Green Living

The one room in our house that stays clean regularly is, believe it or not, Juliza’s room. That is mostly because we don’t spend a whole lot of time in there. The rest is because when we do play there, I make her clean up after herself. Of course, this has become harder as she has grown enough to reach new and interesting places. Like the drawer where we keep all her diapers and toiletries.

decoratedstorage1

Before she was even born, I chose the third drawer in her dresser for diapers, wipes, ointment, lotion and other toiletries. For a long time, it worked great. When she was small enough to be changed on top of the dresser, everything was close at hand in the drawer. Now that I usually change her on top of a changing pad on the floor, I can still reach everything without getting up. Of course, Juliza can reach it too.

decoratedstorage2

This means I have to watch her like a hawk to make sure she doesn’t pull every wipe out of the container or squeeze lotion all over her clothes. So when Walmart challenged me to solve a storage problem with a little flair, I decided to finally move all that stuff out of her reach.

I found a great hanging storage system in Walmart’s baby department for just $7.88. Designed to hang over the door, it was the perfect size and height. However, it was also a little boring. So I picked up some fancy ribbon in pink and yellow to match her room. And for labeling, I picked up a roll of chalkboard Duck Tape.

decoratedstorage3

I used the ribbon to embellish the edges of each bin on the rack: Pink stripes on top and yellow ruffles on the bottom. I simply measured, cut the ribbon to size, and attached it with my favorite crafting implement: Hot glue.

decoratedstorage4

Even with just the ribbon, the bins were looking great, but I wanted to be able to label each bin with its contents. So I cut a few inches of chalkboard tape for each compartment, and cut small squares from each corner of the tape for a cool, decorative effect.

decoratedstorage5

Of course, after carefully finding chalkboard tape, I got home only to realize I didn’t have any chalk. So while the bins are unlabeled in these photos, if you squint really hard and lean your head to the right when you look at the photos below, you can imagine what it will look like with curly lettering and cutesy doodles on each strip of tape.

decoratedstorage6

decoratedstorage7

I’m really happy with the final look. It’s cute enough to remain visible at all times, rather than hidden away in her closet, and — hallelujah — it’s out of Juliza’s reach. This means it will be easier for me to keep each bin organized, because she’s not rifling through them, and it will generally be less of a headache for me.

decoratedstorage8

Folks, that’s what we call “winning.”

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

Every year as Veteran’s Day rolls around, I remember in great detail the day I found out the United States was going to war in Iraq. It was momentous for the obvious, historic reasons, but it also hit me right in my gut for another, much more personal reason. My husband, who was my fiancé at the time, was a Sergeant in the Army. His sister and brother were also enlisted. And at that moment, it really hit home just how much the men and women who serve in our armed forces are really sacrificing when they make the decision to defend our nation. And because of them, I will always support our veterans and those who are still serving.

This year, Walmart has given me a way to show my support physically with their Green Light A Vet initiative. The premise is simple: Change at least one light bulb in a visible location (think front porch, storefront window, etc.) to a green bulb to show support and solidarity with those who have served. It sounds like a simple ask, but that’s exactly the point. This simple task, which takes very little from you and I, can remind the men and women serving in the military that the people they are fighting for have their backs — even if we never get to say it in person. And that’s worth the effort, don’t you think?

Here’s my front porch:

greenlightavet

Once you’ve installed your green bulb, you can show your support online, too. Just take a quick photo of it and share it on Facebook or Twitter with the #greenlightavet hashtag. And even if you don’t have a green bulb, you can still participate: Just change your profile photo to green. And as much as I love the concept of “green”, I wasn’t sure of the significance of the color here. Well, in this case, green is symbolizes hope — a concept we can all get behind.

Learn more about the initiative at GreenLightAVet.com, where you can see photos from across the country from people who’ve already installed their green lights. And check out the video below to see some green lights in action.

Disclosure: I participated in a Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Just For Me. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

The last time I wrote about Just for Me’s new line of Hair Milk products for naturally curly hair, I had just finished washing and detangling baby Juliza’s hair.

justforme-styling1

Since then, I’ve washed her hair a couple of times, and I am an still in awe of how easy detangling has become since we’ve started the Just For Me products. But after all that is done, I still have to do something with her hair. So I was happy to learn that the line also includes styling products: Curl Smoother, Curl Perfecter, and Smoothing Edges Creme.

justforme-styling-main

I’ll be honest: I don’t usually do much “styling” of her hair. Most wash days, I just twist it in the tub with a little product, right when I’m done detangling. In part, this is because it’s easier to keep her occupied with bath toys and water splashing, but it’s also because I just like the idea of letting her hair be. I’d untwist it after a couple days, then start the process again when we washed. But lately, I’ve been doing more to style her hair. My dexterity with regard to cornrows is shamefully questionable, but I can twist like nobody’s business!

So this time, while I was washing, I separated her hair into five sections for styling later. Of course, I was right in assuming Juliza, a.k.a. Hurricane JuJu, would never sit still for me to comb her hair, so I just waited her to fall asleep before I got started.

justforme-styling2

The first product in the lineup was the Curl Smoother. It’s a moisturizing product designed to help control frizz and define curls. It’s really lightweight and the directions indicate it should be used on damp hair. I smoothed it throughtout each section of hair before I styled it. It doesn’t have any hold, but it definitely helped my daughter’s hair feel bouncy and well-moisturized. I can imagine I’ll use this a lot when we need to do a quick wash-n-go.

For styling defined styles though, I prefer something a little thicker. The second product, Curl Perfecter, is perfect for that purpose. It has a much thicker consistency (it feels as thick as Elmer’s school glue, but without the stickiness), and it is designed to elongate and define curls.

With Juliza asleep, I styled her hair in 4 cute ponytails with two twists at the end of each, and mini twist bangs in the front.

justforme-styling3

I used the Curl Perfecter to smooth the ponytails as I was pulling them up, and then for a nice hold for each twist. I have no doubt that I never would’ve been able to do this if she were awake O__o

Finally, I had to do something about her edges. Juliza has a lot of thick, curly hair, but her hair is thin at the edges. This is depite the fact that I almost never pull her hair back. Even headbands are always worn loosely, and only for  short time. So when I secured the ponytails, I was sure to do it loosely so there would be very little tension on her edges. As a result, they looked less than smooth:

justforme-styling5

I used a little bit of the Edge Smoother to help lay them down. This product is definitely in the gel family, and it has a stiff consistency. A little bit goes a long way. 

Over the long weekend, I’ll likely take out the twist so JuJu can rock some afro puffs and curly bangs, kinda like this:

justforme-styling4

When I do, I’ll use the some detangling spray and Curl Smoother to keep her hair moisturized and bouncy.

But check out the final result, when my little Hurricane woke up:

justforme-styling6

Cute, no?

My only complaint is that I wish the packaging for the Curl Smoother and Curl Perfecter were more different from one another. The bottles look almost exactly the same, and I picked up the wrong bottle on more than one occasion while I was combing my hair I didn’t realize my error until I’d already squeezed some produst into my hand. Even the names are so similar that the only way to know for sure I’d picked up the right one was to read the description on the back. This could also lead to confusion for shoppers. If I were seeing these on the shelf for the first time, I honestly would have a hard time figuring out which one to buy. I needs to be more obvious that the Perfecter is the defining styling product, while the Smoother is better for adding moisture.

Still, overall, I really, really like these products, and considering that they are available at Walmart at about $5 apiece, there are a couple that I will absolutely keep using.

Take the 5-Finger Test

I love the fact that using the Just for Me Curl Milk products has made it not only possible, but easy, to run my fingers through Juliza’s curls.  But you can take the #5FingerChallenge too. Try the Just for Me detangling products, and make a video of you running your five fingers through your kids’ hair (or have them do it themselves) to complete the ‘challenge.’ Post it on your favorite social network with the #5FingerChallenge hashtag and tag your friends so they can join too.

When I was pregnant with baby Juliza, I had all these grandiose ideas about how I was going to do everything differently this time: All her clothes and bedding would be organic, I’d make all her baby food at home, and we’d use cloth diapers. Fast forward to my current days of chasing an active 18-month-old, and let’s just say that my expectations have become more realistic.

We use disposable diapers because we could never quite get the hang of reusables. For the most part, she eats what I eat, or she eats food and snacks designed for toddlers. And while I do my best to buy organic clothing and bedding when I can find it, most of her clothes are not. But there are a lot of ways to approach sustainability. One of them is to support products that are made in the U.S. 

How exactly is this sustainable? Well, products that are made domestically create less carbon emissions and require less energy overall than those made overseas and shipped here. There are stricter environmental controls here than many places overseas, as well. Plus, domestic production means jobs in the U.S. 

But how exactly do moms spot products made in the U.S.A.? Walmart sent me a few U.S.-made baby products to help me answer that question.

  
I was actually surprised by some of the products I received: a couple of Gerber sippy cups and baby food bowls, along with NUK baby bottles (assembled in U.S.) and a pacifier. So realistically, many of the products made by the brands you already know and trust for your kids are made or assembled in the U.S., specifically at the company’s manufacturing plant in Reedsburg, WI.

You can identify these products and others like it by looking for the “Made in USA” logo.

 
And that’s not all: Walmart has pledged to buy an additional $250 billion in American-made products yearly. This commitment has already led to the creation of new jobs, likely will create more. 

So when you’re shopping for baby, even if you can’t find organic, recycled, or otherwise eco-friendly products, support those products that are made here, because those are sustainable in their own way too. You can find many more of those products at Walmart.com , in addition to what’s available in store.

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

Disclosure: I participated in a Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for AVEENO. I received product samples as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

It’s crazy the difference two years can make. Before baby Juliza was born, I’d say we were a pretty laid back family. With two parents who worked from home, there was always a helping hand, and with one child, things were relatively quiet and…well…easy. Fast forward to today, with a very rambunctious, free-spirited 17-month-old added to our family, and things are markedly different. When I’m pulling her out from under the dining table, catching her as she tries to climb over the back of the sofa, or getting her unstuck from behind the shelf for the hundredth time, I have to remind myself to be patient with her.

So I really have to relish the beautiful, unexpected moments when she and my other daughter and husband remind me what life is really about, and how to see the beauty in it even in the midst of some chaos. So when AVEENO asked me to share how I embrace those moments, I was only too happy to oblige.

For me, #UnscriptedBeauty is about cherishing the fact that I am baby Juliza’s favorite place to fall asleep, even if that means I can’t get anything done during her naps:

aveeno-unscriptedbeauty1

It is about cherishing the special, perfect bond between my two little girls, even when one of them is sick:

aveeno-unscriptedbeauty2

It’s about a short ride on the carousel at the mall, and somehow managing to get a photo of all three of us:

aveeno-unscriptedbeauty3

It is a reminder that even though Juliza looks so much like her dad, she is still my heart walking around outside my body and makes up for not looking like me by clinging to me all day, every day:

aveeno-unscriptedbeauty4

So what about you? Do you ever stop to cherish those fleeting moments throughout your day that really make life beautiful? If you do, sharing them could make you a winner.

To enter AVEENO’s #UnscriptedBeauty contest, share photos of the authentic Unscripted Beauty in your life throughout June, and post your photos on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook using the hashtags #AVEENO, #UnscriptedBeauty, and #Contest. In Facebook posts, be sure to tag @AVEENO . In July, one winner will be selected to receive a photo-shoot from acclaimed photographer, Danielle Guenther, along with AVEENO products. Sounds like a great reason to celebrate the little things!

I’ll fully admit that Father’s Day is a difficult shopping occasion for me. What in the world do I give my husband? He has very specific interests, but I try to hit those for every gift-giving occasion. So when Father’s Day rolls around, what do I give him?

Luckily, my husband loves looking great just as much as I do, so I know I can always cater to that whim and make him happy. And luckily, Walmart makes shopping for Dad style easy and really affordable. First, I’ll share some of my favorites, then what I chose for my hubby.

Polos & Shorts

dadstyle1

I’ll be honest — I’m not sure that a single polo shirt or pair of shorts would make a spectacular gift. But put them together, and you’re delivering a stylish outfit to the dad in your life. I have hubby’s style down after all these years together, and a great polo and a pair of cargo shorts are his favorite summer go-to outfit. Walmart has a ton of great Solid polos for Dad and Printed Polos for Dad to fit any dad’s taste, for less than $10 apiece.

Watches

dadstyle2

My husband can’t seem to keep a watch for very long. He’s just rough on them, intentionally or not, no matter the price point. But he still likes to wear a stylish timepiece on his wrist. For me, that means not spending a whole lot of money, but still finding a piece that looks great. This Timex Expedition men’s watch is water resistant and rugged, but still fancy enough to work even when he wants to feel dressed up. And right at $40. Works for me.

Cologne

dadstyle3

My husband loves to smell good. No really. And I love that about him, so I take any opportunity I can to encourage that. Walmart has a great selection of fragrances from the designers and celebrities you can find almost anywhere else. I picked up a bottle of my personal favorite fragrance for my hubby: Chrome, by Azzaro. I love the way this smells on him, and it cost me just over $30 for a 1.7 oz. bottle. And there were tons of other options to choose from, all affordable.

What gift ideas do you have for the style-inclined dads in your life? Feel free to share in the comments below so I can keep some in my pocket for next time!

[wmtdiclosure]

I’d be the first person to tell you that the green movement isn’t where it was a few years ago. “Eco-friendly” this and “organic” that was once on the forefront of many people’s minds, but the conversations have shifted a bit. I’d like to think it’s because so many people are now aware of the need for sustainability that it’s become a habit that they don’t talk about often (that’s definitely the case for my family). Still, for some people, the relative quiet nature of sustainability makes it somewhat invisible.

Walmart is working to change that.

sustainabilityleaders1

For several years now, the company has been actively working toward making the entire operation more sustainable, and a big part of that has been a push to get the companies that supply their products to do the same via their Sustainability Index. To find the companies that are acting on that push, look no further than the Walmart Sustainability Leaders Shop.

When you’re shopping at Walmart.com, this page makes it easier to find products made by companies that have scored as “best in class” in the Walmart Sustainability Index. Here’s a quick video that better explains the way it works.

Long story short, while you’re shopping at Walmart.com, look for products with this badge:

sustainabilityleaders2

There are more than 10,000 products available that are made by companies that meet the sustainability standards, and the badge makes it easier to find them. Plus, this is Walmart, so the prices will be affordable.

I’m really excited about this new badge, because I’m the type of shopper who looks for this type of information about the products I buy, especially online. I want to know if it’s organic, or recycled, or at least made by a company that is making sustainability goals a priority, and actually achieving them.

What about you? Do you look for eco-friendly products when you’re shopping online? Will the badge help make that easier?

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

I wish I could say my Christmas shopping was complete, but alas, it is not. I still have a few people to shop for, and I still have to get a few more items for our stockings. If you’ve procrastinated this year, like me, not to worry. You can still shop your conscience. Just head to your nearest Whole Foods Market and pick up a gift that will woo the recipient and make you feel great about wooing the Earth. Even if you did buy it just days before Christmas.

wholefoods-lastminutegifts1

So what kind of great green gifts can you really get at Whole Foods? Well, whether you’re shopping for a fashionista, a beauty maven, your husband or the kids, there’s something for everyone. Here are some of my favorites:

Threads 4 Thought Fleece Leggings, $30

wholefoods-lastminutegifts2

I love Threads 4 Thought because they’re committed to using sustainable materials like organic cotton and recycled polyester, the latter of which turns plastic bottles that otherwise would’ve gone into the waste stream into fashion. Cute fashion, at that. These fleece leggings are the perfect complement to a winter outfit and a great way to make all those summer dresses work during the colder months. Also, Threads 4 Thought gives portion of their proceeds to the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Yellow 108 Infinity Scarf, $24.00

wholefoods-lastminutegifts3

I have one niece who is a scarf fanatic, and I know she’d love these. Yellow 108 is a Los Angeles-based company that makes sustainable accessories and hats made of salvaged materials from eco textile factories. These infinity scarves are made of 100% salvaged cotton, and the nature of the materials means that every run is “limited edition”.

Chavez for Charity Bracelets, $11.99

wholefoods-lastminutegifts4

What girl (or boy) wouldn’t love some gorgeous, stackable bracelets on Christmas morning? Plus, in this case, for each green bracelet purchased, Chavez for Charity will donate 25% of the profits to the Whole Plant Foundation, whose mission is to alleviate poverty through microlending programs in communities throughout the world. And you can only get them at Whole Foods Market this holiday season.

Pacifica Wanderlust Trio Roll-On Perfume Set, $18.99

wholefoods-lastminutegifts5

Though I always give cologne as a gift, I’ve never been a big perfume person myself, in part because it’s too hard to tell what’s in them these days. Well, these perfume roll-ons from Pacifica would be right up my alley. They’re 100% vegan and free of phthalates, nitro-musks and benzene, made with natural grain alcohol and essential oils. The scents included in the set: Indian Coconut Nectar, Tuscan Blood Orange and Island Vanilla. Don’t they sound amazing?

Mineral Fusion Sheer Moisture Lip Tints, $19.99

wholefoods-lastminutegifts6

I may not be into perfume very much, but one thing I have been loving of late is lipstick. This three-pack contains Mineral Fusion’s most popular lip tint crayons, and you can only get them at Whole Foods. The colors included are Flicker (sheer berry), Smolder (bright cherry red) and Glisten (nude caramel shimmer). And unlike your favorite matte lipstick, these tints will hydrate your lips with cocoa butter and botanical oils, and they even taste sweet because of their natural vanilla-mint fragrance.

Every Man Jack Body Kit Sandalwood Pail, $17.99

wholefoods-lastminutegifts7

Let me just say, my husband LOVES Every Man Jack. The fragrances are musky and manly, and they last all day. This all-in-one grooming kit comes with a hydrating body wash, aluminum-free deodorant, soothing face lotion and bonus SPF lip balm in a refreshing Sandalwood fragrance. Neatly packed in a unique, reusable pail, the items in this set use naturally derived ingredients from coconut, jojoba oil and aloe to soothe, hydrate and protect skin. No parabens, no phthalates, no dyes, no sodium lauryl sulfate, and never tested on animals. All products meet Whole Foods Market’s strict Premium Body Care™ standards.

PBS KIDS x Whole Foods Market Produce Pick Up Shape Sorter, $22.99

wholefoods-lastminutegifts8

PBS KIDS and Whole Foods Market have joined forces on a line of eco-friendly toys this year. Whole Foods Market will donate a portion of their proceeds to support the Whole Kids Foundation, and 100% of PBS proceeds will support its mission of educating all children. The Produce Pick-Up Shape Sorter is a great toy for kids who are learning their shapes and colors. It’s made with FSC-certified pinewood, printed with vegetable inks and packaged in recycled materials, plus it comes with 13 pieces, including a detachable crate to store the produce pieces. Made for kids ages 3 and up.

What about you? Are you still shopping for a few gifts? Do you consider buying green when you’re in a hurry?

Disclosure: I was provided with compensation for my time and effort in creating this post. As usual, all opinions are my own and completely authentic.