Archive for September, 2011


Wet Bags for Cloth Diapers on the Go

If you use cloth diapers on the go, you need someplace to stash the wet ones until you’re back home again. On the minimal end of the spectrum, you could simply use a Ziploc bag or any old plastic zipper bag. That’s what I did for several months. When my daughter started going to daycare at eight months, we needed a heftier option and ended up getting something like the SealLine Dry Sack, which we found at a sporting goods store for under $10. At the time, I don’t think we realized there were cuter options out there, but this bag did the trick. They’re available in a variety of sizes. Ours could hold a whole weekend’s worth of diapers.

Now there are several cloth diaper wet bags on the market, all of which are much classier than a Ziploc bag:

We’ve always had a thing for Monkey Foot Designs, and we can attest to their attractiveness and durability.

Kushies On the Go 2 pack wet bag. ($10.99), with a draw-string closure.

Bummis Fabulous Organic Wet Diaper Bag ($14.37)

Itzy Ritzy Zippered Wet Bag ($17.95)

Planet Wise Diaper Wet Bag (from $16.50)

Kissa One Size Antibacterial Wet Diaper bag ($11.99)

Munchkin Damp Goods Bag ($8.99)

What do you use when you change a cloth diaper out on the town? Chime in with your recommendations (or anti-recommendations) in the comments!

The glider rocker that has been dutifully serving our family for the last two years has broken into shards in the midst of a lullaby. It was the third in a series of used gliders that fell apart, one by one. On the journey to their demise, they squeaked and groaned just as our babies were falling into a deep slumber–usually between midnight and 3am.

We don’t really need a rocking chair at this point, but I have to wonder if we’d have been better off with a traditional rocking chair to begin with. I was adamant about buying a glider with a rocking ottoman. Why? My sister-in-law had one and I was sure it would be far more comfortable than the antiquated version.

But old rocking chairs become antiques simply because of their simple design and sturdy build. Why mess with a design that has worked for the last 300+ years? (Napolean actually had the above rocking chair in his bedroom way back in the 1800′s.)

Perhaps high quality glider rockers will eventually become antiques of sorts, but if you’re buying secondhand, which is both green and thrifty, it might be worth it to go for a traditional rocker. If you’re buying new, the greenest option is to purchase a piece of high quality furniture that will last for generations. Or, if you’re anything like Rebecca, you’ll skip the rocking chair altogether and opt to slow dance to lullabies for the first few years.

Easiest Homemade Lara Bar Recipe

Lara Bars are my newest addiction. Unlike most granola bars or energy bars, most of the flavors contain nothing but dried fruit and nuts. However, they aren’t cheap. They usually cost more than a dollar a bar, even if you buy the family pack. (This Lara Bar fruit and nut food bar pack costs $25.21 for 16, which comes out to $1.58/bar.)

Soon I found myself searching for ways to make homemade Lara Bars. I really like the Hot Fudge Brownie Lara Bars from Chocolate-Covered Katie. She has a huge list of Lara bar recipes to try. And these homemade Lara Bars from Foodie with Family look much fancier than mine, which I prefer to simply roll into balls and store in a glass container.

I’ve now made my own no-bake date and nut bars, which are naturally gluten-free, quite a few times. Here’s my method:

Basic Homemade Lara Bar Recipe

1 cup (120 g) nuts—whatever kind you like

1 1/3 cup (230 g) pitted dates

salt

Put everything in a food processor and process until everything is blended. Roll into little balls and store in a glass container in the fridge. If the mixture is too dry, add a little water; if it’s too sticky, add some more nuts. Enjoy!

Toddler Pumpkin Pancake Recipe

Our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide is packed with useful information for new parents who want to go green on a budget. (Are we biased? Absolutely!) Beyond the cloth diapering advice, tips on buying used gear, and a directory of the best green gear at every price point, we included recipes for homemade baby food.

Since chilly fall days are just starting to descend, we are sharing our Pumpkin Pancake recipe with our online readers. These pancakes can be made ahead of time in big batches and frozen so you can pull them out for easy breakfasts. They’re healthy, delicious, and your tot probably won’t mind if you make a stack of them up for yourself as well.

      Pumpkin Pancakes:

  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup canned organic pumpkin puree (you can also use bananas, sweet potatoes or squash)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Mix all moist ingredients in one bowl and dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Combine them, adding additional milk if needed to get the right consistency. Warm griddle or skillet to medium heat and coat with vegetable oil. Cook for approximately three minutes on each side and enjoy!

Organically Cute Bib Giveaway!

“Organically Cute is all about bibberizing your baby.” So reads the copy on Organically Cute’s website. If you want organic bibs made from vibrant designer fabrics, this is where you’ll find them. All of their bibs are made from 100% natural, organic cotton that is grown without the use of insecticides or synthetic fertilizers. To top it all off, five percent of every sale gets donated to charities that benefit children in the U.S. or the environment.

Here’s your chance to win a set of four Organically Cute bibs for your own fashion-forward tot! The winner gets to choose from all of these great designs.

You can enter twice! Here’s how:

1.      Simply post a comment here.

2.      Visit Organically Cute’s website. Come back and tell us what your favorite bib design is in the comments.

We’ll choose a winner September 29th. United States addresses only, please. Good luck!

Mice in the Compost Bin


For the last seven years, our utterly uninspired composting system meant that any non-animal based foods were tossed in. No rotating, no watering, and no brown/green balance. But there were consequences for our unwillingness to embrace the laws of composting….

Knowing that my husband was finally taking the compost bin off of our pile and mixing the dirt, I took my kids outside to unveil our new pile of rich, composted soil. Unfortunately it was a rather traumatic scene. Dozens of young mice were pouring out of the bin and fleeing for their lives while my husband chased them across the yard, randomly clubbing the moving targets with head of the shovel. Not exactly a mother earth moment.

We now have a cat, but I’m not sure she can keep mice away from a constant food source. Does anyone else have this problem? It has happened twice and I’m thinking we may need to move onto something like a Bokashi Bin or a worm farm that works indoors. Any success with either of those systems?

Another back-to-school quandary: What is the perfect water bottle? It should be made from either safer plastic or stainless steel to avoid harmful chemicals such as BPA, and it should be easy for a young child to manage on her own.

Once upon a time, Joy wrote about her favorite stainless steel water bottle, the Nathan Stainless Steel flip-straw bottle. Are there similar options geared toward children? The same brand does offer a kids’ version: the Nathan Kids Stainless steel bottle ($13.99). For her son, Joy loves the CamelBak Kids Stainless Steel Water bottle ($15.23) that he has been toting to preschool for the last two years, and she has also heard wonderful things about Klean Kanteen water bottles, which transition easily from a sippy cup to a regular bottle when you buy the attachments.

As for me, we settled on the Crocodile Creek Stainless Steel Reusable Drinking Bottle (from $9). We got the ballerina design for Audrey, to go with her Crocodile Creek backpack and Crocodile Creek Lunchbox. (We saw many other kids sporting other Crocodile Creek designs at her elementary school, so it seems we made a popular choice!) If you’re interested in saving a few bucks, on Amazon some of the designs are cheaper than others.

Sigg Kids water bottles ($18.95) are a more expensive option, but they come in several great designs. They’re also suitable for very young kids; many of the reviewers rave about their toddlers figuring out how to use it on their own.

The Eco Vessel kids bottle with straw top ($13.95) holds 13 oz. of liquid, so it’s bigger than the other kids’ bottles out there. It also comes in some great designs.

Do you have a favorite water bottle for your child? Let us know!

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  • Halloween, already? Not exactly, but National Costume Swap day is less than three weeks away and we wanted to be sure to give our readers ample time to prepare. In years past, we seem to announce the event just after it occurs, or maybe the day before. Not this year!

    On Saturday, October 8th, families across the nation will trade old costumes in for new trick-or-treat wear. It’s green, it’s free, and it’s a great way to connect with local families. And the truth is, no matter how adorable our children look in their baby bumblebee costumes, they can usually only wear them once. Why not share them with someone else?

    Green Halloween has a directory so that you can find the swap in your area, or get one started. The site is run by the illustrious mother-dauther team of Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson who also co-authored Celebrate Green. We love their work on Green Halloween and are excited to see how National Costume Swap day is growing each year.

    Are you planning on dressing up your babe this October? What are your costume concepts? You may want to think outside the box and use some of our rather creative (and odd) ideas for baby’s Halloween ensemble this year. —or better yet, head to the National Costume Swap near you!

    When I first posted about finding the perfect BPA-free lunch box for my kindergartner, I hadn’t decided what to buy. Audrey had already chosen the Crocodile Creek Pocket Lunch Box, so that was taken care of. I knew I wanted some sort of container to put inside, and I was leaning toward the Easy Lunchboxes 3-compartment containers.

    I decided against buying them after reading the product description more carefully. While I like the idea of having one divided container rather than a collection of containers to keep track of, the lid doesn’t seal each compartment. Some reviewers complained that if you packed something like strawberries in one compartment and chips in the other, everything had a chance to mingle around before lunchtime.

    For years we used the Sassy Baby Bento box (read my Sassy Baby Bento review for more information) for Audrey’s daycare snack. I was really happy with this product, but there was one big problem: She couldn’t open the containers herself.

    I ended up buying something I hadn’t run across in my initial search for BPA-free containers: Ziploc divided containers ($8.75 for 2—much cheaper than Laptop Lunches!). They are similar to the Easy Lunchboxes, but the lid does seal each section separately. Also, according to Ziploc’s website, their storage containers are BPA-free. My five-year-old can take the lid off and put it back on by herself. And best of all, a container does fit perfectly inside her Crocodile Creek lunch box. There is even room left over for a cloth napkin.

    Monday was Audrey’s first full day of kindergarten, so we’ll give this whole system a whirl and report back in a few months!

    Do Reusable Snack Bags Work?

    As you may have read in my post on zero waste lunches, my son’s school has banned all single serving food items to eliminate trash. It’s time to invest in some greener food storage options!

    I was excited about trying Lunchskins or other reusable snack bags, but read a comment on Monday from a user who struggled with mold on the fabric. Many parents LOVE the product, but others have also complained about stale food and not being able to dry the bags out enough before the next use.

    Moldy bags and stale food reports make me hesitate on the brink of a purchase. At $7-15 dollars a bag, it’s tough to shell out so much and not know whether or not it will work. Does anyone else have feedback on reusable snack bags? Are you able to use them successfully? What’s your trick for avoiding mold on the fabric?

    The Eco-nomical Baby Guide
    Eco-nomical Baby Guide
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