Simple City Life

Monday, July 28, 2014

I'm heading to @ShiftConMedia!

ShiftCon
When the event you are dying to attend sells out before you get a chance to beg your husband for a change to go, you want to curl up and cry. I was so green with envy of all the bloggers who received their tickets, I knew this would be a conference that I would stalk online, like ridiculously stalk. Blog conferences are super fun and I haven't been able to attend very many...well in truth, I have attended two. It's great to meet fellow bloggers, gain perspective, learn new things and network. What has set this conference way ahead of the rest, is that this conference is focused completely on my passions. They will be teaching  in depth about toxins in our world and what we can do to raise awareness. There will be ways to network with brands that are choosing the right path and eliminating harsh chemicals from their products and staying focused on the health of our whole being. Everything about this conference screams Courtney and Simple City Life. Well, last week, I saw that they opened up a few more tickets and to apply for a wait list. On a whim, I applied. I figured I would have some time to figure out how in the world I was going to afford this trip if a spot opened up.

Well, you can imagine my shock when Leah, aka@bookieboo, emailed me that a spot opened up. I had to discuss things over and took a leap of faith. By the next day I was officially registered for ShiftCon! I still am figuring out where the rest of my expenses will come from. I need to find a roommate and airfare too, but I have faith that this will all workout. I am hoping that I can book a few fall photography session to help cover the costs, so if you know someone in the Milwaukee area, send them my way! If this conference sounds just as amazing to you, you need to apply for waitlist ticket! They are making room and you could be in LA hanging out with me this October!

Some of the amazing people and organizations that will be attending are:
Healthy Child Healthy World
Safer Chemicals, Healthier Families
Dr. Alan Greene
Alicia Vooehies
Annie Urban
Stonyfield
Applegate Farms
Rudi's
...and so many more! 

I am looking forward to finding my voice. I have deep passions for everything at ShiftCon, but I need to gain my confidence in sharing it with my friends, family and my amazing readers.  I am hoping to shift into a new more confident blogger when I return. 

If you want to help me get to Shift Con- please email me at simplecitylifeblog@gmail.com. I am wiling to work my way there, and I would love to talk with you! I would estimate my expenses to be near 800$. I am willing to work with partial sponsorship or full- anything helps at this point! 

Do something wonderful today, 
Courtney

Sunday, July 27, 2014

5 Eco-Friendly Back To School Must Haves

Is it really already time to plan out this next school year? I am in shock at how fast this summer flew by. We have had a great summer and really have done more than we usually do! We took a nice road trip to Colorado, send Elliott on a trip to S. Carolina, the big kids have attended 2 TaeKwonDo camps and one day camp, we have taken the trolley, visited the museum and splash pad...and so many other fun things. I know I am exhausted!

This upcoming school year is going to be very surreal. All three of my children will be attending school. We will now have three schedules to keep track of. I am sure Raichlen will do great, but he will give his teacher a run for her money! As, I am planning out there school supplies, I thought I would share some of our favorite things. These items I am sharing are tried and true. We have personally used them and fully believe each item has helped our school days. If you are interested in purchasing any of the products mentioned, just click on the image to learn more.

First up is ECOLunchbox containers. I love using stainless container for the children's lunches. They clean up super easily, no smelly residue left after your child looses the container full of fresh strawberries...yes, that happens, and it is completely disgusting to clean out.   I am also a big fan of several small portions at lunch. Since we have switched to this type of packing, my kids eat 95-100% of their lunches every day. It's much easier to eat a couple pieces, then a whole bag. Plus, the kids love the variety.


ECOlunchpod Snack Container


Along with small portions of a variety of healthy foods, my kids LOVE to bring a hot meal to school as well. If we are in a rush in the morning is it so nice to quickly heat some soup and fill up their containers. It sounds strange, but honestly it is faster than taking everything out, cutting it and dividing it up some mornings. Things my two oldest love to bring are:  Mac 'n Cheese, Soup, Leftovers, Oatmeal, Taco Meat, and Pasta w/ Veggies. Over the course of the years, we have gone through several thermos containers. This Kid Konserve Insulated Food Jar is the bomb diggity! Keeps food nice and hot as well as easy to screw the lid on and off.I highly recommend this even though it is pricey. We are on year two, so in reality it is cheaper than going through several cheap ones.  

Sky Insulated Food Jar


Our school requires that each student bring their own utensils. For a long time I was packing our home silverware. Then I started to notice that I was missing pieces. Well, they would fall out of the lunch box, get forgotten or mysteriously disappear. As soon as I saw these sets, I knew they would be perfect. It is so nice that they are packed into a nice holder. They are also lightweight and include chopsticks. I really can't think of a kid who wouldn't love spearing their cheese with a chopstick. Most likely they won't be using them properly, but they will be using their creative juices and getting that healthy food into their bellies. 




Merlot Bamboo Utensil Set (4 Units)


Kids also love to be unique, more than spearing food at times. We love the uniqueness of TreeSmart products almost as much as their creativity in designing these recycles school supplies. The pencils are durable and long lasting. The colored pencils are lovely with nice bold colors. Your kids will love rubbing it in to their friends that they have pencils made from newspapers. Trust me, mine love to tell their friends why their pencils are better...kids are all about comparing anything and everything. This is a great way to teach your kids how cool recycling is. 

Eco Smartbox Gift Set



Every school supply list call for disinfecting wipes. Well, most of them are full of toxin chemicals, that are then spread through out the class room. We started using CleanWell products a few years ago and have truly love them. They smell nice, there is no chemical makeup and they do a great job cleaning. Even if you are the only on bringing these in, at least you are making a statement right? They are also great for the car and house. I carry the hand sanitizer in my purse and feel much better using it over the traditional ones you find in the stores. Typical sanitizers contain Triclosan to kill germs. The FDA has done further testing on triclosan and have found it to alter hormones animals, it has also been linked to liver and inhalation toxicity, as well as disrupting the thyroid. you can read more here about the concerns of using triclosan.  

Botanical Disinfecting Wipes Pack

Happy School Shopping!
Courtney

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

#GlutenFree Pineapple Upside Down Cake {+Giveaway!}



Baking mixes are a life saver. I wish I could say I am a fabulous baker, making everything from scratch, but the reality is...I'm not even close.   Finding a great gluten free baking mix is a trial and error. We have tested several and for the most part have narrowed  down our favorites.  On the top of the list is Namaste Foods. Namaste Foods is my number one choice for school treats. Being that it is free from the top 8 allergens, I know that I'm providing a treat that the whole class can enjoy. Not only are they free from allergens, they are made in a 100% dedicated facility free from gluten, wheat, potato, soy, corn, dairy, tree nuts, peanuts & casein. All products are vegan friendly, you may have to substitute a few ingredients in the recipe, but the mixes themselves are vegan. 

With so many allergies in classroom, I love being able to rely on Namaste Foods. Namaste Foods are more than just baking mixes too. They have flour blends, pizza crust, pasta dinners, seasoned coatings, and instant soups. We have tried almost everything mentioned. No matter what product I make, the kids eat every single bite. Owen fell in love with the gluten free chicken (flavored-non-meat) noodle soup cup at the Gluten Free Expo. I think he had about 10 samples, seriously the ladies knew him by name at the end of the day. I am anxious to use these for his school lunches this year. I decided to make my very favorite cake for Owen, a Pineapple Upside Down Cake.  I had never attempted such a wonderful cake before and I am super proud of my out come using Namaste Foods vanilla cake mix. I losely followed the recipe on Namaste's site. I switched a few ingredients, which I will post below. 

Gluten Free Pineapple Upside Cake
1 packageNamaste Foods Vanilla Cake Mix
20 oz canpineapple chunks or slices (reserve the liquid}
3eggs
1/2 cupmaraschino cherries (optional)
1 cupreserved pineapple juice (add water if needed)
1/2 cupcoconut oil melted
1  cupsbrown sugar



Coat your pan with coconut oil. Scoop in the brown sugar evenly over the bottom of the pan. Arrange the pineapple on top of the sugar, place cherries around the pineapple.
Mix together eggs, melted oil and juice together, stir in mixture. Pour mixture over the top of the pineapple. 

Bake 45-0 mins on 350. Let cool 1 minute and invert cake onto platter. 

Enjoy this amazing treat and enter below to win a prize bundle from Namaste Foods!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Limited Time! Try @KiwiCrate for free.

I am really excited to share Kiwi Crate Free Trial  for a limited time only! From now until July 31st, you have the opportunity to try a sample-size project, Starlight Lantern, from one of  Kiwi Crates popular crates! {Just pay $3.95 for shipping.}


Of all the crafting boxes we have tried, I have to say Kiwi Crate is really the greatest. All supplies are quality and the projects are great for all ages. If you have been on the fence about trying these great subscription boxes, now is a great time to try it. A risk free trial just for you. 
Take a look around their website too- you will fall in love with the creativity! My kids get lost in these boxes and love having the projects to display around the house. With simple and easy to follow instructions, you can leave the kids to work alone or jump in and and enjoy the creative juices!

Hurry though, this offer isn't going to last forever! Make sure you share this with your friends too. :)

Be Creative, 
Courtney

Monday, July 21, 2014

*New* Super Nutrition Shakes from @HappyFamily

Happy Family has been busy in the kitchen again. We all know that they take pride in their products and are always looking out your for little one. They strive to give your babies and toddlers the very best. By using organic ingredients they are keeping all the nasty chemicals out of your child's diet. We have used Happy Family for years, and continue to use them regularly. Even my 10 year old enjoys them, she loves the blueberry and beet rice cakes.

What Happy Family has just brought to the table is a new Super Nutrition Shake. Each shake contains 8 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and 21 vitamins and minerals, that's a lot of super! When Owen was younger, I wanted a product like this. His health wasn't the best, but typical meal shakes were full of nasty ingredients. He was borderline failure to thrive and I was always looking for ways to pack him full of nutrients. When these new Super Nutrition Shakes arrived at our door step, everyone was excited to try them. Raichlen of course, stole them both and drank them in no time at all. he has since been asking for more. I managed to get a taste of the chocolate. Not going to lie, it was pretty great! No strange taste at all. He snatched it back and finished it in a few seconds
 The only thing I will mention is that these do contain Carrageenan. I did ask Happy Family about this ingredient as it is under a lot of question. She confirmed that they do use a small amount to stabilize the ingredients. They are using the approved carrageenan for organic consumption. If you have further questions, I am sure they would be more than willing to answer them. 

You can purchase these products from Happy Family's site as well as on Amazon.com. A four pack of shakes ARV is $14.00. They are currently on sale right now too.

Happy Monday Friends!
Courtney

*I received products to facilitate my review. All opinions are my own.  

Thursday, July 17, 2014

zulily Freckles + Kitty Clothing Contest- Ends 7/19/14



Let's Win the zulily Freckles+Kitty Clothing Contest! 


Have you seen the colorful outfits from Freckles+Kitty, the adorable clothing company out of California? YAY for USA Made kids clothes!!  Today through Saturday (7/17 - 7/19) zulily is running a contest where we can BOTH win three dresses for our little ones from Freckles+Kitty! Just post in the comments section below which Freckles+Kitty item is your favorite, ( I personally love the Red Heart Stripe Ruffle Dress)
and if  Simple City Life Blog is selected, I will choose someone from all those who commented to win something of your choice for your sweet little girl. 
Red Heart Stripe Ruffle Dress
Don't know much about Freckles+Kitty? Freckles+Kitty is California made toddler and girls clothing inspired by what’s popular now. The best part is that zulily has select Freckles+Kitty styles up to 65% off! You’ll find brilliant colors and trending details such as floral appliqu├ęs, printed lace, hoodies, sets, and, of course, ruffles. Lots of ruffles! They use soft fabric blends to give your little girl exceptional comfort with a sense of style and fun. These fabrics are always easy-care and washable. Each Freckles+Kitty garment reflects the California spirit, and it’s these details that make each piece playfully individual. Check out Freckles + Kitty on sale at zulily! And don't forget to comment below and tell us your favorite little outfit!

Good Luck,
Abbie

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Gluten Free Black Bean Burgers with Roasted Carrots #MyPicknSave #CollectiveBias

I love summer. It make me so very happy! We spend our days outside and the house stays so much cleaner. We also enjoy a good portions of our meals outside too. Not only do we love to grill out or dine on our front porch, we also get invited to friends for cookouts. I never had to worry about this before, but ever since Owen was diagnosed with celiac, it has added a new level of stress. We have learned to adjust our eating at home, but going out can be stressful. My fears of him accidentally ingesting something that will send him into intestinal distress lurk around as I prepare for any outing. We have learned over the years that gluten free living is so much more than avoiding bread. Your basic everyday items are sources for hidden traces of gluten- ketchup, dressing, mayo, seasoning packets, lunch meats, bbq sauce and so on. It's important to be aware of this even if you are not gluten free. I always try to feed Owen some extra snacks before we go to a dinner as well as packing a back up meal. If you are shopping for a meal that you know needs to be gluten free, finding a store that is conscious about marking their products is key. We are so lucky to have Pick'n Save stores here in the Midwest. They have created the health key system that helps you find the products you need without having to pick up every product to read the label. Owen loves this system. No longer do I hear 5,000 times, "Mom, is this gluten free?". He can walk the aisles and look for the green tags that label the gluten free items.
Since we love to be outside grilling, we have had to adjust our meals a little. It isn't horrible, just a few tweaks to keep everything safe for Owen. A few of the summer grilling staples we have had to change are ketchup, bbq sauce, bread crumbs and seasonings. Since we are also avoiding high fructose corn syrup and artificial colors we limit our selections, which is actually nice, less choices makes my life easier! If you take a walk over to the ketchup section you will see several choices, however you will notice the nice and straight forward green tags. We typically purchase Annies Organics Ketchup, if we are on a budget we get Heinz Simply Ketchup. The same thing will happen all over Pick'n Save, you learn that the green tags are your new best friend and decision making becomes very simple. For everything you purchased on a regular diet, there is a equal gluten free option.
If you are looking for a great recipe to wow! your gluten free friends for that amazing summer cookout, here is a recipe that is one of my kids favorite!
Gluten Free Burgers with Black Beans

1 lbs. lean ground beef
1 can black beans rinsed and drained
2 garlic cloves
1t. red pepper flakes
1T cumin
1 egg
1/4 cup  gluten free bread crumbs
sat and pepper taste
Udi's Gluten Free Buns

Mix seasonings, egg, garlic and meat together. Add black beans slowly kneading them into the meat mixture. Form into patties and grill over medium heat until done. Lightly

toast buns on the grill before serving.

Suggested toppings: wilted kale, tomatoes, onions, ketchup, bbq sauce,guacamole and anything else!

Roasted Rainbow Carrots

1 bag organic colored carrots
1/4 cup organic coconut oil
1-2 cloves garlic (crushed)
sea salt

Peel and cut carrots into "fries". Toss lightly with oil and garlic. Lay on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with sea salt. Cook in oven for 20-25mins (or until tender) on low broil.

Happy Gluten Free Cooking!
Courtney

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Healthy Home Improvements by Healthy Child Healthy World.

Summer is the prime time for home renovations and projects. Healthy Child has created this easy to follow infograph to help assist you as you do these projects. Avoiding chemicals and toxins in our house if key to keeping our families healthy. Before you get started, take a look and see if you need to change any of you plans.  You can also download this simple Healthy Home E-book to help you along. 




Saturday, July 12, 2014

Weekend Fun with Planes #fireandrescue! {FreePrintables}


Dusty's back and we couldn't be more excited to see him again  and meet his new friends. If you haven't the trailer for this new movie, in theaters July 18th, you can watch it here. My boys are ready and anxious to see Planes Fire and Rescue, and if I'm being honest I am too. It looks to me like there will be valuable lessons for kids of all ages in this film. Disney has been rolling out the best films lately!

If you are looking for a little down time from the crazy summer schedule- print off some of these great sheets. I'm sure your kids will love them!

Coloring Sheets:





 Connect the dots:


Have a Wonderful Weekend! 
Courtney

Friday, July 11, 2014

{Fashion Friday} Jamberry Nail Wraps #Review and #Giveaway



I hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July! We spent the day on a leisurely 12 mile bike ride, watching a parade, spending time with sweet friends and while Kevin and Alamea took a 3 hour nap, this momma gave herself a manicure and pedicure! It was so relaxing to actually beautify my feet and hands and pamper myself for a little while. It was even more fun to trade in the nail polish and try out Jamberry Nail Wraps.These beautiful designed wraps are non toxic and have no gross smell, dry time or chipping. There are over 300 designs to chose from and you seriously can waste a lot of time looking through all the beautiful colors and prints. Not only are they non-toxic, Jamberry wraps are latex free, gluten free, vegan, made in the USA and never tested on animals and the wraps are "5 Free": free of dibutyl phthalate, toulene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, and camphor.


Please ignore my dry, cracked hands...they need some TLC
The whole process of Jamberry Nail Wraps is a little slower than painting your nails but the end result is worth it. There are a few things to remember when using the wraps. Nails should be prepped by washing hands thoroughly, pushing back cuticles, swabbing with an alcohol wipe, and drying before application. I did all of the prep but I did forget to use the alcohol wipes, but it didn't seem to make much of a difference. After you prep your nails and find the correct size of wraps for each nail all you have to do is make sure you have the Jamberry mini heater ($19) or like me use a blow dryer.   Heat and Pressure are key to applying these nail wraps, and pushing back your cuticles to ensure proper adhesion and prevent the wraps from lifting is key!


This video gives more info on how the process of applying them works. 

Like I mentioned the process of the nail wraps is a bit slower than painting your nails but I loved that I could do the dishes right away or even change Alamea's diaper right away and there was no smudging of paint. It is a bit of trick to get the right size for your fingers and to lay them out on the nail bed without it being crooked but after my first attempt at one hand the second one was faster and looked much better. My toes on the other hand were a little bit of a mess but that was mostly due to me not matching the direction of the pattern..haha.

Jamberry claims the wraps last 2 to 3 weeks on your fingers and 5 to 6 week on your toes. I am actually planning to take them off today because they are starting to pull up a little bit due to forgetting to wipe them with an alcohol swab. The oils on your nail beds make it difficult for the wraps to stay down, so I will be sure to remember that for next time.  I could probably file them down and they would be just fine as well.  My toes on the other hand look great and neither my hands or feet have chipped nail polish which is really nice. To take the wraps off you can that use warm water and lemon juice for a non chemical or toxic option.


I really like these wraps and could probably get pretty addicted to buying tons of these beautiful designs or if I had room in my budget I would  like the monthly subscription which is new this month called StyleBox. StyleBox is $30 of Jamberry products that comes to your house in a cute box every month for $25 or less (depending on how many months you sign up for.)  One of the wraps in each Stylebox will be exclusive-- you can ONLY buy that wrap through Stylebox! I am a sucker for subscription boxes..haha. 


 So how much to do the basics cost? They are $15 for one sheet, which I thought was super expensive until I went and had a pedicure last month and saw that for a manicure the price was $15. Each sheet of wraps is enough for 2 to 3 applications and there are even Junior wraps for little girls that have enough for applications. You can also buy three wraps and get one free though the link above, Just be sure to choose "Simple City Life" at checkout, so they know we sent you:)

 My very kind friend Nicole who I heard about Jamberry through is giving away a full sheet of Blooming Splendor for our readers so be sure to enter this giveaway because it's a fun one and ends on July 21st and you can tweet everyday for added entries!


Have a great weekend and take time to pamper yourself!!
Abbie

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