Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Do You Use Rain Barrels?

Here in Oregon we have been sopping wet for weeks.  With a hot summer ahead and an organic garden to water, I’ve been considering purchasing rain barrels.   This week calls for lots of rain, but I’m not sure that they’re easy to use and store. Is it possible to hook the hose up to the barrel and water your beds or do you have to individually fill watering cans?  There’s a local installer that will deliver the barrels and build a stand for them for around $70 each, but I’d love to find a less expensive option.  Any ideas? Please inspire me to take the plunge!

What Are YOUR Green Confessions?

We’ve confessed to several “eco-sins” over the years here on the Green Baby Guide. But now we want to know: What are your failings? Still use toxic cleaners? Can’t bear to compost? Go through a roll of paper towels a day? Stuff your garbage cans with recyclables? Confess here!

Our new book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, costs $13.57 on Amazon.  Is it truly worth that much when you can read our tantalizing posts for free?

Only if you want to save thousands on baby’s first few years.  Thousands?  Seriously?  How can that be?  Here’s a quick outline:

Nursery Gear.  If you use our tips for scoring quality, safe secondhand gear or repurposing what you already have, you’ll save several hundred dollars on nursery furnishings alone.  Plus there’s a directory of quality green products for your eco-splurges.

Diapering. Want to avoid spending nearly two thousand dollars on diapering per child?  Check out our tips on using cloth!  It’s easier than ever and your savings will accumulate without regular runs to the store to stock up on pampers.  When your second or even third baby arrives, you won’t need to spend a dime on new supplies. Plus you’ll keep several tons of waste out of our landfills!

Clothing. Secondhand clothing is hip, cute, and infinitely better for the planet.  Prepare to dress your baby in the best brands for seventy to ninety percent less than retail!

Food. Packed with tips on breastfeeding, using organic formulas, and making your own baby food, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide will help you nourish your child with healthy foods for hundreds less.

Still not convinced?  You can request that your local library purchase our book and then check it out for free!  You just might find that it’s worth having on hand for as a trusty resource for eco-friendly, budget friendly living in baby’s first few years.

Happily striding past dozens of expensive cleaning products while shopping makes me infinitely happy.  Opting for homemade cleansers is just as easy, eco-friendlier, and far cheaper.

My favorite natural products include vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and Borax.  Do you have any of your own secrets for easy eco-friendly house cleaning?  Do tell!

Isn’t it amazing how small children can often yearn for junk?  Whether it be unhealthy food, entertainment, or plastic gizmos, they are like moths drawn to the flame of marketing.

How do we counteract this onslaught?  With treasure!  We have taken a shelf in our mud room and used it display our most precious discoveries.  They include several jars of oddly shaped rocks, a vase stuffed full of sticks, scattered acorns, a few shells, six black feathers, a pressed flower, and a handful of agates.

Honestly, the idea started just because I hated that bare shelf in the mudroom.  I couldn’t figure out what to put on it until my son showed me his first treasure, a pinecone complete with intricate spirals, perfectly spaced.  Once we proudly set it on the shelf, every walk turned into a treasure hunt.

Two years since the treasure room’s inception, we are constantly finding new additions on a weekly basis.  We sometimes have to clear it out, or pull another glass jar out of our recycling to contain a pile of loot, but it’s worth the effort.  Noticing the supreme perfection of nature is a great way for my son to connect with his environment, and to redirect his appreciation away from those piles of plastic.

Does your child have treasure trove of goodies somewhere in your home?  Do you find that they’re especially obsessed with acorns, seashells or some other spectacle of nature?

You love your baby with your whole soul, right?  Well that is how Rebecca and I feel about our new book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down-To-Earth Ways for Parents to Save Money and The Planet. (We love our actual children more, but this creative work is a close second…)   It has taken us years to write this gem and it may take us years to celebrate its arrival.  So bear with me for today’s adventure in substandard poetry….

Ode to The Eco-nomical Baby Guide

Oh manifesto of glorious green thriftiness
How I love perusing your pages
And deeply understanding
Every cloth diaper in existence.
Oh treatise of eco-frugality,
Your creativity and humor
Fill my life with laughter,
my wallet with cash,
and the nursery with adorable
secondhand baby gear.

Oh green gift of practicality,
You help new and expectant
parents with your kind wisdom,  and tips
from the trenches.  You make
eco-friendly, budget friendly parenting
a spine-tingling adventure.

Thank you, humble guidebook,
for your emphasis on progress, not
perfection, as we seek to go green
despite our lack of sleep and the spit-up
smudged perpetually on our shoulders.

Natural Dandelion Solutions

I hate them.  If I was truly zen I’d make lovely dandelion chains and just get over it.  But when they raise their fluffy white heads out of the rest of the lawn, I want to leap from my chair and choke them out.

Instead, my children usually reach them first and make wishes while blowing the seeds all over the front lawn.  At that point I usually surrender.

Luckily, we did figure out some natural dandelion solutions last year that are far superior to polluting weed killers that keep our kids off the grass for a few days.

We tried corn gluten since it both fertilizes and doesn’t allow the dandelions to flower.  Great, right?  Nope.  Those persistent yellow spots kept appearing on our lawn.  Then we used Burn Out(which is made out of natural clove oil) to zap the dandelions individually.  It worked!  You have to wait for the right temperature and sunlight, but they die in just a few hours without all the chemicals!  Then the corn gluten can do its thing and the lawn really looks nice without any caution warnings about kids and dogs.

Problem solved!  My next goal is to sauté the dandelion greens and make a lovely, nutritious dinner some evening.  Apparently they’re incredibly nutrient-rich and delicious.  Have you tried adding them to your dinner menu?  Have you made peace with them?  Do tell!

I’m not. Believe me, I want to be, but it seems like the sheer effort of taking care of both of them makes it harder to do certain things.  Also, I’m working full time while my husband is home, and he doesn’t always share my green ideals.  In the photo my daughter, Jovi, looks worried about the planet while Roscoe seems to be happy with our conservation efforts.

Of course in some ways I guess I am greener since I know more the second time around.  I don’t use bleach with my cloth diapers, we now use cloth wipes, and I’m totally comfortable going out on the town in cloth.

But I’m not hanging as many loads of laundry to dry or making homemade meals out of beautiful vegetables from our local CSA.  Still, I hope that this summer when I’m home I can shift to an even greener lifestyle as my garden starts to sprout and I’m not heading to work.

What about you?  Has having multiple children challenged some of your green ideals?

Inexpensive Organization Ideas

Just a few weeks ago our cupboard was brimming with paperclips, post-its and postage stamps.  Every time I opened it a flurry of papers spewed out, making our kitchen’s organization center an utter mess.  It was imperative to get things in working order soon, but I didn’t want to shell out big bucks in the process.

Happily, my first (and only) shopping stop was the local thrift store.  The shelves were heaped with all sorts of gizmos that could be used to store a number of things.  I could have gone for a creative and aesthetically pleasing look if the stuff was exposed by using multicolored shot glasses, small ceramic bowls and even tiny terracotta pots.

Since the cupboard’s contents are hidden, I opted for more practical gear. In the office section I picked up a few black mesh wire organizers for a total of three dollars, plus a quality stapler for a buck more.  Now my cupboard that seemed to be dripping with paper has been harnessed into a very functional storage area.

The same three items I bought would have cost well over twenty bucks at Target, and all would have had to be manufactured and shipped there.  How nice when recycling can save you money while infusing your house with beauty and order!

Have you stumbled on any simple, beautiful organization solutions in your home?  Do share!

It’s hard to quantify just how much I love the Nurse Midwifery Birth Center here in Eugene, Oregon.  Their supportive and empowering staff helped my family welcome our two children into the world. Throughout my entire pregnancy and birth we never felt rushed but enjoyed long leisurely appointments that educated us and allowed us to make our own choices. 

I gave birth in the above room filled with antique furniture in a beautiful old craftsman home that had been converted to a birthing center.  What could be better? This!

The new Midwifery Birth Center opened its doors today on May 1st.   It’s situated close to the new hospital, in a stand of old trees, and is built to support ongoing natural birth.  It’s complete with a birthing tub for water births, a nature path among the old pines, and a classic interior.

The best part of all is that our entire community came together to support the clinic and did tremendous fundraising to be able to build and open the center.  Nurses and midwives were flexible as they moved to the hospital for the year while the center was built. Many of the moms who helped fundraise were due during the construction and so weren’t able to have their babies at the clinic.  Still they put in time and energy so that new birth center would open their doors to new families in time for Mother’s Day.

Want to be inspired?  Visit the Lane County Friends of the Birth Center’s blog or Facebook page to see how this vision has come to pass.  What a gift to our community!

The Eco-nomical Baby Guide
Eco-nomical Baby Guide
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