Archive for the ‘Shopping’ Category

Over the holidays, we found out that my brother-in-law Jon proposed to his girlfriend Kristina!  So happy for them!  And of course, immediately after the engagement announcement, us girls started wedding planning.  It’s a part of our girly DNA.  Tony, Frankie, and I were asked to stand up, and while the wedding is not happening until the fall of 2013, I automatically had a thought: I will have to breastfeed in my bridesmaid dress.  Not Frankie (fingers crossed that he’ll be weaned by then!), but the future baby of mine yet to be born, but (hopefully!) born in the next two years (and hopefully BEFORE the wedding – no one likes to be a preggo bridesmaid).

Long story short, my Google searches for nursing bridesmaid dresses brought me to an awesome breastfeeding fashion blog Milkfriendly.  Let me first say, this chick is amazing.  She actually manages to make boobie-accessible clothing look good.  Damn good.  Definitely worth checking out. 

And, Milkfriendly’s writer, Maryam, is also the co-owner and co-founder of Green Your Air, a company that sells houseplants that help clean your house of nasty toxins and such.  Our houses are filled with all sorts of toxins – paint fumes, cheap wood furniture, and cleaning products, all that can off gas very dangerous chemicals into our indoor air.  The Green Your Air website offers more in-depth information and the scientific research behind this idea, which you can find here.

Oh, and I did I mention that the containers are adorable?  They would make a nice gift…hmmm, maybe for a future engagement party I will be invited to?  I especially like their baby gift idea – a mini plant in either a pink or blue planter.  Both my friend Kari and my sister-in-law Sam are pregnant with their third baby (and due about the same time!), and honestly, isn’t it hard to buy something for the experienced mom?  I mean, they already own all the necessities, and unless the baby is of a different gender (Kari has all boys and Sam has all girls), clothes are superfluous.  But I love the idea of a cute plant that actually does baby good.

If you’re interested in buying a plant, you can use the code MILKFRIENDLY until January 22nd to get 25% off.  Enjoy!

Update: Hello readers!  You can also use the code MARYD25 until January 22nd to get 25% off your plants as well!


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Hubby has been on a diet lately.  Well, he’s always on some kind of diet, and the rules of each diet seem to change as often as the weather in Chicago.  After Frankie was born, he went on a no-carb diet.  And since the basis on our diet was rice and pasta, I wasn’t quite sure what we were going to eat.  And since I had a newborn perpetually attached to my boob, I figured that he could take over the cooking for a while. 

We mainly eat some sort of dinner consisting of a meat and sautéed veggies, whatever we have lying around.  I often add either pasta or brown rice to the mix, to help out with the I-can-eat-everything-in-the-house hunger that goes along with breastfeeding a 22 lb baby.  And I have to say that, since the basis of our diet is now veggies and not starch, hubby has lost about 40 lbs and I have successfully lost most of my baby fat.  (Not in the belly, sadly, which still looks like a deflated marshmellow and gives me a muffin top, but I am technically back to my normal weight).

Part of the diet that drives me nuts, however, is his daily morning regime of scrambled eggs.  I can’t complain too much, because almost every morning I get delicious scrambled eggs with cheese, tomatoes, and green peppers, but hubby isn’t exactly the quickest to clean up after cooking.  <sigh>  Long story short, after months of cooking eggs every morning and letting the egg remnants sit there and then scrap off the remnants day after day after day…let’s just say that the pan didn’t stand a chance.

(I love you sweetie!  Even if I just told the world that you drive me crazy with eggs).

Image from here.

The pots and pans set that I have was given to me by my folks several years ago, and it’s a nice Calphalon non-stick set.  I know, I know, there’s a lot of potential problems with Teflon and non-stick coating giving you cancer and such.  And I want to replace the set, one of these days when I’m not on WIC and trying to squeeze pennies out of thin air.  I figured that as long as the pots weren’t scratched, were fine, right?

Well, the egg pan had to go.  I took one look at it the other day and determined it had to go in the dump.  As much as I hate adding to the landfill, that pan was probably going to give us all tumors.  Of course, once I explained all this to hubby, he sort of freaked out and for a couple of days would randomly express concern that he was now cancer-ridden.  Which made me think that perhaps I need to tone it down a bit when I complain about environmental issues. 🙂

At Target the other day, we found the perfect solution: The Original Green Pan supposedly eco-friendly frying pan.  At $35 a pop, this was no cheap replacement, but I reasoned that hubby’s fears would be abated more easily with such a purchase.  Like other eco-friendly non-stick ware, this one is made from Thermolon, not Teflon, which means that all the nasty chemicals and petroleum are gone.


Image and lots of my info from here.

Most traditional non-stick cookware uses a synthetic product called PTFE, or PolyTetraFluoroEthylene.  However, at high temperatures, PTFE lets off fumes that can be toxic; birds have been known to die from it!  Another product in non-stick cookware is PFOA (PerFluoroOctanoic Acid), which the EPA has identified as a known human carcinogen.  Why these items are in products we use to COOK OUR FOOD WITH is beyond me.  Supposedly, Thermolon’s technology is much safer and greener, while still allowing food to slip right off.  I often wonder if such claims will be disputed in later years, but today, I think it’s reasonable to assume that it’s safer and better for the environment.

These pans are supposed to last longer and hold up better than all the others.  Ha!  We will put it to the test in this house.  More eggs, anyone?

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Recently, I dragged went with hubby to Home Depot to grab random supplies for some home renovations I have up my sleeves.  Originally, it started as a trip to get some black and white paint for some random items in our house that need a little facelift.  That quickly turned into “Oh, I need that” and “Don’t we need to fix that?” kind of trip.  So, at the checkout counter, I ended up with this:

Paint: I bought two quarts (one black/brown, one white) in Behr’s paint-and-primer-in-one, with low-VOC (volatile organic compounds, or the nasty chemical smell that paint normally gives off).  I usually buy a no-VOC paint whenever I go a-painting, but most of the colors available in no-VOC paint are light and not quite as deep.  A paint guy at Home Depot once told me that all paint COULD be no-VOC, but since consumers want deep, unnatural colors, they have to use VOCs.  So maybe reconsider that deep burgundy dining room, which by the way, probably looks tacky anyways.

Test kits: I saw these on display, and decided to grab them.  With little Frankie around, we can’t take any chances when it comes to his safety.  Radon gas could be anywhere, but we also have one bathroom with the potential for mold.  And instead of looking at the water stains on the wall and wondering if there’s mold inside, I decided to test it.  For only $10 each, why not?

Carbon monoxide detector: See above about little Frankie. 

Tub and tile caulk strips: Remember that one bathroom I just mentioned with the water stains?  Well, the bathtub also needs new caulking.  Let’s just say that both of our bathrooms are projects that I want to procrastinate on for as long as possible.

Brita filters: I recently read on Treehugger about how the Environmental Working Group recommends that filtered tap water is much, much better for you then any bottled water ever is, both in terms of the environment and your health.  Long story short, bottled water does not have any regulations, while tap water has to be tested several times A DAY.  (Read more about it here).  After reading that, I decided to dig out my trusty old Brita pitcher from college and start using it more regularly.  I wish those darn filters were cheaper, though…

Foam tape: Our house has little to no insulation, and it’s been mighty cold lately.  With a blizzard warning currently in Chicago, I decided that anything to keep the wind and cold outside would be worthwhile.  I actually added these today to a our front door and one window, and I can immediately tell a difference.

So there you have my one-thing-at-the-store trip that quickly turned into a mini Home Depot shopping spree.  But at least everything made my life a little greener, right?

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Style: New shoes!

I don’t buy shoes that often – not like I used to – but this winter I realized that I needed some new winter-friendly shoes.  But more than just that.  I needed something that:

  • was comfortable enough to wear to work, where I’m on my feet a lot
  • with decent arch support
  • slip-on, so I don’t waste time getting ready
  • flat (I hate heels – HATE THEM!)
  • something to keep my feet relatively warm and dry – like  a boot
  • cute and stylish

The problem is that cute and stylish doesn’t usually go with arch support and comfort.  Have you seen the shoes at the “comfortable walking shoe” stores?  Clunky old lady shoes.  Fugly.

But, I usually have decent luck at the Clarks store, where there are usually some cute shoes lurking around.  And after trying on about 10 different pairs of boots, I wound up taking these babies home:

Cute, no?  They are very comfortable, and better yet, on clearance! 

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My grandma used to say that to me all the time, sometimes in Polish.  Sadly, after having a baby, I wish those words were true.

I have been on the prowl for a good eco-friendly mascara for some time now.  Something that doesn’t have a ton of chemicals, but will still give me that doe-eyed, curled, thick lash look that I love, but wasn’t born with.  (Like my husband, Frankie was born with ridiculously long, thick eyelashes, which, like my husband, I’m sure he won’t care about.  Totally not fair).

The last mascara I bought was a mineral mascara from Kiehl’s, bought during a splurge at the mall for $16.50.  Even though the makeup counter lady, like all makeup counter ladies, claimed it was, like, the best mascara ever, I found that it was lacking.  Half-way through the day, my lashes would fall down and go limp, as though the weight of the mascara was too much for them to handle.  And it flaked easily.  Not worth the money, in my book.  So much for more money = better product.

Kiehl's 'Marvelous Mineral' Mascara One Size

So I knew that eventually I would have to find a replacement.  I originally thought that I would have to research, scour, and waste even more money on products that don’t work.  But, I happened upon a sale at Jewel on Organic Wear makeup, and snagged their blush (which I already use) and mascara for 50%.  All-natural makeup is never on sale, so this was a real find.

Organic wear® 100% Natural Origin Mascara

According to the packaging, the Organic Wear Mascara:

  • has a 100% recyclable “eco-brush”
  • is free of harsh chemicals, synthetic preservatives, parabens, fibers, and dyes
  • contains 47% certified organic ingredients
  • has no petroleum products, parabens, GMOs, or synthetic fragrances or colors
  • not tested on animals

Right up my alley.  And, I have to say, even compared to mainstream, conventional mascaras, this is one of the best I have ever tried.  And I’ve been wearing mascara almost every single day for the past 15 years.  I’ve tried them all, from boutiques to department stores to drugstore favorites.  And this one is really, really good.  It lengthens, curls, and darkens very well, and doesn’t clump or flake during the day.  And, unlike the Kiehl’s one, it lasts all day long.  All for about a third of the price.  Love it.

Hopefully, the sale price doesn’t mean that my new favorite will no longer be made…crude.

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Green Gifts Galore!

I noticed that for this year’s birthday, my family purchased a lot of green gifts.  Nothing extravagant or expensive, like solar panels or organic crocheted hemp furniture, but definitely leaning on the green side.

From my parents, I received a very green gift of experiences…

Movie passes and a gift certificate to a local (and partially organic) spa. 

Rather than giving me more stuff to cram into my already small house, I love that my folks gave me experiences instead.  I haven’t had my haircut since before the baby was born, so that gift certificate will be gone soon.   And Hubby and I are looking forward having an actual date night sans baby.  Although we could always bring him…is it tacky to bring a baby to the movies?  I know Sweet Home Alabama taught me never to bring one into a bar…

Mom and Dad also gave me a set of glass tupperware, which I plan on using to replace most of my plastic tupperware, since plastic is a big green no-no – plus, it leaches toxins, especially when heated in the microwave.  However, rather than get rid of my perfectly good plastic tupperware, I plan on using them for more dry goods in the panty (nuts and cereals and such), where they won’t leach quite so much and I won’t be tempted to throw them in the microwave when feeling lazy.

From my mother-in-law, I got a host of cool green gifts, like a green makeup bag with organic goodies inside and a reusable lunch bag, all packed inside a reusable Home Goods bag, which will be oh so handy.

My mother-in-law and sister-in-law also got me these adorable white ceramic pieces, perfect for entertaining or decorating.  I have an affinity for white ceramic dishes, as one would easily guess by my collection of white ceramic dishes, vases, candle holders, etc.  I can totally see the long boat-like one with some Christmas tree balls and greens inside, and the compartment one with some chocolates and nuts for a party.

And of course, the remainder of my gifts from family were the greenest of all: cold hard cash.  Which was spent by the weekend.

There you have it – a list of great green gifts that I personally enjoy, and ideas for gift giving of your own.

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Super Savings

As most new mommies probably know, your post-baby body is not always the body you once had.  For me, since I was NOT born with child-bearing hips, my son graciously gave me some.  I am convinced that my hips have expanded.  Not gotten fatter, I mean I think the bones have expanded, because whenever I put on my pre-pregnancy pants, they don’t fit in the hip region.

And then, of course, there’s my pouch of a stomach.  I was all belly when I was pregnant, so my post-pregnancy belly is now a small muffin-top of stretch mark and wrinkles.  Quite the beauty.

Now I know that over time, things will get better, but in the meantime, I have to return to work in about 3 weeks (something I am absolutely dreading, but that’s a topic for another post…) and I have no pants or skirts that fit. 

But thanks to Mother Saving Mom (love that blog!), I found out that Old Navy is offering 25% off to all high school and college students that show their student ID.  And since hubby is still a graduate student and still has a valid ID, I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to stock up on some new clothes.

So hubby and I went out tonight (sans baby! Thanks Mom and Dad!) and hit up Old Navy.  Or New Air Force, as my rise-crackin’ husband likes to call.  Yeah, his sense of humor is odd.  And although the reality of my new body in the dressing room mirrors was a tad jarring, I was able to find 3 khakis, 1 pair of jeans, 1 pair of shorts, and 2 skirts that FIT.  ACTUALLY FIT!  Oh, and this adorable cardigan with flowers that I really don’t need, but totally deserve.

And at the register, hubby decided to take the offer for an Old Navy credit card, which gave an additional 30% off, taking our bill from about $330 to only $175!  I rock.

Now I just have to make sure that all my tops fit…oh boy…

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