Friday, December 31, 2010 Sale

Are you doing any after Christmas shopping?  I always enjoy looking for deals and usually have a little bit of Christmas gift money to spend.  ;) has a great clearance section right now that is worth taking a look at.  If you are new to you can use the code ONEWORD for an additional 15% off!

These Majamas are only $18.29 down from $64!  There are plenty of great deals - toys, organic crib bedding, clothing, etc.  Have fun shopping.  :)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from our house to yours!

I hope you are enjoying this season and finding time to enjoy all of the precious moments in each day.  Here is one of ours to share with you - Esther's favorite Christmas song:

Esther Dancing from Christy Vande Waa on Vimeo.

Oh, and if you haven't seen this, its about the cutest thing ever!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Peppermint Bark

If you're in need of a last minute gift (or just some chocolate), peppermint bark is easy and fun to make.  You'll need:
1 bag of milk chocolate chips
2 bags of white chocolate chips
3 large candy canes
1/2 tsp peppermint extract

Melt the milk chocolate chips in a double boiler.  (I used two pans with water down in the bigger pan.)  

Spread the melted chocolate on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Put this in the freezer for a couple of hours.

Crush the candy canes in a plastic bag.  Be careful not to smash them completely, you want some small chunks to remain.

Melt the white chocolate chips in a double boiler. 

When the chips are completely melted, stir in the crushed candy canes and peppermint extract.  

Take your milk chocolate out of the freezer and quickly spread the white chocolate evenly over the top.  Freeze the tray again for a couple of hours.

After it is frozen solid you can break up the peppermint bark and package it in bags.  One cookie sheet of chocolate makes three full bags of bark.  


(Do you have a favorite easy holiday recipe?  Please share!)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Baking

Three moms + seven kids + a double batch of cookie dough = loads of fun!

This year we decided to do our sugar cookie baking with friends.  It worked well to have the cookie dough already made up and let the kids cut out the cookies all at once.  We had plenty of cookie sheets available for this.  The kids all got to play while we baked the cookies and then come back to help frost them all.  What a fun playdate!

I enjoyed using my new stainless steel cookie sheets from Paula's Bread.  I had been looking for non-toxic cookie sheets for quite some time and was thrilled to try these out recently.  (Most of what I could find in stores was either coated with non-stick chemicals or made of aluminum, which I prefer to stay away from.)  I found a great selection of stainless steel bakeware at Paula's Bread.  

So far I've used my jelly roll pan for cookies, pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting, and roasted root veggies.  I was a bit worried that the roasted root veggies might blacken the pan, but it scrubbed up easily.  I intended to take a picture of the pumpkin bars to share with you, but they were all eaten up far too quickly.  I didn't think you wanted to see a photo of the empty dirty pan.

I also have the cookie sheet and really like that size as well.  Both pans are great and I'm excited to be kicking my toxic pans to the curb!  I'm sure you'll be hearing more from me about Paula's Bread in the future, be sure to check out their website when you get a chance.

Sorry the blog is a bit slow lately, we're busy with Christmas activities and will be back soon with more to share!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Organic Mama's Etsy Shop

I've seen Organic Mama's work locally at EcoBuns and was thrilled to connect with her recently.  Organic Mama's Etsy shop offers nursing reminder bracelets, nursing necklaces, hand knit neck warmers, hats, and the most adorable little baby cocoons for photography.  She also just started selling grain mills.

Shannon is a local mama who has 4 little ones at home and enjoys living a simple natural life.  Her Etsy shop items are gorgeous and would make great Christmas gifts, and are a wonderful way to support a local mom.  She is offering my readers (that's you!) a free necklace with any purchase, just mention it in the note to seller at checkout!  Check back in January for a giveaway and review.  :)

Operation Smile

NUK is hoping to donate $10,000 to Operation Smile, an international children's medical charity dedicated to repairing cleft lips, cleft palates, and other facial deformities in developing countries.    NUK will donate $1 for every person that registers at from now until December 31st.

NUK, like Operation Smile, is committed to helping children, especially those who may need a little extra care. Known for their dedication to children’s oral development, NUK has specifically designed products for kids with cleft lips and cleft palates, who have trouble using a standard bottle nipple. NUK’s two specialized nipples help achieve an almost natural sucking process by sealing the cleft during feeding time.

“We are honored to be partnering with Operation Smile to raise money and awareness for the organization,” says Olivier Foglizzo, Vice President of Marketing for NUK. “We look forward to creating additional medical product lines for other special needs children”.

Operation Smile will be spreading holiday joy on medical missions in both India and Mexico before the end of the year. The money donated by NUK will help pay for approximately 42 cleft lip operations. NUK will also give a number of samples from their line of products to children being screened for surgery. Every three minutes, it is estimated a child is born with a severe cleft condition – often unable to eat, speak, socialize or smile.  In some places these children are shunned and rejected.  And in too many cases, their parents can’t afford to give them the surgeries they need to live a normal life. NUK and Operation Smile are dedicated to helping these children receive new smiles so they can achieve their dreams.

Register at for an easy way to help make this happen!

Thursday, December 9, 2010


We are in love with these backpacks and lunchboxes from Crocodile Creek!  (and in love with the store Julabug that sent them to us.)  Seriously!  I am so impressed with the quality and cuteness of these.

Julabug sent Lucy and Julia each a backpack and lunchbox to review.  Although my girls don't go anywhere for school, they love packing a backpack to take along to LLL meetings, church, Grandma's house, etc.  We were thrilled to get these and like I said, I'm super impressed with the quality.

The straps and nicely padded and thick.  They look like they would be very comfortable, even loaded up with books (or in our case wooden play food for a pretend picnic).  The zippers are chunky and very easy for the girls to use.  Just handling these backpacks and lunchboxes, it is obvious that they are going to last a long time, they are so sturdy.

The backpacks are big enough to hold coloring books and papers, yet just the right size for my little tiny girls to comfortably wear.  They both love the compartments inside the front pouch - Julia filled hers up with colored pencils and stickers right away.

We previously had some cheap plastic backpacks that I was worried may contain lead.  These are BPA, PVC, and phthalate free and the lunchboxes have lead-free linings.  You can read Crocodile Creek's safety statement here.

We haven't actually packed a lunch in these yet (unless you count wooden food), but they look like they would hold quite a bit.  The sides are very thick and well insulated.  I'm sure we will use these often in the summer for packing picnic lunches.

A backpack and lunchbox would make a unique gift for a little one this Christmas.  Add a matching water bottle for even more fun!  Of course ours are girly, but there are plenty of cute boy styles at Julabug too.  We give these two thumbs up!

These items were sent to us free of charge for review.  I was not obligated to give a positive review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Allow me to introduce you to an awesome new toy store - Julabug!  They have a great selection of European, natural, wooden, and eco-friendly toys.  Many of the things they carry are toys that we own and love.  I have had so much fun browsing Julabug lately.  Actually, I keep getting distracted by their fun toys while trying to write this post.  

Julabug was started by two moms who both had spent time living in Europe.  They had grown accustomed to the high quality toys there and were unimpressed with the plastic, electronic, commercialized toys here in the US.  Sandra and Susan now travel North America, Europe, and Asia to personally hand pick the products they sell.  What a fun job!

Sign up for their newsletter (and you'll probably find a discount code).
Become a fan on Facebook for giveaways, updates, and more.
Register on their site to start collecting Julabucks (get 5 just for signing up, and 1 for each approved product review you write).
Also, don't miss their deal of the day section.

What are you waiting for?  Head on over!  ...but check back soon because I have a super cool product review from Julabug to post.  :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Stocking Stuffer

If you're looking for a fun stocking stuffer, try a cotton crocheted bath puff!

In my searching for a non-plastic scrubby puff, I came across a fun Etsy shop that sells crocheted cotton bath puffs.  (How many times do you think I can say type "puff" in one post?)  Hearts2Treasure sent us some to try out, along with a cute pink soap saver for the girls.

Using the bath puffs is similar to using a washcloth, with maybe a bit more soap needed because they are so thick.  These have held up well, we throw them in the wash with towels frequently.  I love that I am not scrubbing myself with plastic and think these would make a fun eco-friendly gift.  Try making some homemade body scrub or purchase an all natural lotion, add a bath puff from Hearts2Treasure, and you're all set.  :)  These sell for just $6, which is a great price.  While you are there, check out their scarves, scrunchies, washcloths, and more.  Thanks Hearts2Treasure!  (only 6 times?)

I Lift Up My Soul by Charles Stanley

I Lift Up My Soul by Charles Stanley is a daily devotional book that I have been enjoying.  Each day consists of a one page reading including a scripture to look up and closing with a prayer.  The book is a nice hardcover, and appears to be a collection of devotions from previous books he has written.

I enjoyed reading this and will continue to use it from time to time.  I like that the messages are short (ie easy to quickly read and get the point even with a baby tugging on your leg, someone screaming for mom from the other room, and the phone ringing).  Having a daily devotional time is something that I need to be better at.  I find that when I take a minute to focus my mind and heart our days run much smoother.  Charles Stanley has been a pastor for many years and his wisdom and insight comes through in this book.  I Lift Up My Soul has some great simple truths that are refreshing to read and just what this busy mama needs.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from  I was not obligated to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Plan Toys Noah's Ark

Plan Toy's Noah's Ark is an adorable little set!  My girls enjoyed playing with this and parading the animals into the ark.  We did have to keep it away from Esther though because many of the animals are a choking hazard.

The crocodile is my favorite, its just too cute.  The animals are well made, and are painted with Plan Toys non-toxic water based paint.  I love that they are nice and bright, but I don't have to worry about paint chipping off or wonder what it is made of.  Of course there are two of each animal and there are a fun variety to play with.

The cabin on top of the ark tends to fall off as it is only resting in two little peg holes.  The orange lid of the cabin comes off as well and the girls struggled to keep it in place.  I may end up gluing both of them on, but would prefer if it were made differently.

All of the animals store neatly away in the ark, which is great.  The door on the front opens and closes, and animals can peek out of the windows as well.  Overall this is a fun set and easy to play with.

You can find this for sale at the CSN Stores website Toys and Games Online.

We received this item for review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Glass Tree Design Studio

I'm not sure how many local readers I have, but if you happen to be Grand Haven this weekend, check out Glass Tree Design Studio.

Glass Tree Design Studio is a collaboration between Sue Vande Waa (my mother in law!) and Emily Bekius (my sister in law!).  Sue has been a stained glass artist for over thirty years, and has contributed many works of art to the West Michigan area including large church windows that she helped construct.  Emily is now learning the trade.  Glass Tree Design Studio creates unique sun catchers, panels, frames, candle holders, and more.

They will be at the Christmas Arts and Crafts show this weekend in Grand Haven, check their Facebook page for details and sales they will be running.  These make great Christmas gifts!  Spend $50 or more at the show and you will receive a free "Esther Joy" angel.  If you stop by, tell them I sent you.  :)