Crate Herb Garden 


DIY Crate Herb Garden

I wanted some container herbs near the house  so I can walk over and pluck easily.  I came up with this crate idea. The crate was salvaged for me by a coworker from a restaurant.  It was so easy, I ended up not needing to hammer or to nail! A 2×4 plank leftover from a project was simply placed in the middle of the crate as the middle piece.

My son and I painted it all teal and added Valspar Antique Glaze and it was done!  Since it’s outside a poly coat would be ideal, but I figure it will last a few years.  Avoiding extra chemicals is always a good thing!

The terra cotta pitcher for the basil plant was an amazing find at a flea market for just a few dollars!

The crate is very cute mixed in with our landscaping:


Garden Update 2016:

The herbs I’ve had the most success with this year are cilantro and basil (watch for bolting and pluck off flowers if they sprout). We had an unusually wet spring so I ended up with a black mold on my basil plants. I plucked off all affected leaves and they are now thriving with no signs of molding.

Oregano, chives, dill and parsley are also herbs that are easy to grow and maintain. We have potted planters on our porch with lemon balm, sweet mint (for tea), citronella, and lavender to keep mosquitos at bay.

I companion planted sage near the pole beans.  Basil and rosemary is planted throughout our garden to keep pests away. This year I planted these herbs very close to my plants and it seems to be deterring better.  Marigolds were also woven into the landscape at a higher rate this year and placed around the entire border.

A butterfly garden is also adjacent to attract Monarchs specifically (an endangered species) and pollinators like the honey bee. You must attract pollinators to your garden, so flowers are important. We have butterfly weed, sunflowers, bee balm,  zinnias and more planted nearby in our butterfly haven.


I did have to crack out some organic insect soap and peppermint essential oil on a few plants. We have ant issues with our strawberries and I’m starting to lose hope any will ripen without being attacked.

I’ve tried charcoal powder around the border of the container, the garden soap, and adding onions directly to the planter with no luck. There is also netting around them to keep the birds and bunnies out. I should try some different essential oils next, I need to research more about using essential oils in the garden, so far I’ve only tried peppermint.


This may not be our year for strawberries…but I’m excited for the pumpkin container garden. I need to remove a few plants, every seed I planted sprouted so it’s overrun.





I’m growing them up a trellis I made out of some scrap wood, quarter round, and twine I found in our garage. My little helper. She loves to get muddy and help mommy in the garden!



Happy Organic Planting everyone! Feel free to share your tips and tricks below. I’ll be working some of my organic compost in soon- it’s finally ready after about 3 months!

Garden Plot: Organic & Companion Planting


I wanted to outline our little garden plot this year.  We enriched our soil with organic soil, fertilizer, and earthworms.  My 4 year old had so much fun adding the worms and the kids enjoy helping us water it.

My husband tilled it up nicely (to our surprise wasps had nested there, so they were not too happy)! Of course, we don’t spray chemicals, so we let them swarm around for a few days… they have since moved on.  The honeybees are still around- so that is good!

Click here to see our 2016 Garden Plot! This is a simply PDF I created, don’t judge me too much I wasn’t going to spend a lot of time on it!   Garden Plot 2016 Final

img_0821 img_0820


We added a butterfly garden this year to attract bees, butterflies (Monarchs hopefully) and hummingbirds.  A garden needs pollinators! I try my best to companion plant and I’m sure I have a few mistakes here and there.

I like to find Heirloom Seed companies and University companion planting information and charts, figuring these are experts in their fields:

We worked in more chives, basil, and marigolds (inside the garden instead of just bordering it). I’ve added many more marigolds since these pictures were taken.

All of our seeds and plants are Non-GMO and organic- it is very important to avoid any genetically modified seeds that have been treated with chemicals!

It’s easy to get overwhelmed, so simply do some research, companion plant the best you can, and see what works or does not work in your garden. I worked in more fragrant herbs this year to detract pests and was less afraid to plant them close to my veggie crops.

I also avoided planting root vegetables, as our clay soil, even though well amended this year, seems too dense to properly allow root veggie growth.

We had squash vine borers last year, so I avoided planting squash-related plants this year. I will also recognize the larvae quicker this year- best to stop them sooner than later when they emerge in June.

Happy Gardening! What do you plant?

Plant dill, marigolds, chives, onions, parsley, basil and other flowers throughout the garden. Allow parsley, carrot and celery to remain in the ground over the winter. They will produce flowers the second season and attract beneficial insects. Also, plant strong smelling herbs among vegetable crops. [1]

Save the Bees!

We are at a critical crossroads in regards to the planet’s bee health and population declines.  After reading this article you will know more about Colony Collapse Disorder and what you can do to help.

What is Colony Collapse Disorder?

Per Wikepedia: “Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is the phenomenon that occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear and leave behind a queen, plenty of food and a few nurse bees to care for the remaining immature bees and the queen.”

Basically, the Queen is intact, but the active worker bees are not returning to maintain the hive. CCD is different than complete hive abandonment  (Queen included). However, the end results are the same- the colony ceases to survive to function correctly.

The website tracks scientific reports each year on bee population. This chart highlights the recent issues:

Figure 1: Summary of the total colony losses overwinter (October 1 – April 1) and over the year (April 1 – April 1) of managed honey bee colonies in the United States. The acceptable range is the average percentage of acceptable colony losses declared by the survey participants in each of the nine years of the survey. Winter and Annual losses are calculated based on different respondent pools.

Figure 1: Summary of the total colony losses overwinter (October 1 – April 1) and over the year (April 1 – April 1) of managed honey bee colonies in the United States. The acceptable range is the average percentage of acceptable colony losses declared by the survey participants in each of the nine years of the survey. Winter and Annual losses are calculated based on different respondent pools.

Theories – May Cause a Colony to Collapse?

Natural Causes:

  • Varroe Mites, Israeli acute paralysis virus (IAPV), funguses
  • General weather pattern changes and extremes in weather that would stop bees from foraging as normal
  • “Israeli acute paralysis virus (IAPV): This virus, first discovered by Israeli scientists in 2002, causes trembling, paralysis and death in bees.
  • The mites deprive bees of nutrition, as well as open the door for other pathogens to enter. Varroa mites, as well as other nasty mites, pathogens and fungi, can invade a hive and give the bees a run for their money. ” [8]
  • Food stresses caused by drought or heavy rain

Unnatural causes:


  • Neonicotinoid pesticides: These pesticides — including clothianidin — are neurotoxins used to protect crops against pests. But, these chemicals may also be harming helpful pollinators. The EPA has noted clothianidin as highly toxic to honeybees, and many beekeepers in Germany are blaming it for the massive die-off rates that struck their colonies in May 2008. [8]
  • Bee Stress- traveling stressors, overworking bees
  • Antibiotic use
  • Supplementing with high fructose corn syrup or unnatural food sources
  • Any other chemicals used in our environment- pesticides, herbicides, insecticides
  • General air pollution

At this point, mainstream sources cannot attribute the CCD to any one factor, however, a correlation between chemicals and man-made causes may prove to be a driving factor. What manmade impacts have we created? We must look at those causes for CCD. Pinpointing the cause(s) means we can work on a solution.

If we are blind to the fact that we are intrinsically linked we are going to ruin our environment even quicker.

Global warming can occur in normal patterns in nature, but humans ramp up it’s effects with our pollution.  The same concept can apply to CCD. Reports of CCD run back as far as 1869. However, there has been an increase in CCD   [9]

The use of pesticides in farming has increased by 404 million pounds from 1996 to 2011!  [10] The use of these crops that are genetically engineered to be “ready” to be sprayed with chemicals has caused super weeds to form, resistant to these chemicals.  Note: GMO “chemical ready” seeds were introduced circa 1996.

Which means? More chemicals (of different varieties due to the need to find a way to kill the super weeds) are being sprayed. If it seems confusing let me simplify it:  GMO Crops= More chemicals being used“Resistant weeds have become a major problem for many farmers reliant on GE crops, and are now driving up the volume of herbicide needed each year by about 25 percent,” Benbrook said” [10]

By February 2007, large commercial migratory beekeepers in several states had reported heavy losses associated with CCD. Their reports of losses varied widely, ranging from 30% to 90% of their bee colonies… [9]

Even the USDA found, “Bees in CCD colonies had higher pathogen loads and were co-infected with more pathogens than control populations, suggesting either greater pathogen exposure or reduced defenses in CCD bees.”[54]


The Research

This Science Direct article abstract briefs on the causes of bee colony collapse. ‘The authors, independent scientists from around the world, compiled information on how two key factors in bee decline—disease and pesticides—are interconnected.’  [4]

     “Immune suppression of the natural defences by neonicotinoid and phenyl-pyrazole (fipronil)      insecticides opens the way to parasite infections and viral diseases, fostering their spread among individuals and among bee colonies at higher rates than under conditions of no exposure to such insecticides.”  [3]

Whether chemicals are the cause (direct or indirect); if they are involved– the blame can be placed on the people and companies that use them.

For example, drinking soda may not directly kill me; however, the indirect effect of excess sugar consumption, weight gain, and the chemical cocktail could lead me to develop diabetes, kidney, or heart disease. Those health issues could kill me one day indirectly. for this reason, I rarely drink soda!

To help the environment- we don’t spray chemicals on our plants or lawn.

img_9974The chemicals affect the bee health (more susceptible to disease or insect attacks) and cultural practices (aka not leaving the hive), opening them up to greater harm from ‘natural’ diseases that would occur or ‘natural’ insect infestations.  Normally populations could recover from these natural causes, but these man-made chemicals are far from normal in nature.

The biodiversity of our planet’s food sources and upwards of 1/3 of all our fruits and vegetables are pollinated by bees!

There is a huge list of species that need bees to pollinate them, including avocados, peaches, apples, cashews, cucumbers, broccoli, lemons and coffee. [8]

DO NOT mess with my coffee-  mommy needs it to survive and the bees need OUR HELP to survive.

Awareness is the First Step to Change

DID YOU KNOW: Pollinators are necessary for the reproduction of nearly 85 percent of the world’s flowering plants, including about three-quarters of crop species. Bees especially are important for the pollination of most of our crop plants. [2]

  • Directly, honey bees pollinate the flowers of 1/3 of all fruits and vegetables. [1]
  • Indirectly, honey bees pollinate 70% of the food crops, through seed production, etc.  [1]
  • In just the last ten years, over 40% of the bee colonies in the US have suffered Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). [8]
  • Catastrophic loss of honeybees could have significant impact, therefore; it is estimated that seven out of the 60 major agricultural crops in North American economy would be lost. [9]

Bees are critical for the continuing biodiversity of species on our planet, we MUST save them!

Image courtesy of: Bring Back the Bees via

A recent analysis by the Xerces Society for example, found that nearly 30% of North America’s bumble bee species may now be at risk of extinction! [2]

The Fighters


John and Oxana- John is President of Operation Honey Bee


My husband grew up with with John Baxter, the founder of Operation Honey Bee. They spent their summers playing outside and doing what boys do best- getting dirty and playing. John’s  passion for saving the honey bee is evident in his beliefs about the honey bee decline; mainly the causes and what we need to do to change the tide of  population decline and hive abandonment.

Per this How Colony Collapse Disorder Works article by Jessika Toothman: “Bees by the billions are heading out for a busy day of gathering nectar and spreading pollen, but mysteriously aren’t returning to the hive. Between September 2007 and March 2008, U.S. losses were estimated at about 36 percent of managed hives.” [6]

According to our friend John, bee colony abandonment is causally linked to GMO’s and chemicals in his observations and research:

“The bee may take pollen from a plant that has been contaminated [by chemicals] and quickly realizes it has been contaminated, it goes off alone and does not return to the hive.

Organic bee farming is what it takes for the bees to thrive.” – John Baxter President and Founder of Operation Honey Bee

John’s main method for sustainable and organic bee keeping includes:

  1. Distilled Water
  2. Organic and non-GMO feed
  3. Boxes that do not use wood that is preserved or painted on the box that doesn’t leach into the wood (since the bees reproduce in this box)
  4. Do not take too much of the bee honey supply and substitute with processed sugar

This method increases the health of the bee in general. The average bee life is 45 days, if you shave off even a few days, it can throw off the entire population and have adverse affects.

Bees are very smart in keeping their colony healthy. If a bee becomes contaminated, the bee itself will not go back to the hive. Air born contamination on a micro level, will only leave questions to where the bees have gone and why they are not in their box.”


We commend John for his work in representing our precious bees with Operation Honey Bee! He truly cares about their immune systems and overall health. He likens it to taking care of our own bodies- avoiding processed foods and eating pure foods free of GMO’s and toxins.

He currently takes care of 3 hives using these organic practices. He even donated a hive to another who lost one due to theft. He saw their story on Fox Carolina and contacted the owners of the stolen hive.

Since Genbumom is for ACTION and what we can do to help- below is a list of ideas.

You can also urge your State Senators to vote IN FAVOR of GMO (genetically modified organisms) labeling laws and to reduce the amount of chemicals being sprayed on our food sources, which harms our local wildlife. Why are other developed nations banning GMO crops ?  Germany, France, Mexico, and Australia ban GMO’s to name a few… I urge you to research the reasons why GMO’s are so bad for our earth and our human and wildlife health.

What Can I Do to Help?

I do not have plans any time soon for becoming a beekeeper, perhaps one day, but it’s not conducive to our lifestyle right now. So what can our family do to help?

Buy Local – Support your local honey cultivators and farmers. One stressor on bees may be travel, by supporting local farms and fruit/veggie producers you help reduce the stress to the bees.

“The total number of managed honey bee colonies has decreased from 5 million in the 1940s to only 2.5 million today. At the same time, the call for hives to provide pollination services has continued to increase. This means honey bee colonies are being transported over longer distances than ever before.” [5]

Do NOT Spray  with Pesticides/Insecticides.  Encourage your neighbors to do the same. If we want to play out back or have company over, we will mow the clovers that the bees love so we can play freely. The clovers grow back within the week and the bees return. In the meantime, our bees are happy because we plant bee friendly flowers and plants.

You don’t want your children or pets around these chemicals, neither do we want the bees (and butterflies) exposed!

Plant Pollinator Attracting Plants: To find your local, native pollinator plants click here. This is an easy-to-follow list from the University of MD for all zones in the US. It details what wildlife they attract and if easy to grow or not. (Key to a gardening novice like myself!)

“Want an easy, relaxing way to help save bee populations? The Great Sunflower Project studies population trends by gathering data about geographic areas where bees are struggling.

Interested bee enthusiasts can register at the project’s Web site and receive free sunflower seeds that arrive in the mail.” [7]

This is a good beginner article from on attracting bees.  You want two aspects covered when planting for pollinators.

  1. Nectar
  2. Pollen

Even herbs like basil, rosemary, and lavender will attract bees. Most herbs grow well in containers if you have limited space in your yard.

Companion Plant in your garden to help reduce unwanted bugs, like Aphids, instead of spraying chemicals. Aphids dislike mint, garlic, onions, and chives. Plant these items around the garden veggies that aphids like best, like tomatoes or lettuces.

Make a Donation!  You can buy an Operation Honey Bee T-shirt or donate to Operation Honey Bee– This is a 501c3 nonprofit site dedicated to saving the bees! Donate here!


Consumer Dollars-Buy Products from Companies that Support the Bees.  I noticed this information on my Cascadian Farms cereal box one day and I will continue to buy from them not only because their cereal is delicious but because they support bee health and organic practices.

Cascadian Farms Bee Support



Involve Your Children Explain to them why we plant flowers and how crops are pollinated. Teach them why chemicals are bad for our earth. Get their daycare or school involved in spring seed planting activities.

Any other ideas to help the bees-Feel free to share in the comments section. Also share this link to your social media!





Are Bee Diseases linked to pesticides? – A brief review.  January 9, 2016. www.Science

4. Code, Aimee Pesticide Program Director.  Research Update: Are Bee Diseases Linked to Pesticides? February 16, 2016.

5. USDA Website:

6. Toothman, Jesskika. How Colony Collapse Disorder Works. Accessed


8. By: Christina Sarich, Natural Society. August 15, 2013. List of Food We Will Lose if we Don’t Save the Bees.

9. Wikepedia. Colony Collapse Disorder. Accessed March 2016.

10. Gilliam, Carey. Genetically Modified Crops have Lead to Increased Pesticide use, Study finds.

Composting for Superb Gardening

Why Garden?

To be truly sustainable as a society, we all need to garden and compost to reduce waste and be more self sufficient. It helps us to appreciate nature’s pristine delicacy and get back to our roots.  Personally, I sit at a desk all day, I enjoy coming home and smelling the fresh outdoors to check on the garden.

It teaches our children where their food comes from. They may try more vegetables if grown in their own backyard. My 3 year old son tried parsley and lemon balm last year. We enjoyed going into the garden together, watering the plants, and smelling all the herbs.  My favorite memories last summer were from gardening with him.

Sustainability and Appreciation of Nature

Yard waste materials such as grass clippings, leaves, and yard trimmings make up approximately 10% (by volume) of the municipal waste stream, according to Indiana’s Department of Environmental Management. Yard waste can account for 50% or more of residential solid waste during the active growing season. [1]

Let your children help you pluck herbs or plant seeds. It’s a very enjoyable experience you can do together.

My son thought it was hilarious when our sweet potatoes ended up like this:


The sweet potato fiasco made me realize, our soil was not conducive to root vegetables (hard clay soil). The raised bed did awesome, we need to till a lot this year and add compost to work the soil looser and to provide it with the elements it needs to give nourishment to what we plant. Also to allow the root vegetables to grow properly and separate underground.

Our first real garden last year was flooded several times, we learned a lot, lost a lot, and truly appreciate more now how food is grown and ends up on our table. It’s why we are attempting to buy more locally and waste less.

Container Gardening if you lack space…

There is an explosion in container gardening ideas right now on the internet, you don’t need much space to garden (or compost!) You can create garden beds out of reusable (untreated) wood using ideas found on Pinterest, as well as ideas for making small compost bins.

Composting for Successful Gardening

Composting is a naturally occurring process that breaks down organic materials into a soil-like material. Finished compost is an excellent soil amendment that improves soil structure as well as adds some nutrients. All organic materials will break down eventually, if given the proper environmental conditions. [1]

imageWe used our raised garden bed for our compost “heap” this year.  We covered it with a think double layered tarp and anchored with metal pins. This spring,  I will build a covered bin to keep close to our home.

“The basic ingredients for successful composting include organic materials, microorganisms, and the proper balance of carbon to nitrogen, water, and oxygen.” [1]

There are items you can compost and items you should never add to your compost bin that could disrupt the breakdown of materials.

Composting DoDont

Below are the basics of layering your compost. These are basics and I’ve found resources that indicate more particulars, but here are the basics. I  used Purdue Universities Composting articles to obtain my information.  [1] and [2]

Compost Basics Best

We simply place our “green matter” (carrot tops, banana peels, washed egg shells, compostable coffee filter with coffee) in a large old coffee tub (covered) and every few days empty it into the compost heap.

A friend of mine who is composting remarked, “Our trash can doesn’t smell anymore since we have been composting.”  This same friend is using an old commercial soap bin that she washed thoroughly  for her outdoor compost bin. Her kids are old enough to take the compost trash (kept under her sink) out to the bin for a chore.


If you test your soil and have the correct ratios, tend to your plants accordingly, and keep it organic you should have a successful garden. Compost adds to reducing your household waste and providing extra nourishment to your soil.

“The smaller the particle size, the faster the organic materials will break down. Materials which have been chopped or shredded will compost more quickly. Kitchen wastes such as vegetable and fruit scraps, egg shells, and coffee or tea grounds can also be added. These materials should be buried in the center of the compost pile to avoid attracting insects, rodents, and neighborhood pets.” [1]

I’m personally planting more herbs this year than last and I’m going to attempt better freezing practices for saving some herbs for the winter months. I may try to dry herbs out myself and save in bundles.  I found myself using my herbs more than anything. Fresh basil, cilantro, and parsley were our staples last year.

This year I want to plant yarrow, rosemary, calendula, german chamomile, feverfew, and sage to name a few.

Organic Gardening

By all means, your garden must be organic, or else what is the point of it being healthy if sprayed with fertilizers and chemicals?! I am no expert yet, but this is what I’ve learned about organic gardening…

  • Companion Plant- Map out your garden before hand.  Certain plants repel bugs that harm other plants. You will have more success if you companion plant.

Examples: Garlic deters Japanese beetles, Tarragon is disliked by many pests so you may plant throughout your entire garden, Marigolds deter many bugs such as nematodes.

  • Say NO to Chemicals:  Do not use any treated soil, pesticides or bug sprays!
  • Use Essential Oils and organic gardening sprays to keep pests away. Spot test one area, wait overnight to see how it affects the plant.
  • ID pest problems early and treat immediately. I misdiagnosed my squash issues with a mold (we had heavy rains and I thought it was mold, but it was squash borer insects destroying and leaving behind a substance that looked like mold).
  • You WANT Bees and Butterflies to pollinate your garden! Check out this article on Attracting More Bees and Pollinators.
    • For example, plant native plants to attract native bees. Also plant some exotic plants to supplement… Think nectar and pollen. Choose several colors, plant flowers of different shapes/sizes in clumps. Bees favor sunny spots protected from winds and rain. [3]

  • Join an organic gardening forum for tips and tricks. Join a local group to obtain better information for your local climate and soil conditions.
  • Compost to enrich soil and consider adding worms.

How Compost will help your Organic Garden…

[Composts]unique physical and chemical properties provide a number of benefits to soil, including:

Improved soil fertility

Improved soil structure

Improved water-holding capacity

Reduced erosion

Reduced levels of plant pathogens, insects, and weeds [2]

What do I Do with the Compost When It is Ready?

Your compost is ready when the internal temperature remains at a level comparable to the current outdoor temperature. If it’s still biodegrading it will produce more internal heat, so wait until it’s done “heating” essentially.  You will no longer be able to discern plant or material items (i,e. you won’t see any distinct banana peels or apple cores). The compost will appear as a rich and dark soil, easily worked and crumbly.

If you apply  or use compost before it’s truly ready it could actually harm your plant growth.

If you want to work into your garden soil or into your containers:

“Apply at least 1/2 to 3 inches of compost to gardens before planting every year — this will improve soil fertility. Spread the compost on the surface (a practice called topdressing), or mix the compost with the upper 4 inches of soil.” [2]

You can also make a compost tea:

Another way of using compost is to extract the nutrients into water, then apply that tea-like, nutrient-containing water to plants about every two weeks.

“To “brew” compost tea, fill a burlap or cloth bag (like a pillowcase) with finished compost, then place it in a 5 gallon bucket of water for one to three days. Agitate the bag a few times each day, just like a tea bag. Compost can be reused several times in this process.” [2]

Final Thoughts from Genbumom

 Keep it simple your first year, try about 10 varieties of plants and herbs. Map out your garden  to help you companion plant prior to planting seeds.  Your first year, also try using starter plants. Starting from seeds is a little trickier.

Try a few containers near your home for easy to access to common cooking herbs, like parsley or chives.

Happy Gardening!





  1. Purdue Department of Horticulture. Managing Yard Waste: Clippings and Compost. Accessed February 2016.
  2. Home and Environment: Purdue University Extension. Household Composting: Methods and Uses for Compost. Accessed February 2016.
  3. Lannotti, Marie. Bee Plants: Attracting Nore Bees and Pollinators to your Garden.

Probiotics: Healthy Gut, Happy Heart


What is a probiotic? When I say this to people I am either met with a gleeful “They have completely changed my life!” or a “What is that?”

Let’s start with discussing the human gut micoflora.  In our stomach, we have bacterium (both good and bad), yeast, and fungus. Yum, right?

Daily exposure to processed foods, a lack of healthy fiber, fruits and vegetables, over-sanitizing, chemicals/toxins in our environment and products, and especially antibiotic usage leads to a disruption in the balance of our digestive systems. The bad bacteria wins and the good bacteria gets wiped out. And then we feel like, ironically enough, poo.

You’ve probably been told before by your Obgyn to eat yogurt, as it contains acidophilus cultures, or to take a supplement as it can help with women’s issues, such as yeast infections or bloating during your period.

In 2012 and I started taking a probiotic supplement. I did this after my son started taking them to help with constipation (we had a tough transition from breast milk to formula) and it greatly helped him.

I was also on a personal quest to feel healthier and shed some weight. After having two children in 3 years, I am 30 pounds lighter than in my engagement pictures and 70 less than my top weight while pregnant with my son. I attribute it to changing to organic foods, clean eating, exercise, and of course probiotics!

061 image

I also started using apple cider vinegar circa 2012.  I don’t use it daily- just when feeling bloating or after a sugar bender (it does happen)!  On top of avoiding excess sugar and eating a clean diet, apple cider vinegar can  bolster a healthy gut:

“Millions of people around the world struggle with candida and yeast.  The side effects can be bad breath, lack of energy, UTI’s and digestive issues.  ACV contains probiotics and a type of acid that promotes the growth of probiotics which help kill off candida.  Remove sugar from your diet and consume 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar 3x daily as part of a candida cleanse.” [4]

Today my family is a probiotic powerhouse. We take pill probiotics daily. I drink Kombucha tea most days of the week.  I make our berry smoothies with unsweetened Kefir, my kids eat a balance diet with powdered probiotics and organic yogurt daily, along with prebiotic fibers from grains and fruits and vegetables.

lifeway kefirDid you know you can make your own Kefir out of grains? I had a friend get me started on homemade Kefir. It’s really easy.  You can also purchase store-bought Kefir in the yogurt section. We use Lifeway Brand. It’s like liquid yogurt in a bottle. They make it flavored but it’s a sugar bomb, so buy plain or unsweetened.


Probiotic and Prebiotic Basic Information

Probiotics Genbumom 3.jpg

“Probiotics are found in foods such as yogurt, while prebiotics are found in whole grains, bananas, onions, garlic, honey and artichokes. In addition, probiotics and prebiotics are added to some foods and available as dietary supplements.

Although more research is needed, there’s encouraging evidence that probiotics may help:

  • Treat diarrhea, especially following treatment with certain antibiotics.
  • Prevent and treat vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections.
  • Treat irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Speed treatment of certain intestinal infections.
  • Prevent or reduce the severity of colds and flu.” [1]

Per Dr. Mercola’s website: “Probiotics help in the production of both vitamin K and B vitamins, and promote mineral absorption. They also aid in metabolism and the breakdown of toxins.” [5]

So really the question is: “Why wouldn’t you incorporate probiotics into your health and wellness regiment?”  You may be crazy not to try them!

We are a healthy family- everyone is in a proper weight range and feeling great. Colds often stay as just colds with the occasionally ear infection or slight fever. Even the stomach bug I caught this year was tolerable. It’s easy to get probiotics if you know where to look…

Probiotic Rich Foods

Probiotics can be taken via supplement or be found naturally occurring in foods and beverages. Fermented foods and dairy in particular.


“Most probiotic organisms occur naturally in cultured milk products, such as yogurt with active cultures, acidophilus milk and kefir, as well as natural pickles and sauerkraut. ” [3]

Foods that Contain Probiotics: Yogurt, Kefir, Kimchi (spicy pickled cabbage), Tempeh, Sauerkraut, Pickles, Kombucha tea (fermented tea), Soy Milk, some Milks may have it added, Dark Chocolate (antioxidants as well), Microalgae (can add to smoothies-I’ve never tried this), and Miso Soup.

Foods that Contain Prebiotics: Whole grains, bananas, raw or cooked onions, raw garlic, honey, Jerusalem artichokes, raw asparagus, beans, raw dandelion greens (add to salads), and raw wheat bran (add to cereals or oatmeal).


When cooked many prebiotics lose their fiber, so eat raw when possible. Try for 5 grams of prebiotic fiber per day. Of course, buy organic also. Toxins and chemicals make it harder for your body to function properly.

Immune System Studies

Did you know that up to  80% of our immune system stems from our gut? [5]

“There’s evidence that without adequate normal flora, the immune system can’t work properly, lessening resistance to infection.” [3] [4] Dr. Weil  mentions especially after a round of antibiotics you need a probiotic supplement to re-establish a healthy gut flora as the antibiotic will wipe out the good bacteria.

Researchers are starting to study the effect of our gut flora on our brain activity, which may foster the development of integrative food-as-medicine and supplement approaches for dealing with issues like depression or anxiety; rather than being reliant on mainstream medications.

The answer to immune issues may be in figuring out how our stomachs play a role in our histamine responses (allergic responses).  “Friendly bacteria train your immune system to distinguish between pathogens and non-harmful antigens, and to respond appropriately.” [5]

As a mother with a child with a peanut allergy, I am extremely vested in the outcome of these early study trials.  We give our child probiotics almost daily (Culturelle kids powdered probiotic) and it’s also found in his multivitamin (Rainbow Light Children’s Vitamins plant based nutrition). You can Order here from Amazon.

Researchers from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne gave 60 children who are allergic to peanuts either a probiotic along with a small dose of peanut protein or a placebo:

“Lead researcher Associate Professor Mimi Tang said more than 80 per cent of children who received the protein and probiotic were able to tolerate peanuts without any allergic symptoms at the end of the trial. “This is 20 times higher than the natural rate of resolution for peanut allergy,” she said. Twenty-three of the 28 children who received the probiotic with the peanut protein were able to eat peanuts after the study. The effect lasted for two to five weeks after treatment. The strain of probiotic used in the study was Lactobacillus rhamnosus.” [2]

 Again, these are clinic trials, do not attempt to give any food allergic child anything they are allergic to!  We were thrilled last year when our son’s IGE levels dropped dramatically in just 12 months.  Our allergist explained that it cannot be attributed to any one factor at this point. However, luck may be on our side that he may outgrow the allergy.

We keep praying and we wonder if the probiotic use is what is helping?

Final Thoughts on Probiotic Use

Cartoon green butterfly caterpillar insectTry Probiotics!  There is nothing to lose. You will notice a difference, especially if you take them for 30 days or more. I took a 2 week hiatus from probiotics this winter and ended up with a stomach bug. No kidding!

I also took probiotics while pregnant and nursing my daughter.  My Obgyn suggested it would help any constipation issues. Post C-section was so much easier after having my daughter for that very reason. Of course, ALWAYS check with your personal doctor first.

I would buy a 30 day supplement (pill or liquid) and take it regularly.  You can also order here. Always store as directed either refrigerated or on a dry shelf. I personally use probiotics with 1 billion CFU (colony forming units) or more.  This is per Dr. Weil’s website. You want plenty of CFU’s to make it through your stomach acid and into the lower GI tract. Start slowly incorporating supplements and foods in your diet.

You wouldn’t buy a dog without buying a leash, so make sure you are incorporating plenty of prebiotic rich foods into in your diet! Recall, the prebiotics fuel the probiotics.

This article gives information on probiotic amounts to look for when buying: Recommended Dose for Probiotics:  I  felt it a little conservative, but it may be better for beginners.

My family has been taking probiotics since 2012 and it has greatly helped our digestive health and overall well-being.

Easy Probiotic Smoothie Recipe:

In a blender, add 1 cup frozen organic berries, 3/4 cup unsweetened Kefir, 1/2 cup Vanilla Almond or Soy milk, 1 cup flavored yogurt, 1 tsp honey, 1/4 tsp cinnamon. Blend well. You can also add vanilla protein powder. Or chocolate protein powder and 1 drop peppermint essential oil (Young Living brand).

Always check with your doctor or physician before starting any sort of supplement regiment. They can recommend trusted brands and amounts safe for consumption. This advice is not regulated by the FDA nor intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any diseases.  If you are on any medications, are pregnant or may become pregnant always consult your doctor first.


  1. Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.  Consumer Article: Do I Need to Include Probiotics and Prebiotics in my Diet?  Mayo Clinic:
  2. Scott, Sophie. January 28, 2015.   Probiotics Offer Hope for Children with Peanut Allergies.
  3. Weil, Dr.  Vitamin Library: Probiotics Article. and “What’s the Point of Probiotics?” . Accessed January 2016.
  4. Axe, Dr., 20 Unique Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar.
  5. Mercola, Dr. Probiotics Found to Help Gut’s Immune System. Dr Mercola website.

Industry Action Letter

What does this Vonnegut quote mean to you? What has disappeared?  Simplicity and transparency.  As educated consumers, we must command respect and not be misled. Products and foods go into our bodies, into our homes, on the fabrics we put on our children’s skin, and in the air we breath.

Change is not overwhelming if you pivot it accordingly and incorporate it into your lifestyle. If moderation is important to you, think of small changes you can do today. One is writing an industry action letter to a company whose products you do not feel are safe.

You can involve your children. They can investigate the ingredients in the products in your home and sign the letter. Post pictures of what your family is doing to make an impact on social media. Start a letter writing campaign with families you know.

Please feel free to copy and paste this letter verbiage and make it your own.  Share this page or this concept with friends on social media and start some action today!

I wanted to provide you with the words… now you can help make changes happen.  Go out with courage into the world and act!

Sometimes we have to be against something to be for something.


It only takes about 15 minutes to type and send letters to companies whose ingredients you do not want in your home. Don’t throw out the products you no longer will use.  Return them to the manufacturer if you feel it’s worth the cost of shipping them back. Perhaps you will receive a refund.

Start buying organic, fair traded, locally made, cruelty-free, non-toxic and non-GMO products. Put your consumer dollars towards change.

Your Full Address

January 15, 2016

  • Full title and name
  • Company or organization name
  • Company Full address (use two or more lines, as needed)

Dear (last name)  (try to find a CEO or President’s name) and if you cannot:

Dear Sir or Madam,

The purpose of this letter it to inform you that I will no longer be purchasing products from your company.  My family formerly used the following products (x,y,z). The reason I am no longer your customer is that you use the following chemical ingredients (or company practices-i.e. animal cruelty to test your products) in your products. (Pick and choose from below list)

  • Aluminum- linked to nerve damage and brain disorders.
  • DEA/TEA- potential carcinogen
  • PEG/ceteareth/polyethylene-“Ethylene oxide (found in PEG-4, PEG-7, PEG4-dilaurate, and PEG 100) is highly toxic—even in small doses—and was used in World War I nerve gas.” [5]
  • Triclosan & Triclocarban- endocrine disruptors; found in breast milk, cord blood, and in pregnant women. Triclosan is not necessary to be used in soaps to kill germs.“Recent research demonstrates that triclosan has effects on the thyroid, estrogen, and testosterone hormones in laboratory animals, including mammals” [4]
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate- linked to skin irritation, endocrine disruption, eye and oral toxicity, hair loss, respiratory and congestive issues.
  • Parabens (Methyl, propyl, ethyl, butyl)- rapidly absorbed by the skin; may show up in breast tissue and an endocrine disruptor.
  • Propylene Gycol- known to cause dermititis, kidney and liver abnormalities in animal studies.
  • Phthalates- “Studies have shown that chemicals called phthalates can trigger what’s known as “death-inducing signaling” in testicular cells…hormone changes, lower sperm count, less mobile sperm, birth defects in the male reproductive system, obesity, diabetes and thyroid irregularities.” [1]
  • Non-stick cookware- Perfuluorinated Chemicals (PFCs and PFOA)- “Peer-reviewed research suggests that certain nonstick chemicals can contribute to cancer, birth defects, flu-like symptoms, elevated cholesterol, abnormal thyroid hormone levels, liver inflammation, weakened immunity, and other health problems.” [2]
  • Artificial Coloring and/or Food Dyes, such as Yellow #5, Red and Blue- linked to behavioral disorders in children, cancer and allergic reactions. [6]
  • ‘Fragrance’- a cocktail of who knows ? There is no regulation in the US what ‘fragrance’ may include.
  • Retinyl palmitate and Oxybenzone- (sunscreens)- biochemical and cellular level changes, endocrine disruption, bioaccumulates, photoallergenic toxicant.
  • Toluene and Dibutyl phthalate (DBP)- (found in nail polish)
  • PEG/cetearetj/polyethylene-(found in acne products)
  • BHA, Boric acid, and Fragrance (found in diaper cream)
  • DMDM hydantoin-(found in baby wipes)- derivatives of formaldyde and linked to  allergies, fatigue, depression, weakened immune systems. [7]
  • Alpha and beta hydroxy acids (lactic acid and glycolic acid)
    • “FDAsponsored studies find UV-caused skin damage doubles for users of products with alpha hydroxy acid.” (anti aging products)-[4]

Your company has a social and environmental obligation to protect its consumers, rather than harm their health and our fragile ecosystems. I feel that (company name) cannot meet the needs of public safety as long as it uses toxic ingredients/animal testing/lack of sustainable practices/non-organic ingredients in its products.

In the future, if (company name) decides to eliminate the use of harmful ingredients I may consider becoming a customer again. In the meantime, I am  a former customer.  I will be placing my trust and spending my money with companies that source for organic/non-toxic/sustainable/fairly traded/vegan ingredients.



Your name 


Final Thoughts from Genbumom

Did you Know?

“The rate of new childhood cancer cases, including leukemia, has steadily increased over the last 40 years.” [3]

Why is this occurring? Research across the board from 3rd party and university studies are pointing to environmental toxins such as pesticides, herbicides, mercury, and artificial hormones in our food and water sources, as well as our personal care (bath and beauty products), not to mention household cleaners (laundry soaps, toilet cleaners, fabric sprays, dish soaps, etc.)

Toxic ingredients

I used to put this on my body!  I use essential oils now for pure lavender benefits. This lavender body wash was a chemical cocktail absorbing into my skin. All you need is Castile soap, water, a little coconut oil and essential oils if you prefer fragrance for a body wash. So simple.


Source for new products that you feel safe to use. I make many household products using vinegar, Castile soaps, baking soda, and essential oils for cleaning.

I purchase items like organic coconut oil and pure shea butter for moisturizing and use essential oils for their anti-aging properties. (My skin looks better than it did 5 years ago- so does my husbands).

imageFind companies you trust. I love Shea Moisture and Acure brand products for bath and skin care. I use Ava Anderson nontoxic for makeup.

I use Young Living Essential oils. I buy my bulk products (for cheap) and organic via Bulk Apothecary or Mountain Rose Herbs.



  1. October 28, 2013. Environmental Working Group. Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptors.
  2. Isaac Eliaz, MD, MS, LAc.  April 17, 2012.  How Safe is your Cookware?
  3.  Dellavalle, Kurt. September 20, 2105. Childhood Cancer: More Evidence Points to Chemical Exposure.
  4.  June 16, 2014. Triclosan containing antibacterial soaps neither safe nor effective.
  5.  October 2, 2013. What are PEG’s.
  6.  Center for Science in the Public Interest. Food Dyes a Rainbow of Risks.  accessed January 14, 2016.
  7.  Lipman, Frank. MD. What Chemicals should you Look Out For in your Personal Care Products?