It’s here: The Etsy Giveaway!

Win all of this homemade baby gear from talented crafters!

We’re no strangers to the homemade delights for sale at Etsy. Back in 2008 we highlighted several Etsy shops specializing in eco-friendly baby goods. In The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, we point out that supporting crafters on Etsy is eco-friendlier than buying factory-made junk that’s logged miles all over the world. We love the Etsy vendors who are offering all these products that one lucky winner will win this week:

1 copy of our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide. Not only do you get some wonderful handcrafted gifts from Etsy, you get our book! What a deal!
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Enter Our Virtual Gift Basket Giveaway Extravaganza!

We’re celebrating the arrival of our brand new baby, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, by showering one lucky winner with ALL of the gifts listed below!

The Grandparents Handbook (+ Giveaway!)

Sure, your parents have changed a diaper, but it’s been a few years. Now they’re going to be grandparents. Perhaps they’re left wondering what, exactly, they will do when the baby cries or how they’ll spend a rainy afternoon with their darlings. In comes The Grandparents Handbook by Elizabeth LaBan.
grandparents handbook

The handbook includes intriguing-sounding recipes to try with kids (overnight pickles and chocolate-covered pretzels, for example) and activities grandparents can enjoy with young children (why not create a family newspaper or hold a mock election?).The book is packed with ideas, tips, and advice for new or seasoned grandparents. It’s a cute little hardcover book, complete with adorable retro illustrations.
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How to Make a Proper Paper Snowflake

Do your paper snowflakes come out looking like doilies? Do you wish you had the creativity, skill, and expertise to cut out a proper paper snowflake? Keep reading to learn how a prize-winning* snowflake cutter makes it happen.

snowflake1
1. Fold a square piece of paper in half.

snowflake2
2. Fold it in half again.

snowflake3
3. Fold it in thirds, so it looks like this:

snowflake4

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4. Cut the top part off.

snowflake6
5. Cut out pieces to create your snowflake design. Note that there is very little paper left! Cut nice, skinny lines to create a delicate paper snowflake. Cutting out tiny shapes all over will result in a doilyesque snowflake.
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Make a Gift Basket for a New or Expecting Mother

What gifts are you going to bestow upon the new mother in your life this holiday season? My cousin wanted to put together a gift bag for her expecting sister-in-law. Because her sister-in-law planned to breast feed, my cousin chose a “nursing mother” theme. She was going to package everything in a cool eco-friendly diaper bag but ended up forgoing that idea. (Good thing, too, because her sister-in-law already had a couple!)
Lassig messenger eco-friendly diaper bag

Bonus: Put all the new mother’s gifts inside this beautiful Eco-friendly Lassig diaper bag!

Here’s what my cousin ended up putting together:

The New Mother’s Gift Basket

Homemade Gingered Apple Cranberry Sauce Recipe—No Added Sugar!

As far as I know, I invented this tasty cranberry sauce, which takes just a few minutes to put together and about fifteen minutes on the stove.
raw cranberries for homemade cranberry sauce

Gingered Apple Cranberry Sauce

8 oz. fresh cranberries
6 fl. ounces frozen apple juice concentrate (half a can)
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 cinnamon stick (or a couple dashes of ground cinnamon)

Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the cranberries break down, about ten or fifteen minutes. If the sauce is too tart for your liking, try adding sugar a tablespoon at a time until it’s sweet enough. Store in the fridge until Thanksgiving dinner, then enjoy!

Top Eco-friendly Toys for Babies and Young Children

What makes a toy “eco-friendly”? If you buy them used, you know you’re saving the energy it takes to make a new toy—and you’re keeping something out of a landfill. There are also some eco-options for brand new toys made from sustainable materials such as rubberwood or recycled plastic. We will reveal our favorite wooden toys on Thursday. Here are our top picks for new, eco-friendly toys made from other materials:

Sprig Toys Eco-Truck Loader. Made from a “wood-plastic composite that smells like wood.”
sprig toys eco-truck loader

Green Toys Tea Set. Made from curbside collected milk containers!
green toys tea set

Green Sprouts Stacking Cup Set. BPA-, PVC-, and phthalate-free.
green sprouts stacking cups BPA-free

Sevi Xylophone Eco-friendly Toy. Colored with vegetable dyes!
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How to Choose an Eco-friendly Diaper System

Chinese prefolds, diaper covers, all-in-ones, pocket diapers, hybrid diapers—agh! If you are expecting a baby and looking into cloth diapers, you may have noticed just how many kinds of diapers there are. The abundance of options may have some parents running to disposables. But don’t worry. The Green Baby Guide is here to sort everything out.

What kinds of diapers do we like best? Well, Joy prefers pocket diapers. I stand by the old-fashioned prefolds with covers.

Okay, so what should I get? Remember that you don’t have to have the next 2.5 years of diapering all mapped out. Go ahead, buy a newborn pack of disposables (Seventh Generation makes them chlorine-free!) for the first week or two. Then think about it: What do you want out of your diapers?
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Pumpkin Pie Smoothie–A Nutritious Holiday Drink!

My cousin invented this autumnal drink, which young children (over one year) and adults will enjoy:

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Simply blend together:

1 cup pumpkin puree

a peeled and chopped persimmon

¾ cups almond milk (or more to thin out as desired)

½ cup yogurt

pumpkin pie spices

 pumpkin pie and persimmon smoothie recipe

I plan to make pumpkin pie smoothies a lot over the holiday season. This recipe is also a great way to sneak in a vegetable if your kids are opposed to more savory pumpkin dishes. 

This post is a part of the Works for Me Wednesday blog carnival–the holiday edition! Head on over to We are THAT Family for more holiday ideas.

Last-minute DIY Halloween Costume Ideas for Babies and Kids

While some of us have been lovingly hand-sewing Halloween costumes since Memorial Day, the rest of us are stuck sticking stainless steel colanders on our kids’ heads and making them trick-or-treat as “robots.” Last year we mentioned several DIY Halloween costumes—from the Cold Weather Bandit to the Glad Bag. (Yes, that’s right—we actually recommended dressing your kid as a garbage bag.)

What brilliant last-minute ideas were we able to come up with this year?

Baby burrito. Swaddle your baby in a white blanket, letting some lettuce or cabbage leaves peak out at the edges. Variations on this theme include baby spring rolls, baby eggrolls, or baby turkey wrap.  Here a doll is modeling this look, which took just one minute to create.
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