The news of this horrific and senseless tragedy has deeply affected me as it has everyone I speak with. As I learned about the events, I was shocked and saddened beyond words. The loss of a child is the most painful. My heart is broken for the parents who lost their precious babies. It is every parent’s worst fear… an unimaginable nightmare. May God bless them. My prayers and thoughts are with the parents, families and loved ones of those innocent children whose lives were cut way too short as well as the adults who were victimized. May God surround them all with love, guidance, support, comfort, peace and healing. I thank God every single day for my children. I think we will all hug our children a little tighter tonight.
Today is Green Monday, the biggest shopping day in December. It is estimated that more than 1 billion dollars will be spent online while people scramble to order gifts. There are a lot of deals to take advantage of today. Amazon has a 51” Samsung 3D HD TV for $1200, that’s $1,000 off! They also have the Kindle Fire on sale for $299 with free 2 day shipping. Target is offering the XBOX 360 4GB for $249.99, that’s a $50 savings and buy one get one half off Barbie, Disney and Princess toys. Toys R Us is offering 25 – 30% off of some big ticket items. You can get a Razor scooter for $20 at Walmart.
I’m personally in denial that Christmas is a mere two weeks away. I have hardly done any shopping yet! I better get on it. Here are some ideas that might make the loves on your list smile.
- One of my new favorite obsessions? Fresh handmade cosmetics from Lush. You know how passionate I am about using personal care items that don’t contain harmful ingredients. These products are from fresh, organic fruit and vegetables, essential oils and safe synthetics. They are made fresh by hand using little or no preservatives or packaging, and only vegetarian ingredients. They have good stuff for guys too.
- ‘Of the month clubs’ are back in vogue. Not a bad idea for the hard to buy for people or those people on your list who have everything. Is your assistant a beauty junkie? Check out Birch Box. Each month she’ll receive 4 -5 samples of high end beauty products, prices start at $10 a month.
- Personalize it with silk initial bracelets by Tanya Oskanian for Hokise Jewelry. I want these!
- There is just something so fun about stocking stuffers, don’t you think? One of my all time favorite stocking stuffers when I was a little girl was a huge tube of 6 different flavors of lip smackers, the giant ones, remember those?! I absolutely loved Lip Smackers but they unfortunately contain some chemicals you don’t want to absorb. An eco-friendly version of lip smackers from Crazy Rumors Hibiskiss come in yummy flavors and lovely hues made from botanical extracts, not artificial colors. They are vegan, cruelty free and and even gluten free!
- Every girl likes a little bling, Stella & Dot has both fun chunky statement pieces and more delicate, understated jewelry as well so you’ll find something for every gal on your list. Contact stylist Christina Hamor to place your order.
- And for the health fanatic on your list? Give the gift of amino acids, minerals, vitamins, blood-boosting chlorophyll and antioxidants with a Grow Your Own Wheat Grass Kit from Open Sky.
I am a shampoo junky. I like to mix it up and have several different shampoos in the rotation. I know some say this doesn’t make your hair ‘perform’ better but I happen to think it does. Plus, I like variety. My hair is long, thick and healthy but fine. It’s not frizzy but my ends can get frayed so it doesn’t always lay well. Thaaattt being said, I don’t always have to deal with serums and straighteners to get my hair to behave. Believe me, I am grateful. However, I do know my shampoo and conditioner because when I don’t use good products it shows and my hair drives me crazy.
I am happy to say that I found a fabulous hair care line. My hair was noticeably softer after using the Use Me cleasner and moisturizer, I love the way it feels and the best part is that it also behaved well. Some products make your hair soft but not very manageable, these don’t. They perform well, especially compared to many ‘eco-beauty’ products. They also smell gorgeous! My friend even said my hair looks super shiny. They call their shampoo & conditioners cleansers and moisturizers because they view them as skincare for your hair.
Their products are sold online and in several salons nationwide. They are very environmentally sound because you can refill them in any salon that carries them, reducing post-consumer waste. This eco-girl loves that! All of their cleansers, moisturizers, and styling aids are sulfate-free, paraben-free and vegan. They are packaged in recyclable BPA-free bottles—how many companies do that? Hardly any! You know how important it is to me to use personal care products that are free from harmful ingredients and the BPA-free bottles ~ huge bonus.
Christmas movies, Christmas music, Christmas lights… I love it all! And I always enjoy reading Christmas books with my kids this time of year. I was fortunate to land an interview with author Katherine Zwers. Her latest book, Christmas Star, is a heart warming Christmas book about Sebastian, the Shepherd and Hopscotch, the lamb that tells the story of their Christmas Eve adventure.
Savvy Suburban: Christmas Star is truly a wonderful book, how did you come up with the idea for the story?
Katherine Zwers: When I wrote Christmas Star, I wanted to create a story that was fun and imaginative for kids, but also included the wonderful and inspirational meaning of Christmas.
SS: What was your inspiration?
KZ: My inspiration has always been my mom. As a child she encouraged me to develop my creativity in every project I started. As an adult she supported me during every step of the book publishing process.
SS: Ah, behind every successful woman there is an amazing mom! How long have you been writing?
KZ: I won a writing award when I was in eighth grade, I’ve been hooked ever since.
SS: What other books have you written?
KZ: I have also written The Golden Easter Egg. The Golden Easter Egg is a companion book to Christmas Star and both stories include the characters Sebastian, the Shepherd and Hopscotch, the lamb.
SS: The illustrations are vivid and contemporary. Tell us about your illustrator, Carol Heyer, and her background.
KZ: Carol Heyer has been my friend since I was nine years old. Her amazing artistic talents speak for themselves. She has published over 27 children’s books and sold several million copies. I am very fortunate to have her as the illustrator of my books, and better yet, as my friend.
For more information visit their site and follow Katherine on Facebook. Christmas Star is a wonderful holiday gift for the little ones in your life!
Is your cookware hazardous to your family’s health? How we cook our food is just as important as what we serve. We’ve all cooked with non-stick pots and pans. They are easy to use and easy to clean but most of them really aren’t safe. The substance that gives them the slippery surface, PFOA is toxic. If you’re like me you tossed your non-stick pans when this first made big news a few years ago.
PFOA has been linked to birth defects, several cancers including kidney and testicular, thyroid problems, weakened immune systems, miscarriages and other serious illnesses and conditions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) did a study on PFOA and discovered that it could be found in in nearly 98% of the population. Another study done by the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2007 revealed that PFOA was detected in 100% of the newborns that were examined. That’s frightening. Teflon and other non-stick surfaces are particularly hazardous if there are scratched or nicked in any way. It’s not just pots and pans, cake pans muffin tins, rice cookers, etc. can also have PFOA.
The Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] requested that manufacturers reduce production of these types of pots and pans by 95% by 2010. Moving forward, they are requesting that companies stop making their existing non-stick coating; the goal is to reach a total elimination of its production by 2015.
There are safe alternatives, we don’t need to be exposing our families to the hazards of non-stick cookware. Some think that aluminum and stainless steel cookware are good options, however, they could potentially leach metals into your food. They’re still better than teflon. Certain substances are not toxic unless they’re heated but the whole purpose of using cookware is of course to heat food. Stainless Steel is a combination of many metals including nickel, chromium and molybdenum.
It’s not always easy to find safe, quality cookware. It can be pricey and sometimes the safer non-stick material doesn’t work that well or last long, it’s a bit of trial and error. The best choices are ceramic, porcelain, enameled and cast iron. Amazon has a wide variety. I really like Ecolution Bliss Hydro Ceramic. Orgreenic and The Green Pan are pretty good. I’ve found them at Target, Costco, Bed, Bath & Beyond and I’ve bought a few at discounted prices from stores like HomeGoods, Ross, TJ Maxx and Marshalls.
Guest Post by Mishka Thomas
There are many popular dietary B12 sources, mostly animal-based products. Upon researching these food sources, you have probably read about vitamin-fortified breakfast cereals on many mainstream lists and supermarkets. But are cereals actually a health-smart way to fight off vitamin B12 deficiency and other lack in nutrients?
Do you suffer from anxiety? A vitamin B12 deficiency could be the cause.
Breakfast cereals are not a healthy food at all – and this holds true whether you are taking about vitamin B12-fortified varieties or not. The highly processed grains in the cereals immediately break down to sugar in your body and stimulate production of insulin. It may also be interesting for you to know that children and infants do not fare well consuming these breakfast staples that are deceptively marketed as healthy and beneficial.
So what B12 sources should you stick to? Natural ones, of course!
• Fish and Seafood Certain types of seafood provide good amounts of B12. Be sure to buy your fish from clean sources so you can avoid eating contaminated fish. This is the result of industrial processes that have already contaminated the oceans and seas with toxins like mercury. The jury is out on whether or not he risks linked to mercury-laced seafood outweigh any potential health benefit. Extra caution is necessary if you are pregnant or have a growing family. Methyl mercury is highly toxic to the developing brains and nervous function of infants and children. Do your best to find uncontaminated fish.
•Chicken This is another natural B12 source. However, stick with organic chicken because conventionally raised chicken may contain antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.
•Beef and Beef Liver Keep in mind, though, that grass-fed beef is highly preferable to the grain-fed kind. Besides, it tastes better.
•Milk Raw milk is a good bet, especially if you are able to get Certified Grade A milk that is guaranteed clean and produced under government watch. Otherwise, make sure it’s organic.
• Eggs These are not only rich in vitamin B12, but also considered among the healthiest all- around foods in the world. My first choice would be to buy your eggs from a free-range pasture farm. If this is not possible, buy free-range organic eggs from the grocery. What you should avoid are omega-3 added eggs, which are actually less healthy than regular egg varieties.
• Pork While it is another natural source of vitamin B12, pork is not highly recommended. Pigs are scavengers in nature, and they will consume almost anything. This makes them susceptible to parasites and retroviruses, which have quite a huge chance of making it into pork-based food supplies. There is simply no assurance they these viruses have been killed even if you have efficiently cooked the meat. If you consume pork, your safest bet is the meat of organically fed pigs. It is also crucial that you avoid eating sausage, bacon, and other processed pork treats.
How about if you’re a vegetarian or vegan? You may want to consider a B12 supplement. This will help you keep your B12 in a positive balance and give your tissues sufficient B12 for their requirements. Even if you eat meat and eggs, you may still be deficient. A deficiency in B12 levels can cause problems including extreme fatigue, dementia and permanent damage to nervous tissue if left untreated. Symptoms can be vague so so ask your doctor to give you a simple blood test to check your levels, particularly if you are experiencing inexplicable fatigue.
It is important that you source your supplement from a reliable manufacturer. You should take note that a B12 supplement should be free of sugar, wheat, starch, yeast, salt, gluten, eggs, soy, dairy, stimulants and artificial flavors and colors. Vitamin B12 deficiency is a real and serious threat that you should guard yourself against.
About the Author
Mishka Thomas is a health blogger who reviews new and emerging supplements on the market
and features wellness trends and developments. She favors vitamin B12 and its host of benefits for
individuals young and old.
Our oldest son just embarked on his final year of elementary school. He’s off to a good start and he really likes his teacher. He is fortunate to have another wonderful educator guide him through 5th grade. It amazes me how fast his grade school years have flown by. How is he not still in second grade?! His teacher gave parents an assignment that I thought was a unique and interesting way to get know students. He asked that we write about why we treasure our child. He read each letter out loud to the class and asked the students to guess the identity of each child through what was written about them. My talented husband crafted a very creative letter:
Imagine you find a box buried in the sand. You brush the sand off the lid and inside this box are several small bottles filled with potions. The potions are labeled “kind,” “considerate,” “funny,” “generous,” “athletic,” “talkative,” and “brilliant.” After drinking all the potions you suddenly feel courageous. Your homework is almost effortless. You’re confident and can’t help but look everyone you meet in the eye. You are logical, compassionate and likeable but often love to lose yourself in a book of fantasy. You are almost perfect, but your little brother drives you crazy by copying everything that you do. This is our wonderful son. Who is he?
Hints: He loves football and cheeseburgers
Jog-a-Thons ~ A Fun & Healthy Way To Raise Money $$$
Last Friday was the annual Jog-A-Thon at my kids’ school. It’s a fun day and a smart way to raise money. It’s fitness based; the kids get exercise, have a blast and parents enjoy being involved. It works fitness into fundraising instead of material goods. They even have a DJ blasting music so the kids can get their groove on while they run.
With all the budget cuts over the past several years, fundraising is essential to keep certain programs alive. The monies raised from the Jog-A-Thon fund programs such as Visual and Performing Arts, PE Specialists, school assemblies, classroom instruction and technology assistance, upgrades and support. These programs are vital to our children’s education.
In order to reach their goal, the school requests that each student raise a certain amount of money by either asking friends and family to sponsor them with a certain dollar amount per lap or the family can simply make a flat donation, no need for sponsors. What’s great is that it’s a one shot deal and you don’t need to sell wrapping paper, cookie dough, magazine subscriptions, etc. How many times can you hit up your friends, co-workers, grandparents and neighbors to buy stuff? It’s a never ending cycle because everyone has kids who need to help raise money for their schools and some schools make those type of fundraisers extremely competitive.
With the Jog-A-Thon, each child is asked to raise the same amount of money. The only competitive part is that the kids aim to run as many laps as they can. If your child’s school is looking for fundraising ideas I highly recommend a Jog-A-Thon. If you have any good fund raising ideas, please share them!