Thursday, January 22, 2015

Awesome Life Friday #4


Welcome to Awesome Life Friday!  We can't wait to see what you've been doing this past week!  Here's what we've been up to:

Our Peek-a-Boo Clubfoot Cover Giveaway has ended (congratulations, Morgan!), but we have two current giveaways still going on:

Win a delicious themed sampler of tea from Amoda Tea

Read all about 'earthing' and enter to win a pair of conductive sandals!

Lynda (and Sadie) share with us their monthly PetBox haul - December's box included a glorious bunch of treats, toys and accessories to check out.

Jennifer's committed to healthy eating and lots of activity - and her roasted brussels sprouts are part of how she keeps her healthy lifestyle delicious!

Finally, Jackie shows us how to use repurposed knee-high socks to make adorable no-sew baby and toddler leggings.

Featured Posts

No kidding - selecting each week's Featured entries has become so much fun and remains so hard to do!  Lynda, Jackie and Lauren selected this week's picks, and we could have easily gone for a dozen or more.  You all impress us every week!  We went for a consensus and finally agreed on these three:

Isn't this basket beautiful? Lauren, our resident seamstress, was thoroughly impressed with the quality of the basket and the tutorial, and had an epiphany about how to use piping from this.  Excellent!

This great organization post with an attractive and useful weekly planner printout appealed to Jackie, as she keeps working through a large decluttering project.

This over the top combination of an enchilada, burrito and chimichanga made Lynda instantly hungry.  She can't say it, but 'enchiwhatwasitagain?' has earned a spot on the menu!

Congratulations to each of our Featured blogs and thank you so much for sharing with us!  If you like, grab yourself a button!

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~ Brilliant Blog Posts, Foodie Friday, Freedom Fridays, Fridays Unfolded, Friendship Friday, No Rules Weekend, Pin Me Linky Party, That Friday Blog Hop.
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And now it's YOUR turn!

No-Sew Baby Leggings Tutorial


As soon as I settled on the fact that I was doing cloth diapers, I subsequently knew leggings would be a big part of our lives as well! 

Why? Well, look, if I’m going going to pay $15 for something for my kid to poop in, I’ll be damned if I’m covering it with pants. Furthermore, with the challenge of my child’s Clubfoot Treatment, leggings became an even bigger MUST! 

However, those suckers can definitely add up the pennies. I managed to get a decent handful from a co-op but otherwise they are pretty pricy brand-new.

I’ve seen many tutorials for making your own, but they all require a skill I don’t possess - sewing! 

I knew I would be able to figure out another way, and now I’m happy to share that way here.

I used to be a badass derby girl (ok lets be real - I played for barely 4 months..). Between that and my fashionably questionable adolescence, I had an abundance of knee highs in every color and pattern.

So here's what I did.

No-Sew Baby Leggings from Repurposed Knee-Highs

Supplies needed:

Knee High socks
Liquid stitch
Elastic trim
20oz soda or water bottle

So here is the easy-peasy no sew, knee high into leggings tutorial:

1. Cut the heel off of an adult’s knee high sock. Some patterns (like stripes) make this easier to ensure it's straight across.

2. Pull sock onto the skinnier part of the bottle. Make sure you are not over stretching the sock.

3. Apply liquid stitch to the edge of the sock.  Cut the correct length of trim and apply to the sock with the liquid stitch. Hold tightly in place for 30 seconds.

Allow 24hrs to set before washing.

That’s it!

I’ll be honest, there are also many times that in a hurry, I cut the socks and didn’t add trim. I just placed the jagged edge to the top of her leg and you can’t even notice!

Note: So it took me a few tries to get the technique right. I was confused by the logic of the elastic and how to ensure it still had stretch to it when I applied the trim.  At first I was pulling the sock over the middle part of the soda bottle, which was leaving no give to the elastic when I removed it.

Eventually I realized that pulling it to the small part of a bottle worked (a mountain dew bottle is best!). It held it on tight, but allowed the elastic to go on relaxed.

Shared with:
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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Roasted Brussels Sprouts


I never had brussels sprouts growing up.  Never thought much about it.  Turns out my mom doesn't like them, and when I made dinner one night and she saw them, it was so funny!  Shouldn't it be the child saying "eew, no! Not brussels sprouts!" 

So backward.  So entertaining.  I did not make her eat them - "Now Mom, no leaving the table until..." Oh man.

Well, I do like brussels sprouts,  and I have changed the way I make them for the better!

I used to stream them until tender,  then slather them in butter.  Usually they would be that dark,  eeh green,  and over cooked. Butter was necessary.  

Then I saw someone at work reheating her brussels sprouts, and they looked so much better than mine, so I tried to recreate it with what I know about preparing other veggies  for the grill. 

I've refined my method to this:

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 35 to 40 minutes
Preheat oven to 350°

Large bag of fresh small to medium brussels sprouts
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Himalayan pink sea salt to taste
Pepper to taste*
Garlic powder to taste

I choose brussels sprouts by size - yes I want them uniform, but also on the smaller side.  This way they are less bitter.

Next,  I cut the 'butt' off and slice them in half,  placing the halves in a large mixing bowl. I include the fallen leaves.  No one gets let behind!

I add extra virgin olive oil, just enough to evenly coat the brussel sprouts,  garlic powder,  Himalayan pink sea salt, and pepper to taste. 

I toss all ingredients and place them in an even layer on a cookie sheet covered in foil and roasted at 350F.

35 to 40 minutes later you have beautifully browned and crispy brussels sprouts. About half way through I like to shake up the cookie sheet to stir the sprouts and ensure they are evenly cooking. The loose leavea are super crunchy, while the halved brussel sprouts are slightly crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside.

I no longer feel the need to slather this in butter. Some times I like a little light honey mustard dressing to dip them in. Mmm.

I like brussel sprouts with chicken breast, brown rice (not in pic, it was an still cooking- darn stuff takes forever to cook!) And half an avocado. Gotta get the good fats in too!

I have been living a healthier and more active lifestyle for the past year and a half. Eating better makes me feel better, and have more energy.

I hope you like and try this tasty side dish. I do this with squash in the oven, and on the grill too, when the weather permits. 

Let me know what you think!

*Note: Roasted Brussels Sprouts are a delicious side dish that is Paleo friendly.  This recipe can be made Auto-Immune Protocol (AIP) compliant by removing the pepper.

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~ Centerpiece Wednesday, Fluster's Creative Muster, From Dream to Reality, Gluten-Free Wednesday, Hit Me With Your Best Shot, Inspiration Board, Mommy Club, Moonlight & Mason Jars, Penny Pinching Party, Project Parade, Real Food Recipe Carnival, Show + Tell, Wake Up Wednesday, Wednesday Roundup, What We Accomplished Wednesday, What's It Wednesday, Whatever Goes Wednesday, Whimsy Wednesday, Wicked Awesome Wednesday, Wildcrafting Wednesday, Wonderful Wednesday, Work It Wednesday, Works For Me Wednesday, Wow Me Wednesday, Wow Us Wednesday, Your Whims Wednesday.
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~ Creative Collection, Dare to Share, Link Party Palooza, My Favorite Things Saturday, Saturday Sharefest, Saturday Soiree, Saturday Spotlight, Scraptastic Saturday, Sharing Saturday, Show & Tell Saturday, Simply Natural Saturday, Super Saturday, Weekend Potluck, Weekend Recipe Linkup, Weekend Wind Down.                                  


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Dec. PetBox Unboxing/Review

Note: This is an affiliate post.   We are able to offer a standing discount code for our readers for new PetBox accounts.  There is a small bonus for sign ups  that use this code, which will allow us to offset some of the costs of the blog itself.

To receive 10% off your own PetBox subscription, use the code RCHREVIEWS at check out!

Sadie has had so much fun in recent weeks with the PetBox we received in late December - this was a perfect blend of goodies for her and practical and fun items for us.  It's pretty funny - now that she's gotten a couple of these, she recognizes the box and get's very excited to see it.  Once it's opened, she wants to dive in nose-first before I even get an opportunity to see what's in there.  Getting her to hold still for actual pictures was impossible - it was all I could do to keep her from dragging the whole box under the nearest table!

Check out what was in this month's PetBox subscription box:

Pawganics - Toy Cleaner

I love this - it isn't for use on plush items or fabrics, but it's a cleaner for rubber and vinyl toys, to get rid of the inevitable grime, gunk and dog drool a well loved toy collects.

It contains no harsh chemicals, so it's safe to use without rinsing on those items you know are going straight back into your dog's mouth (or your child's mouth if your home is shared by small humans as well as pets.

Because it's for toy items, this is also scent free - nothing is there that's likely to make your dog reject their chewy after you've 'messed it up' by cleaning it.

PetBox sent a nice large 12 oz bottle of Pawganics Toy Cleaner, so this is likely to last a good while!

Merrick Pet Care - Li'l Brush Bones

While we're talking about dog's mouths, let's talk about the dog's mouth!  I don't want to tell embarrassing stories about Sadie, but since she can't read, I will - on a recent walk, she pulled a dead decomposing mouse out of the underbrush and acted like we were killing her when we made her drop it.  Being a rather typical dog, not all of her habits are particularly dainty.

So... yea. Sometimes, the doggy breath gets funky.  In addition, she's a senior dog and her teeth are an important health issue.

So, something she believes is a treat but will help keep her teeth plaque (and mouse-remains) free, and also freshen her breath is already on the top of my favorites list!

I almost changed my mind when I opened the bag, because there is a smell with these, and I wasn't sure I wanted that odor panting in my face, either.  But, I needn't have worried - some alchemy makes them neutralize her breath's dogginess without replacing it with this.

And she loves them - each bone is about 2 1/2" long, and made of a very sturdy chewy blend of various food-grade ingredients, including beets and herbs.  They're gluten/grain free, have no chemicals going on and are made in the US.

But what she loves is that it's a great BIG treat she can chew on for a couple minutes and feel properly spoiled before bedtime. We will most definitely be buying more when this package runs out.

These three items were also in the Holiday Box I'd bought for my mother-in-law's dog, Harley (sent out around the same time as this one was):

These are small holiday shaped treats that make for a good light snack, although I'd prefer to reserve them as an occasional treat rather than a regular part of Sadie's diet. (Mind you, she strongly disagrees!)  There are sugars in there that our fat old girl just doesn't really need. The ingredients are listed as: 
"Whole Wheat Flour, Oatmeal, Wheat Bran, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols, a natural source of Vitamin E), Crunchy Peanut Butter, Cane Molasses, Maltodextrin, Eggs, Apples, Carrots, Caramel Color, Garlic, Salt, Natural Peanut Flavor, Mixed Tocopherols (a natural preservative)."
Very popular with her, so I know she'll enjoy them whenever we let her have one.  I notice that Old Mother Hubbard also has Valentines Day and Halloween shaped treats, which is a really fun idea and a great way to appeal to your favorite dog's owner as well as the dog!

Classic Products - Octo-Ball
The head of this toy is a sturdy tennis ball that will hold up to being gnawed or carried, and the legs are unfilled, making this usable as a tug o war toy.  It has taken up residence with Sadie's other stuffed toys in her dog bed.  She generally has one toy she's decided needs to get kicked out, but this one has stayed tucked in there, near her head.  I have yet to actually catch her playing with it, but she does seem to enjoy cuddling near it.

Pawsitively Wholesome - Sadie's Sweet Pawtato Chips

My favorite thing about this is that the name says it all - the ingredients are sweet potatoes. Just sweet potatoes, which are good nutritious food for dogs.  Sadie loves them, and she made very short work of the contents of this bag.

That's the part I like least - the bowl in this picture is 3" across and what you see in it is the contents of the bag, just as it was emptied into the bowl. A tiiiiny little portion, and the bag did not protect them even a little bit, so they were crushed into dust before they arrived.  I think this is primarily an issue with Pawsitively Wholesome's packaging, but since I see on their site that they sell samples in these same bags (and for no small cost, either), I'm going to suggest just buying a sweet potato and baking up some slices for your dog, instead.

Puppy in Motion - We Stop For Parks Sign

We also received this cute little window sign for the car.  I confess - it is a blatent lie!

While Sadie loves riding in the car and going for walks, she is not a fan of parks, at least not the dog park variety.

I think she'd like them better if they were more full of people who wanted to pet her and less full of dogs that want to stick their noses near her butt.  She has rather strong opinions about that.

(I can't say that I blame her)

But this sign is a cute little lie, isn't it?

Finally - and saving the best for last:

ZippyPaws  - Hide-an-Egg Burrow Dog

This is a really fabulous, well designed and well made toy and I'm so happy that PetBox introduced us to this brand.  The legless dog has round openings that are just the right fit for Sadie's snout, and stuffed inside are three plush 'eggs' for her to pull out. 

The plushiness appeals to her, and I love that it exercises her curiousity and puzzle solving skills. To 'sweeten the pot' on introduction, we pressed a couple of the P'Nuttier snacks deep down into it between the balls.  She happily dragged it around the house, worked at it until she'd rescued the treats, then continued to play with, pulling out the balls to see what else might be hiding in there.

Since then, she's played with this every day, sometimes getting the balls out, sometimes (but not always!) finding a treat hiding inside, often just dragging it around by its tail.

Yesterday, I was in the kitchen and after unsuccessfully standing near her treat jar demanding treats, she left - or so I thought.

When I finished doing what I was doing, I turned around and her toy was carefully set on the floor right near the treat jar, while she lay nearby watching what I'd do.

Obviously I had no choice but to reward that.  It was a whole lot cuter than just yelling at me!

Like I said, all in all, this was a really fun box, and both of us are greatly looking forward to finding out what's in store for us in this month's PetBox!  I'll be back in a few weeks to tell you all about it!

Note: A few folks have asked what the outcome was of the Holiday Box error I'd mentioned last time.  Briefly, a computer glitch at PetBox led to a few people getting boxes they'd ordered as gifts being sent to their home instead of to the recipients, and this happened to us, with two boxes we'd bought. Due to how soon it was before the holiday, we paid to ship them off to where they belonged, and then waited to hear about what sort of resolution there'd be.

Eventually, after asking about it, I was sent a copy of an email that had apparently been sent at some point after the error was made. I checked my email and didn't have a copy of it (but I've had computer issues off and on so it's possible it went lost).  The upshot of the email was that they'd send out a replacement box for those that didn't just mail them on if they replied to the email to say so - so I am a bit disappointed that we never saw the email in time to just do it that way, and I'd have preferred a correction that didn't require an 'opt in' but instead simply provided compensation for a known error, but done is done, and everyone enjoyed their boxes.  As I noted before, there were extra PetBox points offered to subscribed members for buying these holiday boxes, so even after paying for shipping and spending time in the post office during the holiday season, we did not actually lose any money due to the error.

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~ Mommy Club, Moonlight & Mason Jars, Penny Pinching Party, Wake Up Wednesday, Wednesday Roundup, What We Accomplished Wednesday, What's It Wednesday, Whatever Goes Wednesday, Whimsy Wednesday, Work It Wednesday, Works For Me WednesdayYour Whims Wednesday
 ~It's A PartyShare Your Cup ThursdayThursday Favorite Things.
~ Brilliant Blog Posts, Foodie Friday & Everything Else, Freedom FridaysFridays UnfoldedNo-Rules WeekendPin Me Linky Party, That Friday Blog Hop.
~ Dare to Share, Saturday Sharefest, Saturday Soiree, Saturday Spotlight, Show & Tell Saturday.                                  


Monday, January 19, 2015

Review/Giveaway: Earth Runners Earthing Sandals


Most of us probably have fond memories of running around barefoot when we were children. Despite the occasional impalement on a hidden sharp thing, the joy of the direct contact with grass and earth is hard to pass up.

As grown-ups, that feeling is hard to recapture. Grown-up feet can be sore and tender, no longer comfortable without the sole of a shoe between our skin and the ground. Many of us don’t even go barefoot inside at home, let alone in the yard.

Earth Runners claims to be the solution—they are minimalist sandals, basically just a sole and a strap. In addition, they are earthing shoes, featuring conductive straps and copper inserts in the soles to connect you to the subtle electrical currents of the earth, something that happens naturally when you are barefoot.


We’ll get back to the earthing later. First, let’s look at the shoes themselves. Earth Runners feature Vibram soles and come in four models: Circadian, Circadian X, Alpha and Alpha X. The Alphas have slightly thicker soles, while the Circadians have more inserts touching the ground.

When you order, use the sizing guidelines on the website. You may find that your size in Earth Runners is not the same size you would look for in regular shoes. In my case, I ordered a full size smaller than I normally wear. I think I probably should have gone a half-size bigger, but still smaller than my usual size. 

Measure your larger foot and use the site’s conversion chart to determine your size, then download and print the corresponding template to double-check. If your feet don’t really fit the standard sizes, Earth Runners can customize a pair for you based on a tracing of your feet.

Earth Runners provided me the Alpha X model, which has the thickest sole of the line, at 11mm. (What can I say, I’m a tenderfoot.) This model starts at $72, with the potential to go to $84 depending on which laces you choose. (The least expensive model, the Circadian sandal with a 6mm sole, starts at $55.)

They took a little getting used to, only because it’s been a long time since I’ve worn sandals of any kind. After a short time of wearing and walking in them, though, they came to feel comfortable.
The shoes are very well made. The soles are good, solid Vibram rubber, and the laces are secure and comfortable. The sandals will stay on your feet with minimal slippage.

I found the thong between my big and second toes to be somewhat abrasive, but this is an issue for me with all sandals of this type, nothing specific to the Earth Runners. The company also sells conductive toe socks that can mitigate this problem without interfering with the earthing ability, but even a pad placed between the toes will work.  Their socks also allow the wearer to comfortably wear the sandals under cold weather conditions.

While the sandals were comfortable and useful, I didn’t really feel like I was barefoot. However, I had the thickest sole the company offers, and I can see that the thinner soles on the Circadian model would be less noticeable when walking outside.

The sandals, all made in Santa Cruz, California, are simple and effective in design, and well-made.


Here is where Earth Runners enters controversial territory.  The theory behind earthing (also known as grounding) is that living indoors and wearing conventional shoes outdoors disconnects the body from the electrical flow of the Earth. We live in a sea of electromagnetic frequencies from our many devices, but not the natural electrical flow of the environment. (For example, as I write this I am awash in radio signals, my WiFi network’s energy and the frequencies put out by the TV and computer. I am sitting in a chair in a room that is probably two feet above the surface of the Earth.)

The natural energy of the Earth is called the Schumann resonance energy and, according to the claims of earthing proponents, the alpha waves of our brains resonate at the same frequency, implying that we evolved relying on this energy as well as the more obvious light and dark cycle to regulate biological processes.

Earthing is simply restoring the connection between the body and the ground. Barefoot is best, but earthing shoes are claimed to be able to restore that connection while protecting the feet from injury and discomfort. EarthRunners has a YouTube video comparing some electrical measures between a barefoot person and a person wearing their sandals that I found helpful to understanding the theory.

To its credit, Earth Runners stays away from the grandiose claims that some makers of earthing accessories make. Nowhere on its site will you find claims of miracle cures or instant pain relief. Some other proponents are less restrained.

I was limited in my ability to wear these shoes outside due to the cold mid-Atlantic winter weather. I plan to try them again when the weather warms up, but for now I can’t report any noticeable physiological changes. However, I especially would like to try meditating outdoors with my feet on the ground, something that near-freezing (and often, sub-freezing) air doesn't encourage. 

The question remains, though: Is there anything to earthing at all? To answer this question, I turned to my go-to source of information on alternative medicine, Dr. Andrew Weil. What I learned is, some preliminary research shows that reconnecting to the natural frequencies of the Earth may indeed have some effects on a person's physiology, but very little objective research has been done so far. You can read Dr. Weil’s full assessment here.

My overall conclusion is that these are nicely made, comfortable sandals that may provide some beneficial qualities over and above the pleasure of being able to safely go almost-barefoot.  It can't hurt, and it might help!

Earth Runners Website
Earth Runners on Facebook

As a special treat for RCH Reviews readers, Earth Runners is giving away one pair of sandals. The winner can choose the desired model and features, making the value of this giveaway variable. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment in this entry as instructed by the Rafflecopter, then leave the name you commented under and your email in the box in the Rafflecopter entry. (This allows us to contact you if you win!)  This will open up additional optional entries to increase your odds of winning.

This giveaway is open to US RESIDENTS ONLY 
and will end just before midnight ET on 2-2-15. 

The winner will be notified by email within 24 hours after the end of the giveaway.  In order to claim the giveaway prize, the winner will need to respond within 24 hours of notification, or an alternate winner will be selected.

Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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