Could be one of the best things since sliced bread...

Okay, so maybe I won't go that far, BUT, this is an insanely useful website.

Case in point, if you're anything like me, you're a person who reads ingredient labels in the shower.  Shh... yes, it's an embarrassing quirk, BUT this site it does prove to be informative when you have no idea what the heck such ingredients like "P-Phenylenediamine" and "Proplyparaben" are (note: if anything you own in your bathroom contains proplyparaben, do some research.)

Maybe I've become hyper sensitive lately, with my aunt receiving a "congrats, you have breast cancer... again.  And by the way, it's inoperable and un-treatable" diagnosis and my super-active godmother's re-diagnosis of stage 3 pancreatic cancer.  However, I refuse to believe you're at the mercy of your genetics when it comes to cancer.  My dad's mother and father died from it, my mom's sister died from it; my mom's best friend and my dad's sister are in the fights of their lives right now -- damning evidence if there ever was.  But I refuse to think it's just genetics.

I tend to come from the world of:  Look at what you eat, examine at what you put on your face and skin every single day.  What the heck does it contain?  A few chemicals here and there are okay.  Your body is built to process toxins whenever you come into contact w/ them every once in a while.  But imagine if its every single day, multiple times a day, in so many different forms.  Our bodies are amazing, adaptable instruments, but can it adapt to years of a typical American women's morning routine?

You wake up, wash your face-- If you're like me and had terrible acne-prone skin, you used something to fight the acne (Clearasil Ultra Daily Face Wash ), jump in the shower and start to shampoo and condition (John Freida Sheer Blonde Highlighting Shampoo and Conditioner - which I DID use for years), rinse and then start using body wash (Nature's Gate Cucumber & Mint Body Wash -- tricky b/c it is labelled 'all natural' and sold at health food stores.   Check out the facts though).  Then you move onto shaving (Skintimate Moisturizing Shave Gel, Soothing Lavender) and then wash your face again.  Then you put on lotion ( Nature's Gate Organics Chamomile and Lemon Verbana Lotion.  What's not safe about something that says Organic?).  Then you sweep some on some deodorant ( Secret Platinum Antiperspirant & Deodorant Clear Gel )and you're done.

Now onto hair and makeup.  Before drying your hair, you move some styling mousse through your hair (Aveeno Nourish + Style Soft Hold Gel-Creme)  Then you dry, clip back your hair and begin your makeup regime.  Now I could go through everything you may have used in your makeup, but I challenge you to look up the ingredients yourself. You will be shocked, I promise.  I used to think my mom was crazy for being a health nut, but her concerns have led me to examine and choose amazing products that are incredibly low-toxicity level cosmetics.  A few minutes of research may open your eyes.

I also saw this "cute,"  yet incredibly informative video that gives a side of the whole cosmetics industry story.  Now I don't agree with all of the regulation suggestions (I'm all for consumer education and fighting back with your pocketbook... capitalism TRULY at work) but it brings up some awesome points.

Now hopefully you don't think I'm trying to be all preachy or paranoid, I just urge you to take another look at your everyday routine and the products that you use. You may be surprised just what you find (Education is a crazy and powerful thing!)

Have you found anything eye-opening in your everyday products? Please share!



Yesterday I set out to start cataloging all of the electronics in the house in preparation for the move.  My goal is to have everything so well documented, so that if the movers break anything, I'll have an exact description to give them for compensation.  In this house, you break it, you buy it... again.  So yesterday was picture taking day -  full of unhooking, unplugging, dusting off and making everything look as nice as possible for its photo-op. I also was armed with a stack of sticky notes so I could mark anything that wasn't compatible voltage-wise.  After moving from A/V equipment onto haircare tools I realized "hey, most of our stuff I can actually use in our new country!  Yippee!"  A sense of calm fell over me as I thanked manufacturers for making electronics that can easily switch from one voltage to another.

My tune quickly changed as I entered the kitchen and started going through my kitchen appliances.

By the end of my rounds, my kitchen looked like it was a victim of a sticky-note explosion.  Every single kitchen appliance we own is incompatible -- our amazing Kitchen Aid Mixer, our over-used popcorn maker, our too-small but perfect food processor- all 120v.  Then, it was with fear I approached my coffeemaker and turned it over to look at the manufacturer information.  Sadness fell over me as I stared at the hard, cold facts printed right in front of me: my beloved Kuerig was 120v compatible.  As I stuck my damning sticky note on its cover, a sense of panic came over me - it's going to be stressful enough without having a permanent place to live for almost a month, what the heck am I going to do without my soothing ritual of my 10 morning cups of coffee (ok, maybe not 10 cups, but its definitely not 1)

It wasn't until later in the day when was wandering around World Market that the answer hit me.  Actually, to be precise, it hit my foot, as in the little labels they use to advertise prices of products fell on my foot as I was standing in front of a display.  I picked up the label, which advertised a sale on Bodum French Presses, and I almost said outloud "Ah HA!  Screw electricity!"  I picked up the press and made my purchase, marching home with a smile on my face for my smart buy.
Then I got home and realized "I have no idea how to work one of these things."  Yes, I've drank French press before, but I've never made it myself.  I sat analyzing the directions, thinking "this seems easy enough, but still easy enough to screw up."  I've designed intricate building systems, but yet I was intimidated by a simple French press.    So this morning I went to work experimenting.  Coarse ground coffee?  Well I had my French Market Coffee w/ Chicory, which looked coarse, so I went with that.  8 scoops.
Next: Fill it up with water and stir -- heres where I got nervous because I ALWAYS get the ratios off, hence why my coffee often tastes like jet-fuel.  The Keurig fixes that problem for me, but non-the-less, time to learn again.
Then I stirred my brew, put the cap on and let it sit for 5 mins.  
I pressed down the plunger and poured.  I said a little prayer before taking a sip, and the result?

It was the best cup of coffee I've ever drank.


So smooth and perfect -- I automatically thought "what the heck have I been drinking the past 6 years?"  Even with chicory, this coffee was perfect.  I'm in love.

Do you use a French press to make your coffee?  If so, what caused you to make the switch?


My "Naked" Obsession

Confession -- I love junk food.  Well, not technically junk food, but delivery.  I try to eat organic and clean most of the time and I adore cooking.  But, then theres the undeniable fact that at times I can be mind numbingly lazy.  Major meal-creating hurdle.  It's made worse that whenever someone suggests to get food delivered, my guard shrinks and I'm all in, no holds barred.  I ignore the grease, the MSG, the fattiness and I become a normal, non-health conscious American.  Then, after the damage is done and my Chicken chow mein has been devoured, I feel this sense of fullness (physical) and shame in the fact that I strive so hard to eat well, and then with one moment of weakness and a phone call, it all goes down the drain.  I'd always wondered why someone couldn't muster up the idea of creating healthy, tastey, guilt-free and affordable delivery.  It felt like it was a wish that would never come true

Until about 2 months ago, when Naked Pizza came into my life.
I'd received some fliers from this New Orleans-based company in the past and didn't think much about them - they were in a shady part of town (yes, I'm an Uptown NOLA snob...so what) and it just didn't seem appealing.  That was until right before the Superbowl I got another flier from them toting their SuperBiotic Pizza.  While the toppings on the pizza weren't appealing to me (I'm a cheese pizza kinda girl), the fact that it toted its presence of probiotics was intriguing.  While I know probiotics are a buzzword of sorts now, it still tickled my interest that pizza company would make a point to advertise that fact.  So I sat down and did some research on the company -- and I was surprisingly thrilled by what I read.  Fun facts:
  • New Orleans owned and operated.  They currently have 13 franchised locations all over the country (and in Dubai!!) and are expanding with 19 more locations by year's end.  An additional 8 locations have been awarded, meaning they will be opening within the next few years.  Check to see if you live near one here!
  • started by an anthropologist, the idea of the pizza is to get to the root of human digestion.  Apparently grain has been absent from our diet for a huge chunk of humanity, so its a shock to our bodies when we eat highly processed, single grain breads high in sugar.  The amount of insulin released to deal with and flush out basic dough (and most highly processed bread) is unnatural and unhealthy.  Naked Pizza uses dough, called their "Ancestral Blend" that has 10 grains, plus prebiotic agave fiber and probiotics.  They don't use sugar to season their dough, just agave (yup, same stuff used to make tequila.).  The simple ingredients and heft of the bread Naked Pizza uses makes it tougher for our bodies to digest, which is actually a good thing.  
  • All of the ingredients used as toppings are all-natural.  Now theres a huge debate about using organic vs all-natural in the company, but thats for another blog post.  The basics are that their tomato sauce has no added sugar or citric acid. Their cheese is 100% natural, rGBH-free, real Wisconsin mozzarella. Their vegetables are all-natural, no additives and their meats are real pork, chicken and beef—free of growth hormones and antibiotics.  Nice and simple.
  • How can they expand with the speed they're moving without a national presence?  Well, it helps to have the backing of Mark Cuban (of Dallas Mav's fame) and the Kraft Group (No relation to the cheese).  
  • They are the nicest company to order pizza from - the guys on the phone seem insanely happy to be working for their company and the delivery guys are incredibly sweet.  Plus, I've never had a pizza be delivered in over 20 mins.  Lightening fast, I tell yah.
  • $5.99 for a 12" cheese pizza!? yes - Yummy and affordable!
  • Their social media is amazing.  I love following them on twitter (the deals rock and the links to great health conscious articles are awesome).  They joke about how they're a social media company that happens to sell pizza.  Hey, anything to get the word out about eating cleaner and having a healthier lifestyle is cool in my book.
So it's official -- my new food crush is a pizza company with a cute smiley face as their logo.  Love at first guilt-free bite.

check out more about this game-changing company here: http://www.nakedpizza.biz/


Busy-ness and Birthdays

Yes, I know, I Know

I am so due for a blogpost, but life's been crazy, with mardi gras wrapping up, a rush invitation suite having to get through the door and then my parents visiting this weekend. Its not that there isn't anything going on around here, its just all been such a huge blur of things that I can barely keep my head on straight.  So something's coming soon, I promise.

Today is, however, the birthday of one of my best friends, most favorite people and partners in this crazy world of blogging.

I met Misa (of Park & Belmont fame) in college during our junior History of the Civil War class.  The first day of class she was sitting in front of me, turned around and said "hi!."  It was then that we instantly became friends and the rest was history.  We had the same obsession with art, architecture, to-do-list-making, travel, fab music and organic food that it was hard not to become fast friends.  We lost touch for about a year while I was starting grad school and she was working in DC, but it wasn't for long.  We reconnected as she was starting and I was ending our grad school studies, something that would be a source of support for each other.  It also turned out that Misa and her awesome fiance at the time were planning on getting married two weeks before Mr. Bama and I -- rather than see it as a competition, we relished in oohing, ahhing and giggling over wedding stuff, building off of each other's imaginations & creativity.   In September '09 I got to watch when she tied the knot with her amazing college sweetheart in the most gorgeous farm wedding.

misa and I at her sweet wedding.
Two weeks later, she was standing by my side as I married Mr. Bama.

We are still super close, even as Misa enters the final stretch of her Master's degree (Go Misa Go!) and I wrestle with the enormity of  planning a move across the Atlantic.  She's been an amazing source of support (especially when I get down about work, friends and life's little nuances), humor and grace.  So here is to birthday's of amazing friends who lift you up and are truly beautiful people!

So happy Birthday Dear Misa!!


Merry Mardi Gras (part 2)

Mardi Gras isn't all about beads and parades, it's also about the costumes.  Its a weird phenomenon -- mardi gras costumes are taken much more seriously than Halloween costumes.  So my Mardi Gras day began at 7:00am with my breakfast being cooked by a cowgirl, an Indian, a Sea Goddess and Bacchus.  You know, just like any normal day.

the whole motley crue before heading out to the parades
While most people spend months planning and creating their costumes, I sat down the night before, inspired by a heart antenna headband I caught at an earlier parade.  3 hours, lots of glue and a petticoat later, Voila, queen of hearts costume
this is how you reuse halloween costume
elements later in the year
After breakfast we then marched down to the Zulu parade.
Happy campers early in the am
Zulu float
No I didn't catch a coconut (I was sad about this fact until Mr. Bama informed me that we can't take them when we move, which instantly cheered me up), but after Zulu, came Rex.  And but of course, Texas A&M's Ross Volunteers opened the Rex parade.  Secret: Aggies are EVERYWHERE
A&M's Ross volunteers looking dapper
in their dress whites
Halfway through the parade we decided to high-tail down to the French Quarter, stopping at Canal Street to catch the end of the Rex parade

we made our way down to the French Quarter, which was amazing (and I'm shocked I didnt get any pictures)   but by about 3:00 we arrived at Frenchmen's street in the Marigny.  Frenchman's on Mardi Gras day = random dance party in the middle of an intersection.  Case in point (note: turn down the volume on your comp before playing.  Sorry)
(apologies for the fuzziness / crummy sound of the video.  But the craziness kind of sums up the day!) 

All in all,  it was a Mardi Gras to remember.  On our way home through the CBD, I managed to snap this one picture of the aftermath, that sums it up, a sign of a great day.


Merry Mardi Gras (Part 1)

Yesterday was my official Mardi Gras start -- sure it technically started on 12th night, but for me it takes our local  Thoth parade to really get things going.  Here's some snapshots of the weekend

and more to come Wednesday (after mardi gras detox).  Happy Lundi Gras!


Roller Coaster Weather

The past week the weather in NOLA can be summed up with this:
Clear skies, blooming flowers, perfect high 60, low 70 degrees temps - the windows open with a breeze.  It even inspired me to heavy duty clean the house (involved dusting fans and climbing on a ladder.. big time stuff).  However, I woke up this morning to this:

It wouldn't be such a big deal,  but the rain has thrown a curveball in the parade schedules.  Today was supposed to be a day full of parades, yet they've all been moved to Sunday - another day filled with Parades. Our neighborhood parade, Krewe of Thoth, rolls tomorrow and we've got plans to cook out and have people over to watch, so heres to the rain taking a break til after our last New Orleans Mardi Gras!


Marching On

Happy March!  Yesterday marked the beginning of a new phase in the Bama family - pre -moving mayhem intermixed with Mardi Gras insanity.  My keep-my-brain-from-overloading-and-exploding check list for the next few weeks:

Have my passport name changed from maiden name to married name.  Kinda forgot to take care of that already - whoops.  So this overly tedious process has begun.
- Get Bear Euro chipped.  The thought of him sitting in quarantine breaks my heart.  I'm also trying to find an animal transport company -- him sitting in cargo in a trans-Atlantic flight scares the bejesus out of me.
- Obtain a copy of my medical records.  I thought I'd have this taken care of yesterday when i went to the Dr to have my follow-up visit on my back (yay, clear bill of health!). However... I found out that they cannot find my records. Yeah.  After all of the terrible experiences I've had with this clinic, I think this immediately filed into my mind as "it figures."  I didn't even get mad when they told me they couldn't find them.  Just a laugh (le sigh)
- Take photos and make an inventory of all of our home goods.  Apparently those overseas moves have a bad habit of going terribly at times.  I'm covering my bases.  You loose my T-D dresses (esp those with prints that are old) and you will pay.
- Figure out what is staying and what is going.  Bye bye American 110v appliances - Where we're going you don't work.  So I must leave my amazing Kitchen Aid Mixer, my Kuerig Coffee Maker, etc.  Still don't know how the computer/printer are going to manage over there.  Also staying -- the vehicles.  If gas is $3.20 here, I can only imagine how expensive it's going to be over there.  Me thinks we will find a cheap 1990s Beamer to used as a daily driver.
- Find someone to take our bottles of liquor and our perishables.  Can't be shipped, but i dont think this will be tough.  Maybe as a Mardi Gras Parade gift.  However, I'ts going to be hard to find someone who is interested in such organic items as "whole wheat soy cheese ravioli" and "blueberry juice concentrate."  Any takers?
- Learn my new language.  I suck at languages.  Really.  I took Spanish and French before I gave up and decided to take Latin in HS & college because it's not spoken.  Even then i couldn't manage to grasp a dead language.  However, I'm set up w/ Rosetta Stone and I'll be attempting to be at least not a complete tourist in my new home.

I'm sure theres more, but above is actually an insanely overwhelming list within itself.  Exciting and tedious all at once.

Oh and about where we're moving, here are some fun facts:
  1. English is not the primary language (see last point listed above)
  2. it was the world's number 1 exporter of goods until 2008 when that title was taken by China
  3. it has a bad habit of trying to take over the world twice during the early 20th century.  Not the case anymore, (it has a much more warm and fuzzy reputation) but still, tsk tsk. 
any guesses?

On another note, yours truly is featured on the Trashy Diva Blog - one of my faves, Misa from Park & Belmont, as well as my little sis makes an appearance.  While I officially had my last day Monday (sadness....) I'll still be working in conjunction w/ them remotely - so yay for that!
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