Euphoria’s Blog for Green Mamas

advice, news & freebies

SouleMama’s “Handmade Home” August 17, 2009

Filed under: Eco-Friendly Living,Family Culture — Rachel @ 7:09 pm
Tags: , , ,

On Saturday I found a very special package awaiting me at the mailbox – my pre-ordered copy of Amanda Blake Soule’s “Handmade Home:  Simple Ways to Repurpose Old Materials into New Family Treasures” plus “Bend-the-Rules Sewing” by Amy Karol.  Both are gorgeous, inspiring books written by popular bloggers.  I’ve just began to sew, having only accomplished: 1 flat valence curtain, 1 crayon roll, and 1 blanket repair!  Of all of the sewing how-to and household project books I checked out from the library, “Bend-the Rules Sewing” was my favorite.  It has a concise, illustrated guide to basic and somewhat advanced sewing a techniques (from sewing a seam to sewing a buttonhole), plus a large selection of adorable, unique projects that are very up-to-date.  I liked the book and projects so much, I decided it was worth owning.  And, what better way to treat myself than to purchase “Bend-the-Rules” along with the soon-to-be-released “Handmade Home”. 

For weeks I’ve waiting, and now that Amanda’s “Handmade Home” finally hear, I cannot be more pleased.  I bought the book on faith, seeing as how there are no Amazon reviews.  My faith was based on my love of her first book “The Creative Family:  How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections.”  That magical book is responsible for beginning my adventure into all things Waldorf!  It is “family culture” at it’s finest and an excellent gift for any mother of little ones.      

I wasn’t sure what I’d get in “Handmade Home”, but now I can tell you!  The first part of the book is a primer on the eco-friendly art of reusing old materials.  It’s filled with tips for getting the best finds at thrift stores, garage sales, etc.  She shares what to look for, even with reminders to leave behind those great deals that one doesn’t need for the next thrifter – it’s “thrifting karma” says Amanda.  Excellent advice!  There’s also brief ideas for setting up a sewing space in a small area.

The second part is a large collection of 30+ projects organized by categories: Nourish (as in kitchen items), Nurture (as in wellness), Play, Seek (as in adventure) and Retreat (as in decor).  The categories are loose, but they do give you a peak into the scope of the projects.  And they are not “the usual” projects.  No patchwork quilts or aprons here.  Those are useful patterns (and can be found in “Bend-the-Rules Sewing”) that anyone might want, but not what you’ll find in Handmade Home.  Amanda Soule’s book brings many ideas that incorporate childrens’ art – “Portrait Bookmarks” – or make use of fabric scraps – “One-Word Banner”.  She includes several non-sewing projects, often using decoupage.  There are useful, but “alternative” patterns for items like cloth diapers, rag bags and women’s cloth.  And then, there are memory-preserving projects like the “Memory Tree Quilt Art.”  Everything is beautiful!  And, just as with her blog SouleMama, everything is presented along with inspiring photography.  Along the way she shares “crafty tips” and “earthy tips” – both of which share ways to craft smart, making safe, eco-friendly choices. 

I have only begun to absorb the goodness to be found in this little volume.  But, just this weekend, I have finished an embellished bath mat and have begun a “One-Word Banner” for my son’s room, using my husband’s discarded wool sweater and fabric scraps from my son’s crib bedding and nursery items.  I think that “Handmade Home” will enrich the life of many a “Green Mama” interested in creating and reusing.  Enjoy!

Advertisements
 

Boobs: Economic Stimulus Packages June 2, 2009

Filed under: Breastfeeding — Rachel @ 3:46 pm
Tags: ,

Clever.  At the bottom the ad reads, “Breastfeeding boosts your bank account and your baby’s immune system – saving you on hospital visits, doctor’s bills, medicine and missed days of work.  It could also save billions on health care costs…”  Yes, yes yes!  That’s the kind of “stimulus package” this nation needs!

This ad is published by Best for Babes, a “non-profit dedicated to giving breastfeeding a makeover and to revealing and removing the ‘booby traps’- the barriers to breastfeeding that keep tripping women up!”  There website is filled with inspiring and helpful info for breastfeeding moms. 

One article written by Danielle Rigg lists celebrated and lesser known facts about the benefits of breastfeeding.  Here’s the list, but for detailed information be sure to read the entire article: Your Mom-Made Wonderfood™: Dazzling and amazing benefits

 
-Breastfeeding Your Baby Girl Reduces Her Lifetime Risk of Breast Cancer by as much as 25%.
-Your Milk is a Daily Vaccine Against Every Virus You Come Into Contact with.
-Your Baby is born with an Immature Digestive System. Your Perfect Milk Completes the Development of Your Baby’s Stomach Lining Making it 15x Thicker Than that of a Formula-Fed Baby.
-Your Milk Jump-Starts Your Baby’s Immune System.
-Breastfeeding Helps Babies Regulate Their Breathing.
-Your Milk Provides Perfect and Varying Proportions of Fat, Carbohydrates and Protein For Babies of Different Ages.
-Breastfed Babies Make Better Eaters as Toddlers.
-Your Milk Knocks a Baby Out Like Nothin’ Else!
-Breastfeeding Has a Calming Effect on You Too.
-Breastfeeding is a Great Pain Reliever and Soother.
-Breastfed Children Cope Better with Stressful Situations Years After Being Weaned.
-Breast milk Goes Down Easy and Stays Down.
-What Hooters? They’re Heaters! Your Breasts Are Able to Detect Even a One Degree Drop in Your Baby’s Temperature and Warm Up.
-Breastfed Babies Have Luminous Skin and they Smell Like Vanilla Beans.
-Breast Milk Poop Doesn’t Smell that Bad.
-Breastfeeding Protects Against Cavities.
-Breastfeeding Can Reduce the Need for Braces.
-Breastfeeding Reduces Bed-Wetting.
-Breastfeeding Increases Organ Acceptance in Case of Transplant.
-Breastfeeding Increases Vaccine Effectiveness.
-Help for the Color Blind – Your Areola Have Darkened to Help Baby Hit that Bullseye!
-Help for the Farsighted – Newborns Only See Objects Clearly Within 8-10 Inches, the Exact Distance Between Your Nipple and Your Face.
-Breast Milk May Help Clear Up Eye Infections.
-Breast Milk Can Be Left at Room Temperature for Several Hours.
-Breastfeeding Moms Sleep More.

 

Secondhand for Baby: What’s Safe & What’s Not January 27, 2009

Filed under: Baby & Toddler,Eco-Friendly Living — Rachel @ 3:00 pm
Tags: ,

I’ve saved many a pretty penny by purchasing baby clothes, baby strollers and even a baby carrier secondhand.  If you’re pregnant and looking to buy the best, safest products for baby, I’m sure your shopping list is looking a bit pricey.  Here are some tips from Healthy Child Healthy World that will help you cut costs where it’s safe to do so:

Bath Products:

Safe: Used baby bathtubs are fine as long as the lining isn’t full of mold or mildew.

Not Safe: If the tub has an odor of either of these, say no thanks because they can be hard to remove. Also, skip secondhand bath seats, bath rings, and inflatable tubs since they have been responsible for many deaths among babies.

Healthy Child Recommendation: In addition to mold and mildew, look for scratches or other signs of wear and tear in the plastic. Old plastics are more apt to leach chemicals and the scratches can also harbor for bacteria.

Car Seats:

Safe: A car seat that has all its original parts and labels, has never been in a crash, and fits your car and child is OK.

Not Safe: Products more than six years old are outdated, and most likely too run down to be considered safe.

Healthy Child Recommendation: It is dangerous (and illegal in some states) to reuse a car seat that has been in an accident. Only accept a hand-me-down from someone you trust. Don’t ever buy one from a yard sale or thrift store.

Cribs:

Safe: Any crib that was manufactured after the year 2000 should be fine, as long as it is not broken or missing any pieces.

Not Safe: Prior to 2000, cribs were held to different safety standards, and will not be acceptable for your baby, even if you slept soundly in them. Any crib with cutouts in the headboard, and corner posts over sixteen inches pose serious risks for a child’s safety.

Healthy Child Recommendation: Use the money you saved on the crib for a nice organic mattress (or at least an organic mattress cover). Your baby will spend most of her daily hours with her face nestled into her mattress.  Make it a healthy one!

High Chairs:

Safe: Say yes to a hand-me-down high chair if it has a five-point harness to prevent your child from climbing out and a fixed crotch post that prevents him/her from sliding out the bottom.

Not Safe: Old-fashioned wooden high chairs with removable trays or arms are considered dangerous and uncomfortable for the baby, in addition to not being up to newer product safety standards.

Strollers:

Safe: Strollers made after 2007 when new safety standard were published are safe.

Not Safe: Any stroller made prior to that date, or has missing, loose, or broken

pieces is not.

Healthy Child Recommendation: Accept the stroller, but ditch the PVC rain guard.

Toys:

Safe: Stuffed animals and most children’s books make fine hand-me-downs. In the case of lead in used toys, there are many home lead inspection kits which can be purchased for under twenty dollars which will tell you whether the toys have surface lead contamination.

Unsafe: Avoid any toys that are chipped, as well as any small parts that can fit through a tube of toilet paper, since they present serious choking hazards for small children.

Healthy Child Recommendation: Toss stuffed animals in a dryer on high heat or in a freezer for 48 hours to kill any dust mites (especially if your child has dust allergies or asthma). Make sure books don’t smell moldy. Politely decline plastic toys (especially if they are worn or if they are made from PVC (#3), PC (#7) or an unknown plastic).

Used Clothing:

Safe: As long as buttons and snaps are on tight and none of the thread is unraveling from the fabric, the used clothing is fine.

Unsafe: Pass on any article of clothing with drawstrings because they pose a strangulation hazard.

Healthy Child Recommendation: Recently, many children developed rashes and skin burns from children’s tag-less clothing. Watch for these items and monitor your child for any reactions.

by Janelle Sorensen

Courtesy of Healthy Child Healthy World: a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit inspiring parents to protect young children from harmful chemicals.

 

DIY Cleaning with Vinegar November 4, 2008

Filed under: Eco-Friendly Living,Healthy Living — Rachel @ 2:38 pm
Tags: ,

Tonight is my local Holistic Moms Network’s monthly meeting.  It’s about making your own cleaning products with cheap, non-toxic ingredients like white vinegar, baking soda and essential oils.  I’m looking forward to it!  I’ve experimented with mixing my own a bit and had great results.  Now, I’m ready to learn more.

It’s really quite easy to make cleaning products at home.  And, nothing beats the savings.  A big 32 oz bottle of white distilled vinegar costs little more than a dollar at the supermarket (all-purpose cleaners are about 4 times as much), plus you’ll dilute the vinegar for most cleaning purposes!  Stock up on a few spray bottles… mix, label and go.

All-purpose/Countertop/Mildew Cleaner:  Mix vinegar and water 1:1 in a spray bottle.

Window/Glass Cleaner:  Mix vinegar and water 1:4 in a spray bottle.

Toilet Bowl/Shower Door Cleaner: Use straight vinegar to banish rings and scum.

Fabric Softener: Use 1/2 cup in the rinse cycle.

Don’t use apple cider vinegar, which can stain.  White distilled vinegar is the way to go.  Now, yes, vinegar does have a strong aroma during use.  But, unlike conventional cleaners, it is NOT a toxic aroma and it dissipates quickly and completely after cleaning.  In fact, vinegar is a mild deodorizer, so it’ll remove many unpleasant smells while you clean!

For more uses for vinegar in the home, see VinegarTips.com.

 

Top 5 Eco-Switches that SAVE MONEY! October 25, 2008

Filed under: Eco-Friendly Living — Rachel @ 6:53 pm
Tags: , , ,

With the economic uncertainty we’re all facing today, it’s time to adopt new habits that prevent wasted money and wasted resources.  Some folks feel that “going green” is for the wealthy.  Actually, many environmentally responsible practices are thrifty as well.  Here are my favorite changes I’ve made in the last year that have definitely saved my family money:

1. Glass Storage Containers:  What’s with ziplock bags?  Why not use something reusable and washable to store your leftovers?  I mean, sure, you can fit more into the fridge with ziplocks, but do you really want that many leftovers stuck in the fridge?  Are you really going to eat them before they go bad?  Using glass storage containers makes leftovers look appetizing.  In lieu of plastic storage containers, which leach toxins and get those ugly food stains, glass is eco-friendly, safe to microwave in and pretty too.  We stopped using plastic bags and started buying glass containers here and there.  Now we’re stocked with glass and saving money too!

2. Cleaning with Vinegar & Baking Soda:  When I first had that “aha” moment in which I realized that using conventional cleaning supplies was leaving a trail of toxins around my sparkling “clean” home, I started using Method cleaning products.  They say they’re safe and they’re packaged so nicely.  Well, cleaning with home-mixed vinegar and baking soda based products is really the way to go.  It’s easy and so, so, so cheap.  Learn how to Make Your Own Household Cleaners and start saving.

3.  side standing closeCloth Diapers:  It was about this time last year that I switched from disposables to cloth diapers.  My husband and I took a lot of convincing, but once we tried them, we never looked back.  Diapering with cloth is nicer, cheaper and not much more work.  Once you get in the habit of pushing that washing machine button a few more times a week, you wonder why it ever seemed to make sense to drive to the store and fork over hard-earned cash.  Check it out at Cloth Diapers Explained.

4.  Cloth Pads:  Alright, I’m coming out of the closet… I switched to cloth pads.  Ewwww… I know, I know, it sounds awful.  It’s not.  It’s nice.  Softer than paper, not scratchy like disposable pads.  Really, a lot more like underwear!  I was a tampon-only girl, but now I’m happier with cloth.  After all, if I’m going to wash diapers, why not pads?  My menstrual blood is natural, not some nasty abhorrent substance.  Anyhow, they’re cheap (about $10-12 each) or you can make your own so easily.  My mom and I made them with some old cotton flannel shirts.  Recycled and reusable.  Just think how much I’ll save on disposable menstrual products throughout my life!

5.  Oil Cleansing Method:  This is my latest switch.  I put aside my arsenal of facial products (cleanser, scrub, mask, toner, moisturizer, serum) for one little bottle of my homemade oil mix.  I use 20% castor oil and 80% sunflower seed oil to cleanse my face once per day or less.  Now my skin is balanced – not too oily, not too dry – and I’ve had annoying combination skin for ages.  It’s one less thing to do in the morning and it’s saving me oodles of money on cosmetics, which are so often of questionable safety (see Skin Deep: Cosmetic Database to check the safety rating on your cosmetics).

 

20% off at ReusableBags.com! May 15, 2008

Filed under: Eco-Friendly Living — Rachel @ 6:30 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Mamas, I just came across this 20% off discount that I had to share!  If you’re planning to buy a reusable, stainless drinking bottle or a SIGG, you should take advange of this coupon for www.ReusableBags.com.  Reusable Bags is the most popular site for safe, reusable drinking options and they have lots of other great products too.

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 Gift Certificates/ Discount Coupons section: 102275.
5. Complete check out process (discount will be shown before confirming the order).

Special offer is valid from 5-1-08 to 5-28-08. One use per customer.

My family uses the Guyot bottle (100% BPA Free in Stainless Steel), which is most like the Nalgene (but not plastic!).  I’ve also been eyeing those adorable lunchboxes by Mimi the Sardine lately.  If only my daughter needed one…

 

Five Favorite “Green” Tips April 22, 2008

Filed under: Eco-Friendly Living — Rachel @ 8:18 pm
Tags: , ,

On earth day there is no limit to those inspiring “go green” lists.  Lists of 100, 50, or even 25 ideas tend to leave my mind reeling with the possibilities.   It’s important to take steps to live lighter on the planet, year by year.  Ready for something more manageable? Here are five of my favorite ways to go green this year:

  1. Line-dry Laundry:  The dryer is the single biggest consumer of electricity in your house.  Line drying is a lifestyle change that will force me to spend more time outside, possibly in quiet contemplation (doesn’t that sound nice?).  As an added bonus, it’ll make my clothes last longer too.
  2. Reduce Errands:  I hate running to the store for one thing.  Talk about a time-sucker!  Reducing and combining errands will make an impact on the air quality in my community and on my bank account, considering gas prices today.  I want to learn to wait longer between errands and plan ahead better to get everything in one outing.  My kids will be glad too!
  3. Choose Cloth: I switched to cloth diapers last year.  I could never imagine going back!  Now it’s time to switch to reusable cloth anywhere and everywhere else: shopping bags, napkins, towels, even menstrual products.  I’ve tried cloth products in all these areas.  Turns, out cloth is actually NICER to use.  The disposable product category is such a marketing gimmick!
  4. Eliminate Junk Mail:  It’s as easy as writing to Mail Preference Service, c/o Direct Marketing Association, PO Box 9008, Farmingdale, NY 11735-9008 (include date, name, address, signature, and the message “Please register my name with the Mail Preference Service”).  I’ll also call catalogs that I don’t want to receive and ask to be removed from their mailing list. 
  5. Shop Smart:  I want to continue to think long-term about the products I buy.  Is it high quality?  Will I still love it next year?  Was it manufactured safely, without dangerous chemicals?  I hope to consume less by re-purposing items I already own, borrowing when possible, and only buying real quality that is meant to last.  It’s shopping with an eco-conscience.