Archive for October, 2009


Happy Halloween from the Green Baby Guide! What are you doing to celebrate the holiday this year? Have you found any ways to keep the candy under control?* Are you sporting some wonderful DIY costumes made from common household items? How have you “greened” your Halloween?
jack-o-lanterns
The results of the pumpkin carving party we attended last weekend.

* I will admit to not even trying.

Thanks to everyone who participated in our Book Title Brainstorm! We needed to take the “green” out of “The Green Baby Guide: Down-to-Earth Ways to Save Money and the Planet” due to “green fatigue.”

Penny suggested It’s Natural Baby: Earth Saving for Thrifty Parents; Earth Safe, Baby Safe; and the Sustainability Guide for Your Baby, Earth and Wallet. Charndra at Part Time Diaper Free suggested Green Baby Guide: The Eco Friendly Way to Start a New Generation. Mrs. Not the Jet Set thought of the Crunchy Mom’s Guide to Parenthood: Saving Money without Compromising as well as Sustainable Living for the First Year and Beyond. Erika of Organic Baby Resource suggested replacing “green” with “eco-friendly,” as it’s not as overused.  Cathrin suggested Frugal Babies: How to Raise Healthy Babies on a Budget and Save the Planet. All of these suggestions sound like great book titles and provided us with a lot of inspiration as we struggled to rename the book and rewrite our first chapter.

Eileen said, “So many of these ideas seem to hearken back to how our mothers and grandmothers did things,” so she came up with What Would Grandma Do? Common Sense Wisdom for Raising Babies in a Modern World and also Smart Mamas: Saving Money and Saving the Earth.  We appreciated Eileen’s comments because she reminded us of our original vision for the book, which was to revive some of the lost arts of parenting, such as cloth diapering and baby food making.

So what did we end up naming the book? Joy’s husband came up with this one: The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down-to-earth Ways for Parents to Save Money and the Planet. “Eco-nomical” is not just a clever play on words– it  perfectly conveys our concept of “thrifty green.” (At one point our title was the Thrifty Green Baby Guide, but the publisher nixed the “thrifty.”) Thanks, Jett, for helping us rename the book! It finally comes out March 1, 2010.

eco-nomical baby guide cover

And guess what? Our book is now available for pre-order on Amazon. It’s packed with information on everything from cloth diapers to eco-friendly daycare, with input from green moms from around the nation (including some of you!).  We’ve written, rewritten and further revised this masterpiece for two years to make it full of helpful tips and void of any green guilt.  We hope it saves you hundreds if not thousands of dollars and lightens the loads on our landfills.

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  • Kid-Friendly Pumpkin Recipes

    We’ve collected and adapted a few of our favorite pumpkin recipes so that you can savor the taste of autumn while sneaking a vegetable into your child’s diet.  If you double the cookie recipe, stir up the scones, and whip up a batch of pancakes, you’ll use up a large sized can of pumpkin with not a bit to spare.

    Hearty Pumpkin Cookies

    These nutritious cookies are made with oats and wheat flour. I found the original recipe at Cooks.com and then tweaked a bit to make it healthier.  In just a few days I shall take steaming plates of these to my son’s preschool Halloween party!pumpkin oatmeal kid friendly cookies

    • 1 cup wheat flour
    • 1 cup white flour
    • 1 & 1/3 cups rolled oats
    • 1 tsp. baking soda
    • 1 tsp. cinnamon
    • ¾ tsp salt
    • 1 cup oil or butter(softened)
    • ½ cup brown sugar
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 cup pumpkin (cooked fresh or canned)
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
    • ¾ cup walnuts, choc. chips, and/or raisins (optional)

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine dry ingredients and set aside in small mixing bowl.  Beat all remaining ingredients (except nuts, choc. chips and raisins) until well mixed.  Add dry ingredients to wet mixture along with optional ingredients. Bake on lightly greased cooking sheet for approximately twelve minutes.

    Pumpkin Pancakes

    • 1 cup white flourPumpkin pancakes for kids
    • 1 cup whole wheat flour
    • 3 Tbsp. sugar
    • 2 tsp. baking powder
    • 1 tsp. baking soda
    • 1 tsp. cloves
    • 1 tsp. cinnamon
    • ½ tsp. ginger
    • ½ tsp. salt
    • 1 ½ cups milk
    • 1 cup pumpkin
    • 1 egg
    • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
    • 2 Tbsp. vinegar

    In one bowl combine milk, pumpkin, egg, oil and vinegar.   In another bowl combine the dry ingredients.  Stir contents of two bowls together just enough to combine.  Cook on medium heat on a griddle, browning on both sides and serving hot.

    starbucks pumpkin sconesPumpkin Scones

    These are INCREDIBLE!  They’re not the least bit healthy but they are fabulous when drizzled with a bit of vanilla icing.  Eating a hot pumpkin scone while sipping tea is utter autumn luxury.  I have no improvements on this recipe.  You can find it (along with the depressing nutritional information) here.

    Do you have any favorite fall pumpkin recipes?  We’d love to add to our list!

    While some of us have been lovingly hand-sewing Halloween costumes since Memorial Day, the rest of us are stuck sticking stainless steel colanders on our kids’ heads and making them trick-or-treat as “robots.” Last year we mentioned several DIY Halloween costumes—from the Cold Weather Bandit to the Glad Bag. (Yes, that’s right—we actually recommended dressing your kid as a garbage bag.)

    What brilliant last-minute ideas were we able to come up with this year?

    Baby burrito. Swaddle your baby in a white blanket, letting some lettuce or cabbage leaves peak out at the edges. Variations on this theme include baby spring rolls, baby eggrolls, or baby turkey wrap.  Here a doll is modeling this look, which took just one minute to create.

    baby burrito halloween costume

    Striped baby bug. If you can get your hands on some antennae—or make some out of pipe cleaners or something—then you can dress your baby in various striped garments for this look.

    Gnome. Last year Audrey put on a brown tweed skirt and coat she had received as a gift. She wore striped tights and carried a tin watering can to collect her treats. I did need to sew a pointy green hat out of an old curtain, which took me about an hour or longer (because I am such a bad sewer), so this isn’t a completely last-minute costume option.

    Charlie Brown. Is your baby bald? Do you have a yellow onesie and some brown shorts? Can you draw a passable zigzag pattern with a felt-tip marker? Then you can dress your baby as Charlie Brown.

    Old Man. Again—is your baby bald? Do you have some baby-sized glasses, some sort of “old man” hat and maybe a sweater vest? If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, you might be able to dress your baby as an old man this year.

    Alien. Dress your baby or child all in white and use a black eyeliner pencil to create huge alien-eyes.

    Dick Cheney. One of our Green Baby Guide consultants came up with this one. “Another great costume idea for babies is the ‘Dick Cheney,’” he says.  “Dress them up in a little blue business suit and add a cheap pair of reading glasses and some white hair around the sides via cotton balls for a look that will delight Democrats and Republicans alike!”

    Dick Cheney Halloween Costume Idea

    ZZ Top. This costume idea brought to you from the mastermind behind the “Dick Cheney.” All you need is a set of twins, some fake beards, sunglasses, and grungy old hats.

    zztop baby halloween costume

    Baby Grecian. Another Green Baby Guide consultant suggested fashioning a toga out of a piece of fabric and crowning your baby with leaves. Brilliant!

    Check this site out for baby costumes (including a baby muscle man and Sasquatch!) that require some actual crafting and sewing skills.

    If worse comes to worst, you can always stick your baby in a cardboard box, bucket, or other baby-sized receptacle. What is this costume, exactly? “Baby in a box,” “baby in a bucket,” etc. All right, I’m clearly running out of inspiration. What are your best DIY Halloween costume ideas?

    Making my own costumes out of household odds and ends works for me! For more Works for Me Wednesday ideas, head on over to We are THAT Family!

    Do green homes always come with solar panels? In fact, the six thousand square foot eco-homes of the rich and famous aren’t as earth-friendly as cozy abodes with smaller footprints.

    smaller, greener homeWe didn’t just buy our thousand square foot home with a small apartment attached in the back for environmental reasons.  In truth, it was the only thing we could afford and we loved the location.

    By the way, the incredibly cool picture in this post is not our home.  Ours is a grey, low-ceiling three bedroom unit that’s just about as simple as it could possibly be.  Still, regardless of its design, I now often ponder just how green it is to live in a smaller home—and the benefits go beyond the environment.

    • Financial freedom:  Our smaller home comes with a very manageable mortgage payment that is less than many apartments rent in our area.  Plus we rent out the attached mother-in-law unit for more than half of that modest mortgage payment.  I have never in all my years (including college) paid so little for housing.
    • Less stuff: Again, this has financial and environmental impacts.  We can’t buy more because there’s simply no place to put extra stuff.
    • More family unity: Sounds cheesy, but it’s true.  We spend most of our time close to each other out of necessity.  There might be a time when my kids get older that they long for a bit of separation, but for now, it works.

    We may have to remodel this little place to extend our years here, but I hope we can stay as long as possible—partially because I cannot imagine trying to move with kids!

    Are you making a smaller space work for your family?  Have you taken other steps to make your home more energy efficient or economical?  We’d love to hear from you!

    Both Joy and I have had the opportunity to try adjustable diapers—such as bumGenius, Happy Heinys, or the new Econobums—that claim to fit babies from birth to potty training. However, we didn’t have them all throughout our children’s diaper days. Did anyone have success using just one set of adjustable diapers from birth to potty training, or did you have to supplement with newborn diapers or extra-big diapers at either end of the diaper journey?

    econobum-diaper-cover-adjustable-snap-system

    The Econobum Diaper Kit

    This post originally ran on Chatty-T: Random Musings from a Pregnant American in London. Tanya, the 28-year-old author of this article,  writes about pregnancy on her blog. Check it out for her thoughts on maternity wardrobe essentials, her secret to avoiding stretch marks, and much more.

    We live in the age of the consumer and I’m staggered by the amount of baby paraphernalia on the market. What do I need? What is excess? Changing tables, breast pumps, reusable diapers, disposable diapers….decisions, decisions, decisions.I haven’t delved too far into this abyss, but I hope take a practical approach to baby shopping based on a mix of real need, environmentally friendly products and value for money rather than whimsical “that is so cute my baby must have it” urges. I believe this is a reasonable approach but have now contradicted my practical mantra and decided that I really want to buy a Bugaboo Cameleon stroller/pram.

    Lightweight, compact, suitable from birth and with a fancy-schmancy steering system appropriate for country and city terrain, it ticked lots of my boxes. I’m active; even though I’m having a winter baby, I want to get out of the house as much as I can and walk with baby. We live in an urban environment but I love countryside walks at National Trust properties. Our house is small and doesn’t have the space for a big stroller. And if we’re going to splurge in one area, I was all in favor of doing so on our stroller.
    save money on bugaboo_cameleon on ebay

    The Cameleon’s price tag of around £700, well over £800 with the car seat etc. gave “splurge” a whole new meaning. Now I see why they are popular with celebrities—they can afford them. But how could we, two hard working young professionals preparing for the costs of a new baby justify paying that much money for a stroller in light of everything else we need to get/do to our house/etc., etc., etc. We just can’t.

    It’s then that Chris, also taken with the Cameleon, suggested that we take a spin on ebay for used Bugaboos. I balked at first, but then started to consider the benefits. Buying on ebay would significantly reduce the price tag of an item that, like a new car, majorly devalues once it hits the road. Those that bought them in the first place were likely to have cared for them, but the wear and tear on any stroller we might “win” could be reviewed in person before finalizing the deal and exchanging funds.

    Obviously we’d buy a new car seat for safety reasons and would have the option of replacing wheels, bearings, etc. if needed. Notably, buying a used stroller is another form of renewing, reusing and recycling, a green approach often forgotten in the whirlwind of baby buying. While I believe you should examine your chosen stroller in person before making a final purchase, online research and ebay bidding saves numerous trips in the car to Baby’s R Us and the like. I’ve seen a number of two-year-old Bugaboos on ebay that look in mint condition—why should they go to waste? Plus, if I bought my wedding dress on ebay, what should stop me from shopping for a stroller there?!

    As my mom points out, the baby doesn’t care what it rides in and I spent the whole of my babyhood in a simple, cheap umbrella stroller. Is having a Bugaboo and its many functions really worth it? That’s something we’ll need to weigh up, but as we do, the ebay route makes our debate viable while also being a bit greener.

    Have you been able to justify some splurges with the help of ebay? We want to know all about the steals you’ve found!

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  • If we lived in New York City, our space would seem immense, but here in Oregon, a thousand square foot home is considered tiny for a family of four.  Walk-in closets, mudrooms, generous pantries and guest quarters are standard on most newer homes which average around double the size of ours.

    greener living in smaller houseTo be totally honest, I have to admit that I’m not opposed to larger homes. Sometimes just the idea of a bigger kitchen causes my chest to ache with longing.

    Still, the benefits of our modest home are becoming clearer to me every year.

    • Higher Population Density: If we count the tenant who lives in an attached apartment in back, we have five people living in 1300 square feet. That drastically shrinks our overall carbon footprint.
    • Lower utilities: Our monthly energy consumption is far lower than it would be if we lived in a larger home.  We keep the temperature down in the winter (although we haven’t set our thermostat below 68 degrees) and find our bills are quite manageable.  That means less money spent and fewer natural resources wasted.
    • Better Location: We couldn’t have afforded to buy a big house in this prime spot that’s close to parks, schools and shopping.  As it is, we can walk and bike to several key spots without having to climb in the car.
    • More Green Features: The maple tree in front of our house is probably more than thirty years old and provides excellent shade in summer and sun in winter.  Attached in the front of our home is a small entry room that keeps heat and cold out in all seasons.

    Have you found that your house is unexpectedly green?  What have you done to make your place more energy efficient?

    It was my sister-in-law who came up with the idea: Why spend all that money on disposable diapers that just end up breaking down in a landfill for the next 500 years? Wouldn’t it make more sense to use nature’s bounty to diaper our babies? This fall is the perfect time to start carving your own diapers out of pumpkins. Simply choose an appropriately-sized pumpkin, carve out the top, scoop out the seeds, and cut out two leg holes. This DIY diaper requires no sewing.

    Check out my niece sporting her all-natural homemade diaper:
    baby wearing a compostable pumpkin diaper

    While gDiapers claim to be compostable, they still contain SAP–a petroleum product that doesn’t really break down. A pumpkin may not have the wicking and absorbing powers of an ordinary diaper, but it is 100% natural and biodegradable!  No other diapers can compete with that.

    Babies in pumpkins work for me. For more Works for Me Wednesday ideas, head on over to We are THAT Family.

    Is under indulgence the same thing as deprivation?  We think not!  Buying fewer, thoughtful gifts and treats for your child will allow him or her to have an enhanced sense of appreciation, plus you’ll be helping lighten the load on our planet and your pocketbook.  But beyond the immediate rewards, you’ll also reap benefits for years to csaving money and environment by under indulgingome.

    • Less financial stress: The leading cause of arguments between spouses is money.  When you co-commit to set more aside for the future, you’re also giving your baby a family with less conflicts.
    • More educational opportunities: Tucking away even small sums each month in these first few years will create a robust college fund and may even pay for preschool in the short run.
    • Less stuff: At the end of the day, you’ll have fewer items to trip over on the living room floor and your child will have more space to play and less stuff to manage.
    • Better impulse control: A University of Pennsylvania study shows that self discipline is a better predictor of academic success than even IQ. Managing your money carefully and limiting purchases models self discipline for your child right from the start.
    • More travel: Being willing to buy used clothes and toys might help you sock enough away for a few more vacations. Family memories are a great investment that will last a lifetime for your children and it’s good to get them in before our little ones become teenagers who aren’t as interested in family time.

    Are there other rewards we’ve forgotten?  Have you found that the benefits of under indulgence are worth it? Do you have friends and family who share your views?

    The Eco-nomical Baby Guide
    Eco-nomical Baby Guide
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