Friday, October 29, 2010

Cosmetic Database....Environmental Working Group

This post isn't about home decor or crafty projects. But it is about sustainability, which I am VERY PASSIONATE about.

The last few months I have been trying to find a non toxic shampoo & conditioner that will work with my hair type (Thin...not thinning, but I have a lot of it & wimpy hair when it comes to holding a style). A lot of the ones I have tried leave my hair dry & very hard to comb through after my shower. I think I FINALLY found one that I like called Yes to Carrots. I also plan to try Yes to Tomatoes which is for Limp, Fine hair. But Yes to Carrots Daily Pampering Shampoo & Yes to Carrots Pampering Hair Mud Conditioner  is doing a FABULOUS job conditioning my hair & leaving it soft & shiny. And the best part about it is I found them at Walgreen's & Hyvee. Finding products I use locally it a huge plus to me. They are also Yes to paraben free, Yes to cruelty-free testing & Yes to Dead Sea Minerals. I found them on the EWG safe list for hair care products. Oh, they also have a blog. Check it out here.

ANYWAY, on to my point. It got me thinking, as I have been researching shampoos & conditioners out there, I have been using the Environmental Working Group website on a fairly regular basis, trying to find something that is not full of chemicals. Some of you may be familiar with it. But for those of you who are not, I wanted to bring it to your attention. It is a valuable resource that I use on a weekly basis, if not more often. Here is some info about them directly from their site.

"At EWG, our team of scientists, engineers, policy experts, lawyers and computer programmers pores over government data, legal documents, scientific studies and our own laboratory tests to expose threats to your health and the environment, and to find solutions. Our research brings to light unsettling facts that you have a right to know."

Basically since nobody really is policing the beauty product industry for our best interest. EWG has taken it upon themselves not police it, but make you aware of what chemicals & toxins are in the stuff we use every day! And lets face it, these days we have to be the ones to be responsible & to look out for our family & what we use.

I have to say, I use their Skin Deep: Cosmetic Database on a weekly basis, sometimes more. I HEART the fact I can type in a product that I have here at the house, or something I saw in the store & it gives me the skinny on if it is chemically bad for me & my family. They rate things from 0-10. Zero being nothing chemically bad for you, ten being really chemically bad for you. This is a quick & easy way for me to evaluate what I want to have in my household & what I do not. They also have an option that you can just search for all the products that have a low score. So you can see brands that are OK for your family to use. You can check out hair products, baby products, nail products, makeup products, skin products, oral care, & they have a tab or Other misc stuff that isn't covered in the above categories.

They also have a slew of other resources. Here are a few that I use often as well:

So those are just a few of the resources they have to offer. Their website is FULL of information, articles, etc. Go check it out this VALUABLE RESOURCE today. You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, & RSS feeds, as well as sign up for email newsletters.

Enjoy & Happy Reading!!!

*Just FYI...I am not being compensated for my honest review. All thoughts, ideas & opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween Countdown Calendar Part 2

OK, I FINALLY got my photos that I was waiting for to finish my Halloween countdown calendar. For a reminder check out part 1 here. And just in time, as Halloween is only days away now! :) Here are the last 4 countdown pages. 


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

LEGO Toy Organization

I am a HUGE organizer. Can you say organizer addict?!? I organize EVERYTHING, from my kitchen seen here. To my closets, cupboards, seen here. The list goes on. I like things to be organized and in order. This keeps me sane, and with a busy schedule like mine, I need all the help I can get. :)

Toy organization is something I pride myself in. My kids do a pretty good job at keeping their stuff organized, as I have had a system for them since basically birth for most of their toys. There is a spot for everything, so they know where to put it (the preschool or kindergarten theory...everything has a home).

But LEGO's have been a thorn in my side. My boys are LEGO crazed & LOVE them. And up until now, I have not really organized them, but basically kept them all together in a few bins. The problem with this system is they are constantly digging through the bins & can NEVER find the pieces they are looking for. This also makes putting together the "sets" they have a real challenge. I don't mind helping them put sets together, but when it takes FOREVER to find all the pieces to a set, that is something I don't LOVE. Now that they have a substantial collection of LEGO's. I thought now would be the time to get a system down. Especially with Christmas lurking & them having several LEGO sets on their lists!

I did some research and found lots of ideas for LEGO organization & storage. Luckily, I am not the only Mom with this problem.
Here is some of the resources I found helpful!

1. Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories shows us how to stack Lego's for storage. Check it out here.

2. Another Mom with the growing LEGO dilemma. Check it out here.

3. Here is another cool LEGO storage table you can DIY. Check it out here.

4. Here are a BUNCH of different options to store your LEGO collections. Check it out here.

5. This is REALLY cool. I would definitely invest in something like this, just for the sorting factor alone. It's called a BOX4BLOX...check it out here.

6. Here is yet another LEGO table you can DIY from Ikea Hacker. Check it out here.

7. My NEW FAVORITE SOLUTION: Ty from over at Brik Crate has a FABULOUS solution. A compact wall storage unit with fold down table. You have to check it out here. It could be painted & blend into any room. What a clever idea! They also have a ton of tips on organizing as well. Definately take time & go check them out!

So here is what our current situation looks like:

I decided to sort by color, and to some extent the type of brick/piece.
I started out by picking up this 7 drawer Sterlite bin at Walmart.

Then I started sorting bricks. This took some time, but I had help from the boys!
*This is another TIP...if you include your kids in sorting their toys & setting up the system, it makes them feel a sense of accomplishment. And they are more likely to follow through with upkeep of the system you put in place! Especially when they can find what they are looking for!

I just used some shoe storage boxes I had to sort the bricks out. I put like colors together & sorted into these categories: Black/White, Red/Orange/Yellow, Green/Blue, Brown/Tan, Gray/Dark Gray, Wheels, Mini Figs (people), and super small pieces & unique pieces. I have to say this was my least favorite part of this job. Only because it took so long!
Then I found some these cool FREE down loadable labels. This is to label each drawer so they know what's in them.

Labels are courtesy of Mrs. Jones. Check them out here.
I printed them out on white card stock and cut them out. I just taped them to the fronts of the drawers using clear packing tape.

Then I just dumped the shoe boxes in each drawer.

Manuals/instructions went in the top drawer.

The mini figs, super small pieces & unique parts went into a clear divided bead storage box (from Walmart in the jewelry section). I wanted to be able to separate these pieces since they are so little.

Here is the LEGO area of my son's room. The table was a UNBELIEVABLE find from the Winona Shares Free site (Basically a Craigslist type site, only everything on it is FREE). Check it out here if you are in the Winona, MN area (a great source for us thrifty types). A guy was just giving it away. He had made it for his 2 boys & they had grown out of it. He built this like 15 years ago, before activity/train type tables were even around...I would say he was ahead of his time! :) I called & snatched it up the moment I saw it listed (Thanks Mom for letting me know about it!) My boys just LOVE it. It is basically a coffee table, with a hole cut out of it (routed nicely). He mounted a basket under it for quick clean up. And mounted the base plates on the top as well. This table gets a lot of use at our house.

The 2 green stools are from IKEA. I picked them up on clearance last year.

So that sums up the LEGO organization corner of our house.

Do you have any cool ways you organize/store your LEGO's or other toys? I would LOVE to hear about them. I am always on the look out for new organizational ideas!


I am linking up to these FABULOUS Parties:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mario & Luigi Halloween Costumes

My youngest son wanted to be Luigi this year for Halloween. He begged for the costume every time we went to Target. I felt like the boughten costume was cheap looking & ugly plain. I knew I could put together something cuter, as well as CHEAPER than $20 buckaroos!
My kiddos are very LUCKY. This year they had several opportunities to wear their costumes. 1. The school classroom party. 2. Our schools community Halloween party. 3. And Halloween itself...aka...Trick or Treating. We actually have a few more opportunity's in our town. But this year, these our the opportunities we are taking advantage of.

So I made both a Child & Adult Version

Here is how I did it:

I started out by getting bibs for each of them. The Adult bibs came from Fleet Farm new ($20). My son's I got from Goodwill for ($3). My son's needed to be hemmed up, but that was not a big deal.

Next I used their hats from playing baseball. I just covered the baseball logo's with White & Green/Red felt. My felt was 67 cents for each color...white, green, red (I had lot's left over).

I used a cup to draw my circle out of white felt. I printed off a "L" & "M" on my computer, then cut them out & traced them on my green/red felt.  I sewed the white circle, the letter's "L" & "M" on the hats by hand.

I found a 6 pack of jumbo buttons at Walmart for $1.92. They were assorted colors (6 in a pack), but I just spray painted them Yellow. I used Velcro circles to add the buttons to the bibs existing "buttons".

I found their red & green shirts both at the Salvation army too. My son's was $1.00 & the adult one was 75 cents.

I finished the costumes off with white gloves. My son's were from the Goodwill for $1.99 new (they were fuzzy, soft & puffy...just like the Mario & Luigi characters), the adult ones came from Fleet Farm & were 99 cents.

Then I added some mustaches from Salvation Army...99 cents each

My Adult Mario Costume.

My son's Luigi costume.

Aren't they SO DARN CUTE!!!

Luigi & GI Joe: Snake Eyes.

So grand total for my son's costume: $8.65....grand total for the adult costume: $24.39.

Not bad!!!


I am linking up to these FABULOUS Parties...Go Check them out!

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