Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Why We Don't Take the Bus [#CTWW]

This week's challenge:

This week, for at least one day, leave your car parked. Instead, walk or ride a bike.

OR ...

If you don't drive or can't do without your car, please choose other actions designed to reduce air pollution. Need some ideas? Avoid power tools (such as lawnmowers, weed whackers, leaf blowers, etc.) and use manual tools instead. Stop smoking! Choose water-based products (paints, solvents, etc.) instead of products which contain harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Avoid commercial indoor air fresheners. Drive smart (accelerate slowly, turn off the engine if the car is stopped for more than 30 seconds, combine errands for one trip, etc.). Reduce energy use (much of the world's energy is derived in ways which pollute ... think smoke stacks). Add house plants to your home. Plant a tree. Use natural, safe cleansers. Buy locally produced items (reduces transport pollution).

The first thing I thought of when I read this week's challenge was taking the bus. Taking the bus is one of the easiest and most accessible ways to reduce your carbon footprint on the environment. While taking the bus to work is often thought of as a cheaper alternative than driving your car, most people do not ride the bus to be environmentally friendly. In our culture, riding the bus carries the stigma that one cannot afford a car. Maybe someone who earns a low income or someone who does not have a job at all. Riding the bus (for purposes other than work) has a negative connotation attached to it.

When I worked in the corporate world, people would talk about taking the bus to/from work and how much money it was saving them. Never once did I hear about someone taking the bus to the grocery store or to the post office. And never once did I think about taking the bus to Whole Foods. I even despised taking the express bus to work when my husband and I would travel and he would pick me up on the way out of town. Something about having to play by someone else's schedule...

Why wouldn't one take the bus to locations other than work? 

First, it would take a lot longer to take the bus to the grocery store than to drive there. While work routes are usually express routes, regular city routes have many more stops. Maybe people would choose to drive over the bus because it would take longer. Though if you live closer to a grocery store, it might not take too much longer. Whole Foods Market is a 12-15 minute drive from my house. Taking the bus would end up taking closer to 30 minutes (one way).

Second, the western world is focused on achieving the status of having your own car. Most teenagers are probably thinking all the time about saving up to buy a car and/or getting their driver's license. There is something about having this freedom and independence to go where you want to go. Taking the bus means that you are dependent on someone else. Furthermore, taking the bus might give the perception that one cannot afford a car. Many people might not want that perception. 

Growing up, my parents had one car, so a lot of travel within city limits was by bus. I remember standing for long periods of time waiting for buses with my mom or my grandma. Personally, I have a negative perception of taking the bus because it reminds me of a challenging time in my childhood. 

Whether or not I have this perception or connotation, it does not mean that I should never take the bus. In the meantime, while I work up the courage to take the bus, I will walk and run. With the recent warmer temperatures, I have tested the following simple plan: run with the baby in the jogging stroller around the neighborhood, then walk to the shopping center (1/2 mile away) to take care of small errands (mailbox, library, Walgreens, clothes shopping, wine/beer shopping, etc). This plan has worked well and I look forward to taking care of errands car-free while getting my runs in during the day. 

>> What are your thoughts on riding the bus? Love it? Hate it?

MIRA Stainless Steel Snack Containers [Review]

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

I began researching food containers, plates, utensils and sippy cups a while before getting pregnant. I knew that I wanted to avoid plastic as much as possible. Glass was a good option, except that there was a high probably of breaking if dropped by a baby. Stainless steel became my focus. Fast forward to today. The baby just turned one and has been experiencing and eating table food for about 6 months. When I leave the house, I need small and non-toxic containers to store his food. MIRA stainless steel food containers provide durability, containment, and light weight to store the baby's food.

MIRA Stainless Steel 2 Container Set (Small)          ($14.95)
Rating: total green check marks out of 5.

The Good
The Not So Good
18/8 food-grade stainless steel container
Slide when stacked
Non-toxic LDPE #4 plastic lids

Great size for babies and children

Leak-proof lid

MIRA Stainless Steel Container Set is a set of two food-grade stainless steel containers that are perfect for small snacks, whether you use at home or take it with you on-the-go. The stainless steel containers come with recyclable, leak-proof, BPA-free plastic lids. The lid is made from a harder plastic, but is still bendable and easy to remove. However, I did find that with a full container, I had to make sure the lid was on all the way. Also, the lids are a little bit slick, so when you stack containers on top of each other, they tend to slide (slick stainless steel against slick plastic).

The size of the containers (small, 4" x 2") was perfect for storing foods and snacks for the baby. I have been using the containers for storing dried fruit, strawberry halves, and almonds (for me). I love that I can throw the containers into my purse or diaper bag and not worry about the lids popping off and food spilling everywhere. The lightweight of the stainless steel does not weight my bag or diaper bag down.

MIRA stainless steel containers can also be used for adults. They are perfect for storing dips such as hummus and salsa or holding a serving of salad dressing.

I recommend MIRA Stainless Steel Container Set for reusable, durable and lightweight storage containers. I plan on purchasing more of these stainless steel containers in a variety of sizes to complement the two that I have. The fact that this set is made from food grade stainless steel and does not leach toxic chemicals into my food is a winner in my book.

Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Birthday and A Death

My birthday has become a defining point over the past couple of years. My birthday is no longer just a day of celebration, but a season of happiness and sadness.

Last year, I celebrated a milestone birthday. This milestone birthday was supposed to be celebrated by a luxury beach vacation to the Caribbean. I was in my third trimester of pregnancy. Instead, we went to visit my parents and enjoyed a delicious gourmet dinner at a winery. I had some wine. That was the extent of my celebration. Even though the celebration was not what I imagined it would be like, that weekend was very special for me anyways.

This year, my birthday was celebrated with my parents again. They watched the baby, the husband and I went out to lunch at a winery and then did some shopping. I greatly enjoyed the few hours that we had to focus on each other. We had champagne and my mom brought dessert from a local boulangerie.

A few days later, on the way to Gatlinburg for vacation, I find out very sad news about my grandma passing. She passed suddenly. The day after my birthday. Everyone was in shock. The thoughts that keep running through my head:

  • She will never get to meet her only great grandchild (she lived in Russia),
  • I'm glad I called her a few weeks earlier and talked to her,
  • I hope she is watching over the baby now,
  • I can no longer call her and talk to her.

The passing of a grandparent is a difficult event for everyone. I am sad that she is no longer around. I also forget at times that she is no longer around. But, I try to focus on the positive memories. I try to remember her. I tell the baby stories about her. While working on a small sewing project for the baby's first birthday, I remembered when my grandma showed me how to use her sewing machine. She left the sewing machine to me when she moved back to Russia. I do not want to forget her, so I am trying to find ways to help us all to remember her.

With the warmer outside temperatures and a huge itch to get the garden going, I decided to plant a few plants in the garden to commemorate her. One of my earliest memories of grandma was going to the park. I do not remember what the park looked like, but I remember a huge field of poppies. Whenever I see poppies, I am always reminded of grandma. Yesterday, at Whole Foods, I picked up a packet of poppy seeds and sowed the seeds in the herb garden. I would also like to plant a tree or a bush in honor of grandma.

March brought other sad news as we found out about a loved one of a friend also passing the week prior to my grandma, acquaintances being diagnosed with serious medical diagnoses, and little girls in church having potentially terminal diseases. March also brought happy new like births of babies.

This year has already brought so much change, growth, happiness, and sadness. Yet, life keeps moving on. Life forces us to move on. There is always something to keep us moving or distract us from the challenges that the days bring. The baby keeps growing and developing. I have to be flexible and adapt to his needs. We accept loses of loved ones and try to remember only the good times and we welcome births of babies and rebirths of ourselves.

>> How has your year been so far?? Have you experienced any surprises??

Efy Tal Jewelry [Giveaway]


Welcome to the Efy Tal Jewelry Giveaway Event, hosted by Happy Mothering and the Green Moms Network! The Green Moms Network and All Natural Katie are hosting a giveaway to win 1 of 3 gorgeous necklaces made by Efy Tal Jewelry. Efy Tal pieces help you to express yourself and feel empowered, feminine and sexy. The collections include large, bold pieces and elegant nature themed pieces like flowers, branches, animals, trees and blossoms. Efy's inspiration come from her experience and joy in becoming a mother. Efy Tal works out of her studio in Glen Rock, New Jersey, where she enjoys spending time with her daughter Lia, family and friends.


Happy Mothering had the opportunity to review Efy Tal's Tree of Life necklace. This giveaway will have 3 winners, who will take home one of the following necklaces.

Large Striking Japanese Cherry Blossom Statement Necklace ($88 value)


Large Lotus Necklace ($46 value)


Tiny Gold Two Initial Necklace with Birthstone ($29 value)


Aren't each of these necklaces unique and beautiful? Would you like the opportunity to win one?

 Enter the Giveaway!

Three winners will each take home one of the necklaces above! Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to US residents ages 18+ only through April 30, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. EST. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

All Natural Katie was not compensated for this post and is not responsible for prize fulfillment. Please contact Chrystal at Happy Mothering with questions about this giveaway or for help organizing one for your brand.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Winner Announcements

The giveaways for Carrier Teething Pads and Royal Fluff Cloth Diaper have concluded! Thank you to all those that entered! Winners are listed below and have confirmed.

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