Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Great Sling Debacle

I've been avoiding talking about all the sling stuff in the news, frankly because it annoys me. ONE TYPE of sling (the bag sling) is being recalled, and it's one that was exposed as dangerous years ago.

Babywearing is a wonderful thing. It soothes and comforts babies. It promotes bonding. It allows mom to hold her baby and still go about other chasing toddlers. Like anything in life, it needs to be done with common sense.

1. Do not cover your baby's nose and mouth with fabric. There, don't you feel enlightened?
2. Do not position your baby in a position in which you would not normally hold him. (Like in a u shape across your belly)
3. Make sure you feel secure. If something feels off, adjust and reposition.

Used properly, most slings are perfectly safe. But if you don't feel comfortable using them, here's a list of alternatives:

-Wraps (ie Moby, Maya, homemade)
-Soft Structured Carriers (Ergo, Beco, Bjorn, Snuggli)
-Mei Tais (Babyhawk, homemade)

A few closing tips from SNM:

Don't put your baby face first in a sleepsack.
Don't put your baby in a Bumb0 on the top of the refrigerator.
Don't let your baby practice handstands in the excersaucer.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Story of Bottled Water

Almost exactly two years ago, I urged you to watch a short documentary, The Story of Stuff. If you haven't seen it yet, I'll urge again! It is really a great commentary on our country as consumers. I think about it just about every time I'm about to make a major purchase.

The folks behind The Story of Stuff have created a new must-watch doc, The Story of Bottled Water. If you're a follower of my blog, chances are you aren't a bottled water drinker...unless of course "bottle" refers to your stainless steel reusable vessel. Still, take the time (it's just a few minutes) and watch.

Go ahead, I'll wait.

Good, wasn't it!

Now, share your thoughts! I really thrive on hearing from you. Seeing your faces up there----^ is what motivates me :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Naturally Sweet

I've been trying to reduce the amount of refined sugar we eat. I cut out devilish HFCS, but the yummy white stuff isn't angelic either. I'm trying to save it for occasional treats like birthday cake or other special desserts.

For more everyday-type baked goods (muffins, quick breads, etc) I replace oil with applesauce and reduce sugar by 1/3 to 1/2. If I'm leaving out brown sugar, a little added molasses maintains that warm sweetness. I sometimes use honey, depending on the recipe.

For breads, I always use honey.

Popsicles, yogurt, and oatmeal are sweetened with fruit purees or juice.

I usually don't sweeten my coffee, but I had an itchy tooth for a sweet cup this morning. I glanced at my sugar bowl, then opted for a drizzle of real maple syrup. Oh My Goodness. It is delightful! Try it!

Here's a list of sweeteners in pure form that I've tried:

Honey- Remember, if you buy local, you get great allergy protection! And for a touch of fun, check out my adorable new-to-me vintage honey pot!

Maple Syrup- The real stuff. Pancake syrup is sketchy. This is one of those things you probably want to buy organic...many brands contain formaldehyde. Gross. Did you know that maple syrup has more calcium than milk? For use in baking, sub 1c maple syrup and 1/4t baking soda for 1c sugar and reduce liquid by 3T for ever cup used.

Fruit Purees- Applesauce is easy, but be adventurous! Purees have the added benefit of moisture, so you can replace oil or egg yolks in baked goods.

Fruit Juice- Juice is sweet on it's own, and concentrate is even sweeter. Many commercial concentrates are stripped of any nutrients, so I recommend making your own by bringing juice to a boil and simmering until reduced to 1/4 the original amount.

Molassas- Made from cane juice and high in calcium, potassium, and iron.

Sorghum Syrup- Sorghum cane juice, boiled down. Even if you don't buy organic, it has a low instance of pesticides because the cane is naturally insect-resistant.

I used to tout agave nectar, but I've been reading some sketchy things. Consumers are led to believe that it is some natural wonder, pressed from the leaves of the agave plant. Apparently, it goes through about the same level of chemical processing as HFCS. I will try to dig up some article links for you. For now, I'm looking for sweeteners whose processing involves no more than boiling.

There are other things out there that I want to try (especially date sugar!). I'll be sure to let you know what my results are.

Friday, March 19, 2010

It's Consignment Sale Season!

There are so many things I love about spring, and a good consignment sale is one of them!

Today I scored:

6 dresses (three with matching tights or leggings)
1 skirt
2 sets of jammies
1 shirt
1 pair of shoes
1 pillow case dress made from a vintage hand-embroidered, hand-tatted case
5 wooden puzzles
1 toddler computer game
2 art smocks

...all for around $60.

Everyone knows consignment shopping is cheap, and most know that it's a great way to reduce waste, but did you know that previously-loved clothing is safer? Yep. We can't all buy organic handmade clothing all of the time. But commercial clothing made in China (or wherever) has lower levels of toxic chemicals after it's had years to off-gas.

So search the local paper for a sale near you, load up the reusable bags, and shop shop shop! Your wallet (and therefore your husband), your kids, and the earth will be glad you did.

A Word About My Giveaways

I felt the need to clarify something for my readers. Every product I have reviewed on my blog is one that I went out (or clicked) and purchased. I have never received one thing free for reviewing or giving away, and I don't want to. I don't ever want to feel "paid" to give a good review. If I say I like it, I do. Sometimes, I like something so much that I write to the company and ask if they'd consider giving an item to one of my know, share the love.

So there you have it. My reviews are straight up from me. Nothing free, nothing paid. That's just not the point of my blog. For product review blogs, that's great. But this is more of a helpful hint blog with an occasional "Oooh! I love this! Want one?" thrown in. I like giving away free stuff :)

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Quicky Update of the List Variety

I have so many posts in the works right now, but I thought I'd let you know what's going on in the life of SNM these days. Details, pictures, and fun to come :)

- I got my deep freezer! Woohoo, Yippee, and Yay! Well, I don't HAVE it yet, but it's waiting for me to pick it up.
- We've had some days warm enough to hang laundry. I'm planning a new clothesline so I can hang more.
- Easter baskets for MJ and E are almost complete...and not a corn syrup-y chick or strand of plastic grass in sight. Wait 'til you see the delightful goodies.
- My dear grandmother passed away last month. I got so many wonderful handmade and vintagey things from her home to remember her by. This has inspired a bit of a dining room make-over, in eco-friendly fashion, of course.
- MJ and I picked out some bulk wildflower seeds to fill our yard with local color. Can't wait to plant!
- Along those lines, I'm planning out my first real veggie garden.
- I've been baking. Bread. And lots of it.
- Materials are gathered for our hand-made Easter decor. The peanut and I have some serious crafting to do!

The first hints of Spring never fail to bring on a new surge of Green Motivation! I've got a newly renewed passion and desire to be SuperMommy/Domestic Goddess/Eco Warrior. I can do it, right?

Oh! How could I forget!?! SNM blog is getting a MAJOR makeover. It's going to take a few weeks, but I'm super-stoked :)

Friday, March 12, 2010

GAP Demin Event

This weekend, when you bring old denim to the GAP, you get 30% off the purchase of new denim. The old stuff will be upcycled into eco-friendly insulation for homes!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Oh, the Irony!

Consumers who want to know just which chemicals are lurking in their stuff can surf right over to What was once a great website for checking toys, now covers all sorts of household items. I check it occasionally just to see if a suspect something sneaked into my home. Imagine my dismay (and shock) when I found this onesie on the list of worst kids' items. It's irony at it's best and sad because my Sweet E got this every one as a gift...and wore it.

Test results show that it contains high levels of both lead and arsenic. Sad.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My Book List: Pregnancy, Birth, Babies

My friend Jana recently blogged about her favorite books for moms. She inspired me to share my own list of favorites.

I truly believe that it is near impossible to read an entire book and agree with every point. You need to think for yourself. Read a few, find what resonates. This is especially true when it comes to baby books. Why blindly follow some sort of "plan" written by an author who doesn't know you or your baby?

There is a popular book called Babywise. The premise is that it will make your baby sleep longer at night by following a strict schedule during the day. Sadly, moms who completely buy into Babywise follow a schedule written by an author rather than their baby's cues. This means that hungry babies are being made to wait to eat; tired babies are being forced to stay awake. The Babywise plan has actually been linked to malnourishment and failure to thrive. Do some's all out there.

Mommas, you have a gift more powerful than any book...your intuition. If it doesn't feel right, don't do it! I've heard so many moms say things like, "I'm so sorry, baby. Just 20 more minutes!" or "It just kills me to hear him cry!" Feed your baby, pick him up, hold him, rock him. Babies are only babies for a short time. When he's older, you'll wish you had rocked him to sleep more instead of standing in the hall listening to him cry. That's a promise. You don't get this time back.

That said, many moms have had success by taking a few of the book's pointers and using them in a way that suits the individual baby.

::Making an effort to steer this away from a parenting post and back to a book post::

Okay, here are some books that are on my shelf:

Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn by Simkin et al
The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer
The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin
The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers by Jack Newman
The Baby Book by Dr. Sears
Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp

and just for fun

Belly Laughs by Jenny McCarthy. She's laugh-out-loud funny, in a brutally honest kind of way.

Read. Enjoy. Think. Make educated choices. Don't do things just because it's what your friends do. If that's really what you want and what works for you, great. But arrive at that decision yourself. I think if you do your due diligence, you just might decide that the "way it's always done" is seldom best in our day and age.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Spread the Word, Get a Gift!

I have a Flip and Tumble bag for you! Yes, you! Want it? Here's how.

1. Tell your friends about SNM.
2. Ask them to follow the blog (and become a facebook fan if they're on FB!).
3. When you've recruited 5 followers, post here and let me know who they are.
4. First 5 posters will get a Flip and Tumble bag! Don't forget to leave me your contact email!
6. I'll also draw from the pool of new followers and give out two more bags!

Why am I so desperate for followers?

A bigger fan base= More giveaway opportunities! Come on, Share the Love!

Green (Literally!) Air Purification

A website dedicated to reviewing air purifiers (you know, those expensive, ugly, power-hungry appliances) recently combined results from four studies (NASA and Wolverton) to determine the best houseplants for removing toxins from your home. Turns out, a small plant (6") per 100 square feet of your home can significantly lower the amounts of these common household toxins:

-carbon monoxide
-nitrogen dioxide

Here are the leafy super-cleaners, starting with strongest purification power:

1. Areca Palm

2. Lady Palm

3. Bamboo Palm

4. Rubber Plant

5. Janet Craig Dracaena

6. English Ivy **potentially poisonous if ingested**

7. Dwarf Date Palm

8. Ficus

9. Boston Fern

10. Peace Lily **potentially poisonous if ingested**

11. Aloe Vera **potentially poisonous if ingested**

12. Spider Plants

13. Chrysanthemum **potentially poisonous if ingested**

14. Heart-Leaf Philodendron **potentially poisonous if ingested**

15. Mother-in-Law Tongue/Snake Plant

One trip to Ikea and just $75 later, my house has it first round of air purifiers--in cute pots of course! The plants were much more affordable than those at the home improvement store. Ikea also has a wide variety of decorative pots. I chose simple neutral ones because I wasn't sure for which room each plant was destined. :)

A few of our new leafy friends

I still need to add more to get to that 6"/100sq ft sweet spot, but I'm happy to be on my way. I'm also pleased with the element the plants bring to my decor!

[My apologies for leaving out the link to my source...fixed!]