on gratefulness* … happy thanksgiving!

21 Nov

I was 25 years old the first Thanksgiving I spent alone. It was the latter half of the 90s. I had recently moved to Los Angeles. I was two weeks into a new job (my very first job in the movie business, which was a huge deal to me at the time) so I couldn’t get the time off to travel home. And, to be totally honest, I didn’t have the cash to spend on an airline ticket … and I was too proud to ask my parents for help.

In retrospect, I think I thought it was something I wanted. I wanted my roommate to disappear for a few days. I was desperate to have our 550 square foot apartment to myself. To be able to read a book without interruption or have to listen to “bad” music coming from the other room. I looked forward to eating whatever food was in the fridge without worry about who paid for the milk. To not have the television on 24 hours a day. I was looking, I thought, for some quiet.

My boss and her fiancé had offered the “new kid” an obligatory invite to dinner at their home. But I turned it down, completely confident it would be awesome to not have any plans. I didn’t know many people in Los Angeles at that point, but the thought of spending it with my 30-something boss, her boyfriend and their parents made me cringe with anxiety way more than the thought of spending the day alone.


But waking up in Sunny Southern California on what in my past had always been a chilly November day … on a day that had always been one of my favorite holidays … separated from the people that I love and with no plans on the horizon … It was strange. A noiseless void and a deeper quiet than I had known before. In my apartment. On the streets. In the nearby park where I walked my dog. In my mind’s eye, it was an emptiness not unlike a post-Apocalyptic world that is both serene and eery and full of a loneliness I hadn’t known possible.

Twenty years later and I’m still surprised by the length of that day and how much I missed my Mom. I missed slicing apples and making pies while my sister chopped celery for the stuffing. (It was always my job to make the pies.) I missed the laughter in the kitchen. I missed my Grandmother’s constant wiping up water spots on the coffee table made by sweaty glasses of soda and cider and beer and wine. I even missed the bickering and the flare-ups of old family arguments that seem to only rear their head at holiday gatherings.

At 40-something, with two kids, and having spent more than my share of holidays at home with all our family here in Montana, you’d think I’ve be over the emotional trauma of that one singular day.

But each year, as we fall into Daylight Savings Time and the Holidays loom large, it always comes rushing back. And while it wasn’t clear to me then (or for years after, for that matter), I now realize the Truth of what that day was. That day was, by far, my most utterly grateful Thanksgiving because it made me truly aware of what’s important and worth being thankful for.

Wishing you a Thanksgiving filled with love and laughter and gratefulness …



Three of my favorite Thanksgiving Recipes:


*note: reprinted with permission from the Neighbors of South Bozeman Magazine, Nov. 2016 issue

Two More Days to Enter the November Giveaway! – (WINNER ANNOUNCED)

13 Nov

Thank you to everyone who visited my site, entered the giveaway and is making the switch to safer beauty and skincare! Check back soon because I’m going to announce another giveaway in the next few days!

The winner of the November Giveaway is …

Amy W!

Congratulations, Amy! I will contact you by email to arrange delivery of your prize!


November updates & giveaways … 

Are you kidding me that Thanksgiving is in ELEVEN DAYS?! This year has been whizzing by! It’s going to be 2017 before we know it!

First of all, THANK YOU to everyone who visited my site and chose to add some high-quality safe options to your self-care regimen.

April J. won last month’s giveaway of the Lip Gloss of her choice! I’ve got a NEW GIVEAWAY this month, too, so keep reading.


They’re Baaaack!!! The Beautycounter popular eye and brow pencils are back in stock. I know so many of you have been waiting patiently for them to return, so don’t delay in getting your hands on them now.


Have you started your Holiday Shopping yet? 

Beautycounter has some gorgeous options for you to get better, cleaner, safer beauty into the hands of the ones you love!  These are three of my favorites:

Kiss, Kiss Holiday Gift Set: ($40): 


The new limited edition Rose Lip Conditioner not only gives lips a pretty hint of pink, but also has a subtly sweet taste and scent. It comes paired with delicious, fresh Peppermint Lip Conditioner to help you get in the holiday spirit.

Made with Avocado oil, Shea Butter and Meadowfoam seed oil … Hydrate chapped lips or wear under your favorite lipstick for an even finish. Plus, it comes beautifully wrapped in our limited edition red gift box!

Love & Luster Gift Set ($88)

Just in the time for the holidays, this wishlist-worthy collection of four Glosses includes two NEW festive colors — Blossom, a pearly pink, and Sunshine, a sparkly gold — to add high-wattage luster to any look. It also includes Beautycounter favorites Dahlia and Ruby. Perfect for all your holiday events!

Made with carnauba wax, a Brazilian plant that promotes long-lasting shine and vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant with hydrating and skin-conditioning properties. Plus, it all comes beautifully wrapped in our exclusive holiday box. $116 value

And my third favorite (and not just because I love cute bags) …

The Jet-Set Gift Set ($58) bc-holiday-jet-set Simplify your packing process and elevate your daily regimen with this collection of “must-pack” staples made with safer ingredients. Gently cleanse, hydrate, and smooth on the road. Plus, we’ve thrown in a chic travel bag to carry your essentials and presented it all inside our exclusive holiday gift box. $94 value

(I think this would make a great gift for any holiday visitors!) 

Set includes:

  • Body Wash in Citrus Mimosa
  • Hydrating Body Lotion in Citrus Mimosa
  • Daily Shampoo and Conditioner
  • Charcoal Cleansing Bar
  • Travel Bag

PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT (November Giveaway Details):

Because I’m feeling exceptionally holiday-ish, this month I am giving away a NAUGHTY TO NICE HOLIDAY GIFT SET to one lucky client or member!


Created without harsh ingredients that can be overly drying to skin, these little ‘lumps’ of coal are pretty much the best gift you can give your skin this season. Charcoal absorbs impurities and purifies congestion without drying out skin. Use these staples as part of your beauty routine for smoother, brighter, younger-looking skin in less than 15 minutes. This giftable duo comes in special holiday sizing and is packaged inside a limited edition red box. (Valued at $48)


All you have to do is place an order of any size between now and November 15th and you’re ENTERED TO WIN!**  and if you purchase any one of the Holiday Gift Sets, you will receive AN EXTRA ENTRY!


Who do you know that needs safer skin care and/or cosmetics in their life? Send them my way and when they make a purchase before November 15th, you’ll get an extra ticket in the drawing for the Naughty to Nice Holiday Gift Set.

(NOTE: You’ll have to let me know who you shared this with so I can keep track of your entries. So … just send me a note with your friend’s name & email and when I see their order come in … BAM! The extra entry is yours!)

Thank you so much for joining me in this movement. Please don’t ever hesitate to ask any questions you might have.

Cheers to better beauty!


**Giveaway closes November 15, 2016 at 11:59 pm PDT


if I’m honest …

19 Oct

I just totally overshared and re-wrote the O’Mamas About Page … it’s a total overshare. But it’s important as I’m exploring the future of this page and of our lives … the experience of building an organic and sustainable life …

I want O’Mamas to be a place where we can all overshare about this experience of living an organic, clean, simple and sustainable life … being an organic mama … being a woman who cares about the health and happiness and consciousness of my family, my friends, my neighbors and the world around me…

I hope you’ll check it out.

A new Giveaway!

2 Oct

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway and made the switch to better beauty! AND THE WINNER OF THIS MONTH’S BEAUTYCOUNTER LIP GLOSS GIVEAWAY IS …

… April J!

(April, I’ll be contacting you directly to find out what color lipgloss is on its way to you!)


Firstly, first … I promise that O’Mamas isn’t going to become an outlet just for my current Beautycounter fetish. But I am loving this company. I am loving these products. And I won’t deny that some of that has to do with the fact that I always had shiny and soft hair … That is … until I started using “healthy” hair products … and that made me sad. I missed my shiny soft hair.  And now I don’t have to be bummed! Because the Beautycounter products actually work … really well!

So do me a favor and don’t be judge-y about my decision to tell you about a direct marketing company on this site. Just open your mind and check them out for yourself. You will be doing you and your loved ones a huge favor to use non-toxic beauty products THAT ACTUALLY DO WHAT THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO! We ALL deserve #betterbeauty.

So … that said … THANK YOU to everyone who visited my site and chose to add some high-quality safe options to your self-care regimen. A few of you snapped up my free giveaway of a Beautycounter favorite: the Lengthening Mascara!  I’ve got a NEW GIVEAWAY this month, too, so keep reading.

If you’ve been to your local Target and wandered the beauty aisle, no doubt you’ve seen the gorgeous Beautycounter display. And when you make your Target Beautycounter purchase, you receive a special gift code.

Why use it? Because from now until October 9th, Beautycounter will send you a full-sized $68 FACE OIL of your choice for FREE with any $100 purchase.* Select from Hydrating, Soothing or Balancing.


And if you use your Target Gift Code on my site, you’ll be entered into this month’s GIVEAWAY!



Meet Beautycounter’s Lip Gloss. This best-seller comes in 6 flattering shades (my favorites are Peony and Opal … and one day I’ll be brave enough to wear Fig!). The best things about this gloss? It goes on smoothly with no stickiness, and its unique teardrop applicator delivers the perfect amount of sheer, infinitely wearable color and subtle shine.

All you have to do is place an order of any size  between now and October 15th and you’re ENTERED TO WIN the Beautycounter Lip Gloss color of your choice!

So, let me break this down for you: If you head over to beautycounter.com/jeannegaisford now with your Target code and you place an order of $100 or more, you’re going to get a beautiful Face Oil AND you’ll be entered in my giveaway for the Lip Gloss.


Who do you know that needs safer skin care and/or cosmetics in their life? Send them my way and when they purchase, you’ll get an extra ticket in the drawing for the Lip Gloss of your choice!

Thank you so much for joining me in this movement. Please don’t ever hesitate to ask any questions you might have.

Cheers to better beauty!



*Gift with purchase is available only with valid Target promotional code. Face Oil gift with purchase is valid from 12:01 AM PDT on Monday, September 26, 2016 until Sunday, October 9, 2016 at 11:59 PM PDT. Qualifying purchases of $100 do not include tax or shipping. Offer not transferable or interchangeable. Limit one Face Oil gift with purchase. Only available while supplies last. No exceptions will be granted. Offer valid for Clients and Members only. Cannot be combined with other offers. Offer subject to change. Offer only available in the US on Beautycounter.com and Consultant PWS. Not available BTC. If purchasing as part of a social, the order must be processed on Beautycounter.com or a Consultant’s PWS as an individual order attaching to the Social.

how to ripen tomatoes so they are as sweet as if they were vine ripened

19 Sep

We’re about to hit a cold snap and my garden is not ready for it. And I’m not sure I am, either!

I read today that we’re in for freezing/cold rain and temps in the 40s and low 50s starting Wednesday. So regardless of my emotional readiness, all those beautiful green tomatoes on the vine? They are going to be super unhappy.


But I’m going to share a few secrets I’ve been acquiring these past few years living above the 45th parallel so that I’ll be enjoying sweet tomatoes through the first or second week of October.

First thing I did this morning after feeding, watering and releasing our chickens was pick all the yellowish and orange almost-ripe tomatoes from the garden Then I put them in a pretty bowl on the credenza in our dining room … RIGHT NEXT TO a BIG BOWL OF APPLES.


Have you ever noticed how fast your bananas go brown when they are in a bowl with a few apples?Here’s why: Apples of nearly all variety release a hormone that will ripen almost any fruit or vegetable in the vicinity.

So I started keeping the apples in the dining room … to save the bananas because I was getting tired of making banana bread!

That’s also why we don’t store apples in the same room as our potatoes or garlic. It’s why when the avocados from the store are too hard, I pop them in a brown paper bag with a few apples to ripen them … it generally takes only a day or two to have perfect guac-ready avocados.)

It’s why when we DO store apples in the same place as any other fruit they have to be individually wrapped. But even then … those pesky apple hormones are strong. So we really DON’T store apples near other foods.

Which is why we are now storing the not-quite-ripe-tomatoes in the dining room, next to our big bowl of apples. It does wonders to the almost ripe tomatoes that will suffer most if we dip below freezing for a few days in a row. In a few days, I’ll have bright red beautiful tomatoes that will be perfect to make some of our favorite tomato sauce.

But what of those precious little greenies on the vine?


Three days with lows in the high-freezing will NOT be good for these sweeties. I could wrap the tomatoes and hope for the best.

Or I could look at the long-term forecast and realize that this cold snap may very well be the beginning of the end of the incredible summer we were blessed with this year … in which case, it’s time to pull the plants.

But I refuse to give up on the tomatoes.

I’m friends with a lot of farmers and homesteaders. I am not afraid to admit when I don’t know something. So I ask a lot of questions.

Two years ago I got some incredibly useful advice from my friend Jenny at Sabo Ranch. She said that if the tomatoes aren’t ready to pick (aka, they are super green and won’t ripen in the bowl to sweet garden goodness), then pull the ENTIRE PLANT and then HANG THEM UPSIDE DOWN in a protected area (greenhouse, garage, garden shed, etc …). Apparently, there are still nutrients and goodness in the roots when they are pulled, and if you put the plants upside down, that goodness will travel down the stems and into the tomatoes …

I’ve never taken pictures of it … maybe I’ll do that this year and share them on Facebook or Instagram? (Not sure I’m ready to share an image of our over-crowded garage shrouded in upside-down tomato plants.)

This will be my third year following her advice and I’ll tell you this … it has increased my tomato yield by at least a third each year. Our summer is just not long enough for all the tomatoes I want to grow! And now I don’t have to let them freeze on the vine.

And that just plain makes me happy.


a beautycounter giveaway to get things going …

16 Sep

From now until November 5th, or while supplies last, Beautycounter is at Target in special, limited-edition sizes. In addition, there are THREE products exclusively for Target.

This partnership is going to be instrumental in raising awareness for our mission of getting safer products into the hands of EVERYONE. And if you make a $20 Beautycounter purchase this week, Target will give you a $5 gift card. Awesome, right?!

BUT … if you use your $5 gift card on my site …


… you will be entered into a GIVEAWAY* for a full-size Lip Conditioner (peppermint) OR a Lengthening Mascara!! Your choice!

lip-conditioner-in-peppermint lengthening-mascara

And if you refer a friend who uses her gift card on my site? I’ll add an extra entry for you! (send me an email and let me know who you referred!)

Let’s do this … let’s use this incredible opportunity to cleaner, safer and better beauty into the hands of the people we love! Share and tag your friends!

*Drawing will be held on November 6th, 2016.

beautycounter … because another part of my life needed a clean makeover

12 Sep

You’re here (thank you, by the way!), so you know I’m passionate about living a simple, clean, sustainable life … one that is unprocessed, free of toxins, preservatives, chemicals, poisons and additives. I’m obsessed with the food we eat (how and where it’s grown/raised/processed), the way we garden, the way we live …

But the place where I was totally letting myself (and my family) down? Make-up and beauty products. (And now maybe you’re sort of laughing because getting beauty tips from someone who uses egg-white soap and coconut oil as her skin-care regime and only wears mascara and eyeliner once or twice a month and lip-gloss only a little more frequently is kind of laughable).

I am so on it when it comes to feeding my family good food and making sure there’s no poison in our garden.  I’ve got unsprayed organic straw as insulation for our chicken coop so the pesticides to make it into our backyard eggs. I know the farmers who raise the meat for our freezer or fill our milk jugs and know they don’t spray their fields so the grass the animals are eating is all organic goodness.

But I am totally guilty of half-a$$ing it when it comes to beauty products. Sure, I buy paraban-free shampoo. I make sure if we do put on sunscreen that it’s approved by the non-profit watchdog group www.ewg.org. But I’m a complete failure when it comes to make-up. I have been totally lazy about it. With my lack of beauty routine blindly I figured I can’t be getting THAT much exposure. NOTE: It’s not like I need to be “done” in the morning homeschooling and caring for chickens.

Then I read that there are thousands of cancer-causing, hormone-disrupting, potentially toxic ingredients in daily-use beauty products and only ELEVEN of them are banned in the United States (1,400 are banned in the European Union and Beauty Counter has taken things further, banning 1,500 harmful ingredients from their products).

So if at that moment in your life one of your favorite yoga teachers shows back up in your life with mascara that’s not going to poison you? And it actually works! And feels good? And does make your lashes look longer? (Thank you, Jen!) … Oh … and it’s from a company that’s partnered with and approved by one of my favorite watch-dog non-profits, www.EWG.org?


Maybe that’s a good time to start listening … and start learning … and start sharing.

If you know me at all you know how uncomfortable I am about multi-level marketing companies. Not that I don’t like the products … I LOVE my essential oils. My sister-in-law swears by  her Keto-lifestyle. But the “selling” is really a challenge for me. I’m struggle with the idea of “building a team” or “trying to recruit you.” Because I want you to know that if we’re hanging out, it’s not because I want to sell you something, it’s because I truly want to hang out with you! I’m simply letting you know where I am on the path to create the life I want for our family.

All that said … I am going to admit that at very long last I’ve found a company that seems to reflect all the things I tout on this blog and in my life, one that encourages a clean and simple life that helps reduce the toxins in our home and does it fairly and with integrity … so without further fanfare, I’m joining a B E A U T Y + R E V O L U T I O N!

And I’m here to help you if YOU want to join the revolution, too!

So … Take a moment to consider your make-up and personal beauty products … decide for yourself if you’re exposing yourself or your loved ones to chemicals that don’t belong in your body. And if it’s time for you to switch things up … click the link, or direct message me for more information!



plain & chocolate mini cheesecake bites (GF, refined sugar-free, paleo-friendly)

7 Apr

I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for something I can bring to a potluck that’s going to tasty AND good for you AND look cute on a serving dish. (Should I not admit that? I mean … don’t you like it when stuff looks cute?)

Listen … I am not above bringing boxed brownies on occasion because the Ghirardelli Brownie Mix at Costco is just kind of perfectly easy (I sub coconut oil and use eggs from our backyard chickens so there not as bad as they could be, I guess …)

But if I want to bring something that looks and tastes good, and my gluten-free friends can enjoy, these are my go-to.

At least they are now.

NOTE TO SELF: Apparently a little recipe testing apparently goes a long way because these Grain Free, Refined Sugar Free, Paleo-friendly dessert bites don’t feel like they are missing any of the decadence of any other sugar and grain-laden dessert. And that makes me happy. Especially the plain ones. The chocolates are good. But the plain ones … yeah … I can’t be alone near the dessert table when there’s mini cheesecake bites.


Plain and Chocolate Cheesecake Bites



  • 1 c. hazelnut meal (or almond meal)
  • 1 TBLS pure maple powder
  • 3 TBLS melted butter


  • 16 oz cream cheese (two 8-ounce packages)
  • 2 tsp. stevia
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 large eggs (room temp)
  • 1 TBLS raw cacau

Whipped topping:

  • 8  oz whipping cream
  • 1/4 tsp. stevia
  • 1/8 tsp. vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F)

Line two mini-muffin tins with 24 muffin liners

First comes the crust: Stir together all the dry ingredients and then dd melted butter. Mix until thoroughly combined

Add one heaping teaspoon to each liner and press down into the liner. (Reserve leftover crust mix to sprinkle on top of the cupcakes.)

Bake for 8-10 minutes (until very lightly browned).

Remove from the oven and cool while preparing the filling.

For the filling: In a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and stevia at medium speed until light and creamy.  Add the vanilla and salt. Then beat in the eggs on low, until well incorporated.

At this point, using about half of the batter, fill the liners of ONE of the mini-cupcake tins with the plain cheesecake batter. If you’re only making plain cheesecakes, fill the second tin. If you’re looking for a mix of chocolate and plain, replace the bowl of the stand mixer and to the second half of the mixture add the cacau. Mix until well-blended and then fill the second tin’s liners with the chocolate batter.

Bake for 10 minutes or until the centers of the cheesecakes don’t jiggle when the pan is tapped. Open the oven door (at least 1 foot wide) and let the cheesecakes cool to room temperature – about 1.5 hours.

For the whipped topping, combine the heavy cream, stevia and vanilla in a clean stand mixer bowl and whip until peaks form. I load the whipped cream into a ziplock bag, cut the end off one corner and then use my pseudo pastry bag to top each mini-cupcake and then sprinkle with just a pinch of the reserved crust crumble.


Refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Happy pot-lucking!


Banana Oat Breakfast Cookies (dairy free, gluten free)

10 Mar

banana oat cookies

I was looking to make an easy on-the-go nourishing breakfast treat to get us out the door for skiing this season because the truth is getting chores done and out the door by 7:30 am on any given Saturday isn’t the easiest for this family.

And these breakfast cookies take all of 5 minutes to mix and 18 minutes in the oven so they totally fits the bill.

(The kids can even help make these … yay! Teaching moment — fractions made easy and fun and the reward is a tasty treat when all is said and done!)

teaching moment

Also, when you eat as many bananas as we do, you’re sure to have a few over-ripe ones every now and again, so this is an excellent way to put them to tasty use.

banana oat cookies in the bowl


  • 3 over-ripe Bananas
  • 1 1/2 c. Rolled Oats
  • 1/4 c. Raw Chia Seeds
  • 1/2 c. Chopped Walnuts (I’ve also been known to add pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and or chopped hazelnuts … so long as the nuts add up to about 1/2 cup, it’s all good)
  • 1/3 c. Dried Fruit of Choice (we used tart cherries today but I’ve also made them with dates, blueberries, apricots and raisins)
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 c. to 1/3 c. Grade B Maple Syrup (most people like them sweeter than we do, so I figured the nutrition using caloriecount.com using 1/3 cup of syrup)


Preheat oven to 360 degrees (F).

Mash the bananas. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until well-combined.

Spoon “cookies” onto a parchment covered cookie sheet.

Makes 14-16 Tablespoon-sized cookies.

Bake for 18 minutes.

Breakfast-on-the-go … an easy snack … a treat for your next potluck. Woohoo!

banana oat cookies nutrition

changes at O’Mamas

2 Mar

Ahhhh growing pains …

We’re going through some changes at O’Mamas.

Nothing that’ll blow your mind.

We’re still committed to organic gardening, good and good for you food, simplicity and sustainability. But Abby’s spending a lot more of her time on her photography business and less time here.

She took these pics of our littles just before Thanksgiving …



I love that Abby captures their personalities perfectly in this photo.

So if you’re local (in Montana in the Gallatin Valley or in the Dallas, Texas area) and are looking for a family photo, or your kid needs a senior casual, or your daughter-in-law is about to give birth and you want perfectly precious photos of your grandchild … you need to contact Abby. Schedule a session and mention this O’Mamas post and Abby said she’ll include 3 extra digital photos in the deal.




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