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I’m going to ShiftCon

Two weeks from today I’ll be in Los Angeles to attend the first ever ShiftCon — an eco-wellness social media conference. The focus of ShiftCon is health, wellness and the environment — three of my biggest passions! I wasn’t sure about going at first since I haven’t been as big a part of the blogging world as I used to be, but when a wait-list ticket opened up several weeks ago, I decided to throw caution to the wind and bought my ticket. Not only that, my husband Jody and I decided to make it into a short family vacation so the four of us are all heading to LA!

ShiftCon

I’m excited to participate in ShiftCon for many reasons including that some of my old blogging buddies will be there and especially because the focus is on topics that mean so much to me. “ShiftCon was created to give wellness and eco-friendly bloggers a place to network, share ideas, learn from experts, empower one another and organize their efforts into activism.” In addition to great content, inspirational speakers and health-conscious brands and sponsors, the food provided will be organic and/or GMO-free. How can I not get excited about that?!

Some of the workshops I’m particularly interested in include:

  • Living the Waste-free and Plastic-Free Life
  • The Future of Labeling GMOs
  • Real Food on a Budget
  • Pesticides — What You Need to Know
  • Why Are We So Allergic?

I’m sure I’ll be Tweeting and/or posting on Facebook about what I learn at the conference and plan to blog about it after the fact as well.

Are you going to ShiftCon? Let me know if I’ll see you there!

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Your Cash Register Receipt May Contain BPA

Disclosure: This post was created as part of the BPA in Receipts Campaign in which I am a financially compensated blogger. The opinions are my own and based on my own experience.

Cash register receipt

Keeping your family healthy and staying away from nasty chemicals such as bisphenol A (BPA) — a nasty endocrine disruptor — at the grocery store can be a daunting task. But there is new research (#ad) that shows that it’s not just the food that could contain BPA, it’s the cash register receipts as well. Specifically it’s the thermal register receipts that are the issue. That kind of paper feels really soft and slippery, because it’s made with BPA, a chemical that’s been banned or severely restricted in countries including Canada, France and China.

Ninety-four samples of cash register receipts were collected from 12 grocery store chains and analyzed for BPA. The receipts came from 82 stores in 66 cities and 17 states. Of the 94 samples that were analyzed, BPA was found to be present above the sample reporting limits in 27 of the samples. That’s 28.7% or over 1/4 of the samples that contained BPA. That might not seem like a huge number especially considering most people don’t handle receipts that often. However, if you think about the checkout clerks who are touching receipt after receipt as they hand them to the customers for eight or more hours per day, that adds up to a lot of BPA exposure.

Naturally Savvy reports:

Winn-Dixie, the grocery store chain popular in Southern states came in with the highest level of BPA concentrations above the sample reporting limits. All of the concentrations found on Winn Dixie receipts were above 1,000 mg. Ten Winn Dixie locations were sampled. Kroger and Safeway, the nation’s two largest grocery chains, also tested positive for high levels of BPA.

If you as a consumer want to avoid BPA in cash register receipts, you can simply refuse them, but I’m not sure what the answer is for the store clerks who have no choice but to handle them regularly. Perhaps wear gloves or better yet, get your company on board with using receipts without BPA.

Personally, I do most of my shopping at Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage (it helps that it’s a couple blocks from my house) and I recall seeing a notice posted at each checkout counter that their receipts do NOT contain BPA. Hopefully more companies will follow suit.

Disclosure: This post was created as part of the BPA in Receipts Campaign in which I am a financially compensated blogger. The opinions are my own and based on my own experience.

Hannah’s Gluten-Free Pumpkin Essential Oil Cookies

Pumpkin On Guard cookies
Perfect for fall, these gluten-free cookies are a little piece of awesome. Made with pumpkin, spices and a couple essential oils, they are sure to be a hit in any crowd. Bake them up and watch them disappear! A big thanks to my friend Hannah Gaitten for sharing this amazing recipe with me.

Gluten-Free Flour Blend
mix well and store in an airtight container
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup potato starch
1/2 cup almond flour (not meal)
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 tsp xantham gum

Hannah’s Gluten-Free Pumpkin Essential Oil Cookies

makes approx. 3 dozen cookies
Ingredients:
2 cups Gluten-Free Flour Blend (see above recipe)
1 1/2 cups sugar (sucanat or organic cane sugar)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 T cinnamon powder
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 cup butter OR coconut oil for dairy-free, melted
1/4 cup applesauce
1 egg
1 T vanilla extract
20 (+) drops *Protective Blend Essential Oil (this is the generic oil name)

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 and prepare 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Mix dry ingredients together in a medium sized bowl.
Mix wet ingredients until smooth in a large bowl.
Add dry ingredients to the wet and mix well until combined. Batter will be like cake batter — much thinner than cookie dough. If it is too thin to hold its shape once dropped on the cookie sheet, add more flour — 1/4 cup at a time — until the batter can hold its shape (but will not be stiff).
Drop cookies (about 1/8 cup/2 tablespoons each) 2 inches apart on the parchment-lined cookie sheet. You will have several batches to bake.
Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes — cookies will be soft but will have a matte finish, not glossy.

Frosting:
Powdered sugar
Butter or coconut oil, melted
Water or milk
Vanilla extract
*Wild Orange Essential Oil
Mix powdered sugar (make your own by blending sugar in a high-speed blender) with a little liquid (you can use milk, water, melted butter, coconut oil, vanilla extract) and Wild Orange Essential Oil. You can drizzle it over or smear it on the cookies. This frosting takes the cookies to a whole new level of yum!
Amy’s note: I used about 1 cup of powdered sugar with several tablespoons of melted coconut oil, a tablespoon of vanilla extract and enough water to get the right consistency, plus 10 drops Wild Orange EO.

Hannah notes that the cookies should NOT be stored in an airtight container as they will congeal together and form one giant cookie if you do. However, they can be frozen and thawed later, provided that you lay them flat and be sure they are not touching each other, in the freezer. Enjoy!

About the Oils:
(Please note: Due to recent FDA-regulations, I can no longer share on my blog the brand of oils I love and trust. If you’d like that information, please join my newsletter — link at the bottom — and I will happily share with you via email.)

Protective Blend Essential Oil

  • Ingredients: Cinnamon, Clove bud, Eucalyptus globulus, Rosemary, Wild Orange
  • This blend addresses: Bacteria, Immune system support, Mold, Topical disinfectant, Virus

Wild Orange

  • Properties: Antibacterial, Antidepressant, Antifungal, Anti-inflammatory, Antioxidant, Antiseptic, Carminative, Choleretic, Digestive, Hypotensive, Sedative, Stimulant

*Please note that only high-quality essential oils should be ingested and they will be labeled as safe for ingestion — not all oils are.

Here is Hannah’s inspiration for this recipe, which calls for wheat flour.

If you are interested in learning more about how I got started on essential oils and some of my favorite oils and blends (here’s a hint: one of them is the Protective Blend), check out my essential oils page.

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My Unschooling Interview on Mile High Mamas

IMG_6605

A few weeks ago, I was honored to be interviewed about my family’s experiences with unschooling for the popular Denver-based blog, Mile High Mamas. In honor of back-to-school time, Mile High Mamas ran a three-part series featuring some non-traditional schooling methods including homeschooling, unschooling and a post about charter schools.

If you ever wanted to know more about how the kids and I go about our unschooling lives, what drew me to unschooling, my thoughts on getting into college, and my favorite things about unschooling, I encourage you to read my interview.

Have more questions for me about unschooling? Leave a comment and I may address them in a future post.

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