It all started with the almond milk.
It was December 2015, and I was at a playgroup full of strangers. My son was gleefully mowing down a pile of Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies with a Thomas the Train, and I was trying my very best to fit in with a group of mothers who looked like they showered and worked out at least twice as much as I did.
We were talking about resolutions — as people do during that awkward week between Christmas and New Year. One mother was volunteering at a local shelter. Another had started reading that book about the art of cleaning out your closet the Japanese way. There was a girl who was going to start going to church a little bit more and a girl who was going to quit going to church all together. The focus then shifted to me. Obviously, I didn’t have a resolution. I’m not even sure I brushed my teeth that day. Survival was the best I hoped for any given year. But I didn’t want to let my clean new friends down. So, I improvised.
I scanned the countertop. Between the coffee mugs and junk mail there was a carton of Natural Almond Milk. “I’m going natural,” I stated matter-of-factly. Once they realized I was talking about eliminating toxins from my family’s life (and not growing out my pubic hair), there was an eruption of support. It was a good resolution. And because I got swept away by the admiration of a group of cool-looking women I hardly knew, I decided I would keep it.
As a person raised on curiously uniform circular slices of deli meat and who, from a young age, contracted a deep sense of satisfaction (and possible cellular damage) from the citrus-y plumes of Pledge as they fell from the bottle? This whole thing felt—well—unnatural. Where would I buy groceries? How bad would I smell? How would this whole thing translate in a southern city rife with pick-up truck smoke and Arby’s roast beef sandwiches? Let’s face it. Though endlessly charming, Nashville isn’t exactly a bastion of clean living.
Committing to a more natural lifestyle was never part of my plan. But one year later, here I am milking my own almonds and cleaning my toilets with baking soda. Over the past year or so, my family’s health has improved. We’ve been able to support local businesses. And as parents? We can feel really good about the things our kids eat (even the decidedly non-food things that end up in their mouths). If you’re still shopping for a resolution, I cannot recommend going green enough. (Even just a little greener is good!) And Nashville? Actually, a great place to do it. We have fallen in love with this city’s vast collection of earth-friendly and family-friendly offerings. Here are a few of our absolute favorites:
Twigs + Roots
Motherhood doesn’t smell pretty. This is a fact. Most days? I emit an aroma that might be likened to a hot can of spam buried under a pile of festering compost. It’s not awesome. Significantly less awesome? The fact that conventional deodorants are filled with wretched additives. Aluminum? I’m looking at you. And giving you the stink eye.
Lucky for me (and everybody who comes within a fifteen-foot radius of my person), Nashville is home to Twigs + Roots — a woman-run and wonderful line of chemical-free, family-friendly health and beauty solutions. Their growing arsenal of goodies includes everything from tooth powder to a HEAVENLY peppermint and eucalyptus sinus steam that will make your neti pot cower in fear. Everything is lovingly handcrafted with the best stuff nature has to offer.
Their Lavender & Clary Sage deodorant basically saved my marriage. And my tender bummed twins swear by their baby balm.
See? This kid says stay away from her calendula.
January Moon Teething Necklaces
Let’s be honest. There is usually something inherently unsexy about teething jewelry.
I’m not saying those flimsy baubles you bought at Babies R Us are without virtue. But I would rather wear something my four year old created out of penne and Fruit Loops than something that looks like it was lifted from Marge Simpson’s nightstand.
My 17-month old twins, however? Yeah. They don’t give a flying truck what I look like. They will literally eat me alive if I don’t give them something to chew on. Extension cords? Tupperware? Shoes? They like all of it. And none of it is safe. But, the cheap looking baby doll beads? Even though I love my babies . . . I just can’t.
Good news? I don’t have to.
This is January Moon:
I MEAN. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!? Now, that’s what I call jewelry!
This is more than a teething necklace, y’all. It’s a LIFELINE. I have worn it everywhere — from the pediatrician’s office to the actual office. I love it so much that I took it on vacation when I left my babies at home. Not only is it safer, stronger, and more sophisticated than anything else out there. It makes me feel like me. (You know — the pre-kids version of me that didn’t have stuff stuck in her hair/teeth all of the time.)
The beads are 100% silicone and free of all of the bad stuff (BPA, PVC, cadmium, lead, and phthalates). So let those little teeth gnaw away!
Don’t you just want to be them?!
Little Seed Farm
If you’re listening, you like me, and reincarnation is a thing? Please make me a Nubian goat in my next life. Let me live with these glorious people on their glorious solar-powered farm. Thanks.
Truth be told, I’m not exactly your prototypical skincare guru. In college, I used an industrial sized bottle of dish soap in the shower and thought nothing of the fact that my skin smelled like Palmolive for four years.
When I turned thirty, a funny thing happened. My face started looking old. (Maybe it was the dish soap?!) So, I decided to put a little bit more thought into my routine.
I stumbled upon Little Seed Farm soaps while Krogering one day. And I fell in love immediately. Not only are their goat-milk based products gentle, beautiful, and effective, they are sustainably produced and responsibly packaged. They even make mini bars of soap for the tiny person in your life who likes to have his/her own version of everything.
They have an impressive range of products for the whole dam — from baby bottoms to beards. Go get you some!
There is a lot of hand-washing around here. I’d be lost without LSF.
High Garden Teas
I probably don’t need to tell you about High Garden. They get more press than Kardashian offspring—and rightly so. They make some of the finest tea on this big blue planet.
Leah and Joel have filled their sweet, cerebral, tech-free shop in Five Points (East Nashville, y’all) with a meticulously selected (borderline exhaustive) collection of herbs, teas, tinctures, and other goodies.
I was never a big tea drinker until, be still my rapidly beating insomniac heart, I discovered their “Dreams” blend. And now they are my first stop for whatever ails me. There is something here for you, friend. I assure you.
And fellow lactating mamas? The Nursing Mother blend will change your life. And their festive blends are not to be missed!
Hummingbird Cracker Company
Last year, my son Wilder made a first New Year’s resolution too. He planned to eat more vegetables. Fine. I made the resolution for him. And there was blackmail involved. About half of a string bean into 2016, the resolution was over, and he was elbow deep in a bag of Doritos. This year? We’re trying again, and we might actually have a chance. Because I’m swapping all of his crunchy kid treats for these:
They’re made of vegetables, y’all! And seeds!
Hummingbird Cracker Company founder and food dehydration wizard, Krista, found a way to take vegetable pulp and turn it into Wilder-approved cracker magic. The company not only makes use of valuable, oft discarded food waste, but they plan to offer employment to young women transitioning back into the workplace while coping with life-controlling issues such as self-harm, eating disorders, abuse, and unplanned pregnancy. These crackers are good for you and great for the world! Try the carrot cake. 🙂