Natural Feminine Care Options

on why I'm going back to organic tampons

When I quit working outside our home a few years ago, I cut expenses. My personal care products was one of those areas and I began using conventional tampons.

I had forgotten that conventional tampons are bleached with chlorine dioxide. The process is technically “chlorine-free” but it releases dioxin into the environment. Dioxin has been shown to cause cancer. I’m doing whatever I can to stand up to cancer.

Conventional tampons are made with a blend of cotton and rayon. 94% of the cotton grown in the United States is genetically modified (GM). I do my best to keep GM food out of our family’s bodies, somehow I forgot that tampons go in my body, too.

Additionally, more than 10% of the world’s pesticides are used on conventional cotton. It’s hard to believe none of the pesticide residue goes into a tampon.

Tampons typically contain odor neutralizers and fragrances. We know that synthetic fragrance is made with chemicals such as phthalates, linked to hormone disruption and neurotoxins, chemicals that are toxic to the brain.

Sanitary Pads aren’t any Better

The FDA considers sanitary pads to be “medical devices” and therefore, doesn’t require them to have their ingredients listed. They are primarily made from plastic, cotton and wood pulp. Some contain latex, a problem for those with a latex allergy. One sanitary pad is the equivalent of using four plastic bags.

Check out this video from Naturally Savvy to see her light two pads on fire: a conventional pad and an 100% organic pad. The difference is incredible!

Natural Alternatives

There are lots of alternatives to conventional pads and tampons: organic, sea sponge tampons, reusable cotton pads and menstrual cups.

Organic Tampons

I currently use organic cotton tampons but have a Diva Cup sitting in the cupboard ready to try. They are made with 100% organic cotton and toxic pesticides are not allowed in organic agriculture. They are bleached with hydrogen peroxide so there is no dioxin released into the environment.

Organic Pads

Reusable Pads

Menstrual Cups

Menstrual cups are typically made with  medical grade silicone, are BPA free and latex free. They have got to be the most economical option. It takes about 5-6 boxes of organic tampons to pay for the Diva Cup.


Safer Sand and Water Toys Guide

The Guide to Safer Sand and Water Toys

sources: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 /12 / 13 / 14 / 15 /16 / 17 / 18 /19 /20 / 21 / 22 / 23 / 24

Modeled after our popular post on Safer Bath Toys, we’ve put together a list of BPA free, PVC free and phthalate free sand and water toys.  These are the toys we would (and do!) buy our own kids.

American Plastic Toys – They tell me that all of their toys are BPA free, PVC free and phthalate free.  Both the 10 Piece Spring Value Set  and the Sand and Water Wheel  are perfect beach toys. For toddlers, the Water Wheel Play Table is great for summer in your backyard.

Green ToysAlways a winner in the safe toys department.  This Sand Play Set and Watering Can are perfect for the beach.  I like the Scooper Vehicle for digging in the dirt and sand.

Haba – These are some of my favorite beach toys and all of the Haba plastic toys are BPA free, PVC free and phthalate free.  The Sand Bucket Scooter, Sand-Water Measuring Jug, Sand-Water Rake and Sand Trowel are just the basics for sand and water play.The Caterpillar Digger, Sand Drill and Sieve Roller are unique and inexpensive.

Hape – Committed to safety for kids and environmentally friendly, Hape toys are constructed with formaldehyde-free wood and glue and use no chemicals in their wood drying process. They use non-toxic water based paint from Germany and are packaged in recycled paper using soy ink. My top pick for inexpensive and safe beach toys is the Hape 4 piece Beach Basics Kit which includes a bucket, sifter, rake and shovel for less than $8. The Sand & Sun Driller and Sand & Sun Grabber are great for digging in the sand, and working on fine motor skills. To perfect a sand castle, I like these sand molds: Great Castle Walls, Bricklayer Set and Brick Sand Roller.

Moluk –  I think the Mini Bilibos is the perfect water and sand toy.  Super versatile, it’s great for scooping, digging and carrying.

Quut Beach ToysOne of my favorite brands,  all of their toys are BPA free, PVC, latex and phthalate free and to make it that much better, they are recyclable.  The Scoppi is an award-winning shovel and sifter in one. I also like the Ballo Beach Bucket because it makes carrying water so much easier on a kiddo, really smart design.

Spielstabil – Made in Germany, all toys are free of PVC, BPA and phthalates.  LOTS of options from this company. The Watering Can or Sand Pail is a classic but I also love the unique Water PumpCastle Set in a Bag and the Water Fun Set.

Zoe b Organic – This biodegradable and made in the USA bath and beach toy set is also one of my favorites. Also free of BPA, PVC and phthalates.


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Replacing Ziploc: Alternatives to Plastic Baggies

Plastic baggies seem to be a kitchen essential but they are flimsy, not easily reusable and plastic. There are also 20 million plastic baggies thrown away PER DAY.   We’ve been using these reusable, food safe bags to replace our Ziploc addiction.

I keep 6-8 on hand to use for snacks on the go and to pack in my kid’s waste-free lunches. They are great for snack or lunch time to store sandwiches, fruit and veggies, crackers, cheese and more.


LunchSkins – These reusable, colorful cloth pouches are made from a quick drying fabric that is coated with a food-safe polyurethane liner. They have been certified as lead, Bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalate-free. So many darling patterns and you can pop them in the dishwasher. We have several of these we use regularly.


BlueAvocado Re-Zip Reusable Bags – I love these utilitarian bags from Blue Avocado because they resemble simple plastic bags, without the plastic. They come in multiples sizes: snack, sandwich and one gallon. We have the 5-piece kit which is perfect for lunches and several one gallon bags for storing leftovers.  They are particularly good for teens and adults that don’t want a cutesy print. Made of FDA-grade PEVA material, PVC, BPA and Lead free. 

Kids Konserve Food Cozy


Kids Konserve – We love the Kids Konserve Food Kozy for sandwiches and other moisture rich foods.  Their reusable kozies are made with recycled, FDA approved, non-toxic, non-leaching, recyclable PE plastic. Free of BPA, phthalates, PVC and lead. 13″ round.  They are easy to hand wash and air dry.


Stainless Steel Bento Boxes – These are the best thing I’ve ever purchased to change our use of plastic baggies in our house and they revolutionized how we make lunches. We have the LunchBots brand (the LunchBots Cinqo specifically) but many friends love PlanetBox. They are a bit of an investment ($39+) but they have saved us from using hundreds of plastic baggies or plastic containers and the kid’s lunches have more variety and healthy choices than they did before. Highly recommended.

Itzy Ritzy

ItzyRitzy Reusable Snack and Everything Bag – What I like best about the ItzyRitzy is that is has a zipper, whereas many of the other reusable bags have velcro. It makes using them for more secure items (keys, cell phone, money, etc) a real possibility. FDA approved food safe, BPA free, lead free, phthlalate PVC free with a cotton exterior.


Bumkins – My favorite thing about Bumkins is their easy wipe, waterproof fabric. They also make my favorite bibs. The reusable bags have a zipper and are very reasonably priced (less than $5 apiece), not to mention they are well loved by reviewers. The designs are much more juvenile with Disney and Dr. Seuss, monsters and the like. PVC, BPA, phthalate, vinyl and lead free.  Easy to throw in the washing machine and then air dry.




My experience with thredUP: the good, the bad and the ugly

My Experience with thredUP : the good, the bad and the ugly

Last year, I shared a few ways that I use to get brand name clothes on a budget.  One of them is to purchase new and pre-owned clothing from thredUP where I regularly pick up items from my favorite brands. Overall, it’s been a great experience but there are a few things to keep in mind.

The Good

1. thredUP sells most of my favorite brands like J.Crew, Paige, Zara and Anthropologie.  They also carry both new and pre-owned items. In one order, I received 10 brand new items for my kids.  All but one of the items was in new or like new condition.

2. In the last two years, I’ve placed 5 orders for 22 pieces of clothing averaging $8.50 apiece. The most expensive item was a dress from Zara at $18.99 (pictured above).  That’s not bad for items from more expensive brands like J.Crew, not to mention all the items complete with new tags.

3. thredUP sent me bags with prepaid shipping so I was able to sell them 9 items of clothing for an average of $5.94 per item.  A few days after I received the notification that my bag was accepted, I was able to transfer the money into my Paypal account.

4. Shipping is free when you spend $50 or just $2.99 for the first item, $0.99 for each item thereafter.

The Bad

1. While many items are brand new, most are pre-owned.  One sweater I purchased for my daughter that had quite a bit of piling. I should have sent it back but it ended up in a donate pile.  I’m sure thredUP has guidelines on how to label the condition of each item but everyone’s idea of ‘condition’ is different.  I consider 1 bad and 21 great items actually pretty great.

2. Returns used to be free when you ordered via the mobile app so I did return a few items that were the wrong fit or I didn’t care for.  Now you have to pay to return anything (and anything that cost less than $10 is not returnable). The good news is that one item of clothing is fairly inexpensive to ship, just $2-3.

3. When you send in a bag for thredUP to purchase from you, they will only send back rejected items if you pay the shipping charges. Ugh.

The Ugly

1. The only really negative experience I’ve had with thredUP is when I sent my second bag of clothing.  My first bag was a total score. I sent 8 items and only 2 were rejected.  I got $42 for 6 items or an average of $7 apiece.  Since I had tried, unsuccessfully, to sell these items in other venues, I was pretty excited.  So I rounded up 8 more items and sent it off.  A few weeks later I got a notice that only 4 items had been accepted for a grand total of $10.95 or just $2.74 apiece. All four of the accepted were dresses that I could have sold on eBay for 2-3x more. A total disappointment.

My experience with thredUP : the good, the bad and the ugly

The Bottom Line

I will definitely be shopping with thredUP again. They often have discount codes on top of their already great prices so I feel like I am getting a deal every time I shop there. If you haven’t shopped at thredUP yet, you can get a $10 credit to use on your first purchase. And in full disclosure, I’ll get a $10 credit if you do, so thank you!

As for selling clothing to them, I probably won’t be doing that again. I am already a pretty active eBay seller so I’ll stick to what I know.


10 practical ways to stay healthy this winter

Last year was the first in many years that we stayed healthy all winter (I know, knock on wood). It was also the first winter I had to take a medication that lowered my immune system so I was determined to do everything I could to keep us from getting the common cold or flu, or worse.

I don’t think there’s a silver bullet on this list, I’m convinced it was a combination of practical and healthy choices that helped pave the way for a well winter. Here’s hoping for another one.


We live in a dry climate so I keep several humidifiers on hand to use in the bedrooms every night. It keeps nasal passages moist and healthy (and prevents my kiddos from stuffing their fingers in their nose!) I like this cool mist humidifier so I don’t have to worry about anyone burning their hands on it and it’s inexpensive.

Essential Oils

I had only used essential oils for cleaning until last year when I was introduced to OnGuard, an essential oil blend.  I started putting it (diluted with coconut oil) on our kids and myself every time we started feeling ill and it absolutely worked. I’m an essential oil convert (I use this kit regularly). This winter, we bought a diffuser and are using it regularly to purify our air and boost our immune system.

Drink Tea

I’ve always liked tea but this year I’m trying to drink more black or green tea. Studies at Harvard University found that “people who drank five cups of black tea a day for 2 weeks transformed their immune system T cells into “Hulk cells” that pumped out 10 times more cold and flu virus-fighting interferon — proteins that defend against infection — than did the immune systems of those who didn’t drink black tea. Green tea should work just as well.”

Sugar Consumption

It’s well known that sugar suppresses the immune system which is cruel since we’re devouring sweets from Halloween to Christmas.  I’m no pro at this but I did recently quit drinking soda (it was just one a day but still) and my kids donated all their Halloween candy. I’ve found that the less we have in the house, the less I’m tempted to indulge.

10 Practical Ways to Stay Healthy this Winter


Everyone is loaded up on vitamins around here. I’ve got Vitamin A, C, D and probiotics and the kids have a similar regimen of Vitamin D and these probiotics.

Manage Stress

When Carnegie Mellon University infected participants in a research study with a common cold virus, those who reported being under stress were twice as likely to get sick.

Stress is unavoidable so I think we all need to find a few ways to help manage it. For me, one of these tend to work: exercise, getting outside in nature, and alone time.  Find what works for you, I like these ideas.


Depriving ourselves (and our kids) of necessary sleep lowers our body’s ability to respond to infections.  Everyone knows mom doesn’t get a sick day so go with the melatonin that kicks in when it gets dark outside.


Speaking of fingers + noses, I am extra picky about keeping our hands out of our noses and mouths.  I’m not typically crazy about keeping germs out of our bodies but I am more cautious during the winter. It also helps to keep a box of tissues in each bedroom and bathroom, along with one in the kitchen.


Beyond the obvious practice of washing hands often, I started using sanitizer whenever I get back in the car from places such as the kid’s school or activities or the grocery store, for example.  I use this natural hand sanitizer or I like this DIY version, as well.

Eat to be Well

Several foods are known to boost immunity such as yogurt, oats and garlic. Adding a few of these 10 power foods may be the help we need to stay healthy this winter.

British researchers gave 146 people either a placebo or a garlic extract for 12 weeks; the garlic takers were two-thirds less likely to catch a cold.


Share your own tips for staying healthy this winter. We can use all the help we can get, right?