A journal

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

All Organic Milk is not created equal

Since the kids turned one we have been starting the process of converting them to drinking whole milk instead of formula.  You would think it would be an easy decision to give them organic milk.  I mean it has to be better for them that regular old hormone filled good enough for adults milk, right?  Well it turns out it's not that easy. Not all "organic" milk is created equal and just like everything that is labeled "organic" you really have to do the research about the company producing the product because the term "organic" is not regulated by the government. My pediatrician told us she recommends Horizon Organic Whole milk with DHA so I went out and bought the (9$ a gallon!) milk.  Then I thought I'd better do some research on this company.  Boy was I disappointed!  I started reading about Horizon and that it was owned by Dean Foods and that it uses factory-farmed cows for the production of their milk and is notorious for stating that cows have "access" to pasture but that in reality actual spend very little time eating from those pastures.  I ran across the Cornucopia Institute website  which published an Organic Dairy Report and Scorecard in 2006 and continuously updates it.  The Cornucopia Institute's "mission statement" is below and it appears to be a legitimate research group that is operating to provide the most accurate information about organic agriculture.

The Cornucopia Institute will engage in educational activities supporting the ecological principles and economic wisdom underlying sustainable and organic agriculture. Through research and investigations on agricultural issues, The Cornucopia Institute will provide needed information to consumers, family farmers, and the media.
The Cornucopia Institute is recognized by the IRS as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) public interest group. Donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of law.
The Organic Dairy Report and Scorecard ranked dairies on a scale of "5 cows" (best) down to "1 cow" as determined by a 19 question survey filled out by the milk producers. The criteria and study design for the study are here and if you are interested in these issues I highly recommend you read it before looking up your favorite brand of milk on the Report. The main focus of this survey was to ascertain the animal husbandry practices of the producers, which most consumers who buy organic will hold as a core value of their reasoning for purchasing organic animal products. 
So where does Horizon/Dean Foods rank? Ethically Deficient with 0 cows.  Horrible.  I've decided to switch over to Organic Valley which is commercially available in our area and ranks a excellent with "4 cows."  It is an organic dairy produced cooperative rather than a huge agribusiness like Dean Foods.  There is a very nice comparison on this blog's post from 2011.  I really appreciate the Cornucopia Institute's (apparently unbiased, at least as far as I can tell) study that will hopefully help many make smart choices about the food they decide to purchase.     
Later this month I plan to examine another Food Policy called Prop 37 in the state of Ca which will put stricter regulations on labeling of products containing GMOs (genetically modified organisms).   

Monday, September 24, 2012

Safari Bedroom Inspiration Board - Elephants and Giraffes and Monkeys, Oh My

So the boys are 1 now and although I love to design and decorate, I have done very little in the way of decorating their bedroom.  Before they were born, I made a few things for their room and it looked pretty good.  The fabric collection that I used is the Zoo Menagerie Collection by Eleanor Grosch in both cottons and flannel. I made some bunting flags, a couple of crib sheets, a lamp shade cover, a bedskirt and a window valance.  The print is of giraffes, elephants and rhinos (expect for the window valance which are the whales from the same fabric collection)

Since we've moved I'll admit that I haven't decorated one iota.  Their room is bigger now in our rental house and we have two cribs as well as their changing table and the glider.  I have been reluctant to hang pictures as I didn't want to put holes in the walls and those command hooks for me are always hit or miss.  But I was recently at a twin mom friend's house and she decorated her girls' room so cute that I got inspired to revamp the boys' room. Here is an inspiration board I put together for their room

So I think the colors will be along the lines of lime and navy with elephants and giraffes and maybe a monkey or two thrown in for good measure.  I really love the chartreuse elephant and giraffe fabrics along with the coordinating chevron print from Premier Fabrics.  They are about $7.50 and yard so I am not sure if I am going to use them for curtains. I would need about 6 yards for the giant window in their room and I am thinking about doing a roman shade application.  As for a rug, well, the room in carpeted wall to wall in beige carpet which i hate because it gets dirty so quickly and its a rental so the quality of the rug isn't great for sitting and rolling around on the floor all day.  I have been in LOVE with FLOR carpet squares forever and used them all over my previous home.  Here I think I might do a lime green 5x7 or so carpet which should only run me about $170, depending on the style of carpet I choose.  I have samples coming in the mail to test for softness and color.  

For bedding I already have a couple of sheets in the Zoo Menagerie fabric but I have been contemplating adding a few different sheets, maybe in the Safari Sky print from Carters (right middle with coordinating quilt and giraffe lamp) or the SkipHop Elephant Parade sheet (right bottom) which is like $24 but is really cute and has a different pattern on the top and sides to mimic a bumper without having bumpers. I also really love the Pottery Barn Harper quilt with the elephant and name applique (top right) but that runs like $110 and is mostly white which is not great for kids in my experience.  I guess it would be just for show so that is a pretty expensive wall hanging.  I am going to see what I can find at our big Garage Sale at the beginning of October before I go out and buy anything new.

For decor, I found some really cute things on Etsy.  The top middle shows a cute print of an elephant with a navy blue chevron.  The artist had two of the same print with the elephants facing opposite directions so I bought those and figure I will frame them and use them to "bookend" a decorative shelf on the wall.  I love the idea of name blocks or letters and I think i'll make these myself with wooden letters form the craft store. Vinyl wall decals are the hot thing in nurseries these days and there are TONS of options on Etsy.  I like a jungle scene with a tree and a couple of animals that you can customize all the colors.  They are pretty expensive, usually over $100 for a large scene, so I have been looking for decals that are reusable so that we can take them with us when we move again.  I figure this would be a great way to spice up the plain old white wooden closet doors.  I also found this giraffe and elephant stuffed animal set that just happens to be made from the Zoo Menagerie fabric so I might pick those up as well.  

I have been so eager to get started on the decor but I have done only one craft project so far. I made this adorable hanging elephant lantern mobile from the lanterns I had used for the Very Hungry caterpillar decorations at their birthday party.  Basically I just strung the lanterns together vertically and then decorated with navy blue fabric elephants that I cut out of some material I had laying around.   I just pasted them on with a glue stick and hung on a nail away from the wall so they can spin.  The kids seem to like it and it was so easy!


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Keurig My K-Cup Reusable Filter and Adaptor

If you've followed my blog at all you know that I love K-Cups but i hate that they aren't recyclable.  I did an upcycling craft with them where I made popsicles from those little K-cups. Keuring recently came out with the Vue brewing system which doe have recyclable pods (#5 plastics that can go in our curbside recycling bin) but of course you have to get a whole NEW brewer and at 230$ that is just not a viable option for me right now.   Well I have had this nifty little My K-Cup device for a while but when I used it the first couple of times it made such a mess that I relegated it to the back of the cupboard.  Then when my father was visiting recently he showed me how to use it correctly (duh) and now I am hooked.  So here is how it works.

Remove the black plastic K-cup holder from your machine THIS IS CRITICAL!

The My K-cup comes with three parts - basket, holder and cap.  
 Here's the coffee basket.  Fill with ground coffee

 Put the parts back together
 Insert into your machine and you're ready to brew!
It actually works great for me in my cheapo little Keurig machine.  It only takes a second to dump out the pent grounds and refill for another cup.  Much more cost effective than buying the k-cups and I feel a whole lot better about using the Keurig machine now!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The boys' Photo Shoot with NOVIE

While my family was visiting we hired a photographer to take some really nice pictures of the whole gang a well and us and the boys.  It was a lot of fun and Jason and Nicole of NOVIE photography were really great sports for dealing with a lot of adults and 2 one-year olds.  We did the shoot in San Clemente on the pier, on the beach and under the pier.  Here is a picture of the action...

Nicole did everything in her power to get Jack and Greyson to look at the camera and smile, which is a huge feat and she did a phenomenal job, while her husband Jason snapped away, trying to get the lighting and setup just right.  We really wanted to capture that "California feel" so we had the beach and pier in the background and we ended up getting just a tad wet. It was a blast and here is a Thank you Card I created on Shutterfly from one of the beautiful photos that I purchased from them.

5x7 Folded Card
View the entire collection of cards.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Very Hungry Caterpillar Birthday Party

So this is what I've been doing over the past two weeks.  My parents and my sisters and their significant others came to visit (from the East Coast and Wisconsin) and they rented a cute place near us in Dana Point.  While they were here we did a lot, including taking them to the Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach and taking a late afternoon whale watch to see the blue whales off Dana Point, as well celebrating my sister and her boyfriend's engagement. Needless to say it was a busy week and to cap it off, we finally had the twins' Very Hungry Caterpillar birthday party.  It was awesome and we had a great turnout of local friends and family (including TWO sets of twins), although it was kinda hot to have an outdoor party in the park. Note to self - next year have an early evening party.  Let me share with you all the fun food and decor we put together for the party with a TON of help from my sisters, their significant others, my folks and the hubby...

Very Hungry Caterpillar Pizzas!! - One Pepperoni and the other Eggplant

Very Hungry Caterpillar Watermelon Bug Juice (Fresh watermelon puree strained, Cran-Rasp and Fresca)

Fruit and Cheese Trays a la Very Hungry Caterpillar (with grapes as stand-ins for plums)

Fruity Pebbles Marshmallow Krispies, meant to be in butterfly shapes but couldn't find a sharp-enough cookie cutter to do the job...

Our two Caterpillar Cakes, using the Nordic Ware Caterpillar Cake pan.  One was a Snickerdoodle Cake with Snickerdoodle Frosting (recipes can be found here ) and the other was a lemon cake with lemon frosting (made with fresh lemon juice and zest).  Creatively decorated by the Aunties!!

Cupcake display with the Eric Carle-inspired letters that I posted about previously to spell out the kids' names

Grape caterpillar skewers made a cute bouquet in a re-purposed Edible arrangements basket.  I decorated the basket by placing a half round of green foam in the basket and sticking squares of red tissue paper into the foam, to make a red flowery base.

As for decor - we did a paper lantern Caterpillar.  I made the face by glueing felt to the red lantern.  I also had an Eric Carle Happy Birthday Banner (that no-one took a pict of - but it is store-bought anyways)
And for favors, you may remember I posted a WHILE back about these bug jars favors made from baby food jars.  Well, I made a few changes. First of all, I scratched the chalkboard paint.  It didn't stick really well to the glass and started to peel.  I ended up printing the kids' name in Eric Carle-inspired letters and modge-podged them to the jars.  It ended up much cuter than chalkboard.  I also glued a piece of white felt to the inside of the cap to cover the jagged sharp edges of the bug breathing holes.  I just made sure to not obscure the holes with glue in case anyone actually uses it as a bug jar.  Each was filled with one packet of Sour Patch Fruits and some sour gummy worms.

I also had the caterpillar bubble jars that I posted about a while back.  The kids at the party seemed to like them.  In addition my husband MADE a set of cornhole boards (decorated in Steelers colors, gag) and I made two sets of bean bags from duckcloth that my artsy sister Wendy decorated.  Can you figure out the symbols?

Greyson seemed to approve:


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