Thursday, March 31, 2011

Burp Cloths - reasons, uses and giveaway!

I am a fan of the burp cloth, my favorite are ones that are creamy in color so spit up blends in! I recently started making organic burp clothes with my cute embroidery and found myself with two extras. This blog gives reasons to own burp cloths, uses for them while you have an infant and beyond and then how to enter in the giveaway to win one of mine. There will be two winners!

10 Reasons for Burp Cloths
1. So you do not have to change your shirt or walk around smelling like a dairy
2. To clean up little baby messes
3. To clean up not-so-little mommy messes
4. To have the freedom of handing baby off to a well meaning person and not worry about baby spitting up all over their nice clothes! Let’s face it, sometimes we don’t care when it is our clothes but if it is someone else...
5. It fits nicely in your purse or diaper bag
6. A cover-up for nursing mommies on the go
7. A small car blanket for rainy or cold days
8. Fabric to prop up baby’s head when she falls asleep in the car seat or stroller
9. An emergency diaper changing pad
10. All the complements you will get because the burp cloth is just SO cute!

No More Baby, What Now?
1. Old burp cloths can have several uses outside of the norm. Here are my favorites,
2. Security blanket
3. Bath time wash cloth
4. Playground wipe - we live in a misty coastal beach town so our playground always has water on the slide and swings. We have to be savvy and carry around a towel to the park, these are nice and small and are already in your play bag!
5. Picnic napkins
6. And finally for the burp cloths that had too much love they can be used as cleaning towels.

Here is how to win one of my bumble bee burp cloths pictured on my page.

For Current Followers -
All you have to do is comment below that you want to be entered. To be entered twice all you have to do is suggest my blog to a friend and they follow me and then comment below that you sent them!
For Newbies (non-followers) -
It is simple, follow my blog and leave a comment below saying how you found me.

The deadline to enter is Saturday at midnight (Pacific Time), the winners will be announced on Sunday morning.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Let Me Hear You WINE!

After a long difficult day there are a few simple things I love, a soft kiss hello from my husband, a comforting dinner and a nice glass of wine. Don’t judge me, it is not every night that I uncork but once a week or so I enjoy a grape with full body and a nice nose. I live in wine country and my husband and I love to take a day every once in a while to stop in at the local wineries. As I greened my life I began to look at that once beautiful glass of Pinot Noir as a cup full of pesticides. Once I began to research grapes I found that they are one of the most pesticide ridden fruits on the market. I could not give up my friend Chardonnay so I had to come up with a solution - organic wines.

“Studies show that wine grapes are bombarded with a medley of poisons. In fact, 17 different insecticides, herbicides, and fumigants are used in wine production, many containing possible carcinogens. In California, where 90 percent of domestic wines are produced, grapes receive more pesticides than any other crop: 59 million pounds in 1995 alone, according to Californians for Pesticide Reform.” – Frey Vineyards

Organic wines are harder to find but once you know to look for them you will begin to see a few options at each store. The hardest part about locating these wines is figuring out which are friendly green. Organic wines rarely have their own section at the market so you have to either know your brands or search through each bottle looking for “made with organically grown grapes” on the label.

If you have a Trader Joes in your area they have a few options, most of them are very cost effective at under $10. My favorite has the cheesy name of “Our Daily Red”, I also like the wines from Chile. If you have a Whole Foods they carry more organic options but they usually stay local to your area so naming brands may not help you. If you happen to live in Northern California you can message me for my favorites! Here are some reasons why you should drink organic wine.

It Tastes Better
I am a wine snob! Living in wine country it just happens to you over time. Even with my snobbery I love organic wines. They have more flavor because they are closer to nature. My favorite local winery is Heller in Carmel Valley, they have the best Merlot you will ever taste!

Fewer Sulfites
If you have headaches or a rash from wine most likely it is from the sulfites. These nasty buggers also increase hang over risk. One of the great things about organic wine is it has fewer sulfites,
“Organic wines contain less sulfites then traditional wines. Sulfites are a salts or sulfurous acids that occur naturally in many wines. It is vary rare to find a wine that does not have sulfites. Added sulfites are generally used for preservation of wines. 100% Organic wines are made with no added sulfites. The less sulfites a wine contains, the healthier it will be for your body.” -

The Greater Good
Choosing organic wines helps the areas of our planet that grow our grapes. Organic wines are not just better for you, they are better for the planet.
“In addition to the risk of pesticide exposure to us, the consumers, there are many good reasons to support the organic wine industry: Pesticide residues contaminate ground water, kill wildlife, and put farm workers at a higher risk for cancer. Many EPA-approved pesticides were registered before health risks were known and there is a growing concern that pesticide residues can accumulate over-time and cause health problems. While many vineyards are using fewer pesticides, it is clear that most are not." -

The Downsides
The nature of organic prevents wines from aging well so organic wines will be young. If the bottle says 2009, it’s okay! The other downside is cost. Unless you have a market like the two I mentioned above you might pay $5-15 more per bottle. Also, just like any indulgence it is best to drink our wine in moderation. All these considered I still love my organic wine, now let me hear you wine!

Web Resources top_3_reasons_why_you_should_drink_pg2.html?cat=22

Monday, March 28, 2011

I'm SO Spicy!

This blog is dedicated to why I love spices. The doctors never gave us a diagnosis to our infertility, the answer was just no. Dealing with infertility was very hard and after three years I am just now giving up, however, the one of the worst parts for me was the chronic pain not having a name. Each cycle I would deal with sharp pains in my lower abdomen. The episodes came randomly but were very painful. The doctors had ideas about what it could be but never a definitive answer. Dealing with pain on a regular basis was not how I wanted to live my life so I started trying different alternative medicines. I researched which foods help with circulation and cramping and began to practice yoga along with occasional acupuncture. I am happy to say that for the last year I have been almost pain free! I think it was a combination of everything I am doing but the spices could have helped. Here are my favorites with the research I found.
Besides its wonderful taste cinnamon has many health properties. It is often used in alternative medicine to help with conditions ranging from menstrual cramps to nausea to circulation. Recently, there have been scientific studies to determine if cinnamon is helpful with chronic health problems. They did find a connection between cinnamon and blood sugar. After 40 days people found benefits with diabetes and high cholesterol. ( I like to add cinnamon to most breakfast foods like oatmeal, cereal, french toast, and pancakes. I also like to top off my coffee with a little sprinkle. 
This very brightly colored spice is used in many Indian and Thai dishes. If you order a yellow curry this is the spice creating that vibrant yellow color. Turmeric is a root that looks very similar to ginger but most of the time it is sold as a powder. I add this spice to most of my savory foods and I hide it in all my sauces. Although it is bright in color it’s flavor can be easily masked. I add this regularly to potatoes, eggs, soup, sauces, Mexican foods, and all my Asian or Indian dishes. Turmeric is used in alternative medicines to help with MANY issues including circulation, inflammation, pain, depression, arthritis, and it is a natural antiseptic. You can read an article at which has 20 reasons to add it to your diet.
Cayenne Pepper
I am in love with hot spicy food, the hotter the better! I get funny looks from Thai and Indian restaurants when I ask them to make my food extra spicy. I can almost hear them thinking, “that white girl is going to eat MY spicy food? Ya right! I’ll give her spicy and watch her sweat.” Much to their surprise they bring the food and I happily eat it with out milk or bread. I noticed years ago that if I ate spicy food when I was in pain from an issue such as a sunburn then the pain would temporarily go away. I even read an article a long time ago on midwives who were using natural capaicin as a pain reliever in childbirth. I included a recent article in the resource section that talks about that subject.
    Most people do not have my tolerance for hot food but for those of you who enjoy a little hot then this is the spice for you! Cayenne pepper is bright red and does not have a lot of flavor, it is mostly just hot. However, even with out the addition of a flavor boost there are many reasons to add this to your food.
“The main medicinal properties of cayenne are derived from a chemical called capsaicin. Capsaicin is the ingredient which gives peppers their HEAT. A pepper's capsaicin content ranges from 0-1.5%. Peppers are measured according to heat units. The degree of heat determines the peppers' usage and value. Generally, the hotter the pepper, the more capsaicin it contains. In addition to adding heat to the pepper, capsaicin acts to reduce platelet stickiness and relieve pain.” -

This root is more then just a Christmas time bread! It has many confirmed medicinal properties as well as a great flavor. Most of the time you find this spice in powder form but my favorite is root. I grate the root just like you would cheese and sprinkle it into pancake batter, oatmeal and muffins. My acupuncturist taught me a great trick with ginger root to help with cramping or my painful episodes. Boil water with a few cubes of ginger for a few minutes then take a small towel and soak it in the water, ring it out and apply it to the painful area. This really helps with “that time” or sore breasts. Here are some ginger facts, 
“Ginger has been well researched and many of its traditional uses confirmed. It is well known as a remedy for travel sickness, nausea and indigestion. It is a warming remedy, ideal for boosting the circulation, lowering high blood pressure and keeping the blood thin in higher doses. Ginger is anti-viral and makes a warming cold and flu remedy. Ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory herb and there has been much recent interest in its use for joint problems.” -


Web Resources

Article on peppers as pain relievers -

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Healthy Organic Baking

Okay, guilty as charged. I often disguise healthy ingredients in my baking. But when you have finicky eaters at home you have to be creative! Here are some of my favorite ways to bake in a healthy and organic way.
Ditch the Veggie Oil
Heavily processed and little to no nutritional value. Swap it out for a healthy oil or ditch it all together. My favorite healthy oil is coconut. It give so much flavor to pancakes, brownies and cakes. Here is why coconut oil is healthy,
“The health benefits of coconut oil include hair care, skin care, stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and cancer, dental care, and bone strength. These benefits of coconut oil can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, and its properties such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, soothing, etc.” -
I also love to use it in Asian dishes I create at home like stir fry or pot stickers. It usually comes in jars and in a solid form, heat will make it liquid. I like to use raw coconut oil, the closer you are to nature the more health benefits you receive. I also love olive oil. It has the good kind of fat that our bodies need, however, not so tasty in most baking situations...yep, I tried it more then once! Let’s just say that you learn from my mistake and leave the olive oil to other dishes.
The other option is to ditch oil in recipes all together and substitute another food. Applesauce works well for this option but only in cakes. I have tried to do this with cookies, it created a very weird consistency! My other favorite substitute is yogurt. This works well for brownies and pancakes.
Add a Ingredient...or Two
You can easily hide zucchini and carrots in your baking. I know it sounds weird but I have put zucchini into brownies, told no one, and everyone happily eats them! Just make sure to peel the skin off, once your child finds a piece of green in her brownie she will not eat them again! Carrots are harder to hide because of their color. I like to puree them and add to baked goods that already have color like gingerbread. The great thing about carrots is their sweetness, if you add this wonderful veggie you can cut your sugar amount.
Choose a Healthy Flour
Not all baking flours are the same. In fact, years ago the government mandated that vitamins and folic acid be added to white flour because it had little to no nutritional value and people were becoming sick. If you see the words “enriched” or “fortified” that means that the flour was not good enough to begin with. Here are some facts,
“The truth is, so many of the good things that were originally in it have been stripped out through refinement that they HAD to add a little something back in. Now here’s the really scary part. What they are adding back into your flour is actually toxic!
Iron is one of the “nutrients” added back into enriched flour, except that the type of iron that is added in is not really a nutrient at all, but is considered a metallic iron. Metallic iron is obviously not available for use by the body, and was never meant to be consumed in the first place.
Enriched flour is absorbed by the body not as wheat or a grain, in which case your body could use the energy slowly and effectively, but as a starch. That is because the wheat germ has been stripped from the flour; the FDA specifically states that enriched flour cannot have greater than 5 percent wheat germ.” -
    My favorite baking flours are oat, quinoa, and coconut. I am always on the look out for new flours to play with. Here is the trick with alternative flours, I have noticed that they soak up more of the liquid then normal flour leaving the pastry on the dry side. To combat this problem I add a little extra of the liquid or I mix flours, 1/2 oat, 1/4 quinoa and 1/4 whole wheat. The other word of caution is with quinoa flour, if you only use this flour it leaves an “earthy” taste to the food. I suggest mixing this flour.
Trade Sugars
Granulated sugar is not healthy, the whiteness in the sugar is not natural and should make you cautious. Opt for cane sugar, it has a slight brown color and the sugar granules are bigger then white sugar. You can also substitute other sugars like honey or coconut sugar (are you noticing that I am in love with coconut?) Applesauce and pureed carrots can also be used to sweeten.
Wrap it up
So here it is, simple tips to make your pancakes, brownies, muffins and cupcakes a little more guilt-free. Let’s face it, life it too short to live with out these lovely pastries but making them contain some nutritional value is helpful to the whole family. If you want help with a certain recipe paste it in the comment box and I will help you out!

Web Resources

Favorite Brands
Bob’s Red Mill flours -
International Harvest Coconut Oil -
International Harves’s Lanka Sun Coconut Sugar -

Friday, March 25, 2011

Coffee - Friend or Foe?

My one true vice, coffee. I have at least one cup a day and not much you or anyone else can say about it will stop that habit. Just so you know, this post is PRO coffee but I will talk about how to be a wise consumer when it comes to this black liquid gold.
The Battle of Corporate Coffee
I know many people out there, especially where I live are anti corporate coffee. I sit on the fence. Years ago in my undergraduate work I had a part-time job at Starbucks. After working for this company I have to say that when it comes to large corporations they do it right. They treated me fairly, provided health insurance (and with only working part time) and were flexible around my school schedule. Looking back I can also say that it was a fun job, we laughed a lot and connected with our customers. We were like a small village in the middle of the huge Orange County. So those are the positives.
Here are the negatives about large companies like Starbucks (but not Starbucks specifically, there are others too). They buy very large quantities of pesticide grown coffees from overseas. Although Starbucks has a commitment to fair trade practices you can be assured that not every company does and there might be some seedy practices going on. Coffee is in the top most pesticide laden crop, right before cotton. Bad for earth, bad for your health and bad for baby’s health while you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Why green your entire life but continue to drink pesticides? So it is for this very simple fact that I try not to stop at Starbucks too often, they rarely have organic coffee choices and since 2007 they have not had organic milk.
It is easy to go organic with your coffee, almost every brand has an organic version. I have one of those fabulous Kuerig single serve machines, who is lovingly named Mo (as in mo’ coffee please!) even my machine has organic pod options.
Pros and Cons
Okay, so you go organic and fair trade on your coffee now here are the health positives and negatives about coffee consumption. Studies I have read over the years talk about how coffee jump starts your metabolism and keeps you regular. The common argument against coffee (especially for pregnant and nursing women) is connected to the caffeine. According to my resources they say that caffeine is okay in moderation and that its consumption did not show effects in fertility or pregnancy until levels reached 3-4 cups a day. Studies that have claimed there is a connection between pregnancy miscarriage or infertility due to caffeine consumption were showing a correlation not a causation. Here are the positives that The Fertility Diet says about coffee,
    “It is brimming with antioxidants and other biologically active substances, including caffeine. Several long-term studies have shown that coffee drinkers are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, gallstones and kidney stones, and possibly colon cancer.” - The Fertility Diet
Here are the negatives, “The main downsides of coffee drinking are caffeine addiction and the fats and calories that come with the sugar, cream, whipped cream, caramel and other toppings and flavorings now put in and on coffee.” - The Fertility Diet
So here is the deal with coffee, just like any food we indulge in do it in moderation. A cup of black coffee or coffee with milk in the morning will not hurt you, in fact it will help you. However, those ice blended monstrosities are not going to help you, those only hurt you! So in conclusion, here is my tribute to coffee. Dispelling all bad rumors and highlighting the good points. To a drink I love, thank you for loving me back.

Book Resources
Organic Baby, Simple Steps for Healthy Living by Kimberly Rider
The Fertility Diet by Jorge Chavarro MD, ScD and Walter Willett MD, DrPH

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Are You Going to Eat That? - Why I Pay More for Organic

You should know that I LOVE food. I often joke that with my admiration of food I should be 300 pounds! I love everything about food, shopping for food is an adventure for me, cooking food is an art form and going out to try new foods is a hobby. When I “greened” my life I had to switch over my eating habits. I thought I would only have to make small adjustments, and I first. I will begin to disclose mostly simple and a few not-so-simple organic food tips. In this blog I am going to talk about dairy, fruit, veggies and grains; the basics. Later I will blog about specifics like coffee, spices, meats, baking and wines.
I can skip candy, chips and soda but what I really love is fat. Jewish roots go deep and my family has to have the butter...on everything. I love sour cream, cheese, milk and anything fatty. The one exception is ice cream, which my stomach hates but my taste buds love. When it comes to dairy is pays to go organic. A few years ago the media shead light to the horrible effects of the synthetic growth hormone used in dairy cows on not just on the poor cows but on humans as well. We are not supposed to skip our teenage years but that is exactly what that hormone does to little Bessy, then it makes her produce much more milk then her body would normally. Now even conventional milk says something like “Our cows are not treated with the growth hormone rBGH”.
But before we rejoice there are a few more things to consider. The basic rule when it comes to dairy and meat is if the animal roamed freely and lived a happy life then it will taste better. If it was in a tiny metal stall standing in its own yuk then it will not taste as good. Organic cows are fed yummy organic grass, are free to travel around green pastures and produce as much milk as their bodies feel is right. An added bonus is with organic dairy you do not have to worry about antibiotics or other medicines invading your coffee with cream.
The simple step with dairy is to pay the extra $.50 to $1.00 and go organic. These days you can find organic dairy at Target! The bigger step is to go raw. I know I may have lost some of you with the “r” word, but raw has been bullied by the media and not for good reason. Many countries still drink raw dairy products with out the rigourous standards we have here and you never hear about people becoming ill or dying from a glass of milk! Another plus is raw milk has natural enzymes which help to break it down in your system. If you find your stomach reacting poorly to cow milk give raw a chance. I drink raw milk, I am lucky enough to buy it straight from the source at my local farmer’s market. Here is what my raw milk farmers have to say,
    “Every batch of milk is tested to exceed California Department of Food and Agriculture raw milk standards for market Grade A milk. State standards require that raw milk sold to consumers contain less than 15,000 bacteria count per milliliter.
Our milk is analyzed with an onsite state-of-the-art FOSS machine, or sent to an outside laboratory for Standard Plate Counts (SPC) to assure compliance with State of California raw milk standards. Our milking teams are so proud of our low bacteria counts, we put them on our Web site for everyone to see.” - Organic Pastures
Yes organic produce usually costs more but have you ever tasted organic fruit compared to regular? It has so much more flavor. That alone gets my vote. If you are on a budget here is the basic rule for fruit, if you eat the peel then buy organic. There are certain fruits that are very important because they are covered in pesticies and usually the farmer uses GMO seeds (genetically modified organism) which are not good. Those fruits are grapes, all berries and apples. Fruit with heavy peels like bananas and oranges do not matter as much but even my husband has noticed that organic oranges have more flavor and requests them when I go to Whole Foods.
The rule is the same as fruit with one exception, if you eat the peel then go organic. Veggies like avocados and onions are fine. The one exception is potatoes, those need to be organic.The veggies that are also important to buy organic are tomatoes and any leafy veggie like spinach and lettuce. My all time favorite organic veggie is heirloom tomatoes, add a little basalmic and you are in heaven!
Not all grains are counted the same. This is one section where I look more for the type of grain over organic. For breads the most healthy option is a sprouted grain like Ezekiel bread. There are also many “gluten free” options these days made with different flours like potato, brown rice and tapioca. If you think that you may have a wheat allergy there are some amazing bread choices these days, in fact, there is a whole aisle just for you at Whole Foods!
Rice is a different matter, for rice go organic. Rice crops can be heavily pesticide laden. I also urge you to explore outside of normal white rice and dive into wild and brown rices. There is a whole world of exciting and flavorful rice just waiting to be discovered. People usually shy away from these types of rice because they take longer to cook. In regards to rice, you do not want it to have a short cook time. If it does that means that the factory did something to the rice to make it cook faster like take it out of the husk. Rice takes a long time to cook for a reason, embrace the cooking time. I make short grain brown rice in large quantities and house the left overs in the refridgerator. The ratio is simple, 2 1/4 cup water to 1 cup of rice. This type of rice typically takes 30-40 minutes to cook but it reheats very well unlike jasmine rice that becomes hard. Give it a chance, I promise that the rice will be more flavorful. There are other wonderful grains like quinoa that have great properties but if you have a finicky eater at home like I do it is hard to mask something SO healthy!

Book Resources
Green Babies, Sage Moms by Linda Fassa
Ecoholic by Adria Vasil
Healthy Child Healthy World by Christopher Gavigan
Organic Baby, Simple Steps for Healthy Living by Kimberly Rider

Web Resources

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Items That Make Life Easier

My wonderful Psychologist husband tells me that if you think you have OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) then you don’t. However, if I could pick an area that I fall into an OCD panic about it would be researching and choosing all the baby products we need. I divided this blog into several parts because it would be ridiculously long if it remained in one piece. Here is how I broke it down,
Part 1 - Baby out on the town
Part 2 - Chemical free sleep
Part 3 - Why organic clothes?
Part 4 - Items that make life easier
Keep an eye out for the other sections, here is Part 4.

Items that make life easier
Years of being a nanny for children of all ages taught me basic survival skills. There are some little extras that we sit on the fence wondering if it is worth spending more money. Here are some of my eco-friendly favorites that are time tested and worth the extra cash.
Binky Leash
I cannot tell you how many pacifiers I have chased after as they roll away from me. They always seem to be everywhere that you are not, I move the couch and there’s a binky, I clean out the car and under the seat is a binky, I am searching in my purse for mints and there is a binky. The other common scenario is you are with baby who is ill-tempered for what ever reason, you give them the binky only to have it thrown and now you have a dirty binky. Depending on your experience with children you may choose to hide the binky and search for a clean one or brush off the dirt, wash it off with water from your drinking bottle and hand it back to her. To save myself from this seemingly never ending battle of the binky I began to make and carry with me at all times the binky leash. They come in different forms but the idea is always the same, one end attaches to baby and the other end to the pacifier. With binky leashes it is worth spending a little extra to get one that is organic. If you are going through all the trouble of greening your food, home and clothes then the last thing you will want is baby sucking on the chemical filled and toxic binky leash. Also, buy one that is machine me!
Dropper Stopper
A while ago I came across a wonderful invention called a Dropper Stopper. It is the same idea as the binky leash but it is for bottles and toys and it is mainly used with a stroller or car seat. I tried to make similar items before but this was was different. The end that attaches to the bottle or toy had a mesh fabric on the inside making it slip resistant even with a bottle covered in condensation. Since we went with the very healthy glass bottles these leashes are a must have. It saves you from the “Ah Oh” game!
Baby Legs - Leg Warmers
Remember those awesome leg warmers we all wore in the 80’s and early 90’s? Well they are out of the ballet studio and back in a very cool way. Baby Legs makes these amazing and adorable baby leg warmers which are helpful in more ways then fashion. These are great when you have baby in the carrier because they do not bunch up and leave part of baby’s leg exposed. They are also helpful when your outfit for the day is destroyed, you can pull out a pair of these and baby still looks cute. I like to use them in the winter or on rainy days as a type of layering. They come in all types of patterns and colors. Why choose Baby Legs over a different brand? They do not get those annoying fabric balls, they stay up on baby’s leg and they offer many organic options.
Wet Wipes
Not the most earth friendly invention but so helpful. To make these more green for health and for earth pick certain brands. If you think about it, you only use toilet paper when you use the restroom so why are you putting wet chemicals on your baby? The problem with wet wipes, other then the environmental impact are chemicals and toxins again invading your baby’s system. Your baby does not need anything anti-bacterial or fragranced. In fact, wet wipes could be causing your baby’s rash.
    According to, “Conventional wipes may also contain synthetic     fragrances as well as parabens, known endocrine disrupters that are not only detrimental to human health, but also destructive to animal hormones and development. Fragrances are volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which add to air pollution, are persistent in the environment, and contaminate waterways and aquatic wildlife. An estimated 5.72 million Americans have skin allergies to fragrance, while around 72 percent of those suffering from asthma claim that their condition can be triggered by synthetic fragrance.”
Taking all this into account the facts are, they make life easier and they make baby’s bottom smell better.  So here is a compromise, skip the normal wipes and opt for brands like Seventh Generation who use only healthy ingredients. Once you get a wet wipe that is free of toxins you can wipe the food off of baby’s face and clean up the spittle on your shirt with a clean green conscious.
Wet Bags
If you are part of the cloth diapering brigade then you already know the importance of wet bags but for everyone else, here are some other uses. Wet bags are made of water resistant (no plastic please) fabric and are great when baby spills liquid down her shirt and now you have to do a wardrobe change. They are also great for those times when one diaper was just not enough to hold everything. Try to find wet bags that are water resistant but machine washable, if you buy these you can throw the whole bag in the washing machine so you do not have to unearth the mess. Kushies brand makes fun designs that are PVC, BPA, Lead and Phtalate free.
Snack Sized To Go Boxes
Plastic bags, they are everywhere. In high school I noticed that my sandwich would smell and taste like the zip bag it was housed in, especially on hot days. Even then before I knew about chemicals I knew that was gross and switched to wax bags. Years later we know what the culprit was for that smell and taste. Not all plastics are counted equal and not all of them are bad news. In fact, for a mommy on the go plastic is helpful.     
       Here are the good plastics from “#1 -- Used for soda and water bottles. It is meant for one-time use, so don't refill these bottles. #2 -- Milk bottles. This type of bottle is safe. #4 -- Squeezable bottles. This type of plastic is safe. #5 -- Food containers such as yogurt, butter and other condiments. This plastic is safe. #7 -- Unbreakable water bottles. This plastic has been known to leach Bishpenol A (BPA) and should be avoided.”
Honestly, I can never remember which are good and which are bad so I stick with brands I trust or forgo the plastic all together. To avoid plastic bags switch to wax bags but make sure you do not get paraffin wax bags, that is still an evil chemical. You can also purchase plastic alternatives, thankfully this is a growing market and they are increasingly easier to find. I love the glass water bottles from Life Factory, they also make baby bottles. They have a cute but functional design and the glass is wrapped in a silicone sleeve to prevent cracks and breaks. The other must have are bento boxes from Laptop Lunches. They are the good kind of plastic, rarely leak and come in fun colors. I love these for packing baby snacks like raisins or crackers.

Web Resources
How to Identify Good & Bad Plastic Bottles |  /how_5004337_identify-good-bad-plastic-bottles.html#ixzz1HLl9obrH

Monday, March 21, 2011

Why Organic Clothes?

My wonderful Psychologist husband tells me that if you think you have OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) then you don’t. However, if I could pick an area that I fall into an OCD panic about it would be researching and choosing all the baby products we need. I divided this blog into several parts because it would be ridiculously long if it remained in one piece. Here is how I broke it down,
Part 1 - Baby out on the town
Part 2 - Chemical free sleep
Part 3 - Why organic clothes?
Part 4 - Items that make life easier
Keep an eye out for the other sections, here is Part 3.

Why Organic Clothes?
You may be thinking, the baby wont eat the clothes so why pay more for organic? I know the trials of choosing which items to pay more for when you are shopping for baby. As I have stated in my other blogs I am a bargain shopper and love a good deal. However, when it comes to the cloth your baby sleeps on or wears I ask you to consider not cutting corners. Organic clothes are not only important to the environment but also to baby, here is why.
The Farmer Wins Too
The farming of organic cotton promotes healthy soil. In addition, although the farmer may take a hit initially he will make more money in a few years if he continues to farm organically. The abandonment of the pesticides will help the surrounding communities to have better air and ground water. Better for the planet!
If Baby Wears it, She will Eat it!
Just because baby is wearing the hat does not mean it wont eventually go in her mouth! According to Green Babies, Sage Moms by Linda Fassa, pesticides are found in baby poo so even if you are nursing your baby and eating organically she can still be effected from pesticides. The effects of these pesticides are still being researched but constant exposure have been linked to allergies, ADD and autism. An added bonus is organic clothing usually is naturally dyed (like veggie or mineral dyes) which are good enough to eat. This means you can let baby teeth on it, wash with it, or sleep on it with out worrying about her ingesting harmful chemicals, synthetic dyes, or plastic based cloth.
The Dirty Truth About Cotton
Here are the facts, “White fluffy cotton may look like the height of purity, yet conventional cotton is anything but. Cotton is the 2nd most pesticide-laden crop on the market, right after coffee and before tobacco. Worse, the pesticides used on cotton crops are some of the most hazardous around. 5 of the top 9 pesticides applied to cotton crops in the US - cyanide, dicofol, naled, propargite, and trifluralin - are classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as Category I and II, the most dangerous. All are known to cause cancer.” - Organic Baby, Simple Steps for Healthy Living by Kimberly Rider
    Organic clothing has fewer chemicals on it when you buy it from the store. If you pick up a cotton shirt right out of the package and it has a soft, slippery feel that feeling is from chemicals used to soften the fabric and make it flame retardant.  These chemicals usually include petroleum products, stain retardants, ammonia, bleach and formaldehyde. Sometimes organic fabric feels less soft then non-organic but the nature of cotton is it wears in to be soft. Remember how mom told you to wash your new clothes before you wear them? She was right, if you knew how many chemicals, people or animals (YUK!) touched your clothes before you took it home you would think twice before washing it just once! 
Wash After Wash it Wears Better
I have noticed that organic clothing is better made and lasts longer. This is just my observation. My organic clothing washes better and keeps from getting those annoying little fabric balls. The exception to this rule is bamboo. I have noticed that jersey knit fabric made from bamboo will get those fabric balls, it is best to stick with a bamboo blend if you are buying jersey knit.
So What is a Green Guru To Do?
Okay, so I know you will make the argument that children grow too fast to spend too much money on clothing and you are right. So here is what I suggest, buy items that are stretchy so they can be worn for a long time. If you look at my Etsy store I make little apron dresses that can be worn as dresses and then as tops making them last for at least 6-9 months. Look for items that have long torsos, are made from stretchy fabrics like jersey knits and have either drawstrings or elastic. These are rules I follow when I create my clothes and it helps well made items to be worn for longer periods of time. Below I outline my favorite wallet saving shops and brands.
      You can also start a healthy mommy borrowing group. This works well for those of you who are blessed to get pregnant for maternity clothes. To start a group you can look at your church or temple or here locally we have a good network of women at Parent’s Place. In this group you can swap gently used clothes of one size for another box of the size you need. Boxes of clothes get passed from one family to another and it all works out even in the end.
Wallet Friendly Organic Clothes
Etsy. There are several amazing women who hand crochet or knit adorable little organic sweaters and sell them at reasonable price points ($25-50). I buy ones that wrap or tie so they can be worn for long periods of time. Here locally I love to shop at Sprout Boutique in Pacific Grove, the ladies there are amazing women and mommies. They support local artists and carry many organic or eco-friendly options. Lastly, online shops. I do not know what I did before Zulily. The idea is like Marshals or Ross, they sell the bulk left over from companies at a discount (usually 40% off). They often have one organic option each day. The only down side is the items take forever to get to you, I sometimes wonder if my package is being delivered by carrier pigeon! Just something to keep in mind, if you are buying an outfit for an event make sure you have at least 2 weeks if you are buying it on Zulily. I provided links to all these wonderful resources for you below.

Book Resources
Green Babies, Sage Moms by Linda Fassa
Ecoholic by Adria Vasil
Healthy Child Healthy World by Christopher Gavigan
Organic Baby, Simple Steps for Healthy Living by Kimberly Rider

Web Resources

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Chemical Free Sleep

My wonderful Psychologist husband tells me that if you think you have OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) then you don’t. However, if I could pick an area that I fall into an OCD panic about it would be researching and choosing all the baby products we need. I divided this blog into several parts because it would be ridiculously long if it remained in one piece. Here is how I broke it down,
Part 1 - Baby out on the town
Part 2 - Chemical free sleep
Part 3 - Why organic clothes?
Part 4 - Items that make life easier
Keep an eye out for the other sections, here is Part 2.

Chemical Free Sleep
Forget monsters under your bed, they are sleeping right beside you! So I “greened” the rest of the house, my food, my beauty products, even my clothes and breathed a sign of relief that I was all done. Nope, not finished at all because that night I climbed into a bed of toxins. As a couple we decided to share our bed with baby so co-habituating in a toxic mess is not what I planned. Those horrible radio mattress ads always remind me how gross a mattress can get, they talk about how they double in weight because of dust mites and your discarded skin cells. Of course they do not mention the flame retardant chemicals, formaldehyde, chlorine bleach and fabric softeners that they pack into our mattresses. All of this is disgusting, however, I can’t just run out and purchase a very expensive all organic mattress every time I get that “yuk” feeling. So I offer a few compromises to clean up your bed and baby’s crib.
Organic Mattress Toppers
You do not have to toss out your mattress and start all over again unless you have the money and the inclination. Instead purchase an organic mattress topper, they are much more cost effective and you can replace it every few years. These come in many different varieties but I like ones filled with wool because dust mites hate wool and it is water resistant (but not water proof). If you are allergic to wool don’t worry, it always has a thick organic cotton cover so your skin never comes in contact with the wool itself. Other options are organic cotton and natural latex. The last option, natural latex is the most expensive and the most luxurious. It acts like memory foam but with out the off gas fumes and harmful chemicals. We have a 3 inch wool mattress topper that I purchased from a lovely local store called Greenspace, their prices are the same or better then online retailers.
Organic Baby Sleep
If you do not have a family bed or co-sleeping arrangement then you will be creating a comfy bed for just baby. Eventually baby will have a bed of her own in our house (and having one now was required as part of our adoption home study) so I had to redo two beds in our house. Here is what I found about cribs.
First, just because it is for baby does not mean that the manufacturers eased up on the chemicals. Make sure you get a crib that has a non-toxic finish that you wont mind baby chewing. The safest, and most expensive, ironically is a crib with no finish or one that has been rubbed with beeswax or oil. These were out of our price range and I was not counting on baby using the crib until she is older so I purchased a non-toxic, formaldehyde free crib from Babyletto. What I love about the crib is that is converts from a crib to a toddler bed to a full sized bed. It was also in a affordable range, has a nice design, and is from sustainable resources. There are more expensive brands with the same idea that I also love like Stokke and Oeuf but this one made the most sense for us.
The Second thing I learned is organic baby mattresses are much more affordable then grown up organic mattresses. Since the price difference was not huge I bought an organic mattress, if you read the article in Healthy Child below it will scare you into an organic mattress as well! You can count on the fact that baby will have an accident in the bed fairly often make sure to get a mattress pad but please stay away from ones that are waterproof. They do not breath and the manufacturer had to use something unpleasant to make it waterproof. Instead get something water resistant like a wool piddle pad and buy two or more so you can swap them out when accidents occur.
Organic Pillows
Here is one section where I am not cheap or a bargain hunter. The pillow is the most important part of the bed, you are rubbing your face in it every night and half of your life is spent in it’s soft loving arms. Pillows come in the same options as mattress pads but I love the hybrid option. My favorite cost effective pillow is from Natura and is filled with natural latex shreddings, with a layer of wool and a cover made of organic cotton. My favorite money-is-no-problem pillow is by Omi and is just like the Natura but you have the option of unzipping the pillow to pull out latex or add more so you can adjust the pillow to your sleep position. For these pillows you cannot throw them in the wash like their evil counterparts so make sure to purchase a pillow cover that can be washed. Again, Greenspace saves the day on this one. They have great price points and answered all my annoying questions!
Organic Sheets
The last piece of the puzzle, bed clothing. These days you can buy all kinds of organic bedding but be warned, it is not all the same. I must admit I gave into the wonderfully priced organic sheets at Target. With in a few days the sheets began to get those annoying little fabric balls. It was not worth the money we saved. For a little more you can buy well made organic or bamboo sheets, duvets and pillow shams from West Elm. They have sales often so I usually keep an eye out for the “green” section. Our duvet cover is a pin-tuck sage green organic cotton beauty from West Elm. Through many washes it remains pretty and fabric ball free.

Book Resources
Green Babies, Sage Moms by Linda Fassa
Ecoholic by Adria Vasil
Healthy Child Healthy World by Christopher Gavigan

Web Resources

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Baby Out On The Town

My wonderful Psychologist husband tells me that if you think you have OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) then you don’t. However, if I could pick an area that I fall into an OCD panic about it would be researching and choosing all the baby products we need. I divided this blog into several parts because it would be ridiculously long if it remained in one piece. Here is how I broke it down,
Part 1 - Baby out on the town
Part 2 - Chemical free sleep
Part 3 - Why organic clothes?
Part 4 - Items that make life easier
Keep an eye out for the other sections, here is Part 1.
Baby out on the town
I have been obsessing over all the details, large and small, for our coming adopted baby wanting to give that child only the best. Our adoption agency performed a “home study” this is a process where they send a representative to your home to check for safety and to determine if you are ready. There were certain items we had to have and the first was a properly installed car seat. I hit the books reading up on current brands and chemicals to watch that they may contain. Many sources said that you just cannot get around plastic on this one and to let the car seat “off gas” outside for several days. Also, the sources said that toxic chemical levels can vary on each car seat so even if you buy a brand that says it conforms to every hurdle out there it is still hard to tell exactly what is lurking in the seat. This is NOT okay with me. The car is generally a closed space and baby will spend many hours in the seat so it must be safe in all ways.
So what is a green mom to do? One day I was helping my mother at her spa, Harmony Day Spa, and I met a lovely woman who’s husband and friend founded a company called Orbit Baby. I told her my problem and she informed me of her products. As soon as I set my eyes on an Orbit stroller online I knew I had to have one. I could have cared less about it’s popularity with celebrities, I wanted it because it was SO practical and oh-so-green. The design was genius! The base rotates 360 degrees so you can place the baby straight into the car base or stroller base and then turn in instead of turning your back. I am a person with a bad scoliosis so this was music to my ears! If the design wasn’t enough to hook me the green standards were. They have a commitment to green fabrics and materials that are unmatched by any other company.
I bought my own Orbit and installed it in my car, even with my sensitive nose I could not detect any plastic smelling off gas fumes. In the beginning you will pay more for this system but not too long ago they made some upgrades and now there are two systems G1 and G2. If you cannot afford the new G2 system there are many people selling their out grown G1 systems online on ebay or craigslist. For me it was worth the investment and if you ever want to know more about my experience with the system feel free to ask!
Diaper Bags 
There is more to being out on the town then just car seats and strollers. Diaper bags and baby carriers are also items to buy. Many diaper bags are waterproof which is a great idea in theory but make sure that you read the label to find out what they are using to waterproof the material. The manufacturer must print BPA or PVC free on the label, if you do not see that do not buy the item. I prefer bags you can throw in the washing machine over ones that are waterproof. Diaper bags that are chemical free cost more, but there are a few brands that are really great. Ergo makes both a back pack and a front pack that attaches to their carrier, these are chemical free. There are also some smaller companies out there, you can find some of them on
Baby Carriers
Baby carriers have got a bad rap recently in the news. If worn properly they are not a danger so just make sure to follow simple guidelines like not allowing your baby’s chin to rest on their chest and make sure that their face is not against your chest but to the side. Carriers range from wraps to packs like the Ergo to slings. It is really up to you and your back, pick something that feels comfortable. There are many organic options out there and many craft mommies make their own, you can find patterns for slings and Mai Tais at sewing stores like Hart’s Fabrics who also carry many organic fabrics.
 Book Resources
Green Babies, Sage Moms by Linda Fassa
Ecoholic by Adria Vasil
Healthy Child Healthy World by Christopher Gavigan
 Web Resources

Friday, March 18, 2011

Hankies Why Did You Ever Leave Us?

What did you just put on your face?

Remember how Grandma and Grandpa used to carry around hankies in their pockets all the time? My grandmother had beautiful hankies with flowers and embroidery designs. Why did we ever let go of this practice? Somewhere along the way we decided that it was icky and switched to paper tissues. Recently I noticed hankies making their way back to our pop culture and I began to make cute retro designs in my shop. A few days later my mother told me that her friend had a horrible allergic reaction to the chemicals in a paper tissue she used to wipe her face. It never occurred to me how many chemicals we put in our eyes, mouth and nose by reaching for a paper tissue because years ago I switched to recycled, chlorine free brands from Whole Foods or Trader Joes. Then I realized that those chemicals on the tissue were also going in our toilet paper. Am I the only one bothered by this?

This is what I found in a simple Google search on
“Other materials used in manufacture include water, chemicals for breaking down the trees into usable fiber, and bleaches. Companies that make paper from recycled products use oxygen, ozone, sodium hydroxide, or peroxide to whiten the paper. Virgin-paper manufacturers, however, often use chlorine-based bleaches (chlorine dioxide), which have been identified as a threat to the environment.”
Read more: How toilet paper is made - manufacture, making, history, used, processing, steps, product, industry, History, Raw Materials, The Manufacturing Process of toilet paper, Quality Control

What is Green Guru to do?
At home - switch to brands that are recycled and have “Chlorine free” on the packages. Just because it says recycled doesn’t mean it will feel like bark right off the tree. Most brand have soft options.
On the go - bring your cute retro hankies for your face, bring burp cloths and rags for baby messes and if you want to go even further you can carry eco-friendly flushable wipes (like Seventh Generation) for public restroom visits and diaper changes.

A Clean Green Home

For a person like me who obsesses over a clean home it was difficult to rip the Windex, 409 and Bleach from my gloved hands. I will even admit to vacuuming the floor, cleaning the canister out and vacuuming again to see how much I had missed. Although the transition was difficult at first I have found green cleaning not only healthier for my family but cost effective.
Basic Cleaning
For a green switch to cleaning all you need is baking soda, vinegar, lemons and essential oils. I buy baking soda and vinegar in ridiculously large packages from Costco. I have a glass bowl and scrub brush designated just for the purpose of cleaning. Into the bowl goes the baking soda, next pour some vinegar and watch the fun volcanic eruption of foam (be warned that this foam will be about twice the height of baking soda). Don’t worry about the smell of the vinegar, it will disappear after a few minutes and will not leave your bathroom smelling of a tossed salad. To create a better smell you can add lemon or essential oils to the baking soda. I like tea tree oil because of it’s antiseptic qualities, eucalyptus has a nice fresh smell and lavender smells pretty and calming. That mixture will work for kitchen, bathroom, floors and even laundry (see more on that below). For specific cleaning I do purchase certain products. The very fashionable 60s hot pink tile in my shower loves to hide mildew and in a beach town the battle never, ever, ends! To combat this problem I needed something that was easy to use everyday so I turned to the Method brand's tub and tile cleaner. It is as safe as you can get with out having to break out the scrub brush. If we do a deep clean every few weeks all I have to do is spray down the tile after a shower every few days. A side note, make sure you buy biodegradable spounges so we do not add to landfills in our green cleaning process! There are natural sponges that work just as well as their evil counterparts. Old rags work wonderfully instead of paper towels.
I hate carpet! It traps allergens, tracks the outside inside and gives dust mites a place to hide. Other then a warm floor in the morning when I get out of bed I have no positives to this invention. Sadly, our house is fully carpeted so I had to learn to call a truce. Baking soda and vinegar will also work for carpet stains such as coffee, red wine, oil and grease. Just scrub the mixture into the carpet and rinse with water, after it dries vacuum a few times over the spot going in different directions. To get rid of carpet smells dust baking soda on the carpet, leave for a few seconds and vacuum. If your carpet is a darker color make sure you wash out the baking soda and vinegar or it may fade your colors. You can use this same combination in your carpet cleaning machines instead of the chemical filled cleaners at the store.
For laundry I like the Biokleen product, you only need a tablespoon measurement for a full load, for really soiled clothes such as diapers I add a little baking soda. To get that yummy out of the dryer smell I use Method dryer sheets which use only essential oils. For whites add some vinegar into the bleach deposit in your washer, but don’t do that for colors because it does act like bleach and will fade your clothes. Clean clothes that are cost effective, earth friendly and clean!
For spot-free clean dishes I like Mrs. Myers products. For heavy grease you can use...YEP, baking soda and vinegar! Make sure to skip the lemons or anything with citrus for dishes, it can break down the metal on your silverware. I fill one side of my sink with about two inches of warm water, 1/2 cup of baking soda and a splash of vinegar. The nice part about using vinegar is it makes all of your glass spot free and shiny. For those of you with dish washers other then your hands there are excellent products from Seventh Generation and please only wash full loads!
For more information on cleaning green for a happy baby home check out my favorites, no new mom should be with out these books!
Green Babies, Sage Moms by Linda Fassa
Ecoholic by Adria Vasil
Healthy Child Healthy World by Christopher Gavigan