Archives for December 2009

The Gift-Free Holiday

Gift-Free ChristmasIf you’re scrambling to get your holiday shopping done in these last few days before Christmas, you may want to consider a radical idea: A holiday without presents.  It may sound dismal at first, but consider that it would also be debt-free, stress-free and waste-free.  What would that be like?

You’ll still get the holiday songs, family togetherness, great food, and cheer.  Plus, if you have a new baby she’ll never know the difference and won’t remember either way.

If you’re not willing to give up presents entirely or if you have older kids that would protest the shift, it is nice to at least reduce the gift hullabaloo.  In our extended family we simply draw names for nieces and nephews and skip gifts for adults.  The price limit for children’s gifts is just ten dollars so we have to be thoughtful and work within a small budget.  It has made the holidays so much more relaxing for all of us!
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The Grandparents Handbook (+ Giveaway!)

Sure, your parents have changed a diaper, but it’s been a few years. Now they’re going to be grandparents. Perhaps they’re left wondering what, exactly, they will do when the baby cries or how they’ll spend a rainy afternoon with their darlings. In comes The Grandparents Handbook by Elizabeth LaBan.
grandparents handbook

The handbook includes intriguing-sounding recipes to try with kids (overnight pickles and chocolate-covered pretzels, for example) and activities grandparents can enjoy with young children (why not create a family newspaper or hold a mock election?).The book is packed with ideas, tips, and advice for new or seasoned grandparents. It’s a cute little hardcover book, complete with adorable retro illustrations.
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The Four Wackiest Green Gifts

Searching for a somewhat bizarre gift for your eccentric uncle or this year’s white elephant gift exchange?  The following four are somewhat functional but mostly just weird presents for your holiday list.

ecojoe-packagingIf someone you know is struggling to sell a house this holiday season, they may need Ecojoe—the Original Eco-Friendly St. Joseph Statue Home Selling Kit.  Who the heck is St. Joseph? He’s the patron saint of real estate.  For years he’s been buried in the yards of those hoping to find an interested buyer.  Does anyone really need an eco-friendly, biodegradable statue of a saint?  Probably not, but it is a fun gag gift that may bring stressed out homeowners a laugh.
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The Friday Question: Tips for a Winter Baby?

The day my daughter was born, it was cold and rainy. We felt trapped indoors for weeks—months!—because of the weather. (Of course, the fact that I was on crutches didn’t help.) If you had a winter baby, what did you do to avoid getting housebound? What are your tips for keeping warm and entertained with a newborn in the house?
winter baby in snow

The Green Year: 365 Small things you can do to make a big difference

The Green Year makes the perfect gift for either the seasoned treehugger or the emerging eco-phile. How is it possible for this book to appeal to readers on both ends of the green spectrum? Well, the tips manage to be simple for the newbies and novel enough for the treehugger’s bag of tricks.
green-year by jodi helmer

Sure, you’ll find the usual suggestions for switching out light bulbs and turning down the thermostat in the winter. But did you know that filling your gas tank at night is greener than filling it during the day? Or where to donate an old bridesmaid’s dress? Or how to give your shoes an eco-friendly shine? The Green Year not only answers these questions but directs you to helpful websites and lets you know exactly how much energy you can save by following its advice.
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Holiday gift ideas for baby: The Wearable Blanket

sleep sack keep babies warm day and nightBaby will probably be perfectly happy to receive a wooden spoon as a gift this year, but her parents will be thrilled to have this very useful piece of clothing.

Halo’s wearable blanket (also called a sleepsack) keeps a tossing baby warm all night long without the SIDs risk, and is also incredibly convenient for those 3am diaper changes in the dark. I can unzip this gown, prepare a pre-fold cloth diaper and change my baby all by the faint light of the hallway. The zipper zips up towards the top so there’s no need to get baby’s chubby thighs in and out of pant legs or fumble with snaps in the middle of the night.
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How to Make a Proper Paper Snowflake

Do your paper snowflakes come out looking like doilies? Do you wish you had the creativity, skill, and expertise to cut out a proper paper snowflake? Keep reading to learn how a prize-winning* snowflake cutter makes it happen.

snowflake1
1. Fold a square piece of paper in half.

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2. Fold it in half again.

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3. Fold it in thirds, so it looks like this:

snowflake4

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4. Cut the top part off.

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5. Cut out pieces to create your snowflake design. Note that there is very little paper left! Cut nice, skinny lines to create a delicate paper snowflake. Cutting out tiny shapes all over will result in a doilyesque snowflake.
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Holiday gift ideas for yourself or another new mom: Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood

There is nothing that quite compares to the bliss and brutality of those first few months with a newborn. It is truly shocking to realize that suddenly all your needs (including showers and trips to the bathroom) are secondary to taking care of another tiny life.

If you are currently in the mist of that fourth trimester, you deserve to treat yourself with a gift that can give you some perspective and patience. No matter what your spiritual beliefs, you will find practical wisdom and humble support in the pages of Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood by Karen Maezen Miller.  For the last few weeks I’ve read one chapter of this book every night before bed and I can’t believe how it has helped me be more attentive and appreciative as a parent.momma zen great gift for new moms
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The Friday Question: What’s on your wish list for baby this year?

What are you hoping you’ll receive for baby this year?  A new batch of cloth diapers, a bit of free babysitting, or an eco-friendly rattle?  Please tell us what you’re wishing for.  (Then you can strategically tell friends and family to read your comments!)
sevi rattle eco-friendly plush turtle toy
Cute eco-friendly rattle–just $7!

Even More Gift Ideas for the New or Expecting Mother!

Here’s how you assemble a wonderful gift basket for a new mom. Still need ideas? Here are some more:

A Boppy pillow. Both of us managed to raise our babies with very limited baby gear—and we both had Bobby pillows. They make breastfeeding easier by propping the baby up to the right position, easing the strain on the back and arms. As baby grows older, you can use it to prop him in a sitting position.
baby sleeping on boppy nursing pillow
Note: You aren’t supposed to let your baby sleep on the Boppy! We kept our eye on her–just a week old!

Kindle. A Kindle—are we kidding? Well, a ways back we wrote this post, posing the question: Is a Kindle greener than regular old books? Sure, it saves trees and shipping fuel, but a wireless reading device uses batteries and may end up clogging a landfill one day. Still, we’d heard that it’s perfect for reading books while breastfeeding–turn the page with the click of a button! Avid readers who like to buy all their books instead of borrowing from the library claim to save money in the long run.
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