Over disinfecting


Kitchen Cleaner?

Are you still using antibacterial soap and cleaners in your home? My family has been opting out of both for a while now, and I just assume everyone lives like we do. But recently a friend of mine sent me this FAQ titled, Ditch Disinfectants, by Dr. Andrew Weil. I thought I would share the article because is has a lot of good information about how the ingredients in disinfectants, triclosan in particular, are building up in the environment and, “potentially making germs tougher and more harmful to us.” If you’ve never heard of him, Dr. Weil describes himself as a, “world-renowned leader and pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, a healing oriented approach to health care which encompasses body, mind, and spirit.” The FAQ is really interesting, stating that antibacterial products are not, “necessary except in nursing homes, hospitals, and other healthcare settings where there is a high risk of spreading infections from person to person. There’s no proof that the antibacterial soaps and washes marketed for home use serve any useful purpose. Soap and water do just as good a job of cleansing.”

Marketing for antibacterial products has done a number on us for years now, especially moms. The ads make you think that your house will be crawling with bugs and harmful germs if you don’t use antibacterial cleaners. Here is a snippet from Lysol’s website, “LYSOL® Antibacterial Kitchen Cleaner cuts through grease to help clean kitchen messes and kills 99.9% of germs* to help protect your family from the spread of foodborne bacteria like salmonella*.” Scary, right?

I’m a full believer in the science behind, “dirt don’t hurt.” We like to play in the dirt, and the only thing I don’t like about dirt is trying to get it out of my kids clothes. Call me old school, but a good soap and warm water scrubbing will kill everything you come into contact with, plus it doesn’t smell weird.

If you are looking for an anti-antibacterial cleaner, I wrote a post a while ago on how to make your own glass/counter cleaner using castille soap, vinegar, and water. And there are hand soaps out there without antibacterial chemicals in them, Softsoap makes a version, you just have to look around at the grocery store and you’ll find them. I’m still searching for a hand soap that has no chemicals, and more soap. I’d love to hear from you guys on what soaps you use, I need recommendations!


Reedy Rides

The family that bikes together...

The family that bikes together…

Jamie McDonough took time out of her crazy, busy life to let me interview her. She is one of my personal fitness heroes, and she is an amazing person for many reasons as you will see when you read below. Check out the list of races she has completed, plus she mountain bikes, snowboards, and runs a bike shop. Oh, and on top of all that, has a lovely little family.

Jamie started her own bike shop, Reedy Rides, in Greenville, SC. Check out her story:

Question: How did you decide to open up Reedy Rides?

Answer: My husband and I have always enjoyed biking.  As a family, we get out and bike with our boys almost every weekend. Once the Swamp Rabbit Trail was completed from Greenville, SC to Travelers Rest, SC (13 miles), I recognized that people and families that didn’t own or have access to bikes needed a resource.  Reedy Rides was created mostly as a community resource and my passion for the outdoors and biking.  However, it has become a thriving business with 2 locations (one on each end of the trail). I have 4 employees and I joke that I used to be a stay-at-home Mom, now I am a stay-at-work Mom.

Question: What is your favorite thing about owning the bike shop?

Answer: When people return from their bike ride, they are so happy and grateful.  I love to help people get outside and be healthy.  Also, bringing my dog, Ellie, to work everyday.

Question: What are the social, economic and environmental impacts of your shop?

Answer: Socially, we have small and large groups that get out and enjoy biking.  Biking is a really cool way to get exercise and to chit-chat as you ride up the trail. Tours are lots of fun, and introduce people to others and also new experiences in Greenville.

The trail really gets credit for this…but yes, we do help our economic engine here in the Upstate.  I consider Reedy Rides an extension of our visitor center. We recommend hotels, restaurants, and shopping.  Sometimes, we help people plan most of their time here in Greenville.  I also employee 4 students.

Is Reedy Rides doing anything for the environment? Yes, we do 90% of our bike delivery by bike.  I have a bike trailer that can carry 2 bikes.  We use it to deliver bikes to hotels and the trail.  I do all my business errands by bike as well.  I also encourage bike usage for locals by offering memberships.
Question: How do you balance a family plus running your own store?

Answer: Reedy Rides has been like my 3rd baby.  I have an amazingly supportive husband and my kids are very independent, so that helped.  As the business started to grow, I hired employees and that helped me make family time.  The biggest obstacle was letting go, trusting it would all be okay.

Question: What do you do to stay healthy? I know you are really into exercise, what motivates you to keep going and doing?

Answer: This has been the area I have let take the biggest hit.  For the last 2 years, I have been working so much, that I have not made time to exercise like I would like.  I mostly exercise socially now.  I do a ride with my girlfriends once a week that is about 30 miles. Weekends, I run or bike with the family.  We try to mountain bike every Sunday.  I also try to fit in at least 1 yoga class.  I like hot yoga…hotter the better.  Motivation for me changes as I move through different stages in my life.  In my twenties, I was an adrenaline junkie… loved whitewater kayaking, snowboarding and mountain biking. In my early thirties, I was motivated by races, always trying to get faster and go longer.  As I approach 40, it has been more about trying to stay fit so I can keep up with my boys.  The last thing I want them to say is, “Do we have to invite Mom?”.

Question: Can you list off events you’ve completed? (Not many people can say they have accomplished the Ironman. For those of you who haven’t heard of this, you have to swim 2.4-miles, bike for 112 miles, and then when that is all done, you run a marathon (26.2 miles). How crazy is that?)


Marine Corps Marathon 1997, Capitol Of Texas Triathlon 1998, Clemson Triathlon 2006, 2007, 2009, SC Half Iron Distance 2007, 2008, Ford Florida Ironman, 2008, Augusta Half Ironman, 2009, Century Rides, lots of foot races, and relays.

When, I trained for the Ironman, I had a plan and followed it. I was training about 20 hours a week so I had to be smart to prevent injury.

Question: What is next on your exercise agenda?

Answer: I would love to do an adventure race.  I think I could really get into these and hopefully even do them as a family.  Currently, I just started a yoga program of 40 days to Personal Revolution.  I meditate and do yoga every day for 40 days.

For more information on Reedy Rides, check out their website. If you are in Greenville – stop by the shop on McBee Avenue!

“We don’t eat animals. We just eat food.”


You don’t have to remind this kid to eat his vegetables

My good friends, the Streetmans, are vegetarians with three beautiful boys 3 and under. The title of this post is from one of their sons, Tyler. I have to admit I’m impressed with how easy they make vegetarianism look. Personally, I abstained from red meat (beef and pork) from age 12 to 27, for ‘save the world’ reasons. I also helped the environment by wearing a very trendy ‘Save the World’ pendant around my neck, it was huge, and instead of the words ‘world’, there was a small globe. Gah – what a nerd! One chilly, fall night while mountain biking with a good friend, I caved when I smelled a delicious cheeseburger. Forget saving the world, I wanted some beef. I may be selfish, but at least I’m honest about it. So kudos to the Streetmans, who are my heroes for making this choice and sticking with it, and raising some pretty darn cute vegetarians in the meantime.

Interview with Colleen Streetman

Question: What made you decide to make the switch to being a vegetarian?

Answer: My husband, Dan, was a vegetarian when I met him and had been for several years. We talked about his reasons – health first and foremost, and humanitarian reasons, too. I soon became the primary “chef” in our relationship, and there wasn’t much point in cooking meat for one, so I always made vegetarian meals for us at home, then ate meat when we went out. I began experimenting more with foods I hadn’t eaten much of before. The more we talked about the conditions of the animals raised for food, the more documentaries we watched, the more I read, the more I started becoming disgusted by meat. Then – 5 years ago – I had a few bad experiences with gross meat meals and watched a few more documentaries, and that was it. I was done.

Question: What specifically do you eat, what is an example of a typical day for you guys? Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks.

Answer: Breakfast in our house consists mainly of grains and fruits, maybe some cheese or yogurt. Dan has a bagel and sometimes a banana. I usually feed the boys similar breakfasts, just enough to get them going, because they are going to eat snack and lunch soon at preschool. They all have bananas and my son, Tyler, loves bagels. The twins, Casey and Tyler, both like cereal, especially with banana bites in it. In the winter they love oatmeal, mixed with applesauce, “so it’s not so lumpy.”
Spinach Ricotta Bites

Those spinach-ricotta bites are gone in a flash

Lunch usually consists of some kind of sandwich – egg salad (we are not vegan, and I try to be very cautious about buying “farm-friendly” eggs), cheese and veggie sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly or honey, or cucumber and cream cheese. We also do pita and hummus quite often. I do the occasional veggie hot dog and mac and cheese. I make sure to include fruit with their lunches, too. Some other things we like to make – potato salad, pasta salad, broccoli salad, coleslaw.

I cook breakfast for dinner a lot – pancakes, french toast, eggs (family favorite is scrambled with spinach and feta), some kind of potatoes, and fruit. Of course, we do lots of pasta dishes – there are so many different ways to do yummy pastas. We love chili – I love to use beans – black beans in particular – in chili, Mexican dishes, etc. I have several soup and quiche recipes that pack a lot of veggies and protein in them. We use a lot of tofu and tempeh in stir-fry dishes. I’ve branched out into international recipes since becoming vegetarian – I love Indian food. I always loved Mexican food. And we really enjoy Mediterranean food – chick peas are a favorite of mine – you can do so much with them: use them in salads, hummus, roast them, make burgers out of them.
I think I am pretty good about balancing the meals overall – making sure the kids eat some veggies (whether it’s in the main dish or not). They actually like to have their own little “salad” with dinner, which is basically a few spinach leaves, a couple of carrots and broccoli, and some dressing to dip it in. While I don’t force my kids to eat all of their meals, they don’t get dessert unless they eat most/all the good-for-you stuff.
Snacks are pretty much just fruit and crackers and cheese. I’m pretty strict about junk. I just don’t feed it to them. There’s no point. And if you don’t keep it in the house, no one asks for it. I also forgot to mention muffins. Breakfast, lunch, snack, on the go … the boys love anything in muffin form, and there are tons of variations!
I am probably the pickiest vegetarian you will ever meet. There are a lot of vegetables and fruits that I don’t like. But the ones I do like, I eat a lot. My biggest struggle so far is trying to broaden the kids’ palettes so they aren’t as picky as me. It’s hard to cook with foods you don’t like yourself. But I’m really trying.
Boys love bananas

These happy kids LOVE bananas

Question: What was the result of your switch to vegetarianism, if any?

Answer: Honestly, I felt better almost immediately. My weight didn’t really change all that much – before babies I was always pretty skinny and in shape. My skin actually did improve, but the biggest difference was my GI system. I had far less stomach troubles in general.
Question: Tell me the pros and cons of doing this, in your opinion. Did you feel like it was a huge amount of extra work?
Answer: The biggest pro to me is that I don’t support horrible animal cruelty practices. There is really no way to know where your meat is coming from, unless you’re buying 100% of it straight from a farmer that you know practices ethically. Which, let’s face it, is extremely hard to do, not to mention expensive. The only way I could be sure I didn’t support the awful treatment of animals, was to completely stop buying and eating it. I didn’t find it to be a huge amount of work, but I also eased into it. We never really bought meat or cooked it at the house when I did eat meat. I gradually learned to broaden my palette before I quit completely. It’s super easy to feed your kids a vegetarian diet.
The thing I hear most from meat-eaters, “Where do you get protein if you don’t eat meat?” There are a bazillion non-meat foods that pack a fierce amount of protein. We eat tofu and tempeh and other soy meat substitutes, which contain a good amount of protein. We also eat different kinds of beans like edamame, black beans, and chick peas. We eat eggs, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, whole grains, nuts, peanut butter, etc. If you eat a good variety of all of those things, you’ll get plenty of protein.

Question: What do you do when you go out – like traveling, or to parties, or restaurants, do you have to take your own food, or do you feel there are enough options that you don’t have to worry about it?

Answer: There’s always something we can eat. Restaurants are getting better about providing vegetarian options. We have been to parties/restaurants and not had much selection, so we just eat more when we get home. I’m really excited about this new all vegetarian restaurant opening soon in Raleigh – the Fiction Kitchen. Our favorite Indian restaurant, Udupi, is also all vegetarian.

Thanks to Colleen Streetman for all this great information. If you feel the urge to try vegetarianism, Colleen suggests that you start small – don’t use meat when you cook at home, or try ‘Meatless Mondays’. Several restaurants in the Triangle offer this option. That is true with most new things, whether it be running, becoming a vegetarian, trying to make your household more natural – you should start small, and grow your knowledge incrementally. Personally, I would like to cut down on our meat consumption, and make it a top priority to know where our meat is coming from. I have to find a farmer nearby who raises cows – that will be my next goal. Does anyone have any local suggestions?

One seriously cool cleaning trick

Simple 'Green' Cleaner

These two ingredients make a simple, ‘green’ cleaner

The smell of bleach never fails to make me feel sick. For most of the day after I use bleach for cleaning, I feel like I’m breathing the horrid smell back in. Actually, I feel this way about most cleaning products, the smell is just too much. I have eczema and if I don’t wear gloves when I clean, my skin goes bonkers. I always felt like it was a necessary evil in order to get our kitchen and baths clean. I’ve spent many a nap cleaning bathrooms, showers, and toilets, and recently noticed that the bleach smell was permeating the entire house. Then it occurred to me, if my nose and lungs were hurting, then my kids were probably suffering, too. Probably more so than me, since they are still growing and developing.

I started researching and asking some of my brilliant mom friends, and discovered you can use baking soda and vinegar to clean your sinks, tubs, toilets, and showers. When my friend told me, I was doubtful, it felt too good to be true. I figured I would give it a try since I already had the items on hand and had a nasty sink to attack. (I like bullets and don’t get to use them enough, so here goes.)

Recipe for Sink/Tub/Toilet/Shower Cleaner

  • Shake some baking soda in a wet sink
  • Pour a bit of vinegar in on top of the baking soda
  • Scrub the fizzing solution until clean

When you mix vinegar and baking soda, they start fizzing like mad, like you are performing your own little science project. Maybe I’m 100 years behind the times on this one but it really made me so happy to not have to use something that smells bad. I have these two items in my home already, they are mostly environmentally friendly, and they don’t stink, or burn your nose when you use them. Everybody wins! Well, not the cleaning products industry. I feel like I’ve purchased so many “green” cleaning products that don’t really get the job done or over-promise on what they can do, plus they are expensive. It was nice to use something I had on hand, and I know is safe for all of us to breathe in. You should try it, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is.

*Improperly diluted vinegar is acidic and can eat away at tile grout.

Interview with the Bee Lady

Beautiful Butterfly

Beautiful butterfly at “Pollinator Paradise”

Last fall I interviewed an amazing woman, Debbie Roos, an Agricultural Extension Agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Pittsboro, NC. Ms. Roos started a pollinator demonstration garden in Chatham County called the Chatham Mills “Pollinator Paradise” Garden.

Ms. Roos decided to start the “Pollinator Paradise” Garden mainly because of a loss of habitat in Chatham County and the effects on wildlife, including pollinators, like honey bees. A bee’s job is to pollinate flowering plants, either by gathering nectar or by gathering pollen. Personally, I didn’t realize one-third of the food we eat relies on bees. Debbie explained to me, “There is a lack of understanding of bees’ role in our food chain. Bees get confused with other stinging insects. They are fascinating and social. People don’t get stung at the gardens because there are no hives and they are foraging instead of defending their nest.”

Development in Chatham County has caused a loss of forage and nesting habitat. Demonstration gardens are a needed resource for beekeepers, farmers and gardeners. Some bees are native to the area, including bumble bees and carpenter bees, but honey bees are not. Ms. Roos started a web resource to increase interest in the topic, but an anonymous donor made a donation that allowed her to start the demonstration garden.

The garden is located at Chatham Marketplace in the Chatham Mills complex in Pittsboro. Ms. Roos choose Chatham Marketplace because there is already so much traffic for this private business, a food co-op, plus there is a local farmer’s market on site, so it’s a great way for people to see the garden and learn about it.

"Pollinator Paradise" Garden

“Pollinator Paradise” Garden

I asked Ms. Roos what positive effects she had noticed since the inception of the garden. The first thing she pointed out was that more people are planting their own gardens. But there are so many positive impacts from this simple demonstration garden. Economically, the garden is beautiful and interesting, which attracts visitors to the area, who then spend money at Chatham Marketplace and the farmer’s market. Also, the local nurseries are indirectly affected because Ms. Roos purchases her plants there, and she talks to garden guests about where to buy the plants she has on display. She holds tours frequently and has tourists from other cities and counties, bringing money into the area. She has had guests from all over the Piedmont and Sandhills region.

Socially, she is educating the public and getting people excited about plants and insects. People who may not have noticed or cared before will be inspired to create their own gardens. The garden brings people out to socialize with their neighbors, creating a strong sense of community. The garden has also created a demand for speaking engagements for Ms. Roos, which allows her to educate even more people.

Environmentally, the pollinator garden has increased the habitat for bees in Chatham County. As soon as Ms. Roos started the garden, the bees moved right in. 85% of her plants in the pollinator garden are native to Chatham County.

So, great, we have all these positive side effects of the pollinator garden, but what is the point? What are the ramifications for pollinators, like honey bees, habitat loss? This goes back to my point at the beginning, one-third of the food we eat relies on bees. If we don’t provide the habitat for bees, there will be a decline in bee populations, bee species will increasingly become endangered, or worse, extinct. Pollinators need to be protected to ensure we have the food, beverages, medicines, and other products we enjoy.

What can individuals do to promote bee habitat?

  • Plant a long season of bloom – try to always have something blooming spring through fall. Read through Debbie’s website, Growing Small Farms, for some really interesting ideas.
  • Start small, plant a garden that provides blooms in the spring to help emerging bees raise their young.
  • Plant container plants if you don’t have space for a garden, specifically perennials as well as some nonnative plants like herbs (basil, rosemary) to provide good bee forage.
  • Include plants that have a diversity of flower size, shape and color to attract a diversity of pollinators including butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.
  • Plant native grasses, which provide nesting habitat (70% of native bees nest in the ground).
  • Leave seeds for birds so they will come back and forage.

Go see the “Pollinator Paradise” Garden for yourself, it’s worth the drive for the view, and the education. Plus you can shop for local food at the co-op, or the farmer’s market on site. For an online “tour” of the garden, visit http://bit.ly/QwkFoi.