Living Consciously Holiday Gift Guide 2014

I’ve never done a Holiday Gift Guide before, but this year I really learned about some great brands and products that I think will truly help you give (or receive) this season in a way that will help you live more consciously in 2015, so I had to share! Please note that I do have an affiliate relationship with some of these brands, or that I might have received free products the first time I tried them, so that I would know whether I wanted to recommend them to you. I have noted which and what applies with an asterisk or affiliate relationship marked in parentheses.

My hope is that you will be able to find some amazing non-toxic gifts for anyone on your list, while giving back (see Soapbox Soaps) and supporting small businesses.

Happy Holidays!

GiftGuideKids2014v2For the Kids

Bendi Baby Yoga Mat (affiliate link) – A yoga mat specifically made to be as tall as your child and light enough to carry! Comes in two sizes: Baby and Tot. Make sure to follow them on Instagram, they have some adorable pictures!

Kids Yoga Stories – I used these books when I taught Kids Yoga and the kids LOVED them. Now there is also a set of flashcards with children doing poses to make learning the yoga poses easy for kids. I’d also recommend signing up for the weekly newsletter on this site, which comes with really neat pose sequences that you can do with your child at home.

Mama May I Shop* – An adorable boutique of handmade, sustainable toys for all ages. My kids (ages 3 and 5) absolutely LOVE telling stories to Daddy and I at night and listening to us make up stories for them with Story Starters. These handmade wooden dice have pictures printed on them in eco-friendly ink. You roll them and make up stories! They come in a metal tin with a little notebook for recording your best stories. Other toys we were interested in included play silks, Fairy Friends, and the assortment of crayon wallets!

Musical Instruments – More of a general suggestion, I wanted to include this because we recently purchased both a child’s guitar (affiliate link) and a full junior drum set (affiliate link) for our son, even though I honestly thought we were insane to do it (especially when it came to the drum set). But it hasn’t been a terrible idea, actually. I have noticed he has much better rhythm and it gives him a constructive way to use his energy. We started at the age of about 2 with this simple Melissa & Doug music set (affiliate link).

 GiftGuideAnyone2014v2Eco-friendly non-toxic gifts for anyone

Vitamix blender (affiliate link) – Although this is more of a dream item for most people, it’s absolutely worth the price tag, in my opinion! I got mine for Mother’s Day this year (2014) and still use it every day, sometimes multiple times a day. Make your own nut milk, nut butters, soups, hummus, smoothies, and even juice with your Vitamix to avoid additives and preservatives in processed foods. For ideas, check out my Vitamix recipe Pinterest board.

Board & Batten Farm to Skin* – A new concept in luxury skin and body care, this company has a “Farm to Skin” philosophy — their products are created from raw materials taken from their own farm in Florida. On their site you can purchase soy candles, charcoal soap, body creme, and a full skin care line, all packaged beautifully and ready to gift. I have tried the “Begin Again” facial buff made of organic quinoa and fruit enzymes and loved how simple yet effective it was! If you just can’t decide on a gift, try a pre-assembled gift set bundle.

Soapbox Soap Holiday Bundle* – One of my favorite discoveries at ShiftCon this year, Soapbox Soaps are in the business of giving back to those in need year-round. Every time you purchase a soap, body wash, or body lotion from Soapbox Soaps, they will donate an equivalent value to someone in need. For example, buy their famous charcoal soap and they’ll give a bar of soap to someone who doesn’t have access to soap. Buy a body wash and they donate an entire month’s worth of water to areas with no access to clean water. For a bottle of lotion, one year of vitamins to undernourished populations. My favorite item for gifting is the Holiday Gift Bundle, the purchase of which provides a bar of soap, a month of water AND a year of vitamins to someone in need!

Dolly Moo products – I won a package of Dolly Moo products in a yoga challenge this year and the scrubs quickly became my favorite. I love that the body products are made of ingredients I recognize and that all the scents come from essential oils. She also makes dried sage smudge sticks for cleansing the home. The company has a lovely Instagram page and is very committed to the yoga community in particular. Bonus: the scrubs also stand in for shaving cream on legs, leaving your legs luxuriously moisturized! Two products for the price of one!

Living Consciously Blog's Non-Toxic Gift Guide Stockings Stuffers 2014 Non-toxic Stocking stuffers/Secret Santa suggestions

Nutiva O’Coconut coconut nuggets – I loved finding these low-sugar (3g) GMO-free Fair Trade treats in my ShiftCon swag bag so much that I ordered more of my own from Vitacost.com. Flavors are Original and Hemp & Chia. The ingredients are healthy but the taste is like candy! They can be difficult to find locally, but if you have a Natural Grocer or Whole Foods near you, try the treat section. Or just buy through Vitacost (affiliate link).

Dang coconut chips Dark Chocolate – Coconut chips dipped in dark chocolate! Yum! Fair Trade, GMO free, and low in sugar. Very easy to find at any local health food store, but also available on Vitacost (affiliate link).

Miessence Rose Monsoon Hydrating Mist – The brand is committed to 100% organic skin care ingredients, and it’s a great place to find any body products or even probiotics, but their moisturizing rose water spray is something that everyone can use! Just this week I spent too much time in front of the fireplace and felt smokey — I sprayed a fine mist of the rose water all over my hair and face and the smokiness was gone! An instant mood brightener during hectic holidays, you might actually want to grab some for yourself as well as your friend. There is a discount with a purchase over $150. Be sure to click on her “Special Offers” for botanical perfumes currently more than half off!

Earth Mama Angel Baby Lotions – Not just for new moms and babies anymore! Here’s my last-minute pampering suggestion: Earth Mama has come out with 2 brand new lotion scents that make great teacher gifts, and you can run to your local Sprouts or Target as late as 10pm the night before and grab a bottle for $10! Put it in a cute bag with a note about how you trust your little one with such a great teacher every day and you’re done! They have all kinds of great stocking stuffers, from relaxing herbal teas to non-toxic lip balms (which are our family’s personal favorite chapstick option!) If you do want to buy online, you can always buy from Amazon (affiliate link) or directly from their web site.

 

* All items marked with an asterisk were given to me to sample by the company at some point in 2014. I liked them so much that I proceeded to purchase them with my own money and/or use them regularly. I did NOT get paid to mention any of them in this gift guide.

How We Cultivate Thankfulness in our family

If the month of November snuck up on you, you’re not alone! It sneaks up on me every year, with my son’s birthday toward the end and then Halloween. Then I wake up and, BAM!, it’s November! So we aren’t terribly timely with our thankfulness crafts around here. But, it is important to me to cultivate thankfulness in our family. Obviously, November is not the only time we want to be thankful, but it’s a good time to really focus.

There are 100 Pins on Pinterest of great Thanksgiving gratefulness projects. However, I am not a super crafty person. I do not own all the pipe cleaners, tempera paint, and precut turkey foam stickers that most of you people seem to have in your homes at all times. We sort of fell into this tradition of creating a thankfulness list out of things already around our house. Well, I feel like it is a tradition now, even though this is our second year. I do hope to keep it up (no pressure!).

Here is last year’s thankfulness chart and family list. My children were 2 years old and 5 years old, so it was too much to expect that they would each be able to come up with 30 individual things to be thankful for. So we had only one item per day on our list, and some items might have been suggested by Mom and Dad.

Thankfulness List 2013 | Living Consciously Blog

Thankfulness List 2013 | Living Consciously Blog

Supplies used:

packing paper from Amazon packages, flattened out
leaves we found on the sidewalk, pressed for a few days inside books to flatten
construction paper
pieces of coloring book that my kids cut up (their idea!)
sharpie marker
glue

This year, I was actually so far behind that there was no time to press leaves. We didn’t even get these set up until November 10. But this year, my children are 3 years old and 5 years old, and are able to think of their own lists (and also, to disagree and fight if they were forced to agree on just one thing each day!). So we each have our own turkey this year!

Thankfulness List 2014 | Living Consciously Blog

Supplies used:

large white paper, one for each family member
sharpie marker
yellow, red, orange, and brown construction paper
googly eyes (optional – I had these left over from kids yoga crafts)
glue stick

With this sticking-on-feathers-every-day model, we have to keep a baggie of precut feathers, a sharpie, and a glue stick at the table so that we can write our thankful items each day. If you want to get all crunchy, you can put these items in an aluminum box, GOOD FOR YOU!

The next step is, of course, to cultivate this kind of thankfulness throughout the rest of the year. Hopefully that would help with attitudes, right?

How has your family been cultivating thankfulness this season?

Tips for Summer Adventures: Travel or Staycations

This month’s blog sponsor is Allstate 21st Century Prosperity agent Shawn Spalding. Since I know that Allstate has dozens of years experience in auto claims, maintenance, roadside assistance, and that Shawn is probably an expert on saving money (since he’s a financial planner!), I asked him to share some of his best tips for summer adventures, whether you are on the road or not. It might seem a little early, but I asked him this because our family has already planned several road trips for our summer this year! How about you?

Summer Adventure Tips: Travel or Staycations | Conscientious Confusion

Road Trips

  1. Get your car checked!
    A tune up is a good idea. Low tire pressure or dirty air filters can reduce a car’s gas mileage
  2. Save on Gas!
    Use an online calculator, like GasBuddy.com’s Trip Cost Calculator, to help you estimate how much you’ll spend on gas: use your route and your car model’s gas mileage.
    Then use Allstate’s Fuel Finder – fast, easy-to-use gas price locator can help you find low prices at nearby pumps. All the preparations add up to money that stays in your pocket.
    Go easy on the accelerator when the light turns green!
    Keep to the speed limit. Promotes safer driving and more fuel efficiency, but it also helps prevent you from getting a speeding ticket, which can put a dent in any vacation budget.
  3. Pack your roadside emergency kit
    Items to include: snacks and bottled water, plastic trash bags for wind protection and car sickness, first aid kit, cellphone and charger, flashlight and batteries, blankets, waterproof matches and/or a lighter, properly inflated spare tire, jack and lug wrench, jumper cables, signal flares, pocket knife, atlas and state/local road maps, extra quart of high-quality motor oil, hand cleaner, and paper towels.

Can’t head out of town? Plan a Staycation!

Some of the benefits? Saves time (no traffic/no security check-in lines) & saves money (no expensive plane tickets/no checked bag fees).

Get the whole family involved. Encourage everyone to write down an activity on a slip of paper and choose out of a hat.

Activities that are eco-friendly and local

  • Camp out in your backyard
  • Take a walking tour or hike through a local park (I recommend Trinity Audubon Center!)
  • Visit a museum or spot of cultural interest
  • Use public transportation to see the attractions (saves gas and is good for the environment!)
  • Plant a garden
  • Build a composting bin (my post on composting)
  • Organize a Taste Tour (check Dallas Moms Blogs best restaurants for kids here, here, here and here!)
  • Cook new, destination or theme oriented foods at home. Make every evening an entirely different theme-inspired gustatory adventure! (try Central Market Cooking Schools for how-to: Plano or Dallas locations)

Note from Allstate 21st Century Prosperity: We gathered these tips from articles available on the Allstate Blog.

If you have any questions, you can always reach Shawn and his office at 972-980-0865 or shawnspalding{at}allstate.com.
Like them on Facebook and Follow them on Twitter!

Thanks, Shawn and his wonderful office staff! And, happy travels!

Paperless Kitchen: go paperless for less

Even though I try to participate in Buy Nothing Day as much as possible after Thanksgiving, I do realize that everyone else is in the middle of gift buying. If you are aiming for a more conscientious holiday, like I am, would you be interested in supporting a small business targeted exclusively at reducing waste? And since you may have just participated in a lot of cooking and eating, and will probably do it again at some point in December, how about starting with the kitchen?

I have been working slowly toward a paperless kitchen over the years with my reusable kitchen towels and commitment to using real plates and utensils even when we have guests. So I am super excited to have signed up for the affiliate program over at Paperless Kitchen (affiliate link), an online store that provides all that you need to go paperless! My favorite is their Skoy cloths. When dry, the cloths are stiff like paper, but when wet they become flexible and extremely absorbent, like a super thin sponge or an extra plush paper towel. Each Skoy cloth is as absorbent as 15 paper towels! You can rinse and use again and again, and when dirty just throw them in the laundry. I put them in with all my other cloths and kitchen towels. They air dry extremely quickly (less than an hour), but I have even dried them in the dryer by mistake, and they come out completely unharmed.

Skoy cloths from Paperless Kitchen
Skoy cloths from Paperless Kitchen

Anyway, the big news is the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale at Paperless Kitchen!

The following items are 50% off from 10pm Thanksgiving evening (last night) through Monday, December 2 using the code “paperless50”.

Here is the list:

BONUS: If you order in November (before end of day Saturday), you will receive a 4 pack of Skoy cloths free with your order!

And did I mention FREE SHIPPING?

So if you order today (November 29) or tomorrow (November 30) and purchase only a 4 pack of Skoy reusable paper towel replacements, you’ll pay approximately $4.49 and also receive an additional 4-pack free! That’s 8 reusable Skoy cloths for $4.49. I am totally doing this. They make great stocking stuffers too. Pair Skoy cloths with a spray bottle of my homemade Lysol alternative cleaner and you’ve got an inexpensive and eco-friendly gift.

Happy paperless holiday!

Today I am thankful for YOU!

I do celebrate Thanksgiving, and today I wanted each of my readers to know that I am thankful for YOU today! I have been slowly growing this little blog in the last year and I am so grateful for all the new friends that have joined me as we talk about everything from fitness to food to essential oils to BlogHer and #NaBloPoMo. I hope that you enjoy the journey as much as I do and that you feel comfortable hanging around with me for another great year!

I am thankful for each of - for reading, commenting, and sharing the journey!