Monthly Archives: August 2010

friday night

Eek. Sorry I haven’t really been updating here. I was busy this week working on a project for a new writing client, some other articles, and… I don’t really know what else, but the time did go by. I think I’ll just do a bulleted entry to catch up.

  • Monday I had my endocrinologist appointment. She was all right. I guess she was good as far as doctors go; so few of them have much personality. There wasn’t a whole lot to discuss since I’d had all the tests and I was very easily diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, which is an auto-immune disease. Basically my body is slowly destroying my thyroid. (What did my thyroid do to deserve this?) It sounds incredibly scary, but apparently it’s very common. She put my on 100 micrograms of Levothyroxine, which essentially is a synthetic version of the hormone your thyroid produces. In about 6 weeks I will have labwork done to measure my TSH, free T3, and free T4 levels, and I go for a follow-up appointment in November. The first day I took the medication I was somewhat jittery and had a metallic taste in my mouth, but those side effects didn’t last. I feel… pretty much the same, which is good since I felt fine before. Some doctors believe that dietary changes (particularly reducing the amount of gluten in one’s diet) can help, but she (expectedly) waved that notion away. I’m going to look into it further, though. Too many people are content just taking a pill for what ails them, but if some kind of change can organically improve my condition, it’s worth investigating.
  • Noah had kindergarten orientation this week. His teacher and the aides seem great. He was right at home in the class and I doubt there will be any issues. He was thrilled that a preschool friend is sitting right next to him 🙂 I had to chuckle because it was painfully obvious who was sending their kid off to school for the first time. The level of anxiety showed on their faces, but they’ll learn there’s nothing to fret over.
  • The weather has been beautiful lately. We had several days of gray skies that necessitated breaking out the rain boots, but I welcomed the change. Yesterday and today were gorgeous, but it’s going to start heating up again early next week. I’m already in an autumn mindset, so I’m not happy about that.
  • Next week I need to spend some time making sure we have everything set for school and getting familiar with the old routine again. I’m so ready for school to start.

safety first

Disclosure: I was sent a safety vest from Care Cleaning and Protection, at no charge to me, in exchange for a review on my blog.
As a mom, you can imagine that my family’s safety is a priority. So I thought it was neat checking out one of Care Cleaning and Protection’s safety vests. This particular vest retails for around $20 and features fluorescent yellow and orange for high visibility as well as reflective tape so that you can be seen in low-light situations. It meets ANSI 107-2004 standard. This vest is a size L and it’s very generously sized. Drew usually wears an XL and it fit him fine. The material is comfortable and not rigid. The reflective tape seems more like a reflective fabric — it moves easily with the vest.

We have a couple acres of woods, so I think this vest would be great for when Drew heads out to chop wood, especially during deer season. Granted, no one is supposed to hunt on private property but… you can’t be too careful. It is not a bad idea to make sure a hunter does not confuse your moments for a deer’s. It would also be perfect for dog-walking in the early morning or evening, when the lighting is dim. I shot a cute video of the boys wearing it, but for some reason I couldn’t upload it. So then I made one with Laura. Babies’ opinions count, too!

video from

I’m no expert on safety vest, but this appears to be a good-quality product. It’s comfortable to wear and the appearance seems a lot brighter than vests I’ve seen on road workers. I think it’ll come in handy.

etsy shop update!

Earlier this summer I started to slowly trickle a few items into my Etsy shop but it wasn’t until recently that I’ve been able to really start cranking out products. Yesterday was my first big update and it included a variety of adorable hair bows: classic bows, fun korker bows, and sweet little bitty bows! You can see a preview right over there in the sidebar.

I hand-sew all of my bows to ensure that they won’t fall apart, and I also make my own korker ribbon, so I know it’s high-quality. We’re sending the kids back to school soon (if not already!), so if you’re looking for fun hair accessories, I hope you’ll check out what I have to offer. I will be adding new bows weekly, and my next update will include some adorable navy and white bows to coordinate with standard school uniforms. Of course, I also do custom orders, so if you don’t see exactly what you’re looking for, just let me know!

a tale of two birthdays

Over the last few days we celebrated two big birthdays: Jake turned 8 and Noah turned 5! Because their birthdays are just a couple days apart, it’s easy to lump them together, but this year we made a real effort to make them to very separate days. We celebrated Jake’s birthday in WMass at my parents’ house. But before we left we had to have our annual special birthday breakfast, complete with sugar cereal and presents!

august birthdays 008

It’s just a fun way to begin the day. 🙂 Jake requested a pizza party and that made it easy for me. We just ordered a couple pizzas and that was that. Instead of a cake he wanted me to make a cookie pizza. It might not have come out perfect, but he was thrilled with it and that’s all that mattered!

august birthdays 050

He got so many great gifts: lots of clothes, books and toys. Enough to keep him busy for a while (at least I hope so!). Yesterday was Noah’s birthday and we started the day the same as Jake’s: special fun cereal and birthday gifts:

Noah's Birthday 022

Then it was off to swimming lessons at the pond. The boys had a good time splashing around and playing with the other kids. They played around at home all day and Noah requested breakfast for dinner, so we made eggs, bacon, homefries, and fruit salad. Noah wanted “Dirt Cake” — again I got off easy! I threw it together in the morning and my little guy was so excited.

Noah's Birthday 048

Noah’s such a happy-go-lucky kid. The simplest things make his day! I think they both had fun birthdays. I sure hope so because I tried to make them great!

eight is great!

It’s hard to believe we have an eight-year-old little boy today! He woke up to confetti, his favorite cereal, and a bunch of presents, including a custom t-shirt. He had drawn a really cool picture that was supposed to be the cover of a comic book he’s working on, and he desprately wanted to make a shirt of it. So the other day while I was out shopping I bought some ink jet transfer paper. It’s so neat — you just need scanning software, a printer, and a dry iron to make your own iron-ons. Why haven’t I done this before? Drew doctored up Jake picture to really look like a comic book cover and we made the shirt. Jake was totally thrilled with it! I’ll be sure to post a pic later; right now I’m just taking a quick break from the birthday festivities. We’re having a pizza party tonight and the “pizza cookie” I made (in lieu of a cake) came out pretty well. Jake gave a big thumbs-up and that’s all that matters, even if it’s not as perfect as I’d like it to be. OK, back to doting on my birthday guy!

looks like a vacation-less summer

And honestly, that’s OK with me. August is winding down, and since my brother-in-law got a new job, we won’t be going to NC this summer. Of course, he said we’re welcome to go down to his place, but I feel weird going without him, you know? When he was looking for a job, we wondered if he’d expand the search from NY/NJ down to North Carolina and were trying to find out what the health plans are down there. I know that Blue Advantage is one of them. In the end it didn’t matter because he was finally hired by a company in the city. I’m sure he was quite relieved! So maybe we’ll be able to go down at some point next year. Something to look forward to 🙂

tv coma

I’m feeling a little dirty lately. You see, last month we were celebrating a full year free from cable/satellite TV. We didn’t have to catch even a moment of stupid shows like American Idol. And while I missed my news programs at first, I just started listening to NPR even more. We had instant streaming on Netflix and then when they released the Wii disk, well… we were totally set! The boys didn’t even miss television much.

But due to Verizon screwing us over by claiming we could get DSL service here, and then after we got our phone service set up, sending us an e-mail saying, “Oh wait… it’s not really available. Sorry,” we had to make some decisions. We had been happy with Vonage, but had a very negative experience when we cancelled after thinking we’d be using Verizon phone service. (This problem, I have to admit, was resolved in the end without much frustration). So we didn’t feel like we wanted to go back to Vonage right now. But the Verizon phone bill was $50. And we were stuck paying $50 for our cable high-speed Internet. So really, if we were forking over $100, we thought we might as well go for the cable company’s Triple Play and get cable thrown in there too.

So the kids have been in a Disney XD coma for the last day or so, LOL. I can’t say there’s anything particularly new and interesting for us on (but at least I get to watch American Pickers now, yay!). The commercials are as wide and varied as ever. One minute, there’s an ad for a local deli. The next, one for Lipovox.

It is nice being able to watch the morning news when Laura gets up, and I’m sure we’ll enjoy some easy entertainment during the winter. Next summer we will look at our situation again and who knows — maybe we’ll be doing another year without cable.

i can because i can

I haven’t done much canning since my sour cherry marathon last month (though we did finish up the last of my blueberry-lime jam… sniff). Blueberries have been pricey this year and my parents told me that theirs did horribly because of the lack of rain last month. So it looks like I won’t be making any blueberry butter as I’d hoped.

Peaches, however, are being advertised at all the pick-your-own orchards around here and they’ve been on sale at the local supermarkets, so I’m thinking of trying my hand at peach butter and some canned peaches. I’ll be eating so many delicious baked goods this winter, thanks to my preserved fruits, that I’ll need to read some pronexin reviews by the spring, no doubt, LOL!

Although we’re in the throes of summer, I’m really starting to look forward to fall. The cooler weather… the apples… fires in the wood stove… the kids back in school. Once apples are ready I plan to go crazy making applesauce, pie filling, and spiced apples. Do you have any canning recipes you can’t wait to try?

pleasantly surprised

This morning I had a few errands to run including my least favorite: going to Wal-Mart. Luckily I was there early enough where it wasn’t too annoying. No one was blocking the aisles. The people hadn’t achieved maximum grossness yet (nope, I guess the clinicallix set doesn’t roll out of bed until well after 10). And I was able to get the things on my list and breeze out the door because (shocker!) a clerk actually called me over to her empty register. It was like bizarro Wal-Mart or something. It’s the little things, you know?

Ecostore USA Product Review

I was recently given the opportunity to review some environmentally-friendly products from Ecostore USA. As a mom to three, including one little lady who is putting everything in her mouth, I was intrigued. I try to avoid chemical cleansers where I can (I have a steam mom to wash my floors and I use vinegar and baking soda for many cleaning jobs), but I don’t exclusively purchase “green” cleaning supplies.

About EcostoreUSA

Ecostore was founded by Melanie and Malcolm Rands over 15 years ago. The couple was living in a New Zealand eco village and sought to produce cleaning products using plant-based ingredients. From the company’s website:

“Our eco friendly, plant-based household cleaning products are as effective as the leading supermarket brands, and our body and baby care ranges are gentle on your skin and are simply beautiful to use. All of our products are made from plant- and mineral-based ingredients, free of toxic chemicals that bring people closer to nature with non-toxic, environmentally safe solutions that also help to reduce our carbon footprint. Our products also help to ensure value for the dollar for our customers. Our super-concentrates means that a little really does go a long way – saving you money by cutting down significantly on cost per use.”

Since I was given my choice of products, I picked the Auto Dish Powder and the Natural Lemon Rinse Aid. I chose the dishwasher detergent because I thought it would really be a test. We live in a rural area and rely on a private well for our water supply. The water is not treated with anything, and this has its good and bad points. One of the negatives is that our water is very hard, and soaps do not produce a lot of suds. Often I need to use more soap than is generally required. So maybe I was putting the dishwasher powder to a challenge that was too difficult.

Auto Dish Powder

The Auto Dish Powder retails for $12.00 and is described as “a high performance blend of simple mineral salts, citrus and Coconut oils.” The ingredients are:

  • Palm and coconut based non-ionic surfactants
  • Silicates and carbonates including sodium meta silicate (simple mineral salts)
  • Citrates and natural citrus oil
  • Cellulose (plant based)
  • Fatty acid derivative

I wanted to love this product, I really did. The packaging is appealing and I love the way it smells. It has a light lemon fragrance that isn’t overwhelming, but still smells clean. Unfortunately, it was just not up to the task. Sunday night I loaded the dishwasher with our tomato sauce-stained plates and bowls, as well as coffee mugs and various other dishes. When the cycle was complete, I excitedly ran into the kitchen to check on the dishes and many of them had to be rewashed. Even though the bowls did not have time to sit, a few still had a lot of sauce stuck to them.

I gave it a second shot this morning thinking that perhaps I had overloaded the dishwasher last time. The next test included a few dishes from last night that weren’t terribly stained, the usual coffee and tea cups, and breakfast dishes. I also put in a baking dish that had been soaking all night and was still wet. Surely this would be no problem. Again, I was disappointed. The mugs were not clean. The baking dish looked little more than rinsed, and the boys breakfast plates were still dirty (they’d had waffles and sticky maple syrup). My usual brand of dishwasher detergent cleans these dishes without a problem, even if they’ve sat there for a couple days while I wait for the dishwasher to fill up. Maybe the natural ingredients just don’t work well with our hard water. I don’t know. I really wish I could recommend this product but it didn’t work well for me.

Lemon Rinse Aid

The second product I tried was Ecostore USA’s Lemon Rinse Aid, which retails for $5.50 Its description states: “The Lemon Rinse Aid is that final touch to the cleaning of your dishware. Formulated with NO NASTY CHEMICALS, it will leave a subtle fragrance of Lemon Verbena. Use in conjunction with the Auto Dish Powder and see how it assists in drying as well.” The ingredients are:

  • Plant based non-ionic surfactants
  • Citric acid
  • Hydrotope
  • Lemon Verbena
  • Water

This product also has a lovely lemon smell and I think it is extremely comparable to a product such as Jet-Dry. While the dish detergent might not have cleaned my plates and mugs, my clear glassware did not have many spots or streaks. They were “squeaky clean.” I think the aid also helped speed drying because on my second load, I unloaded the dishes immediately and the only standing water was in those little “pools” created by mug bottoms. That’s something that happens regardless of what you do.


I would not rule out Ecostore USA’s entire line of products based on my experience with the Auto Dish Powder. I’ve read many other blog reviews singing the praises of their other products, and I think their Lemon Rinse Aid is great. I believe their other products would be worth trying. I admire the company’s commitment to producing products that contain “No Nasty Chemicals” and are both environmentally friendly and safe for families to use. Here on the east coast you can purchase their products exclusively at Duane Reed drug stores. Elsewhere in the country, Meijer sells them. Of course, everything is available online at Ecostore’s website: You can also visit their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter to find out the latest information.

Disclosure: ECOSTORE USA sent me two free products for review purposes only. I was not compensated in any other way and the opinions expressed in this review are my own.