Thursday, October 27, 2011

Natural Home-made Pomegranate Soda!

We are loving our new natural-soda maker my husband made! With our family of 6 it gets a lot of use...
This is the delicious pomegranate soda he made in just a minute! (bad cell phone picture...)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Kids in the yard of our NEW HOUSE!

We moved back to Fairfield, IA and are running our retail store, Natural Selections, that we started in 1995! Now I can walk to work!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Eating Healthy can be Easy

My daughter Lily and my son Chef Skylar show off how they like to make smoothies! And everyone enjoys them!

Today I received an email from a family member who is concerned as their family is suffering from serious health problems. They wanted to know of any good books that had advice on eating. There are so many now but honestly I think the easiest and most entertaining way to take in information is videos/movies. So I recommend watching these interesting movies. Here is a link to a list of them.

Top Food Movies

You don't have to buy these movies - most are available from Netflix. They are all fascinating, but my favorites were:

Food Matters

Food Inc.

Vegan Gal

Or if you watch more TV than movies, check out Dr. Oz's show. He does a lot of features on eating a varied and healthy diet.

Eating healthy doesn't have to be intimidating. It should be fun, interesting, and exciting! Whether you are trying to cut back on meat consumption, or become completely vegetarian or vegan, there are plenty of healthy foods you will like. There are so many specialized products out there now, for people who are diabetic, sensitive to gluten, or dairy. In our family, no one seems to be sensitive, but I know that nationwide all of these are common issue. Now at regular grocery stores like Safeway, Walmart, and Target you can find lots of items labeled for your convenience. They are making it easier with storewide labeling systems, rather than relying on the items packaging. I think this is more common and will continue. Most grocery stores are expanding that aspect, along with their organic program. I think it is also important to look online for the products and then ask you grocer to carry them. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, so to speak.

But with any sensitivity, the important thing to remember is that you are not only trying to SUBTRACT those things from your diet, but you need to ADD healthy, vitamin rich fresh, raw foods to your diet, in order to have the necessary enzymes for your body to be healthy. Juicing is great for this- any fruit or vegetable will work if you have a good juicer. I recommend Champion.

If you are a salad lover (and I am) then it is easy to make that for some of your meals. Some of my salads recently...

My husband likes salads too; here is one he made with vegetarian chicken substitute on top...

I think the easiest thing a person can do to change their diet to include more fresh things is to make a smoothie every day for breakfast, and maybe for a snack as well. There are TONS of recipes out there, but really you don't need them. I buy bananas, strawberries and any other fruit and if I can't use them fast enough, I freeze them. I keep frozen blueberries in my freezer all the time, and when I make smoothies I never use recipes. I just put in a couple of bananas, some liquid (can be juice or a milk substitute) and whatever other fruit I feel like. Sometimes I add some yogurt. Sometimes I add some ice cubes if I am not using any frozen fruit and I want a cold smoothie. And that is it. You have an instant nutritious meal or snack.

Lily and Sky with strawberry - banana smoothies...

I have been doing this for years for my kids and they love it. It is so simple that they can pick out the ingredients and it always tastes good. Just throw some fruits in there and blend! If it isn't sweet enough for you, simply add a squirt of RAW honey or maple syrup or agave, or a couple of dates, or some apple juice. Here are a few of our favorites:

Banana, Blueberry, Almond (or Soy) Milk

Banana, Strawberry, Almond (or Soy) Milk

Banana, Strawberry, Blueberry, Almond (or Soy) Milk

Banana, Dates, Almond (or Soy) Milk

In terms of all the vast array of almond milk out there, my husband (who used to be a huge milk drinker until he watched vegan gal) feels that UNSWEETENED RICE DREAM makes the closest milk substitute for cereal, etc, (as it is thinner and not sweet). Yet for drinking alone, or with cookies, etc, he likes the VANILLA ALMOND SILK (very thick and sweet). All of these are now available at every major grocery store as well as Walmart and Target.

If you have a really good blender, you can throw in a handful of raw (not roasted and salted!) walnuts or almonds and you will never notice a difference but you will get the health benefits. I had been reading so many articles and blogs about "green smoothies" and I finally got brave enough to try it, and the kids liked it! This basically means you are making a regular smoothie, but you throw in some RAW spinach or RAW Kale, or parsley or other greens. It really sounds disgusting, but I swear it works!

My family (with all 4 kids) was at Sam's Club recently and the Vitamix company was their doing a demo with their amazing blenders. I have owned a Vitamix (which is essentially a super powerful blender that can blend almost anything into a liquid - and can grind flour) for 10 years, but as we walked by and they handed all of us samples of "ice cream" they had made in the vitamix in a few seconds, I was shocked. It was a deep purple color and truly delicious! I asked what was in it and was very surprised to hear: "frozen bananas, spinach, kale, blueberries, strawberries..." but I went home and tried it and now I make it all the time without any recipes - it is always an experiment.
Even baby Sofia loves it!

Once in a while I have to add some raw honey or some dates because it isn't quite sweet enough, but this process has changed my idea of what healthy eating is. Keeping frozen bananas in the freezer is essential - I peel them and wrap them in plastic, then freeze them - as this is the easiest way and they never turn brown.

Healthy food is colorful. If you are eating mostly white foods (white bread, processed potato products, white pasta, white sugar, you likely at risk for diabetes or cancer at some point. I always start by telling my children to eat as many colors as possible!

I am someone who always thought I ate healthy (and I did- in terms of comparison to the average person). But when my husband and I watched the documentary Food Matters,
it really amazed me to hear that the human body needs to have at the very least 51% raw food in order to create health in the body. It said that if you eat even 51 % COOKED (not raw) food, then your body treats the cooked food like a toxin and begins sending out white blood cells, which runs down your body. However, if you eat at least 51% RAW food, the body starts healing itself. I immediately tried to implement this in our family, and fortunately with the smoothies it is possible.

We also started putting salads on our kids plates (next to the entree I had made) and just telling them that they had to eat that too, in addition to the vegetables that were already there. I think they grumbled the first day, but now they are used to it. But... I found that what worked even better was putting little bowls with raw veggies like baby carrots, snap peas in the pods, cucumber slices, radish slices, red pepper slices, or avocado slices on the table before I served everyone was the easiest way (besides the smoothies) to get everyone to eat more raw.

When you are hungry you grab what is in front of you, and surprisingly my family wasn't even asking for salad dressing or dip to use! They were just crunching away on naturally delicious veggies! You honestly cannot taste the true flavor when they are dipped in onion and garlic laden dressings anyway (so most kids don't even know that peppers are sweet until they try them!)

If you keep in mind eating in color it can be fun to try so many new things.... you may have thought you knew what they tasted like, but trying them without dressing is a new experience! And every new experience can lead to more good things!
Skylar and Alexis eating carrots from our garden!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Beware of GREEN-WASHING! Many multi-level home based business companies are NOT what they seem.

I always am completely honest with you. (Not like some businesses .. read on to see...)

As you may know, I started out in a small store in a small town, and in that environment EVERYONE KNOWS EVERYONE. And this is a good thing. Except when the local "telephone-game-style" gossip mill is running, but that is another story(s).

In business, as in life, Honesty is always the best policy and this is never more true than when you are in a small town!

This is my retail store in Fairfield, IA.  If you aren't in Iowa, then you can visit us on the web at The Organic

Everyone who came in was a friend, or a friend of my parents, a teacher I had in high school, or the person I bought my groceries from each week. As my business expanded over the years, through my website I had customers from all 50 states, and I was amazed to find how many of them actually knew me somehow, or at least had some connection to me. I guess it is the 6 degrees of separation - the Kevin Bacon thing. And when you know someone, you care about them. And pretty soon you find yourself caring about everyone, even the people you haven't met yet. So it is this spirit that I write this.

If you are a mother at home with young children and you are looking for a home based business, for the love of God, do some research. There are a some out there that you can make money with - but NOT all of them. And very few actually have products that are made out of quality ingredients.

Most of them suck you into spending between $40-$250 a month on auto-ship orders of their products every month for years, before you realize it isn't working. Trust me, I have tried out a few. (And a note to my past customers - those 3 companies I carried I did do thorough research on and I carried them until I felt that their ingredients had changed too much to be reputable, or their prices had risen so much as to render them unsellable, or both.) As you can imagine, because of my job, I still get invited to "join" many different multilevel companies, all of which, upon further investigation, I found to be not worth it for me as a person.

This is from my store during a promotional night for one company I carried. Mostly I remember the organic chocolate that everyone loved. Oh, and my sister's platinum blonde hair. UPDATE: She is a designer for an organic yogawear line which you can see by clicking on this picture!

Without naming names and dragging all multi-levels into this one post, let me say this:

1) If the company primarily sells nutritional supplements or shakes you can usually get better nutrition CHEAPER by using your blender and some fruits and veggies from the store.

This was when I made grape juice out of actual grapes in my blender (Vitaprep). Delicious!

2) If the company primarily sells cleaning products, you can do the same with white vinegar, baking soda, and lavender essential oil and water. (Seriously, a spray bottle is all you need to work magic!)

3) If the company primarily sells kitchenware, you can do better buy purchasing stainless steel or ceramic items at your local kitchen store, or even Target for a fraction of the cost. (And don't even think about storing your food in plastic, regardless of how famous it's name is.)

4) If the company primarily sells body-care or makeup, all you have to do is READ THE INGREDIENTS - if you cannot pronounce it- there is a problem - usually it is a chemical linked to cancer. (I am not going to suggest you make your own cosmetics as it is simply too frustrating for most people, including myself.) But don't be swayed by the slick claims on multi-level brands, you can do far better by purchasing products from 100% Pure (we carry many in our store), or products from other small companies - where there are no chemicals, no parabens, no sodium laurel or laureth sulfates, no alcohol, no fillers.

5) If the company has a broad spectrum of products, possibly covering many of the above categories, please be even more cautious, because specialization brings more validity to the products. Trying to be the best at everything - it is simply very unlikely that any one company will achieve this.

All this being said, I would ask:

How can a company so blatantly lie?

How can a company so obviously mislead its customers?

Ask Aloette, one of the worst green-washing companies to come around in a long time. Our conversation with them tonight:

Us: "Are Aloette products organic?"

Aloette Reps: "Oh yes, all organic."

Us: "It doesn't say that on the label. It should say that."

Aloette Reps: "Oh we have been organic for 23 years."

Us: "Why doesn't it say so on the label?"

Aloette Reps: "Oh this is old packaging."

That is my favorite part-- that they use the same packaging that they have had for 23 years!?!
I really wish I could see the IQ score on the person who answered these questions!

Look at the ingredients, most of which are listed as cancer causing by the Cosmetics Safety database. Not only are Aloette's products NOT organic, they are NOT EVEN NATURAL.

What BS.

If you don't believe me, go to the Cosmetics Safety Database and type in any of the ingredients you cannot pronounce, and you will see.

At a time when many companies are striving to use MORE healthy natural ingredients INSTEAD of chemicals, this company is choosing the worst:
pick a "natural sounding" name, create some flashy marketing on a website, throw together some products using the cheapest chemicals around, then rely on the duping of the public to sell it for them.
See, they know that if they can convince YOU, then it is YOU that convince your friends and family, because your friends and family trust you. But Aloette can't sell easily directly to them, because they would not be trusted.

THIS is the reason the few legitimate multi-level home-based businesses have a bad rap- because of companies like Aloette. I feel sorry for those companies, but mostly I feel sorry for the already strapped women who get involved trying to peg their hopes and dreams on a company that is usually a big fat liar.

If you enjoy doing research, as I do, and you enjoy watching documentary films (thank you Netflix!) than you may find out some very, very shocking statistics. Like how easy it is for ANYONE to go to Utah and make an herbal supplement with little to no regulations. (Don't get me wrong, I am all for herbs and supplements - but PLEASE buy them from reputable sources - this is the only way you can hope to get what you pay for.)

As I finish writing this, I realize that probably those of you who were thinking about approaching me to try to have me sell the same multi-level line you are into, probably are changing your mind. If you are enjoying the products, then that is fine. But please, before you sell your trusting family and friends on something, take a good look at the ingredients or materials and also where and how the products are made. Is it America? Is it fair wage labor? And if you STILL feel good about it, come talk to me. (Just make sure they aren't using labels that are 23 years old.)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wake up and smell the Organic Coffee!

Ok, so I don't really drink coffee, but I do put it on my face!

This morning we had a customer request the Coffee Bean Eye Cream that we sell.
She said her bottle lasted her a year - at only $18.95 that is a great deal! The anti-inflammatory, caffeine rich green tea and coffee de-puffs and reduces swelling while increasing circulation to alleviate and brighten dark circles. The all natural 100% pure ingredients are concentrated with potent anti-aging vitamins, antioxidants, and nourishing rosehip oil.
With these Ingredients, how could it NOT smell delicious?
Organic Green Tea1, Organic Calendula Hydrosol1, Organic Rosehip Oil1, Organic Green Coffee2 Vitamin E (a-tocopherol), Vitamin C (ascorbyl palmitate), Extracts of Coffee Cherry, Organic Rosemary3, Organic Oregano3, Organic Thyme3, Organic Grapefruit Seed3 and Organic Goldenseal4, Organic Vanilla Absolute3, Candelilla Wax

1 Certified Organic by Oregon Tilth Certified Organic
2 Certified Organic by Hawaii Organic Farmers Association
3 Certified Organic by QAI
4 Certified Organic by Maryland Department of Agriculture

If you want to know what others thought: ** Results of an independent clinical 4 week study

- 83% saw immediate reduction of puffiness
- 97% saw reduction of puffiness with continued use

-73% saw an immediate reduction of dark circles
-87% saw reduction of dark circles with continued use

-87% say they look more 'awake, rested and refreshed'
-80% say that it instantly helped reduce the look of lines and wrinkles around the eye area
-97% say skin around their eyes softer and smoother
-93% say it reduced the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles with continued use
-100% say it improved skin hydration and moisturization
-93% say it improved skin firmness/elasticity
-93% say that the eye cream absorbs well

She also told us that she loved the way it smells so much, that she was hoping we have a body cream for her.... and we have some very delicious ones....

Cocoa Kona Coffee Body Cream $14.95

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bolivia may pass law of mother earth...

One of the more interesting articles I have read recently addresses the "rights" of the earth...

You can read the short article here....

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Crazy Elf Red Pepper in our Lunch Today

This is the Crazy Elf red pepper that was in our lunch today. I cut it open and it was just there staring at me. I posted it on Facebook and so many people commented. My favorite comment was that I should sell it on Ebay. Too late! We ate it!

Below is the salad I made for each one of us.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tooth Fairy Fail

Tooth Fairy Fail - My 7 year old son told me the tooth fairy did not come. I asked him if he wrote her a note and he said yes. I asked if it was a polite note or a rude note, and he smiled and crumpled it up to throw it away. I guess he is going to try writing a polite note tonight.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Saturday Night Chocolate / Chai Popcorn!

It was time for a kids movie, so I made a special treat - organic popcorn with an impromptu blend of organic hot chocolate powder, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a touch of powdered sugar... it was delicious. (If you try this at home, keep in mind you have to use a bit of oil or melted butter FIRST to make the flavors stick to the popcorn.)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Answering Your Questions... Is Spandex ok to use in Green products?

We LOVE helping people and we receive a lot of questions on Organic products and Organic Living. Here is one answered recently:


Since you have experience with organic material, do you have any comments on spandex being that it is a synthetic right?
How safe is spandex in regards to the “organic green era”? I was just wondering about your thoughts on this as I try to live a more “green lifestyle".
Thanks very much for your time and all of your information.
I look forward to future business with your company.
Thanks again.

The Organic Company's Answer:

There are companies out there, not many (most have gone out of business), but a couple who make underwear garments with no spandex or Lycra and we have tested and even sold a few brands in the past. While yes, it is best to have no synthetics in a garment, unfortunately it comes down to the public and what they prefer and are actually willing to pay money for. It comes down to more form, function, and design, than materials, and most people are willing to give up that 5 or so percent of synthetic that will make the garment more appealing visually and sometimes more comfy as well.
The garments we once sold that had no synthetics were returned more than half the time or if tried on in our store never bought to begin with. (For some reason most of these companies products looked like something only our grandparents would consider wearing.) After wearing certain clothes for 20 plus years that fit a certain way and hold to your body a certain way it's very hard for people to transition to clothing that is usually frumpier and that you would never want to actually be seen in.

Our best selling boxer shorts, mens briefs, tees and lounge pants are able to be 100% organic cotton because these items are supposed to have a looser fit and are cut and designed to still look nice. But when people try on a pair of socks that are 99.9% organic cotton and they keep falling down all the time they won't be happy.

The same can be said for the mens boxer briefs and most of the womens underwear that are supposed to stay put or cling to the persons body a certain way. If it helps to hold the garment in place and doesn't bunch up it's going to be more appealing to the mass public.
Ultimately it's left up to the public and what they're willing to sacrifice. A little bit of synthetic is still more appealing and healthier than a non-organic garment that has pesticides, bleach, flame retardants, formaldehyde, and other finishing agents.

A lot of people care more about the fact that the organic cotton is used to make the fabric softer, has a much more positive effect on the earth and the workers on the farms and knowing that we only sell Fair Trade goods with no child labor.

The truth is every little bit helps. I know Sam's Club sells some socks that have only 8% organic cotton and at first thought it's like what's the point? The amount of chemicals in the sock won't be that much less, they are of course not Fair Trade at the price points they have, they may be a bit softer, but what is 8% really going to do? Well when you consider the magnitude of that 8% times every Sam's Club in America and how many they actually sell a day they are doing more for the earth in a month than we could hope to do by selling what we do in a year. It's still helping the earth and soil to some extent and the farmers, but has little effect on the final consumer. But ultimately it's up to the demands and wants of the consumers.

Unfortunately there is no government subsidizing of organic cotton or other fibers to keep the costs down and make the price of always buying organic feasible for most people. Organic cotton costs a lot more to grow and produce and the clothing actually has way less mark up to make a profit on, so the cost, especially if made using fair trade labor, is going to be higher.
As long as garments are being made with organic cotton it's a benefit to everyone and the environment...whether it be 8% or 100%.

We feel the more organic the better of course and all of items we sell that are not blends with bamboo or hemp and excluding socks has at least 90% organic cotton. If a company makes products selling only 100% organic cotton and nobody want the product because it's not comfortable or looks too frumpy then they won't last long and in the end nobody benefits. Sometimes a person finally decides to buy their first organic piece of clothing and it just so happens to be a company like this and after trying it for the first time say they couldn't stand it or didn't like it and go around saying they don't like organic cotton and may choose to never buy it again.

We feel that 10 companies selling 95% organic cotton clothing and actually succeeding is better for everyone than 1 company selling 100% organic and failing.
Hope that helps.

The Organic Company / Natural Selections / Organic Selections

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sleeping on Organic Cotton Towels

This is a picture of my son asleep with our organic cotton towels... one summer he came in from swimming in the kiddie pool in the yard, and he couldn't even make it upstairs to his room, he just crashed right on top of the clean laundry!

Our favorites are the super thick, (seriously- the bath sheet size is actually heavy like a blanket!) incredibly luxurious 900 gsm 100% Organic Cotton towels!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Answering Your Questions... is Bleach used to make Organic Cotton White?

We LOVE helping people and we receive a lot of questions on Organic products and Organic Living. Here is one answered recently:

Can you tell me if this supplier specifies whether bleach is used and if dyes, is it low impact dyes to make the colors other than natural? Also, is the spandex blended throughout the shorts or is it just at the top elastic band?
Thanks in advance for your help!J

The Organic Company's Answer:


No organic manufacturer we sell uses bleach. Whites are usually obtained using Peroxide and bgreen only uses low impact dyes for all their colors. The 5-8% spandex in the boy shorts is actually a blend for this style so they fit more snugly.

Thanks Again,

The Organic Company