Green Living

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by WaterWipes as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

In my family, baby wipes are the Holy Grail. We use them for everything from cleaning up spills in the car to wiping down the stove and cleaning the screens of our devices. Of course, we also have a baby in the house, and we use them pretty regularly for her too. As such, I’m not a fan of most wipes, because we’re never really sure what’s in them. So when I got an opportunity to try WaterWipes, I was more than a little intrigued.


As the name implies, WaterWipes contain mostly water. In fact, they are made using just two, chemical-free ingredients: 99.9% pure Irish water and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract. That’s it. Really.

I can get behind a product that contains just two ingredients, one of which is water — particularly if I’m going to be using it for my baby. The truth is that I’m always wary of using wipes to clean my daughter’s face, because her skin is super sensitive and we’ve had to deal with breakouts before. In this case, I felt confident that I could use them to wipe the yogurt and crumbs and milk and other random stuff that ends up all over her face without causing any irritation.


Because in addition to being pure and chemical-free, they are also super, super soft. Like baby’s bottom soft. Which is helpful, since they’re intended to be used on my baby’s bottom.


Let me share a quick fact about myself: I tend to be extremely brand loyal. Once I find something that I like, I buy it over and over and over again. My shopping lists tend to look the same every time. So it is no small matter to say that I am now a WaterWipes convert. I love the fact that they contain two simple ingredients, and we’ll be using them from now on.

This photo of Juliza pretty much sums up how we feel about them.


You can find WaterWipes at your local Walgreens or at At our store, we found them in the baby aisle, and we got the last two packs on the shelf. We’ll definitely have to stock up next time we’re there.

WaterWipes Walgreens Giveaway

I-C will randomly select winners from all program entries and will facilitate fulfillment of the winning prizes (5 winners).

Say Hello to Hello Products

Disclosure: Hello Products has provided me to with product to facilitate this review, along with compensation for my time and effort in creating this content. As always, all opinions are my own.


When my family and I embarked on this journey to make our lives as green as possible, there were a lot of things we changed. We switched to reusable shopping bags (though I admit I forget them in the car. A lot.) We ditched paper towels in favor of actual towels and cloths, and switched to toilet paper made from 100% recycled paper. We switched our cleaning and personal care products to ones made with fewer artificial ingredients. But one of the products for which we continued to buy a “traditional” version (as opposed to a “green” version) is toothpaste. This is not because there are no natural toothpaste brands. On the contrary, we tried a couple. But none of them stuck, because none of them tasted as good as what we were used to or felt as effective.

When Hello Products reached out to me about their full line of “Naturally Friendly” oral care products, I admit I was skeptical at first. Because I’ve been there before with natural toothpaste and even toothbrushes. But I figured what the heck. What could be the harm in trying them, right?

Well, I’m absolutely glad I did. Hello has managed to change my mind and my family’s morning routine, and now I can brag that even my toothpaste is eco-friendly.

So what’s so special about hello and their products? Well, here’s a brief list:

  • It’s free of triclosan, dyes, and artificial sweeteners. All sweeteners are naturally derived, and the corn-based sweeteners are made from non-GMO corn.
  • Their toothpaste tubes are BPA- and phthalate-free. Plus, they’re just well-designed and really pretty.
  • Their boxes are made from recyclable paper sourced from FSC-certified sources and printed with soy based ink.
  • Hello is made in the U.S., though a small amount of their packaging is made in Canada and Italy.

So how does all of that translate into finished products? Well, I love their toothpaste.

We received a variety flavors to try:


I know what you’re probably thinking. That’s a lot of mint flavors. Don’t they all just taste the same? Well, they actually don’t. Mojito Mint has a kick that I imagine is similar to what an actual mojito would taste like. What? I’ve never had one, so I don’t know for sure. Pure mint is just that: Made with just mint. And it tastes like it. Supermint is actually my favorite flavor. It’s made with mint, spearmint, and peppermint.

What all three flavors have in common, though, is that they leave my mouth feeling extra, like extra, extra, clean when I’m done brushing. In addition to the minty freshness, my teeth feel really smooth — much more noticeable than when I use traditional toothpaste. Which means I have no desire to use traditional toothpaste again.


And I love that there’s a fluoride-free option for kids. At 2 years old, Juliza loves brushing her teeth all by herself. The problem is that she still hasn’t quite gotten the hang of spitting out the toothpaste. Since we don’t want her swallowing fluoride, we need something she can use until she gets the hang of spitting. And she loves the flavor. Now, she’s only too eager to brush her teeth. Which I consider a big win.

Hello has already changed our mouth care routine for the better — so much that I’ll be working with them for the next few months to share how they’ve made our lives friendlier. In the meantime, you can find hello products at Target and

Disclosure: In partnership with Drive Shop Atlanta, I received a car to review for a week. All opinions contained below are my own and 100% honest.


My family has been living with one car for years. Most of the time, it’s not a huge issue. But when it is a problem, it’s a big problem. When we have competing obligations on opposite ends of Atlanta or too many events scheduled on the same day, it can be a challenge to get everything done. So I am so excited to be working with Drive Shop Atlanta to review a variety of cars, in an effort to figure out what would work best for my family.


Given that our current vehicle is a minivan, we’re used to having a lot of space. It is far from a sexy ride, but it is a practical one that keeps us all comfortable (if not cute). Our appreciation of all this space drove our desire to get a second vehicle with ample space as well. It’s why the first two vehicles we reviewed were both crossovers — smaller than an SUV, but larger than a car.


This time, I wanted to try something that would be more practical, because we really don’t need two large vehicles. We got to test drive the Mazda 6 for a week, and I am not overexaggerating when I say we’re in love. No. Really.

For years, I’ve admired the Mazda 6 from afar. It’s a sexy little car that has lines and curves in all the right places, and I’ve always wanted to drive one. I’m happy to report that I was not disappointed.


Having driven the Mazda CX-5, I had some familiarity with the setup of the features on the 6.

The keyless entry and start remains a favorite. Of course, there were a few occasions when I or my husband got out of the running car with the keys in our pocket — running into a convenience store with the rest of the family still in the car, for example — and the car will quickly remind you that the key needs to be present with a series of beeps. But more than anything, it’s just super convenient and easy to be able to unlock and start the car at the push of a button.

I also love the ability to connect my phone via Bluetooth, which made phone calls to my husband a lot safer and easier to hear. I will say, though, that as an iPhone user, Siri is not terribly compatible with the Bluetooth system. In fact, every time I wanted to use Siri while in the car, I had to turn off my phone’s Bluetooth function so she’d hear me properly. This means that instead of being able to tell Siri to call my husband, I had to physically pull up the number, either on the touch screen (when the car is stopped) or via my actual phone. Not the most convenient setup, but being able to play Pandora or my own music via my phone still made connecting the phone to the car worth it.


The touchscreen interface is pretty similar to the interface in the CX-5, but I did notice one feature that I hadn’t noticed before. It is a simple feature, but one that proved really handy for my husband and I. We tend to use our phones for navigation rather than the car’s system, but I did notice that the upcoming street name shows up at the top of the touch screen, regardless of what mode it is in. You can see the street name in the photo below, above the music info.


Like I said, small feature, but something that is really helpful when you’re traveling in an unfamiliar area and need to know when your turn is coming up.

Other favorite features include the backup camera (because yes, please), blind spot warning light and sound, lane awareness, and — as silly as it may sound — the sunroof. I love a nice, large sunroof.

The trunk space was great and was able to easily accommodate my little one’s stroller along with both girls’ suitcases and other “stuff” for a weekend spent with their grandmother, with room to spare. While backseat space is limited, that would be true for any car about this size. But to demonstrate what I mean, here’s the family in the car with Juliza’s feet firmly propped on the front passenger seat. Because toddlers gonna toddler.


Overall, it was a smooth, sexy ride (like awesome date night with the hubby type sexy), and the gas mileage was pretty amazing. I can’t give you an exact measured MPG, but during a week of driving with several trips back and forth to Atlanta, a city south of Atlanta, and Athens, we only had to fill up the tank once.

At the end of the week, I was really, really sad to let this one go. If I had to choose today, the Mazda 6 would be my choice. That may change next time we get to try a different option, but this one has flown straight to the top of the list.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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:


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, 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.


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.


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.


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.


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:


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:


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:


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 , 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:


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


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


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:


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!