Back in Action!


Hope BraceletIt has been simply ages since my last post. So much has happened; some good, some not so great, but it all kept me from blogging my little heart out as I usually like to do. We had some health scares with my son…the initial reason for my absence. After working through that and getting the all-clear (no relapse – phew), I just got busy living life away from the computer.

It really did feel good not checking email and finding ways to fit in a full-blown photo-shoot each time I cleaned, or made a meal. I loved the lack of pressure…the blogging world continued to thrive, and I was not hurting anyone by checking out for a while.

Of course I missed the daily interactions between my blogging friends. I hope they will forgive me and let me get back into the game. It is strange to just not be there anymore. While I felt it was a much needed break, I did have pangs of guilt and certainly wanted to know what everyone was doing. (To be honest, I did check in on everyone via my phone, I just didn’t actively participate!)

So what, you may be asking, was I doing? I was spending LOTS of time with my kids. I was going out with friends, I was mentally recharging, I was being a Healthy, Working Mom….just not blogging about it. I really felt the blog was taking up what little time I had after work and at the weekends.

You may now have the question, what are you doing back? I understand this fully. I am not going to be back as much as I used to be. I am not going to spend every mealtime checking ingredients, or rushing back and forth to a kiddie event, trying to carve out more time to get my thoughts and ideas on paper. I don’t want to “blog my way through life” as I was doing. I literally blogged in my head as things were happening, rather than enjoying what was going on! Crazy huh? I will be relaying my discoveries related to organic and eco-friendly living, sharing the fun crafts I do with my kids, and letting you know what I made for meals…just not as often.

Superman SammyI have also been drawn back into the world of cancer. While this is a dark subject, it is also something I am looking at proactively. Sammy is cancer-free (thankfully the scare was just that…a scare and not relapse), and I do have more time to give back to others. Sadly, Sammy’s buddy “G” has relapsed (he’s only eight) and awaits a transplant.

My approach to all of this is to do something. I used to blog over at Superman Sammy just to get my angst and woes out. I still check in occasionally to update people. This blog was meant to be my “life after cancer” blog. It still is, but the two will be tied forever by an unseen but painfully real need for me to move forward but never forget. Anyway, I decided to create jewelry to sell in order to raise money to beat cancer to a pulp! We support The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and proceeds will go to them, and also to help me start up a project that I’ve been mulling over in my mind for a while. Sammy had t.shirts made with his name in the superman logo. He has been known as Superman Sammy since diagnosis, and the shirts can be seen all over the town where he goes to school. They were sold to raise money for The Danny Fund, a charity helping families with children suffering catastrophic illnesses. The orange Superman Sammy shirts are famous in our part of the world! The link above takes you to the side-show of Sammy’s infamous day-release from hospital to attend the fundraiser!

Recently, a little girl was diagnosed with a brain tumor and the mom who helped create the Superman Sammy shirts, had one made up for “S”. She sports her wonderful shirt all over the hospital where she also waits for surgeries and a transplant. The shirts seem to bring hope and courage to these young heroes. (I had one made for “G” and his family a while back for the Walk for the Cure.)

So I want to have a shirt made up for the children of CHAM, then Children’s Hospital at Montefiore where Sammy was treated. I want them to see their name in the Superman logo and feel special and recognized for their strength too. So, I’m making jewelry!

Running an Etsy shop is quite hilarious at this point. First of all I have to make the jewelry. I’m fairly good at that aspect of things, and Sammy has also designed the “Chunky Monkey” bracelet set that I wear almost everyday with pride. The funny part comes when I have to take the photographs. I am NOT a photographer and I stink at it. So I am now learning, via the Etsy tutorials no less, how to make my pictures look more “Come and buy me” than “Gosh, what is that?” I kid you not, I really need to work on this. So my newest challenge is born.

I like to learn new things. In fact, I do well when pushed to do something I am not entirely comfortable doing. Once I do get it right, watch out for many shameless plugs for my Etsy Shop, We Were But Stones. It is for a VERY good cause ūüôā Just don’t laugh at the awful photography…it will get better!

Food Labels – What they Don’t Show!


I am constantly learning more about making good choices with food and reading food labels. As my regular readers know, I have been exploring labels for organic foods and looking carefully at what is in the food I buy for my family. I discovered an App for my iPhone that has blown me away…or rather the information I have discovered has!
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Green and Healthy Cleaning Products


I have been carefully selecting products which are earth friendly, organic cleaning products for a few years. I love them but they can get pricy. I decide to start looking for ways to cut costs without cutting back on effective cleaning or compromising my ‚Äėgreeness‚Äė. I discovered that I can basically do away with any store-bought cleaning product in favor of a simple homemade creation. Creating a supply of some basic ingredients will transform you into a DIY chemist with the cleaning power to rival any store-bout product and with the wonderful quality of being eco-friendly and safe for your home‚Äôs inhabitants.

Supplies:
Baking Soda ‚Äď this will clean and deodorize, scour surfaces and make water softer
White Vinegar ‚Äď great on grease, mildew, stains and also an odor fighter
Borax or Mon Ami- (I love this product) ‚Äď it will clean and disinfect, deodorize, soften water, and can be used on wallpaper, painted walls and floors
Cornstarch ‚Äď great for windows, furniture, and as a shampoo for carpets
Hydrogen Peroxide ‚Äď an all-round cleaner with disinfecting properties.
Salt ‚Äď rust remover when mixed with lime
Lemon ‚Äď wonderful for deodorizing and cleaning
I bet you already have most of these products in your home. Here’s my cleaning plan for the day:

Baking soda applied to a damp sponge for all the marks on my walls caused by crayon, grubby hands and general slobbiness.

My showers will get the mold and mildew once-over with one part Hydrogen Peroxide to two parts water in a spray bottle…ZAP!

I’m going to mix baking soda with a few drops of lemon juice in votive candle holders or small trays and place around the house for a fresh, clean scent.

My all-purpose cleaner consists of Borax or Mom Ami and water for my bathrooms.

If I have time, I will tackle my windows with cornstarch and water. Make sure the cornstarch is fully dissolved. Use crumples newspaper to remove any streaks.

Using these ingredients helps me feel good in the knowledge I am protecting my children from harmful chemicals. They are also much cheaper and very easy to make. I bought $1 spray bottles from Target which may not last a lifetime but do the job well. Best of all, I can keep my house clean…yep, these products really do the job beautifully.

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Make Your Very Own Green Cleaning Products (bobyreflections.wordpress.com)
19

HopeFULL Cooking Fun


This is not a paid review, merely the observations of a mom trying out a new idea in her kitchen.  I am a blogging friend of the HopeFULL Company girls, but all opinions and comments are Buttons or my own.  

Many of you will be aware of the new BellyFULL whole food pops that are the brainchild of two wonderful sisters, Jessica and Stephanie.    The initial idea behind this ingenious, foodalicious fun was to provide people who are going through chemotherapy or other treatments/illnesses with easy to eat, nutrition-packed meals in the form of ice-pops.  Having experienced the difficulties of getting a six-year-old with an ulcerated gastrointestinal tract to eat, I can vouch for the relief such a meal can bring to a parent watching their child waste away to nothing.

The BellyFULL packs are a move into helping parents cope with picky eaters. ¬† They are not just for cancer patients, but for children who turn their noses up at nutritious fruit and veggies but love treats such as ice-pops. ¬†Button, being several months off treatment, has no need for the pops to help his GI tract; instead he needs to rebuild his body, ravaged by chemo, and consume as much ‘goodness’ as possible. ¬†His brother, Peanut, is less picky, but the price of vitamins, not to mention the added sugar they always seem to come with, would drive anyone to think of a better way to get the much needed nutrients into a growing ten year old!

So our BellyFULL pack arrived and Button was immediately determined to don the chef’s hat and get started. ¬†We began with a special trip to the grocery store to purchase the ingredients for Button’s chosen recipe: Apricot Rocket. We pottered around Mrs. Greens gathering a very small supply of food (admittedly I already had everything except the apricots but wanted Button to experience the whole enchilada! ¬†Three ingredients, the obvious star being the apricots, and we were done…easy, organic and cheep!

The packs come with a wonderful ring-bound menu list. ¬†Most of the pops are three key ingredients, and the page also includes very easy to follow directions and some fun ideas for kids to do while helping. ¬†We could guess how many apricot halves were in the jar, or discuss how the apricots felt as we rinsed them. ¬†Button said that was for younger kids as he, being a big seven year old, preferred to be in charge of reading and ¬†following the directions. ¬†Apart from chopping, I really wasn’t needed.

Peeling

Mix Thoroughly

Adding More Ingredients

Chef Button Mixing

Pouring Mixture into Silicone Mold

Add Wooden Spoons

Kid Sloppy But Yummy!

Into the Freezer

Freeze for Three Hours

The wait was almost too much for Button.  He had loved every minute of being in charge of the kitchen.  Finally the waiting was over:

Apricot Rocket Pops

 

The First Try

 

What a great success!  Button immediately announced the pop was delicious and ate the whole thing in  a matter of minutes.  I enjoyed one also and have to admit, it tasted great.  Button was eating ingredients he usually balked at.  I also saw the immense sense of gratification he had in creating something himself.

I feel the pops are especially wonderful for the warmer days…I was cold when I tucked into mine, having just come in from an errand. ¬†I really wanted hot tea, but the pop was so delicious and satisfying I ended up forgetting about the tea. ¬†I ¬†held a mini-interview with Button to see what he thought:

Me: What was your favorite part of the activity?

Button: Making it myself and getting to eat it as soon as I wanted to. ¬†You said I could eat these whenever I feel like and that’s awesome!

Me: What do you think about your Apricot Rocket?

Button: I think it’s really good. ¬†I didn’t know what to expect and it is much better than it looked in the mixer!

Me: Would you have liked this when you were in the hospital?

Button: ¬†Oh yes! ¬†But it wouldn’t have been so much fun because I wouldn’t have made them myself. ¬†

Slight pause….But I would have loved them because they are cold and that would have helped the pain in my throat and mouth. ¬†

Okay, so at this point I was ready to cry, I admit…but I left Button to enjoy his treat and wanted to share with you a little something I created with the leftover mixture:

Mommy's Version

 

I added ice to the pre-frozen mixture and made a smoothie. ¬†It was delicious. ¬†I’m thinking of adding the same pre-frozen mixture (when I make more) to sauces…perhaps sans the dairy component. ¬†It will be a great way to sneak in more fruit and veggies to foods we already eat!

A Better Me: Vitamins


A Better Me:  Vitamins and Supplements 

Apparently, I needs to look more closely at my diet and the things I put into my body. Read here if you want the background on this project of mine. ¬† If I look at what I give my boys, I can see how lax I am when I compare what I give them to what I give myself! ¬†I am rebuilding a young child recovering from chemo…hence the large range of supplements…but my doctor advised me¬†that my other son would benefit just as much, so now he gets them all too.

My boys have most of their boiled food cooked with seaweed. ¬†This food is low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Niacin, and a very good source of Riboflavin, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Copper and Manganese.¬†Seaweed is very high in Sodium, so I don’t add any salt to my cooking.
Read More http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2766/2#ixzz1iGsEX7IK

The boys also take Omega 3, Vitamin D, and Calcium. ¬†This is due to my son having brittle bones from the chemo but both boys benefit as my eldest son actually showed low vitamin D at his last physical. ¬†Peanut has also been on multivitamins, Button could not take them as Folic Acid interferes with one of the chemo meds, but now he’s back on them having kicked cancer’s butt! ¬† Overkill! ¬†I hear you say? ¬†Nah…my kids are fussy and I know they don’t always get the vitamins through their food, no matter how much I spend on the best organic stuff. ¬†Besides, I am rebuilding Button…he’ll be bionic soon ūüôā

Here are the vitamins and supplements I have discovered I am in need of:

B vitamins

Vitamin B helps the brain to make enzymes which speed up chemical reactions in our body. ¬†When we are stressed, we produce less of these enzymes and this can impair cognitive ability. Aha! ¬†That explains a lot! ¬† I have often read about how vitamin B can reduce stress so ¬†I’ll be taking lots from now on.

Nature’s Providers: Dairy, meat and fish. jacket potatoes, walnuts, avocados

Products: B6 – Special K, Ovaltine with milk, canned tuna,

B12 – Bovril, sardines in oil, parmesan cheese, cornflakes with milk,

Magnesium

Magnesium tackles stress by regulating the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Gimme some of that!   It is a natural tranquilizer (not the put you to sleep kind) and has a calming effect Рsign me up!

Where to find it:  whole grain foods, bran, dried fruit, mushrooms, nuts.  Supplement are easily available.

It is better to avoid dairy products or calcium-rich foods when taking magnesium-rich foods. ¬†Plan meals accordingly or, if like me, that might be too much when getting started, take a supplement until you get the hang if it all. ¬†The food source is the best, ¬†but a supplement is a good alternative, especially if it relieves you of some stress ūüėČ

 

Omega 3

I also take Omega 3 supplements for my heart (I have a slight murmur) but they are also very good for the joints. ¬†Apparently these rather large capsules also help with brain function….hmmm…not seeing that happen yet! ¬†It also fights inflammation. ¬†If, like me, you suffer from sinus issues, this might help. ¬†It is also very good for the skin, eyes and overall wellbeing. ¬†Imagine your body is a Ferrari and in need of some high quality oil!!! ¬† Corny…sorry!

Natures’s Providers: ¬†Fish!!!! Duh! ¬† I prefer tuna, cod and mackerel, but will force some salmon into me if I have to.

 

Calcium and Vitamin D

Next comes the calcium…I’m on the wrong side of 21..ahem…and it is time to boost those bones with a good dose of calcium to keep them strong…or get them feeling strong again! ¬†To help the calcium along during the bleak winter months, I am also going to be taking vitamin D. ¬†This mood lifter ūüôā is just like the foundations of your house in terms of supporting the work the calcium has to do for your body.

Natures’s Providers: ¬†calcium: ¬†milk, yoghurt, cheese, leafy green vegetables, oranges, tofu, peanuts, peas, black beans, baked beans, sesame seeds, corn tortillas, almonds

Vitamin D: Pure Cod liver oil,  (Note: most refined cod liver oils today have the vitamin D removed! To be sure, check your label), salmon,  Mackerel, tuna, fortified milk, fortified margarine,  cereals, liver, beef, swiss cheese

And so I begin my daily dosing and cooking to get these essential nutrients into my exhausted body. ¬†I’m too tired to even contemplate all of this, let alone cook it all. ¬†Hang on…I already do it for Peanut and Button…must remember my new mantra…Healthy Mom, Happy Family! ¬†

A Soap to Try


I know I was going to post about plants helping to freshen our homes but then I found a ‘must have’ that I want to share with you. ¬†I am always looking for greener alternatives to use personally and around my home. ¬†I use organic as much as I can…despite the price. ¬†I have even turned to organic skincare…my face is healthier, but the lines are definitely creeping in!!! I need to do more research into something healthy for my face that will also melt away (not literally) the years.

As skin covers our bodies, and is a wonderful organ for soaking up any ingredient we put on it, I have been looking for a fairly well priced and effective soap that the whole family can use.  With glee I checked into one of my favorite BIG blogs The Simple Mom and discovered some pearls of wisdom and a must try product from Tsh Oxenreider. Please check out The Simple Mom for even more great ideas.  This is my next purchase:

Whole Foods – Castile Soap


ALL PURPOSE ‚Äď REAL SOAP! TONS OF USES! EVERYDAY GENTLE CLEANSING. BIODEGRADABLE / VEGAN / NO ANIMAL TESTING

Sold by: 16 FL OZ (473mL)

Ingredients: Organic pyrus malus (apple) juice, saponified oils (organic cocos nucifera [coconut] oil, potassium hydroxide*, organic helianthus annuus [sunflower] seed oil, organic sesamum indicum [sesame] oil, organic simmondsia chinensis [jojoba] seed oil), aqua (purified water), organic cyamopsis tetragonoloba (guar) gum, organic mentha piperita (peppermint) oil, organic aloe barbadensis (aloe) leaf juice. *Used to turn oils into real soap.

A similar product is available at Walgreens.

Dr. Bronner – Castile Soap

Ideas for uses – straight from Walgreens

  • For facial packs, scalp & soothing body rub, add dash on bath towel in sink of hot water. Wring out. Lay over face & scalp. Massage with fingertips. Repeat 3 or 4 times ’til arms, legs & all are rubbed, always towards the heart. Rinse towel in plain hot water and massage again. Breathe deeply! Health is wealth. Within 9 minutes you feel fresh and clean, saving 90% of your hot water & soap
  • Concentrated. Clouds when cold. Put in warm room/water: clears at 70¬įF

Here’s to squeaky clean and healthy! ¬†