Monday, April 20, 2015

Giveaway: ALL LOVELY THINGS: A Field Journal for The Objects That Define Us

Disclosure: I received complimentary products to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own. 

There's a reason we often have a tendency to hang on to things for the memories. But too much stuff can create clutter, which can be distracting, make it harder to clean, and give us less space. To help have a happy medium, you can try something like ALL LOVELY THINGS: A Field Journal for The Objects That Define Us by artist and Leafcutter Designs founder Lea Redmond. 

This is a beautiful book, with places for sketches or photos of things that are important to us, as well as prompts. It's part journal, part scrapbook, and fun to both create and look at. It makes a great gift for the sentimental people in your life, and is also great to get for yourself, to give yourself permission to declutter without feeling like you're throwing away a memory.

I have a chance to give away a copy of All Lovely Things. To enter, leave a comment with what you think you'd like best about this journal. Deadline is April 25th. 

World Wisdom: #NoFoodWasted

This week NBC's Green is Universal is focusing on food waste. You can help impact your budget and the environment by preventing food waste. Learn more with the Twitter Parties and tips below.

  • Monday at 9pmET - Launch #NoFoodWasted Twitter Party (Find details and the AMAZING panelist list here:
  • Tuesday from 8-10ET - #FoodChat on #NoFoodWasted (This is primarily a farmer chat and should showcase a really unique perspective on the issue!)
  • Tuesday at 9pmET - #HolisticMoms chat on #NoFoodWasted
  • Wednesday at 10pmET - Virtual viewing party of the ‘Just Eat It’ documentary being shown on MSNBC, followed by a panel discussion with celebrity chef Tom Colicchio. Just follow #NoFoodWasted to join the conversation!

Food Waste Tips
  • Freeze food that is almost expired in order to preserve it.
  • Compost your food waste. Some 14 percent of all the trash produced in America consists of food scraps! Many cities and towns have community drop off points or municipal pickups.
  • Cooked too much food? Share extras with friends, family or co-workers. They'll thank you and your food won't go to waste.
  • Eat before you shop. Food shopping on a full stomach can help you avoid impulse purchases, which often wind up as food waste.
  • Create a menu for the week and purchase only what it requires.
  • Keep cilantro and parsley stems, onion peels, celery leaves, mushroom stems and other veggie scraps in a bag in your freezer. When you have enough, simmer them into a stock for soup.
  • Use stale bread for French toast, bread pudding, croutons, fondue, meatballs or French onion soup.
  • Combine small mixed scraps of cheese to make fondue, macaroni and cheese, salad or sliced fruit toppers.

Healthy Habits: Dental Fillings and Holistic Dentistry

Disclosure: Post contains affiliate or sponsored links, which support this blog at no cost to you. I received complimentary products to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own. 

Any dental material in your mouth that is not compatible with your particular body chemistry is likely to be suppressing and stressing your immune system, says Dr. David Villarreal, an international renowned leader in holistic dentistry. The suppression of the immune system can lead to a host of illnesses from frequent colds to autoimmune diseases to far worse conditions.
I had a chance to interview him to learn more.

    •    How can mercury fillings affect health?
One just has to go on the internet and type in “mercury  fillings and health” and you will see an array of articles relating to the possibility of that connection. Mercury is the most toxic, non-radioactive element on Earth—more toxic than lead, arsenic or cadmium according to scientists. Studies show that mercury heavy metal poisoning--has been linked to Multiple Sclerosis, ALS, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, Lupus,  Parkinson’s, arthritis and many other auto immune diseases . Why are we still placing a material in the mouth that that was pioneered more than 250 years ago? There are some many more options today. Were  we not taught not to play with the mercury when we broke a thermometer ? Why is it ok to have it in our mouth?
    •    Why are other dental materials a problem?
Silver fillings aren’t the only immune-damaging fillings you can have. Some white fillings are often problematic as well. Composite resins are made up of a variety of components with different chemical compositions. BIS-GMA is a frequently used binding agent in dental composites, and it’s widely known that it is not good for you. There are too many composite manufacturers That’s why it is wise to get a blood compatibility test to see which ones you are the least reactive to. Keep in mind, not all composites  (white fillings)  are created equal.
    •    Why should people look at dentistry as part of a whole­ body health issue, not just the teeth and mouth?
If you were to go buy a horse, the first thing you do is hire a veterinarian to check out its health. What is the first  thing that the vet does? Look in the horse’s mouth, that tells him or her a lot   about the horse’s overall health. We have regressed in modern science because we have decapitated the patient. The   AMA and ADA now know how much periodontal disease  affects the overall health of the person. The teeth are each connected to an organ in the body via the energy meridians. When you address the mouth, there are consequences elsewhere.

    •    What are the advantages of this holistic approach?
We not only see what we can do to better the condition of one's mouth, but how it can help in supporting a person’s natural power to heal. The body is an amazing instrument that we continually take for granted. What I try to do is to decrease the amount the body has to deal with by choosing the most healthy options when placing something in one's mouth.

Dr. David Villarreal, an international renowned leader in holistic dentistry, is sought out worldwide for his expertise in biocompatible dentistry (matching body chemistry with compatible filling materials to strengthen, rather than weaken the immune system) and the removal of mercury fillings. People coming from as far away as Canada, Europe and Africa to be under his care. Dr. Villarreal, based in Southern California, employs a host of procedures that protect everyone and the environment in the process, making it appear that the HazMat team may have descended on the office. For more information, go to and

Fun Freetime: SciGirls

Disclosure: I received complimentary products to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own.

SciGirls  is a great PBS show that really emphasizes girls in STEM (science/technology/engineering/math). The third season started this month and focuses on citizen science - engaging the general public in data recording and observations, multiplying the amount of data that can be collected and increasing the accuracy of observations and predictions.

The show targets girls 9-13, but has enough science interest that boys can learn from the show as well. Every episode I've seen includes a diverse group of girls and scientific professionals, allowing kids fro many different backgrounds to see a role model that "looks like them." Izzie and Jake, recurring cartoon characters, jump in here and there, and are the focus of the games and activities on the accompanying website.

The show has gotten positive reviews from newspapers and magazines, and my daughter loves it. I enjoy letting her play the games on the kid-friendly (but not childish) website, and she loves the scientific discoveries. Her favorite episode is the one that took place in Minneapolis at locations where she had been before, and after every episode she sees, she tries to recreate the experiments, allowing for even more creativity and discovery. As a math teacher who also has a strong science background, it's awesome to see her so energized about discovery.

Check your local listings or the website to watch episodes of this great discover-based show!

The SciGirls creative team is headed by Twin Cities Public Television’s Director of Science Content Richard Hudson, Executive Producer of the long-running PBS children’s science series Newton's Apple and creator of DragonflyTV and the SciGirls initiative. Animation is created by Soup2Nuts, producers of PBS’ WordGirl.

Gaming and mobile website is developed by Curious Media. SciGirls is made possible by a major grant from the National Science Foundation. Additional funding is provided by INFOR, Northrop Grumman Foundation, and PPG Industries Foundation.

The mission of TPT is to “enrich lives and strengthen our community through the power of media.” As one of the nation’s leading public media organizations, TPT uses television, interactive media and community engagement to advance education, culture and citizenship. Over its 50 plus year history, TPT has been recognized for its innovation and creativity with numerous awards, including Peabody awards and national and regional Emmys.
Based in St. Paul, MN, TPT is one of the highest rated PBS affiliates in the nation, reaching over 1.3 million people each month through multiple broadcast and online channels. The organization's particular areas of focus include: the educational readiness of children; serving the needs and unleashing the potential of America's aging population; engaging a new generation in the power of public media; and being the preferred media partner for organizations that align with our mission to enrich lives and strengthen community. For more information, visit
TPT online, follow TPT on Facebook and Twitter
Watch SciGirls on, follow SciGirls on Facebook and @SciGirls on Twitter.
The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency that supports education and research across all fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).  In addition to providing major support for SciGirls, the NSF supports other science and math programs on PBS and, including DragonflyTV, Peg + Cat, Design Squad Nation and Plum Landing.  Visit here for more information on NSF activities.

Consumer Critique: ScarAway

Disclosure: I received complimentary products to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own. 

ScarAway makes scar treatment that works for new and old scars – even scars from previous surgeries or injuries?The products come in a variety of forms (sheets, discs, and gel) to work on scars of all shapes and sizes. I got to try the discs, which are just the right size for scars from mole removal or (in my husband's case) old acne scars. We each tried them, and while neither of us had scars that completely disappeared, both of us saw a noticeable improvement in appearance. My scars started out flatter, so after use, mine were virtually gone; he had some very deep pock marks that now look significantly better.

You can find ScarAway products at most major drugstores, Walmart, and select other stores.

Consumer Critique: Cassey Ho's Hot Body Year-Round

Disclosure: I received complimentary products to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own.

Cassey Ho's Hot Body Year-Round is based on her unique format, POP Pilates©, which focuses on total-body sculpting exercises that need no equipment whatsoever. The workouts in the book are very effective, and are appropriate for beginners through advanced. I found the moves easy to figure out, but definitely left me feeling like I had gotten a good workout. The recipes for clean eating were tasty and most didn't require anything that I don't normally buy, meaning you don't have to go to a specialty grocery store, just tweak the way you eat.

The book contains exercises with photographs of moves, recipes, foods that help enhance beauty, grocery lists to complement the passing seasons, and motivational tips.

For more information and great health tips, Like Blogilates, follow @blogilates, or visit the Blogilates Youtube channel.

Consumer Critique: Peppa Pig Muddy Puddles

Disclosure: I received complimentary products to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own.

My girls have always liked Peppa Pig. My older daughter thinks the accents are cute, and she imitates them frequently after watching the show. Both girls think she's a very nice pig, and I like the family values and positive citizenship that shows up in the program a lot.

This spring, you can get the newest release Peppa Pig: Muddy Puddles. It's a great spring theme, with laughter, fun, and good life lessons that are taught by the example of Peppa and how she navigates her world. Muddy puddles are fun for kids, and there are lots of them this time of year! The spring adventures on this DVD are fun for kids to relate to, and good quality entertainment.

Visit the kaboom! Entertainment Facebook and Twitter pages to learn more about fun kids' entertainment.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Freebie: Little Boy Screening (St Louis Park) 4/20

You're invited to attend a complimentary advance screening of LITTLE BOY on Monday, 4/20 at Showplace ICON in St. Louis Park at 7:00pm. Tickets can be downloaded at the following link while supplies last:
Please note that the theater is overbooked to ensure full capacity and seats are not guaranteed. Arrive early to secure your seats.
LITTLE BOY is a powerful and moving film about a little boy who is willing to do whatever it takes to bring his dad home from World War II alive. The heartwarming story will capture your heart and lift your spirits as it reveals the indescribable love a little boy has for his father and the love a father has for his son. Set in the 1940s, LITTLE BOY is an instant cinematic classic that captures the wonder of life through the eyes of a 7-year-old little boy. Written and directed by Smithsonian Institute Award winning director Alejandro Monteverde, LITTLE BOY highlights themes of faith, hope and love in the face of adversity.

Consumer Critique: Housewitch

Disclosure: I received complimentary products to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own.

HOUSEWITCH, by former journalist and debut author Katie Schickel, is a fun book to read. It incorporates a commentary on parenting and family, women's relationships with their peers and spouse, elements of fantasy, and the career mom debate. 

Allison Darling desperately wants to fit in with the latte drinking, hundred-dollar-yoga-pants wearing moms that run her charming seaside town, Monrovia. Constantly feeling like an outsider, Allison dreams of more for her children.
When Allison’s estranged mother passes away, her previously dormant special talents emerge. Soon she is reunited with the family that abandoned her and learns of their heartbreaking legacy.
At the same time, the Glamour Girls, a soap-selling company run by the most popular women in Monrovia, recruits Allison to join them. They have a monopoly on everything in town, from bake sales to businesses deals. But once you’re a Glamour Girl, there’s no going back. 
Suddenly caught between the rag-tag, hippie relatives she once so desperately wanted and the rich, charismatic Glamour Girls—Allison is unsure where she fits in. Could she come to trust the strange outcast family that abandoned her, or really hang with the most powerful, glamorous women in town?
For Allison, it’s like high school all over again, except this time, the mean girls have more than killer manicures and the nobodies aren’t sulking in the band hall. They’re adults. They’ve got husbands, children, and livelihoods on the line. And they also happen to be witches.
Allison’s decision to lend her powerful magical talents to either group will change Monrovia—and Allison—forever. 
I really enjoyed this book. It was fun to read. It's not really a "fantasy" novel that has witches and dragons and fairies; it's more of a real-life novel with sprinklings of the fantasy world thrown in. The power struggles and relationships are convincing, and there are elements of humor in the novel that keep it light.

KATIE SCHICKEL graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in English. A former newspaper reporter, Schickel's writing career and passion for scuba diving has taken her to Pensacola and Key West, FL, as well as throughout the Caribbean, Central America and the Pacific. She has been a freelancer for several scuba magazines, including Scuba Times Magazine and Outside Magazine. Schickel lives in Massachusetts where she spends her time writing and with family. When she’s not doing that, Schickel also surfs the chilly waters of New England, even in the winter. HOUSEWITCH is her first novel.
Forge Books, an imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, is a New York-based publisher of hardcover and softcover books, founded in 1993 and committed (although not limited) to thrillers, mysteries, historical fiction and general fiction. Forge includes books by bestselling and critically acclaimed authors such as Douglas Preston, Eric Lustbader, W. Bruce Cameron and Ralph Peters. Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, is also the home of award-winning Tor Books, which annually publishes what is arguably the largest and most diverse line of science fiction and fantasy ever produced by a single English-language publisher.

Amazing Apps: Baby Gigl

Changes in dietary habits play an integral part in diagnosing many diseases infants face, and parents now have a tool to objectively monitor and report their child’s dietary habits to their pediatrician. Baby Gigl, the world’s first smart baby bottle includes a mobile app that analyzes and reports the timing, quantity and quality of each feeding session, exposing patterns that can be unforeseen or misinterpreted by parents.
Dr. Joseph Cohen, expert pediatrician and thought leader in health tech, concludes that "Pediatricians are used to relying on the recall of sleep deprived parents for histories, including feeding. With Baby Journal 3.0 included with the Baby Gigl, for the first time, parents can effortlessly give the pediatrician accurate and robust information regarding the infant's feeding progress.”
Parents can manually input additional information into the Baby Journal, like diapers changes and sleep, providing a better picture of patterns in the baby’s life. The bottle is currently available for preorder via their Indiegogo campaign, and helps reduce colic and diarrhea with a digital inclinometer that instructs the caregiver how to properly hold the bottle while feeding.
I had a chance to do an interview to learn more.
1. What was the inspiration behind creating the Baby Gigl?
One day while I was giving my son a bottle, my wife rushed toward me exclaiming, “What are you doing? Raise your elbow!”
I thought she was joking at first, but I quickly realized that she wasn’t laughing!
“You made him drink air! Do you want him to have colic?”
I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t feeding the bottle properly to our son, Nathan.
Like any self-respecting scientist, I did some research and learned that 45 percent of babies fed with bottles had colic, (mostly due to air ingested during feeding) while only 18 percent of breast-fed babies were diagnosed with colic. 

2. How does it analyze the quality of feeding sessions?
Baby Gigl is a smart baby bottle holder that analyzes, corrects and monitors feeding and tracks the amount consumed. With this information, the bottle holder helps monitor the child’s health throughout each stage of his or her growth. 
A parent can’t be there for every feeding, so they must depend on a network of grandparents, extended family, nannies and childcare providers to help them care for their child.
Equipped with an inclinometer, it alerts users with light-up arrow signals to teach correct bottle positioning, as wrong angles can result in spit up, diarrhea or colic.  

3. Why is this more helpful than a parent keeping records on their own?
Baby Gigl comes with smartphone app Baby Journal 3.0 that includes all information collected by the Baby Gigl related to the baby’s feeding and general care.  The objective data in these reports gives an overview of the baby’s meals per day, week, and month. 
It also facilitates collaborating and sharing with other care givers with color-coded status updates tracking number of diapers used, number of burps, total time spent sleeping, temperature logs and more. 
The Baby Journal also tracks other information manually entered or provided by other connected devices.