I’ll try anything once: Standing 8-12 hours a day for health

I have a new article up on xoJane: I’ll try anything once: Standing 8-12 hours a day for health. This article doesn’t have much to do with eco-friendly parenting, but standing all day long is a free form of exercise, so I’m pretending it relates to the content of this site. Check it out and let me know what you think!

How to Make a Paper Spider in Its Web: An Easy DIY Halloween Decoration

This post originally ran in 2009. I’m re-running it today because it has remained one of our most popular Halloween posts!

First, take a square piece of paper and fold it in half. I usually just start cutting out the spider freehand, but if you prefer, draw the spider on the paper first, like this:

paper spider1

Then cut out everything surrounding the spider’s body and legs, leaving a border around the edge.

paper spider2

Open it up and there you have it: A creepy paper spider to hang up for Halloween. Tip: If you want the spider to be a black widow, cut a diamond shape out of the abdomen and tape a piece of red paper behind it.

Halloween-themed Baby Swag: Orange Diapers, Ghost Onesies, Skull Diaper Bags—and more!

I’ve been seeing babies around town sporting floral and sailboat prints–and it’s well after Labor Day. That’s just embarrassing. Everyone knows that October is the month to dress your little monster in orange and black. Let’s get started:

Planetwise Hanging Wet/Dry Bag Orange Woods ($29.99). It’s orange and festooned with cute little trees.

Planetwise Wet/Dry Bag with Carnival Skulls ($24.95) Spooky!

Rockabilly Mom Punk Rock Skull Tattoo Design Diaper Bag ($39.99). Most diaper bags just aren’t cool enough, amirite? You definitely need the Rockabilly Punkrock diaper bag.

Dadgear Backpack Diaper Bag (on sale for $88). I’m not sure this qualifies as an eco-friendly product, but how could I exclude an orange and black diaper bag in this round-up?

Dear neighbor with a leaf blower:

I have some pretty amazing news. Did you know there is technology available that will take care of your wayward leaves and garden detritus without making a racket that wakes up every baby sleeping within a mile radius of your yard? In addition, this product uses no fossil fuels. Did you know that your leaf blower produces as much pollution in a year as 80 cars? And the black cloud of fumes it creates sends everyone running for cover.

“All right!” you’re saying. “I’m convinced! “Just tell me about this zero-emission silent wonder tool so I can get on with my life!”

Okay, okay. Here you go: It’s called a rake! It’s like a wooden pole with metal or bamboo tines at the end. Think of it like a comb for the lawn. More like a pick.

Cheap Eats Diary

In May I fed my family of three for $129.99. I kept this diary during the month to write my article “Real Life Hunger Games,” which was published on xoJane in June. Here’s a more day-to-day look at how I pulled it off.

May 1

Goal for this week is to not spend any money at all.

We went shopping three days ago and spent $35. Breakfast: banana with p.b. Lunch: leftovers. Dinner: I made spaghetti sauce with tomatoes I bought last Saturday. One pint left. Not cheaper than buying a jar. Three pounds of tomatoes, $3. Oh well. Delicious. Running out of milk.

Andy says (seriously) he wishes there had been kale or cabbage in the sauce. He says it really adds a lot of “body” to a meal. Vow to buy Andy a cabbage at next shopping trip.

Can You Recommend a Natural Stain Remover?

Way in the dark ages of the Green Baby Guide, we had a little post containing our “toxic confessions.” I confessed to using Stain Stick on my laundry . While I’m happy washing my windows with vinegar and newspapers, scrubbing my floors with the pure power of steam, and polishing the silver with the elbow grease of eco-friendly elves, I never did find a replacement for Stain Stick. My one experience with a natural alternative ruined one of my shirts. So I continued using the Stain Stick. But I’m feeling that eco-guilt weigh down on me. Here are the options:

Ecover Stain Remover. No! Unfortunately, this is the natural stain remover that lightened some fabric on one of my favorite t-shirts.

How Cheap Can You Get? Tips from the Tightwad Gazette Journal

As an impressionable college student, I tore through the Tightwad Gazette Journal the way a lonely thirteen-year-old devours a Harlequin Romance: voraciously, with bated breath. It’s been more than fifteen years since I first read it, and some of the wacky money-saving tips have stuck with me all this time. Here are some highlights from the recesses of my memory:

Make muffins out of leftovers. A few bites of oatmeal left in your bowl? Some cereal dust at the bottom of the box? A little baked potato left over from last night’s dinner? Transform it all  into muffins using a universal muffin mix.

Back to School: My Year of Waste-Free Lunches

We survived our daughter’s first year of school! Last year about this time we were trying to find a good system for Audrey’s packed lunches. We settled on the Crocodile Creek lunch box and Crocodile Creek canteen right away.


With the matching Crocodile Creek backpack, she was almost set. We still needed to find something to pack her lunches in. I preferred something BPA-free and never found a metal or glass dish that looked like it would work. I also didn’t want to pay more for something like that just in case it didn’t end up working out.

I ended up buying these BPA-free Ziploc divided containers. Each one is divided into three sections and has one lid that seals everything separately.

What I Learned about Green Living from Little House on the Prairie

Ever since Audrey turned five, I’ve been reading children’s novels out loud to her. In under a year and a half, we’ve completed thirty books together—almost all old favorites from my youth. Quite a few of them may have been responsible for turning me on to green living. Let’s review:

The Little House on the Prairie series. After reading Little House in the Big Woods, little Audrey exclaimed, “Ma, let’s give away all my toys! For Christmas, I’ll be content with a few pieces of candy and a homemade doll to replace my corncob!” All right, so she didn’t go that far, but she is obsessed with pioneer living. She has taken to wearing an apron over dresses and has asked her grandmother to make her a compete pioneer ensemble, including bloomers and a bonnet. (Wait, so it seems that the books have sparked her materialistic impulses rather than dampened them. Hm.)

What are your water-saving tips?

Over the last few years we’ve made a few big changes in our water habits . . . but we haven’t seen these changes reflected in our water bill. What gives? Here are some of the things we’ve done:

We got a dishwasher. A dishwasher is supposed to use far less water than even the thriftiest hand washer. Or so they say.

We started using a drip irrigation system for our garden. It’s supposed to save water over a sprinkler or hose.

I love love love my automatic timer. It’s supposed to be better for the plants and save water, too.

We got an egg cooker. It counts for something, right?