Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Skoy Cloth Review and Giveaway! CLOSED

Congratulations to entry #16, Susan!  I'll be contacting you shortly! I hope you enjoy your Skoy cloths! :)

I've mentioned before that we've pretty much eliminated paper towels from our home. We've set an annual goal of using less than one roll or paper towels a year.

Besides adding up financially and being wasteful, it uses up a lot of natural resources and doesn't really clean that well.  You can only use them once.  No rinsing and reusing.

This statistic convicted me majorly in my use of paper towels and my calling towards environmental stewardship:

I came across an amazing alternative called Skoy Cloths.  I have been using them for a couple of weeks and I love how versatile they are!  I've cleaned up spilled water, dirty shoes and even a jar of food that I dropped (twice), with only one cloth for each job!

Here are a few reasons why I love Skoy Cloths:
  • Biodegradable
  • Washer & Dryer safe
  • one Skoy Cloth is equivalent to 15 rolls of paper towels!!!
  • Multi-use
  • Compostable
  • Made of natural ingredients - cotton & cellulose wood pulp
  • Holds 15x it's own weight (this floored me the first time I used one!)

Skoy also has a fundraising program for students and schools in which the school gets to keep 40% of all sales!  Amazing!

My thoughts: Skoy cloths are cheaper than paper towels and they're biodegradable?  I don't see ANY reason not to have them!  I can tell that I will be using my Skoy cloths for a long time, for which I'm very glad.  I love sustainable products, and am glad that there is a safe, reusable replacement for paper towels!

Buy it!
You can purchase Skoy products here!

Win it!
Skoy has graciously offered one Uniquely Normal Mom reader (US address only) a chance to win a 4-pack of Skoy cloths!

Mandatory Entry: 

Publicly follow Uniquely Normal Mom on Google Friend Connect (Make sure you leave your e-mail address in the comment, US address only, 1 entry).

Additional Entries (leave an additional comment for each):

1. 'Like' Uniquely Normal Mom on Facebook and leave your name in the comment. (1 entry)

2. 'Like' Skoy on Facebook and tell them Uniquely Normal Mom sent you. (1 entry)

3. Follow Uniquely Normal Mom on Twitter.  (1 entry)

4. Tweet about this entry, just be sure to mention me! (1 entry per day)

5. Follow Uniquely Normal Mom on Networked Blogs. (2 entries)

6. Visit the Skoy website and tell me something you learned.  (2 entries)

7. Subscribe to Uniquely Normal Mom via email. (2 entries)

8. Share this giveaway on Facebook, and leave the link in the comment showing your Facebook link. (5 entries)

*Giveaway ends Tuesday, June 7th , 2011 at 11:59 AM CST.  Winner will be selected from random.org and has 48 hours to respond to e-mail notification, or else a new winner will be selected.

*I received these Skoy cloths in exchange for my honest review. 

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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Pantry Purge: The End!

My bean stash at the beginning of the Pantry Purge has now been cut in half!
I can hardly believe I'm almost done done with my Pantry Purge!  Woot!

I've learned a lot of lessons: self-control, humility, creativity, giving generously and being thankful, just to name a few.  I could write a blog post a day on how humbling it is to eat what is in your pantry, and not buy all the nice cheeses that you want to!

I've noticed that we have saved a lot in our budget, and our freezer is almost halfway empty!  Perfect, just in time for making some freezer jam once strawberries are in season this summer!

The first half of the month was pretty difficult because of my husband's busy schedule, but we have made up for it and seem to have a good groove going.  I plan to continue eating mostly from our pantry stash. 

I've made tuna fish, soups, tilapia, rice, black bean brownies(since I used up my chocolate stash in the first, um, few days), hummus, shrimp, guacamole, homemade mac 'n cheese, and a roast. I've used up lots of frozen fruits and veggies, eggs, canned soup, chicken sausage, couscous, one box of Hamburger Helper (blech, I know some people love it, but I bought it at a weak moment while shopping with my husband and I'm GLAD it's gone!) and tortillas.  Even when I made food for others, like my piano and voice recital and Norwex party, I purposely used recipes that called for ingredients I already had on hand. 

I donated about 4 bags of groceries that I know we won't use, but could still bless others, so my pantry is definitely looking more bare, which is a great thing!  It's a lot easier to eat healthy when you have room for healthy food.  In my case, some of that stuff just sat there, like the Hamburger Helper, because I don't normally cook stuff like that.

I've spent less than $10 on groceries this month!!  No doubt though, it has taken creativity.  We were out of milk when I made the mac 'n cheese, so I used half and half.  I didn't have one of the spices for my tilapia recipe, so I used another.  I didn't have lime juice when I made the guacamole, so I just omitted it.  Normally I would have went to the store and bought what I wanted or needed. 

I do have a list of things that I need to buy come June 1st, but I've kept it to the minimums: apple cider vinegar, whole fat yogurt (soon, I WILL make my own!), butter, chocolate chips, cream cheese and lime juice. 

To all that joined me, in some way, shape or form: THANK YOU!  In a few weak moments, when I was tempted, it was great knowing that there were many others out there doing the same thing. 

How did you do with the Pantry Purge?  What lessons did you learn? 

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Pulling the (paci) plug

I'm so tossed up on this issue.  I don't think there is anything that I'm so unsure of in my quest as a new mom.

The pacifier!  Dun, dun, dun!

It's an instant soother, keeps my 10 month old daughter quiet when we're in situations where being a baby is not OK, and helps her sleep.

India wouldn't take a pacifier for about he first 10 weeks of her life, and she has a high need to suck.  So I was her pacifier.  I don't have bad feelings about it, but I needed something else besides my boob to relax my very, very, very vocal baby in public situations. 

She is addicted to her paci.  Loves it.  She will crawl the world one hundred times over to get her chubby little hands on that piece of silicone.  We only let her use it for naps and bedtime, or like I said before, in instances when we need her to be quiet.  It has made life convenient for us and we've never had sleep problems, thanks in part to our frienenemy, the pacifier.

On the other hand, I think India's growth slowed once the paci came into play and it's not natural.

India has been sick and I brought her to the doctor on Friday to get checked out.  It was all good, but the Doc suggested that we wean her from the pacifier, as she is a highly oral baby (as India ate, chewed and sucked on everything that was within 12 inches of her) and to prevent the fluid in her ears from turning into a full blown ear infection.  I know she has a high need to suck.  Some babies chew on their pacifiers, or just play with them, but India is very passionate about her paci.

Of course, I had to come home and read studies and research if this was the next step we wanted to take in 'preventative medicine'. :)

My husband also had lots of ear infections as a child, and we deducted that India has a high propensity towards them as well.  Given that and the reality that babies who uses pacifiers are three times more likely to get ear infections, and the fact that once you have an ear infection your probability of getting another goes up, we decided to pull the paci plug on Friday.  I've never liked her having a pacifier, and as you know, I am a bit of naturalist, so we pulled the plug, cold turkey.

Goodbye, happy pacifier days!
We've been going for over 72 hours without it.  And India is nursing at least one more per day and one time more at night.  That's good.  But is it because she needs more to eat or is she using me as her pacifier?  The bad is she naps less and it takes a while to get her to fall asleep.  She now cries a lot more, but that could be because she is recovering from her illness.  After much writhing and crying, she finally falls asleep, so my hands have been tied for the last couple of days, and my husband has been gone all weekend.  I've been watching a lot of Teen Mom as my out, not going to lie. 

My sweet little girl, who always went to sleep and stayed asleep so nicely, is now that child.  I admit, a pacifier is mostly for a parent's comfort. 

I'm not convinced that we will keep the pacifier away from her.  I'm tossed up as to whether we will wean her from the pacifier, but on the other hand, she is eating more, which is a great thing.

What's a mom to do...stop totally while we're on a roll, give it back to her and let her have it until she's two or three (believe me, this child is not going to voluntarily surrender for several more years), or give it back once her cold is gone?

For now, I think I will put everything on hold, and try for the next week to keep my sanity and hers as we wean from the pacifier.

Did you give your children a paci?  Did you 'take away' the paci at a certain age?  Any pacifier weaning tips?  Does it get better??? 

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

My students

A couple of days ago, I had a recital for my piano and voice students that chose to perform.  I am so proud of them!  I had a great group of students this year!  My students were some of the hardest working, and have some of the most raw talent I've worked with in a while. 

Here are the students, in no particular order, who were able to perform.

Congratulations to all of you! I'm very proud of you!

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: My Little Garden

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

It's a party, the Norwex kind!

I don't like parties that feature products.  Dislike.  I don't like going to parties that feature fancy purses, jewelry, all purpose cleaners or kitchen products, because I don't buy those products.  No doubt, those are some great products, but I just can't afford it, and see some of those products as unnecessary on a limited budget. 

But what I HATE even more than that is what I call the 'guilt buy'....buying a product because I ate some of their food and took up their time and felt pressure.

But yet I just signed up to host my very first "buy a product" party, because there is one product party that I like, because I LOVE the products and am 110% sold!

Yes, I am having a Norwex party!!!  After much persuasion, and years of liking their products, I'm in!

Norwex products

I enjoy Norwex because it is different.  I live as green as possible; I recycle, cloth diaper, make my own laundry detergent, buy in bulk to minimize packaging, am slowly eliminating plastics from our kitchen, eat a lot of organic and whole foods, and clean my house by using minimal chemical cleaners.  That's why Norwex has been a great fit for me.

Especially now that my daughter is crawling around and chewing on everything, I want to make sure things are clean and sometimes vinegar and baking soda just doesn't make things clean enough.

Norwex cloths are totally different than a microfiber cloth you buy at the store - believe me, I was a cynic and tried the store brand - not the same!

I became a believer after trying the Makeup Remover cloth!  And I use the Baby Washcloths to clean India and her highchair after eating.  I like those because after I'm done washing her highchair, I squeeze out extra water, then use the cloth to dry her highchair so it's no longer wet.  One cloth cleans up all her messes!   If any of you have an Enviro Cloth, you completely know what I'm talking about when I say that thing cleans everything! 

If you are in my local area and would like to come to my party, please Facebook me, or send me an e-mail at uniquelynormalmom at gmail dot com and I can tell you the details!

If you can't make it to the party, but would like to put in an order, just let me know, and I can help you with that as well!

From me, a person who doesn't do parties, to you: if you come to my party just to eat some yummy food and don't buy a thing, I WILL UNDERSTAND!  I've been in that situation a few times myself. ;)

Do you ever host parties?  Do you buy something at every party you go to?

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Pantry Purge: Days 9-15

Oh my, what a week and a half it has been.  The last ten days have been so busy, I didn't even have time to get out a Wordless Wednesday post, typically the easiest blog post of all time!

Between a retreat, confirmation, Mother's Day, trying to get my garden in, preparing for a recital for my piano and voice students, trying to run regularly (did I mention I'm doing a 5k, and I signed up for it really late in the game and I haven't been exercising AT ALL for the last 7 months?), Blogger being down, internet lost on my computer, Dallas working like crazy and then, a sick, sad, teething, little girl, I feel like I haven't even had time to breath, let alone blog!

Enough excuses!  Here's a Pantry Purge update!

You can read about the Pantry Purge here, read about days 1-4 here and days 5-8 here.

Day 9: I honestly can hardly remember this day....Dallas had a can of soup from the pantry when he got home from work at 9, so I consider that a success.

Day 10: I made a venison sausage soup with barley, cajun seasoning, onions, garlic and yellow peppers.  We have yet to eat it because Dallas ended up not being home that night (I made it for him because I don't eat venison) and I had a girls night out. I still consider it a success because I did use up stuff from my pantry, and it will soon be gobbled up by my husband. 

Day 11: Church day.  Dallas doesn't get home until after 11pm, and he eats out with the kids.  I can't even remember if or what I ate because India was a whiny fusspot all day.

Day 12: My poor baby was SO sick this day!  I went running in the morning at the gym, and Dallas watched her, and he said she sat on the floor and cried "Mama, Maaammmmaa"!   She was very effective at breaking me down - I held her all day long, and she still screamed and cried all day.  I couldn't do anything because the more I moved, the angrier she got, so Dallas got me my favorite splurge food: a McDouble with medium fries.  I didn't care how unhealthy it was, I was starving!  I lost 3 pounds through India's sickness; I wasn't joking, I couldn't even get up to eat without her crying.  She even had to sleep on me for the most part.

Finally, asleep around midnight!

Day 13: Dallas worked late again officiating, India was still a screaming mess, I don't even know what I ate.  LONG day, again.

Day 14: India was doing better, but still very clingy.  I did manage to use up some chicken sausage and some frozen tortillas and made scrambled eggs for brunch!  Yum!  And we ate the venison soup.  Yes, we.   It was actually pretty good!

Day 15:  Brunch at church, Dallas had a lunch meeting, I was too busy working in my garden to eat a big lunch, so I had lots of lactation cookies to help boost my supply after 3 days of India not nursing more than twice a day.  We snacked on leftovers at Dallas' mom's house supper.

On the horizon:  Tilapia!!! I've been waiting to make this forever! 

Meals from the pantry this week (not including leftovers): 3

How about you?  Are you cleaning out your pantry?  Have you come across any great recipes that you want to add to your rotation?

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Friday, May 6, 2011

Pantry Purge: Days 5-8

I'm back from my quick little rendezvous yesterday!  I had a great time getting my hair did, fixing my phone, looking at some running shoes and doing some secondhand shopping.  The only thing I ended up getting was some secondhand shoes for $5!  They still had the original price tags on and I've been wanting shoes like this forever, but I'm way too cheap to spend $25 on them.

It was a successful day.

OK, back to the Pantry Purge.

You can read about Days 1-4 here to get up to speed.

Day 5: Papa Murphy's had a special on a large taco pizza for $5.55 and you have NO idea how badly I wanted to buy it.  But I didn't.  Yay me!  Well, since I was out of town all day, I had fast food for lunch, and my husband didn't eat all day.  Once I got home, he had to go to work for a bit, then had a meeting, so he didn't get home until 9:30pm.  He had the last of the leftover Black Bean Soup, which became even more AMAZING after it sat for a couple of days!

Days 6 & 7: We are going out of town today for a youth retreat, so we will eat at the camp that we are staying at.  No cooking, again.

Day 8: It's Confirmation Sunday at our church, so we will be busy visiting all the confirmants' houses and eating all their yummy food.  It's also Mother's Day, and I've literally seen my husband for one hour total this week, so I have NO idea what we'll be doing.  I imagine we will be visiting our three moms and eating with one (or maybe all three of them) at some point in the day.  Ooof, that's going to be a lot of food!

Additional foods:
  • I made black bean brownies because I needed something sweet!  They are pretty good and fix my chocolate cravings. They are also packed with protein.  I used up some more black beans. :)
  • I made some guacamole for India and I, and let's just say I already ate about half of it - breakfast, lunch and dinner, baby!  My mom had bought us some avocados, and instead of eating them whole like I usually do, I thought I could use up some of our canned tomatoes and chips.
Purchases: I made my first grocery purchase this month - organic half and half for $1.88.  Mama needs it for her coffee and tea. ;)

Week 1 recap: Well, if you are keeping track, you will notice that I've only made one meal this week.  Only one.  Rather disappointing if you ask me, but that's our busy life. 

And now you know why my pantry is overflowing.  We're not home that often, my husband goes out to eat for work about 3-4 times a week, he doesn't eat much during the day, and he's typically only home about one night a week, so that's when I cook meals. 

I was hoping to make at least 10 meal this month, but at the rate I'm going, it'll be four meals the whole month.

It looks like Pantry Purge could last until May 2012.  Ugh. 

Total spent on groceries: $1.88

Upcoming meals: Venison something (shrimp for me), and tilapia.

I'm really hoping that next week I'll have a few more meals to make.  I might just start cooking grand meals for myself and India! :)

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Thursday, May 5, 2011

I'm unplugging from the world today, again

About two months ago, I posted this post about unplugging from the world.  I'm sure many of you thought I was giving up on life, but no, I wasn't, I was just going to go and enjoy myself - get my hair did, a massage, do a little shopping - all courtesy of the baby contest India won. 

It was a great day!  Busy, but great.

One thing that happened on that day that I forgot to tell you all about though was when I went to get my hair did, I went to the wrong place.  Yep.  The wrong place, with my gift certificate.

But it wasn't my fault.  They had put the correct salon's name on the gift certificate, but with the wrong address and PHONE NUMBER, so when I called to make my appointment, I called the wrong salon.  When I put the salon's address into Google Maps, I got the wrong location and ended up at the wrong salon.

Of course, I didn't find this out until after my hair was done and I presented the gift certificate.  They acknowledged it was an honest mistake (although I was willing to pay for my services), but they declined, and told me my gift certificate was still valid and I could get my hair done at the original salon. 

So, it you're tracking with me, that means I get my hair done two times, with minimal effort on my half.  I normally get my hair done two, maybe three times a year (yes, I have horrible roots), so it's a real treat that I'm going to get my hair done again today!  Yay!!!

This time my agenda isn't as full, but I still have to get back in time for my little nursling and I don't like to use up my stash of liquid gold.  Of course, I'll still be sitting in random parking lots, taking breaks to pump.  I always think that's a little funny... 

Last time, I unplugged from all things technical just to get away and be refreshed and focused on the blessings I was receiving.  Today I'm unplugged because my phone quit working almost two days ago.  PAIN.IN.THE.BUTT.

But I have got a lot more done.

And I'm not always checking the time, reading emails, 'liking' a status on Facebook or answering a text. 

I feel really weird driving an hour away, spending most of the day in this other town, then driving home for an hour, all without my phone.  My phone is my purse.  If I go somewhere, my phone is always with.  Well, mostly.  I do have a bad habit of ignoring notifications on my phone for hours, sometimes days, bypassing them just to write an email, or google something.

Anyways, I have no idea what I will do today.  I probably need to do some clothes shopping, since I'm still wearing clothes that I wore in high school. Blah, I HATE my thighs in the fluorescent lights of a changing room.  At home, my thighs are fine.  But put me in a little room, with gargantuan mirrors and lights detailing every imperfection, and all that equals one crabby Genevieve.  I normally remedy that with some Cold Stone ice cream. :)

Honestly though, I'd rather spend money on India.  I guess that's why moms look frumpy sometimes, because they spend their money on their kids. 

I just hope I don't become too frumpy. 

Maybe this cut would keep away the frumpiness...

And I won't even mention my love for this style...

Or this one either...

Can you tell I love short, minimal maintenance, bed-headish? :)  I used to have me some.  I loved it.

But without a doubt, I will come home tomorrow with my long, blond, wavy locks, because I lack courage, and I am proud of my long locks.  The better to dread in the future, right? ;)

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: After Bath Cuddles


Monday, May 2, 2011

Pantry Purge: Days 1-4

I've officially started the Pantry Purge for the month of May. 

After I posted my intentions, I became so excited but yet, very nervous at the same time.  Maybe it's the point of documenting my resourcefulness to the world that might have me a little nervous! :)  We decided that it's impossible for us to skip eating out because of ministry meetings, etc.  However, if it's just the two of us, we will make food and not go out to eat, unless we are on the road.

I plan on updating a few times a week, maybe more, maybe less, to share recipes and ideas.  I may or may not update breakfast and lunch.  I normally just eat leftovers, and Dallas doesn't eat either that often, so that's kind of boring.

Here's what has happened so far, and what I plan on doing!

Day 1 - We ate brunch at the local fire station, as they were having a pancake fundraiser.  For supper, we had a small group potluck in which everyone brought Papa Murphy's pizzas.  So, no cooking on Day 1, which wasn't exactly a good way to kick off, but it is reality.

Day 2 -  Dallas had breakfast at a restuarant with a men's leadership team he's on, and I ate breakfast and lunch at work.  He then had his weekly afternoon meeting at a restaurant with another youth pastor to discuss an upcoming mission trip, and now he's gone until 7pm.  I made a variation of Spicy Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup (one of the first of our many bean soups, I'm sure), which Dallas will have once he gets home.  It was simple and very tasty (I guess there's a reason almost 21,000 people have saved this recipe), although not as spicy as I'd hoped.  India loved it too!

Photo courtesy of violetgrr, All Recipes
 Day 3 - Dallas works late again, but we will have leftover pizza.

Day 4 - This day is a Wednesday, which means Dallas isn't home until 11pm, so I probably won't cook at all.  We'll eat dinner at the church or go out to eat with the youth group.

On the horizon... venison loin roast, black bean brownies, and maybe, just maybe if it's nice out some grilled tilapia!

How are YOU doing in the Pantry Purge? Tell me some of your recent kitchen creations!


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