Homemade Kombucha How-To by Jess

So, I’m a newbie to the whole Kombucha world. I honestly hardly ever drank it before I started making it myself. I tried it a few times & thought, it’s okay, but honestly I really didn’t WANT to like it because it’s so expensive. I’m a huge fan of iced tea & have been making that by a gallon or 2 for years, always from loose leaf tea from Mountain Rose Herbs. But when a local friend asked if I wanted to try a couple of bottles of Kombucha that she had brewed, I accepted. One was ginger, one was blueberry. They were SO good! Then from there, she offered me a SCOBY, and the rest is history! That was right before Christmas, and I’ve managed to keep the SCOBY alive & thriving since, and am absolutely loving making this stuff! Now, it’s hard to imagine my life without this brew in it!

Again, let me say I’m a newbie. But I’ve shared my love of this brew with my online group over the past few months, and many of you have asked me to share my tips & experiences with you. So, here’s my post based on my experience. There are TONS of other blog posts out there. So if you want more background on the history,  health benefits, etc, Google away. My goal is to keep this on the brief, basic side. It’s SUPER easy, SUPER cheap, and SUPER delicious!

TO START: Ideally you need to find someone local with the starter SCOBY, it’s a weird-looking gelatinous blob, and it should come with ~1cup of starter tea (remnants from the last batch, you always save a little). I see Amazon and other online sites do have it for sale if you can’t find something locally. I have no idea which brands are better than others (if anyone has experience ordering online, please let me know). I have been doing 1 gal at a time, going to up it to 2 because I love it so much.

Tips on what tea to choose. It’s my understanding the SCOBY does best with some caffeine. I do see that some use green tea, but the advice from my friend who I started from, and the bit that I read before getting started myself was that black tea is ideal. You can do loose leaf, but using bags just makes it super easy.  I’m using Newman’s Own Organic Black. I get a box of 100 for ~$6 at my food co-op. I use 8 bags/gallon, so that’s ~$.50 for tea. The recipe I’m following is this: 8 black tea bags + 1 cup of sugar per gallon of brew. I use organic turbinado (raw) sugar (for everything in my home). I need to weigh/price 1 cup next time I fill up my jar at my food co-op, but my guess is that it’s around $1/cup. So that means 1 gallon of kombucha comes in at around $1.50/gallon. Read that again, especially if you’re buying it regularly in a store. $1.50 PER GALLON!


DIRECTIONS: Here’s what I do–bring 1 gallon of water to boil in my stainless steel stock pot. Add 1 cup of sugar, stir to dissolve. Add 8 black tea bags, steep for 3-4 hours, until the brew has cooled down to room temp. Temp is important with kombucha, too hot & it can kill the SCOBY, too cool, it will take much longer to brew. Taste it after 1 week, do you like the basic flavor? If you let it sit too long, it will have more of a vinegary bite to it. Room temp is ideal for brewing, 70’s is great. We heat with wood, so parts of our house are frequently in the 80’s. I settled on our back utility room as the ideal spot, and it has worked very well. Now that we’re getting out of wood heating season, I think I’ll just leave the 2 jugs on my kitchen counter in some dead space under the cabinets.

It’s a 2 step process of fermentation. The 1st step needs to have aerobic (with air) activity. So you need something like a towel or pillow case as a lid for your container. Fruit flies can get through cheesecloth. 1 of my jugs has a pillow case as a cover, the other has a towel. I let the 1st ferment sit ~1 week. Your 1st brew you might want to let sit a bit longer, as your SCOBY is growing in health.

The 2nd ferment is when you add the flavors you want!  This process requires anaerobic (without oxygen) activity. So after letting the tea sit with the SCOBY for 7-10 days, you transfer it to an air-tight container with some fruit. My friend sent a bunch of Grolsch bottles with my starter SCOBY. I used those several times when I was just brewing 1 gallon at-a-time. Once I decided to up my production, those bottles seemed too small. So I started using quart jars, and they are working perfectly! I started simple, a jar of blueberry, a jar of strawberry. Then I started doing combos: straw/blue. Then I added ginger to those. Basically I do a layer of each fruit. The more brews I do, the more I experiment. I LOVE blue/straw/ginger, then I added pineapple to that, THE best! But I also love ginger/raspberry/aronia.

The sky is the limit when playing with flavors. So you fill your jar to the tippy top and let that sit at room temp for ~3 more days. The longer you let it sit, the more carbonation you will have. Also, certain berries/fruits ferment quicker. Again, temp plays a role too, so a winter brew will ferment slower than a summer brew. My friend told me a story about opening a strawberry ferment & it shooting all over her kitchen, soaking her ceiling. I’ve not had this happen YET. But wise advice is to open with a towel over your lid. The awesome thing is, you can totally customize your brew to your liking. Like it sweeter? Add a bit of sugar to the 2nd ferment. Like it really fizzy? Let both ferments sit longer. I prefer mine on the flatter vs fizzier size.

It is possible to kill your SCOBY. When you handle it you have to make sure your hands are super clean. My friend who I got mine from killed hers once while dividing it for a friend in the past, it grew mold after she separated it. She assumed her hands weren’t clean enough. It is ideal if you have a friend locally who knows what they’re doing, as I was able to have my friend come look at mine several times & assure me that it was healthy looking and as it should be. If you start googling healthy scoby vs moldy ones, there are tons of pics.

Did I mention it’s SUPER easy, cheap, delicious & actually good for you?! Below is my prep for the 2nd ferment, get a bunch of jars ready. Wide-mouthed quarts are PERFECT!

After 2-3 days, I’m itching to get drinking my brew! The fruit floats to the top, so I usually scoop a bunch of it out with a spoon (and save it for a smoothie!) then pour the rest of the jar from the full quart, to an empty quart, straining anything that I didn’t scoop out. Then I refrigerate & start enjoying!

I love it on ice. I store it in quart jars, but usually drink it out of my favorite Mason jars, the 22 oz tall, wide-mouthed jars! I rarely drink coffee anymore, this is my morning wake-up. So refreshing, hydrating, delicious!

My 2nd Kombucha jug arrived & is working on its 1st continuous brew. My Hubby & Son are loving these brews so much too, I went from doing 1 gal, to 2 gal, now I’ll alternate between always having a 2 gal batch going and the 2nd ferment of the other happening. I LOVE this stuff, one of those things that wasn’t even on my radar a few short months ago, now I can’t imagine the before time!

Dispenser by Anchor Hocking: https://amzn.to/3aMO3XT

Spigot: https://amzn.to/3dIN2BQ

I’ve had the exact same dispenser since 2014 and it has held up great. I routinely used it for iced tea before my recent Kombucha days. The only thing I wish was slightly different would be that the hole would be down closer to the bottom a bit more. You have to tip it towards you to get the last few quarts out. But it works, and I’ve not had any issues with leakage.


That is my basic how to. Did I leave something out? Still have questions? Let me know! Again, I’m a total newb, but find this super easy, delicious, and cheap!




Please do not miss out on this 23rd order of my Eco-friendly One-Stop Shop!! Early bird specials end at 11:59pm central on 10/7, final deadline is 10/13 at that same hour. All details here: https://ecofriendlymamausa.com/made-in-usa-2/eco-friendly-usa-buying-club-2/

Pure Play Kids FREE SHIPPING weekend

I’ve never done this before, but I’m now offering FREE SHIPPING on all orders placed now through Monday evening! https://pureplaykids.com/

You can claim buying club extras and have them ship together as well: https://ecofriendlymamausa.com/2019/07/16/june-2019-buying-club-extras/

Reflections on a mental health crisis

I decided to gather up the many posts I’ve done since my Dad had a “nervous breakdown” on April 15th. I, and many others, knew he was having a rough spell. Record breaking floods damaged his shop a few months prior, and looking back, that was the beginning of a downward spiral. He slipped into depression, and as the stress and anxiety of his super busy season in the greenhouse business started skyrocketing, one day he walked in and said he could not do it anymore. Those of you in my closed group page have been following along, and the kind words of support and wisdom from your own life experiences that you’ve shared with me are priceless. I felt like I should gather all those posts up, so that’s what is below.

4/9/19 6 days before my Dad’s breakdown, I posted this…


I’m feeling the effects of being part of the “sandwich generation”, and I know I’m not alone. My Dad isn’t super old, just 61, but is suddenly starting to grapple with retirement, passing on his business (and I’m not interested), major life decisions & I’m his go-to for helping grapple with it all. That, combined with homeschooling my 2 kiddos, no day care ever, full-time family + managing my multiple small businesses, planning an addition on our home… I’m feeling like a sandwich, maybe a grilled cheese, all smooshed, gooey, and melty 

The next 6 weeks are super, super busy for me. I work in my Dad’s greenhouses pretty much daily, trying to help him keep his shit together, lol. Then home to the family & all that entails. So, if you only hear from me once/day, don’t worry, all is okey dokey here. Just doing my best to keep this sandwich together 


This is a very tough post for me to share, and I’ll keep it brief for now… Many of you know how close I am with my Dad, and I recently mentioned that he was having a pretty rough time grappling with major life decisions. Monday morning he had a complete breakdown & is currently in the hospital receiving much needed psychiatric care. I’m so thankful he was able to get in and that he is getting cared for, and I’m not talking about him in past tense. It is absolutely heartbreaking to see a loved one, and especially your Father, completely losing their shit. Thankfully, he is very loved by soooooo many people, and we’re all here for him & to see his business through the busiest month of the year in his absence.

If you’ve never experienced mental illness or true, clinical depression 1st hand or 2nd hand, you can’t even imagine how painful it can be. I’ve seen sad people, people in a funk, but OMG, true depression is awwwwwwful. I never, ever, evvvvvvver would’ve thought of my Dad as someone capable of ending his own life. But seeing him in the state of mind he was on Monday morning, I see how people do it, and I’m thankful he didn’t have a gun in reach. The despair is so great, and they can’t think clearly for 1 second, they just want it to end.

I could go on & on, and I will share more over time. But for now I need to let you know that I have to step it up big time & run his business for him for the next 2 months. When I get home, I want to spend every waking second with my family. And that means I’m going to be MIA from my beloved group(s) for the most part. Keep on being awesome to each other please, and know I’m thinking of you, and it will keep me going knowing you are thinking of me too!


My mind has been blown after learning that I’ve been peeling a banana all wrong for my almost 40 years on this planet. Some of you surely know this, but the thought never crossed my mind that there was any other way to get into a banana than from the stem end. But as you know, often you smoosh up a good chunk of the top of the banana trying to bust into the stem, we all like our ‘nanas on the green side. I usually grab a sharp knife and cut into the top if I’m near the kitchen. My kids refuse to eat the smooshy part so give it to me or toss it if I’m not around.
What blows my mind about this new revelation that peeling it from the bottom side works perfectly, every time, is I feel it’s an incredible analogy to life in general. We spend decades doing something one way, and think there is no possible other way to do it. Then one day, you see that banana in a new light, and spend the rest of your life doing it the new way. This has been a huge reminder to me. Think outside of the box. Question everything, even something as simple as how to peel a banana. There is ALWAYS an alternate way of looking at a problem,and usually multiple solutions. Just because you’ve done something one way for 40 years, doesn’t mean it’s the only way, or the best way.
And guess what, I learned this banana hack from my kids who saw it on a YouTube video! But turns out, it’s how monkeys do it, of course!! https://www.thekitchn.com/why-you-should-peel-your-banana-like-a-monkey-206322

I cannot thank y’all enough for the kind words of support during this difficult time with my Dad’s health. I have had so many stories shared via pm and email from this group, as well as numerous stories shared from local folks here in SW Wisco who have learned of what we’re dealing with… I swear, you’d be hard pressed to find a family who has not had a Son, Daughter, Brother, Sister, Mom, Dad, Aunt or Uncle who has dealt with a mental health crisis. And it truly is a crisis until we figure out how to best get that person back to the best semblance of their former self.

It really sucks to see a human spirit truly broken, and that’s what I’m dealing with currently. The stories shared make me cry, sad and scared, but also happy, hopeful, and grateful. Life. Is. Tough. But broken pieces can be put back together with the right glue…. I’m working so hard to be that glue my Dad needs. And I so appreciate the positivity and love that the Universe is sending my way as I do the very best I can 


A glimpse into the place I’m spending more waking hours than my home these days: the 2 greenhouses I’ve grown up in. The thing that’s hard to swallow for me is that just about every person that comes here raves about how this is their happy place. They have their own stories of rough times, heart break, loss, depression. But flowers make them happy. It’s sad that the man (my Dad) responsible for all this (with my help) has lost the spark himself. Tending to all this for 35 years got to him. We’re trying so hard to help him find that passion & spark within him still. In the meantime, I’m here, surrounded by all this beauty, 8 hrs/day, 7 days/week, for the next month (so why you’re not hearing from me much, I hardly have a minute to sit down!).

One of many things I love about home-schooling is it allows my family to be together in many different situations. It hasn’t been easy for me to go to what would normally be a few hours/day here, to full-time. But with our flexibility, they are able to spend time with me here, and really, truly help doing many tasks. Just like I did when I was their age (my Dad has been doing this since I was 4!). I have so many fabulous friends and family members who have, and will continue to, be down here in minutes flat if I need them. It really reminds you how good the world is, even in times that seem desperate!



It has been very interesting seeing the different reactions to my Dad’s mental health crisis. Those who have been through a crisis themselves, or seen a loved one go through a total, complete breakdown get it. They completely understand. There is no pill that works overnight. A few days or weeks off does not suddenly make you back into the person you used to be. Something inside my Dad’s brain broke….

Those who have no 1st, or 2nd hand experience with it can’t comprehend it. I wouldn’t have been able to comprehend it prior to seeing it myself. Many in the community don’t know all the details, they just know he is taking time off. Random person, as an example: it’s cancer, isn’t it… He had a heart attack, right? Me: no, he is just completely burned out, he’s taking some time off to refocus on the future of this business. Them: oh, well it must be nice to have that time off, I’m burned out in my job too, tell him to get back here if he’s not physically ill… They just do NOT get it that mental illness is as real as if he had a heart attack, or cancer. He needs serious time to heal. Part of me wants to say: Yes, he had a heart attack, he’ll be off for the next 3 months at least, comprende!?

For those that don’t know: telling someone experiencing extreme, clinical depression to “suck it up”, “just deal with it”, “everything will be okay”, “we’re all going through it, it’s just the way of the world”… Those are the absolute worst things you can say. What you can/should say: I’m here for you. I hear what you are saying. I agree, everything may not be okay, but I’m here to help any way I can. I love you no matter what.

I’ve learned SO MUCH about human nature in the 3 LONG weeks since something in my Dad’s brain broke. For the most part, I’ve learned that humans are extremely kind, caring, compassionate. And that has been extremely wonderful to see 1st hand! 



I want to wish all the Mamas in the group a super awesome weekend full of love. Those that aren’t Mom’s, just have a great weekend still 

I share the SuperMom cartoon every year at this time, it makes me chuckle. But as we know, there is no cape, no magical powers to get through life day in and day out. Some days are rough. Some are glorious. Some are both combined. The last few weeks have been very tough for my family, but we’ve found our groove, my Dad knows I’ve got this, and that is allowing him to do what he needs to do to heal. It truly feels amazing to be able to able to step up to the plate, and give life your all, when life needs you to. And I know someday I will be in need, and my community will be here for me.

All right, time to sell, sell, sell these plants we’ve been tending to for months. 1st customers of the day just walked in, it should be non-stop until Sunday at 5pm. Much love group friends!


I’m taking care of all my Dad’s bills at the moment, today, the bill from the hospital arrived. He spent 5 nights in the Psych Unit. The damage… $16,500. $11,000 for room & board for 5 nights + a bunch of misc. charges. His insurance paid for all but $15, that is what he owes, thank goodness. But can you imagine if someone in his situation, the lowest, most desperate time in their life, did not have insurance?? They are a couple weeks post-hospitalization, and they get a bill for $16K for their stay. It’s really, really hard for me to comprehend that we can’t take better care of people in desperate times of need. I don’t have the answers, but I know I have a lot of questions…


I’ve had so much support in getting through the last month since my Dad’s “nervous breakdown”, it has come in many forms. My Auntie’s who live several hours away have wanted to help, but weren’t really sure how. Well, yesterday they each drove 4 hrs to my cousin’s home nearby and spent the day making freezer meals for my family. I’m so, so excited about all this goodness that was just delivered: chicken curry, stroganoff, zuppa tuscana soup, vegetable pesto soup, thai chicken, turkey/black bean chili, meat loaf and mashed potatoes, stuffed peppers!

If a friend or loved one is experiencing a difficult time, and you want to help but don’t know how, consider just making a double batch of whatever you’re making that night, and deliver a meal. It really means a lot to have one less thing to think about when I go home tonight!



I feel like I’ve gained such a valuable perspective in the 5 weeks since witnessing my Dad’s complete mental breakdown. Those of us around him knew he was completely stressed out, and feeling overwhelmed with even small things, but we just keep telling him: it’s going to be all right, everything is fine. But no matter how many people who love you dearly tell you that everything is fine, that doesn’t make it true if you don’t feel that way yourself.

This realization has helped me understand how important it is to truly listen to others, let them know you hear them, and you empathize. Sometimes everything is not okay, and admitting that is necessary.

Today I took my Son to the dentist for his 1st cavity, getting numbed up and all of that. He was SO nervous. The old me would’ve said things like: it’s no big deal hunny, there’s nothing to be scared of, you’re worrying for no reason. But the new, more understanding me said: I hear you, I understand you’re scared, it’s your first round of work and it’s OK to feel nervous, I’m here for you. And I reminded him how we walked out of the last dentist who said I could not be there to hold his hand during the procedure. That we were at this dentist because I understood how scary the uncertain can be, and I would never not be there for him.

And he did super great. And I felt great about really, truly hearing him & not dismissing his concerns. Dismissing the concerns of others is ridiculous. Their concern is REAL to them, and that’s all that matters.


I’ve been sharing insights as I have them over the last 7 years since starting “bloggin”. I feel like I’m having them more than ever in my life in the 5 short weeks since my Dad had a “nervous breakdown”. It’s crazy how so much can change in a short time. Also, as I live in a small town, people have been coming to me and sharing their stories of tough times & hardship. Of overcoming them, and of failures they’ve witnessed in their family in trying to overcome them. It has been a very intense few weeks, to say the least.

My latest revelation is this… I have been searching for 4 leaf clovers my entire life. In high school and the few years after, I worked on a flower farm where we spent all day outdoors cutting flowers that went to Farmer’s Markets in larger cities and wholesale florists across the country. During our breaks we’d always sit in the grass and look for 4-leafers. I had a very good friend who would regularly find them. Me, never, ever. Last Summer, we were on a hike during a camping trip and just entering the trail head, my Son, 7, says: there’s a 4 leaf clover, as he plucks it. Not trying at all, just observed that there it was. My Hubby caught the 1st ever Musky (huge fish) of his life later that day.

Lately, my Son has been coming to work with me in my Dad’s greenhouses, for entire 8 hr days! In-between customers we head out to the grassy space in-between our building and the next, and lay in the grassy clover patches looking for 4-leafers. It is truly blissful, I cherish these moments, yet we haven’t found a single one, out of thousands, and thousands of them. Yesterday I took him to the dentist. We were 1/2 hr early so went to a park down the road from the dentist. We laid on our bellies & looked for 4-leafers for 1/2 hr. It was super, super fun. But we didn’t find a single one. Fast forward a few hours later & we get home and my daughter wants to go for a bike ride. I walk down our quiet road while she peddles. It is lined with clover, and when I’m totally NOT looking, there it is. My 1st ever 4-leafer (in memory at least, since childhood), I’m a few months shy of 40 years old.

The reason I wanted to share this is: I really, truly feel like us humans often try too hard, we overthink everything. When we just be, just exist, and disconnect and be one with nature, that is when we experience the real deal. I know I can stress and stress over something. When I finally disconnect from it, I see it in a new, more clear light. And this is what I’m trying SO hard to relay to my Dad 





I’ve had many emails and pm’s asking for updates on my Dad and it is so, so heartwarming to know how many of you are thinking of him & I, as he heals from his “nervous breakdown” for lack of a better description….

Honestly, I’m still very, very concerned about him. More than ever actually. I spent the last 6 weeks ensuring that his business was taken care of, those were his immediate overwhelming concerns. Like every, little thing was completely overwhelming. Well, now the crop is all but sold, his other part-time employee is able to handle it from here until the final plants are sold. Turns out, that was the EASY part…

The “what’s next” is the extremely difficult and worrisome part. He absolutely, positively is completely burned out still, and showing every sign of major depression. He has ZERO love or joy for what he has made his life for the past 35 years, like he hates it. But starting a new job at 61 is, of course, completely overwhelming. He feels like the only viable option is to force himself to go back there and keep on doing it. And it is so concerning. For the 1st time in my life, I can see how others consider taking their own life as the “easy” way out. And it’s terrifying.

Tomorrow is his 6 week follow-up with his Primary. He has no refills on his anti-depressants or anti-anxiety meds. They honestly don’t seem to be helping. So the roller-coaster of adjusting/altering meds begins… And I’m terrified for him. His partner can’t be there tomorrow so I’m going with him. Here’s a prime example of the sandwich generation: going with my Father to an appointment at 11:15, taking my Son to the dentist at 2. I wouldn’t trade being here for him for anything in the world, but I will absolutely admit that this is a very, very tough time to keep my spirits high.

I saw the following quote recently, and it hit home. You can be surrounded by people who love and care for you immensely, but depression robs you of feeling that love. It is truly heart-breaking.


Today was a tough day. My Dad came into his shop for the last time for the foreseeable future. Right now we’re saying closed for the Summer, but in reality, it might be sold by Fall, and today truly could have been his last day in the place he’s practically lived for 35 years. It was emotional for both of us for sure. He continues to apologize for all he’s put me through in the 7 weeks since his “nervous breakdown”. And while yes, it did put many extra duties on me, it was no biggie. Mainly all I’m worried about is him. I went to the shop a bit ago to water some plants at the end of the day and found this note lying on the counter….

Honestly: true, unconditional love is all he’s ever shown me, and it makes me so, SO happy that I’ve been able to pay that back during the absolute lowest time in his life. This note is more than enough “payment” for what he’s put me through in the last 7 weeks. And he IS getting better. One day-at-a-time. Slowly, but surely, were seeing it. My advice: love unconditionally, it rewards the giver as much as the receiver!



UPDATE 6/18/19: At his 6w follow-up with his Primary he requested the Western Blot to test for Lyme Disease, thanks to my urging. I cannot believe this was not done previously. Well: POSITIVE for 5 out of 10 bands on that test. Finally, we have some answers. Many of his symptoms correlate to those of Lyme. So now he is beginning a 30+ day course of antibiotics to beat it down, and we take it from there. Stay tuned….

It’s Buying Club Time!

I only offer this opportunity 3x/year, the next order after this is in October!

There are NUMEROUS vendors offering savings of 10% or more if you get your order in before 11:59pm Central on 6/5. The FINAL deadline is 6/9 at 11:59pm Central. All details here.

I wanted to point out a few things:
–Mountain Rose DOES have dried elderberries in stock currently, this is absolutely the time to order them. I can all but guarantee they will be out of stock during our next order in Oct.
–My homemade toothpaste and deodorant is now $9, but I’m offering it at $7.50/jar for the buying club only, that’s a huge savings!
–Sun stuff: this order will ship to you end of June, early July, so stock up on your Summer Sun protection and relief. Numerous vendors offer sunscreens, Poofy has a fabulous After Sun Spray that I’m never without. Urban Baby Bonnets are only offered once/year, and they also offer winter bonnets.
–School stuff: while school is just getting out for many kiddos, the next order after this is Oct so if possible, get your stainless steel lunch items, organic cotton sandwich/snack bags, Meli Wraps, immune boosting products now!
–luffas: Brand new vendor, and just about every order that has come in thus far is grabbing a couple of them, I’m super excited about these!
–Pure Play Kids (my baby) is a vendor, and has many of items in stock from vendors not being offered this round, as well as a whole bunch more fun stuff. Any income I make on Pure Play sales goes back into stocking more fun stuff, I have a huge wish list of things I’d love to add to the variety there!

Welcome to the NEW Pure Play Kids!

Thank you for your patience! After purchasing the site in October (read about my journey here), I made it through my 1st Holiday season. Then I shut the site down in January while I traveled, and worked on switching website hosts to make my site more mobile-friendly & user-friendly from my end. This took much longer than I had hoped, but finally, here we are mid-March & it is fully back online, better than ever!

With Easter ~1 month away, I hope you’ll make me one of your 1st stops for shopping. I have all-natural egg dye kits, and many other fun items for your Easter baskets. I also have unique items for your kitchen, home, and self-care. Without your support, little shops like mine aren’t able to survive in this world of Amazon convenience. I promise to do my best to keep my prices as low as possible, and most orders ship same day, or next, after I receive your order!


Poofy Organics 1 day sale!!!


In honor of the namesake of the company celebrating another trip around the sun tomorrow (Mariah’s nickname was Poofy as a young child), there will be a 1-day sale: 10% off orders tomorrow, 1/30 12:00 AM EST – 11:59 PM EST. Use code: SPREADLOVE. https://ecofriendlyusa.poofyorganics.com/
One thing that makes me love this company so much, as a woman myself, is supporting a fellow woman-owned business. Poofy was started by Kristina, in her basement, in an attempt to stay home with her Son instead of returning to teach college classes. It has taken her over a decade & more hard work than we know, to get Poofy to where it is today. I personally have never, ever been happier with all that Poofy stands for. Day in, Day out. This isn’t a fad, this is daily life for so many of us.

Meet the proud new owner of Pure Play Kids!


October was quite the month for me!  For those that missed the couple updates I did in my group pages, here’s the gist of it: I flew down to Nashville (from WI), on a Monday (getting in at 9:30pm instead of 1:30 due to a whole bunch of misfortunes), loaded up the 16′ Penske truck on Tuesday & got a few of the 12 hr drive outta the way. On Wed I drove the rest of the 900 miles & was home by 7pm. Thu we unloaded all the goods into my new office, moved my desk & other supplies from old office to new one (same building, just opposite side), drove the truck back to the drop-off spot an hour away, picked my van up at the airport & was finally home 

I’m so looking forward to updating the Pure Play Kids site which is currently down as I update the available inventory & tweak it to make it mine. I’ll let y’all know when the site is live, I hope I can count on your support by checking it out! Thanks to all who offered kind words of support before & during my journey, all of the thoughts, prayers & knowing y’all were thinking of me helped keep me safe, I have no doubt!

I wrote this while traveling, and wanted to make it an “official” blog post: A common theme I’ve heard when others learn of the journey I’m currently on is: Wow, you’re brave! Wow, you’re doing this by yourself? The elderly lady on the plane next to me: Where’s your Husband? Me: home with the kids. It took her awhile to process that…. In my life I have honestly never felt there was something I couldn’t do. Brave, naw. Independent, yes. I think it’s so, so important that we remind girls, and women, that we can do anything we put our minds to do. We don’t need someone to hold our hands. And as the Mama of 1 boy, and 1 girl, it’s also so important to remind our boys to be the support system us girls need sometimes!

I can attest to the fact that having the support of those close to us is also so very important. When I was having a super rough day yesterday (while traveling back from Nashville after a rough start), a timely message from my Dad telling me how proud of me he is, and how much he loves me meant so, so much. And my Hubby reminding me that being self-employed isn’t always a cake walk, but how proud of me he was that I was following my passion, and that I “got this”, meant so much.

Then, I officially became the owner of Pure Play Kids. I’m planning to slightly re-brand it to Pure Play Kids+, expanding it into more than *just* toys, and offering home & personal care goods as well. I truly am looking to make a one-stop shop for great quality, safe, made in the USA goods! It is an amazing feeling to be the owner of my very own small business dedicated to offering the finest made in USA items I can find. On my way back, I had an awesome dinner of BBQ ribs & brisket w/ fried okra at a place that has won 4 world championships for their BBQ meat. I made it to the IL border, and have 8 hrs left to go tomorrow. I will spend that time reminding myself how blessed I am to be doing what I love, following my passions, and having found y’all who share similar passions. There’s nothing we can’t do if we are determined to do it.

Here’s a ~6 min video I took of my new office space: https://www.facebook.com/jessica.brandt.3990/videos/10156753633319297/


Working from home while supporting your organic product values!!

I don’t share this often, but I also don’t want to withhold this opportunity from anyone! Did you know that you can earn some income from home, while supporting your made in USA, organic, safe product values? With an improved website, improved compensation program, and NEW CBD LINE, Poofy Organics has never looked better in terms of an opportunity for YOU!!! Whether you’d like to earn some extra grocery money each month, or become the “bread winner” for your family, the opportunity is there. And I’d feel bad if I didn’t let you know….  There are several links wrapped up within this one, ANY questions, let me know! https://ecofriendlymamausa.com/buying-clubdeomy-poofy-organics/ready-to-work-from-home-join-team-eco-poofy-usa/

Why I love Barefoot Books!

UPDATE: I am no longer an Ambassador as of 1/1/19, but I still LOVE the books very much & will continue to purchase them as a customer!

I’ve fallen so in love with our Barefoot Books collection that the rest of our collection really doesn’t seem to have much to offer. It all started when my Mom gifted my kiddos the Yoga cards deck. I had never heard of Barefoot Books prior to that. Seeing my 2 kiddos who rarely sit still, doing breathing exercises & practicing Double Downward Dog, I thought to myself: I wonder what else this company offers??  And the answer was: SO MUCH. Raising kids in rural WI means I need to make an effort to expose them to other cultures, and it is something that is very important to me to make a priority. We travel as much as possible, but what I LOVE about books is it brings a whole new world right to us, at home, usually in bed snuggled up together. Little-by-little we have added to our Barefoot library, and there is not a single book I do not find to be a great addition.  They are so colorful, from cover to cover, they are vibrant, beautifully illustrated & just truly great stories! If I had to pick a favorite, which is not easy, I would have to say it’s the Barefoot Book of Earth Tales. It features fabulous nature-inspired tales from several different cultures, and I just adore the lessons it weaves into these fabulous stories. We also have, and have thoroughly enjoyed, the Barefoot Books of:  Children, Animals, Pirates, Princesses, and there are still so many more that we have not yet added to our library.


Puzzles are an absolute favorite way to spend time together. We have several of their puzzles & love them! We have the 100 piece princess puzzle, which is definitely on the challenging side, even for me, but we manage to get it together. We also have & love: Growing a Garden (below) & the Fairy House (which I see is no longer available). There are many more puzzles available!


Games. I ADORE their games, for 1 main reason: they are cooperative, not competitive, what a fabulous idea……! We recently added The Fairy Game & it has been a big hit.


Before that we played the heck out of Dinosaur Escape. We also own Simple Math Lotto & Earth Science Bingo. And I cannot recommend Alphabet Go Fish highly enough. We took this with us on our trip to Belize last January, and we played soooo many games of it. It’s perfect for taking along in your purse, and we pulled it out numerous times when we had to wait for food in a restaurant, in an airport, etc, and it was fun, educational, and really helped pass the time for my less than patient kiddos.


YES, they are printed in China, this is the only part I dislike, and some of you may be surprised & turned off even, wondering why I would go against my made in USA mission?? I really, truly feel these books are THAT great, that I’m willing to overlook this detail. Also, they have a strong sustainability mission, and I truly believe are trying their very best to have the least environmental impact possible.

ABOUT: Our commitment to green business practices grows from the Barefoot team and our Ambassador community’s deep-rooted desire to lessen our impact on the planet. From sustainably sourced paper to vegetable-based ink, the materials that make up our books are ones that you can feel good about having in your classroom or home. Want to learn more? Find out how we’ve planted trees across the globe, and read on to learn how our production processes are contributing to a more sustainable future.


Paper is core to a publisher’s business. We want to protect the world’s remaining ancient forests and ensure that the forestry and paper manufacture undertaken on behalf of Barefoot Books is ethical and legal. The welfare of the people involved in and affected by the supply of paper to Barefoot Books is also of paramount importance to us.

Our printers do not use paper that contains pulp from illegal or unsustainable sources in the manufacture of our books. We use paper that has been graded 3* by the PREPS Grading System or certified by the FSC, the gold standard in forest management and responsibly sourced paper. We continue to work with our suppliers to improve the environmental credentials of our products. Our board books and activity books are made using recycled paper.


All of the ink used by our printers is vegetable based.

Manufacturing Standards

Barefoot Books supports a common, internationally recognized social accountability standard to cover working conditions, health and safety issues, remuneration, working hours and the prohibition of the use of child and forced labor . It’s called the CARE Process. It is the standard used by the global toy industry and is managed by their industry body, the International Council of Toy Industries (ICTI). All of our printing partners carry ICTI CARE certification.


Our print suppliers have systems in place to feed paper offcuts and wastage back into their supply chain. Our packaging is made from recycled material and recycled again after use. We recycle as much as possible in our own offices.

Transporting books from the manufacturer to our warehouse

We tailor print runs to fill shipping containers. This reduces the number of sea and land journeys made on Barefoot Books’ behalf, allowing us control and reduce our carbon footprint.


I love that you can shop by age, subject or format and they offer great gift sets & story collections (Compassionate Citizens Set, on my list!). I find the website to be very organized and easy to navigate!

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