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I’ve always considered myself kind of crunchy. I cloth diaper my kids, breastfeed as long as possible, and try to go the more natural route with both our food and our health. But I recently came across a few Zero Waste YouTube channels, and then read Zero Waste Home by Be a Johnson and I came to the realization that even though I am a little crunchy, I am not making anywhere near as much of an impact on the planet as I would like to.
So I’ve decided to tackle our waste output, to bring less packaging into our home, and decrease the amount of waste going out of our home as well. I know I can’t be completely Zero Waste, Austen’s medical needs would never allow that, but I want to make an effort to combat the amount of trash we are sending to the landfill.
I know that a lot of people assume that by going green we will be spending a lot of green, but I am going to tackle that too. I actually thinking that going green will help us on our debt free journey. Because by reusing what we have, recycling what we can, and buying the least amount of extra stuff as possible we will be saving money along the way.
I look forward to taking you on this journey with us, don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter to stay up to date on everything going on, as well as subscribe to my YouTube channel so you never miss a video!
This post contains some affiliate links. You can find out more about affiliate links on the Disclosure and Policies page.
I love to talk about going green in real life, especially coming from a small town where it wasn’t really the ‘cool thing’ to do. My cloth diapers, reusable grocery bags, and glass water bottle were always great conversation starters to let me share my views in comfortable and easy going way. But while people were intrigued by my crunchy ways, my conversations always seemed to end with the same results. People were interested in going green, but were worried that the transition would cost them too much money.
At first this really caught me off guard, I admit, because a lot of my green ways came about because I come from very very frugal roots. As in my dad literally never had paper towels in our house, not because he was trying to save the planet, but because he was too cheap to waste money on something so disposable.
But nonetheless I do know that even though things like cloth diapers and reusable water bottles will save you a ton of money in the long run (more on that in later posts), I want to let you know that you do not actually have to shell out any money at all in order to start making green changes in your life. That’s right, you can totally go green without spending any green at all. In fact, many of these ways will help you save green as well!
So here are my top five tried and true ways to go green, and save green, without spending any green. How about you try to say that five times fast!
Brick in the toilet
Okay it doesn’t have to be a brick, really anything that takes up a large amount of volume and is heavy enough to sink in the toilet tank can be used in this little hack, like an old coke bottle filled with pebbles or something similar. The purpose is to take up volume in the tank, so that the tank holds less water. Less water used in every flush means less water being used by your household every day. This will add up to not only a savings in your water bill, but also helps to save your community on energy needed to treat water and pump water to your home as well as helping to protect the wildlife that rely on the rivers and lakes in which our water comes from.
Turn off appliances you’re not using
Okay, turning off lights when you leave a room is kind of a no brainer, but do you know that many appliances continue to use energy even when they are turned off? That’s right, your microwave, lamps, coffee maker, and radios are all adding to your energy bill, even when you aren’t using them. The Energy Star website actually says that US pays 11 billion dollars on average annually in stand by energy costs. That’s roughly 87 dollars a year per household.
Line dry your clothes, and wash them in cold water
This is one of my favorite money saving hacks, because I personally love the smell of line dried clothes, especially in the summer. But if the fresh air scent isn’t your thing, maybe the fact that a small load of laundry costs you on average .36 to dry will make you change your mind (that’s about 131 dollars in savings a year if you do a small load of laundry each day). For my family those savings double because we also do a load of cloth diapers a day too.
As for washing in cold water, the savings are even more substantial. A hot wash/warm rinse will cost you an average .68 a load, whereas a cold wash/cold rinse will cost a mere .04 a load. Using the same standards as above of a small load each day, the average american family would then save a total of 233.60 a year just by washing in cold water.
And if the money savings aren’t enough, know that switching to cold water washing eliminates about 1600 pounds of carbon dioxide commissions every year per household. It also helps your clothes to last longer, saving you even more money in the long run.
I line dry clothes even in the winter, using foldable laundry racks such as this. Although it is a little bit of an investment, it does pay off in the long run.
Make your own cleaning solutions
One of the biggest ah-ha moments in going green to me was that I didn’t have to go out and spend a ton of money buying cleaning products for everything from glass to the toilet. It is so easy to make effective cleaning products from items you usually have in your home. Baking soda, vinegar, peroxide, and lemon juice can all be used to make great cleaners for almost every surface of your home. Sign up for my email list (located on the left hand sidebar) and gain access to my free printables page to get a list of some of my favorite cleaning recipes.
Choose to Reuse
Let’s face it, we live in a disposable society. Whereas our ancestors used to reuse items until they couldn’t anymore (and then they often went in the compost) we throw away everything from paper towels to shampoo bottles to endless amounts of food packaging. Do you know American’s use 500 million drinking straws every single day? That is insane! And while I do advocate buying your own reusable items such as water bottle and straws, you can reuse the items you already have in your home just as easily. For example old rags and towels can be repurposed for cleaning, so can old t shirts. Cotton fabric scraps can be composted, so can newspaper and a lot of junk mail. I even use my old prefold diapers as swiffer mop heads. You can fix items such as mixers and blenders instead of disposing of them and buying new ones, and even if your not ready to give up your plastic ziploc bags you can still rinse them, dry them, and use them again. I mean, they’re going to be around forever anyway, why not use them as much as you can?
See, going green and saving green really is easy. Do you have any free tips on going green? Share them in the comments below!
As a mom of a kid who uses cannabis as her main medicine, I have come across a lot of questions and misconceptions. Some of them are plain ridiculous, and some of them I find hilarious. Today I’m busting some of these myths, and letting you know how Medical Cannabis really works for Austen, and kids like her.
Last fall Austen went 48 days without a seizure, but as January turned to February she was having seizures every four days on average. On March 13th we decided to try another non-traditional approach and admitted Austen into the hospital with the hopes of transitioning her onto the ketogenic diet. The diet is hard, with everything that goes in her mouth being carefully weighed an measured, but we had high hopes that this would help our girl.
That was not the case.
Within 12 hours her potassium levels skyrocketed and she developed a cardiac arrhythmia. We stopped the diet immediately and were told it was simply not going to be an option for her at this time. I was devastated. We had made the difficult decision to put her on this diet with the hopes that it would help her, instead it very likely could have killed her.
I want to pause here to say the her reaction to the diet is super, super rare. Her dietician had never seen it, and the epileptologist had only seen it once in his career.
Ever since the fall when Austen’s 48 day seizure free streak ended people have been asking the same few questions on repeat. These questions picked up momentum in January when the seizure frequency picked up, and again a few weeks ago when the diet failed.
“Do you think it’s time to add another med?” “Do you think it’s maybe time to stop this whole cannabis thing?” “Have you thought about that new med trial?” and my personal favorite, “Maybe it’s time to consider Onfi?”
My answer to all of these is NO. If it comes to choosing between another drug and all of it’s side effects, and choosing seizures, I will choose seizures every single time at this point in our journey.
Why? To me it’s simple:
With Austen’s Cannabis nasal spray her seizures last less than 2 minutes on average, with only Diazepam and Clonazepam her average was about 11. That is a huge difference. In addition to that new meds are highly addictive and come with new side effects including, dizziness, sleepiness, nausea, slurred speech, aggression, and hallucinations.* Shorter seizures with fewer side effects gives us the opportunity to give Austen a life worth living. Before cannabis a seizure would incapacitate her for an entire day, now she is up and going within an hour like nothing ever happened. Losing days of your life at a time is no way to live, and neither is living the days you are awake dealing with all those horrible side effects.
The fact of the matter is Austen will probably never be 100% seizure free. Her epilepsy is caused by a gene mutation, and unless the CRISPR gene editing reaches human trials during her lifetime there is really no chance of her getting a shiny new SCN1A gene. It sucks, but facts are facts.
So no, our goal is not seizure freedom, instead our goal is as few seizures as possible, as short of seizures as possible, with as little day to day side effects as possible. Even though she is still having some seizures, Austen’s disease is progressing slower than doctors thought it would based on her history. We attribute that in large part to cannabis.
So yes, we are choosing seizures, even though conventional meds might give us more seizure free days. The seizure free days are never guaranteed, and the side effects are not worth it to us. To us choosing seizures means choosing life, choosing to really live. And as long as that is the case we will continue to do so.
*All side effects are listed as possibilities for the drug Onfi. We are not against Onfi indefinitely but it is a very highly addictive drug with very serious side effects, we moved here in large part to hold off on adding Onfi and would like to hold off on adding it as long as possible.
If you have follow me on Twitter or follow Austen’s Facebook page (which you should totally follow me on both, just saying), you know that the winter germs have hit us hard this year. In January we had a respiratory virus that put Atlas in the hospital and caused a massive influx of seizures for Austen, then a stomach virus rampage through the house, and to round out the month we all got colds.
Needless to say, it was miserable, and I’ve had enough.
So the researcher in me came out and I have spent the last week pouring myself over ways to both help build our immune systems as well as cut the sicknesses out when they do enter our doors.
So folks, I would like to introduce to you our winter medicine cabinet. And yes, I have taken the time to explain why I chose each and every thing. Because I’m a nerd like that.
Multivitamins: In an ideal world we would get all essential vitamins and nutrients through the foods we eat, but then there are days that my children refuse to eat anything other than chicken nuggets. In short, life happens. Multivitamins help fill in the gaps that our diets leave behind. I like the Rainbow Light multivitamins because they are food based, meaning the nutrient sources are as close to those they would get in their ideal diet as possible. They also contain no sugar, no preservatives, and no artificial flavorings which make me even happier about giving them to my kids.
Probiotics: According to Harvard Health, probiotics secrete a protective substance that some believe turn on the immune system and can help to prevent major diseases. This happens because the good bacteria balances out the bad bacteria in your gut, which can make you sick. I like the Kyo-Dophilus chewable probiotics. The vanilla flavor makes my kids think they are candy, and I don’t have to worry about refrigerating them.
Cod Liver Oil: When I first told my family I was giving my kids cod liver oil the response was a unanimous ‘why?!’. All my grandparents remembered was being forced to take it in school when they were kids, and how awful it tasted. There was a reason they were given it in school though. Cod liver oil is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids which are not only great for brain health, they are also provide excellent cardiovascular and immune support. But what about the taste? Carlson Labs makes a kid version of cod liver oil, and their lemon flavor is very easily hidden in my kids morning orange juice. They never even know they are taking it.
Essential Oils: I’ve written before about my love for essential oils. I diffuse the Plant Therapy Immune Boom every day in our house to try and boost our immune systems. I’ve also started rubbing a roller onto the kids spines every morning to see if that helps as well.
Emergen-C: Everything mentioned above has been focused on building the kids immunity. When that isn’t enough and I get sick I turn to Emergen-C for myself. The high dosage of vitamin C has always kicked my colds in the butt, especially if I start taking it when I first start feeling symptoms emerge. The new pink lemonade flavor is my favorite, if you’re wondering.
Elderberry Syrup: Many take elderberry syrup daily to help build immunity, but I like to save it for when we start to feel something coming on. Black elderberries offer excellent immunity support and anti-viral properties. I make mine by myself with honey and ginger. The kids love it and think it’s candy. Mom win!
Bone Broth: I admit it took me awhile to jump on the bone broth band wagon, but I don’t think I’ll ever want to get off. Bone broth is super easy to make, is a great use for all the veggie scraps that get left behind, and is actually really good for you. It’s an awesome source of protein, the collagen supports skin health, and studies show that chicken broth in particular really does help us get over colds and illnesses faster. Plus, nothing feels better going down a sore throat than a nice warm cup of broth or tea.
Natural Cough Syrup: Let’s face it, hearing your little ones hacking away at night is not only heartbreaking, it’s freaking annoying. Having our babies sick beside us already has parents on edge and unable to sleep peacefully, and the sound of their coughs kills any kind of rest we might get. Cough suppressors are simply a must if anyone is going to get any rest. In our case Austen is too little to take most cough medicines, and even when she is big enough we have been told to avoid anything labeled DM, PM, or benadryl unless it’s in an emergency situation due to her disease. Because of this we have decided to try and rely on natural cough medicines as much as possible to help our kids get some rest. We have tried several brands but the Hyland’s 4 Kids Cold and Cough seems to be the winner amongst the kids for taste and effectiveness.
Garlic, so much garlic: The National Institutes of Health might say that there is insufficient evidence to support whether or not garlic helps with a cold, but from my experience it does wonders. Because of that if one of us is sick, or pretty much all winter really, we go through a lot of garlic. I’m talking a whole head in a chicken soup recipe. It’s a good thing we like the taste!
Tylenol and Ibuprofen: And last but not least, the good ole fever suppressors. Let me start off by saying that I know fevers are not actually bad. In fact they are a good sign that your body is trying to fight whatever is attacking it. The problem in our household is that fevers also cause seizures. Austen has been known to seize with a fever as low as 99 before, so if her normal 97.6 temp rises about 98.6 I bust out these bad boys and start on an every two hour swap. It sucks, but it’s a lot better than the alternative. For Addi and Atlas though, we use these a lot more sparingly. They do not get them unless their fever reaches at or above 102.
And those, my friends, are my top ten winter medicine cabinet must haves. What does your winter medicine cabinet look like? Do you have any tips and tricks for keeping all those nasty winter germs away?
In today’s video I am giving everyone an update on Austen’s cannabis journey. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 8 months since we moved from Texas to Colorado to access this medicine for our baby. Here’s how the journey is going so far…
I woke up this morning to snow. The weather man told me yesterday that snow was not the forecast, but the dainty white balls of fluff have been falling continuously outside my window. I do not mind though, snow is clean, it is refreshing, it’s pure. Snow has a way of washing away all that is dirty outside my door and making it new again. Today I need new.
I have suffered with anxiety and depression since I was in high school, but for awhile there I thought I had it under control. My anxiety attacks became fewer and farther between, and when I did have one it wouldn’t take an ativan to make it go away. But over the last year and a half that has not been the case.
Depression has a way of coming in waves. For a long time those waves were small, and I could easily jump over then without my head fulling submerging into their depths. Lately the waves have been coming bigger and bigger though, I can no longer jump over them, they make me feel like I can’t breath.
Maybe my depression is situational, it’s been a hell of a two years after all. Maybe it’s not. What i know is that I cannot handle it on my own anymore. I want to feel better, to be a better mom, a better wife, a better friend. Right now, I can’t do any of those things in the way I want to or need to. I have no energy to clean, to play with my kids, to enjoy moments with my husband. I am on the verge of crying 98% of the time. This is not normal, this is not sustainable. I’m officially waiving the white flag, I’m surrendering, I’m starting therapy.
It’s a big step for me, my one and only therapy experience in the past was less than helpful, and probably actually a tad bit unethical. But I know I cannot to do this on my own anymore, so I have to call in the big guns. I do not want to go on medication, the thought of it makes me cringe, but honestly at this point I’d have a lobotomy if they recommended it. I just want to be me again.
So with all that said I apologize for the lack of posts over the last week. I know I do not owe anyone an explanation, but at the same time I feel like I do. I also feel an tug to be fully 100% honest in this blog. I want to be transparent. And I do not want to ever lead anyone to think that I am a perfect Pinterest post of a mom. I’m real, I struggle a lot, but I also do what I have to keep going.
So here’s to admitting my flaws, to picking myself back up, and knowing when I alone cannot fix the problem. Here’s to new beginnings.
We just finished our second week in a row of having a house full of sick kids. First it was a nasty respiratory virus, and then a stomach virus made its rounds as well. This past weekend was filled with a lot of snuggles, many loads of laundry, and too many bodily fluids than I would care to recount.
We all know that with a virus there isn’t much we can do to speed along the healing process, rest, snuggles, lots of fluids, and bits of food are generally all we can do to help. When my kids are sick like this I find myself struggling to get something, anything, in them that will bring some nourishment without upsetting their little tummies more.
And so I give you my feel good soup. It’s simple, healthy, and tasty while not packing with too much flavor (to help keep the tummies at ease). But it feels good going down, I find that it’s just what my littles call for on days such as these.
In a 3qt dutch oven place olive oil, stew beef, and garlic. Brown on medium high heat for 2 minutes. Add water, worcestershire sauce, and salt. Bring to a boil on medium high, then lower to simmering. Cover and allow to simmer for two and a half hours. Add uncooked rice, stir, recover and allow to simmer for 30 minutes or until rice is tender and cooked through. Garnish with dried parsley and enjoy.
Over that last few years I have had a love/hate relationship with essential oils. I love the way they (well, most of them) work, that they are natural, and don’t require a doctors visit to get my hands on. But I hate how expensive they tend to be, researching which ones were safe to have in my home, and always seemingly having to go to a friend or sign up to sell with a company in order to get a product that was worth my money.
Not anymore folks, not anymore.
Last year while looking up affordable diffusers on Amazon (because really, who can afford to pay 85.00 for a diffuser) I came across Plant Therapy essential oils and I was intrigued. I figured I might as well try them, and y’all I’m telling you my world was changed.
Plant Therapy is now my favorite, and currently the only essential oil company I use in my home. Here’s why:
They have a kid friendly line.
One of the things that I have the most trouble with when it comes to essential oils is that many of them are not safe to use with kids. This means that because I diffuse many oils all around my home I need to be extra careful with every oil I use. But what mom really has time to sit down and look up each and every essential oil? Not me! Plant Therapy to the rescue! They offer a Kid Safe line of essential oils in both singles and what they call synergies (mixtures of different oils to help with different ailments). This means I can focus on what best will help my kids, without worrying about it hurting them too.
They have something for everything.
Eczema? They have a synergy for that. Sniffles? There is one for that to. There are also synergy’s for calming, sleeping, paying attention, bug shield, even head lice. Seriously if you can think of it, they have a synergy for it, and that is awesome.
They really work.
Now let me start off by saying that I have not tried every oil and synergy that Plant Therapy sells, but I have tried a lot of them. And each one I have tried has done what it says it will. I love to put the A+ Attention on Addi when she goes to school, or even on me when I want to reign in my own (self diagnosed) ADD. The Sniffle Stopper is my go to as soon as we feel a cold coming on, and I diffuse the Nighty Night every day in our home. We still get sick, but I have noticed our illnesses are a lot shorter in duration when I am diffusing Immune Boom as well.
They are inexpensive.
A 15ml bottle of lavender essential oil retails for 28.00 from DoTerra and 30.92 from Young Living. That’s a big investment! But with Plant Therapy you can get a 30ml bottle of lavender essential oil for only 14.95, and a 10ml bottle for 6.49. And it’s not just lavender, every essential oil single and synergy I found with Plant Therapy was shown to be significantly cheaper than the counterparts from other companies. As a mama on a budget I can really appreciate Plant Therapy for making an affordable product I can enjoy.
They come in all sizes.
I’m going to touch base on the mom on a budget thing once again here, but if you are anything like me you like to buy things in bulk. There is nothing I hate more than going to put oil in my diffuser and suddenly being out. I love, love, love that with Plant Therapy you can buy oils in sizes ranging from 10ml to 100ml. You can even buy pre-diluted rollers of your favorite oils! Now I do not need every oil in 100ml bottles, but for the ones I use every day this definitely comes in handy!
I do not have to attend any parties, or hit up my friends to make an order.
My last, but definitely not my least favorite reason why I love Plant Therapy? They are not a direct sales company. Do you know how nice it is to be able to go to a companies website and order a product without having to sign up as a seller? Or not having to hit up your friend or attend a party just to get some product? It’s awesome, that’s what it is. Thank you, Plant Therapy, for allowing me to not have to socialize in order to buy my oils. Seriously, you rock.