Organic Resources and Gift Ideas

  Has anyone else watched Food Inc?  It's on Netflix if you have that.  After watching it I was so horrified that I immediately began checking out tons of books from the library about our food industry in America, processed foods, and organic cookbooks.  Now, I am a well educated person as I'm sure you are too, and I knew processed foods were bad and organic was better.  We eat pretty healthy and organic already but I didn't REALLY know all the details about why certain foods were bad for you.  Like, did you know that a lot of white breads have a flammable chemical called azodicarbonamide that many other countries do not allow in food?  And that those artificial dyes that we all know are not good are also not allowed in other countries.  In fact, many companies have changed their products (like well known candies) for other countries to not include those dyes but here in America we still get the 'good' stuff...not!  Did you also know that many of the additives/chemicals in our food and GMO foods have not been well researched and studied?  That obesity, asthma, cancer, and many other health issues have dramatically increased with the industrialization of food and introduction of the highly processed American diet?

Now, I am not telling you this to make you feel bad about what you eat.  While we eat pretty well and I especially try to feed the kids well, I was known to eat white bread, candy, orange colored chips, pop, and such.  But I want to share the information/my story in case you are not even aware of many of these things (like me and many other Americans).  And maybe you too will want to learn more about it and find yourself making slow but healthy changes for you and your family.  I only watched Food Inc two months ago and can say now that we are eating probably 80-90% organic, real foods, and meals made from scratch (or close to). 

I know some feel organic is more expensive and it can be but if you really shop the sales and do a good job of using up leftovers it really isn't too horrible.  And if you consider the health and environmental benefits then you actually are getting a great deal!  :)  Personally, in the last two months I have lost a little weight but the main difference I notice is that I am not having food cravings or mid-day slumps.  I used to always want to snack during the day and at night and could easily go through a half bag of chips or some candy but now I really have no desire to do so.  My meals are more filling and delicious and I find myself grabbing an apple when I need something more.

So, if you are still reading and are interested in learning more I have a list of books that I have read and recommend as well as a few of my favorite websites and cookbooks.  Many of these would make nice gifts for others or maybe you want to add them to your Christmas list!





http://organicconsumers.org/ - Lots of articles to better inform you about your food, the food industry, etc.  Here is a bit from their site to give you a better idea as to what they are about...
"The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots non-profit 501(c)3 public interest organization campaigning for health, justice, and sustainability. The OCA deals with crucial issues of food safety, industrial agriculture, genetic engineering, children's health, corporate accountability, Fair Trade, environmental sustainability and other key topics. We are the only organization in the US focused exclusively on promoting the views and interests of the nation's estimated 50 million organic and socially responsible consumers."

Environmental Working Group www.ewg.org  - Provides lots of information on current environmental and food issues and even have a take action page (which I have) where they show you the issues and have links with pre-written letters to send to your representatives (a super easy way to feel like you are helping to make a difference).  They also have a database you may have heard of...Skin Deep http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ where you can search your skin care and makeup products to see how safe they are. 

Eco Watch http://ecowatch.com/ - Environmental, green living, and sustainable business news, articles, and tips.

http://www.naturallivingideas.com/ - Great ideas for how to use natural items in a variety of ways.

http://www.3boysunprocessed.com/ - Mostly just delicious, whole foods recipes!  She has three boys and keeps it real.  We have tried several of her recipes and this one is one of our favorites so far http://www.3boysunprocessed.com/loaded-nachos/ super yummy!

http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/ - I love this site because she is a mom who has a similar story about learning more about what was in her food and then challenging her family to 100 days of real food.  She blogs about a variety of things...recipes, tips on how to challenge your own family, things that work for her/her family, giveaways, etc.  And her book is fabulous too!  It shares her story and tips as well as lots of delicious recipes.


Organic/Natural Coupon Sites



I have cooked at least a few recipes from each of these books and have dozens more marked to make in the future.


This next book is perfect for families with school age kids.  I love all the fresh ideas this book gave me for my kids' lunches and they have loved the new variety too.



Next week I will be posting some great gift ideas for the holidays, many of which will be organic or eco-friendly, so be sure to come by and see what I've found!


Kohl's Black Friday Deals Start Tomorrow Online! Here are my favorite toy deals...

ETA: Deals are live!  And there is also an extra 15% off when you enter THANKS15 

If you are planning to do some online shopping this week, Kohls will be offering their Black Friday Deals from Monday, November 24th - Friday, Nov. 28th, which means they could go online as early as midnight tonight!  Remember that for every $50 you spend you will get $15 Kohls cash and free shipping too. 

Plus if you go through Ebates you will get an extra 6% cashback!  And if you are new to Ebates you will also get a $10 gift card after you make your first $25+ purchase at any of your favorite stores.

You can preview all their deals HERE if you want to plan out your list before the deals go live.

Kohls has great deals on tons of stuff but I wanted to share a few of my favorite toy deals.  These are items that we have ourselves or have given as gifts.  First up...

The Step 2 Modern Cook Kitchen

If you have young children, girls or boys, I highly recommend getting a play kitchen and this deal is really too good to pass up.  (I would be getting it if we didn't already have one).  At $59.99 (reg. $130) it is already a great deal but with free shipping and getting the Kohls cash, you will really only be paying $44.99 (plus tax).

While we do not have this exact kitchen, I did get a similar deal (although not quite as good) on the one we bought for my first son when he was 2.  All of my kids have loved it and have played with it from about age 2-6 (or even 7).  The little window opening is a fun feature and great for playing restaurant.  Plus this kitchen comes with a great 26 piece accessory set so you don't have to spend extra money on pots, dishes, etc.  Although getting some play food would be a great addition to this gift! 

Hot Wheels Haul and Race Rig $14.99 (reg $30)

We actually have two of these and this is a great price.  My boys love having a car transporter truck and the fact that this one can also be used as a starting ramp to race the cars on a hard floor/surface makes this truck double the fun.  Consider grabbing more than one for upcoming birthday parties too!

Hot Wheels Monster Jam Showdown $19.99 (reg. $40)
If you know a kid who loves monster trucks then this racing ramp will be a hit!  Designed specifically for monster trucks with obstacles to run over as they go down the ramp and parents will like that it folds up when not in use.

Okay here is the one exception of an item we do not have and have not given, but with 3 boys and only nephews I don't get a lot of opportunities to buy girl toys.  However, if I knew a Hello Kitty lover, I think this would be a great gift...I mean, really, how adorable is that plane!
Hello Kitty Jet Plane Airlines Playset $19.99 (reg. $40)

For the little ones...
Fisher Price Brilliant Basics Musical Activity Keys $7.49 (reg $14.99)

And finally, in our house, musical instruments are a must have.  This is a great xylophone for toddlers (and their older siblings!)  Fisher Price Classic Xylopone $10.99 (reg. $22)

Happy Shopping!

Free Two Day Shipping, Early Access to Deals, and More...

If you shop on Amazon, now is the time to sign up for the Amazon Prime free 30 day trial.  You can cancel before the 30 days are up so you don't get charged or you may find that it is totally worth the money. 

I signed up for the trial because of these awesome benefits:
* Free two day shipping (a must during the holiday season!)
* Early Access to Lightning Deals (the only way to score some of Amazon's amazing deals that are going on now) - Prime members get to access many lightning deals a half hour earlier than non-prime shoppers.

Other Prime benefits that may excite you:
* 500,000 free ebooks from the Kindle Lending Library
* Prime Music - unlimited music streaming
* Unlimited photo storage and
* Prime Instant Video - watch unlimited movies and tv shows on your tv, laptop, or Kindle Fire

Check out the details and sign up HERE

Today's Lightning Deals include:

Melissa & Doug toys

Indoor Soccer Challenge Game (starts at 7am PST for Prime members)

40% off Franklin Sports NFL youth jersey and helmet set (starts at 9:40 am PST for Prime members - 10:10 for non Prime)

men's watches

Lego Chima 2 pack Watch set (starts at 7:30 am PST for Prime members)

...and more!


Pre Black Friday Lego Deals Going on Now plus Amazon's Toy Lightning Deals for Today

I'm sure if you have kiddos in your life that they love Legos so here are some great deals going on now.

This Lego City Police Helicopter set is down to $51.31 at Amazon (reg $74.99)

My oldest has this Star Wars AT AP set on his list and Walmart has it on sale for only $39 (reg $59.99)...but this price is not available for shipping so you can order it online but have to pick it up in the store.  A great deal for a larger Star Wars set!

For the Chima lovers, Lego.com has both the Chima playmat and storage case on sale for less than $5 each.  Both are specifically designed for the Chima speedorz.

Amazon has the Lego Chima 3DS game for only $7.99

For the little ones, this lego train is educational and fun.  Definitely worth the $15.99 at Amazon  (compared to $25.99 at Toys R Us)

Finally, if kids on your list enjoy games, Amazon has lots of ThinkFun games on sale today in their Lightning Deals (which are usually at least 25% off and sometimes up to 60% off).  This includes the classic Rush Hour game (available at 9am PST) which my kids love and you can get expansion packs for it too to extend the enjoyment of this game.  You can click HERE to see all the games and what time the deal will start for each one.

Let me know if you find any great Lego Deals...my boys and nephews can't seem to get enough of them!  :)


Great Deal on Starbucks K Cups this week!

Do you have a Keurig or know someone who does?  This week Albertsons has the 10 count Starbucks K cups on sale for $5.99 with their coupon plus you can add this coupon ($2 off of 1 box) http://lp.starbucks.com/singleorigin  from Starbucks to get the 10 count boxes for only $3.99 each...making them only $0.40 per cup!  Even when you buy them in bulk it is hard to get them for under $0.60 a cup.  I think the Albertsons coupon might be a 2 box limit but that works out well because you can print out 2 of the Starbucks coupons too.  I got this deal today at my local Albertsons to give as part of a gift...those Keurig lovers are always needing K cups and at regular price ($8.99 - $9.99) they are expensive so snag this deal while you can! 

QFC also has the 10 count on sale for $5.99 this week, although you will need to buy 3 to get that deal and I don't know if you will be able to print out or use 3 of the Starbucks coupons.  Often there is a print out limit of 2 and many stores only allow 2 of the exact same coupon.

Just a note...when you click on the link for the Starbucks coupon you will notice that it is featuring their single origin coffee but the actual coupon says you can use it for any 10 or 16 count K cup box.


Black Friday Deals...Get Ready!

So, the big shopping weekend is almost here!  And while I don't usually brave the stores these days, fortunately there are tons of great deals offered online too.  If you haven't yet seen some of the ads you can click below to see all that have been released.


I like to be able to compare ads and really have a plan for which stores/sites are worth visiting.  It helps me to stick to my list and not get too crazy with buying things just because they are a good deal. 

In addition to all the sales, if you sign up for Ebates (if you sign up through this link, I will get an extra cashback bonus...and once you sign up, you too can get bonuses by having friends sign up through your link) and make sure to go through the Ebates site to visit your favorite stores online, you will get cashback on top of the great deals!  For example, Kohls is going to be giving $15 Kohls cash for every $50 spent.  Then through Ebates you will earn 6% cashback (right now it is a double cashback store...hopefully that will continue through next weekend...otherwise it will be 3% cashback).  So, if you buy a $100 (reg. price) worth of toys that are marked down 50%, after the Kohls cash you will really be getting all those toys for just $35 plus you will then get the extra cashback from Ebates...a super steal!

And if you shop online you know Amazon will be having some amazing deals.  Last year I got several items for 50% off.  Their lightning deals are a little stressful (you have to be quick!) but worth it if you are wanting to save as much money as possible.  And be sure to keep an eye on it even if you end up on the waiting list.  I was put on a waiting list last year but then within a few minutes I was able to purchase and I think I only had 5 minutes or so to place the order.

Through Ebates, you can also get cashback when shopping on Amazon.  However, it is only on certain departments which change periodically.  I just sign into Ebates, search for Amazon, and click on the Shop Now button...then if I buy something in a cashback department, great, if not, oh well.  But you can certainly look at the departments ahead of time to try to maximize your savings.

Happy Shopping!


Classic Christmas

While I love to send photo Christmas cards so everyone can see how our boys have grown, Minted also has a lot of non photo cards that are beautifully designed.  This one below is a favorite of mine and inspired me to create this Classic Christmas inspiration board.  The adorable reindeer forest and red herringbone prints are actually fabric that is sold on Minted and the Holiday Twin photo is an art print available on Minted.  The two other items are from Crate & Barrel.

If you are looking to get some Christmas cards, a great art print or photo gift for someone and have never purchased from Minted before, you can click HERE to get $25 off your first $50+ purchase.

The holidays are upon us!  Let us be thankful and spread good cheer!