I'm working on a list of resolutions for the new year. Many of them concern kicking my eco-awareness up a notch. What sort of things are on your list?
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Posted by Renee at 8:20 AM
I recently ordered this cotton bath pouff from Me Me's Knits on Etsy. It's lovey and luxurious...who decided rubbing plastic mesh all over your skin was a good idea? Best of all, it's machine washable, so you can use it forever and ever :)
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Take this quiz. I got a 74, which makes me an eco-ally. The quiz pointed out my eco-shortcomings: I need to audit my house for energy efficiency and make necessary repairs, and I'm too reliant on heat and a/c. The latter is a big issue for me. I like to be comfortable in my home. The summer is easier, because we have a wonderful attic fan and shade trees, but I can't stand to be cold. We don't have a fireplace, so we depend on our heater. I guess I need to work on this!
Posted by Renee at 10:31 AM
Monday, December 29, 2008
I'm happy to say that so far my family has survived flu season without incident (knock wood). An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure...Here's what's been keeping us healthy:
- Herbal supplements - echinacea, elderberry and other immune-boosters
- Lots of handwashing
- Cleaning and disinfecting with my usual vinegar and TTO
We've all had a bit of minor congestion, but we're taking it in stride. We haven't yet reached for the medicine yet. Instead, we're treating the symptoms with these natural remedies:
- Essential oils. A blend of eucalyptus and other soothing oils with water sprayed on pillows aids nighttime breathing when congestion is at its worst. I put some full-strength oil on a cloth and hang it in MJ's crib. The same oil blend is fabulous in a bath or shower.
- The Neti Pot. The ancient remedy really works! You use it to pour saline into one nostril and it comes out the other...bringing out all kinds of nastiness. Gross? Yes. Effective? You bet.
- Garlic oil. When congestion leads to earache, garlic oil to the rescue! It will even stop an infection before you call the doc for antibiotics.
- Hankies. Skip the paper tissues for a more eco-friendly version. They're so much gentler on your nose too! I've got a fun handkerchief DIY project coming up...stay tuned :)
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
It's no secret that making changes to benefit the environment also benefits your family, and vice versa. No Impact Man reports on a new study from Indiana University which shows that a greener urban landscape makes for healthier kids.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Lush Cosmetics recently announced that their popular soaps and shampoos will no longer contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, or SLS. SLS is a synthetic surfacant that breaks surface tension and allows water to mix with oils, which makes soaps and shampoos foam. Though suspicions linking SLS to cancer have been disproven for now, we do know that it can cause serious eye problems and skin irritation. Traces have even been found to build up in our organs.
Losing the SLS makes Lush fantastic, healthy, ec0-friendly products. They use natural ingredients and minimal packaging.
I'll be stopping by the new store opening in a mall near me to pick up a shampoo bar, which I'll definitely review here. Each shampoo bar saves 3 standard size shampoo bottles!
Well done, Lush.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I caught up today with a college hall-mate on facebook. She asked what I was doing, and I told her that I stay at home with Marlee. Her response? "What?! I'm so disappointed in you. That's backwards, old fashioned, and anti-feminist. I can't belive you're the same girl I sat with in women's studies class."
Excuse me? There is nothing backwards about wanting to raise my child myself. About wanting to make a warm, loving home for her to grow up in. If anything, I feel empowered by the whole thing. Different strokes I guess.
I also got thinking about the word "homemaker." I much perfer this to "stay-at-home-mom." It's a more accurate description of what I do. I'm not a mom who stays at home. I work for my family, making our house a home. I like it, and I'm going to use it from here on out. I can only guess that the word disappeared for being un-PC.
I just wanted to toss it out there and see if anyone has come across this kind of mentality or has thoughts on it.
Check out the awesome cloth diaper giveaway on Baby Rabies.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
This Christmas, I'm really hoping "Santa" brings Marlee some high-quality, safe, handmade toys. It's always a touchy subject with family. I don't want to be rude or ungrateful, but I also don't want another plastic toy that is 1. Loaded with chemicals 2. Noisy and overstimulating 3. Cheaply made so it will end up in a landfill and release said chemicals for eons. I generally approach the subject by asking people not to get her anything with noises or lights. That pretty much rules out the toddler section at most toy stores. I also created a wish list at one of my favorite toy sites Oompa.com. I sent an email with links to handmade toys at Etsy. I guess I can report back in two weeks and let you know if my tactics worked. How are you handling requests this Christmas?
When shopping for your little one or after the gifts are unwrapped, you can check the safety of specific toys at HealthyToys.org. It measures levels of lead, arsenic, mercury, and other toxins in toys, bottles, toddler dishes, and more. I check nearly every toy before opening the box.
As I mention, my ideal toys are handmade with love and care. Sadly, those toys are in danger.
In 2007, large toy manufacturers who outsource their production to China and other developing countries violated the public's trust. They were selling toys with dangerously high lead content, toys with unsafe small part, toys with improperly secured and easily swallowed small magnets, and toys made from chemicals that made kids sick. Almost every problem toy in 2007 was made in China.
The United States Congress rightly recognized that the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) lacked the authority and staffing to prevent dangerous toys from being imported into the US. So, they passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in August, 2008. Among other things, the CPSIA bans lead and phthalates in toys, mandates third-party testing and certification for all toys and requires toy makers to permanently label each toy with a date and batch number.
All of these changes will be fairly easy for large, multinational toy manufacturers to comply with. Large manufacturers who make thousands of units of each toy have very little incremental cost to pay for testing and update their molds to include batch labels.
For small American, Canadian, and European toymakers, however, the costs of mandatroy testing will likely drive them out of business.
* A toymaker, for example, who makes wooden cars in his garage in Maine to supplement his income cannot afford the $4,000 fee per toy that testing labs are charging to assure compliance with the CPSIA.
* A work at home mom in Minnesota who makes dolls to sell at craft fairs must choose either to violate the law or cease operations.
* A small toy retailer in Vermont who imports wooden toys from Europe, which has long had stringent toy safety standards, must now pay for testing on every toy they import.
* And even the handful of larger toy makers who still employ workers in the United States face increased costs to comply with the CPSIA, even though American-made toys had nothing to do with the toy safety problems of 2007.
The CPSIA simply forgot to exclude the class of toys that have earned and kept the public's trust: Toys made in the US, Canada, and Europe. The result, unless the law is modified, is that handmade toys will no longer be legal in the US.
If this law had been applied to the food industry, every farmers market in the country would be forced to close while Kraft and Dole prospered.
How You can Help:
Please write to your United States Congress Person and Senator to request changes in the CPSIA to save handmade toys. Use the sample letter or write your own. You can find your Congress Person here and Senator here .
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Posted by Renee at 5:21 PM
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Every year around this time, my skin becomes a dry, itchy mess that no lotion can cure. I'm feeling relief this year with a simple sugar scrub.
1/4 cup sugar
Essential Oil (optional)
Put sugar in a small bowl and gradually add olive oil until mixture has a thin paste-ish consistency. If you like, add a couple drops of EO for aroma therapy.
Apply at the end of your shower, rubbing in a circular motion. Air dry or pat dry with a towel. Enjoy your silky skin all day!
I really wish I had been using this on my belly when I was pregnant. It feels like it would be good stretch mark prevention!
Sunday, November 16, 2008
UPDATE #2: More about this on Digg. And a (fairly lame) Response from Motrin!
UPDATE: The Motrin website is down...maintenance or the work of angry moms? I guess we'll see! Can't hide from us though...here it is on youtube. There are lots of of mom response videos too.
Click this link and watch the ad at the corner of the screen. It alternates between two, and while I don't love the one for Children's Motrin, I especially loathe the one about babywearing. This ad is unbelievable offensive.
Babywearing is not a silly fad made to inflict pain and make you "look like an official mom." It has been "in fashion" for centuries. It is not "supposedly a real bonding experience." It IS a bonding experience, especially in the first weeks. And, if you have the right carrier for you, it doesn't hurt a bit. I still wear my nearly 15 month old, and I can go hours with her in my Ergo without being uncomforable.
If you are interested in the benefits of wearing your baby, check out thebabywearer.com.
To share your opinion with Motrin, click "Ask Us" on their site. You can email or request a representative call you.
Friday, November 14, 2008
The "Dirty Dozen" Fruits and Vegetables
The U.S. Department of Agriculture found that even after washing, some fruits and vegetables consistently carry much higher levels of pesticide residue than others. Based on an analysis of more than 100,000 U.S. government pesticide test results, researchers at the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a research and advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C., have developed the “dirty dozen” fruits and vegetables, below, that they say you should always buy organic, if possible, because their conventionally grown counterparts tend to be laden with pesticides. They cost about 50 percent more — but are well worth the money.
- Grapes (imported)
- Bell peppers (I've seen these for as much as three times cost! You can bet they'll be in my garden for this very reason.)
Buying organic doesn't make much of a difference with fruits and veggies whose skins we don't eat.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
I got an email from a reader I don't know. Kristen, mom of 3 says:
I figured [your blogging] had slowed down because of the bad economy. I thought saving money must be winning out over going green. I want to do green things, but I can't afford it.
Not so, Kristen! If anything, I'm more happy than ever about the changes I've made. My effort to consume less means I buy less. The only thing I spend more on is organic foods. Even there, I only buy organic where I feel it's really necessary (oooh, that will be tomorrow's post :)).
I got a Target coupon book in the mail the other day. I was excited, but flipped through it to find that all the coupons were for things I no longer buy!
Paper goods- I don't use paper towels, kleenex tissues, disposable diapers, wipes, etc.
Cleaning supplies- This used to be my favorite aisle...seriously. The only commercial cleaner I buy today is OxyClean.
Packaged foods- I still buy some, but I've cut WAY back. The majority of my shopping is done around the edges of the grocery store. [I apologize for what the previously said. My husband thinks he's funny, randomly editing my posts if I walk away from the computer.]
See what I mean? If I could just get my garden off the ground this spring, I'll be in even better shape!
Another place we've saved money is eating out. We still love to do it, but we've cut back because it usually means food that's not so good for us.
I've always liked to shop flea markets, and we've kicked this up a notch, looking for used things where we can, like at consignment stores or on craigslist.
Going Green = Consuming Less = Spending less.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
I've been a bad blogger lately--on all my blogs. I really want to pick this one up again. Let me know that you're here and still reading. Are there any particular topics you'd like to hear about?
Posted by Renee at 4:47 AM
Friday, September 19, 2008
Marlee opened the cabinet under the bathroom sink while I was brushing my teeth this morning. I jumped to get her out of it and realized...nothing under there can hurt her! Not that I want her eating baking soda (a serious bellyache), but what wonderful peace of mind to know my baby won't find anything toxic in my house!
Thursday, September 18, 2008
He picked the wrong cyclist. Read it here.
Posted by Renee at 11:11 AM
To freshen fabric, try this eco-safe, DIY recipe:
Fill a standard spray bottle with water
Add 6-8 drops Tea Tree oil
and 6 drops Essential Oil (your choice!) or
3 drops Fragrance Oil
Spray fabric until damp and allow to air-dry.
I did some fall deep cleaning yesterday and thought I'd pass along my tips for cleaning mattresses and pillows.
Vacuum the mattress with your vac's upholstery attachment
(Flip and rotate while you're at it :))
Spray mattress and pillows with the concoction above. You want your mattress upholstery to be good and damp, but not wet to the foam. You can wash any spots with your homemade all-purpose cleaner if necessary.
Put pillows, two at a time, in the dyer on high heat for 30-45 minutes. This will kill any lingering dust mites.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Thanks, Jana, for bringing attention to this question. It reminded me that the point of my blog isn't to boast my accomplishments but to help others on the path to living healthier and greener :)
Grocery shopping has been tough for me. I stay at home with our one year old, and Michael works from home...that means three meals a day (and snacks!) for three people. That's a lot of cooking! For obvious reasons, I was tempted by "convenience foods." I've remedied that situation by planning and preparing ahead as much as possible. My freezer is my sous chef (at least until I get the energy star deep freezer I'm pining for).
- It's filled with pre-measured quantities of chopped vegetables, purees, broths and wine. For easy freezing, use these tools: An ice cube tray (1 cube = approx. 2Tbs), a muffin tin (each "muffin" = 1/2 cup) and/or mini muffin tin (1/4 cup). Freeze, pop 'em out, store in freezer bags (which you wash and reuse...right?)
- I also cook once for two meals...Last night's beef stew recipe was doubled, then half of it frozen.
- Another favorite shortcut: Prepare batter for muffins, quick breads, etc. Pour into loaf pan or muffin cups and freeze. When frozen, wrap unbaked bread and store unbaked muffins in freezer bags. When you want a batch, drop them back in the proper pan and bake.
- A similar trick works for casseroles, etc. line the dish you'll use to bake with foil, leaving plenty of excess. Pour in your leftovers (like my stew) or assemble your casserole. Wrap your excess foil over the top and freeze. When your dinner is frozen, remove your "brick." Now your dish/pan is free for use. Just unwrap your brick and drop it back in when you're ready to resurrect it.
To answer your question and prove it CAN be done, here's this week's menu (Monday-Friday) :
(note: I am currently obsessed with tweaking the recipes in the Deceptively Delicious cookbook)
1. Scrambled eggs with "hidden" cauliflower, toast, fruit
2. Oatmeal flavored with your choice of fruit puree
3. Pumkin french toast, fruit
4. Oatmeal again
5. Green (read: spinach puree) Eggs, toast, fruit
1. Sanwiches, Veggie chips (had these already), fruit
2. Vegetarian Rice Balls
3. Meatball Soup
4. Homemad Mac N Cheese with butternut squash puree
1. Spaghetti and Salad
2. Beef Stew over Brown Rice
3. Turkey Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Asparagus
4. Black Bean Burgers, Corn, Salad
5. Chicken Quesadillas
Carrot Applesauce muffins
Fresh Fruit and Cheese
Whole Wheat Crackers with Almond Butter
Plain yogurt flavored with fruit puree
You can do it! It takes some getting used to, and I still fall off the wagon, but I don't feel bad about the occaisional Chick-Fil-A when I know I feed my family well 99% of the time!
Monday, September 8, 2008
I just had to give myself some props for my latest grocery trip. The only packaged foods I bought were whole-wheat crackers, Panko bread crumbs, and canned beans. This is major progress for me!
Posted by Renee at 11:28 AM
Sunday, September 7, 2008
At a local arts and crafts festival yesterday, I bought some goodies from Pretty Baby Naturals. They sell all natural soaps, lotions and potions. One of my favorite finds is Medicine Man Ointment. Made with tea tree oil, neem oil, aloe, and healing herbs, it's antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral.
About an hour after I bought it, I was so glad I did. I was on the lookout for a quiet spot to nurse MJ and found a tree stump in a shady area. Not 30 seconds after sitting down, I felt like acid had been poured on my feet. The stump was rotten and home to a massive colony of fire ants. My mom had been standing in front of me to shield me for a bit of privacy, and she was bitten too. I jumped up and ran away (baby still on breast, which, looking back, is pretty funny). My sister had helped us get all the ants off...fortunately, none had gotten MJ. Our feet were red, swollen, and felt like they were on fire. I remembered the Medicine Man, fished it out of my bag, and slathered my feet...INSTANT RELIEF. It was truly amazing.
Later that afternoon, I went back to the Pretty Baby booth and bought two more tubes. This will replace Neosporin and the Benadryl pen in my medicine cabinet and diaper bag. Natural and it works better than conventional methods? You know I love me some of that!
Buy some. You'll thank me later.
Friday, September 5, 2008
Have you seen these?
HFCS Ad 1
HFCS Ad 2
I especially like the corn logo at the end. They might as well say, "It's corn. It counts as a vegetable serving."
According to these commercials, HFCS is "fine in moderation." Many things in life are fine in moderation. Problem is, there is nothing moderate about American consumption of HFCS. It's in nearly every commercial product we buy...even a loaf of bread. Go ahead, check your labels. Then look up the dangers of HFCS. I planned to list them, but frankly, I don't have enough time in my day. Folks, HFCS is bad for you. No question about it. Educate yourself, don't let TV do it for you.
A couple closing tidbits.
1. Watch this while you're at it, just for fun.
2. How do you pack a popsicle on a picnic?
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Would you nurse her in the park?
Would you nurse him in the dark?
Would you nurse him with a Boppy?
And when your boobs are feeling floppy?
I would nurse him in the park,
I would nurse her in the dark.
I’d nurse with or without a Boppy.
Floppy boobs will never stop me.
Can you nurse with your seat belt on?
Can you nurse from dusk till dawn?
Though she may pinch me, bite me, pull,
I will nurse her `till she’s full!
Can you nurse and make some soup?
Can you nurse and feed the group?
It makes her healthy strong and smart,
Mommy’s milk is the best start!
Would you nurse him at the game?
Would you nurse her in the rain?
In front of those who dare complain?
I would nurse him at the game.
I would nurse her in the rain.
As for those who protest lactation,
I have the perfect explanation.
Mommy’s milk is tailor made
It’s the perfect food, you need no aid.
Some may scoff and some may wriggle,
Avert their eyes or even giggle.
To those who can be cruel and rude,
Remind them breast’s the perfect food!
I would never scoff or giggle,
Roll my eyes or even wiggle!
I would not be so crass or crude,
I KNOW that this milk’s the perfect food!
We make the amount we need
The perfect temp for every feed.
There’s no compare to milk from breast-
The perfect food, above the rest.
Those sweet nursing smiles are oh so sweet,
Mommy’s milk is such a treat.
Human milk just can’t be beat.
I will nurse, in any case,
On the street or in your face.
I will not let my baby cry,
I’ll meet her needs, I’ll always try.
It’s not about what’s good for you,
It’s best for babies, through and through.
I will nurse her in my home,
I will nurse her when I roam.
Leave me be lads and ma’am.
I will nurse her, Mom I am.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Okay, so my addiction isn't so bad as some people's, but MAN, I LOVE me some cloth diapers. We used disposables the week we were in Canada, and Michael and I both kept commenting on how much we missed MJ's cloth. I never realized how scratchy and stinky 'sposies are! In addition, cloth diapers are so damn cute! The last time I posted on this subject, we were using exclusively BumGenius pocket diapers. After a few months, my luck with these turned bad. I had terrible repelling issues with the microfiber and had to perform voodoo to keep them build-up free (disclaimer: most people never have this problem...must be my water). Since then, I've switched to natural fiber (cotton, hemp, bamboo) prefolds and fitteds and covers. My favorites are GreenSprouts. Come on...these are cute, right?
Fortunately, there's a site called Diaper Swappers where you can buy/sell used diapers. I sold all my BGs for enough money to pay for my entire stash of GreenSprouts! I'm slowly selling off all but my favorites because I went a bit overboard trying new things. ;0
I love cloth diapers so much that one of the things I look forward to most with a new baby (no, this is NOT an announcement!) is a cute little newborn fluffy butt. Yes, I have a problem.
If you have been considering trying cloth...do it! You won't regret it for a moment.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Click Here to claim your free bottle from Medela. :)
Posted by Renee at 3:04 PM
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
This is from a 1977 episode of Sesame Street. I think it's so sweet.
Video: Buffy explains breastfeeding to Big Bird.
Posted by Renee at 6:06 PM
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Wanted to let you know that the bug suit was great. Marlee only wore it in the evening when the bugs were really bad. The rest of the time, I used the California Baby repellent. I applied it morning, lunchtime, and before bed. She only got two bites the entire trip, both on her scalp on the first day (I sprayed her head after that). I, however, am covered in bites because I wasn't nearly so diligent about myself.
So, two thumbs up for Bugabear's suit and California Baby spray!
Posted by Renee at 8:18 AM
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
No chemicals here! We're going to protect Marlee on our upcoming trip to Canada with this Mosquito Suit, custom made for us by Bugabear on Etsy.
Posted by Renee at 4:54 AM
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
I've had a few moms ask me about a more natural alternative to Gerber Puffs, which are full of HFCS and ingredients I can't pronounce (not to mention expensive!). I used to recommend organic crisp rice cereal or oat o's (my fave: Joe's Os from Trader Joes). Problem with those is, the rice is tiny and not great for training little fingers, and the Os don't dissolve.
Michael and I have enjoyed snacking on Pirate Booty for years, but I just recently discovered Fruit Booty and Veggie Booty!
PUFFS (sweet potato): Rice Flour , Whole Grain Oat Flour , Wheat Starch , Wheat Flour , Sugar , Sweet Potato Powder , Tri- and Dicalcium Phosphate , Natural Flavor , Annatto Extract Color , Mixed Tocopherols - for Freshness , Zinc Sulfate , Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate - Vitamin E , Electrolytic Iron
VEGGIE BOOTY: Corn Meal, Rice, Soy Flour, Rice Flour, Corn, Sunflower and/or Rice Oil, Salt, Spinach Powder, Evaporated Cane Juice, Broccoli Powder, Kale Powder, Carrot Powder, Cabbage Powder, Parsley Powder, Calcium Carbonate (Baking Soda), and Sea Salt.
FRUITY BOOTY: Corn Meal, Organic Soy Flour, Sunflower, Rice and/or Corn Oil, Evaporated Cane Juice, Peach Juice, Mango Powder, Maltodextrin (from Corn), Safflower Oil, Tartaric Acid, Citric Acid, Paprika Extract. Contains Soybean Ingredients.
SIMPLY BOOTY (VEGAN): Corn Meal, Rice, Contains one of the following: Corn, Rice and/or Sunflower Oil, and Sea Salt.
Simply Booty is sugar free. The Veggie variety has less sugar than puffs. The Fruity Booty has about the same amount of sugar, but it comes from evaporated cane juice rather than HFCS.
All three are bite-sized, yummy, and dissolve quickly. I wish I'd found these when we were in the Puffs stage!
**I've been informed that Gerber Puffs are now sweetened with sugar, not HFCS. This must be new, as the can I bought MJ a few months ago definitely had HFCS. Anyone have a can to check for me?**
Posted by Renee at 3:04 PM
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
It's July first...what eco-friendly/healty life goals are you setting this month?
For the W Family:
One outdoor can of trash (Should be especially easy because we're traveling)
No fast food. This one is easy for me, tougher for Michael.
Michael is going to bike instead of drive to the gym.
We're eating two vegetarian dinners and two fish dinners per week.
We're making a stronger than usual effort to reduce electricity usage. Kind of a game.
Share your goals for July!
Posted by Renee at 8:02 AM
Sunday, June 29, 2008
When Marlee was born, Michael and I made the decision together to follow the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended immunization schedule. I was well aware that the topic was controversial, but (in a manner so unlike me) I just went with it...because it's the way it's done. I know, I know, SO not me. As the months have gone on, I've done a bit of reading. I decided that I will selectively vaccinate MJ going forward. She's breastfed and stays home with me, so I'm very comfortable in this decision. That's not the point of this post though. It's just background.
I went to the pediatrician to pick up her immunization schedule to compare what she's had to the schedule I've planned so that we can move forward. Here's what I discovered.
The AAP recommends HIB at 2, 4 and 6. She had it at 2 and 4. One missed vaccine. I've chosen to do HIB on schedule...when would this mistake have been found if I didn't start digging?
Then there's HepB. When MJ was just hours old, the nurse came in and said, "We're taking her to the nursery for the Hepatitis B vaccine." I said, "No, thank you. We'll do it at her first pediatrician appointment." I didn't want my baby stuck with anything her first day of life (I also declined Vitamin K injection). So when we took her to the doc at 3 days old, she had her first HepB shot.
Had I given any thought to this at the beginning, she would never have had that shot or any others of that particular vax until age 12. I'm not sure why my baby is vaccinated against a disease that is contracted through sex or shared needles. Granted, she's not in my sight 24 hours a day, but I'm thinking we're okay on this one.
Here's what is making me sick. Not only has she had this vax, which I personally see as unnecessary, she's had too many doses. Her doctors office uses both a 3 and 4 injection series. There was some confusion, and she was given the 3 series then the 4th from the other series.
I am so upset with myself, there are not words. Each appointment, I signed the form acknowledging the shots my baby was getting. I signed that form, not knowing what it meant. I assumed that the doctors and nurses were doing what was best for her.
I pride myself on the fact that I'm very well educated in many aspects of raising my child. How did I let this happen? How did I not know what she should get at each appointment? How did I not know which vaccines were absolutely necessary? What they contain? Which brands are considered safer? Which brand are they using? What are the risks? What are the benefits? AGH! How did I not educate myself about something as important as foreign substances being injected into my child?
The point of this entry is not to judge anyone for adhering to any particular schedule. It's just to urge you all to learn a bit about vaccines. Go to each appointment knowing what shots your baby should be getting, and make sure those are the ones she gets.
An interesting parting factoid: As children, we (my generation) got 18 vaccines. Children today get 50.
Posted by Renee at 7:34 PM
Friday, June 27, 2008
Posted by Renee at 10:23 AM
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Check out this new one from Pampers.
These totally gross me out.
Posted by Renee at 1:13 PM
I was looking for a yummy snack for MJ to replace the occasional cereal bar. I've been trying to eliminate processed foods, and the bars I bought were chock full of sugar (natural organic fruit sugars, but sugar just the same). I found a few recipes for zucchini bread, combined and tweaked them, and came up with my own. It's a hit...she loves it!
1 1/2 cups each all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind (I'd leave this out for pickier eaters)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup blue agave nectar
3 cups shredded zucchini (about 3 medium)
1 cup shredded carrot (about 2 medium or 1 large)
Preheat oven to 350 and coat two 8x4 loaf pans with cooking spray. Combine dry ingredients in one bowl and wet ingredients (including veggies) in a larger bowl. Add the dry to wet and stir until just combined. Bake 45 minutes to an hour until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before slicing.
I froze individual slices so that I can toss in the diaper bag for a quick snack when we're out an about.
Posted by Renee at 8:53 AM
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Okay, so I'm making up for the lack of action with a plethora of posts!
When I heard that a friend wasn't using any bug protection for her 5 month old because her pedi had recommended holding off until 6 months, it reminded me to post my rave for California Baby Natural Bug Blend Bug Repellent Spray. I'm one of those people who's blood is particularly attractive to mosquitoes and the the like. I've been using the CABaby stuff on myself as well as MJ, and it works great for both of us. I also have their Citronella Sunscreen and like that as well. Neither of these products contain DEET, so they're safe to use on babies of any age. Other companies make similar essential oil products...I know Burt's Bees is one.
Warning: Digression Incoming
This takes me to a recent blurb in Parent's Magazine. I have a free subscription, but I don't know why I read it. It usually finds some way to annoy me each month, most recently with one-sided pieces on cloth diapering and circumcision. This month's issue contains an article on the topic of summer insect protection:
"Apply an insect repellent containing DEET to your child's exposed skin--avoiding face and hands--before the child goes outdoors. The AAP recommends using a product that contains no more than 30% DEET. Don't use DEET on babies under 2 months old.
After your child comes indoors, wash the treated skin with soap and water. Avoid products that combine sunscreen and insect repellent because you could expose your child to excess DEET when you reapply every couple of hours.
For extra protection, apply a repellent containing permethrin to clothing, shoes, and sleeping bags. Permethrin is a virtually nontoxic chemical that kills ticks, mosquitoes, and other bugs on contact. Spray items outdoors, and allow clothing to dry before wearing it. Don't apply permethrin directly to the skin."
Let's tackle the DEET first. Avoid the face and hands. Don't use more than a 30% concentration. Don't apply to babies less than 2 months old. Wash it off as soon as you're inside. Don't overexpose. Yeah, this sounds like good stuff! Here's more:
DEET is a toxic compound, partially absorbed into the bloodstream, and associated with dermal and neurological reactions. Several cases of toxic encephalopathy (brain damage) associated with the use of DEET in children have been reported in the medical literature. Generalized seizures have also been temporally associated with the use of DEET.
And Permethrin? "Virtually nontoxic?" How's this sound:
Permethrin, like all synthetic pyrethroids, is a neurotoxin. Symptoms include tremors, incoordination, elevated body temperature, increased aggressive behavior, and disruption of learning. Laboratory tests suggest that permethrin is more acutely toxic to children than to adults.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified permethrin as a carcinogen because it causes lung tumors in female mice and liver tumors in mice of both sexes. Permethrin inhibits the activity of the immune system in laboratory tests, and also binds to the receptors for a male sex hormone. It causes chromosome aberrations in human and hamster cells.
Permethrin is toxic to honey bees and other beneficial insects, fish, aquatic insects, crayfish, and shrimp. For many species, concentrations of less than one part per billion are lethal. Permethrin causes deformities and other developmental problems in tadpoles, and reduces the number of oxygen-carrying cells in the blood of birds.
Permethrin has been found in streams and rivers throughout the United States. It is also routinely found on produce, particularly spinach, tomatoes, celery, lettuce, and peaches.
A wide variety of insects have developed resistance to permethrin. High levels of resistance have been documented in cockroaches, head lice, and tobacco budworm.
I'd call that pretty darn toxic. And the most widely read parenting magazine is encouraging people to use it for their babies. Nice.
Posted by Renee at 6:27 PM
Saturday, June 21, 2008
This video recently sparked a debate in my family. Watch it and share your thoughts. I'm saving mine for a while to force some of you to de-lurk and speak (comment) :)
Posted by Renee at 6:27 PM
Check out Renu, by the Citizenre Corp. It's a solar panel system for lease. Basically, an engineer comes out, and, if your house is compatible, draws up your plans and tells you your monthly rent (starts at $100). If you agree, you pay a $500 security deposit. They come out and install your panels for you and handle any maintenance as long as you have them. If you move, they move them to the new place, or you can transfer the lease to the new owners. Worst case, if you break the lease, you're out that $500 deposit. Otherwise, you get it back at the end of the lease term which is 1, 5, or 25 years- your choice. Your rental fee is locked in for term of your lease.
We've signed up for a consultation...I'll keep you all posted throughout the process.
Posted by Renee at 3:06 PM
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
I often think that people (speaking mostly of parents in this entry) do things a certain way because they have no idea how bad it is for their families. If they only knew, right? So whose job is it to educate them? I make a point not to say much, lest they think I'm being judgmental of their parenting.
I think we get too comfortable with agencies like the FDA. Obviously if it's approved, it's safe. I have to admit I was one of those people. One day, I found out about some nasty stuff in my house and decided to do a bit of research...and the floodgates opened. Household cleaners increase cancer rates in homemakers, disposable diapers are linked to male infertility and possibly even testicular cancer, things we use clean ourselves and our children contain chemicals known to cause eye problems and more, our food is full of nasty stuff from poisons to hormones...I could go on and on. How can it be okay that we market these products as safe? Are we so lazy that convenience wins over health?
Share your thoughts.
Posted by Renee at 6:37 AM
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
This man has an amazing, inspiring blog. The blurb at the top of my page speaks of minor changes, of not being fanatical. I have found that each little change I make leads me to a bigger one. I like it this way...I'm moving toward a different life the way I climb into a cool swimming pool. First a toe, then up to the knees, and so on.
Sometimes you just have to dive in and completely submerge yourself. No Impact Man did that. His blog is one to add to your daily reading.
Posted by Renee at 4:29 PM
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Mix baking soda and liquid castile soap to form a paste...makes an awesome soft scrub! Works wonders on soap scum and other tough messes. You can make just enough for a one-time use or add a little glycerin and store in jar.
Posted by Renee at 1:01 PM
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Out shopping yesterday, I discovered Alba Daily Shade Lotion. It's a natural body lotion with SPF 16, which, in my opinion, is just enough sun prevention without keeping you pasty all summer. :) I haven't used it yet, but I've used Alba lotion for a while, and I really like it! Just thought I'd share!
Posted by Renee at 8:28 AM
If you haven't already, go to www.greendimes.com to stop receiving junkmail! The free plan walks you through canceling mailings for various marketers, or you can pay a fee and Green Dimes will do all the work for you. Whichever plan you choose, Green Dimes will pay you a $1. You can get a check mailed to you or use the dollar to have a tree planted.
Posted by Renee at 7:30 AM
Thursday, May 15, 2008
DE is a powder made from crushed fossilized diatoms (hard shelled algae). It makes an awesome all around pest control. It can be used
-around the exterior of the house/windows
-as an instant bug killer (great for spiders, ants, roaches)
-fire ant hills
-yellow jacket nests
-treating carpet for fleas
-directly on dogs and cats as a flea killer and prevention
-just about any other time you need to kill an invasive critter
DE is very safe. It can dry your skin if you handle it frequently, and it's best not to snort it. :) It's even edible. Most flour and baking mixes (like Bisquick) contain DE to kill any sort of bugs that might get in it. Chances are, you've eaten DE.
You can buy DE in garden stores. Just make sure you get FOOD GRADE DE. There is another version sold for pools that is highly toxic.
(Thanks dobie_mama, for turning me on to DE :))
Posted by Renee at 10:08 AM
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Want a sure-fire way to eat better and lose weight? Of course you do. And because I'm such a good friend, I'm going to share this little secret with you instead of writing a book and making millions :)
It's called the Baby Diet. I know, it's a terrible name. It doesn't involve eating babies but eating what your baby eats. MJ's been eating table foods for quite a while now, but I stopped preparing special foods for her about a few weeks ago. Now, she eats what we eat. Nothing will give you a wake up call about all the crap you eat like considering feeding it to your kid. I'm just not okay with starting off her young life with processed foods soaked in perservatives. In these past weeks, I've pretty much eliminated that stuff from our house, and we're all healthier for it.
Posted by Renee at 6:28 AM
Friday, May 9, 2008
Check out Crunchy Clean Laundry Detergent! It's made from all-natural ingredients by an internet friend of mine. I just did a few test loads, and I was happy with it's performance all-around! I did three loads for the purpose of this review:
Large cold/cold load of clothes: Detergent dissolved easily in cold water
Load of baby clothes: I didn't do any pretreating, and MJ's clothes came completely clean
Load of white dish cloths, kitchen towels, super scrubby wipes, and cloth napkins: This was a true test! I did add my usual kick of oxy clean, but the pair worked together fabulously
All loads came out clean and soft, with a VERY subtle fragrance. I got the lavender scent, but you can chose from several natural essential oil fragrances. Clothes come out smelling clean, not at all "fragrancy." You barely notice the particular scent, which is nice.
Another perk: This detergent is MUCH less expensive than the green grocery store brands.
She also just started making a detergent for diapers...you can bet I'll be trying that one too!
Support a mom and craftswoman and be kind to the planet...order some CrunchyClean Green Detergent!
Posted by Renee at 11:50 PM
This post is long overdue, but I just now realized I didn't get around to it.
So, a while ago I talked about making some cleaning wipes. I contacted my pal softandscrubby on Etsy, and she made me some double-sided birdseye scubby wipes for cleaning. I played around with the solution a little, and found I like this one best:
"good squirt" (about 2-3T) Peppermint castile soap (Dr. Bronner's or other)
4 drops Tea Tree Oil
The peppermint essential oil in the castile soap smells so clean and softens the smell of the vinegar and TTO, both of which I don't love.
I've used these to clean everything, but my favorite use for them is a quick post meal high chair wipe down!
Posted by Renee at 11:44 PM
Monday, May 5, 2008
I am, by far, the "crunchiest" of my friends. Fortunately, they love me anyway. They tell me I'm crazy for some of the things I do, but they agree to disagree, and we move on. I recently decided that it might be nice to find some fellow "hippie moms." I discovered a playgroup on a message board and met them at a park. They were such nice ladies, but so different from me. I didn't fit in at all. I'm not going to elaborate...I don't want to hurt feelings. It was disappointing. Surely there must be other moms out there with an interest in preserving the planet and peaceful parenting that are....well...normal. Sigh.
I'm really not sure where this post is going. Just wanted to reach out to others feeling this way I guess. Be proud of your choices. Don't let others make you feel nuts. Appreciate your friends for thinking you're nuts and loving you anyway. Return the favor by not being critical of the things they do differently.
Anyhoo... That's the end of this rambling post.
Posted by Renee at 1:33 PM
Monday, April 28, 2008
I don't shop at W@lMart for a plethora of reasons...but if I needed one more reason to choose Target, they've handed it to me. They now carry several lines of natural health and beauty products, like Alba, J/A/S/O/N, Weleda, and Kiss My Face.
If you've got to shop a big box chain, make it Target.
Posted by Renee at 12:21 PM
Friday, April 25, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
1. Drill holes in plastic milk jugs
2. Bury in flower/plant beds
3. Fill with water and cap.
The water will soak into the soil, directly at root level as needed. You can refill the jugs with gray water or water from a rain barrel.
Posted by Renee at 6:41 AM
Michael, MJ, and I went to a composting workshop at Harry's (a local farmers market purchased by Whole Foods) last night. While Michael said it was the most boring thing he's ever had to sit through, I thought it was really interesting. My composting efforts have been off to a very slow start...hopefully I can get things moving.
The speakers were a lady from UGA Co-op and Farmer D. Both had a vast knowledge and good advice. Here are some key points:
- I've decided to go with the chicken wire hoop method. Not attractive, but effective. You don't have to turn it if you...
-Use a drainage pipe with holes standing upright in the middle of your pile to keep air moving. Genius, and only about $5 at Home Depot.
-Keep it at 2 parts brown (dead leaves, etc) to 1 part green (produce scraps). The best pile has alternating layers (water between layers when building)
-Toss produce scraps in the blender first for faster compost. Leaves (esp. oak like ours) must be shredded.
-Don't compost pine mulch or put it around your flowers/trees. It needs to dry out for a year first. It has a high resin content and is acidic. Bummer...after the tornado a couple months ago, there are heaps of pine mulch everywhere around here!
Farmer D is a biodynamic farmer...fascinating stuff. If you live in Georgia, the UGA Cooperative Extension is available for free expert advice and services like soil testing at a nominal fee.
Posted by Renee at 6:27 AM
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Toys R Us and Babies R Us announced plans to clear their shelves of all feeding products containing BPA by the end of 2008.
Washington Post Article.
Posted by Renee at 2:18 PM
Let today be the kick in the pants you need to make the change you've been contemplating!
Posted by Renee at 7:38 AM
Friday, April 18, 2008
[I've had this post in my back pocket for a while, but recent press made me decide to post it now!]
When I was pregnant, there was a lot of buzz circulating about a chemical called BPA (bisphenol A), which is found in many plastics, including baby bottles. When I read up on the stuff, I was immediately concerned. I emailed all my pregnant friends and marched myself right up to BRU to return the bottles I had registered for...they were guilty of containing BPA. I also decided that I would try diligently to limit the contact our food has with plastics. The main concern with BPA is that it can leach into food and drink, especially when heated. That's worrisome...it's found in water bottles, food storage containers, and the lining of cans (including formula cans!). Until recently, the FDA considered BPA safe. In the last week or so, some articles have come out that indicate that our government may finally be making some changes regarding the toxin. Today, Canada officially banned BPA in baby bottles (yay, Canada!).
Here's some reading for you:
Canada Bans BPA in Baby Bottles
April 15: BPA May Be Harmful (Didn't we already know that?)
August 2007: Baby Bargains Book Withdraws Recommendations
March 2007: Harmful BPA in Canned Goods
My Personal Recs:
Container Store Refrigerator Dishes
Sigg Water Bottles
Thermos Foogo Sippy Cup
Evenflow glass baby bottles
There are BPA-free plastics out there. You can pretty much tell the difference by looking at and touching them. BPA plastics tend to be very clear and brittle. BPA free ones are translucent and softer (the kind that turns pink if you wash it in the diswasher with spaghetti sauce :)). It's not a steadfast rule, but it works pretty well. Honestly, I'm just trying to get rid of plastics in the kitchen all together.
I think this issue should remind us all to be educated consumers. I made the choice to eliminate BPA in my kitchen over a year ago. The issue is just now getting some widespread attention...scary, huh?
Posted by Renee at 1:52 PM
Insead of picking up dog poop with a plastic grocery bag, try BioBags, made from cornstarch. They work just like plastic bags, but they are biodegradable, just like the poop.
For cat people, I can't recommend Feline Pine Clumping Litter strongly enough. I switched to this a while ago to be more eco-friendly, but it actually works better than any litter I've ever tried! The litter itself has no perfumy or ammonia smell, and it has no smell when used...I swear! I can't believe I ever used anything else. The best perk is that my cat Bogey loves it! Since he got sick a few years ago, Bogey has had some potty issues, frequently not using his box. We tried EVERYTHING: Super expensive fancy litter, training aids, even Prozac. I switched to Feline Pine, and not one "accident!" Where has this stuff been all my life?
An added bonus: BioBags and Feline Pine can be composted! I used to use plastic bags for walking the dog and scooping the cat box...not anymore. (Obviously, do not use in compost that will be used for growing food.)
Chapter 3: Vinegar, the Wonder Cleaner
Why expose your family to all the toxins in most household cleaners when some plain old vinegar will do the trick? If you have white vinegar (and possibly some other basic pantry items, like baking soda), you can tackle most jobs.
To shine chrome sink fixtures that have a lime buildup, use a paste made of 2 tablespoons salt and 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar.
Make your own scouring cleanser by combining 1/4 cup baking soda with 1 tablespoon liquid detergent. Add just enough white distilled vinegar to give it a thick but creamy texture.
Clean counter tops and make them smell sweet again with a cloth soaked in undiluted white distilled vinegar.
Clean and deodorize a drain by pouring in 1 cup baking soda, then one cup hot white distilled vinegar. Let this sit for 5 minutes or so then run hot water down the drain.
Deodorize the garbage disposal by pouring in 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup hot white distilled vinegar. Let sit for 5 minutes then run hot water down the disposal.
Deodorize and clean the garbage disposal with white distilled vinegar ice cubes. Make them by freezing full-strength white distilled vinegar in an ice cube tray. Run several cubes down the disposal while flushing with cold water.
Clean the microwave by mixing 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar and 1/2 cup water in a microwave-safe bowl. Bring it to a rolling boil inside the microwave. Baked-on food will be loosened, and odors will disappear. Wipe clean.
Clean the shelves and walls of the refrigerator with a half-and-half solution of water and white distilled vinegar.
Cut the grime on the top of the refrigerator with a paper towel or cloth and full-strength white distilled vinegar.
Avoid the bad smell when you heat up a newly cleaned oven by using a sponge soaked in diluted white distilled vinegar for the final rinse.
To clean a grease splattered oven door window, saturate it with full-strength white distilled vinegar. Keep the door open for 10 to 15 minutes before wiping with a sponge.
Remove soap buildup and odors from the dishwasher by pouring a cup of white distilled vinegar inside the empty machine and running it through a whole cycle. Do monthly.
To prevent good glassware from getting etched by minerals, wash then spray with full-strength white distilled vinegar. Give the glasses a hot water rinse before letting them dry or drying them with a towel.
For cloudy glassware, soak paper towels or a cloth in full-strength white distilled vinegar and wrap around the inside and outside of the glass. Let sit awhile before rinsing clean.
Get rid of lime deposits in a tea kettle by adding 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar to the water and letting it sit overnight. If more drastic action is needed, boil full-strength white distilled vinegar in the kettle a few minutes, let cool and rinse with plain water.
Remove mineral deposits from coffee makers with white distilled vinegar. Fill the water reservoir with 1 cup or more of white distilled vinegar and run it through a whole cycle. Run it once or twice more with plain water to rinse clean. (Check the owners’ manual first.)
Remove stains from coffee and teacups by scrubbing them gently with equal parts of salt (or baking soda) and white distilled vinegar. Rinse clean.
For stained and smelly plastic food containers, wipe them with a cloth dampened with white distilled vinegar.
Remove odors from a lunch box by placing inside a slice of bread that has been soaked in white distilled vinegar. Leave overnight.
Remove ugly film in narrow-necked glass jars, flower vases, and bottles by letting undiluted white distilled vinegar sit in them for a few hours. Add a little rice or sand and shake vigorously to loosen stubborn stains. Repeat if necessary.
To clean tarnished brass, copper, and pewter, use a paste with equal amounts of white distilled vinegar and table salt.
Make a metal cleanser by adding enough white distilled vinegar to 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar to make a paste. Rub it on and let it dry on the surface. Wash it off and dry with a soft cloth.
Polish brass and copper with a mixture of 2 tablespoons of ketchup and 1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar. Rub it on with a clean cloth until dry and shiny.
Remove dark stains on an aluminum pot by boiling a mixture of 1 cup white distilled vinegar and 1 cup hot water.
Discourage ants by spraying undiluted white distilled vinegar outside doorways and windowsills, around appliances and wherever you find the pests coming in.
Get rid of fruit flies by setting out a small dish of undiluted white distilled vinegar.
Clean the wheel of a can opener using white distilled vinegar and an old toothbrush.
Remove the smell of spoiled food from a refrigerator by first rinsing the area with soap and water. Spray surfaces with full-strength white distilled vinegar and wipe them down with a damp cloth or sponge. Fill some containers with baking soda and place inside. Close the door and leave for a few days.
Wipe grease off exhaust fan grids, the inside of your oven, or anywhere grease gathers with a sponge soaked in white distilled vinegar.
To make cleaning the grill easier, spray a solution of half water and half white distilled vinegar on the cooking surface.
To remove a label, decal, or price tag, cover with a cloth soaked in white distilled vinegar. Leave the cloth on overnight and the label should slide off.
Renew sponges and dishrags by placing them in just enough water to cover them. Then add 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar. Let them soak overnight.
Get rid of calcium deposits on faucets by soaking a cloth or paper towel in white distilled vinegar and wrapping the area tightly. Let this sit for a couple of hours or overnight.
Remove soap buildup from faucets by scrubbing them with a solution of 1 part salt to 4 parts white distilled vinegar.
Rid a faucet of lime deposits by tying a plastic bag containing 1/2 to 1/3 cup of white distilled vinegar around it and leaving it there for two or three hours. If mineral deposits don’t wipe off, scrubbing with an old toothbrush should complete the job.
Shine colored porcelain sinks by scouring them with undiluted white distilled vinegar.
Rinse away soapy film on countertops with a solution of white distilled vinegar and water.
Clean grout by letting full-strength white distilled vinegar sit on it for a few minutes and scrubbing it with an old toothbrush.
Kill germs all around the bathroom with a spray of full-strength white distilled vinegar. Wipe clean with a damp cloth.
To remove grime, mildew, and scum from the tub, tile, shower curtain or door, wipe with undiluted white distilled vinegar. Rinse with water.
Spray shower doors with full-strength white distilled vinegar after you’ve squeegeed the glass, or before you step in and turn on the water. It will help release the hard water deposits so they don’t remain on the glass.
Mix up an inexpensive tile cleaner by adding 1/2 cup baking soda, 1 cup white distilled vinegar, and 1 cup ammonia to a gallon of warm water.
Get rid of stubborn bathtub film by wiping it with white distilled vinegar and then scouring with baking soda.
Soak a sponge or loofah overnight in a strong white distilled vinegar and water solution to remove dirt and slime. Rinse several times with cold water and let air dry (in the sun if possible).
Clean shower door tracks by filling them with white distilled vinegar and letting it sit for a few hours. Pour hot water into the tracks and wash and scrub away the scum with a toothbrush.
To clean a scummy showerhead, pour 1/2 cup baking soda and 1 cup white distilled vinegar into a sandwich bag and tie it around the showerhead. Let this set for an hour after the bubbling has stopped. Remove the bag and then turn on the water.
Deodorize the toilet bowl by allowing 3 cups white distilled vinegar to sit in it for about a half hour before flushing.
To make the toilet bowl sparkle, pour in a cup or more of diluted white distilled vinegar and let it sit several hours or overnight. Scrub well with the toilet brush and flush.
Freshen air in the bathroom by spraying into the air a solution of 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar, and 1 cup water.
Get a shining finish on a no-wax vinyl or linoleum floor by cleaning it with a solution of one cup white distilled vinegar for every gallon of water.
Apply full-strength white distilled vinegar directly to tough linoleum stains. Leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes before wiping it up. If that doesn’t work, apply white distilled vinegar again and then sprinkle some baking soda over the white distilled vinegar. Scrub the area with a brush or sponge. Rinse clean with water.
For an economical and environmentally friendly floor cleaner, mix a solution of 3 drops dishwashing liquid to 1/3 part white distilled vinegar, 1/3 part alcohol, and 1/3 part water. Spray sparingly and mop for a fast clean-up.
Some carpet stains can be removed with a paste of 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar and 1/4 cup salt or baking soda. Rub into the carpet stain and let dry. Vacuum up the residue the next day. (Always test on an out-of-sight part of the carpet first).
Bring out the color in carpet by brushing it with a solution of 1 cup white distilled vinegar for every gallon of water. (Always test on an out-of-sight part of the carpet beforehand).
To reduce soap bubbles in a steam cleaner add about 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar. Use the same amount in the rinse water to remove detergent residue and make carpets stay fresh longer.
Wash indoor/outdoor carpet with a solution of 1 cup white distilled vinegar in 1 bucket of warm water. Scrub using a brush or a broom and then hose off.
Clean up pet accidents by first blotting up the area and then adding a white distilled vinegar-and-water solution. Blot until it is almost dry. Then sprinkle baking soda over the area and let it dry. Vacuum up the residue the next day.
Create your own window cleaning solution by combining 1/2 cup non-sudsy ammonia, 1 cup white distilled vinegar, and 2 tablespoons cornstarch in a gallon of water.
Remove the wax residue left by commercial window cleaners with a solution of 2 cups water, 1 cup white distilled vinegar and 1 teaspoon of liquid soap or detergent.
To remove paint from windows try using undiluted, hot white distilled vinegar. Give the solution time to soften the paint before removing with a razor edge tool.
To remove paint splatters from windows apply full-strength white distilled vinegar with a clean paintbrush.
Get rid of mildew, dust, and stale odors by wiping down walls with undiluted white distilled vinegar on a cloth or a sponge mop.
Clean woodwork and walls with a mixture of 1 cup white distilled vinegar, 1 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup ammonia and 1 gallon warm water. Wipe on with a sponge or damp—not wet—towel.
Clean wood paneling with a solution of 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar, and 2 cups warm water. Wipe on with a soft cloth.
Remove wallpaper easily by using a paint roller to wet the surface very thoroughly with a solution of equal parts white distilled vinegar and hot water. Or spray on until saturated.
Get decals off walls or doors by letting undiluted white distilled vinegar soak into them for several minutes before trying to peel them off. Repeat if necessary.
Remove white water rings from wood with a solution of equal parts white distilled vinegar and vegetable oil. Rub with the grain.
Remove fireplace soot and grime with undiluted white distilled vinegar. Use a brush to scrub and a towel to blot up the wetness and dirt.
Clean fireplace glass doors with a solution of 1 part white distilled vinegar to 2 parts water. Spray or wipe on, then wipe clean with a dry cloth.
To kill germs, spray full-strength white distilled vinegar on doorknobs and then wipe them dry.
Remove the smell of a dead mouse or other rodent (after removing all animal remnants) by wiping down the area with either white distilled vinegar or bleach. Then place a fabric softener sheet in the area to remove any lingering odors.
Never use white distilled vinegar on marble. The acid can damage the surface.
Before painting old concrete, clean with full-strength white distilled vinegar. Let it air dry.
Clean hardened paint brushes by simmering them in a pot with white distilled vinegar. Soak them first for an hour before bringing the white distilled vinegar to a simmer. Drain and rinse clean.
Remove mud and stains from plastic, fiberglass, or aluminum sports equipment by applying a paste of 1 part white distilled vinegar to 3 parts baking soda. Wipe off with soapy water and rinse with clear water.
Clean your grill by spritzing white distilled vinegar over wadded up aluminum foil and scrubbing the grill vigorously with it.
To remove film in glass baby bottles, fill with equal parts hot water and white distilled vinegar. Let sit for at least an hour. Scrub with a bottle brush.
To clean and disinfect baby toys add a good-sized splash of white distilled vinegar to soapy water.
Clean vinyl baby books or board books by wiping with white distilled vinegar. Wipe clean with a damp sponge or cloth.
Clean scissors that have become sticky (after cutting tape, for instance) with a cloth dipped in undiluted white distilled vinegar.
Clean and deodorize urine on a mattress with a white distilled vinegar and water solution. Then sprinkle the area with baking soda and let dry. Brush or vacuum the residue after it is dry to the touch.
From www. vinegartips.com
Posted by Renee at 5:19 AM
Thursday, April 17, 2008
I've done some sprucing up...Hope you like it!
Now do your part...please leave comments! They're what keep me excited about posting :)
Posted by Renee at 4:47 AM
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
If you're a member of my generation, you heard about the three "R"s in school every April. It's the one time a year science teachers taught eco-friendly practices, thanks to the celebration of Earth Day on the 22nd. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
I'd encourage you to take a moment and think about 3Rs, and what each one means. And more importantly, appreciate them in that order. We ought to Reduce first, Reuse second, and Recycle last. Take for example, bottled water. The most eco-friendly option is to Reduce: fill a glass pitcher, or buy a water bottle (my favorites are Sigg and KleenKanteen, but more on that later). The next best bet, Reuse: If you must by a bottle of water, fill it up again, or use it for another purpose. The last choice should be Recycling. Yes, it's better than tossing the bottle in the trash, but it's still waste.
Let me suggest a 4th R...Replace. No one (unless you have unlimited cash) can be expected to go green in a day. I did not walk around my house one afternoon and bag up all toxic cleaners, paper towels, plastic storage containers, etc. What I am doing is replacing. As I run out of an item (or it breaks, etc), I make an effort to replace it with something more eco-friendly. Just used the last paper towel? Buy rags instead. Out of bleach-based toilet bowl cleaner? Try vinegar and baking soda or a more natural product. No more dryer sheets? Get some dryer balls.
Take a look at your shopping list...anything you can replace?
Posted by Renee at 12:56 PM
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Things have been crazy in my house. I apologize that the blog has slowed down a bit...I promise lots of good stuff soon! Hope everyone had a good weekend!
[I'm playing around with a new look for the blog, so things may be out of whack for a day or so.]
Posted by Renee at 4:50 AM
Thanks, BlueWalrus, for finding these awesome reusable produce bags. I've been wondering about the predicament, and can't believe I didn't think to turn to Etsy for the answer. I've already ordered them!
Posted by Renee at 4:48 AM
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
you should "Go Green When you Clean." Check out this article.
Posted by Renee at 7:47 AM
Chapter II: Disinfecting Cleaning Wipes
Inspired by the fabulous ladies on thenestbaby eco-friendly board, I made some all purpose reusable cleaning wipes. I layered the cloth wipes, folding one over the other so they pop up. I put them in an old wipes box and covered them with this cleaning solution:
2c hot water
1c white vinegar
10 drops of tea tree oil
Essential oil (I used lavender, it's my favorite) for fragrance.
Tea tree oil is anti bacterial and anti fungal, so they disinfect as they clean.
For the wipes, I highly recommend these, from Soft and Scrubby on Etsy. I bought them for diapering, and they are fantastic! The "scrubby" side also makes them great for cleaning. The seller is fantastic to work with and even made me a custom order.
I've never really been a wipes person (more of a spray bottle and rag person), but I think I'll keep a box in the bathroom for wiping down countertops, and one in the kitchen for the highchair!
Posted by Renee at 6:57 AM
Monday, April 7, 2008
Aveda's Organic Lavender Candle
Eco-conscious cosmetics giant Aveda is tying the sales of its Earth Day-inspired "Light the Way" organic Bulgarian lavender soy candle to a truly illuminating cause: clean water for all global citizens. Inspired by the almost unfathomable fact that 6,000 people die per day from drinking water contaminated by pesticides and other toxins, Aveda has partnered with the Global Greengrants Fund to ensure that proceeds from their Earth Month efforts go toward innovative water-related projects around the world (including, in full-circle fashion, Bulgaria). Not in the mood to jump on the whole commerce-for-change bandwagon? Simply text the phrase "clean water" to #30644 and Aveda will help tally and present the results to the U.N. to bolster support for its ongoing efforts to safeguard the increasingly endangered 70 percent of the earth's surface.
Click here to buy the candle.
Posted by Renee at 1:03 PM
Most steps to "going green" will save you money. Some will cost you. I've only given money saving tips so far, so now I'm going to suggest you spend a bit. Find out if your power company has any green energy sources. For example, I can pay $4.95 for a 100 kilowatt block of wind, solar or geothermal energy. Of course, that doesn't mean my house is being powered by a windmill, but it does mean that I've subsidized some cost of green energy in the grid. The Georgia Power website has some interesting info.
Surely you've saved $5 this month by not using paper towels, right? Right? ;)
Posted by Renee at 11:39 AM
Sunday, April 6, 2008
This fantastic website gives links to local groups for FreeCycling, or trading. I have given away an old fridge, an area rug, a kid's bike, some maternity clothes, and a golf bag. I've gotten a trash can for my composting, a patio set, and a flowering anise shrub. The only catch is that you have to offer something before taking something, and you must pick up your treasures.
This is so cool! A box of maternity clothes handed down to me is now going to a teen mom who can't afford any. My nasty old fridge is going to house produce and medicine for a parrot rescue organization. The alternative was paying $40 bucks for the city to pick it up and put it in a junkyard. Great, right?
So clean out your garages, basements and closets...and FreeCycle!
Posted by Renee at 9:02 AM
Friday, April 4, 2008
I just ordered this kitchen crock to keep scraps until I can get them in the bin. I will be a lot easier to have a place to toss them while I'm cooking!
Posted by Renee at 5:04 PM
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Two posts today because I forgot yesterday...and these go hand in hand.
One thing I haven't been able to give up is my freezer bags. There's just not a substitute that works as well. I'm not okay with freezer burn. Instead of tossing them in the trash, I turn them inside out and wash in the top rack of my dishwasher. You have to make sure they're standing upside down on the little pegs and won't tip over, or they'll fill with grimy water. If you buy the high quality bags- freezer, not storage- they'll last through several washings.
Posted by Renee at 6:56 AM
Buying in bulk reduces the amount of packaging that ends up in your trash. I've noticed it most with meats...those little styrofoam trays add up. I try to buy things like chicken breasts and ground beef in large packages, then divide into portions (1 lb, 2 breasts, etc) and freeze. I also try to steer clear of the pre-prepped produce. I can shuck my own corn and save about $2 and a bunch of packaging. Same thing goes for the chopped onions, peppers, etc. It's convenient, but you pay such a premium and end up with a plastic container. Instead, spend 30 minutes when you get home from the market and chop your veggies. Again, freeze in quantities you will use. You weren't going to use that whole tub of chopped onions before they went bad anyway...now they're frozen at the peak of freshness. Speaking of things going to waste, think of everything you buy that goes bad before you finish it, leading you to toss one container and buy another. For me, it was hamburger buns and chicken broth. Now I freeze the buns in a gallon-size bag so I can pull them out two at a time. Chicken broth: Freeze 1/2 portions in a muffin tin (I have a silicone one), pop them out, and toss in a bag.
See, I've saved you money and time with this eco-tip! :)
Posted by Renee at 6:43 AM
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Chapter I: Harness the Bleaching Power of the Sun
There's more than one reason your grandma line dries her clothes. Sure, the laundry turns out crisp and smells like a spring breeze, but did you know the sun will whiten your whites?
Remember those kitchen cloths? Over time, they get dingy. I hated the thought of bleaching them every time I washed them. 1) It's harsh on the Earth 2) It's harsh on the cloths. So every few washes, I've taken the wet rags outside and dried them on the deck. In a few hours, they're crisp and white...almost like new. Try it!
(Oh, and this tip is a twofer...of course, line drying uses less energy than the dryer. ;))
Posted by Renee at 7:28 AM
Monday, March 31, 2008
I've half-heartedly considered composting for a while, but the idea comes on strong when I have a babyfood making day. I generally make Marlee's food in huge batches for freezing, and I end up with a huge batch of produce scraps as well. For one reason or another, I haven't composted before. I made some new entrees for the babe yesterday and realized that it was probably my last batch...and the last time I would have a heap of carrot peels, leak stalks, potato skins, and cauliflower "trunks" begging me not to put them down the disposal. So I gathered them up, now what?
After a bit of research, I've decided that the easiest way for me to start is to turn an old trashcan into a compost barrel. I'm going to drill some holes in it for air and fill it with leaves from my yard and the produce scraps from yesterday.
This whole thing is totally foreign to me, so I'm hoping to teach as I learn...are you all along for the ride?
Posted by Renee at 10:26 AM
Friday, March 28, 2008
A weekend challenge for everyone:
Turn something you would normally throw away into something useful! Email pictures to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll post them all on Monday.
We'll use the comment section to vote, and I'll send the winner a great prize: A cute reusable tote bag!
Posted by Renee at 8:26 AM
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Join cities across the world- including Chicago, Toronto, Manila, Bangkok, Copenhagen, Melbourne and Tel Aviv- in an hour of conservation.
This Saturday, March 29th, from 8pm to 9pm, the World Wildlife Fund is sponsoring Earth Hour 2008. For one hour, people across the world will turn off their lights in a "symbolic gesture to remind us that we all share the responsibility of global warming."
If you sign up on the Earth Hour website, you'll receive lots of additional tips.
Posted by Renee at 6:59 AM
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
As I've mentioned, I love to take baths. Really long, hot, turn-my-skin-red baths. It's something that, for my sanity's sake, I'm just not ready to give up. Instead of letting all of that perfectly good water go down the drain, I scoop it up by the bucketful and water houseplants and outdoor plants. I use what's left to pre-rinse any of MJ' stained clothes instead of running them under the tap.
Don't forget that water is recyclable too!
Posted by Renee at 6:12 AM
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
I never thought I could give up my Sw1ffer, but I love love love my Shark Steam Mop. It takes regular tap water and turns it into a deep cleaning, germ killing steam in about 30 seconds. I don't have to use any harsh chemicals, and my floors are clean and sanitized. It's safe on most floors, including tile, hardwood, and bamboo.
I love to conduct my own private infomercials to test products :). I cleaned my kitchen floor first with my Sw1ffer, then with my steam mop. Here's the result. Their slogan is, "The proof is on the pad"...I'd say so! It's amazing on sticky messes. The mop comes with two microfiber pads. When dirty, I just toss it in the basket with my kitchen cloths and machine wash.
I'd really like to get rid of all the carpet in my house. This mop makes me feel like my floors are truly clean, something I just can't get with carpet.
Posted by Renee at 7:41 AM
Monday, March 24, 2008
For the longest time, I didn't really think twice about plastic grocery bags. I repurposed a lot of them and recycled what was left. A few months ago, on a Monday, I took all the bags I had to Marlee's former daycare, where they use them to send soiled clothes home. That week, I made two trips to Super T@rget for groceries and miscellaneous other household stuff. On Sunday, the cabinet where I stored bags seemed awfully full. So I counted-41 bags! I didn't even buy that much, but several items were bagged alone and heavy things were double bagged. I decided then and there that I was done with plastic bags. The next day, I bought 16 reusable bags. They're strong, and the "paper bag" shape is easier to pack full of groceries. I also like the long handles which I can sling over my shoulder, making the bags easier to carry. My decision was reinforced that same week when my recycling man saw me outside and told me that he had to pull the bags out of my bin each week because Georgia doesn't recycle them.
Go and get yourself some reusable shopping bags. A popular brand is GreenSak, but I got mine for just 89 cents each at the supermarket. Some stores, like WholeFoods and Trader Joe's, even offer a discount if you bring your own bags. The don't even have to be purchased from that store-- WF still gave me my 5 cents off per bag even though my bags have "Publix" written on them. Keep them in the car so you'll remember to bring them to the store. So far, this has been the hardest part for me. I love that Trader Joe's has a giant banner outside the store that reads, "Don't forget your bags!"
I also decline bags often at the mall. If I have a diaper bag with me or have made one purchase, I just put other things I buy in that bag if possible.
Click here to read more about the cost of free plastic bags.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
I've added the fable at the right of the page. It seemed fitting of this blog. Enjoy!
Posted by Renee at 12:39 PM
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Here's a powerful statistic for you from energystar.gov
"If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars.”
Wow, right? What if we switched out all our lightbulbs? I have 26 in my small house alone!
Buy some compact fluorescent bulbs from Go Green Utilities for as little as $1.49 each. Sure they're a little more expensive than your standard bulb, but the impact is huge, and they last (almost) forever!
Posted by Renee at 11:53 AM
Friday, March 21, 2008
I know what you're thinking, but don't scoff until you've done some research. Today's cute dipes aren't your mama's cloth diapers! When Michael first mentioned the idea after reading it in a magazine, I told him he was nuts. I thought he was kidding. I realized he meant it, so I did a little digging. There are lots of options out there, and we settled on BumGenius One Size. I love that they'll grow with Marlee until she's potty trained, and we can even use them if we ever have two kids in diapers.
They're really no more work than disposables. Just 3 extra loads of laundry per week (don't even try the water argument...I'll win ;)).
Changing a Disposable vs Changing a Cloth
1. Open old diaper Open old diaper
2. Clean the tush Clean the tush
3. Wrap wipe in old diaper Wrap (cloth) wipe in old diaper
4. Put on new diaper Put on new diaper
5. Thow old one in diaper pail Throw old on in diaper pail (flush solids if needed)
6. When full, take out to trash When full, wash and reuse!
My top five reasons for loving cloth diapers:
5. Better for snugglin': They're soft, comfy, and super cute
4. Better for the wallet: $250 for multiple kids v. over $1500 for one kid in 'sposies
3. Better for the Earth: fewer diapers in landfills, eco-friendly production
2. Better for the bum: No Leaks, No Rash
1. Better for her health: No harmful chemicals against my baby's tush!
Thursday, March 20, 2008
It seemed fitting to start the blog by sharing the easiest change I've made so far...no more paper towels. We went through an insane amount of paper towels in my house. I'd buy the jumbo pack, and it was gone before I knew it. I switched to recycled paper towels. They're lousy. They only contain a small percentage of recycled paper, and they don't absorb worth a lick, so you actually use more. When I finished my last roll, I went to Target and bought a pack of 30 white washcloths for $9.99. I folded them in half and put them in a cute basket by my sink. On top of the fridge is another basket for the dirties. They don't take up much space and just get tossed in with my regular load of towels. In addition to an eco-friendly change, it's cheaper, and they work better. Why did I ever use paper towels?
**Pictures? Why didn't I think of that?!