1 Cup of Love

1 Tbls of Creativity

A Dash of Eco-friendliness

Servings: The Whole Universe

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sweet Milky Meditation

Remember my post on Café Gratitude and the online Abounding River play group that I joined? Well I wanted to share with you an experience that is helping me to create a new shift for myself. A vision that I have for this blog is coming into fruition this year and I’m excited that because of this playgroup, I am motivated and inspired to move forward with this shift (more to be announced about this in another post).

But for now I just wanted to share one of the exercises on meditation. For awhile now (actually years), I have been struggling with practicing meditating consistently. I had been creating my own “stories” around meditation: don’t have any time; too tired to wake up earlier than Andrik wakes up to meditate; when I do it at night, I end up falling asleep; I used to be so connected when I was a child with meditation and now I’m just so disconnected, blah blah blah!

Sheesh, I was getting tired of my stories surrounding something that should be bringing me peace, invigoration and inner connectedness. Thankfully with this online playgroup, I realized and was supported by others that anything and everything I do can be a meditation, as long as I ground myself with love. So here’s a new story I liked to share with you about how I’m making meditation my own.

As I was putting Andrik down to go to sleep two nights ago, he asked for Mama's milk. I've been trying to wean breastfeeding at night right before bed (and had been successful at it) but because there has been so many changes in the past 4 months with moving to two places, I figured I would breastfeed him at night for a little bit. And within that moment, I had an epiphany that I could actually medidate while he's breastfeeding! Well ok I had this epiphany before I started the playgroup but this time I was more committed to doing it!

So I started focusing on my breath and was about to envision a beautiful tree (like my cousin Nikki had mentioned in a prior post) when suddenly a different vision came into my mind. Actually a different sensation was more like it - it was the loving connection between Andrik and myself in this intimate moment. With each breath, I envisioned a white milky light streaming through my body, out through my breast and into my son's mouth, nourishing him with all of its loving nutrients.

And then my mind started to wander (as it normally does when I meditate) but this time it wandered into one of the other exercises: the gratitude exercise. This is an exercise where we are thankful for someone or something that occurred to us in that day. It dawned on me after the meditation that I was doing two exercises in 1! LOL I didn't intend to do this but it just organically happened because I was just so grateful that my body could still supply this nurturing fluid for my son at 22 months old. So I went with it.

I thanked my body for instinctively and continuously being in the flow. I thanked my breasts for withstanding several months of teethmarks when my son was teething. And how grateful I am that even though he's still teething that he no longer has the urge to bite and pull away (ouch - sorry if it's a little graphic but this is the beauty and not so beautiful moments of Then I thanked myself for being strong through these painful moments yet was still gentle with Andrik in explaining that biting hurts and that when he feels like biting, to bite on his teething bon bon. And last but definitely not least, I thanked Andrik for continuing to request for Mama's milk even when he has the choice of drinking almond milk. Because without him wanting to drink my milk as much as he does then I wouldn't have as much of a supply to offer.

As a matter of fact, as I'm writing this down now, I am soooo very grateful for the wonderful opportunity to work from home because this allows my son the freedom to drink throughout the day which keeps the milk flowing as much as it does!

Ok so back to sharing my story. I realized that instead of thanking the food supply like I do when we sit down to eat (i.e. the creators that came up with the idea of gluten-free bread, my friend who owns her own CSA and the farmers that offer organic produce, and the cashier at Whole Foods, etc), I was thanking my very own food supply!

Then I soon realized after all my gratefulness that I was supposed to actually be meditating (oops)! So I went back to focusing on my breathing and well before I knew it, I knocked out! LOL So much for the commitment of meditating for 20 minutes!

But ya know, truthfully it didn't matter the length of time to me. I no longer had any guilt around meditating or not meditating, so to speak, in the "right" way.  What mattered was the feeling that stemmed from the meditation and the appreciation I have for extended breastfeeding and the wonderful benefits extended breastfeeding provides for Andrik and for all children. What mattered the most, is connected moments like these with my lil man. And THAT right there is one sweeeet milky meditation!

Monday, December 20, 2010


A couple of weeks ago, I joined an online playgroup based on a book called The Abounding River by Matthew and Terces Engelhart. I was invited by my beautiful cousin Maya Hackett, the author of her own inspiring blog, Urban Organica to join her, along with other amazing and inspiring families and individuals.  At first I found myself being in resistance because I was so overwhelmed with recently moving, unpacking and having just organized and completed the Family Love Village gathering on homeschooling, as well as just cleaning up/settling in after my son, Andrik's blessing ceremony - which by the way all happened within ONE week of us moving to our new home.  Yes, you heard it correctly, my family moved once again.  That was twice within 4 months of each other.  A friend of mine joked and asked if we plan to move every fiscal quarter. LOL No thank you!!  We plan to stay at this house for some time!  And yes, a house!  An actual house!!  No not yet bought - renting; but still, an actual house!  :o)

So anyways before I go off on another tangent (for those that have been reading my blog know all too well I can do this), I wanted to talk a little bit about the book and the playgroup.  So after Maya had explained what this playgroup blog was all about (again being openly resistant).  LOL Even writing these words down sound ridiculous but to further explain, I was open, just not fully available to play wholeheartedly - especially about the part about writing in a THIRD blog!  I mean come on, it's hard enough for me to write in 2, and now I've gotta write in a third one (which by the way, I seem to be writing in this 3rd blog more often than my other 2 - which after doing this playgroup, trust me- I'm one inspired writer who has lots to talk about in both my original blogs so don't you worry, my intimate group of dedicated readers!  I've got plenty of love to share.  Ok there I go again- on another tangent! lol).  Back to the story. I wanted to be open and decided heck why not check it out.  If several of my cousins and theirs spouses that I completely respect and admire are playing then why not check it out. 

So yes, the book.  The Abounding River - well the title definitely had a nice flow to it.  And that's exactly what it's about.  This book helps you to create abundance in your life. In this book you practice loving yourself, adoring yourself, accepting the world, being generous and grateful every day and experiencing being provided for. And I have to say that even though I’ve only just begun, I am really enjoying this playgroup. It’s a private online blog where we share our thoughts, feelings and experiences of the exercises given in the book. I’ve read books before and done exercises but this one is different, it feels really good to get the support from other families and individuals that are doing the book, as well. We’re creating community here with family members, friends and people who we have yet to meet in person but whom I feel I already know.

I know..I know - you may be wondering what does this have anything to do with what this blog is about?  What does it have to do with anything that’s eco-friendly? The answer: EVERYTHING!  Not only is this a book (as well as a board game - intriguing right?) but the authors have built a whole community around this concept and now have several restaurants called Cafe Gratitude.

When I looked up the website, I was ecstatically inspired and even more excited to be part of the playgroup now! Their philosophy is everything that my family believes in and supports!  Below is what I copied and pasted from their website:

We choose to work in partnership with vendors, customers, and the community in making choices that support the environment we share. Plastic containers & water bottles have been eliminated from our retail store, and we often request that new and treasured vendors repackage their products in cellophane or glass - just for us. But that is only the start. Here is a short list of the environmental commitments we are steadfastly loyal to:

  • If the organic variety of produce is not available, we do not choose conventional.
  • We use non-bleached, 100% cotton cloths for napkins. After being used, these napkins are sent to the auto industry for rag-use purposes. This creates an additional life-cycle and eliminates the use of harmful chemicals such as bleach, which is used in common laundering practices.
  • We filter our own water at all locations.
  • All our food scraps are composted and are often sent to the Be Love Farm.
  • We recycle our paper and cardboard.
  • Our dishes are washed with the most environmentally-friendly products.
  • All of our books, private labels, and menus are printed on recycled paper with soy based ink. Our offices also use recycled paper.
  • We take pride in our high standards, and we thank you for every dollar you share with us, further empowering our investment in the environment.
The community we have built is inspirational and we thank you for being a part of it. The gratuity offered to your server is shared with every hourly employee who worked that day. This means that every baker, dishwasher, kitchen line, bartender, host, and food preparer share in the generosity you bestow on your server. You not only provide for one, you provide for all. We have made it a practice to help one another in times of financial challenge, personal growth, during addiction recovery, healing from disease, repairing a car or even replacing stolen bicycles. We support one another’s artistic performances, share housing, and transportation. By experiencing the power of community, we take care of each other, knowing that the same support is available in return. Imagine EVERYONE working in an environment where, on a daily basis, you are celebrated and held as nothing short of amazing; every day, you are created as great!

Café Gratitude serves a menu of 100% organic, 100% vegan, local fare.  Our food is free of refined sugar, flour, and additives.  We have an extensive menu of raw foods and have recently expanded to serve cooked foods in many of our locations. We create all of our own food -from the produce bin to your plate - so we can avoid serving certain common allergens like wheat, soy, and peanuts. Over 45% of our produce comes from our Be Love Farm, and the compost from our Cafes is returned to the farm to nourish the next meal.

Okay I just fell deeply in love with this community just with reading the above statements from their website! And this was just a part of what Cafe Gratitude has created for themselves and for us. 

Now let's go back to the beginning - even before Cafe Gratitude even came into play, so to speak.  I'd say it all began with love.  Thus, another reason why this post is on this blog.  It has everything to do with consciously creating a life Made With EcoLove:

When Matthew and Terces Engelhart first became sweethearts, they promised to live their lives together following and trusting intuition. Resulting from that commitment was an initial guidance to create a board game and after a year of development, the Abounding River Game was introduced. The Abounding River is an interactive way of practicing “being” Abundance in your life. Their next collaborative creation was the accompanying Abounding River Logbook, a 42-day practice that is shared with a partner and guides individuals through exercises to practice focusing attention on qualities that we all aspire to: Love, Acceptance, Generosity, Worth, Gratitude, Creation, and Responsibility.  Once the game was complete, Matthew and Terces agreed that it would be wonderful to offer a place where people could gather, eat, and play the game.  Coincidentally, while on their farm in Maui, Terces read a book about live foods and became so inspired that she asked Matthew to eat ‘live’ for 30 days.  At the end of the month, they felt so good they decided to create a living foods café, and so the idea for Café Gratitude was born.  Shortly thereafter, they opened up on 20th and Harrison St. in the historic San Francisco Mission District.  Since then, Café Gratitude has been a ground-breaking example of Sacred Commerce and its capacity to build community, encourage healthful living, and achieve abundance.  They now have 6 locations in the Bay Area, and sell their products in partnering stores country wide.

I am extremely excited too because a little birdie told me that the weekend of Dalmacio's birthday (around March 5th), Cafe Gratitude will be having a grand opening for a restaurant in Los Angeles too!  I can't wait to experience all the abundant yummyness (not only from the food but the energy from this place, as well)!

With this wonderful opportunity to play and practice with this online group and self-connectedness, I have been experiencing loving moments to and for myself.  I've found that this is very sacred and vital for me to find the balance between doing my best to be a conscious mama (as my cousin calls it: a conscious parenting advocate), and to be a loving and conscious wife, as well as loving myself and getting my own needs met.  Although this is definitely a fact that everyone needs to get their needs met in order to keep the happy sanity within the home, we don't always get them met.  But thanks to the playgroup and the book, I am beginning a new journey towards re-discovering myself and planting new seeds along the way.
Gratitude is one of the vital keys to self-healing and self-loving.  Thank you Abounding River and Cafe Gratitude for existing so that we can exist in a more loving, abundant and sustainable way.  Here's to eating, living, creating our lives with EcoLOVE!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Silicone May Not Be As Safe As I Thought...

I know...I may seem a little confusing since my last post I had raved about the Kinderville silicone products.  Well, I thought I had done enough research on this product but apparently not.  A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine had sent a few mamas an email on our thoughts about the safety of silicone.  She had purchased the Kinderville set and was informed from someone else that silicone hasn't been tested for safety on children's products.  I was truly disappointed when I heard this because it just urks me when humans make things without testing them first!!  Sighhh...why do humans insist on doing this with products, vaccines, oh the list could go on and on.  I was also bummed (for lack of a better word) because I really did like this product and so did Andrik.  Not to mention the cost!  I paid a pretty penny to buy the bowls, cups, and storage containers.  But once I started doing further research on this, I could no longer turn a blind eye and am now in search of a safe, eco-friendly product for Andrik's eatery set. 

My friend who had sent the email had copied and pasted information from a woman's link.  When I did a google search on this woman, Annie B. Bond, I was very impressed and inspired by her website.  Annie B. Bond "has over 20 years of experience as a writer and editor about the connections between the environment, personal health and well-being." 

Now this is a woman that I would LOVE to interview on my blog one day - that's for sure!!  Note to self: I must manifest this somehow!  :o)

Ok back to the issue at hand...ah yes, silicone.  So after reading the information from my friend's email, I just couldn't go back.  It aches me everyday that goes by that I'm giving Andrik his meals in these bowls and allowing him to drink his almond milk or Moringa tea on a daily basis in those non-tested silicone cups!  So I must find a safer solution, FAST!

After reading Annie B. Bond's website, I also did some more searching and found similar information on Saf Baby.  So what now? 

Annie B. Bond did mention stainless steel.  Well it does make sense since I have read this is the safest and this is what our water bottles are made of.  Although she did mention it could leach nickel (which I believe can occur if there is a scratch or dent) which is nearly impossible to avoid with Andrik's fascination with throwing his cup, dishes and food onto the floor!  But at least I know it has been tested as safe.  But this makes me realize just now that I probably have to replace his stainless steel sippy cup that has several dents in it.  Note to self: must look into this with stainless steel and dents.  Sheesh isn't there a type of material out there that is 100% safe and eco-friendly for our children and our environment?  Sighhh...

So far, the following list is what I have found:

1.  Think Baby - a company that makes a stainless steel feeding system.  I like the fact that it has a feeding system set that provides lids for storing the food, as well.  And the price was fairly reasonable at $39.99 - I say this because of the fact they have lids which gives it an added bonus to the product.

2. Green Toys - the company that I LOVE which makes eco-friendly toys made from recycled milk jugs has a feeding system, as well.  The only downside to this is they don't have a storage system - at least not yet.

3.Sactus Mundo - I was actually very impressed with this website and what they had to say about Ethical Sourcing.  I am contemplating between this company and Think Baby.  In looking at their catalogue, it truly is a tough decision because their storage containers would not only be great for storing my son's food but just food in general but then again, the storage containers are sold separately from the dish set.  Yet going back to their ethical sourcing, it would definitely be a company that is in alignment with what my family believes in. Hmmm perhaps I will get the Green Toys dish set along with Sactus Mundo's storage containers...Sorry - just thinking out loud.  Oh and as side note, I found this website Life Without Plastic that sells the dish set for $27.95. 

4. Green Your - not only did this link provide a list of nontoxic and eco-friendly products (although some were questionable), it also had very good information on materials of baby food systems to look out for.

Well this is all I've got for now.  My eyes are tired from looking at this blinding screen and I think my brain has had enough of my anal-retentive researching ways for the night.  So I hope you find some insight and hope within this post and please don't take my word for it - do your own research, as well.  And if you find a product or company that you would like to share on my blog, I would be honored for you to write about it or let me know and I can write about it myself.

Take care and good luck on your child-safe and green journey!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Eating Out of Silicone!

Right as Andrik was starting to eat solid foods, I wanted to find a company that made eco-friendly, toxic-free feeding and food storage containers.  I grew tired of seeing the slew of plastic products lined up in rows at such stores like Babies R Us.  I wanted to find something not only safe for Andrik to eat out of but something made out of green materials.  And so began my quest.

But I didn't have to look too far, thanks to Amazon.  I did a search for toxic-free containers and one of the products that came up was Kinderville.   Kinderville offers innovative, functional and toxin-free products for babies and toddlers.  With the focus on quality and the use of safe materials, all their products - including feeding and food storage systems, bowls, bottles, sippy cups, utensils, and more - are thoroughly safety-tested and are BPA-, Phthalate- and lead-free.

If it's not plastic then what are Kinderville products made out of?  They are made out of silicone.  After reading the FAQ on their website and the fact that silicone is made from organic materials such as sand, quarts and rock, I figured heck, why not try this product line.  And another fact that silicone is hygienic, hypoallergenic and resistant to bacteria gained more points in my book.  And not only were these products safe and green but they came in really great shades of green, yellow, blue and red. 

After researching Kinderville products, I went a little cursor happy and bought several of their items on Amazon.  I purchased the Little Bites 3.5 oz storage jars which came in 4, the Bigger Bites 10 oz storage jars which came in 2, Little Bites bowls that came in 4, and the Little Bites cups that came in 4.  When I received the products, I couldn't wait to try them out.  And it didn't take too long for me to fall in love with this company.  What I thought was really cool is the tops to the storage containers.  When you align the tops to the bottoms and push down, they do such a great job of sealing shut.  I thought it would be an issue at first but as long as you're not filling the containers with food all the way to the very brim, it seals extremely well!
So yes not only am I happy with this product but they've got a happy customer in Andrik!   I can't wait to buy the Little Bites Ice Pop Molds for when he is bigger and we can make yummy organic popsicles together!  I am also excited to discover that they have Bigger Bites Divided Plates and can't wait to purchase these!

So if you're looking into buying something that isn't plastic and is ecofriendly without having to buy glass, I would highly suggest Kinderville for your babies/toddlers eating needs! 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Nurturing - by The Word Pimpstress

I thought I would share some spoken word with all of you.  Yes I am the Word Pimpstress.  I have a few alias names besides Tangee and Lady Lava (my fire performing name) and The Word Pimpstress just so happens to be one of them. 

Once in awhile I'd like to share the many fragments of my creative mind with all of here goes:

By The Word Pimpstress

Sweet stares of bliss
are continuously bestowed upon you

Trickling tears of melodic joy weep from my heart
As I gently caress you in my arms

Intently observing each slight movement you make while dreaming…

The tender smile that lights up your face ~
makes me wonder what kind of happy dream is floating in your mind.

So content am I…
I could sit here for hours
Adoring you in your sleep slumber.

I get tickled when your little chubby hand
Gently rests upon my breasts
With what I like to call your adorable knuckle dimples.

Mmmmmm…I love inhaling your baby scent.

And I love this feeling…so connected are you and I

As you instinctively search for my breast to nurture you
I am also nurtured, as well.

Gratitude seeps from my pores.
The very essence of pureness is right here and now.
Of cuddled moments shared forever in my soul.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Moving On Up To the West Side (Humming to the Jeffersons Theme Song)

Hi everyone!  Yes I've been a very terrible host these past few months and I have to admit it has been challenging writing in both my blogs.  But I have very valid reasons!  1) I'm a mama to a very active 19 month old boy, 2) writing in 2 blogs with this mama brain of mine can create writer's block at times, and 3) we just recently moved!!!  The last answer has definitely taken up alot of my time this past month.  But I do want to apologize to all of you for not having the capability or creativeness to write...but that's about to change.  ;o)

This post is gonna be short and sweet because I'm completely exhausted each night after a fulltime job, making dinner, getting my lil man to sleep and then trying to unpack at least one box a night...

What I wanted to express is how amazing the Universe truly is...and if we truly listen to the settle signs She gives us, we can  truly manifest our dreams into fruition!  This move is a wonderful example of this.  For quite some time now, Dalmacio and I have been talking about how we want to move closer to the beach and in nature...and well, now we have both.  We're about 5 minutes away from the beach yet peacefully isolated within the beautiful, breathtaking mountains.

Everything basically fell into place for us with this move.  Our last place we were living at was nice and had its perks with a big kitchen and a laundry room with a washer and dryer but after 2 years living next to a neighbor who constantly yells at her kids was starting to take its toll on us.  Especially Andrik who was now fully aware of the negative energy and getting affected by it.  Our 2-year lease was coming up and we would've had to sign another 2-year lease and I couldn't bare the thought of living another 2 years next to a woman who verbally abused her children.  And just by chance (actually just by God's beautiful plan), a place went up for rent. And even though the place is smaller than our old place, the beautiful environment and the community is so much more spacious and loving than two of those old homes put together!

So yes I've been on hiatus for a lot longer than expected or have wanted.  But being a mama + writer's block + unpacking + enjoying the fresh air and surroundings has consumed my every moment...but I'm back!  And ready to share, connect, dig my toes into the dirt and get grounded with all of you!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

What's Stickin' on Your Wall?

Some people prefer to paint their walls themselves and some prefer to pay someone to paint their walls professionally.  Some prefer to stencil designs on their wall and then there are those who prefer buying stickers to decorate their walls.  I happen to be one of those people that prefers buying stickers to decorate my walls.  Yeah I don't mind painting a room but I'm not one of those artsy craftsy type of women that gets extremely excited to pick up a paint brush to start drawing a murial or anything (although secretly I think that would be awesome!).  Besides having the ability to hand sew a button, the sewing machine in our house belongs to my husband (who makes majority of our costumes for our performance shows).  So for me, stickers it is!

But the stickers I choose to creatively put on our walls are not just any ol' stickers.  You see, most stickers are made out of vinyl and unfortunately the chemicals to make vinyl are not eco-friendly.  To think I used to buy pleather wear...looks like that will be something I take off my shopping list from now on.  Ok so I still own a few vinyl pieces (especially for when I fire perform) but again it's not something I will buy for the  future.  I know, I know..some people would probably gauk at why I'm keeping them around in my closet, especially since I have this blog catered towards things "made with eco love".  I like to think of myself as taking baby steps towards a positive and green direction.  I mean come on, I used to bleach and color my hair several months ago and am now taking a stand to no longer bleach my hair (until I can find a green solution that can actually lighten my hair that is friendlier to the earth and my health). Funny now that I don't dye my hair all those funky and fun colors anymore, I can actually see more white hairs sprouting everywhere (I better go find that green bleach alternative quick!)  So again, I do my best not to beat myself up for the things I still have in my closet (hey, what can I say I love my costumes) and continue to remind myself that the baby steps I am doing are making a difference!

And this step for an eco-friendlier solution for stickers is definitely in the right direction!  After a few months of researching, I stumbled upon a blog (shoot, can't remember the name of it) and it showcased an online store on Etsy created by three ladies (if anyone knows me, I LOVE Etsy - I will one day do a post on all of my Etsy findings).  It had a very cute and catchy name: Mae, Charmed I'm Sure.  The designs were adorable!  I LOVED the look and feel of their designs.  What impressed me the most is that their decals are made out of cloth instead of vinyl.  I was ecstatic and very curious to see if they truly stick to the wall and can actually be reused over and over again as stated on the homepage:

"Unlike most wall decals on the market, which are made of vinyl, our lovely stickers are made of fabric. This makes them perfect for children, as they are removable and completely reusable. YES! Our stickers are re-usable! They can be scrunched into a ball and will easily un-scrunch and re-apply to your wall, many times over. This is important when it comes to those precious yet impossibly grubby little ones! Our stickers can be applied to almost any surface, and will not damage your walls."

What I even love more about the stickers (well besides the obvious answer of it being friendly to Mama Gaia) is the diversity.  There are several stickers that you can rearrange with different heads and bodies so it can be different every time!  For instance, their Dress Up Dolls decal.  It comes with a male and female body with a variety of clothes that the child can dress them up in.  Talk about using your imagination!

Or how about something as simple as the alphabet.  It may be simple but oh the fun you and your child(ren) can have with spelling phrases on the wall!  Talk about fun while learning! a matter of fact, I think that might just be the next thing I get from this company.

But what I couldn't resist was the Makin' Monsters decals that we did end up buying (see the image above with the alphabets - aren't the monsters awesome?)!  This set was just wayyy too irrestible not to get!  One night after putting Andrik to sleep, Dalmacio and I decorated the hallway walls and babyroom/office along with the toy furniture with the monsters.  We had so much fun decorating and re-decorating and you know what - they did an amazing job of re-sticking to the surfaces without any issues!  What was rewarding though was seeing the look on Andrik's face the next morning  when he discovered the stickers.  He was so excited that he kept going from hallway to room to look at each of the monsters.  He kept touching the monsters and saying "Oooohhh!" (he must've been around 15 months at the time).  I can't wait for Andrik to be a little older (past the "I like to put everything in my mouth" stage - he's still only 17 months old) so that he can actually decorate with Daddy and me!  To view a few pics that I took, check out the post about the Way Basics Furniture I wrote previously.

Another great store that these 3 ladies have is called Mini Mae - which has smaller stickers that can be placed on laptops, notebooks, folders, diaries, lunch boxes, toolboxes, phones, light switches, walls and just about any other surface you can think of. 

So before you decide to buy those vinyl stickers, peruse through Mae's store to get your reusable cloth stickers that will last you for years to come!  Even if you're not the next Van Gogh, I guarantee you will be using your fun and creative imagination with these decals!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Furniture Made Out of Recycled Paper?! Say What??


Yep!  You read correctly.  Shocking I know! But definitely one I am very pleased with!  You may remember in a previous post for Andrik's 1st green birthday that I was planning to purchase a toy storage unit for Andrik from a wonderful company called Way Basics.  

Well I finally have an opportunity to write my personal review about the gift we got our son for his 1st birthday.  Thanks to family and friends who donated money towards ECHOage - which part of the donations went to a charity for kids with cancer who get the chance to go camping with their families (while at the same time can receive the medical care they need) and part of the donations went to one gift for Andrik.  Well we didn't want him getting too many gifts or clothes (God knows he's got enough clothes to last until he's 4 years old and they still keep coming - thanks to all the hand-me-downs from family and friends)!  So we decided that getting him one meaningful gift that could last a long time would be the "greenest" choice.  We decided on a toy storage unit (several of them actually).  

So I'm sure you're wondering if furniture made out of recycled paper is sturdy enough?  I know, so was I.  After doing extensive research on several different wood furniture products out there, Way Basics was the only one that was reasonably priced that was not made out of wood that had formaldehyde in it!  And I was very impressed with what I was discovering about their product and was curious to see if it actually was sturdy enough.  I mean come on, we're talking about paper here!

After reading through their website and learning about Their Story, I was sold.  Their Human Friendly and Earth Friendly ethics is what lured me in.  Remember the part I mentioned above about a reasonably priced storage unit that was not made of wood with formaldehyde in it?  Well read on - I've copied and pasted a portion of their story (highlighted in green).

What does it mean to be completely human friendly and earth friendly?  At Way Basics, we believe that it means being completely safe for your family and the environment.  There is nothing more important than the health of our families, so we’ve made a commitment to providing storage and furniture solutions completely devoid of the chemicals that you commonly find in other products.  Formaldehyde and VOCs are the two biggest culprits in traditionally made furniture, yet these types of products can be found in almost any home, and in any room.  Formaldehyde is used as a binding agent in wood engineered products such as particle board or MDF.  Under normal everyday conditions, products containing formaldehyde will undergo “off-gassing” which means that the formaldehyde will evaporate out of the wood and into your home.  Formaldehyde is recognized as a toxic substance and not safe for your family.  VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compound and in the world of furniture is used most commonly in reference to paint.  You will never find either of these substances in Way Basics furniture…EVER!

Wanna know the details of what you will find in Way Basics furniture!?  It’s made of 99% post consumer recycled paper, which allows our products to be light, yet provide superior strength and durability.  The remaining 1% is devoted to the paper veneer which provides the finish on our boards.  With this paper veneer, we are able to print toxic-free ink directly on the boards, which is then absorbed into the paper.  This allows us to avoid the use of paint. 

You won’t find any mysterious chemicals in our products because we simply believe that being human friendly and Earth friendly, is just the right thing to do.  We empower our community with the ability to make more sustainable choices because that’s what we care about most.  Sustainable living is instrumental, fundamental, and absolutely essential in preserving the long term health of our families and our planet.

Now it just doesn't get any better than that!  Well...ok also Their "No Waste, No Rules, No Tools" Assembly was another big plus!  After talking to one of their reps, David (whom by the way is the guy demonstrating how to assemble the zBoards on the videos and whom was gracious enough to put up with my constant calls and inquiries - bless his soul for that one!), I was completely 100% sold and couldn't wait to try them out.  Their belief system is everything that we believe in.  And anything that doesn't entail tools to assemble gets a thumbs up in my book.  Hey, give me a break!  I've got other things to tend to then trying to figure out how to assemble furniture - like tending to my family and 2 blogs!  Alright, alright, so my husband would've been the one to assemble it if there were tools involved but hey, now he didn't have to!  So there! ;o)

So the day had come and the toy storage cubes had finally arrived!  And boy was I very pleasantly surprised!  Not only was the material very sturdy but it was VERY easy to assemble! Ok so I had my step-dad, Rick who helped me but that was ONLY because they were in town staying with us and I was in the middle of working so could only do so many things at once.  I may be a multi-tasking mama but I had my "Clark Kent" job to focus on.  Plus, Rick was willing to help so I could surprise the hubby when he got home.  :o)

And yes everything they said about the recycled paper furniture was true!  The quality was very well made.  My family was also impressed with the quality.  It truly felt like wood! And there was absolutely no waste.  The paper for the adhesive tape was the only thing that had to be recycled. 

One of the best things about the cubes is that it can grow with our son.  When Andrik is older, he can use the cubes to put his school books, clothes, or basically whatever he wants in there.  I also decided to choose neutral colors (3 espresso cubes and 3 natural cubes) so that it wasn't anything too flashy that when he does grow up, they are colors that match well with anything.  But because the color were so neutral, I wanted to give them more pizzazz by decorating them with eco-friendly fabric stickers (which will be discussed in another post).  But just so you know, the cubes come in a variety of colors besides espresso and natural (in case you want the actual cubes to be more colorful).  They also come in white, pink, blue, green, orange, and black.

So now that I had the cubes, I also needed some bins to put Andrik's toys in.  Unfortunately at the time that I purchased the cubes, Way Basics didn't have any cute Cozy Cube Bins like they do now.  But when I was inquiring about purchasing the cubes, David did suggest purchasing ClosetMaid fabric closet drawers on Amazon.  I also had to make sure the measurements matched the measurements of the cubes.  They were close enough (11"H x 10.5"W x 10.5"D) - just a slightly smaller but I have no complaints.  But do take note that the Cozy Cube Bins measurements are 11" H x 11" W x 11"D and are more expensive but definitely in cuter colors than what I've seen on Amazon for ClosetMaid.  I plan to purchase a couple of the Cozy Cube Bins that's for sure!

So after several months of using this product, Way Basics gets 6 thumbs up from this happy family!  Not only are they human and earth friendly, they are also located in Irvine, California which is local to where I live (so the carbon footprint isn't much).  And wait, it gets better!  They also contribute to those in need.  So whenever a potential customer buys Way Basics furniture, we as the consumer are helping to improve the world in other ways too!  Way Basics works with furniture banks around the country to help families in desperate need (i.e. victims of natural disasters who've lost everything they owned, women and children escaping from domestic violence, working families below the poverty line, etc).  Now that right there fully warmed my heart!  Just writing this post makes me want to purchase more cubes from them (well once we get a bigger place, I will).  To get even more inspired, read more about Their Story.

So when it came to planning and celebrating Andrik's 1st Green Birthday, I really felt good inside knowing that the one birthday gift we got him had a multitude of green benefits.  A big thank you to family and friends to contributing to Andrik's birthday gift and a gargantuan thank you to all the green companies for existing and inspiring our family to continue on this sustainable path!  This brings new meaning to the age-old saying: "the grass is always greener on the other side"...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Family Love Village Blog is Born!

To my devoted readers (who have been waiting patiently for me to update my blog and have probably given up), please don't give up on me! ;o)  I do have to apologize that I haven't updated my blog on here.  I've been a very busy mama organizing gatherings for a group I formed called the Family Love Village (formerly known as the Family Love Gathering).  Which I'm very excited to announce that I have finally decided to create its very own HOME.

I know..I know - where do I find the time to write in 2 blogs let alone 1??  Oh wait, shouldn't it be "where do I find the time to write in 1 blog, let alone 2?"  LOL  (that's how fried my brain is right now).  I'm still trying to figure that one out!  LOL  But I'm really excited that my vision is coming into fruition (in more ways than I had originally imagined)!  The concept of the Family Love Village is to connect one conscious village at a time.  Our mission is to connect families together who are passionate and/or willing to learn about various ways of gentle discipline/guidance with their children, as well as, holistic and green living. The Family Love Village is a cohesive community where other like-minded parents support and nurture one another with alternative, natural, positive, eco-friendly and conscious parenting choices. It’s a sacred place where judgments are left at the door and loving trust and bonds are formed. It's a forum where we can discuss and share our concerns, frustrations, and triumphs, as well as create the space to be open to learn more tools that help guide us on this cognizant parenting journey – knowing that we’re not alone on this parenting path!  My vision is to help and support many holistic villages throughout the world!  So if you are inspired to create one of your own in your city or you know of someone that may be the perfect candidate to create one, please pass them my way!

So that's basically what I've been doing...but trust me, I've got a list of posts for this blog on alot of eco-friendly topics and products that I've purchased that I want to share so badly with you.  And I please be just a teensy weensy more patient with me?  I just finished finally writing in my other blog and it's now almost 2am and what am I thinking?  I gotta get some zzzsss for work tomorrow!!  I actually had a moment of inspiration to write so I went with it!  You gotta just flow with your creativity & inspiration and sometimes I get unmotivating writer's block (hence the long withdrawal of my writing skillz on here) so if it's 2am in the morning, then so be it!  Although I'm extrememly exhausted, I had to write to you all over here (that's if anyone is even interested in what I've gotta say anymore)...LOL.  I  just wanted to let you know that I love you ALL and am going to be writing some cool and interesting stuff on here soon! So please stay inTUNED!  ;o)

With Sincere EcoLOVE,

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My Sweeeet Yummy Yam Soup!

I'm finally posting this recipe (which some people have been requesting for quite some time).  This recipe I created is all vegan and organic.  It has a thick and hearty consistency and is very healthy, yummy and good for you. My husband describes it as "rustic yummyness" and is one of his favorte comfort foods. Which is why I had to include the word "yummy" in the name.  It's definitely one of those soups that are perfect for those Winter days.  And considering we're already into Spring, I'd better get this out for those still wanting to make it (before it gets too hot).  Good thing the nights are still chilly enough for soup.  But my husband, Dalmacio wanted to add that he thinks this soup is good anytime of the year!  As he puts it, "Comfort food is comfort food!"  :o)

So for all those patiently waiting and for those who have yet to hear about it, I'd like to introduce to you my:

(accompanied with Bread and Rosemary Garlic Butter)

Yield: Makes about 8 cups - approx 6-8 servings

2 1/2 lbs of Yams
1 Cup of Split Peas
1 Large Chopped Onion
3 Cloves of Minced Garlic
3 Sprigs of fresh Rosemary
2 Tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp of Bragg's Liquid Aminos
Black Pepper and Salt to taste
5 Cups of Rice Milk (Soy milk or Almond Milk can be used also)
Vegan Sour Cream or Soy Yogurt
2 Tbls of Chopped Chives

Rosemary Garlic Butter:
1 Cup of Vegan Earth Balance Butter
2 Clove of minced garlic
1 Sprig of fresh Rosemary

Loaf of French bread or even Focaccia bread is yummy with this soup.

Cook the split peas in water for about 40-50 minutes or until tender.  It's also best to soak the split peas overnight.  While the split peas are simmering, cut the yams in big cubes.  Chop the onion and garlic (put aside about 2 Tbls of garlic for the Rosemary Garlic spread).  Pull the Rosemary off of 3 sprigs.  Add the ingredients to a casserole dish and preheat the oven at 425 degrees.  Mix in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of Bragg's Liquid Aminos along with the rest of the ingredients until all is mixed together well.  For those unfamiliar with Bragg's - this is a healthy, wheat-free non-GMO alternative to soy sauce.  Cook in the oven for approximately 30-45 minutes or until tender.

While both the split peas and yam mixture are cooking, prepare the Rosemary Garlic butter.  Pull the rosemary off of one sprig and cut into small pieces.  Take the left over minced garlic (2 tablespoons) and mix well with the Vegan Earth Balance butter and put aside.

Once the split peas and yam mixture are cooked, take some of the peas and some of the yam mixture and put into a blender (all of the ingredients might not fit in your blender so you may have to do a couple of rounds to this step).  Add 1-2 cups of rice milk and blend until smooth.  Pour into an empty pot.  Then take the rest of the peas and yam mixture and 1-2 cups more of rice milk and blend until smooth.  Pour the mixture into the pot.  Add the rest of the rice milk to create the consistency of thickness or thinness to the soup that you desire.  Add pepper and salt to taste.

Wrap the bread in foil and put in the oven to warm for about 5-10 minutes (depending on how crispy you like you're bread).  Cut the bread into slices and smother the yummy Rosemary Garlic butter on top. 

Serve the soup in bowls.  Top it with a dollop of vegan sour cream or soy yogurt and sprinkle some chives on top.  Add the bread to the side and you've got yourself a yummy, fuzzy warm dinner! 

Of course the best ingredients are organic, local ingredients. We like to shop at our local Sherman Oaks Farmer's Market on Tuesday evenings.  Not only do you get organic produce without all the icky pesticides but you're also supporting the local farms, as well as local companies, such as soy candles, clothes made from organic wool and organic Korean tofu bbq, just to name a few of the pluses with shopping at Farmer's Markets.  Which by the way ties in very well with my theme of things that are made with Eco Love!  We definitely look forward to these nights as fun, family time (especially now that the sun is out later and the days are becoming warmer).  Last week, because I couldn't find any yams, I went with sweet potatoes instead. Although the soup was still yummy, it was a little too sweet for my taste. It also didn't have that nice, rustic orange/gold look or taste to it.  Plus, if it's made with sweet potato then it would have to be called Sweet Yummy Potato Soup and well to tell you the truth, it just doesn't have as good of a ring like Sweeeet Yummy Yam Soup does! :o)

I thought I'd add a picture of the soup I made last week with the sweet potato so you can see the difference between the 2 colors of the soup (the one pic posted earlier is with the yams).  Plus I served the soup on one of my favorite soup bowls so thought "Heck!  Why not show this pic". 

So I hope you enjoy my Sweeeet Yummy Yam soup!  There will be plenty more recipes that I'd like to share in the future...especially now that my diet isn't as restricted anymore because this mama loves to create in the kitchen!  God I love food!  And it doesn't get any better than organic, healthy food that's for sure!  Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What We Eat is Who We Are!

Q: So what's even better than store-bought organic baby food in a jar?  A: Organic HOMEMADE baby food in a jar!  I gotta tell you, providing organic homemade food for our son just makes me feel so good inside.  Knowing that Andrik is getting the best and most nutritious food without worrying what is in the baby food means alot to my husband and I.  And yeah having a Vitamix industrial blender definitely helped!!  LOL

Knowing what Andrik is eating is very important to us.  Shoot, what we eat ourselves is very important to us!  I'd say before Andrik came along that Dalmacio and I ate pretty healthy.  Although fast food had been taken out of my diet for years (Alright - I hate to admit it, but the occasional order of french fries from McDonald's would be ordered on the way home coming from a club - ya know to soak up the alcohol!).  BUT besides the occasional french fries, I did however feel that we were pretty healthy.  But I also definitely knew there was room to grow and learn about eating healthier.  I was a vegetarian (had even stopped eating seafood until I was pregnant) and always ate free-range eggs (refused to eat eggs at restaurants because I knew they weren't free range) but I guess the Universe had other plans for me to become even more aware of what I was putting into my body.  And that day came when I found out I was pregnant.  From about 2 months into my pregnancy until now, my diet had drastically changed. 

A couple of days after finding out I was pregnant from a home pregnancy test (8 weeks preggo to be exact), I made an appointment to see an OB/Gyn.  She claimed to be holistic but there was definitiely nothing holistic about this woman.  I could feel the fakeness seeping through her pores as she tried to force a smile towards Dalmacio and I.  I think it's because all along I told her we were planning on a having a home birth but wanted to see her a few times (just to see how far along I was pregnant and well to tell you the truth, we hadn't interviewed any midwives yet and were still new at all this).  She told me I had to take a couple of tests because I was a "high risk" pregnancy due to my age (I was 35 at the time).  Of course at that time, I followed suit because well I just didn't know any better.  I had no idea what the test was for because well I guess I didn't ask enough questions and she basically just didn't give us enough information.  Of course nowadays, man, you tell me something to do and you better believe I have questions to ask!  And my own research to do - hey, ya gotta be in order to be well educated on the things that matter most to your baby and your family!

Ok so back to that dreaded day of that test I had to take.  It was a glucose test to be exact - to see how much sugar intake I have.  This was to be a very important test little did I know - one that would determine if I can have a home birth or not (thank God the first test was just a pre-screening test for the actual one that I would end up taking at 28 weeks pregnant!).  The reason for this test is to see if you're baby has Gestational Diabetes.  If you don' t pass the second glucose test, you unfortunately have to have a hospital birth and this was not an option for me!  I was determined to have a home birth!

But before I knew all this pertinent information, the weekend before I took the pre-screening test was my sister, Vivi's birthday party - where there was lots of yummy sweet treats for me to eat.  Hey I was pregnant and well the only thing that seemed palatable to me at the time was fruit and sweets (which was very abnormal for me because I was definitely not a sweet tooth).  Anyways to make a long story short, after downing that disgusting sugar drink (it's like a really, really, really sweet soda that has gone flat) and having my blood taken, I unfortunately failed by 1 point.  The upsetting thing (at the time) was that the Ob/Gyn made me take this test 20 weeks too early!  As mentioned above, normally you're supposed to take this test at 28 weeks pregnant, not 8 weeks pregnant where you're eating habits are out of wack!  But again thankfully it was only a pre-screening test!

Soon after, we began our search with interviewing midwives and thus my diet had to change.  Every midwife that we interviewed said the same thing, I was not allowed to have anymore sugar for the rest of my pregnancy.  Which also meant no pasta, no rice, no potatoes, no nothing!  Let's just say I ate alot of quinoa, vegetables, nuts, and fish.  For sweets, I was only allowed to have berries but any other type of fruit, such as bananas or pears or apples was a no-no!  I thought I'd be fine with this because heck, I didn't like sweets anyways so why should it matter to me, right?  Wrong!!  You know the saying "You always want what you can't have?" - well suddenly sweets became the one thing I craved!  Ice cream, cheese cake, mashed potatoes (ok so mashed potatoes aren't sweet but I still couldn't have it)...sigh...

But hey if the Universe wanted me to learn to be healthier, it was working!  Because I was pretty darn healthy at this point that's for sure!  In the end, when I had to take the test again at 28 weeks to ensure that I can have a home birth, I passed with flying colors!  But it wasn't a pleasant experience.  I thought the first test was bad but this time around, not only did I have to drink that nasty, overly sweet sugar drink again but I had to get blood taken from me 3 times - which meant no eating before the test with a sugar high that made me feel like I was on crack for the next 3-4 hours!  Mine as well have injected me with the stuff so I wouldn't have to taste it!  You can imagine how hard I crashed after that!  Poor Lil Munchkin must've been like "Oh this thing again!"  But even though I was upset at first for the mistake of taking the test too early and having to take this awful test AGAIN, surprisingly I'm actually very grateful for that experience.  So I have the Ob/Gyn to thank for making me take this test too early - because if it weren't for her, I wouldn't have been more cautious of what I was eating during my pregnancy.  Everything truly does happen for a reason.

But I think the Universe still felt there was more for me to learn because I was once again led down this path towards a restricted diet or shall we say Elimination Diet (which is not to be confused with Elimination Communication - which to me is a much more delightful experience!)... LOL :o)

I'd say Andrik was about 5 months old when we noticed his cloth diapers had a discoloration to them.  It was a light salmon-colored spotting each time he went pee.  Of course I called our pediatrician and also did some research online.  Everything I found on salmon-colored spotting said the same thing: that it could be crystallized urine from being dehydrated or perhaps a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection).  So for the next month we did test after test (blood tests, urine tests, stool tests) but nothing showed up for either of those things or anything for that matter.  This was definitely a stressful time for us because 2 Pediatricians and several clinics could not determine what was the issue.  Thankfully my step-mom, Tutti reminded me to not think of something as "wrong" with Andrik.  To change my perspective and truly see him as perfect, whole and complete, as well as, surround him and the situation with LOVE. And true indeed, after shifting our thoughts (a.k.a. fear), Dalmacio and I felt the shift of how we were treating each other, as well.  Something as stressful as this could definitely put extra hardship on the relationship (and on top of that, being new parents AND being newly sober was definitely taking its toll)!

So even though we had shifted our energy to love, we still had to figure out the cause.  So since the doctors couldn't find anything, we decided to let our Naturopathic pediatrican know that we were also going to see an NET (Neuro Emotional Technique) Specialist to dig deeper.  So we went to an awesome NET specialist who did muscle-testing on Andrik and soon found out that he was having an allergic reaction to the foods I was eating.  Which, by the way, the main culprit was - drum roll please, cheese and corn.  To my dismay because I LOVED cheese!  But it made sense though because I was eating cheese like it was going out of style!

So if this was the cause then I knew I had to take it out of my diet.  The NET specialist also suggested I remove all Nightshade Veggies (which meant no more tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, or any type of pepper for that matter, as well as, cayenne seasoning).  I was a little heart broken to say the least but this was for the sake of my son's health so it didn't matter to me.  I soon decided to also take out wheat and gluten, as well since that is considered a high allergen.  And then soon soy/tofu products also went on that restricted list, as well.  I know, I know -  it's beginning to sound like my diet would consist of air and water, right?  Oh just wait - it gets better. Soon my pediatrician suggested I go on an elimination diet.  Um, wasn't I already on one?  But apparently I wasn't.  So for the next month I ONLY ate organic white rice and organic steamed veggies (yes, this is what I ate for breakfast, lunch AND dinner).  Eating that for a few days would make a person go crazy - try a whole month!!

Some mothers would ask me "Why not just give Andrik formula so you don't have to go through all this"?  But that was not an option because I wanted my son to have the healthiest milk with the best vitamins and nutrients (and formula certainly wouldn't win over my yummy, organic breastmilk)!  Besides all the amazing benefits of breastmilk, it's FREE and eco-friendly (no need to dispose of the containers or to travel to get the formula - not to mention the carbon footprint of the formula being delivered to the store)!  Plus, if he was having digestion issues with whatever I was eating, there could be a number of further issues he may have acquired from the synthetic formula!  There was just too many great benefits that came with my milk that I wanted to give to my son than me thinking of my own selfish desires!  Thankfully I received alot of support during this time from my husband, family and other mothers because although again grateful for the experience, it was not an easy one. 

Anyways, eventually the spotting went away.  And I was then slowly but surely able to re-introduce foods into my diet to see if we noticed anymore spotting and if we did, then the new food I re-introduced we would then know was something I couldn't eat (at least for the next 6 months until we tried that food again). It was a slow and painful re-introduction though.  For instance, one day I would re-introduce black pepper but then would have to wait 2 days to see if he got an allergic reaction in his diaper before I could try, let's say basil the 3rd day and so on and so on.  This process lingered I'd say for a good 2 months.  I do have to say though that what I ate was truly, very healthy!!  Quinoa and organic produce became a staple in our household.  Thank God for the supplements, prenatal vitamins and the Complete Whole Food shake I was able to take to receive a balance of nutrients for my son and I.  And I have to admit, I looked great (weighed less than what I was before I was pregnant) and felt great physically.  That was definitely a plus to this elmination diet that's for sure! :o)

Also, I guess you could also say I was practicing for when I would introduce solid foods to Andrik.  So by the time we did introduce solids, I had that whole process down!  LOL But of course, for Andrik it took some getting used to.  Although I love breastfeeding Andrik (and still plan to for however long I can), I knew that eventually I would have to get him started on solid foods one day.   

We wanted to make sure that this whole allergic reaction had been eliminated before starting him on solids.  So we waited until he was 8 months old.  I probably would've waited longer but our pediatrican wanted Andrik to gain more weight (he was under his weight percentile).  Anyways, the first food he tried was avocado and boy did he not like that.  Then we tried sweet potato and then carrots and he wasn't digging these either.  So far our introduction was beginning to feel like an end...until Cody came into our lives and helped us (an amazing nanny turned Parent Coach trained in RIE).  I remember that day!  Ahhh it was a blessed day in deed!  We started with steamed green beans that day.  We took the green beans and added a little bit of the steamed water (since it has the nutrients of the green beans in it) and blended it in our Vitamix.  We had let it cool down a bit and fed him his first bite and voila!  He loved it.  I don't know - perhaps it was the shift of energy surrounding the food that made a food lover out of him!?  :o)

Oh another important tip that Cody gave us was to first start Andrik off with green veggies only (i.e. green beans, zuchinni, peas, avocado, etc) and then later introduce other colored veggies and then fruits.  The reason to wait on the fruits was because of its sweetness.  She also mentioned that many parents think that yams are a great food to introduce but in fact it's too sweet (like dessert sweet) for babies taste buds.  The reason behind this belief is that once you introduce the sweet foods, it can be a challenge for kids to eat their veggies in the long run (thus creating picky eaters).  So she suggested when I introduced the veggies that Andrik didn't particular care for, to introduce for at least 15 days.  It didn't mean he had to eat it for 15 days if he didn't like it, just offer it.  Eventually within those 15 days, he would start to like it.  And sure enough when I did this process with him, every green veggie I gave him, he liked.  So for any parents out there that has toddlers that are picky with their veggies, try this process (without forcing them to eat it - it has to be a positive, nonchalant act of offering it to them for 15 days straight).  Every toddler she has done this process with has never been a picky eater afterwards!  And after my own experience with Andrik, I'm a true believer!  Which is why if you read about Andrik's 1st Green Birthday is why I waited a year to introduce banana to him as his "birthday cake".

So as you can see, this past year has definitely had its challenges when it comes to food (or lack of, shall I say?).  But the true fact is WE ARE WHAT WE EAT!  And now I do my best to provide only organic and healthy products for my household at all times (even more so than before)!  Once again, I have to say all the experiences Andrik and I have had to partake, I am truly grateful for.  Because of these series of events, my family is much more healthier and conscious of what goes into our bodies.

Oh and just in case you're curious, I do eat potatoes here and there and wheat too but I still don't eat cheese/dairy or corn. It's a wise choice because cheese and fructose are really not that great for our bodies anyways (neither is wheat but I do my best to only eat it once or twice a week). Oh and I don't eat tomatoes still - only because it's too acidic for the breast milk.  Hey, if we are what we eat then why would I eat something that could potentially upset Andrik's tummy?  God knows I did enough of that with the cheese and corn!  ;o) So when moms are amazed at the fact that I make Andrik's homemade food instead of buying store bought - well they would be even more amazed at what I have sacrificed when it comes to food!  Making Andrik's organic homemade food is actually a breeze compared to what we both have had to endure in his first year!

Phew....With all this talk about food, I'm getting hungry!  LOL :o)

So to end this post, keep coming back to my blog to read up on some yummy organic eats because this family loves to cook and I'd love to share some recipes! Thank God I can start creating some love in the kitchen again!  And yep, you better believe our food is definitely Made With Love!!  Oh and of course the left overs get put in a recycled Earth Balance butter spread container.  How's that for some "green" love?!!  :o)

Friday, February 26, 2010

11 Years and Counting!

This is going to be short and sweet (well, at least alot shorter than some of my other posts)...LOL

On Saturday 2/27/10, it will be our 11-year wedding anniversary!  WOWW!  This past Wed 2/24/10 marked 14 years that Dalmacio and I have been together in total.

We have definitely had a roller coaster of a ride but truthfully I wouldn't change a thing!  Not even us being separated back in 2003 because that significant year changed our lives forever!  Burning Man changed our lives forever!  That was the year that we both went for the first time.  Although we went separately we stayed at the same camp.  And let me tell you, we had such an eye opening and well could say heart opening experience! 

Now you wanna talk about ecofriendly - Burning Man is all about Leave No Trace!  For those unfamiliar with that term, basically all the treasures you bring with you camping should also be all the junk you take home with you, as well. 

Anyways, Burning Man isn't what I wanted to share here...although it was a turning point in our marriage for sure!  Not only our marriage but our creativity...Oh who am I kidding...I guess I will talk a little bit more about it (and yeah perhaps this post will be a little longer than I was planning but heck, that's the writer in me)...LOL

So where was I?  Oh yeah, creativity!  Attempting to make a long story short, seeing all those fire dancers out on the "Playa" ignited something within me (no pun intented) and I just HAD to learn to fire perform!  This was one thing I just KNEW and FELT in every fiber of my being that I wanted to experience...I announced it to myself, as if chanting an affirmation, out there in the middle of all that whooshing delight - that THAT was what I was going to do!  And sure enough when Dalmacio and I got home (and reconnected our love), I lured him into this fire craze and we were both hooked!

We co-founded a fire troupe called Inferno, Inc with our good friend Courtney St. Dennis (a.k.a. Raiden) and joined forces with several talented fire performers (Tedward, Bridget, Nick, Jokton, Jimmy, to name a few).  After a couple of years, Dalmacio and I ventured off on our own to create Volcano Flux

All in all, Dalmacio and I have experienced everything with one another (well besides travelling the world) but heck we did visit the homeland (the Philippines) and that was amazing!  And even though we've only gone to see one music concert together, gone to one museum, and less than a handful of art galleries - we have gone to some breathtaking art and music festivals to last a lifetime!  For instance the picture above, was at Burning Man 2005.  This was a special fire ritual called the Re-Birth of the Volcano.  This was an art expression of not only a celebration of renewing our love but a fertility ceremony.  Well as most of you know, 3 years later after all that trying (and then letting go of the "trying" and just being), finally came our Lil Munchkin. :o)

But I do have to say no concert, no museum, not even any art and musical festivals or travelling the world can top the experience of LOVE!  Sure, it may not always be easy - relationships take work!  Actually, let me rephrase that - relationships take the WILLINGNESS to make things work.  And no matter how many times Ego a.k.a. Fear (as my step-mom likes to call it "Edging God Out") gets in the way, Love opens her wings to cradle us in her Love has a little Angel (her name is Dr. Bratman) who has been our anchor and continues to guide us through Ego's bullcrap!  ;o)

Even after 14 years, travelling through our bumpy road, especially becoming sober, creating a beautiful lil soul - along with all the challenges of being sober and being new parents (at the same time), I can honestly say that my heart still skips a beat, my tummy still flutters from excitement, and my sexual drive for this amazing man still continues to grow!  No matter how many cracks have been created on this road, we have always been able to smoothe things through for ourselves and for each other.

Oh and did I mention how grateful I am that we both have embarked on this sustainable and positive, conscious parenting journey together?  I may have started us on the road to biodegradable, non-toxic and pet-friendly products 10 years or so ago but today it is definitely a harmonious partnership that we support each other on.  And for that I am eternally thankful for.

Happy Anniversary to my best friend, my lover, my confidante, my soulmate, the amazing father to our son and furry babies and my husband...I love growing young with you...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Andrik's 1st Green Birthday - the 1st of Many!

Wow!  A year has already passed and our son is 1 years old!  When they say, time flies when you have kids, they weren't joking!  It just seemed like yesterday when I found out I was pregnant.  And the next thing you know, I'm planning Andrik's 1st birthday.

And it's not just his first birthday, it's Andrik's first greeeen birthday!  :o)  So how did we make this a green birthday, you may ask?   Well for starters, we wanted to make sure that his celebration wasn't going to be another statistic of tableware, decorations and plastic party favors that would just end up in the landfill.  Unfortunately one major landfill accumulator stems from celebrations.  If you think about it, with all the zillions of people that reside on Planet Earth, there are alot of celebrations happening each day.  Not to say celebrations are a waste, it's just the materials within celebrations that can be.

So to ensure that Andrik's celebration was a sustainable one, I did what I do best - research!  And boy did I find a goldmine of eco-friendly websites!  There are alot of great ideas out there, for instance: Nature Mom's Eco-Friendly Birthday Party, Green Birthday Party Ideas, Happy Green Birthday.

My first stop I encountered was an eco-friendly supplies store called GreenPartyGoods.  They provide anything from biodegradable tableware to earth conscious party favors to recycled paper cupcake wraps!  This company definitely has the planet in mind when it comes to parties.  All of GreenPartyGoods’ products meet at least one of these criteria: recycled, re-useable, biodegradable, sustainable, or organic.  Not only are the prices of their products very reasonable but the customer service is beyond accomodating!  They really know how to keep their customers satisfied!  This is one happy customer who will be utilizing their products for future parties to come!  Just to get an idea of what we got from their store, we purchased biodegradable sugarcane plates, utensils and cups made out of corn, as well as 100% recycled paper napkins.  It felt good knowing that when it came to cleaning up at the end of the party that the tableware could all be recycled.  And yes we had separate garbage bags for paper, plastic and cans/bottles!

So my second stop was decorations.  I wanted to keep it simple so I started reading up on eco-friendly decoration ideas and came across a blog about a family that used fabric birthday banners.  I thought to myself how nice it would be to be able to reuse a Happy Birthday banner (along with another banner that has Andrik's name on it)!  Something that could now be a family tradition that we could use year after year! 

Of course I decided to go to my favorite online shop resource (Etsy) to see if there were any WAHMs (Work At Home Mom's) that I could support and purchase fabric banners from.  I purchased this beautiful Happy Birthday fabric banner that was already pre-made from Meringue Designs.  I also purchased a personalized fabric banner with Andrik's name on it with a cute monkey sock pattern from Little Birds Boutique

So now that the green party goods and decorations were all squared away, I wanted to research for green birthday themes.  During my search, I had read on one website where the family had an African themed party and instead of giving tons of gifts, the child requested for donations to go to kids in Africa.  Another themed party was puppies.  Instead of toys/gifts, parents were asked to donate dog food, leashes, collars, dog toys, etc. for the dogs in the animal shelter.  To add to this great idea, the animal shelter brought puppies to the party for the kids to play with and learn about adopting. 

These green themed party ideas brought such joy to my eyes but unfortunately they seemed more appropriate for older kids' birthdays instead of a 1 year old (and also since we were keeping the decorations simple, we didn't want to get carried away with Filipino-themed decorations - that could be an option for when he's older where we could donate money to children in the Philippines).  So I kept searching and lo and behold, I found an awesome website called ECHOage.  What a brilliant concept this company created!  As stated on their website: ECHOage is a charity-driven, eco-friendly, online birthday party service where children learn the value of giving and receiving while celebrating.  ECHOage was created to help concerned parents (such as myself) turn the child's next birthday party into an environmentally respectful and socially mindful celebration. Besides helping to save the earth, support those in need, and inspire others to follow in Andrik's footsteps, we're also helping to save precious time and money!  

So instead of guests buying tons of gifts (which adds to the carbon footprint because guests would have to drive to the store to purchase the gift, and also use wrapping paper to wrap the gift), guests can contribute money that gets equally divided between the charity of the child's choice and one meaningful gift for the child.  The company has a 15% fee for each contribution which goes towards their services of organizing your party online (i.e. keeping a headcount of the guests who RSVP, calculating the monies contributed to both the charity and your child, as well as sending the monies to the charity, etc).  To us, this was a small fee compared to the conscious and eco-friendly benefits that we felt was worth it.
There were so many great charities to choose from.  For example, Earth Corps which brings young people the opportunity to come together, plant trees and help restore habitat for the wildlife.  Another charity is for Autism Speaks which helps the organization find the puzzle pieces to help make children's lives with autism much easier.  The one we chose was called Children’s Oncology Camping Association International - which helps kids with cancer enjoy camping while getting the medicine and support they need to enjoy their summer.  This one brought tears to my eyes and hit close to home because one of our best friends (Lou Genise) passed away last year from cancer so we just knew that this was the one we wanted the donations to go towards.
It felt good knowing that we are an integral part of the joy these children will be able to experience!  And it felt good knowing that Andrik was going to get one meaningful gift that will last a long time instead of a plethora that would perhaps be shortly outlived (i.e. toys and clothes).  The gift that we ended up purchasing was a toy box storage unit from an awesome eco-friendly company called Way Basics.  Their patented, environmentally sound manufacturing process turns post-consumer recycled paper into superbly strong boards that weigh 62% less than particle board. zBoards are just as solid and structurally sound as any engineered wood furniture, yet they’re made from one of the simplest materials ever – paper.

After researching through their website and calling the company to ask specific questions, we decided to go with them.  Everything was a true fit with our green beliefs: very eco-friendly, recyclable, easy to put together and non-toxic.  Another so-called eco-friendly company that  I won't mention uses plywood and although the wood was harvested in the production of birch plywood and is utilized and produced in an ecologically safe manner while maximizing energy efficiency, I read somewhere that their plywood (like most plywood unless specified formaldehyde-free) contains Formaldehyde in it.  I had sent an email to the company to see if theirs had formaldehyde in it but never got a response in return so I decided to dig deeper in finding a company that I believe in and that responds to my questions in a timely manner.  Thank you Way Basics!  I can't wait to receive this storage toy box unit (which of course, will be a future post to boast about)!  :o)

OK sorry for going off on a tangent (there was just too many lil nuggets of green information that was relative to Andrik's birthday that I wanted to mention).   So back to Andrik's birthday party!  Everything was starting to fall into place.  The supplies and decorations had been delivered, the RSVP's in place, the food ordered and some food prepared (Daddy, Mommy and Nana were up late the night before rolling Vegetarian Lumpias -a Filipino eggroll), as well as, 2 cakes ordered (one yummy Filipino mango cake and one delicious cocao-banana-vanilla gluten-free/dairy free cake).  In case you're wondering which cake Andrik got the chance to taste,  welllll, he had neither.  Sorry but if this was going to be a first for everything, I didn't want his first sugar high to come from we settled with a yummy, organic banana in the shape of a heart!   Hey, it was his first time to even try banana (and banana is sweet enough)!  Trust me, he's got plenty of years to get the chance to eat cake.  I wanted his first birthday to not only be green but organic and healthy, too!  ;o)

Sooo add a few green supplies and decorations, yummy Filipino food, amazing family and friends along with some downtempo beats to set the mood, and it was time to party!  Oh and did I forget to mention -great weather!  We were a little nervous that Andrik's big day would be rained out because ALL WEEK LONG it had been pouring (an unusual one for sunny LA).  But the day of the party, the raindrops stopped, the sun came out and a beautiful rainbow spread across the sky for our special lil man!  Thanks Universe!!  :o)

It was definitely a beautiful day to remember - one filled with laughter, smiles, tasty treats, melodic beats and positive, loving energy surging throughout the house.  To top of it off, our family made these beautiful magnet frames with several different pictures of Andrik to hand out to guests as souvenirs.  I cried when I saw the magnets - it was such a pleasant surprise indeed!  And to stick with the green theme, they made the magnets out of recycled popsicle sticks.  Wow - gotta love our family and friends for supporting our quest to keep things eco-friendly! 

Here's to our first "green" year with our sweet, funny, loving lil man (as Daddy likes to call him "The Ambassador of Love, Peace and Happiness")!  The first of many to come...