Goodbye to Plastic

As you know, my family and I are on a journey to cleaner living, less waste and a more natural life. Wow, that sounded good to write. But truly, a happier home starts with a healthier home and we are taking baby steps in the right direction.

I have made a list of things I would like to remove from my kitchen in order to create less waste. The list is not entirely figured out yet, but I know what bothers me and what I would like to change the MOST – the amount of PLASTIC that we use daily. I’m talking about water bottles, straws, produce bags, prepared food containers, grocery bags, ziploc bags, plastic utensils, food storage, bread bags, garbage bags, cling wrap, meat wraps, single size foods/snacks, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc… Once you actually open your eyes to how much plastic you actively use on a daily basis, it’s astounding. Now think about how much of it you are throwing away? Sigh…

I am not saying we are going to get rid of all the plastic in our home. I am just not that hard core, but we can make a significant difference. I don’t foresee us ever getting rid of our garbage bags, but we can easily get rid of grocery bags, straws, water bottles, bread bags, produce bags, ziploc bags, cling wrap, utensils and possibly more. Today I tackled one of them – Produce Bags.

Check these out:

For a very long time, I was using my fabric grocery bags and just putting loose produce in them to carry home. It works some of the time, but not always and when you want to buy more items in bulk, that just won’t cut it. I found these amazing organic cotton produce bags online that make me happy simply because I think they are beautiful AND functional (satisfies my creative and logical sides). I was so excited when they arrived, I did an unboxing video….but I won’t subject you to my silliness. Well, not yet at least…

It seems like such a simple change to make in your house and most people are already carrying their own reusable grocery bags into the store, so why not these as well? They even have the tare weight written on each bag tag so when you are weighing your food, you know how to account for the weight of the bag. Damnnnnnn. Easy to use, easy to clean and no more throwing away unnecessary plastic produce bags. Check.

Next on my agenda – the cling wrap. I have some DIY recipes for beeswax wraps and am excited to get creating soon! Will keep you posted. Go out there and get your own bags too:

Tell me what you think!

Roasted Chickpeas – healthier snack idea

Like many of us, I wanted to join a health challenge after the new year began (I actually joined 2). I have promised to take care of my body and my mind and to be open to stepping out of my comfort zone.

My lovely sister mentioned trying the New York Times Wellness Challenge which focuses on 4 key health practices – Move – Refresh – Connect – Nourish. The online newspaper sends daily emails to it’s subscribers with simple challenges in each of these categories. All you need to do is complete the task, click the “I Did It!” button and go about your day. The challenges aren’t overwhelming which means better chance of success.

This week, I was challenged to find a high protein, no-sugar snack to replace some of my previously poor snack choices. I do my best to have healthy snacks on hand for my kids, but goldfish crackers and fruit snacks still tend to find their way into my pantry. I usually use almonds as a go-to snack for myself, but we all need some variety if we want to stay on plan. So, today I made a super easy and fun snack of roasted chickpeas.

I am a huge fan of chickpeas…. I fell in love with them at the salad bar. I have also fallen in love with hummus (made from chickpeas) and plan to try making my own at some point, but roasting chickpeas definitely peaks my interest because of the crunch. I would much rather eat potato chips all day, but we all know how terrible they are for us and they don’t make us feel good either. Yuck. So, I gave it a go and here is what happened…

There are several recipes for Roasted Chickpeas online and they are varied. I picked a common theme, chose my spice mixtures (I did two of them, a chili, cumin, curry one and a honey BBQ one) and turned on the oven.

The recipe I followed is super easy. I highly recommend it for a snack if you want to try something new. However, the chickpeas were never completely crunchy even after extra time in the oven. The centers were still a bit soft and the longer it was after taking them from the oven, the softer they seemed to get. All in all, I have not given up on this recipe. The spice combinations are endless and can certainly satisfy many different cravings. Will revisit this one for sure!

Check it out:

  • Preheat over to 375 degrees
  • 1 19 oz can of chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil or less
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp coriander (I just left this one out and added a little extra curry and cumin because they are my faves!)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic

Spread chickpeas on some paper towels and pat dry and little bit. Throw onto a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes – shake them around every 10 minutes or so.

When the 30 minutes is up, take them out and add the Oil and spices and toss the chickpeas in the mixture and throw back onto the baking sheet. Bake for another 10-15 minutes. Serve warm! Store in an airtight container in the fridge for about a week if you even have any leftovers.

I would love to hear what you think – and if you have any tips on making them crispier, please share! At any rate, I have found a delicious snack that is also full of protein and fiber to help with my healthy weight goals.

Kids are Home AGAIN???

Let me start this off by saying I am very lucky to be able to have the time freedom to stay home with my kids. Now, that I’ve said that, let me also say that no matter whether you work from home or not, it’s never easy to change your schedule when an unexpected day off happens.

After the 3 day weekend, I was looking forward to getting the kids back into their routine today (mine as well!). Well, mother nature did not agree with me. The temperature was so bitterly cold the past day and this morning it was below 10 degrees when I got up. School was cancelled. This is when the kids take each others hands and do Maypole dances around my deflated body lying on the ground. Sigh.

These are the moments that seasoned Mamas have trained for… transitioning from doing your own work to entertaining and managing children. I may be a pretty seasoned Mama since my youngest is now 10, but I still get knocked off balance on days like these. You see, I love being a Mama on the weekends and evenings, but I also love what I do and look forward to Monday’s quiet time to work.

So, what do you do to create a smooth transition for the kids and also for yourself? It is NOT always easy for me to let go of the control so having some “ready-made” ideas always helps.

Here are some great ideas to keep them busy, ideas to spend some time with them and also maybe, possibly, sneak in a little work for yourself:

  • Play a Boardgame – duh. Well, when the game is over and you all played a fun game, suggest the kids all play one more round together while you get a little work done.
  • Build a Fort in the TV room – fun for all ages! Help get it all created and then when it’s time to play inside and have a picnic, make some snacks and let them all enjoy while you get a little work done.
  • Go Outside and Take a Hike – hey, if you know me, my best ideas come when outdoors, so this is definitely a way to kill 2 birds with one stone. Take lots of pics for your “photo bank” and even do a How-To video with the kids if it applies to your business.
  • Run an Art Class – this is one of my favorites – but it can be any type of activity where you offer them the supplies they need, get them started with ideas and can “teach” while getting some of your own work done too. (writing letters to family, making popsicles out of juice,
  • Have a Reading Break – this is an easy one. If your kids are old enough to read on their own, send them to their own cozy spot (or all sit together) to ready for 30+ minutes. If they are too young to read on their own, a bedroom break is perfect – look at books, play with toys, whatever…. This is a great time to do some of your own self development!
  • Assign them Work – my kids are old enough to use the internet so now I can easily outsource my researching to them when I need the help. They love it. Give them parameters like, “I am looking for a Reusable Produce Bag made of Organic Cotton – find me the best buy with the best reviews, good shipping cost/time, and environmentally safe practices” Or whatever… saves so much time!
  • Schedule the Day – this is the most important thing of all because we all need structure! You can schedule in a time when everyone has quiet time and you will be able to get work done. This also makes it easier for you to let go and relax and enjoy yourself with your kids because you know you will have the designated work time coming up. Don’t miss out!

Being a parent is such an amazing job, but we all have goals! I am not defined only by my Mama-hood. So, go find your balance – you’ll probably have some pretty fun moments with your kids if you create the structure that you all crave.

Happy Day Off!

Don’t Ruin the Fun, Magic is Real

I am a die hard skeptic. I believe in science. I am not at all religious. I love to do research. I try to figure out in my head how things physically work. I was clearly meant to marry an engineer… check.

I am definitely not alone in this way of thinking. So, where does magic fit into this lifestyle? Well, more of us secretly believe in magic than we would like to admit. I had always considered it a sign of weakness or lack of education to believe in anything beyond the realm of science. I would roll my eyes at people who felt the spirits or used altars to get what they wished for.

But, I am here to admit it and so should you. Just yesterday, how many people wore a particular shirt/jersey for luck while watching the playoff football games? How do you react when you find a four leaf clover? Do you pick up pennies off the ground that are facing a certain way? Do you run up the stairs at night because the darkness behind you seems eerie? How many wishes have you made while blowing out birthday candles? Hmmmm…

We all want to believe – it is in our DNA. We follow small rituals in our daily lives that we may never categorize as magic, but our brains quietly do. In fact, cause and effect is as logical as you can get – you push the ball and it moves away from you. Cause and Effect. Simple. But, how about when your thoughts say – “get an interception” – and your team gets one! Isn’t that cause and effect too? (you are welcome, Saints) Cause and effect can seem to go farther than just our physical world to many of us. We all believe we have a special power at some point in our lives…

And what about mindset? The belief that mindset can create a ’cause and effect’ on our lives is certainly some sort of sorcery. And yet, it works. Ever hear about the placebo effect? That sugar pill that helps you get healthy even though it isn’t changing a thing about you physically. Surely, that is a perfect case of mindset magic. Recently, I have been doing a ton of training on mindset and positive thinking and I can actually say with complete confidence that my daily life is definitely better.

So, is it magic? Sure! Why not? Don’t ruin the fun for everyone else. If anything, a little magic will certainly make your day brighter, more interesting and happier and we can all use a little bit of that magic.

Making a Health Goal is ALL in Your Head

In the last 20 years or so, I have made lots of resolutions and high fived accountability partners excitedly when we made plans to get healthy FOR GOOD. Did I succeed? Nope.

I’ve made goals to – be skinny – have a bikini body – have muscles – just be stronger – have smaller boobs (how do I do that?) – be a runner – become a fitness instructor (who is this person?) – be a vegetarian (I actually tried for a few months) – be non-alcoholic (ummmmm yeah right) – be something I was not.

Miami Beach 2018

I lived so many years defined by my size. Healthy = Skinny. I’ve actually missed out on events simply because I didn’t think I looked thin enough to converse with other people. (why haven’t we seen Heather in a few months? Ohhhhh she is too fat to see people.) I have dealt with weird unexplainable skin rashes, many uncomfortable infections, a major lack of energy, terrible sleep habits, sugar addictions that made me hide food because I didn’t want to share it and more importantly, a chronic back pain that lasted for years. But still, the concern was always my weight, my size and hoping nobody saw the tag on the back of my shirt. Heaven forbid there was ever a situation where we had to give a shirt size to a group and all wear them together. Ugh. Worst nightmare.

So, where am I now? I am more educated now. I pay more attention to my happiness. I fixed my health issues by healing my gut with natural supplements. I practice daily mindfulness. But still, we are inundated with diet fads, health trends, emotional testimonials of triumph, people making breakthroughs (this one works!) ALL THE TIME. We all want what the other person has – and we will try anything to get it. But people, how many diets, trends, fads have you tried successfully?

When I say I am more educated, I mean I have done my OWN research. Time to do your own research and to look inward, too….that’s where you need to focus your concerns – not on others and what has worked for them. Being skinny ‘like Joanna’ or having muscles ‘like Robyn’ or being a yoga instructor ‘like Sandy’ are not about being YOU. We all need to do OUR own research, figure out who WE are and change OUR mindset on what is healthy and beautiful.

So, once you have done that, what are your TRUE, authentically YOU goals? Here are mine:

  • To love my unique body and see it as beautiful.
  • To give it daily care that includes clean eating and water consumption, natural supplementation to keep my gut healthy, mindfulness, movement that also feeds my soul and the rest it needs to renew.
  • To not care about the number on the scale or the size of my sweater but instead to focus on the happiness in my own skin and clothing.
  • To show others that they can do the same and that their individual goals can be totally different as long as they focus on health and happiness, living without pain, doing our own research and being patient with ourselves.
  • To ALWAYS enjoy the journey no matter how long it is…

So, are making health goals all in your head? You bet they are. Health goals are not just about being skinny or strong, they are about feeding your body, your mind AND your soul. They are all about being happy in your health journey and loving every minute of it as well as loving who you are while following your own unique path.

Find Some Quiet Time – It’s Good for You

We are stressed out. We are overwhelmed. We are multitasking work and life because we are completely overscheduled. Unfortunately, this way of life has translated to our children and we are all too busy to stop and redirect those poor kids to some quiet time.

Quiet time is something that most of us (over a certain age) automatically grew up with because we just had no choice…..there was nothing else to do. I mean, really. Go out a play was a daily phrase from our parents and there were no fancy gadgets – just a bike and a tree to climb.

But, I do not regret it one bit. It gave us a chance to use our IMAGINATION, to find peace and show GRATITUDE to our world and to look inward and SELF-REFLECT on our lives.

Quiet time is when you create order out of chaos. It rejuvenates your mind and body and helps you prioritize your to-do list. Maybe you realized that you haven’t taken care of yourself lately or you haven’t reached out to a friend or taken care of a messy file cabinet, whatever! Physically and emotionally, you must have quiet time for renewal. Think about it, even a machine needs time for maintenance.

Ironically, I am writing this blog post while my husband runs around clanking pots because he is brewing beer and smoking meat and my son is practicing his drums with the basement door open. I am just trying to listen to a little Paul Simon…

But, this is real life.

We must carve out time each day for that 15 minutes of quiet. Schedule it in just like you are supposed to be scheduling in your exercise and your healthy eating. (caught ya!)

If it seems like a daunting task to find quiet, remember that it is OK to say no. You do not need to overschedule yourself. Stop feeling guilty. You could also just ask for help. We all want to be useful and asking for help from a loved one will give them a great feeling…..and damn, it feels good to make someone else feel good! Be patient with others and give yourself grace. Life is messy, we all know that. #hotmess Remember, we are not alone and we do not have to do EVERYTHING. But, daily quiet time is good for your health. My quiet time is mostly outdoors, but I also enjoy a long hot shower. Whatever your quiet is, make it a priority.

Reducing Kitchen Waste

Recently, my children have fallen off the chore wagon and been very lazy. One of the things I noticed when I started doing the chores for them ‘in their absence’ is how often I was taking out the trash. (side note – doing their chores is just temporary) I am also more aware of what I am throwing away.

Did you know that an average American can throw away more than 4 pounds of trash EVERY DAY? Let’s do some math (5 people in my house….)…..that’s an astronomical amount of trash being carelessly thrown away daily.

Recycling paper, cardboard, glass, plastic and metal has become such a normal part of our daily life, that when I travel to destinations where they do NOT have single stream recycling, I have anxiety about it. I see all the plastic bottles in the trash – the paper not separated – the cans and the countless beer bottles in with the leftover food. ARGH.

But even recycling isn’t enough. Items can only be recycled a certain amount of times and then they ultimately still end up in that landfill – ya know, the one we are now creating in other countries because we have no more room here in the US. Yup. That’s happening.

So, what can we do??? Here are some ideas that we do in our household, some tips I have learned from others and some tips I am planning on implementing myself:

  • Consume less.

Truly, this is an easy one. What the heck do we buy when we go to Target just for socks? How did I spend $130???

  • Recycle.

Check what your town takes and give them everything you possibly can. Reduce your footprint. It’s not hard to throw a bottle in a recycling bin instead of a garbage can.

  • Compost.

Check out my nifty little metal compost bucket on the counter above. Cute, eh? All vegetable waste, eggs shells, coffee grinds, tea bags go into this little bin and then we take it outside to a compost bin in the backyard (creating black gold for our garden!) Win win!

  • Use a reusable water bottle or coffee mug.

I carry my beautiful Hydroflask with me everywhere. We are BFFs. Sure, it can take some time to get used to, but it’s worth it. And if you must buy coffee at a coffee shop, bring your own mug too. Lots of them have discounts for such conscious behavior. Pat yourself on the back and save some bucks too.

  • Stop using single use plastic baggies.

Oh lawdy, this one drives me nuts. With 3 kids and countless school lunches, I was just flabbergasted at the waste. Luckily, I know how to sew and made reusable sandwich wraps and snack bags. (that’s another story) If you can’t sew, that’s OK – there are tons of reusable containers you can use out there and tons of people like me that sell these sweet little items.

  • Get rid of plastic containers.

OK, I know this seems INSANE to many of you, but I swear it is possible! Mason jars are cool again! Use those instead. Or try those organic food wraps: ( I have never tried them, but they look perfect! I have a DIY recipe for making my own beeswax wraps which will happen later in this journey. Basically, there are a bunch of other options.

  • Buy in bulk.

Shopping in bulk is out there – look it up locally. Or at least stop using produce plastic bags. You can bring your own bags, sew your own or even purchase reusable produce bags along with your food wraps. Keep them handy (along with your coffee mug and water bottle!)

There are a ton of other ideas to reduce waste in the kitchen and home, but these are great stepping stones. Soon, you will see less trash in your garbage can and you will feel better about your impact on our world. For even more ideas, check out my Pinterest boards for Clean Living and Zero Waste at Heathersreallife

Drop your own ideas below – lets get a list going!

What Makes a Home Cozy?

As a self proclaimed Queen of Cozy, I can say that having a comfortable home is at the top of my list along with keeping my kids (somewhat) clean and nice smelling. What can I say…..priorities.

But why? Why is is so important to have a cozy abode?

Turns out, we all have a connection to our home that affects our physical and mental wellness. Home provides privacy and security, a place to belong, and even an identity, among many other things. If your home is in disarray, so can your body and mind.

We have all seen it…..messy house = stressed out mama.

With the popularity of Marie Kondo’s Tidying Up series, people everywhere are saying Arigato and Goodbye to their avocado slicers and plaid shirt collections. If an item doesn’t spark joy, just let it go. Let go of items that weigh you down emotionally, organize the crap out of your home and add some squishy pillows and textured throws to your living room. Whatever it takes to clear the clutter and clear your mind and replace it with happy thoughts. Squishy thoughts that make you smile.

Comfort to me is soft lighting, lots of photos, walls of bright colors, green plants everywhere and a sofa with lots of fuzzy throw blankets. But maybe you prefer clean lines, architectural designs or white walls – it is YOUR identity and safe space….your personal place of belonging. So just be creative, follow your heart and do what brings you joy, like Marie Kondo says.

When you are authentically YOU, creating a comfortable home is very simple. It’s good for your family and also for your health and well being.

So, tell me below, how do you make your home cozy?

Natural Living: One Step at a Time

I don’t know about you, but we are not a cold turkey kinda family. Five people is quite a bunch of personalities… so making lasting changes in our way of living is best done, one step at a time.

Simple changes are best. I do not recommend waking everyone up one morning and telling them that they are all now vegetarians. (that would NOT go over well in my household) I can see them all running screaming into the arms of the neighbors….

So, start small and go slow. I know you are super excited to save the Earth! But, we want these changes to last.

Our first change was simply with dryer sheets. I stopped purchasing the name brand product and just cut my own cotton fabric and made a quick mixture of white vinegar and essential oils. I decided very quickly that I was going to make one new change that day and I happened to be lucky enough that my son uses essential oils in his diffuser for his own peaceful mindfulness. Nice!

Here is the simple recipe we use to this day because it’s simple, effective and not at all overwhelming (sensitive noses in the Ranz household):

1/2 cup white vinegar

10-12 drops of essential oils (any mixture you want)

Mix together and put into whatever container you desire with a lid (I use a ball jar). Throw in your cotton sheets (tip: cut them with pinking sheers) and give them a shake up. When I use them, I put in 4-6 sheets (squeeze out extra liquid) depending on the child and the scent and my level of laziness.  In case you were wondering what scents I use – I love the combo of bergamot and orange OR lavender and rosemary.  Ahhhhhhh… It’s so simple!  Then just keep returning the sheets to the jar and refresh when needed. Bam!

Wasn’t that easy? Did your kids notice? Did they run screaming from the household because their laundry was freshened in a different way? Of course not – sometimes they wear their pajamas to school. Dirty kids. Sheesh.

OK, you are now armed with a small change! Go out there and stick with that first small goal, whatever it may be, and then do some research on your next step. Ease the whole family into the big changes and leave no other options. ( If you stop buying the products, they will learn to survive. Promise.)

I hope this helps. We are still on our journey to making changes, but I have some big crazy plans. I would love to hear some of yours too!

Always be authentic – love, Heather


Hey there! I am Heather and I am so glad that you are here! As a busy mama of 3, I never had the time or energy to research ways to live a healthier lifestyle even though I knew we needed to change our ways.

Only in the past 3 years have we finally begun our journey towards healthier living. We started with healing our guts, and then removing harmful chemicals from our home. We also prepared cleaner meals and made our own household products. Now we are practicing more mindfulness in our favorite places like the woods or a backyard garden.

A blog was the only thing left to do to share what we have learned with everyone else!

I sincerely hope that this adds value to your life and helps you in a way that I needed when we first started our health and happiness journey!