Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Guilty Confession

After writing my post way back about artificial coloring in foods, I found that my big bag of dum-dums that I use to bribe the kids (usually for travel on airplanes or long car trips) is stock full of artificial colors. Instead of passing out better-for-you organic and/or artificial color free candy for Halloween, I am going to pass out all the dum-dums that I don't want to give to my kids anymore. I got some of the organic lollipops for us. I'm feeling a bit guilty that I am not passing out something better, but since I care and so many others don't, why not get rid of them? I'll probably have to supplement with another bag of candy. Do you know how difficult it is to find candy with no artificial colorings or hydrogenated oils or high fructose corn syrup or palm oil (which I am going to write about next week!)?? Nearly impossible. The only one I could find was Nestle Crunches, but I didn't do a complete search...

Tomorrow after we trick-or-treat, indulge in some sugar and manage to settle the kids to sleep, I think the Switch Witch is going to visit us. If you give the Switch Witch all of your candy, she leaves you a toy. I hope the kids go for it. I hope the Switch Witch has the self-control to get rid of the candy and not eat it all herself!

I think I am going to take a break from blogging for Halloween. I gotta get myself motivated for NaBloPoMo. It still isn't too late to join, and if you blog about anything green, be sure to join our Green Bloggers group!

Oops!

Sorry! I was showing someone all the setting options on the blog last night and accidently left my blog on private...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Mourning

Our dear neighbor and friend Jinne died this morning. She has been on hospice for awhile, so it wasn't unexpected. The most difficult part has been watching her decline. When we moved into cohousing 2 years ago, Jinne was spry. Always going out to the theater, always traveling. When she started to get sicker, the doctors told her that she might live longer if she moved to sea level (there isn't as much oxygen up at our altitude). She chose not to leave. She loved cohousing.

When Jinne first started to decline, I helped her out a lot. I did much of her grocery shopping (an elderly, single woman doesn't require much!), washed and rolled her snowy white hair once a week, and made a few middle-of-the-night visits when she was having problems (like an itchy rash reaction to a medication). As she got worse, other neighbors took over and eventually she had an assistant during the day that did everything.

I wish I had the words to tell you how kind Jinne was. She loved to sit out on her porch and watch the children play. Even when she needed to be carried, she still would sit and watch. Or sometimes stand inside and watch. And Jinne always had the best Halloween treats. Last year she took a picture with every child that came to her door trick-or-treating. We are certainly going to miss her.
Edited to add: Help! Kate just asked me "Why did Jinne die?" and I didn't know what to say! (I should have been preparing for this...) Any advice? Any books you recommend?


More Bags

Remember when you didn't have to wear seat belts in the car? Remember when it started to become law and seemed like such a pain to buckle-up every time you went for a drive? Of course it was safer and better for you, but it was such a hassle. The funny thing is that now it is almost impossible to NOT put on my seat belt. It feels strange, and has become such an ingrained habit.

I am starting to feel the same way about my reusable shopping bags. It feels strange not to have them with me. I think it won't be long before using your own shopping bag is as a part of our life as seat belts. If you didn't hear it last spring, San Fransisco has already banned plastic bags in grocery stores and pharmacies. I just hope it doesn't take a law to make you start.
After converting to my own shopping bags, I have taken it a step further and started using these organic cotton mesh bags for my produce and bulk purchases. Outside of the environmental impact, it just feels cleaner and healthier to put my apples in these than in a plastic bag.
I purchased my mesh bags at a local natural foods store, but you can also get them at Reusablebags.com. Use coupon code eccd87 (case sensitive) for 10% off your entire order, but hurry because they gave me that coupon code awhile back and it is only good through Oct 31st!

Menu Plan Monday

This week is a little crazy... Matt is off work, and Kate & I will be doing a girls-only trip!

Monday - Grilled Elk (from Matt's Uncle), steamed green beans, bread or brown rice
Tuesday - EV's Veggies (we just feel so healthy when we eat it, so we are making it again!)
Wednesday - Halloween Party!
Thursday - Matt cooks!
Friday - Matt cooks!

Get more recipe ideas at Org Junkie's new home.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

ABCs of Me

Penny tagged me for the meme ABCs of me. This was much harder than it looks. Almost as difficult as coming up with a show-and-tell item that starts with the letter of the week at Kate's preschool!

A – Alone is what I am right now – and I am not complaining!
B – Bowling. I’m a good bowler. Or was. I would like to take the kids someday soon.
C – Colorado is where I live now and hopefully forever
D – Dogs. Matt and I are both dog lovers, but we don’t have one right now. Someday.
E – Exercise. I don’t get enough of it.
F – Five feet nine inches is how tall I am
G – Garden. I love to garden. I have a small plot right now, but someday I would like to have a huge garden with raised beds.
H – Hiking is one of my favorite things to do, but we don’t do enough right now. The kids are at a funny in-between stage where the are too small to hike far on their own but are too big to be carried far (even in the backpack).
I – Introvert. I like people, but I really need to be alone to recharge. I think this is the toughest thing about being a mom for me.
J – Junk. I have too much of it. I’m always trying to get rid of it.
K – The first letter of my name
L – First letter of my middle name Lynne
M – Minnesota is the state where I went to college
N – Nebraska is the state where I was born
O – Oprah is my favorite TV show, and the only show I watch with any regularity (but I still only see it once or twice a week)
P – Pink is my favorite color
Q – Quilting. I love it. I’ve done a few but not for a long time. Maybe I’ll start again when I have grandchildren.
R – Radishes might be the only vegetable I don’t like.
S – Sweet Tooth. I have a really bad one and can’t control myself around sweets.
T – Texas is the state where I grew up
U – Unicycle. I actually used to own one. I bought it at a garage sale when I was about ten. I could even ride it pretty well. Wonder what happened to it…
V – Volvo is the kind of car I drive
W – Writing is not one of my fortes.
X – Reading X-Rays is what Matt does all day at work
Y – Yoga. I love to practice yoga, especially Bikram (aka hot yoga). Unfortunately my regular babysitter’s school schedule this semester doesn’t align with the yoga studio’s schedule. Hoping to start going regularly again after the first of the year.
Z – Zach is the name of the guy I was engaged to when I graduated college. It didn’t work out, and that is a good thing cause I really like the guy I’m married to now.

I am going to tag people where I don't think I've seen this yet (but only if you want to!)
Shannon
Tiffany
Ashlee (have you done this??)

oh... and I'll write about me TV interview soon. It went well. It won't air until November.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Pay It Forward

My friend Penny chose me as one of her recipients of her Pay It Forward (PIF). She had been sent a gift by another blogger, and in return sent gifts to 3 other bloggers. I received my gift in the mail yesterday (all the way from New Zealand!) and LOVE it! She sent an awesome bag that is beautiful in it's simplicity (look closely at the picture to see "Made By Penny" embroidered on it) and a bar of great smelling, eco-friendly soap. Thank you so much, Penny!


I would like to continue the PIF by sending gifts to 3 other bloggers. Leave a comment and I'll choose soon!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Garnet Hill Pumpkin Bag Winner

Added Friday: The winner of the Garnet Hill Pumpkin bag chosen at random is commenter #3 Lesha! Congratulations!

I messed up on my original giveaway post and said the drawing would be Thursday, Oct 26th, but the 26th is a Friday so I decided to wait until tomorrow (Fri) to draw the winner! Can't wait to see who won!

Keeping It Short

I am feeling tired, overwhelmed, and lazy. I'm not unpacked from my trip, I literally have piles of laundry to do, my home is a disaster zone, I am behind on my homework for my online class, and I just don't feel like doing any of it.

I have to get the house clean because tomorrow there will be a TV crew here to interview me for a series on a local news station about going green. We are one of the families being highlighted. I am excited to share but nervous about getting my place in TV-showing condition. My biggest problem is that I am now looking at my home in a negative light. All I can see are the things that are NOT environmentally friendly. I need to make a mental list of all the things we have changed. What would you highlight in your home?

I need to go empty the countertop composter so I don't have fruit flies tomorrow...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A Few Pics

After sorting through all those photos, I found that 95% of them were of my niece! Very few of my own children. We didn't do many outings while at grandma's house, and I forgot to bring a camera on our one big outing to the aquarium. I won't overload you with pics of niece but still want to share a couple.

My niece who I think looks more like me than my own children. She really takes after my brother (her dad)!







And my mom "Ama" and Kate sharing a moment.

Too many photos?

I have always been happy that I have pictures of myself as a baby. I thought my mom did such a good job documenting my life, and I really want to do the same for my children. When I was home in Texas, my mom pulled out one of her old photo albums to show Kate pictures of her mommy (me!) as a baby. I was struck that each year of my life filled only 2 or 3 album pages.

As I sit here and download at least 150 pictures from just last week, it makes me think I might be overdoing it a bit on the photos...

I'll post some of my favorite photos from last week soon!

Scarier Than A Halloween Horror Show

So I can't really review Planet in Peril since I didn't watch very much. Partly because the kids didn't go to bed very easily and partly because I kept getting distracted by The Girls Next Door and Kimora on the next channel up... I don't even like those stupid shows!!! Ugh! Anyway, I did watch the entire end of the show, and it happened to coincide with a post that I wrote yesterday and had intended to post today anyway. So here it is.


How scary is this CNN story about high chemical levels in kids' bodies?!? I was especially disturbed about the polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) which is a flame retardant since I recently blogged about kids' PJs. According to a Green Guide article there is not any sleepwear treated with PBDEs. Just to be cautious and because I got an anonymous comment about their PJs not being safe, I have emailed LLBean to find out if and with what they treat their sleepwear (both fleece and cotton). I'll update when I hear back from their customer service.** PBDES are still used in textiles and mattresses. Yikes... don't be surprised if you see me blogging about new mattresses in the near future!


The other chemical that was evident in high doses was phthalates which is flat out terrifying since it is found in bottles, toys, personal care products, and cosmetics (also happens to be very timely since I just posted about wanting to make some product changes and plan to post about it a lot more). Double Yikes!


To be honest, if I had the opportunity I am not sure I would opt to find out the chemical levels in myself or my children. I am too much of a worry wart. I think I'll just continue to avoid as best I can. Would you check your levels if given the chance?


**I did hear back from LLBean customer service. Their response was "I apologize that the formulas used for both fabrics to create the flame resistance are proprietary information. Both materials have the treatment built in on a molecular level of the fabric. The company that provides the cotton material for the Bean's Cotton Knit PJ Sets has a web site at securestfabric.com which may be useful to you."

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Take Action: Methyl Iodide

Methyl Iodide is a chemical that has recently been approved by the EPA as a pesticide to replace Methyl Bromide which is being phased out because it is an ozone depleting chemical. Methyl Iodide is a known carcinogen and causes other problems in lab animals. Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) is asking for signatures on a petition to reverse the approval of Methyl Iodide. Please join PANNA, the United Farm Workers of America, the Organic Consumers Association, and me in this fight. Find the petition and more info HERE.

(Thanks to my friend Nona for alerting me to this effort. Nona has a great blog that she recently started. Find her at the Everyday Yogini)

Cute Kid Speech

I rarely post cute things that Jack says, because he hasn't reached that point of funny reason yet. He does, however, say the cutest things just with his tone of voice, but that is difficult for me to describe in words. His sweet, high pitched voice asking me for something in a way that just melts my heart and makes me want to give in to his every desire. He also is still getting his pronouns wrong at times. I hope he never figures it out. I love to hear him running after me yelling, "Wait for I! Wait for I!"

Kate's speech has always been pretty clear. (Even when she was three months old!) She has two words that she consistently mispronounces. She says "pillow" like pell-o instead of pill-o, but I don't notice because I pronounce it the same way (so does my sister!). Kate also says "rack" for "wreck" as in car wreck. And when she says it in a sentence with "a" it, it sounds just like "Iraq" which sends me into giggles every time. "Mom, drive slow so we don't get in Iraq."

We are heading home to Colorado today. Hopefully it has warmed up, and all the snow has melted. Wish me luck on the plane handling two kiddos on my own.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Planet in Peril

I really want to watch CNN's Planet in Peril tomorrow and Wednesday evenings. Anderson Cooper's (did you know he is Gloria Vanderbilt's son??) documentary focuses on threats such climate changes and species extinction in locations all over the world.

I just have to figure out how to get the kids to bed and asleep early. Makes me wish we had Tivo...

Lighting the Pumpkin

We went to the pumpkin patch last weekend and plan to carve the pumpkins next weekend. Can't wait for toasted pumpkin seeds! Yum! This is the first year we are carving the pumpkins with the kids. Previous years they have been too young, or we've been too busy and just never got around to it. I am looking forward to lighting the pumpkins up. I love that smell of the pumpkin semi-cooking from the candle inside. I am going to make a greener choice this year and put soy candles in our pumpkins.

Thanks to my friend Krista, I have known for years that soy candles burn cleaner, but since we haven't been burning many candles in our house lately (that toddler and open flames not mixing thing**) I have never purchased any soy candles. I did a little internet research on soy candles and learned a lot. Not only are paraffin candles a petroleum product, but the toxic chemicals that are released contain several known carcinogens. Yikes! Other advantages of soy candles are that they burn soot free, are biodegradable, and are water soluble (that means the wax is easier to clean up).

My soy candles are from Earth Friendly Goods. I purchased the votives for our pumpkins and a pillar soy candle to make the house smell good for the holidays. Thanks to Earth Friendly Goods for offering GreenStyleMom blog readers $5 off any order over $25 using coupon code greenstylemom.

**If you want the smell of candles but not the risk of an open flame, my friend Kim puts her candles on a warming plate. Her house smells wonderful every time I go over!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

I am going to miss my mom cooking all our meals! I wish I had a personal chef...
Monday - Last Meal From Mom!
Tuesday - Baked chicken breasts, steamed broccoli, paprika fries (recipe below)
Wednesday - Homemade mac-n-cheese (recipe below - new one my mom made last week), fruit salad, seeduction rolls from Whole Foods
Thursday - Kids Only Meal - pasta with tomato sauce and frozen peas
Friday - Southwestern Risotto (recipe is at home. I'll post it later)

Paprika Oven Fries
Preheat oven to 450. Cut 3 large potatoes into 1 inch wide wedges. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet, toss potatoes with 3T canola oil, and 2tsp paprika, season with coarse salt, and ground pepper.
Bake potatoes in a single layer, cut sides down, until they loosen easily from the sheet, about 25 min. Turn the potatoes, cont to bake them until fork-tender and crisp 25-30 min more

My Mom’s Mac-N-Cheese
1 12oz package small elbow macaroni
1 egg, slightly beaten
16 oz small curd cottage cheese
1 cup sour cream
3T chopped onion
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
¼ cup chopped pimentos, drained
8 oz grated cheddar cheese

Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain.
Combine other ingredients and add to cooked macaroni. Pour into a greased 9x13 dish and bake in a preheated 350 oven for 30-40 min. Serves 8-10

Organic Skincare

I was pretty excited to see that Origins has come out with a line of organic products. I have wanted to start a search for a new line of skin-care products after doing some research on animal testing in cosmetics (which I have a half-written post about and will try to finish up soon). I already use a few Origin products like the charcoal mask and can't wait to get home and check out this new line. Maybe I'll even go check it out today or tomorrow and let grandma babysit!

But one question... I thought the USDA Certified Organic label was just for agricultural food products? Am I wrong? Did something change?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Thinking Pink & Green

I ran the 25th Anniversary of the very first Race for the Cure this morning in celebration of my grandmother and my Aunt Gwen who are both breast survivors. I didn't run as fast as I wanted, but I did run a faster time than my Sept race. It is not final, but I think Connie, my inspiration for running this race, might have been the winning survivor! It was awesome experience (despite my side ache and my knee pain) with almost 30 thousand participants.

While I am amazed and grateful for all that the Komen Foundation has done to raise money and awareness of breast cancer, I do want to bring everyone's attention to a organization called Think Before You Pink. Their campaign is try to bring more awareness and accountability to the companies that purport to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribbon campaign, but manufacture products that are linked to the disease. A great example is Yoplait making yogurt using milk from cows treated with rBGH which may be linked to an increase risk in breast and other cancers.
I love that the website has questions to ask before purchasing a "pink" item.

How much money from your purchase actually goes to the cause?
What is the maximum amount that will be donated?
How much money was spent marketing the product?
How are the funds being raised?
To what breast cancer organization does the money go, and what types of programs does it support?
What is the company doing to assure that its products are not contributing to the breast cancer epidemic?

I'd love to see a similar campaign for green products (because I am as guilty as anyone for often buying something just because it is purported as being environmentally friendly!) I want to come up with a list of questions that I can ask myself before I buy a green product. Any suggestions?


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Garnet Hill Pumpkin Bag Giveaway

One of my favorite places to shop for myself and my kids is Garnet Hill. I like supporting stores that sell high quality and environmentally friendly clothing. Higher quality clothing usually means that I buy less and that the hand-me-downs are in better condition for reuse. Garnet Hill carries women's and children's clothes in organic and green cotton. They also carry a range of Patagonia products made from recycled materials.

I am going to be giving away a pumpkin trick-or-treat bag from Garnet Hill. All you have to do is leave a comment with a valid email address (you can also link to this contest in your blog, but it isn't required). A winner will be selected randomly next Thursday, October 26th so there will still be time to get it to you by Halloween!

Internet issues...

I'm having internet issues at my parent's house... hopefully I'll be back up posting by this evening...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

National Action & Call-In Day for US Conservation

From the World Wildlife Fund:
The Senate is now debating the 2007 Farm Bill, the largest source of conservation funding in America. A vote is expected in the coming weeks. The House Farm Bill, passed in July, provided $4.5 billion in new conservation funding -- a step in the right direction. However, it left many critical conservation programs severely underfunded. At least $5 billion in new funding is needed to help meet demand and address some of our country’s most pressing environmental challenges.It is now up to the Senate to provide adequate funding for conservation programs. Supporting our farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners when they offer to help share the cost of a healthy environment provides more benefits to more farmers in more regions in the country than traditional crop subsidies, which are concentrated in the hands of a few. Send an email and/or call your senators asking them to support a Farm Bill that provides at least $5 billion in new funding for conservation programs.

Mid-Week Misc.

I am taking the kids to Texas for a few days. I can't wait to let Ama (grandma) take over for a few days. Plus I get to see my sister (aka Tia) and my brother, his girlfriend, and my oh-so-cute niece Mira. We have all kinds of fun things planned for the trip - a visit to the aquarium, the 25th anniversary Race for the Cure run, a birthday party for Ama & Grandpa Joe, etc.
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Natalie at State of Confusion chose me for her Sweet Halloween Treat icon! I just found Natalie's blog recently, and she is a fellow Colorado mom. If you want the Sweet Treat icon, just let me know in the comments!
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Tomorrow I am going to have a Halloween giveaway from one of my favorite companies Garnet Hill!
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AND GreenStyleMom is going to be getting some local media attention! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Getting Creative

I had a great, creative design idea the other evening as I was thinking about the holiday cards I want to send out this year - a tradition that will be very hard for me to ever break! If I am going to send cards, I wanted something to help disseminate my message. So I came up with this little logo design. I think it is pretty creative! (FYI - It is also copyrighted so please don't use it without permission) I thought others would be interested in using it for their Christmas card so I put it on CafePress. I really wanted to find 100% recycled cards, but in the interest of time and ease, CafePress's 30% post-consumer and 50% total cards will work. They are also chlorine and acid free. I am going to continue to look for a 100% recycled alternative.

If you are interested, you can see all the products at GreenStyleGreetings
(Thanks to my friends Michelle and Erica for helping me out with advice and design!)

On another creative note, I am participating in my first blog carnival today. Check out the Make It From Scratch Carnival being hosted this week at Nini Makes.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day

Why do I care about the environment? I certainly care from a global perspective, but it is my children that encourage me and keep me making even the smallest of changes in my every day life. My children ARE the environment. Let us never forget that we as humans are as much a part of the earth as the water, the air, the land, and the other creatures that inhabit our planet.

And how to I care for my children? I concern myself with everything about my children - feeding them healthy foods, dressing them in appropriate clothing, keeping them healthy, wearing sunscreen, getting enough sleep, brushing their teeth, educating them, saving money for their future, etc. The list could go on and on. Am I a perfect parent? No! Do I make mistakes in the care of my children? Of course! But with each mistake I learn and try to do better next time. As a parent, I think of the consequences for my children in all of my actions.

I think a similar approach is good for the environment. Instead of thinking of the planet as "Mother Earth" providing for us, maybe we should think of ourselves as the parent and the earth as our child. We should be thinking of the consequences for our "Earth Child" in all of our actions. Are we feeding her healthy? Our we saving for her future? Is she wearing her sunscreen? We are not always going to be the perfect parent towards our planet, but we learn from our mistakes and try to do better as we move forward.

With our combined efforts we can leave a beautiful legacy. A beautiful, healthy planet for our children to care about and to enjoy.

Visit the Blog Action Day website for more blogs participating. You can also join our group of Green Bloggers participating in NaBloPoMo.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

I thought I'd post my Monday Menu planning early since tomorrow is Blog Action Day for the environment. I am taking the kids to Texas on Wednesday. Gotta love my menu plan for the week...
Monday - baked chicken, steamed broccoli, baked butternut squash
Tuesday - Leftovers to clean out fridge
Wednesday - My mom cooks!
Thursday - My mom cooks!
Friday - My mom cooks!

Go visit Org Junkie on Monday for some other recipe ideas!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Community Workday

Today was a community workday where community members work together to accomplish a job. Usually it is an outdoor garden-type job although sometimes we work together for a big, deep clean of the common house. Today (and tomorrow!) we are spreading new mulch. We had a few dump truck loads dropped off earlier in the week. Everyone worked together - pulling weeks in the areas that needed mulch, loading and delivering mulch via wheelbarrows to the sites, and raking the mulch to the desired depth. People don't just work around "their space" to patchwork a finished job, but work together everywhere to complete the whole job.


The joking and laughing that took place is corny and wonderful all at the same time... there was a lot of singing of "Mulch-o, mulch-o man" and repeating of "What a tu-mulch-ous job this is" and "Thank you very mulch!" LOL

Not everyone is able to participate in a physical way, but almost everyone helped in whatever way they could. Our neighbor recently had foot surgery, but she brought milk and cookies as an afternoon snack. Another neighbor who is in hospice and actively dying still wanted to contribute (what does that say about community?!?) so she paid a needy high school boy to do her share of the work. Even Jack helped by directing people where to take the mulch...

I can not begin to express the feeling I get when working closely with my neighbors. I call it "the sense of community" but unless you have experienced it, you don't really know what it means. The cooperation, the fun, the overall sense of accomplishment, the feeling of belonging and contributing. Matt says that he feels like he is Amish and is attending a barn raising. I have come close to the feeling when volunteering at various events but sharing it in your home with your neighbors is an even greater experience.

My wish tonight is that everyone is able to experience this sense of community. It is quite extraordinary.

Tink's Tutu

So Kate wanted to be Tinkerbell for Halloween. And she wanted the dress to be "poofy." I did some looking on the internet, including EBay, for a Tinkerbell costume. None of them seemed to be "just right" and most were pretty pricey. I also like costumes to look a bit original, so I decided to make the costume myself.

I purchased a green leotard from Danskin (I'm not that crafty!) and made a green tulle tutu using these directions. I had planned on making the wings myself, but when I saw that premade wings and a sparkle star wand at the craft store were $1.99, I bought those instead. The tutu took me less than an hour to make, and Kate LOVES her costume. I have a feeling she'll be wearing a variation of this costume for the next several years (yellow & black as a bumblebee, red as a ladybug, pink as a ballerina, etc). I have a little tulle leftover so I might even make a tiny one for my niece.

So without further ado, here's my Tink...





Jack is going to be Peter Pan. After looking at directions for making a Peter Pan costume, I bought one... And if you missed Kate's comments on what MY costume should be, go back and read this post.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Fire Prevention & PJs

Did you know that it is Fire Prevention Week? I had an experience years ago (a gas explosion across the street) that has made me ultra careful about fire safety. I check our smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors once a month. (and I drive my husband CRAZY constantly sniffing the air for gas leaks!) I also intend to have practice fire escape drills for our family, and this week is a good reminder that my kids are old enough to start talking about fires. Check out the NFPA for key points for kids.

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On a somewhat related note, I've been doing some reading this week on flame-retardant children's sleepwear. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) requires children's sleepwear to be flame resistant and self-extinguishing. This means the PJs must be made of a fabric that is close-fitting or a self-extinguishing fabric like polyester or wool OR a fabric treated with chemical flame retardants. While my first reaction is to recoil in horror at children's PJs being coated in chemicals, the studies clearly show a decrease in child burn injuries and deaths that can not be ignored.

After doing my reading, it seems the healthiest choice for the environment that is still safe for kids is the snug-fitting, organic cotton long johns with the "wear snug-fitting. Not flame resistant" label. I'll do some reviews of companies that have organic long johns soon.

I have always been a big fan of LLBean fleece PJs (offering free shipping right now!) for winter. From what I found, fleece is one of the self-extinguishing fabrics and is manufactured with built-in fire retardants rather than post-manufacturing chemical treatment. I did not find any information that is leading me to throw out the PJs we already have, but I am going to be very cautious in my future PJ purchases.

I think for now we'll stick with our fleece PJs for winter and untreated, organic cotton for Jack in the summer unless I hear something to change my mind. Kate likes to sleep in nightgowns, and I am going to be more careful about which ones I choose. Fortunately I have awhile to scope it out as she'll be in fleece nightgowns until Spring. Or maybe she'll change her taste by next summer. Probably not.

Learn more here (I found the history interesting) and here.

Blogging for the Environment

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day Monday is Blog Action Day. Bloggers around the world will be joining in and posting about the environment. To participate, a blog just needs to write about the issue of the environment on Oct. 15th or donate its proceeds for the day to one of the chosen environmental organizations (uh... I'll be blogging...). Please join in even if your blog isn't normally about "green" issues.
(Thanks to Amy for the heads up!)

AND

If you don't know about it yet, National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) is coming up in November. Bloggers commit to posting once a day for the entire month of November. I read many blogs that participated last year never dreaming that I would be participating this year. In looking into groups to join, I didn't see one that really fit me, so I started my own group of Green Bloggers. Come join us!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Date Night

Tonight is a date night! As I was leaving to meet Matt, Kate told me, "Mommy, have fun on your playdate with Daddy tonight!"

Matt has to work a bit late tonight, so I am sitting OUTSIDE at a local coffee shop trying to catch up on my online class. He should be done soon, and we will catch dinner someplace. Pretty nice.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

How Does Your Hood Rate?

Check out how walkable your neighborhood is at WalkScore. My neighborhood scored 42 out of 100. While it certainly isn't a great score, it is pretty good for the city I'm in. I think I'm in one of the most walkable (and bikeable) areas of town. The listing also left off a bunch of restaurants and small parks that we walk or bike to pretty frequently when the weather is nice.

What is your neighborhood's score? I am curious if anyone scores really high.

Who Do They Look Like?

And everyone always tells me that they look just like me...
(Thanks to Shannon for showing this to me on MyHeritage)




Virtual Nurse-In

Since I'm not breastfeeding anymore, I am participating in the virtual nurse-in at the League of Maternal Justice via their breastfeeding montage. I'm in there twice - once for each baby - look for me!
The Great Breast Fest Montage

(I wanted to write more about breastfeeding, but I'm just not in the mood today. I'm feeling a bit stressed about my online class - how do you other moms do it?!?)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Cute Baby Legs

Why is it that all the cute baby stuff comes out AFTER I've already had my babies? (Didn't you feel that way about maternity clothes also?) I've seen a lot of babies wearing the cute little baby leg warmers lately. The babies look so darn cute in them, and I was disappointed that my babies were too big.

Then I found out that they are NOT too big. Did you know that the brand Baby Legs fits newborn to about size 10?? None of my other kids' clothes will last that long! Even better they make them in an organic cotton version.

I am going to get an organic pair for my I-will-only-wear-a-dress daughter for this winter. She is also going to be starting back in a gymnastics class. Won't the Baby Legs look cute with her leotard?

If you are interested in Baby Legs for your child or as a Christmas gift, The Polkadot Platypus has offered 15% off any purchase with the use of discount code "polkadot"

Halloween Costumes

I finished up Kate's Halloween costume yesterday. She wanted to be Tinkerbell. Jack is going to be Peter Pan (but if you ask him what he is going to be, he'll tell you "Tinkerbell!") A neighbor boy is thinking about being Captain Hook to go along with our theme (remind me to post about how great cohousing is for kids!).

Last night Kate was prancing all over the community showing off her costume. Another mom asked Kate for some pixie dust, which Kate gladly bestowed on her. Kate then suggested that this other mom be the Fairy Godmother for Halloween. I suggested that maybe I should dress up as Fairy Godmother. Kate responded, "No, Mommy, you should be one of the mean stepsisters."

Thanks, Honey...

Monday, October 08, 2007

Bag to Basics

One of the easiest ways to be greener is to use resuable bags. Did you know that over a billion plastic bags are given out each day? I am really surprised at how few people use their own bags. It is such an easy change to make. My biggest excuse for the times I haven't used my own bags is simply forgetting. Most days I'm lucky to remember to brush my teeth! I have solved my own forgetfulness by carrying several compact bags in the bottom of my diaper bag or purse. I even have a few stashed in my glove compartment for "emergencies."



Now that I've finally gotten back in the groove of using my own bags, and I do it everywhere. Not just the grocery store. Crazy as it sounds, it took me awhile to figure out that I could and should be using my own bag whenever I go shopping, not just for groceries. I get the best responses at the stores. I really expected to get some rolled eyes, but the older woman at Target loved that I had my own bags. The teenager at Old Navy actually thought I was COOL (her word!) for having my own bags. Even at the stores that are accostumed to seeing reusable bags like Wild Oats, Whole Foods, Vitamin Cottage and my neighborhood, natural grocery store, I get lots of compliments on my bags. Probably because I have the CUTEST BAGS you will ever see. I got my first one from my sister as a gift. I proceeded to buy more for myself and gave a bunch out as Christmas gifts last year. I have them in red and green, but they come in several colors (of course, green is my favorite!).


If you have never used your own bags at the grocery store, you may not know that many stores give you a discount for bringing your own bag. The bags pay for themselves pretty quickly.


To learn more about the problems with plastic bags and to make you feel guilty (in a good way!) read this.

If you want to be "cool" like me or you want to give bags as Christmas gifts, Reusablebags.com has offered 10% off your entire order using discount code eccd87 (case sensitive). Good through Oct 31st.

How to get 10% off your entire order at ReusableBags.com: 1. Visit www.reusablebags.com 2. Add desired items to cart 3. Proceed through check-out 4. Redeem your special code: Enter the following code in the GiftCertificates/Discount Coupons section: eccd87 (note that it is casesensitive). 5. Complete check out process (discount will be shown before confirmingthe order). Special offer is valid from October 8-31, 2007. One use per customer. ReusableBags.com offers a wide selection of safe and reusable bottles forkids and parents, as well as lead free lunch bags and reusable shoppingbags. Why shop at ReusableBags.com? We donate 1% of all sales to the environment We support fair trade practices Top 10 nominee Co-Op America 2006 People's Choice Award Most orders ship within 24 hrs No sales tax (except IL) Member BBBonline % 100% satisfaction guarantee Thousands of product reviews & customer testimonials Questions: contact ReusableBags.com at service@reusablebags.com or 888.707.3873

Monday Menu Planner

I stuck to my menu planning pretty well last week! Hope I can repeat for this week!

Monday - Grilled Halibut with Black Bean & Papaya Salsa (I have a papaya that I need to use quick)

Tuesday - EV's Veggies - this is one of my favorite meals from my friend Elizabeth who was the first to teach me about vegetarianism. I feel so healthy when I eat it. The recipe is below.

Wednesday - Calzones using a my favorite whole wheat pizza dough recipe (filling will be ricotta, mozzarella, broccoli and maybe some veggie pepperoni)

Thursday - Date Night! Kids will have baked chicken and some kind of veggie.

Friday - Sweet Potato Soup (recipe below) with a whole grain bread from a local bakery. We'll eat the leftovers for lunch this weekend.

Visit Org Junkie for more menu ideas!



EV’s Veggies

This recipe isn't exact, but I've given some rough estimates.

Onion - 1 chopped
Garlic - 1 clove minced
Olive oil - a few tablespoons
Fresh spinach - 1 container
Tomato - 1-2 chopped
Oregano - 1-2 tsp
Salt/pepper - to taste
Feta cheese
Brown rice

Cook brown rice as directed.

Brown chopped onion and garlic in olive oil. Add spinach and cook down. Add tomato, oregano, s/p and simmer. Add feta cheese before serving over rice.



Cream of Sweet Potato Soup
6-8 servings

4lbs sweet potatoes
8 c water
1/3 c butter
½ c tomato sauce
2 T half-n-half
2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
dash thyme
1 c cashews

Peel potatoes, cut into pieces, boil in water until soft about 30 min.

Blend smooth.
Combine rest of ingredients.
When boils, reduce heat and simmer until ready to serve.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Eat, Pray, Love

I finished my book this evening (feeling a little guilty because I was supposed to be cleaning while Matt took the kids home, but I read instead...). Great book. More than just the story, I was really drawn to this author's writing style and ideas.

Not long after I finished, I found out that the author Elizabeth Gilbert is going to be speaking near me next April the same weekend as another favorite author Kimberly Wilson is going to be in town. More than a coincidence, wouldn't you say?

Just So You Know

I'm not getting anything for any reviews that I am doing on my blog. The only benefit I get is the same discounts that I am passing on to readers. I truly am just enjoying sharing my efforts at a greener lifestyle, and often that includes choosing products I would purchase anyway that are more environmentally friendly. And discounts are always good. Thought I'd clear that up as I have several reviews (with discount codes) planned for this week. I am also planning on finding and posting more green gift ideas as the holidays approach. AND I even have my first giveaway from a company I love coming up soon!

Just wanted you to know.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

One in a Million

There is a campaign going on at Big Green Purse to encourage women to shift their spending to environmentally friendly products. I have already shifted much of my spending to greener products, but I signed up because I think it will be fun to track what I am spending for at least a few weeks. Check it out!

Book Stack

I love being away. Away from everything that needs to be done at home. Laundry (and there are piles of it right now!), bills, to do lists, organizing projects, craft projects, etc. The best part is that I can sit and read without guilt. But notice I did not say without interruption! I have a little stack of books by my bed in the mountains...

Eat, Pray, Love is the book my sister-in-law recommended to me in August. I started it as soon as I got it. Unfortunately I left it up in the mountains when we were here over Labor Day. I've been dying to get back to it. A great book that is not only entertaining but very thought provoking for me.

Why I Wake Early is a book of poetry that Matt's aunt gave me. I keep it up in the mountains because I never feel the calm at home to read poetry. My favorite piece in this collection is Where Does the Temple Begin, Where Does It End? Maybe I'll find time this weekend to write it out for my blog.

Bitchfest was a gift from another mom in my playgroup. It is an assortment of essays from the magazine Bitch (which I didn't know existed!). I'm really enjoying the book, even it is going to take me more than a year to finish!

We Need to Talk About Kevin is a book that my mom just sent me. She said it reminded her of my next door neighbor issue. Can't wait to start it.

What is in your book stack?

Friday, October 05, 2007

Indian Summer

It is BEAUTIFUL in Colorado right now. Warm, yet with a touch of crisp in the air. The leaves are golden, but many summer flowers are still blooming since we haven't gotten our first frost yet (at least in my part of the front range). It was 60 degrees when I got up this morning. I even ran in shorts which I haven't been able to do in the early morning for several weeks.

We are headed up into the mountains this weekend to enjoy what may be the last nice weekend this season. I hope the leaves are still pretty up there!

Green Is Sexy??

Matt and I had a date night last night. Gotta love date night! Many date nights aren't exceptionally romantic. We've been known to spend the evening at Home Depot or wrapping up an evening at the grocery store. We are together and without kids, and that is what is important.

Last night we had dinner out, tried on ski boots at a local ski store (my boots are at least 10 years old!), and ended up at Target for a few necessities. As we walked through the women's department, I noticed a whole line of t-shirts with green messages. Plant a Tree, Forever Green (with Kermit's face), and Green is Sexy. I had a really bad case of consumer-itis - a common condition for me! - looking at these tees. I wanted a t-shirt. My first impulse was to just throw the Green is Sexy shirt in my cart, but then I started to really think about my potential purchase (something I should do more often). I quickly decided that I would not be caught dead in a shirt with the word "sexy" on it in any context. C'mon... I'm a mom! I'm not going to show up to preschool in that thing!

But Green is Sexy? As I thought more about it, the shirt really started to bug me. Is green sexy? Should green be sexy? I know green is trendy. That might bug some, but I think it is a good thing. It brings more awareness to the issue, people start with small changes, then they start making more and bigger changes. But sexy? Any thoughts?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

My Moon Follow-Up (Warning: May Be TMI Ahead!)

Since I am finishing up my second full cycle of using my Mooncup (and yes, if you do the math, I have VERY short cycles) I thought it appropriate to do a quick follow-up to tell you that I still love my Mooncup. Once you figure it out, it is so much easier than tampons.

I have found that I still like to use a pantyliner on my first day. I can't believe I am doing this, but I am going to make the switch to reusable pads. I like the plain white, organic cotton ones, but they also have fun print ones.

If you want to make the switch to reuseable menstrual products, GladRags has the mooncup on sale, plus get 20% off your order by using discount code MM0907

Thanks to my sister Kari for letting me know about the Mooncup sale and the discount code! (For anyone who knows us... I had the Mooncup first! I can't believe I did something environmentally friendly before she did! For those who don't know us... my sister is my environmental inspiration. It is because of her that I am even somewhat aware.)

And thanks to Karen over at Pediascribe who gave me the great idea of donating my excess tampon collection to a women's shelter.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Little Video

While I was looking at old pictures for my last post, I came across this video of my sister Kari (Tia to my kids) and Kate (at 3 months) that I had forgotten about. Listen carefully. It is AMAZING. And I promise that no editing has been done. It is raw footage.
Video

CoSleeping Woes

Last night was one of those nights where co sleeping just wasn't working for me. We don't have a family bed, but we welcome our children into our bed when they want. Kate only comes to our bed about 5% of her sleeping time... lately Jack comes to our bed about 90%. Our cat Samuel is a pretty frequent co sleeper as well!

I am a pretty big believer in co sleeping. I co slept with both of my babies. Not so much for their benefit but for mine. It was just so much easier for breastfeeding. Roll over, attach, and fall back to sleep. Wake up two hours later, repeat. At about 6 months we started transitioning babies to their cribs (although they usually still came to bed with me at some point during the night). Gradually they each spent more and more time in their own beds.

I usually love it when Jack comes to bed. He is a snugglebug and falls back to sleep pretty quickly. He came to bed last night (he said his legs hurt, so I think he had some growing pains) at 1am. Samuel came to bed about 2am. I was sandwiched between the two so tight that I couldn't turn over. And both little bodies were like little heaters. I was sweaty and uncomfortable. Finally I couldn't take it anymore. I nudged Samuel out of bed and took Jack to his bed and finally fell asleep. Cool and comfortable.

And just so you know - both little co sleepers were back in bed with me by morning!

Here are a few reminiscent pictures of my prime co sleeping days. Wish I looked a bit better when sleeping!
Mommy & Kate; Jack & Daddy; my favorite co sleeping pic of Kate & Mommy

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Birthday Present

How has a week gone by since my birthday?!? Only 51 weeks until my next one!

Matt did an awesome job on my birthday presents this year. He got me a Patagonia fleece hoody that I had been eyeing plus a Canon Rebel XTi. I know NOTHING about photography, but I am pretty excited to learn. I am planning to take a class through the local art museum this winter or next spring. Until then I'll probably just use the camera in automatic mode and occasionally fiddle with the settings.

I would also like to learn how to use Photoshop, but first I have to get it. With the price of the camera, I doubt Photoshop software is in my near future.

Here are a few of my practice pictures (Jack hasn't been in a photogenic mood this week)...

Monday, October 01, 2007

Green Glass

If you have visited my home recently, I probably was rude and did NOT offer you anything to drink because we are almost completely out of drinking glasses in our house. Literally, we have 2 tall glasses and 2 short glasses (it was 3 short ones, but I broke one this morning loading the dishwasher). I've known for awhile that I want to get some new drinking glasses, but I was waiting for just the right ones.

While doing an internet search, I found The Green Glass Company and immediately like what they have to offer. They turn discarded glass bottles (wine, beer, etc) into usable glassware. My cupboards are now restocked with glasses, and environmentally friendly one that are pretty cool. Matt and I chose the Clear Mint Tumblers (they are on sale!) in both tall and short for everyday, but I also got a set of the Forest Earthday tumblers that say "Protect Our Earth" in 4 languages (how cool is that?!?) and a set of Pastures Tumblers for the kids' milk in the mornings. I would have gotten Matt the Cactus Tumblers for Christmas, but they were sold out.

AND The Green Glass Company is giving blog readers a 10% discount through Nov 1st when using the discount code GREENMOM.

I'm thinking about placing another order and getting some Christmas shopping done!

Menu Plan Monday

Last week's meal plan ended up being a total disaster! I forgot my birthday was Tuesday - no cooking for me! Then I got sick and the rest of the week's meals went out the window. Oh well. New week, new plan!
Monday - Stuffed Eggplant Rolls (I'm posting the recipe below for those who requested it last week!)
Tuesday - Spaghetti Squash - just bake, cover in my favorite marinara sauce, and sprinkle with some cheese
Wednesday - Butternut Squash Risotto (I'm posting it below also. This is a family favorite that we have every few weeks in the fall/early winter)

Thursday - Date Night! - the kids will have quesadillas (on whole wheat tortillas) with avocado

Friday - Grilled Salmon, grilled mixed veggies
For other menu ideas go see Org Junkie

Stuffed Eggplant Rolls
From my friend Michelle (thanks, Michelle!)
1 clove garlic
¾ cup ricotta (or feta, but I prefer ricotta)
¾ cup grated mozzarella
¼ cup Parmesan
frozen spinach – thawed and drained well (this is my addition to the recipe)
tomato sauce (I like Newman's Marinara the best for this recipe)
fresh basil
marjoram
eggplant
olive oil
salt/pepper

Slice eggplant in long strips (I usually salt them for a few minutes and then rinse), brush with olive oil, and saute about 5 min until soft.

Mix cheeses, spinach, and herbs together

Roll cheese mixture in eggplant slices, place in a baking dish, pour tomato sauce over rolls, bake 350 for 20 min.
Butternut Squash Risotto

1 lb butternut squash
7-8 cups broth
2 T minced parsley
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
s/p to taste
¼ cup olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 ½ cups Arborio rice

Cut squash in half, scoop out seeds and fibers, bake in oven at 375 until softened (about 30min). Cool. Scoop out pulp and place in medium bowl. Mix in parsley and nutmeg.

Pour broth into a saucepan and warm to a simmer.

In another saucepan over med heat, warm oil. Add onion and saute until softened (about 3 min) Add the rice, stir to coat with oil, and cook, stirring, until edges are translucent, about 3-4 min. Add a ladleful of broth and cont to stir constantly over med heat. When the stock is almost fully absorbed, add another ladleful. Cont to add broth, a ladleful at a time, as soon as each ladleful is almost absorbed. The risotto is done when the rice is tender but firm, about 20 min total. (If you have a rice cooker, I make my risottos in the rice cooker. Follow directions up until you add the broth. Put the rice/onions/broth in the rice cooker and use the slow cooking option. It takes about an hour for the rice to cook.)

When the rice is done, add the butternut squash mixture, stirring well.