Easy Ways to go Green: Reducing Waste as a Family

Since having a kid and starting LuLaRoe the trash output for my family has multiplied exponentially. 

And I hate it.

I get about 100 new items in a week, and each one of those items comes wrapped in plastic bags. When I get an order ready to ship out I use a plastic bag to ship things, and then a label is printed so I trash the back of the sticky label. It's a lot of trash.

Then when I had my son we used disposable diapers so we started throwing 10-12 of those out every day, plus wipes, plus packaging for his toys, plus more food that was thrown on the ground ...

The green guilt was getting to me. 

So, a few weeks ago I looked around online for some ways to start eliminating waste as a family. Recycling is obviously the biggest way to minimize waste but unfortunately the recycling system in Alaska is a joke (at least in Fairbanks.)

A few things we already do;  never use ziploc bags just glass food storage containers, we don't use paper plates or cups, and we are very good about keeping electronics or lights off when not in use. 

Here are five things we are doing now to go green:

1. Wool dryer balls. Instead of using fabric sheets we switched to wool dryer balls. I LOVE them. I used to have to run the dryer for almost 90 minutes to get a load of laundry dry, and now it takes about 50 minutes. 

2. Reusable water bottles for everyone in the family - even toddler! I wouldn't have thought my son would know how to use a CamelBak but he picked mine up a few months ago and immediately figured it out. So, I got him this adorable kids one and he loves it. Also for kids if they like those food pouches you can easily make your own and use these reusable pouches!

3. Switch to cloth handkerchiefs versus tissues. One of my pregnancy symptoms has been a constant stuffy nose so I blow it, a lot. I found these organic cotton hankies on Etsy and they are so soft and cute! As with everything on this list not only is it environmentally friendly but will end up saving money in the long run since I'll never have to buy tissues again. 

The listing I bought was for a 10 pack of mystery fabric hankies. I love what I got! Some super cute flamingo ones and heart ones, and some blue pattern and plain colored ones. I also ordered a zipper sandwich bag to put the hankies in from her. She had hankie pouches but I liked the pattern of one of her sandwich bags better. 

4. Reusable k-cup pods. I just started drinking coffee daily about six months ago and that means I started throwing away 31 kcups a month. That's ridiculous! I don't know why I didn't think of switching to a reusable one sooner. It's just as fast and convenient, just put two spoonfuls of coffee grounds in and you're done.

5. Switching from paper towels to cloth towels. This is definitely a work in progress. We've always kept a stack of fabric towels on the counter that I'll use for spills or wiping our hands, but I've always cleaned the counter, windows or table with paper.  We have a few rolls of paper towels left and I'm hoping to be 100% cloth before they are gone!

With baby two on the way I'm looking into cloth diapering. It seems so overwhelming! But disposables are so wasteful I feel I would be such a hypocrite if I didn't switch to cloth. I looked into it briefly with my son but the upfront costs were so much more than disposables. Of course if I had decided to use cloth with him then I'd be able to diaper another baby for virtually free right now so I'm kicking myself for not doing cloth the first time!

I plan to set up a nice recycling station in our house when we leave Alaska next year. I'd like to put pictures on the bins so my son can help sort things out. We will also start composting. Here it's so cold six months out of the year in order to compost you have to have everything inside and we just don't have the space for it.

Another goal is to make all of our cleaning products myself. That way I'm not trashing cleaning bottles every few months. I figure it will be a fun activity to do with my kids as they get older too!

What are some ways you've gone green?
If you cloth diaper what tips/advice do you have for getting started? 

Big News! We're Expecting a ....

I am SO excited to share that we are expecting a little girl! 

Little miss is due a week before my sons second birthday so they may end up sharing a birthday! I am still in shock that I'm pregnant with a girl. So far this pregnancy has felt exactly the same as my sons. Nausea but no vomiting, super tired in the first trimester, some headaches, and minimal food cravings (although I've been using pregnancy as an excuse to eat more sweets and nachos!)

I'm trying to enjoy these next few months having just one child. He is so easy (most of the time.) He sleeps through the night every night, and is taking a pretty good nap most days. Of course he didn't yesterday with the stupid time change! He weaned about two weeks ago when my milk dried up. He hadn't napped for days and I had no idea why (I had been nursing him to nap but he has been putting himself to sleep at night since about 9 months.)

Well, I figured out my milk was gone so I just decided to try our bedtime routine for naps and he ended up taking 90-120 minute naps that week. I WAS IN HEAVEN. Naps have always been a struggle, he only napped after nursing while laying on me the first 9 months, and I always thought we'd be in for a hell of a time if I was ever unable to nurse him to nap.

Being the super obnoxious planner I am I've been reading online and talking to friends about the transition from one to two kids. I'm confident it will be easier, or the same, as going from zero to one for me. 

In the span of six weeks I had a baby, moved from Alabama to Florida, then Florida to Alaska at the start of the Winter (October.)  Prior to my son I had never been around babies. I had held exactly one and had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I had to google videos on how to change a diaper, give him a bath, and how to nurse. There was SO MUCH to learn that now I'll know a second time around.

Of course I know there will be SO MUCH else to learn now managing two kids, but I really believe (or at least falsely hope and don't dash my dreams lol) that I'll be a little more relaxed, confident and in the moment with a second newborn. I struggled with postpartum anxiety and once I started counseling when we moved to Alaska things began to get a lot better. Now I'll know to get help sooner if I start having problems with obsessive thoughts again (something happening to the baby being the majority of them.)

Travis said he's done now that we will have one of each. I like to think a third may be in our future in another 2-3 years! We'll see how I feel one year into life with two kids. I may very well be QUITE content with just two!

Moms of two what are your best survival tips for the 1-2 transition? 

The TRUTH about LuLaRoe Leggings You DON'T Want to Hear

There's been a lot of talk lately about LuLaRoe leggings basically disintegrating while women are wearing them.

One widely circulated article has compared LuLaRoe leggings to a wet kleenex.

So, I decided to put both on today to see how LuLaRoe leggings compare to wearing a wet kleenex.

1. The wet kleenex is cold. LuLaRoe leggings are pretty warm. I live in Alaska and wear them outside comfortable anytime the temperature is above zero.

2. The wet kleenex tore the second I pulled at it. LuLaRoe leggings did not.

3. The wet kleenex was totally see through. LuLaRoe leggings are not. 

So, there are three ways in which LuLaRoe leggings are vastly superior to a wet kleenex.

All joking aside I would like to lay out some facts about the company. Since most of the negative articles circulating about LuLaRoe are filled with inconsistencies and incorrect information. 

Many of the articles say the leggings cost $40+. The leggings are $25 plus tax, if you live in a state with sales tax, and shipping if you purchase online. If you buy from a local consultant you're looking at paying $25-30 pending on state taxes.

The articles grossly over exaggerate the defective rate for LuLaRoe clothing. LuLaRoe sent an email out to all of it's consultants recently that stated the following: 

"The industry standard for defective or returned apparel products is about 2.5%; our return rate is at less than half a percent (0.051%). This number is proof of our commitment to quality assurance – especially when you consider the millions of items that we produce and ship."

Since starting as a consultant in September 2016 I've sold just over 1,000 leggings. I've had to damage out approximately 20.  

So, the truth about LuLaRoe that no one wants to share is that it's a great company making affordable clothing and enabling thousands of women to work from home and be their own boss. 

But that's not a catchy headline is it? The "LuLaRoe leggings rip like wet kleenex" filled with photos of leggings that have holes in them and quotes from upset customers are the articles that get shared hundreds, if not thousands, of times. They are click bait. 

Now I completely understand why a customer would be upset that their leggings came with, or developed holes. It sucks. Fortunately LuLaRoe has a great system set in place to handle these issues. All the customer has to do is return them to their consultant, and the consultant sends a photo of the damage to LuLaRoe. Within about a week I get a credit on my account for the pair. The customer can pick out a new pair and I get reimbursed.

Of course with the way LuLaRoe works the chances are they won't be able to find the exact pair that they originally had, but consultants should be doing everything they can to make sure the customer is satisfied. 

Every time I see another negative article about LuLaRoe being shared over and over on Facebook I cringe. It's not hurting the company. It's hurting the consultants. People like me. I'm an Army wife with a toddler son, a daughter on the way, living 4000 miles away from all of my friends and family.

LuLaRoe has given me a way to help my family out financially. It's given me something to do with my free time. I've made friends thanks to this company. I have an incredible team under me. I actually made trainer in just four months and am now in the top 10% of the company! Is the company perfect? NO! They'll be the first to admit that!

Patrick has explained the process repeatedly about how the leggings are made. The fabric is brushed with machines numerous times to get them to be so soft. That means it weakens the fabric a little bit, and even though they do quality inspections on all leggings they send out some do slip through the cracks and end up being sold by consultants. No company is perfect. I've purchased clothing from Target and department stores that had issues after the first wear. The strap on my Coach purse broke the first month. It happens.

While I have you all here I want to address two other criticisms I often hear. LuLaRoe is currently tranistioning all of its consultants onto a new sales system. The old system calculated tax based on where the consultant lived, not the customer. So, if you paid tax on an item but live in a tax free state that was wrong. LuLaRoe knows that. So, please email salestax@lularoe.com and they will reimburse you.

Also, LuLaRoe is sometimes described as a pyramid scheme. The bonus plan is structured so that sponsors (you have to have a sponsor to join the company) get 5% off of whatever you buy from LuLaRoe. So their bonus is based on what other consultants under them BUY. That's wrong. So, LuLaRoe is changing the bonus plan to be based on what consultants SELL. That's not wrong.

So, let's do a quick review:

  • LuLaRoe clothing has less than a 1% defective rate.
  • LuLaRoe leggings are much more comfortable than wearing wet kleenex
  • LuLaRoe is not a pyramid scheme
  • LuLaRoe is reimbursing anyone who was incorrectly charged sales tax. 

LuLaRoe is growing. It's changing. It's improving. Since starting my average profit has been about $6,000 a month. Even in the slow first quarter of 2017. I LOVE THIS COMPANY. If you'd like to shop sometime check out my shopping group on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/EricasLuLaRoeVIPGroup/. If you have any questions about joining just email me at EricaHouseLuLaRoe@gmail.com. 

xoxo,

Erica

Super Quick Microwave Mashed Potatoes (with Added Protein!)

This post is sponsored by Potatoes USA

Y’all know I love my carbs.

In my pre-Mom days I ran, a lot. I ran three marathons in the year before little man was born and at least half a dozen half marathons. One thing I quickly learned as a runner was that carbs = better performance.

When I started training for my first marathon I was working fulltime at a desk job, teaching night classes, and having to wake up at 4:45 a.m. to get my scheduled runs in. I didn’t have time to eat or let anything digest before heading out to run so I would do my weekday runs fasted. I noticed a considerable decrease in my energy and speed on those runs.

Before every big race I’d happily partake in carb loading. To play it safe I’d stick with carbs I knew my stomach could handle just fine. I was diagnosed with IBS in my early 20s so I already knew pasta nights were out, so that left a lot of potatoes.

Carbs are so crucial for providing energy for your brain, muscles and optimal physical and mental performance. I could never do a low carb diet but I have implemented carb cycling strategies as an effective way to lose and maintain weight. On days where I reduced my carb intake I could tell a significant difference in my mood and energy levels. Thankfully those days only happened once every five days because mama needs to be on top of her game. That’s why I now work potatoes into my diet however I can. Potatoes provide the carbohydrate, potassium, and energy you need to perform at your best and have even more potassium than a banana. Whether you lead an active lifestyle or compete with elite athletes, there’s a potato option to fuel your body and brain throughout the day.

Last week I made these super quick mashed potatoes using yogurt instead of milk or sour cream to add some protein to them. I hadn’t tried microwaving potatoes before and it was so easy.

 

Ingredients:

-          3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes

-          1 cup plain yogurt

-          2 T. butter

-          Fresh chives, salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Place potatoes in a microwave safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and cut 1-2 small holes in the top. Microwave for 15 minutes. Mash up and stir in yogurt, butter, chives, salt and pepper. That’s it!

 

I’ll be adding these to my lunches for the week along with some steamed veggies and tofu or seitan.

To learn more, visit www.potatogoodness.com/performance or search “potato goodness” on the web for everything you can do with potatoes and all the ways they can power your performance.

What’s your favorite potato recipe?

Stay on Track with your 2017 Health & Fitness Resolutions!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Pure Protein. All opinions are my own.

Life with a toddler sure is interesting. 

Remote controls end up in toilets, toys are hidden in the trash can, workouts involve maneuvering around a 25 lb tornado and time available to food prep is reduced significantly. I still try to do a little bit on Sundays to get the week started right. I'll make one meal for myself, a loaf of homemade bread or some egg muffins for breakfast. and that's about it.

I absolutely rely on incorporating a bit of prepackaged foods and snacks into our day to help save time and have nutritious options on hand. Breakfast for me most mornings is a protein bar as we are headed out to his gym class, library story time or play date. Recently I've been devouring these delicious chewy chocolate chip protein bars from Pure Protein.

I love that each of their bars has 19 to 21 grams of protein and 6 grams or less of sugar. Adults should get a minimum of 8 grams of protein per 20 lbs they weight. So for me that's a minimum of 48 grams a day. Sounds like an easy to reach goal but since I don't eat meat and shy away from too much soy based foods (tofu, tempeh, etc.) then it can actually be a struggle for me to hit that on days I don't eat eggs.

 

So, I love trying out new protein bars and powders. I've been using Pure Protein for years because it's one I can actually buy in most supermarkets.  One of my favorite super quick and easy snacks has been this protein packed smoothie. One scoop of Pure Protein 100% whey protein powder, a cup of spinach, a sliced up frozen banana and either frozen strawberries or some cocoa powder depending on if I want chocolate or strawberry that night.

To kick off 2017, Pure Protein has launched the “Keep On Track in the New Year” with Adam Rosante online sweepstakes.  The sweepstakes will run through February 27, 2017 and is designed to help you keep on track with your fitness goals throughout the year, while offering a chance to win some great fitness-themed prizes in the process. Be sure to check out their website for more info!

How I Made $15,000 my First Month with LuLaRoe

To say the last two months have been a whirlwind would be an extreme understatement. 

There's a joke among LuLaRoe consultants that everyone loses five pounds the first month they join due to the "LuLaDiet" which consists of forgetting to eat and being on your feet 12 hours a day!

I did my first LuLaRoe sale on September 13th. It was a live leggings scale in my Facebook group and I think I sold about 25 leggings in 30 minutes. I immediately knew this was going to be something big. 

I was second guessing my decision to become a consultant up until the moment I got the phone call to place my initial order (after you submit your application to be a consultant you wait 6-8 weeks in the queue for someone to call and 'onboard' you and take your initial order.) It was so much money, and LuLaRoe seemed to be everywhere I didn't want to get in on something right as the 'fad' was starting to end.

Well, this ain't no fad and my only regret is not signing up sooner.

 

In October I sold $26,000. That's the amount of money that was actually deposited into my bank account after the take their small processing fee for credit card payments. I spent $11,000 on inventory and supplies that month so my total profit for October was $15,000. I'm still in shock. 

Before signing up I spent dozens of hours researching what successful consultants were doing, and reaching out to those consultants who were closing up shop to ask them what went wrong. I knew from the start how to make this successful. I engage in my facebook group daily, I order a ton of new inventory every week, I get on live video often so my customers can really get to know me, and I'm extremely prompt and professional. 

It sounds basic but it's amazing how many consultants don't follow simple business principles. When people ask me if LuLaRoe is oversaturated I respond with the sad truth that many consultants who sign up will quit just because they aren't prepared for the work it takes to be successful.

I work about 20-25 hours a week primarily when my son is asleep. During the day I spent maybe an hour packing up last minute orders or responding to emails (I've already hired an assistant to help out in my group and answering emails!) When he goes to bed I usually work 8-11 p.m. 5 nights a week. 

My big sales happen on Saturday nights now. My group tends to prefer Saturday sales so I've gotten into a nice groove with that! I'll order about 150 new items just for that VIP sale. I'll spend one night unpacking, photographing (creating collages and uploading as well) and putting the new items away. The next night I'll take some group shots of hot items I received to use to promote the sale, and start hyping it up in my group. Saturday I'll post the link to my shop (I use a third party app called RoeWithMe) at 5 p.m. Alaska time (8 p.m. CST.) I'll get the majority of my sales in that first hour, so I'll start invoicing once my son goes to bed. By Sunday night 90% of people have paid so I'll spend Sunday evening packing up orders. I average about $2500 in sales from just that one sale!

The rest of the week I'll do 1-2 multiconsultant sales online, maybe one pop-up sale in someone elses group, and maybe a mini sale in my group. Tonight I did a surprise one hour flash sale in my group and sold $700.

My VIP group has about 8200 members in it and I LOVE my customers! I've also started training new consultants and have 13 amazing women signed up under me. One of my favorite things about LuLaRoe was that you can make incredible income without worrying about building a team.

I was so apprehensive to join LuLaRoe as I didn't want to have to spam my family and friends to buy my stuff or sign up. In the three months I've been either waiting to onboard or an actual consultant I think I've posted on my personal facebook page twice about being a consultant. LuLaRoe is exploding right now and women are rabid (literally) over these leggings. I can hardly keep up with sales as is I don't have time to bother my family and friends about it!

Tomorrow will be my two month anniversary with LuLaRoe and I've sold $40,000. I'm anticipating profiting $10,000 a month in 2017. 

In addition to that I know I will qualify for their annual cruise (to qualify you have to sell 12,000 a month for 4 months straight in a calendar year) and I'll also start receiving monthly bonuses based on whatever my team orders. The average bonus for a trainer (someone who has 10 or more consultants signed up under them) in 2015 was $40,000. Just in bonuses!

LuLaRoe is becoming more popular but it's still in it's early stages compare to other network marketing companies. It's only been around for a few years and there's about 40,000 consultants now. To put that in perspective there are over 2,000,000 Mary Kay consultants and about half a million Beachbody coaches and half a million Scentsy consultants.

If you are interested in becoming a consultant and have any questions please email me at EricaHouseLuLaRoe@gmail.com. If you know you would like to sign up and would like to be on my team then sign up here: https://join.mylularoe.com/EricaDHouse/join

My team has an extremely active Facebook group where I get on to do live training's at least once a week and am very committed to helping my 'lulababies' reach their financial goals!

Hidden Veggie Toddler Oatmeal Muffins

This post is sponsored by Influence Central.

One of the most unexpected things I've enjoyed about parenting thus far has been introducing my son to new foods. It is just so much fun watching his reaction to different tastes and textures! I especially love letting him try things that I grew up loving. 

For years my go to breakfast has been oatmeal. It's so hearty and filling (and quick!) I could have breakfast ready in under 5 minutes and feel satisfied until lunch. The only downside for feeding it to my son is that he hates when anyone tries to feed him with a spoon. He has to do it. Which usually means he only gets to eat things that require a spoon before bath time.

This weekend I felt like baking it it hit me that I could make oatmeal muffins that he could pick up and feed to himself. I found a super simple oatmeal muffin recipe and added 1/2 cup of grated zucchini and 1/2 cup of grated carrots to it. Most of the sweetness in the muffins comes from applesauce (with a tiny bit of brown sugar) and Travis and baby both enjoyed them. Oats are a delicious super grain that have been a part of our morning routine for over 100 years, and Quaker oats are the result of nearly 140 years of expertise at work. I've always loved how versatile they are. Sweet or savory a warm bowl of oatmeal is so comforting to me!

I love finding ways to sneak vegetables into his meals as much as possible.  Well, sneak sounds so deceitful. If he understood me I'd tell him straight up  he's got zucchini in his muffins. 

 

Hidden Veggie Toddler Oatmeal Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 c. Quaker Oats
  • 1 1/4 c. flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup milk 
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup grated zucchini
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 1 egg white

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 12 muffin cups with muffin liners and spray lightly with cooking spray. Mix the first 5 ingredients together. In a separate bowl mix the rest of the ingredients. Add the wet mix to the dry all at once and stirring until just mixed. Fill the muffin cups to almost full. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool for about 5 minutes before removing the muffins from the tin. Best enjoyed warm!

Check out Quaker for more recipes, tips and fun @Quaker!

Fun (and Easy!) Healthcare Contests!

This is a sponsored post from UnitedHealthcare

Last year I worked with UnitedHealthcare to help promote their fun monthly health related dares and I'm excited to be back with a new opportunity to win lots of gift cards ranging from $50 to $500!

Until the end of November you can hop over to their website and complete two fun, quick, healthcare related games. One is a crossword puzzle that I got ridiculously competitive with the moment I saw the timer in the corner! All the questions pertain to health care terminology, which can be a confusing aspect of health care that is a must-know for everyone. Don't worry, you get hints! There's a weekly $50 winner and a monthly winner of $400.

Do you get regular check ups or find yourself having to go to the doctor often? Play the match game that teaches you all about health plan accounts like the HSA. FSA, and HRA that can help you afford those visits. The 'Are You a Health Plan Pro' quiz also has a  slide configurator to learn more about premiums versus out-of-pocket ratios.

It's a fun way to learn more about healthcare which can be so confusing! There will be weekly $100 winners and monthly $500 winners! I've had past readers actually win prizes doing these so you've got a good chance!