Friday, September 30, 2011

Should I Be Vlogging?

I enjoy watching vlogs of other bloggers and I am rather impressed that they can sit in front of the camera and put themselves out there like that. I have never done a vlog and really had no aspirations to start. Heck I have been blogging for more than 2.5 years now and I think I can count on one hand the amount of times I have posted a picture of myself. I am just not comfortable with my appearance to be able to do it. Which is ridiculous, I know.

 Then yesterday I was reading an article on Social Moms tat talks about how big vlogging has become and how important it is. Apparently vlogs are a big traffic getter. Who knew? (OK, probably everyone but me). SO I have been thinking that maybe its high i put aside my fears and start putting up some vlogs. But where do I start?

While I did take digital video editing course in college, that was 10 years ago (shhh) so I am quite rusty. I don't think I know how to grab a screen capture anymore.  Not to mention I probably don't have all of the tools that I will need. My laptop does have a webcam, that I have never used. Can I even get a video screen capture using my webcam? Then I would need to find out what is the best free software available for editing.

And let's say I get all the technical aspects worked out and under control, I still am left with one problem. ME. I don't know if I can get in front of the camera and talk. Just the thought of it is making me sweat. How do I get past my self consciousness and nerves?

If you vlog, how did you get started? Were you nervous? Did it get better with each one you did? I'd love any tips for a scared to death vlogging newbie!

Green Giveaway Friday 9/30

I cannot believe today is the last day of September already! Where has the time gone? Are you gearing up for Halloween? I need to get costumes for my boys pronto.

Please add both your green and non-green giveaways and contests into Mr. Linky below so we can do some giveaway hoppin! Be sure to include the expiration date. Thanks!

You can also submit your green giveaways to me during the week for me to feature on Fridays.

Crunchy Beach Mama
Tree Hugger Mama Cloth 10/10
GladRags 10/11
Diva Cup 10/12 

Family Focus Blog
$75 Supplements Gift Card 10/3
$50 Wee DECOR Gift Card 10/4
Phonics Bean Bags 10/11
Organic PJs 10/12
Organic HAVA Baby Sling 10/18

Hug a Tree with Me
Majan Bhuja All Natural Indian Inspired Snack Products 10/4

luri and wilma magazine
Dirty Beauty Eco-Friendly Bath Salts 10/2

My Sentiment ExactLee
Ecotopia Life Bamboo Towels 10/17

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Lunapads Eco Positive Periods

Warning: I am talking about periods today. For those of you who don't like these discussions, I'll give you a minute to click to a different post on my blog. (Because you would never leave me, right? RIGHT?) So four years ago when some of my online friends were talking about washable cloth pads (aka "mama cloth") and menstrual cups I thought they were insane. No way would I ever go that far and try any things like that. Too gross.

It's funny that when you say you will never, ever do something you usually do in fact end up doing it. Yes about a year later I figured what the heck, let's give it a shot. And you know what? It was one of the smartest things I could have done.

Here are just a few reasons why cloth pads are a good idea:

Environment. Approximately 20 billion pads, tampons and applicators are being sent to North American landfills annually where they will take hundreds if not thousands of years to break down.

Health. Pads and tampons are made of bleached pulp and rayon and the bleaching process leaves behind dioxin, a known carcinogenic chemical. In fact, the EPA lists dioxin as the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals.

Cost. Don't be turned off by the initial cost. The average cost for five years of disposable pads is $330. In comparison the cost for a Lunapads kit that will last five years is $129.

I have tried out a couple of different brands but when I did a review of Lunapads more than two years ago I knew I had found the ones that I would be sticking with.  And two and a half years later they are still going strong! Well this summer I realized that I was going to have my little visitor while on our Jersey Shore vacation and I was not really prepared for traveling with my cloth pads. Lunapads to the rescue! They sent me a bunch of goodies for my trip.

Mesh Laundry Bag
The Mesh Laundry Bag serves two very useful purposes. First you can use it to store and carry your clean pads. I was able to fit my entire stash in here and then place it in my duffel bag for the trip. You can then use it for when you are putting your pads in the washer. I always wash my pads separately from other laundry, but if you were to wash yours with something else like cloth diapers, you can throw them in this bag and then throw the entire thing in the wash.  On my vacation I did end up using it for washing just so that they all stayed together and I didn't leave any behind in the washer at the rental house. Now that we are home I still use the mesh bag to store my clean pads in my closet.

Soaking Bag
The Lunapads Soaking Bag in absolutely a must have for anyone who is using or wants to start using cloth pads. Without going into too much dirty detail, you need some place to store your soiled pads in between washes. Just like cloth diapering moms will have a wet bag or pail for dirty diapers. Now when we were on vacation, we were sharing a house with my family, 7 other people. I wanted to keep my pads discreet and not freak anyone else out. After rinsing off your pads, you place them in this bag with just a little bit of water and then I throw some peroxide in there as well. Then you roll it up, lock the buckle and hang it up out of the way. I put it on the back of our bedroom door. It is important to change the water daily until you are ready to throw them all in the wash. It worked beautifully and I don't even know if anyone noticed what i was doing. I am using it at home as well and I honestly love this thing.

Long Pad & Liner, Extra Liners & Travel Pouch

Heavy Pad & Wing Liner
Lunapads really spoiled me and in addition to the bags sent me some new pads. In the top picture is a Long Pad with liners that is good for heavier days. What is great about all Lunapads is that you can add more then one liner if you need to, adjusting the absorbancy to fit your needs that day. They also sent me a matching Travel Pouch which is awesome. Perfect for carrying a few pads along with you in your purse or diaper bag. Then in the bottom picture is the Heavy Pad and Wing Liner which I like for overnight use. I've had these for two cycles now and have had absolutely no leaks with them.

I know it is really hard to get past the ick factor of using washable cloth pads. Heck it took me years to get to the point to wanting to try them. But I really am so glad that I did. They are so much more comfortable and better for your body, health and the environment. I cannot say enough good things about Lunapads products and highly recommend them to anyone.

Connect with Lunapads

Please note that the opinions and views expressed in this review are my own and based on my personal experience with the product and/or company. You may encounter a different experience with this than I did. Lunapads provided me with a free products to review.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Superhero Artwork

So my boys love Marvel's Superhero Squad cartoons and toys. My six year old came home from first grade last week with his rendition of Thor.

And for those of you who might not be familiar with the God of Thunder, here ya go:

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Week of Bento Lunches

As the weeks go on I am trying to experiment with different ideas for my first grader's bento lunches. I keep much of it the same as he likes the continuity, plus I am not all that creative. I do like to change maybe one part up every now and then to keep it from getting boring for both of us. No one wants to eat the same exact thing every sing day. Here are his lunches from last week.

(carrots, cucumbers, hummus, colby jack cheese, whole grain crackers, sliced apple, pizza and Annie's chocolate bunnies)

A sheer moment of brilliance! I decided to take my cookie cutters and use them to cut shapes out of a slice of leftover pizza. HUGE hit.

The first pizza lunch was such a success that he requested it again. This was a bigger slice so I was able to cut out a train.

(cucumbers, olives, ham, fresh berries, banana bread.)
Grammy sent over some homemade banana bread so I thought it would be nice to include that in his lunch. Another huge hit - it was a good week! We ended up doing this exact lunch twice.

(cucumbers, olives, whole grain crackers, colby jack cheese stick, sliced apple, rolled ham)

By Friday I had nothing "cool" left to include so we just did a pretty basic lunch.

It's Monday again and it looks like I will be rotating through the bento's that I already have in my repertoire. The pizza and banana bread lunches were some of his favorites so they will most likely become regulars in the lunch rotations. I am hoping to make some pumpkin bread soon to include and maybe even some English Muffin pizzas.

For more kids' bento lunch ideas, be sure to visit Following in my Shoes and Frosted Fingers!

NanoStyle Unique Jewelry Review & Giveaway (Rafflecopter)

I won't beat around the bush, I love jewelry. It is probably safe to say that a lot of women do. While I may not have a huge collection, the pieces I do own are unique and were picked out by my husband. Some he helped design and that makes them even more beautiful and special to me. I much prefer unique pieces of jewelry found at smaller, independent stores over the ones you may find at the mall jewelry chain. Not that those aren't pretty, but everyone has them.

I recently came across which has truly unique jewelry, like nothing I have ever seen before. NanoStyle is the first and only jewelry company to imprint 24kt gold on Cubic Zirconia jewelry. The company is known for creating elegant love pendants and Christian pendants.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Acorn Squash Recipe Roundup

At my CSA pickup last weekend I received two acorn squash. While I have cooked butternut squash and pumpkin before, I have never ever touched acorn squash. I honestly have no idea what to do with these things. So I went searching through my new favorite time suck, Pinterest, to see if I could find some yummy recipes to try out.

Acorn Squash with Quinoa

Acorn Squash Bisque

Sweet-Roasted Rosemary Acorn Squash Wedges

Penne with Acorn Squash

Maple Roasted Acorn Squash

Vegan Acorn Squash Muffins

So now I have to decicde which recipes to try out. I am thinking I will definitely try some muffins as it might be the only way to get my kids to eat it. Then maybe the maple glazed recipe because that just sounds sweet and yummy.

what is  your favorite way to cook acorn squash?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Green Giveaway Friday Linky 9/23

Happy Fall and happy Friday!

Please add both your green and non-green giveaways and contests into Mr. Linky below so we can do some giveaway hoppin! Be sure to include the expiration date. Thanks!

You can also submit your green giveaways to me during the week for me to feature on Fridays.

Crunchy Beach Mama
Painted Owl Organic T-Shirt 2T-8 9/27

Family Focus Blog
$50 ReNew Life Gift Card 9/29
Organic Latex Kids Pillow 9/29
$75 Supplements Gift Card 10/3
$50 Wee DECOR Gift Card 10/4
Organic HAVA Baby Sling 10/18

Hug a Tree with Me
Majan Bhuja All Natural Indian Inspired Snack Products 10/4

luri and wilma magazine
Zorica of Malibu 100% all-natural Perfume 9/25

Mommy PR
Stokke Tripp Trapp Chair 9/23

5 Ways to Green Your Child’s School Experience

Kids need time to move outside—it’s essential to their health and well-being. But sadly, lots of students aren’t getting enough space and time during the school day to breathe fresh air, interact with nature, and engage in unstructured play. And considering that children spend about 20 percent of their waking hours in school, that’s cause for concern.

Luckily, parents have a voice when it comes to school policies and programming—it’s time to use yours! Here are five actions you can take this fall to bring more greenery and outdoor activity to your child’s school:

Take learning outside
Why restrict use of outdoor spaces to recess time? The outdoors is rife with learning opportunities, and with a healthy dose of creativity, teachers can find ways to take advantage of outdoor spaces and to incorporate natural, sensory, and “messy” elements into their lesson plans. Parents can help facilitate outdoor learning by pitching in to build a DIY classroom so that kids have a dedicated space outside to gather and reflect.

Organize a “walking school bus”
Parents often cite safety issues as one of the primary reasons they are reluctant to allow their children to walk to school. Yet there is always safety in numbers. A walking school bus is a group of children walking to school with one or more adults. It can be as informal as two families taking turns walking their children to school, or as structured as a route with meeting points, a timetable and a regularly rotated schedule of trained volunteers.

Reward walking and biking
Boltage, a parent- and volunteer-driven initiative, aims to increase the number of elementary school children regularly bicycling and walking to school. A solar-powered device counts daily trips. Children and parents can view and manage their data online, and students receive awards based on activity level. Boltage currently operates at 35 schools and has tracked over 650,000 kid-powered miles,which have saved 58,000 gallons of gas.

Create a “wild zone”
Playing in nature comes intuitively to children—after all, nature is rife with opportunities to splash, dig, climb, run, and explore. But “nature” doesn’t have to take the form of pristine forests and rolling hills. Even the smallest of school yards can incorporate cost-effective natural elements—whether in the form of sand, water, logs, or plants—by establishing a “wild” or “create-with-nature” zone.

Just add shade
Many schoolyards offer no shaded areas, which discourages use in hotter months. Shade structures come in all shapes and sizes and can be added to existing equipment to provide some respite from the sun. If your budget is tight, consider erecting temporary shade structures from tarps, fabrics, and/or tents. And don’t forget about planting trees, which not only provide shade but also beauty, greenery, and potentially, new climbing opportunities for children!

Ready to get started? Sign this Back-to-School Pledge and get a free copy of How to Save Play at Your School, featuring these and 10 additional actions you can take this fall.

Kerala Taylor is Senior Manager of Online Content & Outreach at KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit dedicated to saving play for America’s children. She is passionate about getting kids unplugged and about building community through outdoor play. You can follow KaBOOM! on Twitter: @kaboom

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Nutella and Strawberry Waffle Sandwich

It has just been one of those weeks so far. Mice taking over my house, still adjusting to school routines and just the normal stresses of life. So when I am feeling like this I turn to Nutella. For two days I have eaten this for lunch and it has been fabulous. Let me be clear, there is nothing healthy about this. Nothing. But Nutella is my vice and when I need it I let myself indulge a little.

Two frozen waffles, toasted and slathered with a generous coating of Nutella. Go ahead and be a show off and make your own waffles from scratch, I'm too lazy for that. 

Add the desired amount of strawberries. I suggest as many as you can fit since this is the only nutritious part of this meal.

Smoosh together and you have one delicious chocolatey hazelnut treat.

Wordless Wednesday: Flower Bouquet

On Monday my husband came home from work with a bouquet of flowers for me. It certainly was a nice surprise and brightened up my day. And ten it gave me a chance to play around with my DSLR again. I need to learn!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Mouse Ruined My Evening

It was just before 8:00pm last night (Monday), I sat down in the family room with my laptop to get some blogging done and turned on the TV excited for Fall programming. My plans were to watch The Sing Off and Two and A Half Men while I waited for Hawaii Five-O at 10:00pm and my date with Alex O'Loughlin (Steve McGarrett). Unfortunately, my grand plans were interrupted. Minutes after The Sing Off started I saw a mouse scurry along the carpet. And yes, I freaked out.

Source: via Marianna on Pinterest

Let's back up for a minute to last Thursday night. I was on my way out to meet my sister-in-law for our weekly coffee date at Starbuck's. Roughly 8:30pm, I open my basement door and bam right there is a mouse crawling down the stairs. So I do exactly what I should not do and scream and slam the door. My husband comes running, goes and looks for the mouse in the basement but obviously it is hiding. I make him walk me to my car in the garage and later that night when I got home, I came in through the back deck.

For a few days there was no sign of the mouse. Then on Sunday night hubby was watching TV in the family room, again 8:00pm-ish, and he sees something run across the floor. We of course tear apart the room but find nothing.

That brings us back to last night. The four boys are asleep, my husband is out at a school meeting and here I am perched on my kitchen stool like an owl looking over into the family room. Our family room is sunken and directly off the kitchen. So I sat there keeping an eye on the little bugger as it kept dashing back and forth across the floor. It would go from the kid's cardboard castle then run across the room to the recliner chair and repeat. I figured I better keep my eye on it so that when my big strong man got home I could point him in the right location.

So from my perch I kept an eye on it while catching bits and pieces of my TV shows. About 9:45 my husband arrived home and we went to work trying to hunt down little mousy.

Photo credit: gracey from

The last place I saw it run to was the recliner. So he flipped it over, shook it, pretty much beat it to death and no mouse came out. Which means it snuck out when I wasn't looking. Then he went through the toy boxes and behind the TV cabinet. No mouse. Next stop is the cardboard castle. Hubby yanks it really fast out of the corner and at first I see nothing. Until I see the mouse right in front of me between the step up into the kitchen and the loveseat. Of course I scream and it turns and runs behind the loveseat. So now I am looking directly behind the loveseat waiting for it to pop out again and hubby starts moving the furniture and it takes off in the other direction and into the corner behind the radiator.

We don't know if it went into the wall or what but it hasn't been seen since. We set up traps over night hoping we might get lucky but we woke up this morning to zero mousie corpses. (I'm sorry, when it comes to inside my home I won't put up with bugs and mice). Once the kids were awake we had to pull up the traps so it looks like a trip to Home Depot to get some child safe traps is on the agenda for today.

Needless to say I missed my date with hottie Alex and instead spent my evening with a furry rodent. I am hoping there is no second date.

Monday, September 19, 2011

CSA Pickup: September 17, 2011

The cooler weather sure did hit fast here in Connecticut. I feel like it was just in the high 80s and now we are in the 60s. While I do enjoy a crisp Autumn morning, this time of year also means the harvests will be coming to an end soon. Our CSA runs till the very beginning of November so we have a few weeks left, but the goodies are already dwindling. I went from a crazy amount of food two weeks ago which included tomatoes, zucchini, squash, cucumbers, lettuce, etc. to just a basketful of veggies.

Here is this weekend's loot. Potatoes, acorn squash, salad  mix, carrots, red & yellow bell peppers, eggplant and kale. Last night I made sausage and peppers so those are all gone now. I will be making some mashed potatoes at some point for my hubby, who complains that I don't make them enough. And I think I will try making some kale chips again. I tried once last season and was not all that thrilled. But they are so nutrient dense and good for you that I figured it was worth another shot.

I have never cooked acorn squash before so I will have to find something yummy to make with these. Do you have any acorn squash recipes that you can share with me?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Costco Discontinues Organic Peanut Butter

We shop at Costco. A lot. When you have a large family, you kind of have to. Buying in bulk becomes a necessity. One of the things I love about Costco is their every growing selection of natural and organic foods. For years I have been buying their Kirkland Organic Peanut Butter and my kids eat PB&J sandwiches for lunch on almost a daily basis. We love the taste and mommy loves that there are only two ingredients: peanuts and salt. I think it is by far the best natural or organic peanut butter on the market. Other brands tend to add an oil and a sweetener to their versions and I don't like that.

So this week my hubby went to our local Costco to pick up some of our usual including the peanut butter We usually buy two of the 2-packs at a time. He calls me to tell me they are out of it and they only have almond butter. No thanks. The following day he goes to another Costco near his office and calls to say that it is the same thing there. Not only are both locations out of the peanut butter, but the spot has actually been filled in with the almond butter. Here is where I start to panic. What does this mean? Are they no longer carrying the peanut butter? How can they do that? GAH!!!

So I do what a blogger does best and I hit the web. First I went to the Costco site and used their contact form to send them an email asking if they are no longer carrying the peanut butter. What I received back was a form response that didn't even answer the question:

Dear Marianna,

We appreciate you taking the time to email Costco Wholesale.

Your product suggestion has been forwarded to our buying office for their review. Thank you for taking the time to share your comments with us, as we value our members input.

Thank you,

{name removed}
Costco Wholesale Corporation

I didn't make a product suggestion, I am asking whether or not Costco stopped carrying this product. If they tell me yes, well THEN I will surely make a product suggestion.

Next I hit up the Costco Facebook page and left a comment on their wall asking about the peanut butter. They have not responded. So now here I am blogging about it, hoping I can find out what is going on with my beloved Kirkland peanut butter and try my best to get it back on the shelves.

Want to help me get Costco's attention? Head on over to the Costco Facebook page and tell them to keep carrying the Kirkland Organic Peanut Butter.

And in the meantime, please recommend to me your favorite brands of organic peanut butter so I can start searching for a suitable replacement just in case. There isn't a Whole Foods near here yet so Trader Joe's perhaps?

I sent another email to Costco this morning trying to see if I could get a real answer and sadly, my worst fear has been confirmed.

Dear Marianna,

This product has been discontinued. The organic peanuts have become very difficult to source. Our hope is to be able to offer this again in the future.

Please let us know if there is anything else we may assist you with.

Thank you,

{name removed}
Costco Wholesale Corporation

***UPDATE #2***
Costco now carries an all natural Kirkland peanut butter, which tastes the same as their old organic one. While it is not organic, the only ingredients are peanuts and salt, so I see this as the best option for peanut butter out there. Well, other than grinding your own. So many of the organic peanut butters on the market seem to have some sort of sweetener in them, which I feel is very necessary.

Viva Vitamin Angels plus Whole Foods Market Giveaway

If you are a long time reader of my blog, I am sure you know by now that my children's health and nutrition is of the utmost importance to me. I do my best to make sure that are eating healthy, balanced meals. If there is something I feel they might be lacking in, I will give them a supplement. For example one of the twins does not drink milk so I do have a calcium + vitamin D supplement that he takes.

Sadly, there are millions of children in the world that aren't getting proper nutrition and suffer from various vitamin deficiencies. In fact, one in three children worldwide is undernourished. And one third of all childhood deaths are caused by under nutrition. There are 190 million children that suffer from vitamin A deficiency across the world and Vitamin Angels is trying to help them.

The Vitamin Angels organization was founded in 1994 by Howard Schiffer, a natural products industry veteran. Schiffer wanted to use his knowledge and industry connections to help children throughout the world. Today, Vitamin Angels reaches more than 20 million children in over 40 countries.  By connecting children under five with vital nutrients like vitamin A, they are very literally improving the lives of children every day. One vitamin A capsule taken every six months can prevent blindness and reduce the mortality rate of children under five by 23 percent.

Whole Foods Market’s current podcast, Viva Vitamin Angels, shares the story of Vitamin Angels. To help raise awareness, Whole Foods Market will donate $1 for each comment in response to the Viva Vitamin Angels podcast in September. Just by listening to a brief podcast and leaving a comment, you will be helping improve the life of an undernourished child. So what are you waiting for? Please head on over.

Connect with Vitamin Angels

Connect with Whole Foods Market

To help raise awareness of Vitamin Angels, Whole Foods Market is giving away one (1) $20 gift card  to their stores.

Mandatory Entry
Listen to the Viva Vitamin Angels Podcast at and then leave a comment there. That comment not only gets you an entry here, but it also gives $1 to Vitamin Angels. Please leave me a comment here with the permalink of your podcast comment (get this by clicking on the time stamp of your comment).

Extra Entries
- "Like" Vitamin Angels on Facebook and tell them I sent you. Please leave me your first name and last name initial to validate.
- "Like" Green Mama's Pad on Facebook. Please leave me your first name and last name initial to validate.
- Follow Green Mama's Pad publicly on Google Friend Connect.
- Subscribe to my RSS feed in a reader or subscribe via e-mail. Your email must validate or it will not count.
- Follow @GreenMamasPad and @VitaminAngels on Twitter and tweet this giveaway. You can tweet once daily. Leave link to tweet in comment. You must have at least 50 followers. Please use the following when tweeting:
Help support @VitaminAngels and #Win a $20 @WholeFoods Gift Card via @GreenMamasPad. #Giveaway ends 9/30

This giveaway is open to legal US Residents 18+ only and will end on Friday, September 30, 2011 at 11:59pm EST. One winner will be chosen at random using and will be posted on the Winner's Announcement Page. Winner has 48 hours to claim his/her prize otherwise a new winner will be picked. Please leave your e-mail address in all of your comment(s) so I can contact you. I will not share your e-mail address with anyone, it will strictly be used to notify you if you win. Please allow 6-8 weeks for delivery. Prize fulfillment is the responsibility of the sponsoring company. This blog and its author are not responsible for giveaway prizes that are lost in transit or damaged. This blog is also not responsible if a sponsor/company does not send prize(s). Naturally, I will communicate with said company(s) several times, and make every effort to resolve the issue.

I received a Whole Foods Market gift card for hosting this giveaway.

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