Tuesday, November 26, 2013

REVIEW: Safe & Natural Products By M & M Soaps

Is everyone busy getting ready for Thanksgiving??  Have you started your Christmas shopping??  We are getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner around here.  I've also started shopping & creating Christmas gifts for the grandparents in our lives.  I hope to get those completed ASAP so I can make a few things for the Lee kiddos.  We'll see how far I get.

We've have got a very busy December ahead with birthdays, crafting, a Christmas program & practices for the kids, etc.  The funny thing is, I was SOOO naive in thinking December wouldn't be as busy as October & November... seriously, WHAT was I thinking?!

Enough about me, right now I have some FANTASTIC products to tell you about that are creations of Arianna Mojica from M & M Soaps

My gift package arrived beautifully wrapped
I was given the blessing of a goody box from M & M Soaps.  Their slogan is "Nourish Your Skin From The Outside In" & they stand very true to that by using all natural ingredients, without any harmful fillers or additives.  They use high quality ingredients that will not only not harm your skin, they won't harm your body either!  Such products are very rare these days; especially ones that won't break the bank.

One VERY IMPORTANT thing to keep in mind is that our skin is the largest organ of the body & whatever we out on our skin will be absorbed into our bloodstream & then enter our other organs.  Think about that the next time you lather up, spritz perfume on, paint your fingernails, or apply your deodorant.

If you are using big name brand products right now, you may never see them the same if you really stop to think about the harmful effect such things can have on your overall health.  I know I sure thought differently after I read & finally UNDERSTOOD the product labels of things I had been using for years & years.  Honestly, I was upset when I realized what I had been dumping into my body day after day, year after year! 

Don't lose hope though, as we can help our bodies to heal just by reducing the toxin load, & we can further facilitate healing by replacing products that contain dangerous ingredients with ones that use safe & truly natural ingredients.

A good rule of thumb in the natural health community is that if you can't EAT it, don't WEAR it!  Now, I know as much as anybody that if there is a tight budget to adhere to (& who doesn't have a tight budget these days?!), that "rule" may be harder to follow.  For me & my family I try my best to buy the healthiest products I can within our budget.

I now make a lot most of what we use, so that really helps the budget.  I also do my absolute best to minimize & get only what we really need, so that I can have the budget capacity to buy the best products (or supplies to make products) I can within our means.

I no longer use things like perfume, hair spray, mousse, gel, lipstick, or body spritz, not only to cut down on our toxin load intake, but also to ease the budget to allow for the healthy versions of what are true necessities for our family... you may find you need (or just plain want) hair spray, lipstick, etc. & that is okay.. find what works for you!  I would suggest you look into the safest brand & formulation you can reasonably afford and/or trying to make your own to cut down your toxin load intake.

With things that we mist on, spray on, & breathe in we must be very careful as well.  Remember baby powder that was used on babies after every diaper change?!  Well, there is a reason they stopped recommending it & now even STRONGLY ADVISE AGAINST it... it is unsafe because the particles become airborne when applied & are then ingested into babies' lungs as well as those of everyone  in the vicinity.  Hair spray, body spray, & perfume all are airborne so you may want to reconsider if you really need them, & if so, if you can find a healthier alternative such as something homemade.

Some people claim it is too expensive to buy "safe" deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste, etc.  I can tell you that I have personally found many sources of "safe" versions of many cosmetics, toiletries, etc. for the same price or even cheaper than products chock full of toxic ingredients, so rest assured it surely CAN be done!!  I utilize online shopping for most of said items unless I make them myself, & then I usually order the ingredients online.

For my family it has been a s-l-o-w process buying things little by little.  Some months I will find a recipe for something I want to make, but it is not in the budget to spend the money to buy all of the ingredients at once, so I may even buy them over 2-4 months to avoid going over budget.  No matter how great something may be, it is not worth the stress of blowing the budget.

Anyway, back to the awesome products at M & M Soaps.  I was provided with some wonderful products to review: Clay Facial Soap, Chamomile Lavender Swirl Soap, Chai Tea Soap, a cupcake soap in cinnamon, & whipped shea butter.

I find their prices to be pretty reasonable, especially for the quality of the products & all of the love put each into each & every handmade product.    

The soaps are fantastic!  Not only are they beautiful, but they are long lasting, safe, & natural.  I love that their facial soap gently exfoliates my ((gasp)) aging skin, yet doesn't leave it feeling dry or tight.  

Doesn't that look YUMMY?!
The cupcake soap was the last to be used because it was absolutely too cute to use, but no worries, in the name of research & reviewing I used it.  Some of my children actually thought I was lying about it being SOAP, it was THAT pretty & realistic.  I think one of them may have even licked it when I turned my back because I saw some tongue wiping going on when I turned back around?!  Even the kids thought it was too pretty to use, but once I used it first they were more than happy to lather their hands with it.

The whipped shea butter had a fantastic, lemon-lime scent; one that was not overpowering or fake by any means, but one that greatly appealed to my sensitive nose.

I love infused products that are truly naturally scented because they don't give me a headache like the ones that can only CLAIM to be "naturally" scented.  I know if something is a fake within moments of smelling it because I will develop a headache instantaneously.  No headaches at all from the M & M products.  That is a huge plus for me, & you will not be disappointed if you try them too!

I asked Arianna to give me an intro so you can "meet" the woman behind the products:

"My name is Arianna and I am a mother, wife, teacher & healer who strives daily to live life aligned. I create healing soaps & related products using only what is in nature. My aim is to reach those that seek healthier beauty options.  We pride ourselves in the fact that we deliberately avoid the use of synthetic lab fragrances and colorants. We only use therapeutic grade essential oils as scents and we only use clays, herbs, minerals, botanicals, fruits and vegetables to add color to our creations. Our mission is a simple one... to provide you with a soap bar that is nourishing and healing to your skin from the outside in!"
 If you are in the market for any handmade soaps, lotions, shaving bars, salves, lotion bars, deodorants, and much more, be sure to check our M & M Soaps and tell them Mama Lee sent you!

They have many unique items so you may even want to keep them in mind while you do your Christmas shopping.  They have some DIY kits too for making your own healthy salves, lotion bars, & scrubs for those who would like to try their hand at making some great products without having to track down ingredients.  The kits even include the molds to make the soaps and/or containers for the finished salve.  If they are out of stock on something, be sure to contact Arianna directly to get what you need.

Now why don't you head on over to M & M Soaps to find some yummy goodies for someone on your Christmas list... or even for yourself?!

Don't forget to like them on Facebook, Twitter, and Google!!

Happy Thanksgiving,
<3 Mama Lee <3

What kinds of products do you use??  Are you trying to replace any of your current products with safer alternatives??  What products do you like at M & M Soaps??

** I was provided the some sample products for my review.  I was not paid for my review & the opinions shared are my own. **

Friday, November 22, 2013

EASY Cheesy Potatoes - Gluten Free, Grain Free, Allergen Friendly

Being a mama, & sometimes one who gets wrapped up in a project or task longer than originally anticipated, I sometimes rely on quick fixes for meals and main dishes.  Having to feed a family around food sensitivities drastically limits what I can quick quickly, or at least if I don't want to cook from a box or can't afford to.  Have you ever priced those crazy expensive
See the cheesy goodness?!
gluten free entrees and/or snacks?!  YIKES!!  Sure they are GF, but come on, how is a growing family (or any family on a tight budget) supposed to afford them?!  We'd need a crazy amount of them to feed us, & if I am going to spend that kind of money for one meal just for the entree, even for a quickie one, I am going to eat OUT and have a break all together.

Anyway, one thing we have gone back to eating is potatoes.  Before we had to go GF we had greatly reduced our potato intake because of varying information I had read about potatoes & the poor impact on health.  After we had to go GF & having to eliminate so many other foods from our menu, I decide to give potatoes another shot. 

Truth is that we LOVE potatoes of all kinds!  I have also since found other information that supports the fact that potatoes can be healthy, very healthy in fact.  I honestly think that since no 2 people are exactly alike, no diet, food, etc. will impact every person the same way and we don't experience any known negative issues after eating potatoes, so we will continue to enjoy them in moderation.

Oh yes, back to the recipe.  You will not even believe just how easy this is, as long as your potatoes are already precooked.  If not, this is still a super easy recipe, you just have to wait for the potatoes to cook first.  Patience, my friend, patience! 

You can use potatoes that have been precooked various methods - baked, pan friend, steamed, & even mashed!  We tend to like to get as much of the peel off if we use baked potatoes (unless the potatoes are organic) since they are on the "dirty dozen" food list, but feel free to leave the skin on, if that is your preference. 

Once the potatoes have been precooked you are ready to go!  Sometimes we will even bake the potatoes a few days ahead of time (& store them in the fridge after they are cooked) for this recipe so we are ready to go without any long wait time.  When we use baked potatoes we will break them apart with our hands as we add them to the pan.

This is a very forgiving recipe & we do everything based upon looks, from making this so many times, so I don't have any exact measurements. 

It is so easy to cook this & is also a great dish to allow a younger chef (a tween or teen) to prepare and help introduce them to cooking because of it being so forgiving, requiring little stove time, & the fact that it is quite delicious so no fear of messing it up!

This can be made dairy free (& other allergen free) by using oil instead of butter, & by using non-dairy "cheese" in place of dairy based cheese.


1. cooked potatoes (diced, baked, sliced, mashed, etc.) - feel free to fill up that pan!
2. coconut oil, butter, etc. - depends upon how many potatoes
3. salt - to taste
4. spices (cilantro, parsley, pepper, etc.) - as desired


1. Heat the oil or melt the butter in a skillet or frying pan

2.  Add the potatoes & heat through thoroughly (feel free to drizzle more butter & oil onto the potatoes to get the desired consistency & taste you'd like)

3. Sprinkle mozzarella, cheddar, etc. cheese on top of the potatoes & heat until melted

4. Once the cheese is melted, add salt (& spices, if desired) to taste

I like to serve this with a salad, and/or steamed green beans or broccoli, and sometimes a nice loaf of GF bread depending upon which meal it is being served for.


<3 Mama Lee <3

Do YOU like potatoes??  What is your favorite way to prepare potatoes??  Do you think you will try this??

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Babywearing Benefits: Part 1

Before our 1st child was born we registered for a front pack type of baby carrier.  My first experience with it was when our oldest was just about two weeks old & Mr. Lee had to go back to work.  I still remember the sheer terror of being left ALONE with this perfect, helpless, yet needy little creation.

I quickly found out that ALL she required was breastmilk, a clean/dry diaper, & being in my arms.  I also quickly found out how that meant I was NOT going to get anything done other than holding her.  She was our first (you know, the one you make all your mistakes with so you can do better next time, should God ever bless you with any more children... not that you MEAN to make mistakes, but it just seems to work out that way, no?!) & I was WAY different then.  For starters I pushed myself way faster to get into the groove that everybody ELSE placed on me, rather than finding OUR groove, as a new expanded family unit.  That involved going to church & the store after 2 weeks and trying to be super mom, wife, & house keeper all in one.  Enter in that baby carrier we had registered for.

Remember how I said the baby was only two WEEKS old?!  Well, picture this... new mama, sweating bullets trying to care for her newborn AND make dinner because she needed to prove herself worth of the new awesome responsibility of not only being wife & mama, but a stay-at-home wife & mama for the first time EVER.

Let's face it!  People just expect so much of women & moms, and I was quickly finding out that they certainly expected far too much out of a stay-at-home-mama.  Only back then I had no idea that was THEIR issue & not mine.. NOW I do & NOW I know Mr. Lee has very reasonable expectations for our family and he would not give me any grief if our house looked like a laundry bomb went off as long as the kids were properly cared for (which they always are, of course!!).  But then, I just felt so much pressure, even though now I have far greater responsibility not only having more blessings now, but far more chores, cooking most everything from scratch, school work, etc.

Okay, so back to my first day alone.  I very vividly recall that "all" I accomplished was caring for the baby all day long... nursing every hour even though each feeding would take 30-45 minutes because she was a lazy nurser (& trying to sleep off her epidural still... like I said, I was a completely different person then... but that experience taught me so much... like how much I NEEDED to birth at home after that) who liked to suckle & snooze, but if I ever dared to try & pry her off my breast, well, let's just say I didn't because our bundle of joy made it clear that was NOT an option!  So I pulled out that baby carrier... strapped it on my chest & decided to skip reading the directions because dinner was going to burn on the stove... and since I have always been pretty technically inclined I usually figure more out how to use something just by diving in than reading those pesky directions.

Well, as straightforward as that carrier was things just did not go smoothly with it.  My 2 week old 9 POUND baby was TOO BIG for it... WHAT?!  Yeah, that's what I said... so the dinner I thought I was going to get to finish making was soon neglected because then my greatest need was trying to figure out how to get my newborn OUT of the carrier... perhaps those pesky directions would have helped, but I doubt it... that carrier was just too small, end of story... But since my child was a NEWBORN & the carrier supposedly went to 25lbs, I was determined it was going to work.

Well, guess who walked in from his first day back at work after becoming a daddy & the the first thing he had to do was help new mama get the baby out of the carrier she had the baby wedged into... who was also fussing (baby not mama.. LOL)?!  Talk about feeling incompetent... sheesh!!  I took that carrier back to the store a few days later & decided no more of those dumb things for me after I had such a bad experience... I felt my arms were a much better & safer option.

Since my precious wee one wanted to be with mama & in my arms, pretty much every waking moment, I was able to get little else done because she also decided that naps were just NOT her thing unless she was IN MY ARMS.  I knew she would soon be past that stage & tried to cherish it as much as I could... the time was precious... my baby & me...

As much as I tried to cherish those hours, days, weeks, & months of baby holding, that nagging from those around me and the unrealistic expectations they out on me as a stay-at-home wife & mama were stressful.  They made me feel lazy & guilty because there Mr. Lee was out making the money & "ALL" I was doing was taking care of a baby...one baby... surely I should be doing more than all day long.

One thing I am so grateful for is that I new enough, even being a new mom, to trust my instincts no matter what others around me would say.  Mr. Lee always was & always is very supportive and involved in hands-on, intentional parenting.  So there was never anything he said or did that made me feel guilty, but rather those on the outside.  At that time, pretty much most of our friends our age didn't have children yet, so I really didn't have a lot of understanding people to talk to.

Some of the best advice came from my mom, who was (& always is) very supportive of me & the way we were raising our new family member.  She said that being a stay-at-home mom of one child is so hard because YOU are their EVERYTHING... there are no siblings to entertain them & play with them, it is ALL YOUALL. DAY. LONG!  She also knew how unsupportive so many people were of moms, especially stay-at-home-moms, & it meant the world to me that she would listen & encourage me.

One day I met a new friend at church.. she had an older child & also a child the age of my first.  She was a tremendous blessing to me & she came into my life at the perfect time.  It wasn't that my mom wasn't good enough, but somehow having someone else, not related to you, that can encourage you, support you, & understand where you are coming from meant so much.  One not related to you who didn't HAVE to love you & support you, like Mom does.

That friend also introduced me to a baby sling & made me stop timing every nursing and keeping track (via pen & paper) of which side the baby nursed on.  Can we say Type A personality?!  Yep, baby was two months old & I was STILL timing & tracking her nursings.  Hey, what can I say?!  I had no idea how on earth I would know which side she'd need to nurse on unless I kept track of it with my trusty notebook & pen.  I also tracked how many wet & dirty diapers too... eeeks, that alone was enough to keep me busy all day since every time my baby ate, she pooped... EVERY TIME!!

Oh, yeah, back to the sling... there was seriously a halo around that woman, who became a good friend of mine.  She helped me to follow my God-given instincts to love, care for, & attend to my child without guilt & without shame.  If I had a bad day or confrontation, she was always there to give me a pep talk.  Anyway, one day she had me try her sling on.  I LOVED it!  My baby HATED it, but I was very excited at the idea of being able to both attend to my baby's needs (without having to leave her alone to cry for mama) AND do some chores, since clean laundry & food in our bellies was a nice thing.  I liked my friend's sling so much & then found one for sale on eBay for myself.

I tried for a while to get the baby to like the sling & she got to the point where she would tolerate it for a while, which was a huge blessing, but it wasn't until she was 8 months old that I actually felt confident enough to leave the house & nurse her in public (aside from being at my friend's house or at chuch).  See, not only was I harassed for not doing enough, but I was shamed for nursing.  Yes, you read it right, I was shamed for feeding my baby!

A couple of times I actually got enough nerve up to go to a store with just the baby & me, I was actually told I needed to go into a bathroom to nurse, gawked at, & given nasty looks by store employees.  I did speak up, even asking for a supervisor at one store, but I was tripping over my words & had tears in my eyes, so I am sure I looked like a weirdo!

Don't worry, for our second baby & the others after, I was well equipped with a PRINTED copy of the state's breastfeeding law, & while I never actually had to pull it out to support my claims about my right to nurse in public, I was ready to.  I even printed out the laws from other states if we were ever going to go out of state.  In fact, I even did that a few years ago.

At present I would just tell anybody they would be hearing from my lawyer (which I would have to hire, shhhhhhhh!! LOL) if someone didn't refrain from continuing to harass me once I informed them of the state's law.  Currently, I think most people may glare, but not as many are quick to say anything directly to a nursing mother, or at least I have found that has changed dramatically over the years.  They may comment to someone WITH them, but usually don't have the nerve to say anything directly.  I am pretty much always so concerned with taking care of my nursling & any other children who may be out with us, that I really don't have time to notice if anybody else is staring at me or whispering about me.

Oh yeah, back to babywearing... there was a point I was getting to, so I will do that now.... I guess...

Babywearing was not only wonderful for helping me to get things done at home, but I found it also enabled me to be able to shop for groceries, and it was perfect because I could also nurse my baby while doing whatever else needed to be done.  Even though my newborn babywearing experience with my first child was a bust I didn't let that discourage me from meeting my baby's needs & from continuing to try to find what would work for me and my family.  I did hit a few roadblocks along the way, but I was finally able to navigate through them & reap the benefits of babywearing.

Aside from being able to grocery shop, get things done at home, nurse my baby, etc. while babywearing (or baby carrying rather, when my first attempts went awry to babywear), I also enjoyed extra bonding time and skin-to-skin contact (which helps regulate the baby's digestion, breathing, sleeping, etc., and it also helped extend the time frame between the return of mama's 1st post partum monthly cycle, which I am all about) with my baby; while my baby enjoyed a lot of quiet, alert time where she observed so much about me & the big world around her.  She also learned that she could trust me to meet her needs when she needed them met, not only when it was convenient.

I have since worn all of my babies, from birth through toddlerhood.  As my older toddlers transitioned into becoming preschoolers, I found that they have all liked knowing that they were getting bigger & older, yet there was always a place for them in mama's arms, sling, wrap, backpack, soft structured carrier, etc. if the need ever arose.  We are one of "those" families who always has a stroller with us, but the stroller usually has the diaper bag, snacks, etc. while the baby and/or toddler is being worn or carried.  There are times when baby may prefer the stroller for a bit, but overall all of the Lee kids have loved being worn (minus the first one who took a bit to adjust to it).

Throughout the years I have acquired a collection of baby carriers as I find that no two work exactly the same for every child & I have also been able to help other people try my carriers on & figure out which one may work for them.  While I have not tried every brand of every type of carrier, I have tried pretty much every style of carrier now.  Right now my favorite is a soft structured carrier (SSC), which is featured in a review post here: Boba 3G review.

 If you are new to parenthood or new to babywearing, my best advice is to hang in there & find something that works for you.  If your child is fussy in a carrier, they say to put them in & go walk around to get them used to it.  I find my little one gets really fussy while bring worn it is usually an indication they are fighting sleep & are usually happily, sound asleep in 2-3 minutes.

Have you ever worn a baby or child in a carrier??  If so, what is your favorite brand & model baby carrier??  Or do you tend to hold a baby or child instead of using a carrier??  Do you or your child prefer a stroller??         

Friday, November 15, 2013

Follow Up: Fun With A Phone Solicitor

YIKES!!  Three weeks have gone by since my last post.  I am still here, just even busier than usual.  We have some new things going on in our lives that have changed up our schedules, so we are now adjusting to a new "normal"... whatever "normal" means!! LOL  In addition to all of the activity craziness, I am now in birthday & Christmas mode, which entails making gifts for grandparents & great-grandparents, my children, Mr. Lee, etc.  Yes, busy, busy!!

Back to my post... one day my kids & I were sitting here when the phone rang.  Let me back up for a moment... a couple of nights prior to the phone ringing one of my children told me about a "stunt" they had read about in a book they thoroughly enjoy reading, The Best of Stuntology (NOT an affiliate link; it's just there for your enjoyment to check out the fun read :).  So 2 days later the phone rang.  I was actually sitting near it and could answer it.  I could plainly see it was a solicitor phone call & wasn't going to answer it at first... that is until I realized I had IMPORTANT research to do for my loyal blog readers.

If you recall my previous post Fun With A Phone Solicitor my loyal readers shared some tips about how to handle the pesky, annoying, intrusive phone calls.  While I LOVED one idea about handing the phone to a toddler, I realized that would probably not be ieal for my family because my youngest (who is able to talk on the phone) would probably say something I didn't want to be made public (not anything bad, but even something as innocent as a name and age) & that information could be misconstrued by someone falsely assuming my child was home alone.  I really didn't want to go there, so I opted for letting ME have fun on the phone instead.

The "stunt" involves answering the phone by speaking while not moving your tongue.  I chose to keep it down behind my bottom teeth & the words came out quite interesting, to say the least.  Here is how the phone call went... mind you my children were all staring at me wide-eyed wondering what on earth I was up to... the scene was quite hysterical because not only was I trying to keep my act up, but I was also trying not to laugh hysterically seeing my children's faces.

ME: Hewooohhhh!!

Solicitor: Uhm, is Miss Lewis there??


S: Uh, is Miss Lewis there??

ME: You have the wong numbah...


ME: You have the wong numbah!!

S: Uh, uh...

ME: WHAT?!  I can't heaaaaarrrrr yooooouhh!!!



No more calls from them... so far... we HAVE received numerous other automated solicitor phone calls, but none from actual live people... yet.  I am kind of looking forward to the next one.

I must say, the best part of it all, in addition to them FINALLY not calling me back at least 2-3 times a week for as long as I can remember, was the look on my children's faces.  When I hung up the phone there were high 5's & such excitement that Mama tried a "stunt" told to her by one of her children... who says parents don't listen & kids don't have good ideas?!

Well, I'd better run & get back to my exciting world of creating personalized gifts, amongst all of the everyday things already going on.  Speaking of which, on a side note... I am getting much better at creating said items, so I am hoping it won't take as long this year.  I make a whopping 18-20 personalized photo calendars that I design 100% on my own which I make with several different date sets, because while my family likes Mr. Lee's side of the family & vice versa, we don't all celebrate the same birthdays, etc.

I print them out at home on quality card stock bought at a warehouse store or Wal-Mart and purchase refurbished ink cartridges to bring the production cost way down.  I hand punch the hanging holes & the slots for binding combs, then I bind them at home too before packing them up to mail out.

Several years ago I was asked what I wanted for Christmas by my mom-in-law & I responded with, "A comb binder!!"  Not every woman hates gadgets & appliances as gifts... I much prefer underwear (the good kind that don't go in places they shouldn't... like Fruit of the Loom or Hanes Her Way, bikini style... the ONLY time I wear bikini anything! LOL :), measuring spoons, pots & pans, paper cutters, & hole punchers to jewelry, candy, flowers, etc. any day.  I am not a high maintenance woman, which I know Mr. Lee appreciates.  He isn't a high maintenance guy either, which I appreciate!!

Back to work...

<3 Mama Lee <3

Has your fall schedule gotten crazier than usual??  Have you had any fun with phone solicitors??  Are you making any Christmas presents??  Have you started shopping yet??  What kinds of things are YOU doing this time of year??  

Please share w/me & my readers what is going on in YOUR lives!!