If you are a fan of our Latebloomer Comics, you will love
What Do Fairies Do All Day? (A Fairy Nice Series) (Volume 1). Written by Jessika Lindstrom and illustrated by The Green Baby Guide’s resident Cartoonist, Jaime!
Your kids will love to see how fairies spend their day, and each page is richly illustrated with lots of detail. Each time you read though it you will find a fairy you didn’t notice before.
This is the kind of book you can read through quickly, or linger on each page talking about what each fairy is doing and pointing out all the tiny details. This makes a great for toddlers and young elementary kids alike.
The best part is that it is not particularly girly, so even boys will enjoy the rhymes and illustrations.
The most eco-friendly holiday gift is no gift at all, but where’s the fun in that?! If you’re looking to stay green this holiday season, whether that means making your own gifts, up-cycling used presents or buying new gifts that are greener than their counterparts, check out some of our old posts to get those creative juices flowing!
For the health food nut, or someone trying to be more health conscience, a little of this goes a long way stirred into yogurt or added to a smoothie.
Petroleum Free Crayons
Reusable Produce Bags
Frances is coming up on one year at the end of the month, and the grandparents have started asking for gift ideas. I don’t remember what it was like to be that young, so I’m not sure what to suggest. She has certainly outgrown some things since Christmas, like her bouncy seat and jump-up, but I don’t know if they even need to be replaced with anything.
She’s too young for crayons and still prefers to chew on books rather than read them, so I don’t want to request art supplies or more books. She loves her wooden blocks and stacking cups, but I don’t think she needs more of them. She’s too young for a Doll House, and I think I would have more fun with that than she would.
I was trying to think of some bigger items that would be nice to not have to purchase ourselves, but I can’t think of anything we don’t already have: high chair, car seat, backpack. Is there some expense we’re overlooking?
As a new parent, each stage is something new and different so I’d love to hear what some of you veterans have to say!
Looking for a holiday treat that no one else will be bringing to the annual pot-luck? Fudge is a classic choice, but this spin will have everyone grinning over how “healthy” it is. There is no added sugar and it uses unsweetened chocolate, an antioxidant powerhouse. No one will know that it uses dates, unless you tell them. I’ll leave that decision up to you!
It definitely is a seasonal recipe, since you can only find Medjool dates this time of year. But you can get them just about anywhere, even Costco! Or if you are a Trader Joe’s fanatic like me, you can find all the ingredients (even the ghee) there.
Medjool Date Fudge
Adapted from Gluten Free on a Shoestring
- 6 ounces chopped unsweetened chocolate
- 6 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil
- 1 pound pitted Medjool dates
- 1/2 cup cream, heated
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- Line 8-inch or 9-inch square pan with parchment and spray with coconut oil or other cooking spray.
- Put pitted dates in a food processor with a blade attachment. Heat cream and pour over dates. Melt ghee and chopped chocolate together in a microwave, mixing often until melted. Pour over dates. Add vanilla.
- Process until the mixture is smooth, which might take a couple of minutes. Scrape down the sides if necessary. Add cocoa powder and process again until smooth and shiny.
- Drop big spoonfuls into prepared pan, and then spread evenly with a spatula. Chill in the refrigerator until firm, about an hour.
- Pull fudge out of the pan using the parchment handles, and slice. Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.
I’ve made this recipe with ghee and coconut oil, and both are great. I bet it would be easy to adapt the recipe for butter, but I haven’t tried it. The coconut version would be great with nuts, if you’re into that. I’d like to try the recipe again, using rum extract instead of vanilla. Add a little nutmeg and it would be a perfect accompaniment to eggnog!
Looking for a simple, thoughtful gift for Mother’s Day this year?
The Pearhead Canvas Print Set is such a great idea! If you have multiple children, you can have each make a print, or simply make one print for each member of the family. The canvases come already primed with brightly colored paint, ready for you to make your prints! At just 19.59, this is a terrific gift that you can display for years! (And if you have more time than money, you could easily do this yourself by buying supplies at a local craft store.)
If you’re as overwhelmed by framing as the rest of us, digital frames like this Coby Widescreen Digital Frame for about $25, can help you spend less time printing and framing and more time watching all your favorite images flip by. Disclaimer..this is NOT greener than a traditional frame, but more practical for families with limited time and growing kids.
Let your child make a stepping stone for mom for less than $12! (and it may be even less expensive if you hunt down the materials at a hardware store.) Midwest Products Kids Garden Stepping Stone Kit is just $11.00 and will be a fun memento tucked in amongst the zucchini and cucumbers in your veggie patch.
(Shameless marketing plug coming…) For moms-to-be, our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, is a fantastic gift. It’s currently on sale for about $8.00 on amazon and is packed with recipes for homemade baby food, green product recommendations,and facts about buying and caring for cloth diapers. We’re completely biased, but it’s the book we both wish we would have had as expectant mothers.
What is the best Mother’s Day gift you have ever received? We hope that this year you at least have the time to put your feet up, sip a bit of tea, and maybe even enjoy something as decadent as an afternoon nap.
I had visions of whirling up organic autumn blends of apples and squash for my babes. And I did, but not for every meal. I made huge batches of sweet potatoes and mashed bananas in my blender, froze them in ice cube trays, and then stored them in zip lock bags in the freezer. It was long process, but I loved reflecting on the fact that making baby food means saving about 90% over the cost of pre-made organic baby food and avoiding the environmental costs of packaging and processing. Still, working nearly full time, not getting enough sleep and having a relatively picky baby motivated to buy jars of organic baby food to save my sanity now and then.
Later, when Rebecca and I wrote, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down-to-Earth Ways for Parents to Save Time and Money, I discovered (and included in the book) recipes for homemade teething biscuits and pumpkin pancakes. With my second child I got to try them out and she loved them, but I didn’t always have time to bake everything from scratch. And as we say in the book, it’s all about “progress, not perfection” so any effort was better than none!
Have you made your own baby food? What are some of your baby’s favorites? What is your favorite store-bought baby food?
Somewhere in the midst of laundry, errands, and picky eaters, I have lost my love for preparing the family dinner. And yet I yearn for mealtime perfection…the image of my children eagerly crowding around steaming dishes of nourishment. Are simple, healthy family dinners even a possibility?
The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time is on my Christmas list. It’s packed with tips, recipes, anecdotes and green tips for a better family dinner. Somehow the fact that Laurie David (producer of An Inconvenient Truth) manages to keep her teenage children at the dinner table is inspiration enough for me.
Dinner: A Love Story is a lovely combination of reality and ideology. Jenny Rosenstarch chronicles how her and her husband make dinner a priority, no matter how crazy their family life becomes. The recipes she shares are tried and true and her voice is like that of a good friend, full of encouragement and lacking in judgement.
My other favorite, simply because the humor and tone immediately seem to lessen my meal-making angst, is One Bite Won’t Kill You, By Ann Hodgman. The reviews are fantastic and seem to imply that both adults and children have enjoyed recipes in this book. It looks like it just might be a success with my picky crew!
I know Deceptively Delicious is quite popular, but I didn’t have tremendous success with the recipes. The garbanzo bean chocolate chip cookies were a whole lot of work, and were rejected by everyone, including me. If you have younger children and are pureeing foods anyway for the baby, it might be worth the effort. Otherwise the pre-blending of cooked veggies seems unrealistic.
What is your go-to family cookbook? Thanks for your ideas!
If you’d like to add to the stash of gifts for your tot, but can’t imagine totting her into the shopping fray, you’re in luck. There are several ultra-easy gifts that will delight your tot, cost nothing, and take very little time. And remember that toddlers often spend more time playing with boxes and ribbons than they do with their new toys.
Doll sling. You can buy one of these (like the Ergo baby doll heart rose carrier above) for $46, or wrap a scarf around your toddler’s shoulder and call it a baby doll sling. It’s free, it’s elegant and if your toddler is at all interested in babies, he or she will love it. My daughter wears her baby doll in a scarf sling all day and insists upon having her sling adjusted first thing in the morning each day.
Dollhouse from a box. The Make Do: Find & Make a Dollhouse featured above is made out of cardboard and costs just under seven dollars. But Rebecca came up with another glorious (free!) cardboard dollhouse that your child can help build. Get a simple box and a home catalogue (ikea is ideal) and then cut out a kitchen, a bedroom set, wall decorations and glue them in various “rooms.” It will be great fun for your toddler and won’t cost a dime. If you find a refrigerator box, let your tot turn it into a castle, playhouse, or spaceship.
Sock puppets. You could buy the above Make Your Own Sock Puppet Kit for nearly $15, or just dig through your sock drawer for free. If you deck these babies out with yarn hair, button eyes, and even clothes made from scraps of fabric, your child will be delighted with the results. Add a cardboard theater and be prepared for hours of entertainment!
Homemade play dough. All you’ll need is flour, water, cream of tarter, oil and salt to whip up a batch of homemade dough. Mix in the food coloring of your choice and refrigerate between uses. Check out an online recipe here.
Noodle necklaces. Make up some of these as jewelry or let your child string his own to keep busy while you’re preparing for the holidays. If he eats a few noodles here and there, no harm done!
What toys are you giving your toddler this holiday season? Will she have a huge stash or are you trying to minimize the influx of stuff? Does your tot seem to understand gifts yet?