to break a habit and failed? What made it so difficult to break?

This was a tough question to answer. It stumped me for a few days. I am usually pretty good about breaking habits. I have had some bad ones but have dumped them along the way. How is it that I can’t think of one bad habit I have had but failed? I am so far from perfect, why is this so difficult?

Then it struck me. I am far from perfect, that is what I said to myself over and over again. Then I started to listen to that little voice speaking to me. It never has anything good to say. NEVER. I consider myself a pretty self confident person. I am not all that thrilled with my appearance at the moment but over all I am happy and optimistic.

Then there is that voice. Right now it is telling me this blog post is stupid and makes no sense. It is also saying that I should be cleaning (my house is a mess). It is also telling me I have too much work to catch up on then to sit here and write. It also just reminded me of my laundry, and how I didn’t call my mom back, or visit my mother in law today like I planned. I also didn’t eat healthy enough today. According to this voice, I am a major failure.

Unfortunately I think this little voice begins for a lot of girls when they are relatively young. We are taught to hate ourselves, not sure how it happens but it does. I hear young girls all of the time stating how much they hate their hair, ears, nose, eye color, thighs, belly, height, weight, etc…. It is so wrong but so prevalent. I felt that way about myself for a very long time. Obviously that voice is still there so it is a hard habit to break.

Thank goodness I don’t listen to this voice very much. Or maybe I do listen too much and it is this voice that pushes me to constantly try and better myself.

I think this negative voice is the habit I can’t break. I am trying to incorporate meditation daily in my life. I am trying to quiet that voice and replace it with the positive. This past September I had the honor of attending a Hayhouse weekend seminar called “I Can Do It”, with Wayne Dyer as one of the headliners. It was amazing! Over and over I heard stories about being positive and attracting better things into your life. I have incorporated a lot of what I learned that weekend into my life and have a very long list of books to read that were recommended.

I do not put myself down in front of my children, never have. I am constantly explaining how believing in yourself is how to live. One of my favorite quotes is by Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”
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Now that I have really thought about this and put it in writing, I have a feeling that little negative voice will soon be a thing of my past.

Guest Blog Post: Donna Mavromates of MavroCreative

We take inspiration from lots of sources; often from other moms and business owners. With that in mind, we offer words of wisdom and inspiration from our very first guest blogger- Donna Mavromates!

Life is fluid. A lesson learned from a mother of twins.

Life takes twists and turns that we often don’t expect. For most of my life, I have been a planner. I like to know precisely where I’m going and what lies ahead. The first time that my best-laid plans were put to the test was when I became pregnant for the first (and only!) time. I was working in a corporate environment and I added the baby’s name to the waiting list for the on-site daycare. I was going to take 12 weeks maternity leave and would be right back to work. All set. Until an ultrasound revealed that the “baby” was actually “babies”.

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My identical twin girls at 6 months!

Twins? Wait a sec…that wasn’t in my plan!

And right then and there, my focus shifted and I quickly learned that I had to be open to a change of plans in all aspects of my life. It’s been almost 18 years since my twin daughters were born and I can honestly say that flexibility and adaptability are now ingrained in my persona!

So what does all of this have to do with this blog post? Because it’s along that same vein that I approach my business, Wicked Simple Marketing. I spent the second half of 2014 refining and defining the business and understanding what our clients need and want from an agency like ours.  Wicked Simple Marketing has been a part of me since 2010, and when I decided to focus on the business full time in June 2014, I did so with the intention of digging deep and understanding exactly what its mission is and what it is designed to do.

A name and branding change wasn’t something that I anticipated doing. In fact, I love the name Wicked Simple Marketing, because it’s fun and whimsical and quirky and very Bostonian! But the deeper I dug, and the more I learned about myself and what aspects of the business get me excited, the name “Wicked Simple Marketing” no longer resonated with me.  I realized that I hadn’t taken the very same advice that I give to my clients:

I hadn’t defined my brand.

Our core mission has always been to deliver affordable marketing and design (web and print) to businesses and providing the best possible customer service. That will never change. What we have done, however, is refined our offerings, concentrating our efforts on our core competencies and the things that we love to do, and on what our clients are telling us that they need and want: website and graphic design that is clean and sophisticated and that tells their “story”.

And so, the vision of MavroCreative began to take shape.

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John Jacobs, co-founder of Life is Good, speaking at the recent MA Conference for Women in Boston.

“Do what you like. Like what you do.”

John Jacobs, co-founder of Life is Good, said those very words at a recent conference I attended.  “Do what you like. Like what you do.”  I left the conference and those words stuck with me. When I really thought about it, the word “creative” kept coming up. Over and over. It is the aspect of what we do every day that motivates and drives me.

While I do enjoy social media and other forms of marketing – including marketing strategy – the parts of Wicked Simple Marketing that resonated with me the most revolved around the creative.  Helping businesses find their voice and creating that brand with them, and seeing it evolve in print and on the web is what I really like to do and it’s what the majority of our clients are looking for.

Deciding on a brand change was scary. I had my plan for Wicked Simple Marketing all set and it was hard to let it go. But, the lesson I learned almost 18 years ago continues.

Life is fluid and sometimes you have to follow a different road than the one you set out on.

So what does this all mean? In a nutshell, Wicked Simple Marketing has evolved into MavroCreative, LLC.  We provide sophisticated web and graphic design services to businesses and help them create and maintain their brand across all platforms. We are the same team, providing the same high level of customer service, under a new brand:  MavroCreative.

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As we say goodbye to 2014 and look ahead to the years to come, we are mindful of the fact that life is fluid, and sometimes the best-laid plans take a sudden turn. We look forward to seeing what this coming year has in store and our wish for every one of you is to take the advice of John Jacobs and “Do what you like. Like what you do.”

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Donna Mavromates is the owner of MavroCreative, LLC, a Hingham-based website and graphic design agency. In her spare time she is a hobbyist photographer and most recently can be found visiting prospective colleges with her 17-year old twin daughters, who inspire her every day. Learn more at www.mavrocreative.com .

Taking Down the Tree

Josh's ornament
We’re taking down the tree.

The tree that I delayed putting up. That A practically had to beg for this year. That we cried, decorating.

That Josh would have loved and sat near and gazed at with such joy.

The first tree without him.

We have lived through our first holiday season without our boy. Should I be relieved?

I’m not.

I feel like it would be better, easier, if we had melted down. Exploded. Imploded. If the world had just stopped.

It hurts more, somehow, knowing that we can go on without him.

7 Reasons Why You Need To Try Taekwondo

I have done every workout ever. Aerobics, step, spin, kickboxing, cross fit, tae-bo, personal training, running, walking, yoga.  Like I said; name it and I have most likely done it.

Throughout the years, I have gone through fitness phases, falling in deep like with different things. I have always been active, playing basketball, rollerblading, bike riding. (And walking the beach always kind of centers me.)

I was introduced to taekwondo about 5 years ago when my 2 oldest boys began taking classes. I fell in love then. I loved the instructors. I loved the discipline. I loved the fact that it focuses on the whole person, not just the two hours per week you are in class. Taekwondo taught my children about strength, perseverance, respect, dignity and how to give back. Good grades are expected at school when you are a taekwondo student and so is good behavior.

Two years ago they started offering parent classes. I felt a little silly to be quite honest. I am a rather large 42 year old woman in a white martial arts uniform! Then class began and I fell even deeper in love.

7 Reasons Why You Need to Try Taekwondo…..

1. A distracting challenge!! I don’t know about you, but I need a distraction. If I am counting how many pushups I am doing, my brain starts to spit curses out at me, telling me how bad I stink and that I should stop now. You will be so distracted by the language, the precise kicks, blocks, and punches, that you will forget you are working out! These workouts are intense, but you won’t even notice! I need and appreciate the distraction. Classes fly by and I am usually sad when they are over.

2. It is both physically and mentally challenging. Having to memorize forms (a series of kicks, blocks, punches, and stances orchestrated in a specific order) while focusing on having your foot pointing in the right direction, while having your leg at the right height, while simultaneously remembering to chamber. It’s a LOT to remember, it strenuous and hard work. I get so excited when I feel I have mastered a move, only to learn there are 10 more layers to that move and I have only mastered the first one.

3. Taekwondo will center you. After you get to know your forms you will come to rely on them to bring peace. I got a root canal last year and to calm my anxiety, I closed my eyes and went through my form in my head over and over. It really gave me some peace.

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4.  You get a prize every few months!!! A new colored belt to mark your higher rank. It may sound silly, but trust me you will wear that belt with pride and count down the minutes until you get your hands on the next color!

5.  You get to wear a comfy uniform (that looks super cool!). There is no stressing out about wearing the cutest tank and black spandex, no competition amongst anybody. We all look the same in class, except for the belt which distinguishes rank.

6.  You get to work out your frustrations on a bag, pad or person (with pads on). I frequently walk in to tkd all stressed out and leave a whole new person with a whole new perspective.

7.  You get to break wood! How cool is that? Who would have ever thought that I would be breaking wood with my  heels of steel 🙂 in my forties?!?! 🙂

 

Oh yeah, I broke this :-)

Oh yeah, I broke this 🙂

I am so grateful to have found taekwondo.  See you in class! 🙂

 

 

Jennifer Ormond is a Boston based entrepreneur, author, radio personality, blogger, mom to 4 amazing kids and wife. Lover of business, coffee, writing, children and parenting. Queen of sarcasm and eternal optimist! Connect with Jenn at mommybusiness.net, coffeebreakcafe.net, or jenniferormond.com ,@jennormond and @mommybiz7.

Join Us- An Easy, Fun Way to Spread Cheer!

Jenn and I decided to give back this holiday season by delivering baskets of cheer to people who need or deserve and extra hug or smile. Our businesses, Coffee Break Cafe and Healthy Homes Cleaning have invited other local businesses to contribute their goods or services to the basket. (Those who do not have goods or services can make a contribution to The Joshua Kaye Foundation to be included. We will deliver baskets every Saturday through the end of January. If you are in the Boston or South Shore areas, contact us to join. If you’re not local- start something in your neck of the woods and post about it on FB and Twitter using ‪#‎MommyBizGive‬. Be sure to tag Mommy Business so we can see all of the holiday cheer you’re spreading!

Week 1 Basket of Holiday Cheer!

Week 1 Basket of Holiday Cheer!

Food=Happiness (NaBloPoMo Day 3)

Today’s NaBloPoMo prompt: What food always makes you feel happy while you’re eating it?

As we established in yesterday’s post, it doesn’t take much to make me happy. Even with the restrictions my food allergies put on my diet, there are SO many foods that make me happy! (I love food!) I could get all serious and say that having food at all makes me happy. While this is true, I’m just not in the mood. I can’t do that today. Let’s keep it light, shall we?

I love veggie pakoras from pretty much anywhere, Silly’s sweet potato fries and Lime Leaf’s pad Thai. Even the smell of pizza makes me happy, though I haven’t been able to eat real pizza for years. I’m like a crack addict with sugar, but I’m also picky. I’m sort of awesome at baking, so I have high standards for sweets. My brownies make me happy- even more so when other people are eating and loving them.❤

The food that makes me happiest, though, is definitely Oleana’s falafel. I have been known to eat my own double order and then finish any leftovers from my fellow diners. It’s not just the flavor that contributes to my happiness (though it’s out of this world.) When I’m eating this falafel, I’m with my husband- either out with the kids or with good friends. Maybe celebrating, maybe out just for fun- but really enjoying the great company, in a great town, in a fantastic restaurant. It just doesn’t get any better.

My favorite! Falafel at Oleana in Cambridge.

My favorite! Falafel at Oleana in Cambridge.

Obsessed with squash!

Yes I am taking pictures of food, make fun of me if you like but I can’t help it on this one! I can’t get enough of this super simple, delicious, healthy recipe! I needed to share.

I get giddy inside when I know I have made a batch of squash within the past few days. I eat this for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack! LOVE!

Most of my veggies come from South Shore Organics, they deliver a box of local veggies once a week. When I am out I often go to the grocery store and grab any kind of squash or pumpkin they are selling. I don’t even care what the name of it is or if I have ever had it. As long as it is meant for consumption and not decorative purposes I will grab it.

Recipe and directions:

Pre-heat oven to roast 420
Wash the squash/pumpkin whatever you have.
Split it in half.
Scoop out the seeds.
Place de-seeded squash on a sheet pan.
Drizzle with olive oil.
Salt, pepper, and cumin. (I like crushed red pepper flakes but it depends on your likes and tolerance levels for heat)
Throw them in the oven for 20-40 minutes. These took about 40 minutes, I like them nice and roasted through because I like to eat the whole thing, skin and all!
Enjoy!! 🙂

Broccoli, peppers, carrots, cauliflower and sweet potato go REALLY well with this recipe as well. Thank you M.K. for this recipe- I use it a few times per week!

Thanks for reading, happy squash season 🙂
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Finding Joy When It Doesn’t Feel Easy

So, I’ve decided to take BlogHer’s NaBloPoMo challenge for December and post every day. The theme this month is joy- fitting for the season, right? It just so happens that it is the word I have chosen as my mantra these last few months, in hopes of more than just getting through.

This used to be my favorite time of year. This year, it is (as you might expect) very hard. Kicking off my holiday shopping at a fundraiser a friend’s store was having for our school, I found myself wiping tears away so I could see the toys and games. Shopping for the girls and seeing things Josh would have wanted was incredibly painful.
Having Thanksgiving with family, a little extra space at the table, was pretty awful. Hearing holiday music and seeing festive lights on the drive home was even worse.

Here, in this bright and cheerful season, my heart is struggling to feel the joy that usually comes so easily. I find myself cringing when the neighbors switch on their lights and my body tenses when I hear my favorite Christmas songs. It seems impossible to celebrate anything without the boy who brought us so much joy.

And then I hear his sisters laughing. There can be joy with pain. And pain with joy, I guess. This is our journey…

Where do you find joy?