Buying club extras

EMAIL ME YOUR LIST: ecofriendlyusabuyingclub@gmail.com. I pull & pack up your order & send you an invoice with your total. You pay (PayPal, direct bank transfer, check), I ship via USPS flat/regional rate. Next order will be June 1st-10th, and you can get whatever you want from the 25-30 vendors who will be offered at that time.

BAREFOOT BOOKS: These are printed in China, the only non-US vendor of the 30 I offered in addition to Onyx containers. I just LOVE everything I’ve gotten from them for  my kids & appreciate their sustainability mission which you can read about here, as well as check out the books, games, puzzle listed below. Many of the books come with CD’s as well, these truly are gems. If you don’t see anything on the list you’d like, but would like some new books at any time, please use the following affiliate link to do your shopping, I appreciate it. https://www.barefootbooks.com/Jessica-Brandt

 

All the following listed at 50% off:

Out of the Blue (hardcover)@$8.00

Board Books:

Baby Talk @$3.50

Starlight Sailor @$7.50

 

 

SIMPLY RUSTIC:

1x Campfire Smores Lip balm @ $3.50

 

 

COLD BEE GONE: https://www.coldbeegone.com/

3x $9.95 (cheapest place you can buy it, it is $13.95 via Amazon)

 

 

NATULO: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2211643002184661.1073741888.397517646930548&type=1&l=06b1a032c8

Organic bamboo Ice teethers 1x angel @$12.95 ea (used to be $25). She is liquidating her stock, no more are being made. One of these buying clubs there will be no more….

 

 

NATURAL SPRINKLES COMPANY: NOW 20% OFF PRICES LISTED BELOW (except those already marked down in dent/bent section): https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2211617468853881.1073741887.397517646930548&type=1&l=f4915a476f (Fb album with the following specific ones). Note: they are not in glass jars, they are now in compostable plastic containers. Website w/ ingredients, etc: http://www.naturalsprinklesco.com/shop/

1x 4 OZ little miss sunshine @$11

Bent/dent/partial sprinkles (the orders come in 2x 1 oz containers, some of these had 1 of those spill but the other was fine): 1x 1 oz neon pearls @$3, 1x 1 oz hot pink pearls @$3, 1x 1 oz B-day medley @$4, 1x 1 oz hot pink pearls that had a couple neon pearls end up mixed in @$3

 

 

 

SALONSOLIDS: NOW 20% OFF PRICES LISTED BELOW https://salonsolids.com/products-page/

Shampoo $18ea: 1x citrus,  1x lemongrass

6x 2 oz glass jars @$4ea

 

REDMOND: https://redmond.life/shop/

Earthpaste tubes @$6.50ea: 3x lemon, 1x spearmint

Toothpowder: 1x splashing citrus, 1x peppermint @$12.99ea (marked down to $8.99ea)

REDUCED toothpowder (they sent these by mistake): 2x black licorice @$6 (normally $12.99!)

1x 8.25oz onion salt @$9.95

1x 4.75oz Real Salt @$4.04

 

MOUNTAIN ROSE HERBS: https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/

2×8 oz Whole Black Peppercorns @$10.75ea

4 oz Euc Glob @ 1/2 price @ $11.50 (was $23, label isn’t perfect as something else in the box broke & spilled on it).

 

 

LUSA ORGANICS: https://www.lusaorganics.com/

Naked (no box) @$5.65: 2x forest shampoo, 3x garden shampoo

Boxed @$6.15: 1 unscented calendula baby

 

GLASS DHARMA: NOW 20% OFF PRICES LISTED BELOW http://glassdharma.com/

Set of 4 Simple Elegance ice tea 9.5×9 @$35.95

2x straw brushes @$4.50 ea

 

 

PRESERVE: https://www.preserve.eco/

Adult brushes @$3 ea: 12 ultra soft, 9 soft, 11 medium (assorted colors)

10x 5 blade razors @ $8.99 ($4 off, normally $12.99!)

5x 5 blade replacement blades  (4/pack) @$14.99ea

10x 3 blade razors @$6.50 ($2 off, normally $8.50)

 

 

TANGIE: NOW 20% OFF PRICES LISTED BELOW  https://www.ilovetangie.com/

4x laundry paste samples @$5 (enough for 6-12 loads)

 

SIMPLY GUM: https://www.simplygum.com/

Gum @$3/pack or a 6pk for $15: 1x cinn,  5x coffee, 6x ginger

Mints @$3.50/pack: 1x cinnamon

 

CRUNCHY BALM: NOW 20% OFF PRICES LISTED BELOW https://toupsandco.com/collections/all

2 oz jars tallow balm @$18ea: 1x Sweet Girl

1x tickled lip gloss @$16

 

POOFY ORGANICS: NOW 20% OFF PRICES LISTED BELOW  https://ecofriendlyusa.poofyorganics.com/

Lotion @$16:  1x orange/patchouli

1x Tanning Oil @ $14

Deo @$11ea: 1x patchouli/clove

SAMPLES: (EXCLUDED FROM SALE PRICES)

$3 BB cream in light, medium, dark

$3 blush samples: blush, blushing, blushingly, blushful

$3 powder foundation samples: Peace, Love, Hope, Focus, Truth, Harmony

$5 Skin Hero lotion samples (formerly known as Ciao Eczema), 10ml jar, enough for several uses

 

JESS toothpaste already made:

3x no calcium 4 oz jars @$7ea (NORMALLY $8): 2x strawberry, 1x grape

1x no calcium 8 oz jar @$14 (NORMALLY $16): orange/vanilla

10x 4 oz w/ calcium, ready to be flavored to your choice of: orange, lemon, strawberry, blueberry, grape, vanilla, cinnamon, peppermint, spearmint, bubblegum, or any combo of those @$7.50 (NORMALLY $8)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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You Better Belize It!

When asking my Son last night, what he missed about Belize, he said… Belize. Indeed, it has a special place in the heart of each member of my family & we are already planning our trip for next year.

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I’m sharing personal stories & even photos of my children & took quite a bit of time to type this all up! Why? Traveling is so, so important to me & I want to share the experiences that made me value it more than ever with you. In hopes maybe I’ll motivate 1 person to get out there & see a new chunk of the world. Raising my kids in rural Wisco, cultural diversity is not something we are strong in. Books can only teach us so much about other humans & cultures, it’s going to visit & making connections & friends with others is priceless & extremely important to me.  I share experiences that aren’t your everyday experience here in Wisco. I’m also happy to provide more specifics for anyone interested in traveling to Belize. I did about a year of research before we went. Little-by-little, reaching out in various groups for advice. While the following is quite lengthy, it is a small fraction of my actual experience. I cherry-picked my most meaningful tidbits. But really, truly, it’s all the details that did not make the cut for this post that are absolutely priceless too.

Pre-trip planning: I started researching Belize almost a full year before we went. I booked our lodging in May, our airfare in early Oct. I’m extremely grateful to not suffer from anxiety except for 1 area: going to the dentist (I have a long list of reasons why). I have always LOVED to travel, and get so, so excited about it. This trip was the 1st ever that I had a few semi-major bouts of anxiety in the day or 2 leading up to us leaving. It didn’t help that we had a completely random, but quite stressful event happen here in Wisco on our own property, a car plunging into the frozen river in our front yard (all ended well, the couple was okay, but we all were quite shook up over it). Then there were the headlines that caught my eye: family of 5 from the US dies in charter plane crash in Costa Rica. Tourist bus plunges off cliff in Mexico, several dead. And I suddenly, and for the 1st time ever, 2nd guessed myself. What the heck was I doing putting my 4 & 6 year olds on a plane to head to Central America?! Was I crazy to think this was a good idea? What if we all died there, my entire family? I really, truly had that feeling for the 1st time ever that I did not want to leave my house. A day before we were to leave for 2.5 weeks. But I got over it. A: I’d been planning this for most of an entire year. B: it was all paid for, no way I was going to forfeit our expenses & stay home out of fear. C: the realist in me shone through: accidents can happen leaving our driveway to go the store to get gallon of milk. We never know when it will be our last day, and I sure the heck want to see as much of this gorgeous planet as I can before my time is up. And I’m so thankful & grateful to be home safe & sound, typing this up from the comforts of my own bed, able to reflect on our amazing trip. The thought of NOT going due to fear makes me want to cry, that is no life to live.

We spent 7 nights on the mainland with a rental car & did quite a bit of exploring. Then we headed to Ambergris Caye for 5 nights, and ended with 4 nights on Caye Caulker.

My 1st Facebook update:

We made it to Belize safely! Super long day, up at 4:30am, left Milwaukee 7am, got off that plane & straight on to the next one in Dallas (40 min from time plane A touched down, and plane B took off, they need to lock plane B 10min before take-off, so we had 30 min, which was plenty of time!). 6 hrs of flight time total, long lines to get through immigration, loaded up into a rental car, an hour & half drive & finally to our home for the next week. Kids have already hit the pool & we just hit happy hour for a tropical drink next to the pool. It’s only 75 here, a bit chilly everyone says 🙂 We’ll take it! It was zero & snowing & so drab & dreary when we left Wisco. I LOVE the vibrancy of the culture & landscape here. The drive from the airport to San Ignacio is wonderful!

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Our trip got off to the most amazing start when we found these ruins just up the hill from where we were staying in San Ignacio. We had arrived near dark the night before, after a suuuuper long day of traveling (up at 4:30am is never fun), but there we were, in Belize by 4:30pm! So 1st order of business day 1 was to find a grocery store. While checking out the options in town, we saw a brown sign that said Archaeological site so thought okay, let’s go check it out. This literally is on the edge of town, and I’m not joking we had the entire place to ourselves for an hour & a half. It was $30 USD to get in, we got approached & asked if we’d like a guided tour for $40 USD & politely declined. Little did we know we’d have the entire place to ourselves & the ability to explore all structures at free will!

My kiddos exploring as they liked. Until my Son SWORE he saw a scorpion scuttle into a crack in the rocks. They both stuck a bit closer after that!

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They are still unearthing many of the sites after they were reclaimed by the jungle when the Mayans suddenly disappeared. What happened to them is still a mystery….

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Plaza A:

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Our 2nd full day in Belize, we drove 6 miles up the road to visit some more well-known ruins, just 1 mile from the Guatemalan border!

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This community was built over the course of TWO THOUSAND years. And is just now being re-discovered. Some areas were blocked off with tin & barbwire, we overheard someone saying that area was waiting for the next digging season to see what was underneath. One of the tallest (likely the 2nd tallest at this time) manmade structure in Belize!

You take a hand-cranked ferry that can hold up to 4 cars across a small river to get to these ruins. This is me driving the rental we had for a week onto the ferry. Everyone but the driver had to exit.  So there I was, telling my Husband & 2 kids to get out of the vehicle, I’d see them on the other side. I honestly was a bit nervous loading up onto it, but it went very smoothly & the man guiding me into place said I was an excellent driver. There are very few people doing self-guided tours as we did, but I feel we had so many more fun experiences than if we’d hired someone to take us everywhere as many tourists do.  I thought the rental price for a week was quite reasonable, $600 included full insurance coverage. We had read that gasoline was expensive, but it wasn’t until we topped off our 1st ½ empty take &  it cost $45 USD that I realized how serious they are. No more belly aching about it being $40-$50 to fill my vehicle in WI if it is on fumes, it would be $100 in Belize. But being a small country, we only went through about a tank& half of gas in a week, and I was happy with how much exploring we did.

Waiting for the ferry!

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 The amazing thing is they’re still finding more Mayan ruins all the time! I developed a sudden desire to be an archaeologist. I think it’s a bit too late for a new career, so I’m hoping 1 of my kids will take it up & I’ll tag along J We can hope, right?!  I didn’t know I had a fear of heights until I was 26. I climbed to the top of Chichen Itza in Mexico,  I knew it was a climb, and it was fine going up. But once I got up, and realized how high up it was, and how steep it was going back down, my knees started shaking & my heard started pounding. I couldn’t enjoy the view I had worked so hard for because my body was telling me to get the heck down from there as quickly as possible. So here I was, 12 years & 2 children later, and it was time to put my fear of heights to the test again. It was so, so refreshing & amazing watching my kiddos climb without fear. We saw ZERO other children here. Yet there mine were at the top of the world! It makes me so proud, yet it’s hard not to worry that they’re going to trip & fall & tumble to their death, you know, the brain of a Mom. I’m confident in their climbing because they have been going on pretty serious hikes with us since before they could walk. They are sure-footed, and I’m there to say go slow, go slow, a million times over. But still, there were some ledges a little too narrow for my liking. But, we did it. And it was amazing. I may have sprouted a few new gray hairs on this one thoug!

Let’s do this Mom, we’re waiting!

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You can pay $100+USD per person, per excursion to go with a guide, or you can pay $10/adult to walk into these places yourself (kids were always ½ price).

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Looking from one end to the other, breathtaking: yesn

Having all of that under our belt within 48 hrs in country, I truly felt how special Belize was! We had so many more days, as so much more to do!

Day 3: St. Herman’s Cave! Below is a photo of the entrance to the cave. You hike through the jungle for 10 minutes or so, along a trail, but that was fun in & of itself. Then down into the cave, then in. The sun was out that day & it was HOT! The shade that the jungle canopy provides is priceless, it seriously prevents you from feeling like you’re withering. And the cave, with a stream running through it, cool & refreshing of course! The stream turns to a river eventually, and you can carry a tube in with a guide & tube the cave/river & even see Mayan sacrificial skeletons that are preserved there along the way, if you want to. Many do, it’s a popular tourist attractions. We were able to hike several hundred yards into this cave with no guide. Motto of this trip: conquering our fears. For me= fear of heights, fear of caves. For the kids, they know no fear, and it’s refreshing! I worked hard to not let my fears come to the surface, but every now & then they would notice I was a bit worried or skeptical, and we would all say: be brave, be brave.

St. Herman’s Cave

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We followed our cave/jungle hike with a dip in the Blue Hole up the road, your ticket to Herman’s gets you free entry to swim at the Hole. So cool & refreshing! Had an interesting chat with a couple of expats who had relocated from our neighboring states of MI& MN, as well as a family visiting from Panama. I just love the variety of people we met at each & every stop we made!

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The  Belize Zoo. We’d seen it highly recommended from various sources, so wanted to check it out!

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Above: Not the clearest pic, but I so love this one of my girl. The zoo prides itself on not having concrete walls to keep the animals in, they do their best to provide as natural a habitat as possible, which means lots of chicken wire & various fences. It was definitely a fun visit! I loved their hand painted signs all over the place, many of them comical, it’s always good to laugh. We felt slightly sad after reading the sign that said their jaguar was on loan to the Milwaukee zoo, we were in Belize to escape January in Wisco, and this poor animal had to spend its winter there!

Below is a pic of a Howler monkey at the zoo, we did see some outside of the zoo too, at a preserve which I discuss below, and up the road from there at a place we spent 1 night.

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Getting around in country—Belize is a tiny country, and that is part of the appeal for sure. It is quite easy to navigate. We’re not smart phone users, so my Hubby purchased a Belize map update for our GPS via Amazon. This absolutely came in handy! There are 3 main highways, one going the hour & a half west from Belize City to the Guatemalan border, and another going north & south. Once you get off those main, paved roads, you’ll find yourself on dirt, pothole-ridden roads which are rarely marked, nor are the landmarks you’re trying to find.

Seriously, you’d think there would be a sign for Big Rock Falls off the dirt road, but no. You just have to know where to turn. The map says it’s 10 miles, and you’ve driven an hour & feel you definitely should be there by now. You consider, or do, turn around because you think you must’ve passed it. But 2 miles the other way you finally see a local who says no lady, it’s back the other way, you were close. Turn by the sign to Gaia resort (just a random example), go 2 miles down that dirt road & when it forks at the tree, stay right. You don’t want to drive your car too far after that, look for somewhere to pull over & then walk. And yes, we did find many great spots eventually, and if they were easy to get to, we wouldn’t have had them to ourselves as much as we did! Over & over we surprised people that we were showing up without a guide. Being self-guided has many advantages such as not having to be on someone else’s clock. But at the same time, they are soooo knowledgeable & I loved the couple times we did have a walkabout an area with a local. I learned SO much.

One cool place we randomly stumbled across while out trying to find some waterfalls was a resort owned by Francis Ford Coppola (Blacaneoux), he owns 2 in Belize & they’re regarded as some of the best places the country has to offer in terms of lodging & food. We stopped for lunch not having a clue about any of this, but when I looked at the menu I noticed the difference: salads with organic arugula & veggies grown on the property there. The menu was amazing & the food was excellent. The place is located above the falls we hiked down, and they run the resort off hydroelectricity they produce themselves along the river!

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It was a slightly treacherous hike to get down to the waterfall, slippery granite rocks, a less than maintained trail with crumbling handrails, but my kids didn’t skip a beat. As with so many places, we discovered that getting there early in the day makes a big difference in how many people are there. Having kids who get up no later than 7am & are ready to GO helps with that. So we had this place to ourselves for an hour or so then people started showing up. Once again, ZERO kids, zero families. All adult couples, a few groups of adults, no children. So the looks my kids get were always priceless, the adults did take note of these adventurous 4 & 6 (almost 7) year olds. They made me very proud!

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RIO ON POOLS:

Looked a lot like Northern Wisco. Granite rocks/ledges & even pine trees among the palms!

RIO

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The day after the falls (and we visited more falls up the road from here), we had a special day at the Community Baboon Sanctuary in Bermuda Landing, ½ hr north of Belize City & the zoo. I don’t think this is something that is on the radar of most travelers, but it was a special place for us to visit because it was created with the help of a man from my home town here in Wisco, way back in the ‘60’s. It started as an effort between 10 or so landowners, to preserve the habitat of the Howler monkeys. From our Guide we learned they were not baboons, just had been dubbed so by the locals, baboons live in Africa. Presently, ~250 landowners are working together to preseve the territory. The local guy who helped start this sanctuary passed away in 2017, he was in his late 70’s & was a very respected wise elder from my small town, so it meant a lot to me to go visit this place that he went to many January’s of his life! We arrived & were told we had to have a Guide, no self-Guided tours.  We were told our Guide was eating breakfast & would be with us shortly.

A group of 2 families from Denmark arrived off of a cruise ship with a tour guide of their own for the few hours they had free from the ship, and they joined us on our walkabout. There were 3 kids in their group, a bit older than my kids, I’d say between 8-12, and they knew no English so it was fun to hear their Mamas translate what our Rastafarian Guide was saying about the flora & fauna of the area. My Son spotted some iguanas & pointed them out to our Guide, gaining him some major bonus points. Guide explained how it took 7 years for this one troop of monkeys to gain his trust to come down out of the trees (the women & children at least, the males no!) & eat from his hands & those of the people with him. We also learned monkeys don’t usually eat bananas, it’s a stereotype, bananas don’t grow in the depths of the jungle, they’re short & get choked out by the competition. But once turned onto them, they do fall in love! We were done with our walkabout & our Guide presented my Son with a piece of aloe he broke off from a plant in the visitor center ( a small thatched hut), for some ant bites my Son had received. Our Rasta Guide says, what’s your name Son. Orion he says. The look on the Guides face was priceless, I’ll never forget it: MY Son is Orion, he’s 1.5 years old. It was a very special connection. He took my hands into his & said: Bless you Mama, bless you. He told me how he had studied the nebulas & Orion was the farthest unobstructed view into the sky that we are able to see as humans. Something like that anyway. I told him how throughout my pregnancy it was ever-present, no matter where we went & whenever we looked up, Orion’s belt was there. He pulled me in & again: Bless you Mama. It was so powerful for me to connect with this Man in this way!

I could not get over how lush it is everywhere, coming from the frozen tundra back home, where nothing is green, this was exactly what I needed to see:

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From there, we traveled a few miles up the road to the Black Orchid Resort, turns out, this was a special place for us…. My kids made a friend. It was so, so sweet. She gingerly approached my kids with her blonde-haired Barbie dolls. They shyly tried to ignore until they no longer could…. She is the granddaughter of the owner of the Black Orchid Resort. She came to join us on the boat we had permission to fish from, I asked her: is it okay with your Mommy and/or Daddy that you’re here with us? She said: this is my Daddy’s boat! Okay, okay then I thought. She stuck with us & shortly thereafter, my Hubby handed her a  pole with a fish on it! She caught a catfish!! She jumped for joy at catching this fish. She hugged me over & over, she was sooo excited, said it was her 1st fish ever!

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On the islands, we spent most of our time being beach-bums, and it was wonderful! My Son & Hubby fished from the piers on a daily basis, my daughter can sit & build sand castles for hours on end! The color of the water is unbelievable, impossible to accurately capture!

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Below is a drone photo of the famous “Split” on Caye Caulker, a hurricane split the island in 1/2 in the early ’60’s!

Caye Caulker Belize Barrier Reef aerial

Below was one of our very favorite days at the beach. We were just lamenting the lack of kids, we saw very few as fellow travelers, and where were the locals? In school of course! Around 3pm the kiddos got out of school, and many local families joined us at the beach. It was so much fun!

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Building sandcastles, or burying an Ariel doll, is a universal language. One of these girls did not speak English, or Spanish, yet we didn’t need a common language to have fun!

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Nothing like laying on a beach & watch sailboats pass by, and knowing that it’s -10 back home in Wisco!

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FOOD: a few of our favorites: 

Garnaches! Photo taken from Google images. Small, round, hard shell corn tortillas topped with beans, shredded meat, a mound of cheese, pico de gallo (salsa), lots of cilantro. Yummmmmmm. These were so delicious, and as always when you eat as the locals do, these were one of the cheapest things on the menu, around $1.50 each. (photo below from Google images)

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Pupusas- our last night on Ambergris we were talking to a 70 year old man who had recently moved to Belize, from Iowa where my Dad & Step Mom live, so they did it off big time. He asked our dinner plans & we were going to eat up leftovers but he talked us into meeting him at his favorite local spot a few blocks away. He said the chicken soup was amazing & the rest of the food was great too. We got there & they informed us that on Sunday night they only offer Pupusa’s, a local specialty. They had just fired up the outdoor grill & were getting ready to make the 1st ones of the night. He assured us they were good & we should stick around & give them a try & I’m so, so glad we did! They’re basically like a Hot Pocket, but with corn flour dough. A native woman stood there & grabbed a ball of dough out of a huge bowl & patted out tortilla in her hands, then filled them with your choice of ingredients. My kids & I turned our chairs towards the grill & watched her make them,  and I made sure to remind them how cool it was that we could watch our food being made for us right in front of our eyes,  and I could tell it made her proud. We went for the mixed ones which had beans, pork & lots of cheese, I’m not sure what all else was in there, I just know they were so, so good. She patted on another tortilla dough ball to completely cover all ingredients then cooked it on the grill. After a while the cheese started to ooze out & the smell made us all hungry. Each plate had 2 of them on it & that was  the perfect amount, I was pleasantly stuffed. They offer it with a fermented cabbage kinda’ thing & some sort of red sauce, it wasn’t spicy, wasn’t Ketchupy, kinda blah really but that’s what all the locals put on it so we did too.

We were some of the 1st people there for dinner that evening,  but as time went on, the place filled up, and we realized we were the only non-locals there. I can say, this meal meant a lot to me. It’s hard to get a truly authentic experience while traveling, and I felt this was one. When we were ready to leave I wanted to thank the cook who made our meal & as I got close to her she dropped the Pupusa she was making from her hands & came over & pulled me in close for a tight hug & kissed my on each cheek. THESE are the priceless experiences that make traveling so, so important: connecting with other humans who we feel we likely have very little in common with. You realize that we have more in common than not. We’re both women. Mothers (likely, assuming she was, don’t know that for sure but good chance). We want to feed our family & friends good food. We want to have safe drinking water. We connected briefly over this meal, and it made my heart skip a beat. The bill for our meal was $40 USD, for 6 adults & 2 kids, with 2 rounds of beer & ice cream for the kids! So many meals in life are forgettable, and then there are those that are not. I will never forget my Pupusa experience. And I will be trying to make them myself soon!

I did not take photos there, but these taken from Google images look exactly like what I would’ve taken myself. Below, a Pupusa grill:

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Complete with the relish & mystery red sauce:

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Food shopping– I enjoyed shopping via different stops, I’ve found I appreciate it more when I work harder for it. It’s so easy to get used to the convenience of 1-stop shopping, places like Cosco have everything we need!  And I was shocked while staying on Isla Mujeres in Mexico last year that they had a super, super store to rival a Cosco, that surprised me, and yes, it was convenient.  You won’t find those in Belize. Even the largest Supermarkets we found were pretty tiny, housing the very basics. But I came to appreciate making several stops to get what I needed for the day. I walked 3-5 blocks from where we were staying on Ambergris to get 1-2 days worth of supplies, taking 2 empty backpacks with me. In just 2 blocks worth of vendors, I was able to stop at the meat shop for some ground burger or chicken breasts, and was surprised that they were very reasonably prices. Then to the bakery owned by French expats, where I picked up a loaf of bread, some buns one day, sweet treats another day, it was all soooo good. Then on the corner was the produce guy, with a huge selection of fruits & veggies. THEN my last stop was the “supermarket” to get our other meal items. They manage to have a little of everything, and thankfully my kids aren’t too picky, I turn to staples such as spaghetti, tacos, I did an excellent chicken alfredo one night. Comfort food basically, but different than back home based on what I was able to find. On the island #2, Caye Caulker, I asked for tortillas at the corner store. No, the Chinese storeowner answered. You get tortillas 2 blocks down, just past the school, you’ll see a small tortilla sign. And sure enough, I saw the tortilla sign, saw some ladies sitting outside, selling random items at a pop-up tent: I hear you’re the ladies to get tortillas from? Yes, flour or corn? Both. Come back in 20 minutes, we’ll have them. And sure enough, come back 20 min later & they are fresh & hot, they lasted us our 4 nights there: tacos, breakfast burritos, leftover chicken strips made into wraps. You name it, we wrap it! What you appreciate about shopping this way: I talked to a whole lot more people than I would’ve if I was at a huge shopping center, likely the cashier wouldn’t have even made small talk there. I think human connections are very valuable, and gained an even stronger sense of that. And I felt more appreciative of the food after schlepping it back to our home by pack pack. The harder you work for something, the more you appreciate it! I was very adamant about no waste too, even more-so than I am here at home, any leftovers got saved & re-purposed in a future meal.

We ate out every 3-5 days, and made it special!

Below is view while eating lobster ceviche & sipping a precious glass of wine. Wine is VERY expensive in Belize, they only make a cashew wine in country (I did not try it, should have, will next time). You can buy a huge bottle of Belizian Rum for $12, same size bottle of wine is $35.

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THE UNEXPECTED:

AN EARTHQUAKE!!!! We were just a few miles north of Belize City, less than ½ mile inland from the coast when this stuck. My Hubby: that was a train. Me: we’ve been here 6 nights, when have you heard or seen a train? Not at all. It was an earthquake!!!

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In all the situations I ran through my mind of possible threats to my family while traveling, this one never crossed my mind & now I realize that it should have! Mainland Belize feels tremors from Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico quite a bit. What was unique about this quake was it was offshore between Belize & Jamaica & it triggered tsunami warnings for the islands of Ambergris & Caye Caulker. This was the night before we went to Ambergris, and that was one of my 1st thoughts after the quake rattled our room: what if we’re on an island & don’t have anywhere to go?  What do we do? Is there a warning system? Suddenly, on our last night on the mainland, after my kids were in bed (the tremors were felt around 9pm), just before we headed to spend 9 nights on islands, I had a whole new topic to research, one I’d never considered! I talked to our night watchman & he assured me there was nothing to worry about this night, but he admitted he’d be worried if he were on an island at that moment. I have since learned this general rule of thumb: during an earthquake, get the heck out of the building. After the earthquake, get up as high as you can if there is a tsunami threat.

And sure enough, when we got to Ambergris the next day, it was the talk of the island. Just about everyone had a story about the tsunami alert. Everyone was tsunami “hungover”, tired, yawning, it had been a long night for everyone there. Many locals contended that the coral reef barrier would break up any huge waves into smaller ones, and something like what happened in Indonesia was not possible in Belize. Thankfully, after 2 rounds of tremors, no more were felt,  all tsunami warnings were canceled pretty quickly, and NO injuries were reported to my knowledge! But oh my goodness, I definitely had a lot of new thoughts racing through my mind: were these just small pre-tremors, was “the big one” about to strike? We never, ever know & eventually we just move on & quit thinking about it. But this Wisco girl definitely had a wakeup call & reminder of who is in charge, and it ain’t this Mama, it’s Mama Earth. In hindsight, being there were no injuries or damage, it was an exciting footnote to our vacation! And it’s something I hope to never experience again! https://www.breakingbelizenews.com/2018/01/09/7-8-magnitude-earthquake-shakes-honduras-felt-in-belize/

Scalping my toe. Yes, this is graphic, but let it be a warning to you if you travel, or if you don’t: door stops are dangerous! I had been up less than 5 minutes on Sunday morning, a week+ since we’d been in country, I opened the glass door to our balcony to greet the new day. And bang, did not see that doorstop there.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lesson: bring waterproof band-aids/tape!

Near drowning: Woah, for those that remember the incident where those people went into the icy river by our house right before we came to Belize, just before we headed out on this trip. As if my Hubby didn’t have enough water karma, he saved a ~60 year old woman from drowning (possibly, hard to say someone else wouldn’t have saved her). Hubby & Son went fishing here on Caye Caulker around 7am (kiddo cannot sleep in past then, feels he’s missing something). By 8am they were back, both wide-eyed with a story to tell. The woman was getting pulled out by the current towards where they were fishing. She had greased up with sunscreen so was very slippery & not able to cling to the pilings she was occasionally coming across. She managed to make her way over to the wall they were fishing along, right along the split here on Caye Caulker. She was yelling for help. She made it to the wall, and he was able to reach his arms down & barely reach her. Her: I’m all covered in sunscreen, you can’t possibly pull me up… While she did get all scraped up from being drug up along the concrete wall, he pulled her to safety. She was very shaken up….

Weather: Variable, cloudy was slightly chilled. You definitely don’t want to go in the wet season, which is ~March-August, but the dry season is, well, dry! All the dirt roads kick up dust. When we rented golf carts on the islands, we ate dust.  And we did notice the effect on our respiratory systems, blowing our noses every morning, slight dry coughs, nothing serious though. The one day it did rain, our last day which was kinda’ a bummer, those dry clay roads turned super slick, like ice almost, so either way, the roads are treacherous, walking or driving! Highs were in the 70’s-80’s most days, but it was cloudy most of the time, which we appreciated! When the sun did come out full forced, it was SUPER intense, made you feel like you were withering up! Compared to what we were dealing with back home, we knew it was paradise! But I will be bringing some medium/heavy weight long-sleeves next time!

weather back home in Wisco:

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CHALLENGES

Bedsharing- This is a challenge anytime we travel. At home I share a king size bed with my 2 kids, Hubby has his own king. Kids have dubbed our bed “paradise”, and we all know how kids are about routine. So stepping outside of our bedtime sleep routine is always a challenge. I wasn’t willing to do it when they were still napping, but now that we’re post-naps (we did have 2 out of 16 days traveling),  we make it work. I rearrange the room wherever we sleep, 90% of the time. When there is a choice of bed/rooms, I look for the one that largest bed and/or the one that is pushed up against a wall. If it doesn’t exist, I’ll rearrange myself to make it happen, which is possible most of the time. Then I’ll move some furniture to block off the other side, end tables, etc make excellent barricades from kiddos falling out of bed, I know in the coming years they’ll be transitioning to their own beds/rooms, then we’ll need even larger homes to keep us comfy. I’m okay with us just needing 2 decent beds at this time, it works for us! Especially in a foreign land, they depend on the fact that they can wake up & Mama is right there. If not, I’m in earshot should they awake. Myself, I woke up several times & had that: where am I feeling? I remembered I was in Belize & fell asleep with a smile on my face. NOW, since I’ve been home for a week I can say: every, single night, I have woken up wondering which bed I am in… I know this will fade soon.

CAR SEATS: My kids are 4.5 & almost 7. I decided on the Bubble Bum travel seats— and honestly, I’m not a fan. They just do not seem that secure. And both my kids complained just about daily of their butts being sore from the car seats. We did do quite a bit of sightseeing, but they were never in their car seats more than 2 hrs tops before getting out & doing some hiking or some sort of activity. The top shoulder belts definitely moved around.  While I as the driver was as careful as I possibly could be, it’s the other drivers we need to worry about. And indeed, we had someone pass us, meet oncoming traffic, have to take the ditch, meet oncoming bicyclists. I will be bringing more proper car seats for my kiddos next year, for sure!

FOOD: While I may gripe about the prices of organic food back here in Wisco, I was paying more, for less, in Belize. It pretty much was survival mode, organic was a secondary factor. Several times while out exploring in our rental car with our windows down, we’d get a whiff of that unique RoundUp smell, if you’ve smelled it once even, you won’t forget it, it is nasty! Most of the brush clearing we witnessed was being done the old-fashioned way, with a machete, some were using RoundUp…. So for us organic food loving folks, this is a challenge we face while traveling for sure. I did see an occasional USDA certified organic product, but they were very few & far between.

WATER! We appreciate our well water more than ever when we travel away from it. I LOATHE buying water, and am able to avoid having to go that route most of the time. But in Belize, just like in most countries, you do not drink what comes out of the tap. In Belize, most tap water has been chemically treated with chlorine, so it’s relatively safe to brush & shower with,  but all drinking water & rinsing of all veggies, etc  is with with bottled water. Every place we’ve stayed at least has 1 full 5 gal jug to get you started. Some places will keep you stocked for free, others make you pay for whatever you need after that 1st jug. It was $2.50 USD for a 5gal jug. And being used to our mineral-rich well water, bottled water is so sterile tasting & I’m just not a fan of it. But we have no problem getting by on it. It definitely makes rinsing sandy lettuce & cilantro more of a chore when you can’t just run your tap water over it. But it truly makes you realize how much water you’re using & conserve its use as much as possible.

To further the not taking water for granted topic, we got home & discovered our grey water drainage field leaving the house had frozen up while we were gone. We still had running water, and could still flush our toilets as this was on a different system, but could not take a bath, do dishes or laundry without it baking up into our utility room. It took my Hubby a day to get it thawed out, just a minor inconvenience, but again, put things into perspective for us!

Random tidbits:

Tooth fairy—My Son lost a tooth in Belize! It was so fun. It had been loose for quite some time & we had discussed the scenario several times: Mom, what if I lose my tooth in Belize? Will the tooth fairy find me? What would she bring? Would we hold onto the tooth until we got home for our tooth fairy? Finally, after days of dangling, it came out. Kinda’ crazy story that it happened while he was sleeping. I got up to go pee in the wee hours of the morning & he sat up & said: Mom, my tooth is out, it was in my cheek. He was able to spit it out! We briefly discussed what to do & since it was close to morning I suggested we just hold onto it until the next night, so we could write her a note & present the tooth properly. That gave me a chance to write him a note the next day, in Spanish, stating the following: Of course I will find you wherever you may be when you lose a tooth. Here are a few dollars for you to buy yourself something. Love, the Tooth Fairy. She left ~ $5 Belize/$2.50 US in mostly coins under his pillow. It was sooooo cute to see/feel him wake up in the middle of the night & feel under his pillow! Of course he was up extra bright & early that morning (6:30-7 is his normal hour, it was 6am that day) to see what happened.

Violence in Belize—I got the question many times: is it safe in Belize? My response: Is it safe in Chicago? It all depends on the part of the country you’re in! Petty theft is your greatest concern. If you leave something outside overnight, there’s a good chance it will be gone in the morning. Most of the crime takes place in Belize City, at night, among the locals. All sources of info advise you to make sure you don’t find yourself in Belize City after dark, just as I wouldn’t want to be in certain parts of Chicago after dark. You fly in there, then you get the heck out. The fishing boat captain my Hubby went out with told him his brother had his throat slit by a woman he owed drug money to, and it was a small amount of money. There is definitely a huge drinking culture, and that’s where most of the trouble comes from: bar time, you invite your new friend to your place for a night cap, you pass out eventually, you wake up the next day missing your purse.

One plus to having young kids is we’re generally in bed by 9pm, and that keeps us out of a lot of trouble. Still yes, random acts of violence do occur in Belize, but as we all know they can occur anywhere! There was only 1 time both my Hubby & I felt uncomfortable with the locals. The place we stayed on the mainland for a week (San Ignacio) had a river running through it, just a few blocks from where we were staying. My Hubby & Son were so eager to do some fishing, Hubby hauled a bunch of gear down & wanted to put it to use. We saw locals frequenting the river banks on a daily basis, and one day decided we should stop & let the kids splash a bit & maybe do some fishing.  We had to cross the 1 lane bridge over the river to get to the place we were staying. As we were approaching the bridge& thinking of pulling in, we saw a group of 4 men, appeared to all be 20something’s, and we seemed to lock eyes, and they did not seem friendly, Hubby & I got the same vibe. Hubby said: go to the other side, let’s not go near those guys. So we went to the other side & chose the outer edge, giving the other locals that were there room. We got out & the kids were exploring the river banks, ready to start digging in the sand & building a castle at the very least. When suddenly we noticed those guys pulling in over by us. Immediately my Hubby said: kids, get in the car. I reiterated, YES, get in the car now, don’t even buckle up, just get in. And they knew it was serious. The dudes got out of their car as we were getting into ours, I locked the doors & immediately started driving away. They walked into the tall vegetation of the outskirts of the river.

It lead to an important conversation with our children, one I’ve tried to avoid, but is necessary eventually: not all humans are good, most are, but not all. And that we trust our gut & our heart. Both Mommy & Daddy’s gut said the same thing: get outta here NOW, we don’t 2nd guess that. Other than that, there was not 1 second that I felt uneasy in the presence of those around me. The people of Belize are so, so, so genuinely kind from the bottom of their heart, it restores your faith in humanity.

Mantra of life in Belize: Be brave. Go Slow. Relax. Enjoy your day. Life is good. And it felt so, so good to do just that, take it slow. I don’t wear a watch nor keep a phone on me, and clocks were rare to see. Time was loosely based on where the sun was in the sky, we didn’t have to be anywhere at any time, and it was exactly what I was looking for.  This sign hangs on the fence of the house we spent our 4 nights on Caye Caulker at.

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Conclusion: We fell head over heels in love with the country, the people, the culture, all of it. I could go on & on, but this is already quite lengthy so I’ll leave it with these tidbits. We cannot wait to go back & hopefully spend twice as long. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my adventures! And I hope you’ll share yours with me!

Below is our GPS tracker showing us where we went in country. We hope to go back next winter & do the north/south corridor, and spend even more time on Caye Caulker!

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Heading back into Dallas, so gorgeous!

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You better Belize it… We will be back!

Poofy Organics Black Friday Sale Details!

Poofy Organics sales only happen 3 times/year so I hope you don’t miss this great offer! 15% off your entire order, 1/2 price-free shipping on qualifying orders, 24 gift sets to make your healthy Holiday gift-giving a breeze!!! Here are all the details for my Poofy by Jess weekend sale event: https://ecofriendlyusa.poofyorganics.com/parties/4680-poofy-organics-by-jess-black-friday-sale-event.aspx

Reusable Mama Cloth Pad review: Party in my Pants!

WARNING: this post discusses menstruation & reusable options. I’ve had some people react negatively to this in the past. I understand this may not be an option all of you are interested in. If you are not, turn back, keep scrolling. If you are, read on please!

My “green” journey never ends. I continue to make changes I want, slowly but surely, as my budget allows. There is ALWAYS something on my list. I always look to what disposable items I’m using, and seek reusable alternatives for them. I used cloth diapers & wipes on my 2 kids. I use cloth napkins, “kleenex”, wash cloths. I did use a menstrual cup for awhile, The Keeper, but I just never fell in love with it. I liked that it was reusable, but that was about all I liked. I had been using organic cotton tampons & pads for the last couple of years. I liked that they were organic, had minimal plastic packaging, but they are quite pricey, and still disposable!

Then suddenly I realized it was time to move to cloth pads! I had seen Party in my Pants recommended in the past when this topic has come up. I clicked around their website a bit and when I learned they were based in my state of Wisco I was extra excited! They offer a huge assortment of shapes, sizes & patterns, organic & non.

My advice: definitely try at least 2 different options! I started with the Shebang Kit. It offers one of every size, I split it up between organic cotton & organic flannel. And I’m glad I did because I learned I like the flannel a bit more. It’s a bit softer. 1 month of using this kit & I knew what I needed to have on hand to make it through an entire cycle. I place another $120 order a week later & had enough for my 2nd cycle, with 2 to spare!

Pic: Shebang Kit, you pick the pattern & fabric.

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So, here it is, my collection! I looooove the options for patterns! I was looking at Glad Rags previously, they are solid beige in color. Seriously. No patterns, just solid beige. What a terrible option for a reusable pad! You will find that most of the options from Party in my Pants are dark, bold, heavily patterned, PERFECT for this product! This stash is very new indeed & I will be happy to snap a pic a year from now to compare! Also, want to make sure you know you can fold them up like I did in the bottom center, perfect for your purse, etc.

Here’s what I have, all organic cotton or flannel, with a leak-proof nylon backing:

1 small, 1 mini-liner, 1 Luxe Liner, 4 medium, 3 large, 1 overnight, 2 super overnight.

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CARE: They have a lot of info about this on their website! You can totally wash them with other laundry, but you should dry them on low. For that reason, I’ve kept them separate, as I’m not good at picking things out before tossing them in the dryer together. https://partypantspads.com/pages/faq

 

I have heard from several of you who have used these for months, or years, and love them! I’ve also heard from some who prefer another brand for a variety of reasons. These DO have a nylon backing, so if you aren’t okay with that you’ll want to choose a different option. Everything that comes in contact with your skin is organic, so that’s what matters to me. The nylon backing helps ensure they are leak-proof.  Like with every other product recommendation I give, I do not expect 100% of you to love this as much as I do. But for me, it is working, I’m loving the product, the company, the feeling I’m voting with my dollars…

 

Website: https://partypantspads.com/

Review of Tangie laundry paste!

Nothing gets me more excited than people who think outside of the conventional “box”, or plastic jug maybe I should say! I know many of you, like myself, are on a mission to use the least amount of plastic you possibly can. And that can be very hard to get away from, especially in products such as laundry detergent. Our options: liquid in a big plastic jug, or powder in a plastic bag. That’s why I was so, so excited when I learned about Tangie laundry soap. What is it? A traditional-looking bar of soap that you dissolve in your own container to make your own liquid! 1 bar makes 1 gallon of liquid which can get you 132-264 loads, depending how much you use/load obviously. This comment from Angie, the FL entrepreneur behind this product, solidified that I’d found a great new line. It is so, so refreshing to find others who accept environmental responsibility while getting their products out there, it’s not always easy to find! “I feel the packaging issue must be addressed from my side, as the manufacturer. Natural ingredients are great but if we’re still poisoning our water supply and our soil with plastic waste…. we’re not doing the best job we can.”

Of course, it’s all about the ingredients, and I’m happy with this list of minimal, yet proven laundry aids: handmade plant based soaps (coconut & olive oil), soap nuts liquid (extracted using solar ovens), yucca powder (washing), baking soda (freshening), oxalic acid (stain lifting & whitening), sodium percarbonate (stain lifting), salt (fabric softening), & LOVE!It is very rare for me to have a plastic jug on hand, just when I have some of my friend’s organic apple cider on hand, and I didn’t necessarily want to mix up enough for 200 loads if I didn’t love it, so started with ¼ of the bar & a 1 quart glass jar: OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

I’m very happy with this product as a natural laundry option, and even happier with the lack of plastic involved! I LOVE people that think outside of the norm, I learned about this product from Sarah of salonsolids, it’s a very similar concept but for shampoo/conditioner! I use 3T of liquid per load, it has been 3 weeks since I began using it & I haven’t even finished the qt yet. I do ~1 load/day. I use only cold water, and have hard well water. I was previously using Molly’s Suds, and think Tangie works as well, if not slightly better than Molly’s! I need to play around with the amount I’m using a bit, as it’s likely I could even be using less! I went with the middle ground recommendation on the packaging, not the smallest recommendation, not the largest.

Photo after 3 weeks of usage:

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I was also sent a sample of the stain remover bar. Ingredients: coconut oil, grapeseed oil, soap nuts liquid, oxalic acid, sea salt, citric acid, lemon essential oil & LOVE. I was curious to try it as the 1st ingredient is coconut oil, which is one of the main stains I deal with in our clothing as I use & make coconut oil based deodorant & toothpaste. I put the Tangie stain remover to test on my kiddos wild grape stained shirt: Top= Poofy, middle=no pre-treat, bottom= Tangie’s stain removing bar:

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I let it sit 8 hrs, then washed using the Tangie liquid soap, below is the after. I felt the Poofy spray & the Tangie performed very simalrily. I did not treat the stain on the lower left of the Tangie area, and that’s the only one I saw come through in the areas I treated. Both did better than no treatment for sure:

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You can contact Angie for a free 6-12 load sample, shipping is $1. Please do, and please share your feedback with me! I do not expect 100% of you who try this to find it to be the  perfect solution for your laundry needs. We all have different water types, machines, and expectations. But I hope you’ll give it a try & that many of you will find it to be a great option for your family!

WEBSITE: https://www.ilovetangie.com/

FB PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/ilovetangie

Angie’s email (use to request your $1 sample): Gratefulred78@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

We bought a school bus!!!

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Here’s the background: We were on our way home Northern WI (back home to the SW), and saw a fleet of school buses for sale somewhere mid-state. Hmmmmmm I thought: after 5 camping trips this summer, and a recent 9 night Air BNB experience, and only wanting to do longer & longer trips, why not get a bus & convert it to an RV?! Rv’s themselves are quite expensive, and said to be made from very thin, cheap materials. Pull-behinds need a super fancy truck to pull them, something we don’t have…

So we came home with school buses on our mind, and hopped on to our local Craigslist, which is an hour away. And sure enough, our local school district, 5 miles away,  had 3 of them up for sealed bid, with the bid due 2 days after we were seeing this post for the 1st time. We clicked around on Craigslist a bit more to see what some others were going for, and put in what we considered a low bid for either an ’01 or ’07 bus: $3500. I handed it to the local bus garage manager, and told him I looked forward to him calling me to come get my bus soon. And that they did! A couple days later I came home from a picnic at the park with my kids to a message on our machine that we had placed the highest bid & got 1st dibs!

It took a couple weeks from the time we were told we “won” it, and the time we picked it up, they removed the stop sign, the flashing lights, painted over the school name on the side. My Hubby went & picked it up on the rare day I was in my office 8 hrs. He picked it up at 11am, picked our kids up at Gigi’s (my Mom) at noon, by the time I got home at 5pm, this was in our driveway:

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Best. Fort. Ever.

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We HAVE to paint it something other than “national school bus yellow”, and have to do x,y,z (will write about later as I deal with them)! What we have in mind: living in WI is as awesome in so many ways! For travel, it’s a great central spot! We want to do 2-3 month loops from our home base. We will not be selling everything we own to live in this school bus, like some do. We will maintain our home base her in SW Wisco, and travel!!! A 2-3m NW loop, home again for 2-3m. A SW loop, a NE loop, a SE loop….. And visiting as many of YOU as possible along the way. Those of you I’ve been in contact with for YEARS now. It’s about time we finally meet. And maybe you just happen to have an XL driveway, back yard, or field we can park this beast in for a night or 2 or 7 while we’re passing through 🙂

Updated Simply Rustic Review

My original review of Simply Rustic products was 1st shared in Nov of 2012!. The products haven’t changed all that much, the line did expand a bit over the years. But the things I love about it remain: there is very, very little plastic used in this line. Most of the products come in glass jars or stainless tins. The beloved lip balms do come in a plastic tube, but I’m willing to overlook that for this particular product as I prefer a tube to a tin that I have to use my fingers to apply it from. What has changed with this line? Ownership! I was a bit sad when Amanda, the former owner, let me know she was considering giving up Simply Rustic for a full-time job elsewhere (one that she really wanted & enjoys). Amanda was running the company from Northern WI, my state, so I was sad to know it may leave here. She asked if I’d mind posting the opportunity for someone to take over the business in my group page. I thought it was a long shot, but didn’t mind posting it for her. We were both shocked how much interest there was! At least a dozen people were interested, and eventually a long-time member of my online community took over ownership just months ago. So while I was sad to see Simply Rustic leave WI, I knew it would be in good hands in the Pacific North West (WA state) with Britney. Britney is a former teacher & this shines through in her attention to detail & how she jumped right in & soaked up as much knowledge as she could from Amanda then hit the ground running, making nothing but positive changes to this line! Here is a bit about Britney from the ‘about’ link from the website: http://www.simplyrustic2011.com/about.html

Amanda had certainly been using all-natural ingredients, some local, some wild-crafted, some organic. But Britney has converted to using organic ingredients whenever possible. For each product listed you will see she includes an ingredient glossary down below, where she describes the benefits & purpose for each ingredient selected in the recipe. There is so much great info there & I’ve learned a lot in reading up on some of the oils & butters! She has also expanded the flavor selection of the lip balms so many of us love, offering warm, seasonal selections such as : Apple Spice & Pumpkin Spice! These in addition to a Vanilla Chai, Happy Birthday Cupcake (created for her daughter’s upcoming B-day), and even a S’mores flavored lip balm (created for her Son, who was jealous his Sissy got one created for her)! There is even a new Pumpkin Spice scrub & body butter for those who love that special autumn scent! I know it’s usually a love it or hate it on the seasonal offerings such as pumpkin. Personally, I’m kinda’ neutral on them, they’re not my favorite, but I don’t hate them. My opinion on Britney’s new creations: they still go on very nice & smooth & leave my lips shiny and moisturized. I don’t think I’ll ever find any I love more than the current offerings of pomegranate/coconut/vanilla (my all-time fave), chococate/strawberry & raspberry/lemonade. Those are just soooooo good, they’re hard for me to move beyond & I don’t desire any more than them, they make me happy J She did send me a choc/straw lip tube to compare to what Amanda offered. It had the same great texture, I did think it had a bit more of a chocolatey taste to it vs former batches, which wasn’t a bad thing! Britney said one reason could be because she switched to organic cocoa butter, the flavor could be a little more intense, which is definitely a possibility. My conclusion on the lip balms: they’re still great, and have gotten even better with an increase in organic ingredients & several additional flavors. Britney does plan to keep the seasonal ones around just for a few months, unless they become so loved that y’all can’t live without them, yet to be determined! The kids flavors could make excellent stocking stuffers this Holiday season! She also is offering an unflavored option, by request, for those who desire no flavor, but still want to nourish their lips. She only increased her price by $.50 to $3.50/tube, a great deal & very comparable to other great, safe choices from my ‘approved’ list. The ingredients vary, so check them out in this link here: http://www.simplyrustic2011.com/store/c10/Lip_Tubes.html

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Other products I’ve tried out that she sent me: Revive Body Butter ($15). It smells so good, and the benefits of the oils used are amazing. If you’re used to a whipped body butter, this is a bit more dense. But it truly melts on your fingertips as soon as you touch it & a little goes a long way. As we head into winter, and dry skin season, I’ll be so excited to have this product on hand to nourish & protect my skin! Ingredients in this butter: Fair Trade and Organic Unrefined Shea Butter, Organic Unrefined Grape Seed Oil, Organic and Unrefined Pumpkin Seed Oil, Organic Yellow Beeswax, Organic Carrot Seed Essential Oil, NonGMO Sunflower Vitamin E Oil. E

rise and shine

She also included a Rise & Shine! Body Scrub ($12), it has become a favorite of mine for sure. I LOVE coffee. I love the smell of coffee. I’m just a 1-2 cup/day drinker, but I love it. This scrub has coffee grinds in it & oh my goodness, it’s such a full sensory experience. I rarely bathe in the morning, usually evening, and this has helped give me a pick-me-up on more than once occasion, my second wind to keep me up those extra couple hours I need after getting the kids to bed (on occasion, often I crash with them). Here’s what Britney says about it: “There is a coffee shop in Sequim called Rainshadow Coffee and they sell the most amazing smelling fair trade and organic coffee beans. I used these ground beans to make the Rise and Shine! Body Scrub. It smells wonderful and it feels so good on your skin, especially after the shower. No need to moisturize after the bath or shower.” And she’s right, this product exfoliates, but also hydrates so, so well. You do not need any moisturizer after you get out of your bath or shower. It comes in a 4 oz glass jar. Full List of Ingredients: Fair Trade Demerara, Organic and Fair Trade Coffee, Organic Grape Seed Oil, Organic Cocoa Powder, Fair Trade, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Castor Seed Oil, NonGMO Sunflower Seed Vitamin E Oil.

I will update this review when I’ve had a chance to use the rest of the products she sent, which are from the face line. I don’t have much of a face routine currently, usually a hot wash cloth & my nightly moisturizer, but I do want to give the products Britney sent a try as full routine. I have tried the face/body wash & as it says on the bottle, a little DOES go a long way! Seriously ½ a pump was more than enough to wash my face, it lathered incredibly well! Here’s what Britney said about the face wash: “This product is one of the many reasons we bought Simply Rustic. This was a new product that came out right before Amanda sold the company to me. I don’t think many customers knew about it or had a chance to try it. My husband LOVES this face wash. When I started talking to him about the idea of possibly buying Simply Rustic, he said that we had to do it to keep using the face wash. It smells awesome, cleans our skin so well and the bottle lasts forever. Just half a pump goes a long way. There are so many benefits to the ingredients of the African Black Soap (listed below). It is awesome!  Ingredients: Raw African Black Soap with Shea Butter (Wildharvested and Unrefined Shea Butter Fruit, Coconut Oil, Wildharvested Palm Oil, Cocoa Pod Ash, and Water), Organic Glycerin, Witch Hazel (alcohol free), Organic Frankincense Essential Oil, Wildharvested Rosewood Essential Oil and Organic Guar Gum . Comes in a 4oz glass bottle with pump cap!

The face care regimen she suggests is this (and she included all products for me). I intend to start using all 3 products & give them a full month trial & will update y’all on my thoughts. I expect nothing but a good experience!

Suggested routine:

1: face wash

2: toner (she sent me Dancing in the Meadows). Britney’s comments on her toner: “After washing your face, get a washcloth or cotton round (whatever you use), and apply the Dancing in the Meadow face toner. I love this step. The toner smells so good and makes my skin feel like anything that was left behind is being wiped away. It’s really pretty too. Those are calendula flower petals floating around. The toner is alcohol free so it won’t dry your skin.”

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3: Dusk til Dawn Serum + Face Oil: From Britney: “This oil is the first product that I bought from Simply Rustic and I love it so much. I love that my face still feels moisturized when I wake up in the morning. The smell makes me happy and the benefits to my skin are amazing.” Serums + Face Oils available in a 1oz Amber Glass Bottle with Dropper Cap. Need a little more umph with your facial care? The Concentrated Serums + Face Oils are packed full of anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and graceful aging benefits plus vitamins and minerals. Yes, you can use this as the moisturizer part of a skin care routine. Dusk til Dawn has heavier oils so if you have normal or oily skin this would probably work better for you at night. In the winter, I can use this one as a daytime moisturizer. Serums + Face Oils are designed to penetrate deeper layers of the skin compared to a facial moisturizer. Don’t want to give up your moisturizer? You can use both…cleanse your skin, use toner or not, apply the serum and let absorb and then apply the moisturizer. Have frizzy hair or fly-a- ways? A few drops applied to palm of hand, rubbed between hands and smoothed through hair will tame both.”

In conclusion, thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts on this line that has been on my ‘approved’ list for several years now. I truly love the dedication, motivation, inspiration that accompanies small(ish) lines like Simply Rustic. I know many of us like supporting the “little guys” with our dollars. By purchasing from Simply Rustic, your dollars are truly going from one family, to another, and we all benefit by voting for safer products being created with the best possible ingredients.

You can purchase these great products via the website:  http://www.simplyrustic2011.com/

You can also purchase Simply Rustic via my Eco-Friendly USA One-Stop Shop order, I do 3/year: Feb, May & Sep, the Sep order opens next week! Details for that here: https://ecofriendlymamausa.com/buying-clubdeomy-poofy-organics/eco-friendly-usa-buying-club-2/

 

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