10 Little Things that Lead to a Happier, Healthier You


I'm not an expert here, but I can tell you what works for me. And boy, oh boy, could I use a "happier, healthier me." Between recovering from two pregnancies in two years, not getting enough sleep at night since I got pregnant the first time around (pregnancy insomnia PLUS babies that don't sleep? DOUBLE Woot!), and never seeming to have a moment to myself, I've found that those little things I do can really add up. And Twittermoms is giving us a chance to blog about it, so here is the dish: 
  1. Water. Drink it. Not tons, but enough. And try to make it actual water. Pretty much anything else with anything in it can have an adverse effect on your body, not to mention the added calories that can weigh you down. I find that a good way to make sure I'm getting enough is to drink a glass right there at the sink, then refill and take the second glass with me. 
  2. Coffee. Or Tea. Drink it. One cup in the morning can give you that pick me up you need to start that crazy mama engine revving. And it doesn't even have to have caffeine! Just that time spent having a nice warm (or iced, in my case) beverage that you don't have to share with your babies is all I need to reset for another day. 
  3. Breakfast. Eat it. It doesn't have to be elaborate. You don't even need to be sitting down to eat it. Just get some calories in you before you leave the station in the morning. Believe me, you will need the energy! Something simple and under 400 calories is a great way to break the fast and get your metabolism going. 
  4. Get Out! Of the house. Whether it's something for your kids, something for your household, or even something just for you, get out of the house in the mornings. When we don't have business to take care of or play groups to be at, I love just taking the girls for a walk around the neighborhood or to the local park. 
  5. Eat! Again? Yes!! Healthy snacks can keep you going and give you that boost of energy you need to get through your day. A piece of fruit is always a good go to for between meals. Donuts are easy to grab too, but you might be feeling a crash a lot sooner than you want to! 
  6. Shop Local. Local Yokel. Local products are always fresher and healthier for you. Hit the local Farmer's Markets or Food Coops to find local items in your area. 
  7. Eat Fresh. Fresh foods are easy, healthy, and make you feel good about what you are eating. No one needs guilt and stress with any meal. It just makes it harder to digest. 
  8. Go Natural. No, not nakie, just natural. Change up just one product in your home to something natural or organic. We have been using hand crafted natural soaps in our shower for almost 2 years now. I love that there aren't any harmful chemicals getting all over us and down the drain. And the smell is invigorating! 
  9. Do your housework! Clean your ass off. Literally. You can burn 75-125 calories for every half hour of moderate housework you do. And if you get outside, stuff like shoveling snow and yard work ramp that up to 170-200. Plus, it feels good to get things done. 
  10. Yoga. This is more personal. For me, yoga is the ultimate happy hour. It makes my body and my mind feel wonderful. Find an exercise that makes you happy and try to do it a few times a week! 
I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Tropicana Trop50 blogging program to be eligible to win 6 free Juicy Rewards points and a $30 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

BONUS FOR MY READERS: THIS EXCLUSIVE CODE**: TWMOM-READR (worth one Juicy Rewards point – that’s up to $5 in savings) for the Tropicana Juicy Rewards Program

**This one-time use code is valid for new accounts ONLY. Must be entered within 6 hours of creating your account. Limit one new account bonus code per new account. All accounts must be created and all codes entered by May 7, 2010 at 11:59 PM EST.

Trop50 Little Things for Happy, Healthy Living
1000 Little Things for Moms from Trop50

Listless Monday: Bloggy Graphics

And Shameless cross promotion. My friend Amanda asked me to make her some graphics for a blog event she is hosting in June. So, not only do I get to show off my Adobe Illustrator and Photochop skills, I get to promote her event in the process!
  1. The Banner
  2. The Sponsor Button
  3. The Event Button

The Banner

The Sponsor Button

The Event Button


Guidecraft Toys Winners!


Thank you to everyone who entered and welcome to all of the new readers who joined us this week! Here are our winners:

Noah's Ark Rocking Chair Winner

Post #72

AStarrA! Congratulations!

Noah's Ark Table and Chairs Winner

Post #2

Cindy! Congratulations!

Winners, I will be sending you an email to get your mailing address. Congratulations! I know you will love your new Guidecraft Furniture.

Zestra® Review

Essential Arousal Oils™

Are you ready for a rush? Women everywhere are getting the Zestra Rush™!

Through my Twittermoms connections and the generous people at Flair Media, I was recently given the opportunity to try a sample of Zestra® Essential Arousal Oils™. 

Zestra® is exactly what it says it is. It is a blend of botanical essential oils and extracts that, when applied topically (yes, to your lady bits), enhances your sensitivity to touch, making your feelings of sexual arousal much more intense. It is patented and has been clinically proven to be effective in increasing a woman's feelings of arousal and desire. Even doctors and women's health practitioners are recommending it to their patients. 

I know that there are many questions associated with a product that comes in contact with your most private bits, and Zestra® has an excellent page on their website that answers them all better than I ever could: Zestra Frequently Asked Questions  Everything from the basics, how to use the product, who it is safe for, and where you can purchase it is covered.

My sample arrived in a discreet mailer from Semprae Laboratories. This company is founded by women and its focus it to create clinically proven women's health products. Inside I found a small box with 4 individual single dose packets. 

While I am not going to treat you to the details of my trial, I have to admit that this product is pretty amazing. Within minutes of applying the oils I began to feel the pleasant sensations that mark the beginnings of a wonderful Rush of pleasure. Um, WOW! 

I will definitely be using this product again. But not until I am through with breast feeding our daughter. I am postive that there are no immediate side effects, but after I tried the first sample, I read a bit more and realized that Zestra® is not recommended for use by pregnant or lactating women, as it has not been studied in those populations.  Oops! It is also contraindicated for anyone who has a known allergy to any of the ingredients and for anyone who has a yeast infection or other irritation of the genital area. 

So - if you are not in this very small population of women for whom Zestra® is not recommended, I highly recommend that you give it a try! This is an over the counter product and can be purchased at select stores, including Wal-Mart, KMart, Target, Meijer, and Rite Aid. You can also purchase it online through Zestra's very own website. BUY IT NOW! It's a bit spendy, but you can get a free sample (you pay shipping costs) and there are a few places online where you can get a discount or find coupon codes to use. 

Happy Humping! 

Happy Earth Day!


Happy Earth Day everyone! We are generally pretty green year round, so when posed with the question "What are you doing for Earth Day?" we have been saying "Nothing special. Maybe we will plant some seeds in our mini greenhouse." Well, it's almost 4 pm and we haven't busted out the gardening stuff yet, so it doesn't look like we will be planting today. Maybe tomorrow. 

However, we did end up spending about 2 hours outside this morning. There was a special event for kids at the Bozeman Public Library and we were pleasantly surprised when we stumbled across it this morning. We played with blocks, play dough, and flubber indoors, and then headed outside for bubbles, frisbees, sidewalk chalk, and fun running around. 

So what do you do on your Earth Day? Is this your one big day to 'think green' and do something good for the environment (Hey! Even a little is better than nothing!) Or are you EXTRA green today - doing something super special like planting a tree or doing community clean up? Or do you just play it like any normal day because you are a crunchy green mama all year round? 

If the whole concept of 'green' is new for you, check out a few items that we like that not only make our life easier, but a bit greener in the process:
Happy Earth Day!

Wordless Wednesday: Artsy Fartsy

Guidecraft Toys: Noah's Ark Table & Chairs Review and Giveaway

Noah's Ark Table & Chairs Set
Product Review and Giveaway

I am so lucky to be able to review another wonderful item of children's furniture from Guidecraft.  If you missed my other review, check it out HERE. Guidecraft has built its good name with over 40 years in the school supply industry and now carries a wonderful line of quality toys  and furniture for children of all ages. 

The Noah's Ark Table & Chairs Set arrived (once again, less than a week after being shipped) on our front porch in a huge box. All of the pieces and parts were wrapped separately and packaged so as to reduce any chance of damage during the shipping process. There were a few chunks of styrofoam to prevent the items from shifting around inside the box, but overall, most of the packaging was able to be recycled. 

Time to put it all together: Once I unpacked all of the pieces and gathered the appropriate tools (a phillips head screwdriver), it only took me about 30 minutes to assemble all three pieces. The chairs were a bit more complicated, requiring both screws and bolts, but the diagram on the assembly instructions was clear and the parts were all clearly marked (on the wrappers, so I didn't have to go and scrape stickers off of every piece). So even with the help of an almost 3 year old, we were able to assemble them without issue. (OK, Ophelia kept stashing screws and we had to keep finding them. Use a toddler as your helper at your own risk.) The table went together in less than 5 minutes. Super easy. 

Guidecraft: Noah's Ark Table & Chairs Set

Ophelia could barely contain herself as the items came together. She kept naming the animals that are beautifully carved in relief and hand painted on the chair backs and seats and on the table top. "There are lions and caribou deer and monkeys and leopards and bears..." The hand painted scenes are adorable, with Noah and animals in his ark under a rainbow, lions on one chair, deer on the other chair, and a variety of items on the table top. 

The chairs are heavy (about 10-12 pounds each) and sturdily built, but not so heavy that Ophelia can't maneuver them wherever she needs them. The table is also very sturdy and it has a very cool feature that I have not seen on other kid tables: a removable center panel with a storage bag under it! It's like a secret cubby. And Ophelia filled it up at once with all of her most prized possessions.  Not only is this table & chair set great for hiding your secret stash, it will be great for activities, snack time, reading, and in our house will double as a bedside table - as it is in Ophelia's room, right next to her bed. 

Ophelia telling me how much she loves her new table & chairs.

I am very pleased with both the look and the quality of this table & chairs set. The hand painted Noah's Ark motif is really cute and is suitable for either a boy or a girl and the quality of construction is top notch. There are no wobbly legs or delaminating going on with this set! And when I asked Ophelia if she liked it? "I really like it. I think I'm going to have to eat my breakfast in here now!" 

The Table & Chairs Set is one item in a fantastic collection of children's furniture from Guidecraft. The entire Noah's Ark Collection includes: Toy Box, Storage Step-Up, Book Display, Table & Chairs, Extra Chairs, Table Lamp, and Rocking Chair. You can purchase any of these items at Guidecraft or at any of their authorized retailers

Guidecraft: Noah's Ark Collection

The Noah's Ark Table & Chairs Set retails for $185 (USD).


Courtesy of Guidecraft, one of my lucky readers is going to win a Noah's Ark Table & Chairs Set

TO ENTER: Visit the Guidecraft website and then leave a comment here telling me which other Guidecraft product you really like. 

Note: Please provide your email address with your entry so I can contact you if you win.

EXTRA ENTRIES: Leave a separate comment for each entry.

  • Become a follower of Guidecraft's Blog
  • Become a fan of Guidecraft on Facebook
  • Follow Guidecraft on Twitter
  • Follow The Maxwell's Madness! publicly [with Google Friend Connect]
  • Subscribe to The Maxwell's Madness! via RSS reader
  • Blog about this giveaway with a link back to The Maxwell's Madness!
  • Grab my button and add it to your blog
  • Post a link to this giveaway on your Facebook page
  • Follow me [@globalMTgirl] on Twitter
  • Tweet the following:
~~You may tweet once per day~~
You may use this tweet:

Win a @Guidecraft Noah's Ark Table & Chairs Set at The Maxwell's Madness! @globalMTgirl http://bit.ly/b8xzdG
This giveaway is open to all US residents 18 and over, except where prohibited by law. 
Giveaway ends at 12pm MST on Sunday 4/25/2010.
Winners may not substitute another product or seek credit towards another Guidecraft product. 

Disclaimer: This review and giveaway is sponsored by Guidecraft, who provided me with the item above in order to write this review. The review is my honest opinion based on my experience using the product and has not been reviewed or edited by Guidecraft.

Guidecraft Toys: Noah's Ark Rocker Review and Giveaway

Noah's Ark Rocking Chair
Product Review and Giveaway

Guidecraft started making handcrafted wooden toys in a small wood shop over 40 years ago. Today, they have a huge line of over 500 toys and furniture items for children. They have an excellent reputation and I am very excited to be able to review several of their products. 

The Noah's Ark Rocking Chair arrived on Thursday (less than a week after it shipped). It was nicely packed to prevent damage during shipping. While there were a few white styrofoam blocks used for padding, most of the shipping materials were able to be recycled. 

After unpacking the parts and taking a quick glance at the single page of instructions, it took no time at all to assemble the rocking chair using only the allen wrench provided in the hardware baggie. Even with the help of my almost 3 year old daughter, Ophelia, who was extremely excited to be getting a kid sized rocking chair in her room. "It has ZEBRAS on it mom!" 
Hand carved, hand painted.

The chair is beautiful. Both the seat and the seat back are carved in relief and hand painted with beautiful, vibrant colors depicting Noah's Arc and animals under a rainbow. I like that the hand painting, while not factory perfect, makes each chair unique and that the colors are suitable for either a boy or a girl. It is heavy duty (weighs about 20 pounds) and solidly built. With a 14" seat height, it's just perfect for my daughter. She loves to sit and have a snack, rock to music, or read books. She also loves to name all of the animals painted on the chair. 

Ophelia (2 years, 9 months) having a snack in the rocker.

The Rocking Chair is only one item in a fantastic collection of children's furniture. The entire Noah's Ark Collection includes: Toy Box, Storage Step-Up, Book Display, Table and Chairs, Extra Chairs, Table Lamp, and Rocking Chair. You can purchase any of these items at Guidecraft or at any of their authorized retailers

Guidecraft: Noah's Ark Collection

The Noah's Ark Rocking Chair retails for $110 (USD). 


Courtesy of Guidecraft, one of my lucky readers is going to win a Noah's Ark Rocking Chair

TO ENTER: Visit the Guidecraft website and then leave a comment here telling me which other Guidecraft product you really like. 

Note: Please provide your email address with your entry so I can contact you if you win.

EXTRA ENTRIES: Leave a separate comment for each entry.

  • Become a follower of Guidecraft's Blog
  • Become a fan of Guidecraft on Facebook
  • Follow Guidecraft on Twitter
  • Follow The Maxwell's Madness! publicly [with Google Friend Connect]
  • Subscribe to The Maxwell's Madness! via RSS reader
  • Blog about this giveaway with a link back to The Maxwell's Madness!
  • Grab my button and add it to your blog
  • Post a link to this giveaway on your Facebook page
  • Follow me [@globalMTgirl] on Twitter
  • Tweet the following:
~~You may tweet once per day~~
You may use this tweet:

Win a @Guidecraft Noah's Ark Rocking Chair at The Maxwell's Madness! @globalMTgirl http://bit.ly/doLRd9

This giveaway is open to all US residents 18 and over, except where prohibited by law. 
Giveaway ends at 12pm MST on Sunday 4/25/2010.
Winners may not substitute another product or seek credit towards another Guidecraft product. 

Disclaimer: This review and giveaway is sponsored by Guidecraft, who provided me with the item above in order to write this review. The review is my honest opinion based on my experience using the product and has not been reviewed or edited by Guidecraft.

Wordless Wednesday: A Sneak Peak

Homemade: Strawberry Jam

Strawberry Jam

My First Homemade Jam: Strawberry

While I was shopping yesterday, I was forced to take advantage of the incredible abundance of Strawberries available at our local grocery due to a huge strawberry surplus in the market. Normally, Florida strawberries are available in January and February and then California takes over in March and April. But due to unseasonably cold temps this year, all of the Florida and California berries are on the market at the same time - and the market is flooded! And I was able to purchase 8 pounds of strawberries for a mere 50¢ per pound. We normally pay twice that when there is a REALLY good sale, and 4 times that on a regular old non-sale day. 

So, what to do with 8 POUNDS of strawberries? Make Homemade Jam, of course! My friend Alexis is lucky enough to have a 'Jelly Setting' on her bread maker. I am not so lucky. My bread maker has a hard time making good bread, let alone jelly! So I fished around on the web and found a site that had a pretty good 'how to' on making your own. And if you've never made your own, it has everything you need to know about it. 

Here it is what I did, in a nutshell:

  • Strawberries - 8 cups unprepared (which means semi-prepared: washed, hulled, and cut into chunks) 
  • Pectin - 2 boxes of the all natural variety
  • Sugar - about 4 cups
  • Canning Jars (or any other glass container that you can sterilize and seal shut)
  • A Big Pot
  • A Spoon
  • Tongs of some sort (canning tongs would have been a plus, but my regular old Martha Everyday tongs did the trick and I only dropped two jars - thankfully neither one broke and I only scalded myself a little bit.)
Now, there are a ton of items that make canning easier, but these are the MUST have items. 

  • Sterilize your jars. I boiled a big pot of water and gave mine a bath. Reserve a bit of this water to warm your lids with a bit later. 
  • Prepare your fruit. I washed, hulled, and cut the strawberries until I had 8 cups. Then I tossed them into the food processor to 'mash' them up. After that I had about 6 cups.
  • Put the mashed fruit in the pan with the pectin and about 1/4 cup of your sugar. Stir it up.
  • Bring to a rapid boil over medium high heat, stirring often so it doesn't burn. You are at a boil when stirring the mixture doesn't stop the bubbles from forming. 
  • Add the rest of your sugar, stirring well. 
  • Return to a rapid boil, stirring often. When you get there, boil for one minute. Remove from heat.
  • Heat up your lids in a bowl/pot of hot (but not boiling) water. I used some I reserved from the sterilizing process. 
  • Skim the foam off the top of the jam mixture and reserve for later. 
  • Let your mixture set for 5 minutes, then stir it up one more time
  • Pour it in your jars. Fill to 1/4" from the top. Wipe of any bits and globs that got on the lip and then put the lids and rings on. Make sure they are on tight. Be careful here: they are quite hot!
  • Wash out your pot and fill it back up with water. Bring it to a boil and place your tightly closed jars in the boiling water for 10 minutes. There should be about 2" of water over the top of the jars.
  • Remove the jars, set in a safe place and let cool, undisturbed, overnight. 
  • Check your seal - the button should be down. If it didn't seal, you can re-process it (so they say). 
  • Bam, you have jam.  

  • After letting it come to room temp, skim off the foam and discard it.
  • What's left is yummy 'fresh' jam. Eat it up right then and there! We used ours as ice cream topping and it was insanely good. 
My first batch, yesterday, was pure strawberry goodness. I made another batch today and came up a little short on strawberries (the massively good deal on berries was partly due to some of them being a bit over ripe). So I topped off my 6 cups of cut fresh berries with about 3/4 cup frozen black raspberries and 1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries. And the result: Insane Mystery Mixed Berry Jam. And it's also insanely good. 

  • Berries: 1 flat of strawberries @ $3.99 and about $1.50 worth of frozen fruit: $5.50
  • Pectin: 4 boxes @ $2.39 each: $9.56
  • Sugar: 8 cups - we'll call it a 5# bag, just to be safe: $2.99
  • Jars: 12 half pint jelly jars (I had a few more sitting in my cupboard): $8.00 
$26.05 for 7 half pint jars of Strawberry Jam and 8 half pint jars of Insane Mystery Mixed Berry Jam. That's about $1.74 per jar! Store bought runs about $3 per jar and homemade jam at markets and online run $4-6 per jar!! 

So, if you are feeling thrifty - and have a few hours to blow, take advantage of the abundance of ripe, cheap strawberries and make yourself  some jam! Not only is it great to eat, it makes great gifts! And if you processed it right, it will keep for about 12 months! 

Happy Jamming!

ChicoBag™ Winner!


Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway! I wish I could give a ChicoBag™ to everyone.

Random.org has selected:

POST #30

And that poster is:

Avin's Momma! Congratulations!

I will be emailing you shortly to get your mailing information! 

The Baby Book of Weaning: Review

Your Guide To Feeding Your Baby Solid Food

I was very fortunate to be given the opportunity to review an advance copy of of the ebook "The Baby Book of Weaning." Adam and Kiera Pedley of Natural Parenting Tips have put together a very concise and informative guide to the Baby Led Weaning approach to feeding your baby solid food. 

Baby Led Weaning is the concept that you can introduce solid foods to your baby without the intermediate step of introducing purees and spoon fed cereals. When babies are ready, they are able to feed themselves 'baby finger food' instead of being spoon fed. This not only allows your baby to eat at their own pace, to their own tastes, and for their own appetite, it also allows your baby to explore food and all of its sensory goodness!   

I know, I know - I can hear the big question: "But won't my baby choke on solid food?" Well, there is always the possibility of choking. Even with pureed foods. As a matter of fact, the risk of choking is actually HIGHER with purees than with solid foods. When we spoon feed our babies, we can push food to the back of their tongue, bypassing their natural gag reflex. Babies are built to have a very good and very sensitive gag reflex. By allowing babies to feed themselves, they learn to use their gag reflex and in the process, learn how to manipulate food in their mouths. Babies who feed themselves often gag and even throw up, especially when first starting out, but they rarely choke. There is an excellent section in this book dedicated entirely to choking and gagging. 

This book is an excellent guide to feeding your baby. With sections on Healthy Eating Tips, Common Food Allergens, Getting Started feeding your baby, Integrating feeding your baby with the rest of the family,  Introducing utensils, and Creating Healthy Relationships with food, you are walked step by step through the process of Baby Led Weaning. There is a great list of First Foods for you and your baby to try. And while I rarely plan more than a day or two myself, the organizational nut in me really liked the weekly meal planner included at the end of the book. You could even print this out and laminate it so you could use it over week after week! 

As a parent who has loosely followed the precepts of Baby Led Weaning with both of my babies without really realizing what I was doing, I wish I had had this book sooner! I think I would have proceeded with more confidence in feeding my babies. Neither one of my girls has shown any interest in being spoon fed aside from that very first time I tried it (I'm sure it was all about the novelty of it that first time). When Ophelia was a baby she just would not eat anything offered to her on a spoon. But when I started giving her bits and pieces of things to pick up and feed herself she was overjoyed to eat! Rowan is the same way. She loves to pick up food and smoosh it in her fat little fingers. I love the look in her eyes when she is able to put tasty bits in her mouth and explore new tastes and textures. And she loves sitting in her chair and eating with the rest of the family! 

One bonus of following The Baby Book of Weaning and feeding our baby the food that we eat is that I've realized that sometimes we don't eat all that healthy as a family. When we sit down to a meal and I realize that I'm not willing to feed my baby any of what is on my own plate, I know I've not done a good job at feeding myself either. It has helped me to prepare healthier and fresher meals for the entire family, not just our baby. 

I love letting my baby learn to eat by exploring food on her own. It's actually easier to feed her this way, as I don't have to break from eating my own meal in order to spoon feed her hers. I know that she is still getting most, if not all, of her nutrition from breastmilk, so I don't worry if all she eats at breakfast is a few bits of fruit and ends up wearing her yogurt on her head. One of the great mottos found in this book is "Until they are one, food is for fun!" 

"The Baby Book of Weaning" is available for purchase at The Baby Book of Weaning for the price of $9.95. When you purchase this ebook, you will get two fantastic bonuses:

Baby Led Weaning Recipes

Retro Recipes: Recipes from Nanna's Kitchen

You can find many tips and ideas for the Baby Led Weaning approach as well as for other Gentle Parenting methods at Natural Parenting Tips


I received a free advance copy of The Baby Book of Weaning, as well as the bonus recipe books in order to do this review. The views expressed in this review are my own and are not influenced in any way by the authors or by Natural Parenting Tips.


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