Sunday, March 30, 2014

If there was a competition for eating the most snow, I know who would win......

Despite a few warm and melty tease days, spring is refusing to stick around here in the Bow Valley. I'm finding this more frustrating that usual this year mostly because I'm running critically low on clothes that fit around my ever-expanding baby belly and each cold day that I find myself venturing out becomes more of an ordeal in the wardrobe/comfort department. I'm also a little too heavy, waddlesome  (if that is a word) and generally off balance which doesn't work well with slippery snow and ice. Yesterday I walked the dog with the kids without having to wear a coat, hat or mitts, across snow-free wet, brown grass and thought that maybe, just maybe we were done with the snow. Alas, we woke up this morning to a big dump of the white stuff. Instead of feeling sorry for ourselves we ventured up a mountain to a place where the snow was even thicker and fluffier and tried our best to embrace the never-ending winter. 

The boys excitedly went tubing at Mount Norquay while I drank hot chocolate and Bel ate a heck of a lot of snow. 

Although I was a bit sad that I couldn't join in with the fun, it was quite invigorating just to be out in the fresh air and to watch these two squeal and laugh their way down the slopes a few times. 

Fresh snow. Yum. 

 She did squeeze a hot dog in along with all the snow. At least the sausage part anyway. 

As nice as it was.....I still want it to be spring now please.

Oh my cuties!

 Just a couple of photos of my cutie pies. Seb looking proud with one of his very own Lego designs. I love that he's lost his slightly OCD tendencies about his lego and is more interested in making his own creations than obsessively keeping all his set's in perfect condition. Maybe it's the influence of the Lego movie :) 

And then there's Miss Bel, she's just so flippin' cute! Here she is with dolly of the moment, Mabel. 

I can't quite believe we're going to have another little monkey around here soon! None of us can wait to see who he looks like :)

Into the Badlands to see some Dino's.......

 On Friday we drove to Drumheller in the Alberta Badlands. Neil had some work to do there and we figured we would make a day of it and visit the Royal Tyrrell Museum to see some dinosaur bones. After a quick stop at the Drumheller Penitentiary (not usually included in Drumheller's top attractions) we made our way through the strange little town of Drumheller and out into the hoodoos and canyons to find the museum. Drumheller itself feels a little run down and a little too heavy on the garishly painted fibreglass dinosaurs that seemed to be staring at us from every street corner. Of course the kids loved this and Seb even suggested we move there! Erm, no thanks!

Once we arrived at the museum we were actually pretty impressed! It's a very nice, modern, facility and much more pleasant than the prison :) 

 The place was huge and full of amazing displays. The amount of dinosaur skeletons was mind blowing!

It was quite dark inside some of the rooms (apologies for some of the grainy photos) and this had Bel and Seb a bit freaked out at times. Secretly I think they quite liked the spookiness of it all. 

One of the most interesting things we discovered is that Alberta, 60 million years ago, looked quite a bit like Tofino looks now, a coastal coniferous forest of huge cedars and tree ferns! Who would've thought! 

They even had a humid cretaceous garden in a huge greenhouse full of luscious green leaves and lovely smells! I would've quite liked to stay in there all day to give a chance for the moisture to sink into my Alberta dry skin! 

I was fascinated by these dinosaur footprints in the sand. A footprint seems like such a temporary thing and it just blew my mind to think about how these marks have survived all these millions of years!  

It was a fun day and so nice to get a change of scenery. To finish up here's a photo of all (soon to be) 5 of us! Gives just a hint of the craziness that is our little tribe. :)

Friday, March 07, 2014

Clean as a whistle....naturally

Yesterday my sister left me a little note on facebook to tell me that I have inspired the hippy in her to clear out all the nasty chemical cleaners and personal care products in her house and go natural. This made me very happy :) and encouraged me to write a little post on this here blog about how I keep my home and the all the bodies in it clean while keeping all the nasty chemically things out! My mum always taught us that a little exposure to dirt was a good thing and that all these sterile anti-bacterial cleaners and products couldn't possibly be good for you in the long run and it seems she didn't know just how right she was! Studies are showing that allergies are on the increase and many are being linked to a lack of exposure to certain bugs and germs. Anyway I must admit that in the past I did use all kinds of synthetic, chemical or petroleum based products just because that is what mainstream shops and advertising would have us believe we need.  It's been a gradual process for me over the last few years but I'm at a stage now where it's second nature. I don't step foot in the cleaning product aisle of the supermarket and even walking by it makes me choke on the yucky stench of all that synthetically fragranced goop.  I used to be addicted to paper towel and some form of bought kitchen spray in my kitchen for clean ups. I'm happy to say that I probably haven't bought a roll of kitchen paper towel for well over a year.  I make my own concoction of cleaners to fill old spray bottles and have a selection of cloths and reusable scrubby things that I throw in the washing machine daily. The funny thing is that this process and this full drawer of clean cloths actually makes me really happy! 

For me the process of being more selective about the things I bring into my home and being mindful about what I use, waste and put back out into the environment has given me a sense of purpose, satisfaction and (sorry for sounding super cheesy) inner peace :) Feel free to chuckle at me, I don't care! The more I apply this logic to my life, the happier I become. 
When I found out about being pregnant for the third time I was so excited to be able to buy some cloth nappies/diapers and wipes! I've filled my fair share of landfills with disposables and considering the changes I've made in my life since the last time around it would have felt very wrong for me not to give cloth a go. I've built up a little and very colourful stash but if any of my lovely family members are thinking about what to buy as baby gifts.... cloth diapers or accessories would be most gratefully appreciated! After much research the brand we've mostly stocked up on is Applecheeks. Besides all the other benefits I think they look a hundred times more adorable than disposables! 

Now back to the nitty-gritty......for our laundry I use Nellies all natural laundry soda. I started buying this at Green Soul Organics in Tofino and haven't looked back since! I buy 50 load bags from our local natural and health food store Nutters and top up my original 100 load tin. I religiously shop at Nutters once a month on their "Power Tuesday" when everything is 20% off. I stock up on laundry soda, castille soap, deodorant , shampoo, tea, nut butter, chia seeds, seaweed, basically all the things that can be harder to find in the local supermarket. It's become such a part of my Canmore routine and I love that it's almost impossible to not bump into someone you know in Nutters on Power Tuesday! Along with the laundry soda I also use Nellies Oxygen Brightener and have my original set of dryer balls that I've been using in place of fabric softener since we lived in Tofino. I love the Nellies products! They leave your clothes feeling really, really clean and don't leave any residue or scent. They are made from all natural, biodegradable ingredients and are super concentrated so you only use a tiny scoop per wash. At under $13 for 100 loads it's also a lot more budget-friendly than many other eco brands. You can even bulk buy Nellies at Costco online making it even more cost effective! 

For general household cleaning I make up a concoction of castille soap, white vinegar and water. I usually use Dr Bronners Eucalyptus liquid castille soap which uses certified organic, ethically sourced ingredients and is 100% biodegradable. I've tried most of the different scents and this one suits me best for cleaning around the house. I'm not very exact with my recipe but I put a good glug (probably about 4-5 tablespoons) into my full size spray bottle, add a slightly smaller sized glug of vinegar and fill to the top with water. This cleans my counter tops and even glass surfaces beautifully without leaving any streaks! For the kitchen I also add a few drops of Grapefruit Seed extract which by the way is an absolutely magical staple to have in your house! It disinfects naturally and has mega anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. You can take a few drops orally (mixed with juice is best as it tastes quite bitter) in place of harmful antibiotics to combat nasty infections or viruses. It has even been claimed to be successful as an anti cancer treatment! Google it! You'll be amazed! Now go and buy some :) For the bathroom cleaner I sometimes add a drop or two of lavender or lemon essential oil just to make things smell lovely and fresh! For anything that needs a good scrub such as the bath tub or really dirty baking dishes or pans I use baking soda, white vinegar and some kind of aggressive scrubby brush. For dishes I sometimes use diluted castille soap or any other brand of natural, biodegradable soap (Nellies has a lovely one seen above in the beautiful reusable glass bottle!) I haven't had a working dishwasher for the last three months but when I do use it I use Ecover dishwasher powder that I also buy 20% off at Nutters.

I've been washing baby clothes! Eeeee! the excitement!

Now for personal care......I clean my face with Coconut oil. I buy a mega-giant tub at costco (as I also use it for cooking, baking and spreading on toast), virgin, cold pressed is best, then I decant some into a tub for "beauty use" :) I just rub it all over, wipe it off and then splash with cold water, this removes any dirt or makeup and leaves my skin nicely moisturized. I also mix coconut oil with a drop lavender essential oil and rub it all over my feet and legs at night as a moisturizer and sleep aid. I use this technique on the kids too particularly if they are "extra perky" in the evening and might need a little help getting off to a nice relaxing slumber! For washing I use good old natural soap. My favourite all time soap is Baby Bear from Rocky Mountain Soap Company and is happily made right here in Canmore :) You can even buy it by the slab!  It smells delicious and lathers and cleans beautifully, I get an inordinate amount of pleasure from washing with this soap :)
For hair I do love Rocky Mountain Soap Company shampoo and conditioner especially the Rosemary Mint variety but it is a little pricey so I only treat myself to this once in a while. I usually use Philip Adam apple cider vinegar shampoo and conditioner which I again stock up on at Nutters on Power Tuesdays. A little goes a log way and I find that because I now have to put a little more thought and effort into finding and budgeting for these sort of products I am more prudent with their use. I buy crystal pink salt from the bulk bin at Nutters and infuse it with essential oils for a nice relaxing and mineral rich bath treat and occasionally will treat myself to a nice natural body scrub from Rocky Mountain Soap company or a lovely massage oil like the "Mama To Be" oil shown below from Earth Mama Angel Baby. 
The kids use the same soap and generally get through very little shampoo. We use coconut oil for intense moisturizer or Everyday Shea body lotion  which comes in massive pump bottles (bought at Nutters power tuesday) and lasts forever. 

So that's that, I find that I use less products, create less packaging waste and feel so, so much happier about the substances that are being absorbed into our skin and breathed into our lungs. As an added bonus I really appreciate the wonderful feeling that living in a more holistic and natural way enhances the everyday experiences of my life. 
Love from Sophie.....the happy hippy :)