Creative Indoor Play for Kids–Including Holiday Crafts!

When the rain hits around here, cabin fever quickly descends unless we seek creative indoor entertainment.  Luckily we have a huge supply of cozy kid-friendly fall activities for those chilly afternoons indoors.

If you’re still waiting for that first baby to arrive, you can while away the time with our DIY baby mobile made of beautiful paper birds.  Or, you can whip up a few homemade hemp diaper liners to fill out your cloth diaper layette.  Don’t forget to buy or use your library for free access to books! Check out our practical little publication, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide for some entertaining and eco-friendly reading.

Those of us who already have a few little helpers will enjoy our homemade Play-dough recipes. You can even combine playtime with snack by making Edible Play-Dough!  While you’re mixing up play clay, make some salt dough for Baked Dough Christmas ornaments that can be slipped into stockings in just a few weeks.

Clove oranges are another great craft that can later be used for homemade seasonal gifts.  You’ll enjoy pomanders as all natural air fresheners that will bring those spicy scents into your home before the holidays hit.

Even if it isn’t quite time for snow, you can make some elegant paper snowflakes with your children on those long cold afternoons and then string them in the windows!  And one of our favorite creative recycled playthings is the DIY Cardboard Dollhouse made of a box and a few furniture catalogues.

And when this list runs out, you can always get the kids outfitted in PVC-free children’s raingear and hit the puddles!  Have you had any cold weather fun yet this year?  What is the temperature at this time of year where you live?

Also, don’t forget that our Sealy Naturalis Crib Mattress with Organic Cotton giveaway is coming to a close soon.  Go to our organic mattress giveaway post and enter multiple times!

Milk Making Cookie Recipe: Enjoy Your Own Homemade Lactation Cookies

Can cookies really help increase your supply of breastmilk?  Although scientists can’t prove it, most mothers find that oatmeal, flaxseed and brewers yeast help increase their production of breastmilk.  Since these key milk making ingredients are all in this lactation cookie recipe, (plus chocolate) there’s a good chance they’ll work for you!   (Fenugreek is an herb that is proven to be effective as well.)
There are two companies selling these little milk making cookies for a small fortune, but you can make them using the homemade lactation cookie recipe with the same success.  I did tweak a few of the ingredients to make them only slightly healthier, but they still have more than enough fat and sugar to make you want to wolf them down by the dozen.
Homemade Milk Making Cookie Recipe
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry four
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups oats
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 -4 tablespoons brewer’s yeast


1.             Preheat oven to 350°.

2.             Mix the flaxseed meal and water and let sit for 3-5 minutes.

3.             Beat butter, oil, sugar, and brown sugar well.

4.             Add eggs and mix well.

5.             Add flaxseed mix and vanilla, beat well.

6.             Sift together flour, brewers yeast, baking soda, and salt.

7.             Add dry ingredients to butter mix.

8.             Stir in oats and chips.

9.             Scoop onto baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes.

What’s Your Favorite Organic Baby Food?

In a perfect world, every one of us would whirl up our own sweet potato purees for baby at all times.  Some of you live in that reality and I salute you!  Since I was working nearly full time while raising my babies, I lived in the land of sleep loss and basic survival and sometimes purchased a little sanity in the form of prepared baby food.

If you do buy baby food for traveling or just to save time, what does your child prefer?  My babies enjoyed Earth’s Best Baby Food and I loved that I could buy them in affordable cases from Costco or individually from Target. I also had hearty approval from my child for Happy Baby Organic Baby Food but I can’t speak to some of the other brands on the market like Plum Organics Baby Food, Sprout Organic Baby Food, or Peter Rabbit Organics.

No matter what we may be able to recommend, the true seal of approval comes from those tiny taste testers.  What does you baby prefer?  If you want tips for making your own purees, check here. (And don’t forget that our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, is packed with tips for saving on baby food and recipes for making your own!)

Freeze Ahead and Bake Pumpkin Scones

Nothing quite welcomes the fall like a hot pumpkin scone drizzled with frosting.  But who has the time?  Or the four bucks you’d have to shell out at a café?   This recipe gives you loads of taste along with the convenience of being able to mix them up and freeze them for later baking.

Honestly, I’ve made this recipe ahead of time and also baked it right away, and I actually think the freezing improves the quality of the taste.  The pre-frozen version turns out moister and with a nice melding of pumpkin and spice flavors.

If you’d like a fresh baked scone or two on a daily basis, simply use your toaster oven to save energy and bake a smaller batch.  You can even cut them into mini-scones to give your children for breakfast.  I usually skip the frosting, but you new moms may need those extra calories for the hard work of motherhood!

Another note: If you mix up the dry ingredients for these scones and scoop them into a decorative jar or Zip-Lock bag, you can give the mix as a hostess gift.  Simply print out the recipe and include it.  You might even place it in a basket with a can of organic pumpkin and decorate it with some orange ribbons and fall leaves!

Starbucks Pumpkin Scones


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 7 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 6 Tablespoons cold butter
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3 Tablespoons half-and-half
  • 1 large egg


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or line with parchment paper. (Skip this step if you’re planning on freezing them)
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Mix cold butter into the dry ingredients until mixture is crumbly and no large chunks of butter are obvious. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, half and half, and egg. Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Form the dough into a ball.
  4. Pat out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a 1-inch thick circle.  Use a large knife or a pizza cutter to slice the dough into six scones. Place on prepared baking sheet and freeze them. Once they’re frozen solid, store them in a freezer bag.
  5. When you’re ready for a hot scone, place the frozen triangle on a lightly greased cookie sheet and allow to thaw for just as long as it takes to preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  When the oven is ready, let them bake for about 13-15 minutes.
  6. Optional: Frost with sugar glaze or spiced glaze.

Powderered Sugar Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons whole milk

Spiced Glaze

  • 1 cup plus 3 Tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 pinch ginger
  • 1 pinch ground cloves

I recently made a double batch of these before my in-laws arrived.  The next morning I popped them into the oven and served them fresh scones without a care.  My son also fell in love with them and now he has a few dozen mini scones in the freezer for me to pull out now and then for a hot breakfast treat.  I hope you enjoy these as much as we do!

Café Yumm in Downtown Portland!

I would like to interrupt our regularly-scheduled updates on cloth diapers and organic buntings to make a very important announcement to our Portland readers: Café Yumm is now open downtown! (Don’t live anywhere near Portland, Oregon? Keep reading. . . .)

Joy, over in our Eugene office, wrote a Café Yumm post last year in which she describes how she duplicates the café’s famous “Yumm bowls” in her own kitchen, thus satisfying her voracious husband and son with nutritious and cheap beans and rice. She later reveals the secret to making beans and rice even more delicious: Yumm Sauce. Here’s how to Make Yumm Sauce at home. (Incidentally, this is one of the Green Baby Guide’s most popular posts ever!)

So check out the Café Yumm website—or visit them in person at 1806 SW 6th Avenue in Portland. Look here for a list of all of their locations.

Gluten-free, Dairy-free Waffle Recipe

Waffle cravings on a gluten-free diet? No problem. With more and more pregnant and breastfeeding mothers swearing off gluten, we felt obligated to come to the rescue with this recipe from the Gluten-free Gourmand. Sure, you could buy a gluten-free waffle mix, but what makes all of the concoctions from this blogger special is the way she plays with flour combinations to get each recipe perfect. Once you have an array of gluten-free flours at your disposal, you’ll be able to whip up just about anything without wheat. Try it and let us know what you think!

Image from the Gluten-free Gourmand

Easy Gluten-free Dairy-free Waffles

Mix in a medium bowl:

1 cup white rice flour
2 Tbsp sorghum flour
1 Tbsp tapioca flour
1 Tbsp potato flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder

Heat your waffle iron.
In another medium bowl, beat thoroughly:

2 eggs


1 1/2 cup coconut milk
2 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 tsp vanilla

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.  When the waffle iron is hot, lightly spray it with oil and spoon or pour a serving of batter onto the iron and cook until the waffle starts releasing less steam.  Serve hot.

For more waffle recipes from the Gluten-free Gourmand (including a gluten-free buckwheat waffle and a gluten-free corn waffle recipe), look here.

Removing Stains on Baby Clothing

Have pureed yams forever ruined your baby’s pinstriped pajamas? No worries! With a little persistence, ingenuity, (and possibly vinegar) the garment might just be restored to its original brilliance.

Of course with all of the below stains, the best option is to quickly wet and pre-treat the item so that the stain doesn’t have a chance to dry. If it is dried without your knowing, you can still give the following remedies a try!

Try these simple tricks for specific stains:

  • Berries: Boil water, stretch the garment tight over a pan, exposing the stain. Then pour the very hot water down over the stain. If that doesn’t work try mixing vinegar and toothpaste to remove the stain.
  • Blood: First soak the clothing in cold salt water and then rub with detergent. If that doesn’t work try applying dish soap, letting it sit for a bit, rinsing thoroughly and letting it dry in the sun.
  • Feces: Wash and then let the stain be naturally bleached out by sunlight. If that doesn’t do the trick, try Nature’s Miracle Stain Remover.  There’s no need to use bleach with cloth diapers!
  • Grass: First work in some rubbing alcohol and then allow it to dry. Afterwards treat it with detergent and rinse with cold water. If none of those things work, try Bac-Out or Nature’s Miracle Stain Remover.
  • Mustard: Mix rubbing alcohol with dish soap and rub into the stain.
  • Tomato Sauce: Rub dish soap or dishwasher detergent into the stain and then run cold ice over the stain. Repeat multiple times until the stain works itself out. (I have to share that I managed to cover myself in spaghetti sauce at a lovely restaurant while dining without my children. After many applications of dish soap and ice, the stains came out completely even though they were dried into my clothes.)

What are your favorite stain removal tricks? Do you have any recipes for a homemade stain pre-treatment? Are there stain removal victories you’d like to share?

Summer Beverage Bonanza: Green Iced Tea

Here’s a tip that’s literally green: Drink green iced tea this summer! Piggybacking on Joy’s recent postpartum weight loss posts, I thought I’d share my latest health secret. Studies [that I am too lazy to cite at the moment] have shown that drinking five glasses of green tea a day can help you lose weight. Not only does green tea pack in more antioxidants than black tea, it acts as an appetite suppressant.

For me, drinking five glasses of green tea a day is no problem. I simply switched from black iced tea (which I raved about last summer) to green. Iced tea is cheaper than Coke, not to mention better for you. If you make it yourself, you won’t have bottles and cans to recycle afterward.

You can make sun tea or steep six teaspoons loose tea (five bags or so) in a couple cups of boiling water, then dilute with about 1.5 liters of cold water.

As for the miracle weight loss, I will have to report back at the end of the summer.

Baby Food Brownies: A Deceptively Healthful Sweet Potato Dessert

Perhaps you’ve already read our new book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down-to-Earth Ways for Parents to Save Money and the Planet.   Maybe you’ve discovered the homemade baby food recipes included in the book and have spend hours whirling up delicious concoctions.  With minimal effort you’ve saved money, packaging, and carbon emissions by preparing healthy purees for your little one.  Now you deserve some brownies!

Steal a few frozen cubes of whirled up nutrition and slip them into this yummy recipe!  I’ve tried this on family and friends always with great results.  No one realizes that these are healthier than your standard brownie because the coffee and cocoa make them just as decadent.

baby food browniesBaby Food Brownies


  • 1/4 Cup melted butter or margarine
  • 2/3  Cup baking cocoa
  • 1/2  Cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2  Cup sugar
  • 1/4 Cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup baby food puree (pumpkin, sweet potato, squash, or yam)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp instant coffee powder


Melt butter and cool. Then simply mix all ingredients together thoroughly. Spread mixture into a greased eight inch square pan.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until brownies are slightly firm.  Enjoy!

Valentine’s Day Ideas Brought to You by the Green Baby Guide

Have you been asking yourself lately, “What do Joy and Rebecca have to say about celebrating an eco-friendly Valentine’s Day?”?  Well, you’re in luck because today’s post highlights some of our fascinating thoughts on this very subject.

First, there’s Joy’s Valentine’s brownie recipe. Not only will it woo the health-conscious chocolate lover in your life, these treats are guaranteed to cost less than a foil-covered box of chocolates.


Would you like to celebrate without shelling out hundreds of dollars for tickets, dinners, and diamonds? Readers weigh in with cheap, green date ideas.

Finally we have a few ideas for homemade Valentines. Potato print valentines are perfect if you need to mass-produce some cards for a child’s class. In our last-minute eco-friendly valentines post, we discuss how to make Valentines out of organic materials . . . such as rocks. Or perhaps you would like to know how to make a paper heart valentine—we reveal our paper-cutting secrets. (Strange fact: That post happens to be our most popular post of all time!)


Here’s to a happy Valentine’s Day!