Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cleaning Our Reusable Shopping Bags

I'm a big fan of the reusable shopping bags. They cut down on waste from the plastic bags and the indifferent helpful teenage grocery checkers seem to understand that you can fit a lot of items in one single bag. Have you noticed how they use one plastic bag for two items? Grrr. I'm sure it's because the plastic bags are so flimsy that they can't hold much.

But I digress.

Even though the resuable bags are fantabulous, they can get dirty and germy quickly. In fact, there have been reports showing how nasty the bags can get. People have gotten very sick from them.

Now, it's nothing to freak out about. There's a quick solution...just wash them in your washing machine!

I try to wash mine every other week, but more often if I've shopped for raw meat because...well raw meat is gross and can really make you sick.

I just toss them in the wash with our regular Shaklee laundry soap, add a 1/4 teaspoon of Shaklee's Basic G, and turn to the heavy duty setting. They air dry in less than 30 minutes... easy peasy!

Why use Shaklee Basic G over, say, bleach? Well Basic G is a concentrated germicide that is more effective and much safer than bleach.

  • Basic G kills over 40 pesky microbes, including several animal viruses
  • It keeps on killing germs longer than bleach does
  • It's the safest disinfectant on the market
  • It's one of the most cost effective disinfectants on the market. One quart can make up to 64 gallons of disinfectant for only $17.30 (member price!) How would 64 gallons of bleach cost?

Note: Basic G is super concentrated and comes full strength. If it were to be consumed, it is toxic by EPA standards. However, it is not nearly as toxic as other cleaners. When properly diluted, it is non-toxic.

Do you use reusable shopping bags? How often to you clean them?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Dyes are Everywhere! (An Ongoing Series)

With two young boys and two dogs, I feel like we all need to wash our hands at least 50 times a day.  But sometimes, washing at the sink isn't always an option so we use store bought hand sanitizer.

When we ran out a few days ago, I just grabbed the first bottle I saw at the store, not even thinking about what might be in it. Because all hand sanitizers are made the same and made to clean hands, right?


Well much to my dismay, the name brand I grabbed, has artificial dyes in it. Really? In hand sanitizer?  Yes, indeedy. It has Blue 1 and Yellow 5. It also has fragrance in it (but that's a whole other blog post).

If you're into this type of stuff, it's long been known that artificial dyes really aren't good for you. In fact, there has been scientific proof that some cause behavioral issues in kids. Lovely.

Here's some fun facts about Blue 1
  • The dye is poorly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and 95% of the ingested dye can be found in feces (Source)
  • It has been linked to ADHD, allergies, and asthma. Several European countries have banned Blue 1. (Source)
And about Yellow 5 (Tartazine)
  • It is derived from coal tar and is the number one allergy-causing dye.
  • It is a common dye in candy, cereal, and many other processed foods.
  • It has been banned in many European countries. (Source)

I should've guessed as much, considering this sanitizer is green and not clear like the other brand we had. Not that the other brand is so healthy and safe.

Here is my beef with this sanitizer: Why must it be colored? Seriously, it's just a hand cleaner. It doesn't need to look pretty and colorful. Those dyes add NO VALUE to the sanitizer. Instead, those pesky dyes just add more proven harmful chemicals to my family's body. Not cool.

There's got to be a better, more natural way for a quick clean of the hands when good old soap and water aren't available!

Do you have any tried and true homemade hand sanitizers? Please share them!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Sale at Oh, Gracious!

If you don't follow Oh, Gracious! via Facebook (and why don't you??) then you might not have seen that all our bracelets and cuffs are 15% today only! Woot!

Click on the Store button on the right side of the page to be taken to my online store. Use coupon code CUFFS to get your discount!

Hurry, we just have a few of each style left!

Join our Facebook community!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Do You Experience these Signs?

I'm passionate about removing toxins from homes. Toxins are primarily found in your home cleaning products; the bleaches, the 409's, the stainless steel cleaners, the laundry detergents, the dish soaps.

Many, many of your everyday home cleaners are dangerous chemicals in them. When it comes to home cleaning products, you really have little to go on beyond the warning labels the manufacturer is required to use. DANGER, WARNING, and POISON just give you a general idea of the seriousness of the unknown substances in the product. And those warnings apply only to a products immediate health effects, they don't say what can happen to your health after using them for a long period of time.


I've compiled a list of things you might experience with your everyday home cleaners. If you experience these things, I encourage you to consider switching to non-toxic home cleaners. If not for YOUR health's sake, but for the sake of your FAMILY!

You should consider switching to non-toxic cleaners if you experience:

  • Headaches during or after use
  • Burning eyes
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Burning skin from contact with cleaners
  • You freak out when your kids even look at the bottle of cleaner
You have a choice! You can get your home clean and not kill yourself at the same time! It's true!

And you know what? It doesn't have to be expensive!

Now there are many non-toxic cleaner recipes floating around, which are fantastic. They are made of your everyday ingredients: white vinegar, baking soda, and the like. All are non-toxic and all get your home clean! If you're interested in making your own (and you have the time!), then this is a fantastic way to start getting the poison out of your home!

In our home, we've completely Shaklee-ized our lives. You can check every cabinet in our home and you'll only find the Get Clean Line. It's wonderful! Shaklee's Get Clean line is SAFE, GREEN, and it WORKS! Read more about the Shaklee Difference here.

I've written several posts about getting toxin out of the home and you can view them below:

Green Cleaning Saves Money!

The Real Dirt on Clean!

How I Clean Quickly Without Toxins

And I have a secret for you...making your own cleaners may not be as cost effective as you think!

Do you use non-toxic cleaners in your home? If not, are you willing to try them? I'd love your feedback!

Join me on the Healthy Life, Happy Life Facebook community!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Are Our Kids Overscheduled?

I love to read our metroplex-based magazine called Ft. Worth Child. They have great activity ideas for families and fantastic articles on parenting.

A recent issue had an article whose title caught my eye, Fear and Overscheduling.

I took notice of it because just a few days before, I'd been chatting wtih my husband about how hard it has been to get playdates with some of my friends and their kids. I have a few friends who I literally have to get on their calendars several weeks in advance just so our boys can play together for an hour!

What do you think about that?

For me, it's totally overwhelming. Don't get me wrong, I love a good playdate every  now and then, I love to get out of the house and go somewhere, but I just can't do it for several hours every day.

It's just too exhausting and I've found my boys get cranky and unruly when we're too busy.

I don't like to be busy for the sake of being busy. I'm a homebody for the most part. My boys seem to be ok staying home and playing a lot.

But when I talk to some of my friends and try to schedule playdates, I start doubting myself and thinking my boys don't have enough going on. So I sat down and wrote out our weekly schedule, and you know what? It looks pretty good to me!

  • Monday - Oldest at gymnastics or art class for 45 min, then we either go to the park or play at home. Usually no other 'scheduled' activities.
  • Tuesday - Oldest at preschool half day; youngest and I hang out and play at home or go to the park. After preschool, we hang out at home.
  • Wednesday - Every other week is MOPS for about 3 hours. This wears the boys out for the day. 3 hours of non-stop playing does little boys in!
  • Thursday - Oldest at preschool half day; youngest and I hang out and play at home or go to the park. After preschool, we hang out at home.
  • Friday - No scheduled activities. Maybe a playdate every now and then, but mostly play time at home.

With all of the things that are available to kids now, with all of the social media influences that we're bombarded with on a daily basis, it's easy for me to get way too caught up in the mommy guilt of not doing enough for my kids.

After reading that article, I started feeling better about the activity choices I've made for my kids. They have an entire lifetime of schedules, having to be somewhere at a certain time, organized sports, school, homework, college, a professional career.

Right now, I just want them to enjoy being carefree and not scheduled. I'm okay with that. What's more important, they're ok with that. Win-win.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Shaklee 180 Stories

Note: I've had the privilege of hanging out with Laura at our very first 180 Turnaround Party back in January. She is such an inspiration! As a mom of 3, who travels nationwide weekly, she was turned her life around by using Shaklee 180! Love her!

I will be sharing real life Shaklee 180 testimonials with you over the next few weeks. As you can tell, I love the program and believe in it! My husband and drink a Smoothee every day (him for breakfast, me for lunch) and while we're not on a huge weightloss quest, we've both lost a few pounds and have more energy. Yay!

LAURA’S 180 STORY:  “If I can do it, you can do it! I’m over 40 and a mother of 3 with a full time career and travel schedule. I lost 35 lbs and went from size 10 to 2!”

Before to After: Lost 35 lbs* 

After-After: Has kept it off for over a year! 
“So I took another look at the Body Mass Index chart and realized I was not at a healthy weight according to the medical data. That’s when I knew I needed to make a change. I chose Shaklee 180. I was tired of “yo-yo dieting;” I have lost and gained hundreds of pounds many times over. I wanted to lose the weight and stop the yo-yo. I knew the preliminary clinical study with real people conducted with Shaklee 180 resulted primarily in fat loss, not muscle loss. I knew muscle helps metabolism. If I can do it, you can do it! For years I have been spending time taking care of everyone else in my life – my children, my husband, my family, my friends, my job, my staff, my boss and my customers. So it is no wonder that as my family grew and my responsibilities grew… so did I. Sure I had all the excuses and reasons why. But after watching my parents struggle thru cardiovascular disease and open heart surgery, I knew this was not how I wanted to age gracefully and not what I wanted my kids to experience.
I set my goal low: to lose 15 lbs in 90 days just like the clinical study participants had achieved. To my surprise, not only did I lose the weight, I started to change my body shape! I went from “mom look” to athletic. Something I have never been in my life! Shaklee 180 changed my life for the better, for good!”

Danville, CA 
Are you ready to do a 180? Find out more here!

I host 180 Turnaround Parties on Facebook each week. All you need to do is join the group, then log in to Facebook during party time. Sit back and learn how you can stop the yo-yo diets! Comment below and I'll get you added to the group!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Oh, Gracious! Check Out the Store!

Did you see the new button on the right side of the page? I've set up a store at Storenvy.com so that you can purchase your favorite Oh, Gracious pieces right now instead of waiting for our bi-weekly featured items!

I'd love for you to take a look around and pass along the store to your family and friends who would be interested in our unique, handmade jewelry! A huge thank you to our local artisan who spent so much time making the gorgeous cuffs and wraps! She's amazing!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Reality vs. Virtuality

- the state or quality of being real.

- a real thing or fact.

virtuality (aka virtual reality)
- a realistic simulation of an environment

This is probably more of a stream of consciousness about me, but you might be able to relate to it as well. Bear with me. It's long. Here goes...

As with most people I know, I have a Facebook and Twitter profile. And I obviously have a blog. I've come to really have issues with all of these social mediums. Really, the number one reason I keep a profile for my Facebook and Twitter is for my work at home businesses. I run them almost exclusively through social media. I keep my personal blog so family can see pics of our boys and stay updated on them. I keep this blog running for business reasons and for another way to get out some of the randomness in my head.

Wow, social media plays a big part in my life. I bet it does in yours too.

While I enjoy skimming through my Facebook newsfeed when I first log in, there are many times I wish I could just log in to my business pages and bypass all the posts from my virtual 'friends.' Whether it's all the political rants, waaay too much TMI posts, or the happy-happy-joy-joy posts, I have found myself on too many occasions getting sucked into this world.

Same goes for Twitter and blogs. It's so easy to get sucked in to reading organization tips, craft projects, recipes, fashion ideas, and entering giveaways. Don't forget about all the blessed giveaways people host on their blogs! There are very few blogs I read anymore that don't have a dang giveaway going on every few days. But I digress.

I think social media from a business standpoint can be very good, but on a personal level it is such a time waster. A brain cell killer. A virtuality.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not a cranky person. I'm not a scrooge. I really enjoy seeing virtual friends and bloggers post cute pictures of their kids (I do it...my kids are the cutest!), I enjoy seeing fun vacation pictures, or reading updates on the newest job, the latest raise, the new house, the new baby, or what have you. Really, I truly enjoy seeing those kinds of things.

However, (and this may or may not apply to you) I've had to really reel myself in. In the not to distant past, I've found myself feeling...well depressed or like I'm not doing enough in my already busy day. You know like cooking, cleaning, organizing, crafting, while also making money at work, playing with the kids for endless hours, going on vacations, wearing makeup, getting out of my pajamas before 10am, always having gluten-free-whole-wheat-dye-free-soy-free-non-GMO healthy snacks and lunches for my kids, exercising for at least 45 minutes every day, taking a shower more than 34x's per week, and then blogging, Facebooking, and Tweeting about the whole darn thing.


Reality check!

Once I felt myself getting sucked into that virtuality. I made a huge conscious effort to take a step back. A giant leap back, if you will.

Now as I said earlier, I enjoy seeing happy-happy-joy-joy. But I have to remind myself that what I see isn't always what I get. While it's wonderful to have a positive perspective on life, let's be real. I don't know one person whose life is always lollipops and rainbows. I know tons of people who are positive, happy people, but they're also human...they have everyday challenges just like me.

Virtuality is just that...virtual. Those 'friends' in my Twitter feed, Facebook feed, and in my blog reader are not real. Well some of them are...but not many. I don't have a real face-to-face relationship with but a handful of those people. A handful. And let me tell you...those real people are not doing all that stuff on a daily basis.

And that makes me feel better. It puts me back to reality.

In taking my giant leap back, I've implemented this mantra: Be present with the people that are literally in the room with me.

For years, I've taken issue with people (especially people I only see a few times a year) who will not put down their smartphone or tablet. Ever. It's constantly in their hands like a blasted IV. They're on it Facebook-ing, playing games, reading something and not being present with the ones that are with them. I find it rude and disrespectful. (End rant) 

That said, since I get so bent out of shape about it, I put my phone away when I'm with people. It's in my purse, in another room, or in my car. Why? Because those that are in front of me are more important than those virtual friends. 

This rule applies with my boys. While I do check email and text throughout the day, I keep it to a strict minimum. My boys keep me very busy, they're growing so fast and I don't want to miss out on it because I'm too busy off in virtuality.

Side story: I used to work at a science and history museum. We would have elementary kids come in everyday for fun field trips and I helped present some of the science activities. Did your parents ever join your class on a field trip? My mom did and I loved it. It was always so cool and fun to have your parent(s) with you on a class trip! Well, this particular day a group of 3rd graders came in. The table I was helping had four little girls, all with their moms. One of the moms had her phone out and was Facebook-ing the entire time. Right next to her daughter. Her daughter kept trying to get her attention, "Mommy look!", "Mommy, did you see the light come on?", "Mommy??"
It was so sad. Her mom was so distracted by her virtual world, that she was missing out on the joy of seeing her child learning something new and having fun. That poor girl had tears in her eyes because her mom chose something else, something not real, over her. 

I will never forget it. I think that's the moment when I decided to take Facebook off my phone.

Please don't get me wrong. I'm not perfect...far from it. Some days it's a struggle to not get sucked in. Some days, I'm so worn out from...well being human...that I just want to do something mindless. I think that's ok, in small doses. But not when it takes the place of the blessings that are right in front of you.

Do you struggle with social media on a personal level? How do you deal with it?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Oh, Gracious!

Looking for some fun jewelry and accessories? Oh, Gracious! has seen a LOT of traffic and excitement over on Facebook.

I'ved decided to open up my products to direct buying...so many people just don't want to wait til 'auction' day to get their hands on these fun pieces!

So if you see something you like here or on my Facebook page, send me a comment/message and we'll get you set up!

Thanks again for your support of my small business!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Fun with Colored Rice!

Some of my seriously crunchy mommy friends will probably gasp in horror that I used store bought food coloring to make this colored rice, but hey, I just don't have time to make coloring out of beets!

Our boys received a sand and water table for Christmas this year. It's finally been warm enough to be outside for more than 5 minutes, so we pulled it out recently. Now, it hasn't been warm enough to splash in water and we don't have any sand sitting around, so I needed to find something they could dig around in.

Enter colored rice, the easiest little crafty project you ever did see.

My four year old 'helped,' but I have to admit, I had way more fun doing it than he did!

My kids don't put their attention to anything for more than five minutes tops. But this rice had both of them occupied for at least 20 minutes! Long enough for me to snap about 150 pictures of them dumping it everywhere but back in to the table! It helps that they love to scoop, dump, throw, and dig. So the rice in the table was a great choice this time around.  Of course, you can do plain rice, but sometimes a little color makes things more fun!

Here's how to make some colored rice that your kids will LOVE playing in.

  • 1 large bag of white rice (I got mine at the dollar store since it was going to be used for playing and not eating!)
  • Food coloring
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Plastic sandwich bags
  • Paper plates
Scoop some rice into the sandwich bags, then add a few drops of food coloring and a capful of rubbing alcohol. The alcohol helps spread the color around without washing it away like water would. Close the bag and shake, mush, and squish until the rice is colored. Dump on to a paper plate and set in the sun to dry out. After about 15-20 minutes, the rice should be dry and ready to play with!

Letting the rice dry for a few minutes
I poured it out all pretty-like before the littles came to mix it up!

The littlest making his discovery

Big brother burying cars, little brother scooping and pouring
Scoop and shake so it all scatters on the deck!

What fun things do you put in your kids sand and water tables? Have you made colored rice before?

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