Quick & Easy Banana Muffins

I’ve had several favorite peanut butter banana muffin recipes, but I’ve been on a chia seed kick lately! They are an amazing superfood  full of protein, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, antioxidants, minerals, and nutrients.  I’ve been putting them in my smoothies, but decided to get a little creative this morning and throw together a recipe for some yummy banana muffins that my 2 year old and I could enjoy!

The chia seeds and coconut oil are completely optional, but they super healthy and beneficial!  They are great ingredients to start incorporating into your daily diets!

Ingredients

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  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 4 tbs peanut butter
  • 1 cup greek yogurt (I used vanilla because that was in my fridge)
  • 2 eggs (farm fresh is best!)
  • 2 cups oats
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1.5 tbs baking powder
  • 1 tbs baking soda
  • 2 tbs chia seeds (optional)
  • 3 tbs coconut oil (optional, but strongly encouraged!)

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DIY Natural Deodorant

deodorant

There have been a lot of rumors swirling around about how deodorants and antiperspirants can be a cause of breast cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease, so I did some research to find out why…

According to the National Cancer Institute, there is no solid scientific proof that deodorants and antiperspirants are a cause of breast cancer; however, parabens (used as a preservative in deodorants) have been proven to mimic estrogen, which can promote the growth of breast cancer cells.  That’s enough to make me worry.  Breastcancer.org states that 1 in 8 women (that reach the age of 70) will develop an invasive form of breast cancer.

Antiperspirants contain aluminum that is engineered to plug up the sweat ducts.  Alzheimer’s patients have a much higher content of aluminum in the brain making the correlation seem pretty suspicious.  The Alzheimer’s Association predict a 44% increase in the disease growth by 2025!

While there is no concrete evidence that deodorants and antiperspirants cause these incredibly devastating diseases, the rise in people contracting these diseases is eerie.  Clearly, we’re doing something wrong!

Why we don’t need antiperspirants and deodorants

Our bodies are made to sweat.  Other than keeping our bodies cool in warm climates, sweating is a natural detox.  Antiperspirants clog up our sweat ducts, preventing the toxins from being released and putting aluminum on your skin to be absorbed into your system.

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The Stinky Truth…Cleaning Cloth Diapers

When people find out that I cloth diaper, their immediate reaction is always the same– “Eww.”  So let me clear some things up right away.

No, changing a dirty diaper is not my favorite thing to do.

No, I do not touch poo more often than anyone who uses disposables does.

No, I do not have little poo particles swimming around in my washing machine.

And, no, it’s really not that big of a deal.

Cloth diapering is no more disgusting than picking up after your dog on a walk.  And if you don’t pick up after your dog on a walk, you’re just a bad neighbor!  In many ways, I find that using cloth is significantly LESS disgusting than disposables for several reasons:

  1. I’m not contributing an enormous amount of hazardous waste to landfills.
  2. I NEVER have to deal with poo-splosions…in turn…
  3. I never have to deal with poo stains on clothes.
  4. Cloth diapers absorb the stinky smell, unlike disposables.

I thought I would share my method of cleaning cloth diapers for those that are thinking about making the switch to show how easy it can be.

The Stash

This is my set-up…

ez change

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Natural Soothing Baby Cream and Powder

I’ve had sensitive skin and severe eczema my whole life.  No amount of creams, ointments, tar, or oatmeal baths ever completely relieved me of the dry, itchy, scarred skin that made people always look twice at me when I wore shorts or short sleeve shirts.  My biggest fear was that I would pass that onto my babies.  Sure enough, my little boy was born with super sensitive skin just like me, and he has since had it rough on his teeny tiny behind!

When he was only two months old we were prescribed a steroid cream to help with his eczema.  I found that with fewer baths with no soap, he was able to produce more of his natural oils to protect his skin and prevent the splotchy, red rashes.  We cloth diaper now, but for the first two years of his life, he was in disposables which are full of dyes and chemicals.  Also, the harsh chemicals and drying alcohol in standard baby wipes always irritated his skin, and from the time he was only a few months old, we were trying out all kinds of different powders and ointments, but nothing ever helped for too long.  Putting breastmilk on the rash was the best cure that I could find.  But I quit breastfeeding when he was a year old, so after that, we were left again with nothing.

I was sure that  switching to cloth would solve all of our tushy problems, but unfortunately, he still suffers from diaper rash, no matter how often we change him.  It isn’t as bad since making the switch, though.  Also, instead of the chemically filled creams and powders, I have opted to an all natural approach!

Diaper Rash Cream

At the local farmer’s market in my hometown, we stumbled upon a woman who made all natural baby products and bought a diaper cream from her that consisted of: organic olive oil, organic unrefined coconut oil, beeswax, organic cocoa butter, and vitamin E.  When I looked at the ingredients, I was sure that was something that I could make myself!  I was on a mission!  After lots of research, I found that much of what was in this natural cream that I had bought was just filler.  The beeswax and cocoa butter, while soothing, are primarily to keep the cream at a harder, more manageable consistency.  The olive oil, though it makes the skin soft, doesn’t have healing properties.  And the vitamin E is a natural preservative.  I came to my own conclusion:

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Naturally Repel Ants, Spiders, Mice…and Everything ICKY!

Recently, we have moved to the tiny town that my husband teaches in. When I say tiny…I mean the biggest thing that has happened here is the Subway they opened up a couple years ago.  No grocery store, no mall, no STARBUCKS!  A big change for this mama!  While this move is temporary, we are doing everything in our power to make the old, abandoned farmhouse we moved into a warm, comfortable home for our babies.

The one thing that I didn’t expect to be such an issue is all the little critters sneaking around.  The first time we left a plate out next to the sink without rinsing it, our whole kitchen seemed to be taken over by little, teeny tiny black ants in an instant!  I’ve found several GIANT spiders lurking around including in my sons bathtub right before a bath, and our BED right before I laid down on it!  YUCK!  I’m lucky that I have a husband willing to take care of all the nastiness that comes with moving into an old farmhouse, and a dog that will eat anything I point out to him when my husband isn’t home.

Recently, though, my biggest fear became a realization…a MOUSE in the house!  I don’t know what it is about them that freaks me out so much…maybe it’s how quiet they are so you never know when they’re around until you find the little droppings, or maybe it’s the fact that they can contort their little, disease-infested bodies into cracks and crevices so small, they are impossible to keep out completely!

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Wool Dryer Balls

One of the most dangerous, chemical-ridden products on the market is most likely sitting in your laundry room right now and you’ve probably never given it a second thought.

Dryer sheets.

The chemicals that make these products work remain on  the clothes even several times after they are washed.  They’re absorbed through the skin and lungs and certain traces of these chemicals have been found in urine, blood, and even breastmilk!  The worst part of all is that the manufacturers aren’t required by law to put their full list of ingredients on the product!  So when you read “Fragrance” on the box, you have no idea how many chemicals that “Fragrance” contains or how extremely detrimental to your health it is!

Research of these chemicals have linked them to:

  • asthma and other respiratory conditions
  • reproductive and fertility problems
  • developmental issues
  • skin irritation
  • kidney, liver, and nervous system damage
  • cancers
  • massive hormones disruptions

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Natural All Purpose Cleaner

no chemicals

If you’re looking to live a more chemical-free lifestyle, there are some big changes you’re going to have to make, but the hardest part is making the commitment to do so.  The easiest transition for me was switching to natural household cleaning products.  We learn to love the strong, chemical odor that our favorite cleaning products give off because it reassures us that the product is doing what it’s supposed to do…clean.

After my son was born, a different perspective worked it’s way around me.

Let’s face it, babies are gross.  They pick up anything they can get their tiny little fingers on and it goes directly into their mouths.  They lick the windows.  They eat off of the floor.  I knew this was going to happen.  So, I would clean and clean and clean to make sure that all the disgusting things my son was bound to do wouldn’t be as disgusting.  But all of those products are chemicals.  In fact, the labels TELL you that they are dangerous and that you need to seek medical attention if ingested.  So why would I be wiping these dangerous, hazardous chemicals around my house, when I know that they are going to end up in my son’s mouth?  I started looking into alternatives and found that not only do they work just as well as the chemicals I had been spraying everywhere, my homemade concoctions save me money, too!

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Choosing the Right Cloth Diaper

dipes

The amount of different cloth diaper brands and styles  is baffling, and the number of opinions about the best cloth diaper is even more overwhelming!

I am going to go over a few different styles  and brands of cloth diapers, hopefully making your choice a little easier!  Because there isn’t a store that sells cloth diapers anywhere in my area, I did all of my research online before purchasing.  What I chose to use, I immediately fell in love with, but keep in mind that my favorites may not be best for you and your family.  It’s all about preference!  No one diaper is better than another, it’s really just about what works for you!

Prefolds

These are what your grandma used.  And these are what people think of when they first hear “cloth diapering”. Prefolds are just that, prefolded pieces of fabric that need to be held together with either safety pins, covers, or a type of elastic fastener that you can purchase. The waterproof covers for these can be found for only a couple bucks, making this the cheapest way to diaper.

Although these may be the most affordable and the easiest type of diaper to clean, I didn’t go with prefolds because they seemed too complicated. Because I was used to disposables, I wanted something similiar to that. I thought it may be hard to teach a babysitter to use them, too. I have prefolds that I love to use as burp cloths! That may be saying something about how absorbant they are!

Fitted

fitted diaper

This kind of diaper is much more similar to disposables.  They fasten with either snaps, velcro, or loops and are fitted to baby’s bottom.  They are not waterproof so they still require some kind of shell.  These diapers are a little more expensive than prefolds, but cheaper than most other styles. Another plus is that there are all kinds of cute designs and colors. Read more

How it began

coupons

I haven’t been a couponer my whole life.  Saving money wasn’t even close a priority when it came to shopping.  Actually, I used to be petrified of clearance sections.  Me, having perhaps a tiny case of OCD, would look at the mess and disorganization of the racks and shelves and immediately get overwhelmed.  My mom could spend hours in the clearance section.  My grandma raids the sales racks throughout the year to put together overflowing boxes of STUFF as Christmas gifts.

That was not me.

I used to think that only little old ladies used coupons.  I mean really, 35 cents here, 50 cents there…that doesn’t really add up to much, right? Is it even really worth the time to find the coupons and cut them from the paper just to save a buck or two?

It wasn’t until we got rid of our cable and I was looking for mindless TV shows to watch on Netflix that I found “Extreme Couponing”, and I decided to watch for a laugh.  But wait…these people were getting over $700 worth of items for like eight bucks.  Totally not possible. But I had to keep watching.  These people had stock piles of food that could last them up to a year and they’re telling me that they paid $25 for the loot! No way! I became addicted.  How was this possible?

My curiosity kicked into overdrive and I started researching.  I came across blog after blog of people proving to me that it is possible!  There is a science to it and (believe it or not) you can save money…A LOT of money!

So, I started taking notes.  Tips and tricks on how to get started with couponing.  I started small.  Getting two newspapers every Sunday and looking through the coupon books to see if they had money savers for the things that we normally eat.  The first time I used coupons at the grocery store, I think it saved us about $4.  My husband, being the overwhelmingly caring and supportive man that he is, told me how proud he was of me.  It was like a spark went off in my head!  Four bucks?  That’s nothing…next time I’ll make it ten!

From there it escalated…quickly. Read more