Green Idea: DIY Doll Dress out of an Old Sock

My daughter’s “newborn” Cabbage Patch doll came with her own little romper. It’s fine, but let’s face it: sometimes a doll yearns for a more elegant evening look. One made out of an old sock, perhaps. One that comes complete with a matching wide belt and hat.

If you have a doll in a similar predicament, there is an easy solution, and it doesn’t require a sewing machine. All you need is an old sock, a pair of scissors, and an eye for fine fashion.

How to Make a Doll Dress out of a Sock:

  1. Find an old sock that is about the size of the doll. The opening of the sock will be the neck of the dress. Cut the sock near the heel so the bottom of the dress flares out in a subtle and sophisticated way.
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How to Make Homemade Iced Tea

Iced tea is just about the perfect summertime drink–it’s refreshing and full of antioxidants. It’s also much more affordable than canned or bottled soft drinks and juices.

There are three basic ways to make it:

You’ll need two tea bags or two teaspoons of loose tea per cup of water.

Sun tea: Place tea and water in a large pitcher or jar and place in the hot sun for several hours. Pour over ice to serve and refrigerate the rest after removing tea bags or straining loose tea.

Refrigerator tea: Steep tea in water for at least 24 hours. Remove tea bags or strain through a sieve if using loose tea.  Serve over ice.

Safer, Greener Sunscreens for Babies and Kids (and Adults!)

Who knew sunscreen could be so complicated? After slathering Audrey in sunscreen all summer long during her first year, I read that it’s dangerous to do so until she reaches her first birthday. Then I found out that only certain sunscreens were safe. Yes, that cancer-preventing lotion was–get this–carcinogenic! The good news is, you don’t need to keep your baby covered from head to foot in loose-fitting robes or hide under a gigantic umbrella all summer long.

Check out the Environmental Working Group’s list of safe sunscreens.  After  studying thousands of sunscreens, they found that “4 out of 5 contain chemicals that may pose health hazards or don’t adequately protect skin from the sun’s damaging rays.” Here are the top four safest ray-blockers on the market:

Keeping Baby Cool in the Hot Sun

While environmental concerns are important, you also don’t want to be forcing your baby to suffer in the name of green living.  Can you keep your little one cool without resorting to canned air? None of my baby cool-down ideas will win any prizes for originality, but sometimes it’s good to remember the low-energy, low-cost alternatives to sitting around in an air-conditioned room:

Popsicles and other frozen treats. Even babies as young as six months old enjoy frozen confections every now and then. Make your own and they’re practically free. Here is my recipe for a strawberry spinach concoction.

Shade.  Spread out a blanket, sip an iced tea, and read baby books to your little one.

The Dish Soap Opera Continues (+ Shaklee Dish Soap Giveaway!)

You may recall my dish soap saga of last fall: First I wondered if eco-friendly dish soaps were any better than conventional ones, then I tested several greener dishwashing liquids, then I perfected my hand-washing method to use as little dish soap as possible. Finally, I offered a few alternatives to liquid dish soap.

During this quest, Green and Clean Mom contacted me, telling me I had to try the Shaklee dish soap she sells at her online store. She insisted that this dishwashing liquid would last a very long time. I was skeptical, considering some 32-ounce bottles of other brands lasted just six weeks. The Shaklee soap was in a 16-ounce bottle, which is smaller than average.

Buy Rechargeable Batteries for Baby’s Swing, Bouncer, and Toys

When Audrey was just five months old, I met another mother of a same-aged baby. Of course we started comparing notes. Does he do this yet? Does she do that yet? I found myself surprised when she asked me this question, though: “Do you find you go through a LOT of batteries?” Now we’d steered clear of battery-operated toys, swings, and other contraptions (mostly because they drive me nuts), so the answer was no.

However, many parents find battery-operated gizmos save their sanity in those early months. The problem is, batteries aren’t so great for the planet. They contain heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, and nickel. If you toss batteries in the trash, these metals can contaminate our water supply. The responsible thing to do is “recycle” them by taking them to someplace like Radio Shack. Unfortunately they do not really recycle the batteries, but they do dispose of them properly.

The Best Green Baby Books for New Parents

When Joy and I started working on our book two and a half years ago, we thought we had the most original idea ever. We searched and couldn’t find any green baby books on the market. We rushed the idea off to publishers, sure we’d have a bidding war on our hands. Imagine our shock when no one seemed to jump at the chance to publish our unwritten masterpiece.

Okay, so we were a little naïve. Eventually we did get a publishing contract, and we’re proud to announce that our creation will hit bookstore shelves next spring.  And we’ll have company! Since we’ve started the project, other eco-minded writers have published some green baby books of their own:

Avoid Wasting Food and Save One Hundred Dollars a Month!

We can compost. We can make a freezer inventory. We can force everyone in the family to become members of the “clean plate club.” (This should go over well with a six-month-old.) I read somewhere that 25% of the food we buy ends up getting tossed. If the average three-person family (two adults and a toddler) spends just over $400 on the U.S.D.A.’s “thrifty plan,” that means they’re tossing one hundred dollars’ worth of food away each month!

So how else can we avoid wasting food? Here are some ideas:

Use portion control. If you make your own baby food, freeze it in small portions and dole it out slowly.


My Shopping Lists: Saving Money at the Grocery Store

If you’ve been reading along, you know my tricks for spending just $175 a month on organic food and how I plan my meals.  I kept track of all my grocery expenses for six weeks and calculated that I spend an average of $175 a month on groceries.  What, exactly, do I get for that amount?

Here’s what I bought in one month:

$66.00  (Veggie delivery every other week at $33.00 each)

$ 3.94 (Fred Meyer: flour)

$ 9.97 (Fred Meyer: peppers, frozen spinach, tortillas)

$24.30 (Trader Joe’s: beans, olive oil, dried fruit, frozen beans, jam, shells and cheese, peanuts)

$17.59 (Fred Meyer: oil, spices, beans, popcorn, lime, lentils, cilantro)

Menu Planning with Your CSA or Organic Veggie Delivery

I have a friend–let’s call her “Glee”–who recently admitted to me that she canceled her CSA membership because too many veggies were withering in the fridge.  “Meal planning is just impossible,” she said.  Many CSAs operate only during summer months, but in mild climates like ours, they go year-round.  Here in Oregon, your winter CSA selections will consist of many rutabagas, potatoes, and beets.

That does sound like a challenge!   I don’t belong to a CSA.  Since I don’t have a car, it just wouldn’t work for me.  However, I do have something similar, which I’ve mentioned before: every other week, I get a box of organic vegetables delivered to my door.  Now, unlike a CSA, 100% of the vegetables are not local, which means I get a little extra variety, although I suppose I lose a few eco-points for that luxury.