I’m a sucker for beauty products, and I usually stick with ones with plant based ingredients. EO Products have all the things I’m looking for: sodium laureth/lauryl sulfate free, no parabens, and pure essential oils.  I thought I’d review a couple of EO Products For Men just in time for Father’s Day.  The soap is a shampoo/shower/shave combo and the lotion is for hands/face/body and both come in a large pump.  So not only are they organic, but multi-use too!

I had my husband try out the EO Everyone Soap For Men so I could include a man’s perspective.  He said the scent was light enough that he didn’t notice it, and it got him clean enough.  He said that he had to use a lot of it, four pumps for his chin-length hair and three pumps for his body.  It wasn’t a deal breaker, but he only has to use one pump of the conventional soap and shampoo he normally uses. I tried it myself to see if I agreed, and I did have to use quite a bit more than my regular soap and shampoo.

Since I couldn’t get my husband to try the Eo Products Everyone Lotion for Men I used it myself. I really liked the Cedar and Citrus scent, since it was so light and not overly musky (like many men’s products). To put it to the ultimate test, I used it on my face at night after washing with my normal soap. I live in a high desert climate, so I usually use a thick moisturizer before bed. It went on very light, so I was skeptical. When I got up in the morning, my skin wasn’t even as dry as normal! So if your husband uses lotion, I recommend it (or if you like non-girly scents for yourself).

Upon closer inspection, I saw that both the soap and lotion contain calendula, which I’m really into these days because of its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties and because it cured Frances’ diaper rash. I also liked that the lotion contained both coconut and sesame seed oils.

So if you need a last minute gift for the Dad in your life, these are a good choice!



Slightly Healthier Puppy Chow

I’ve had Chex Mix before, but I hadn’t heard of Chex Puppy Chow until a few weeks ago. I was searching for something I could snack on while breastfeeding that would be sweet and tide me over between meals, but that wasn’t terribly unhealthy (like a plate of cookies, which is what I had been eating). I adapted this recipe from Undercover Mother after her version didn’t turn out for me.  This recipe, by the way, is gluten-free (as long as you use rice or corn chex) and can be made 100% organic.

Slightly Healthier Puppy ChowSlightly Healthier Puppy Chow

  • 1/4 Cup butter
  • 1 Cup creamy peanut butter (not the sweetened kind)
  • 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 12 Cups Chex cereal (one small box, about 13 oz)
  • 1 Cup of Powdered Sugar or less if you don’t mind it being gooey

In an extra large microwave safe bowl, melt butter and chocolate together slowly (30 seconds at a time, stirring frequently so the chocolate doesn’t seize) until fully melted and smooth.

Add peanut butter and vanilla and stir until combined.

Begin mixing in the cereal, a little at a time and stirring it until each piece is thoroughly coated.

Dump cereal out onto two parchment lined baking sheets.  Use a metal strainer to sift the powdered sugar even over the two sheets, stirring frequently to ensure even coverage.

Let it cool on the sheets until it no longer looks wet.  If you’re concerned about the gooey-ness, keep dusting it with powdered sugar.

I know you must be shaking your head since my last post was about losing the extra weight I’m carrying around but hey, you try not to make this every week!



How can you make Father’s Day special for a new dad while you’re sleep-deprived and have no time to shop? Honestly, I don’t even really remember our first Father’s day celebration as a new family, but after consulting my husband, these are the things he was most wanting back in those early days of parenthood.

Framed photos. Snap a couple shots of baby with dad (and grandpa too, if he lives close), print them out, and slip them into frames for an easy, but special, gift. If you have more time on your hands, make a bound photo book online.

A personalized picnic. Whether it’s gourmet potato chips or homemade pasta salad, your fellow has a few special entrees that may not cross the dinner table on a regular basis. Pick them up, pack them up, and head out for a hike..or just an afternoon at the park.
Date for father's day
A date. Every dad (and mom!) deserves some time off. Create a homemade gift certificate for an afternoon or evening out. Do a babysitting trade or perhaps leave your tot with family so the two of you can hit all of his favorite pre-baby hang-outs. (The picture above is of a special date we had six months ago. We hiked the same trail we took on our first date!)

An Ipad. My husband claims that this gizmo is extremely practical for fathers taking the 3-5am shift. Sitting in the rocking chair while watching sports highlights made those late nights infinitely more bearable. This seems to be the least sentimental and the most expensive item on my idea list, and yet it is the thing that my husband most adores.

Do you have special Father’s Day traditions in your family? Any glorious gift ideas to share with the rest of us?

Losing the Baby Weight

I stepped on the scale after giving birth and was so excited that I had already lost 15 pounds. That was before I realized it was the baby and placenta I had lost, and that this trend was not going to continue. Now, more than three months later, the number on the scale still hasn’t budged.

My treadmill, gathering dust

My treadmill, gathering dust


I worked extra hard to stay fit during my pregnancy. Then the bed rest and recovery period, not to mention caring for a newborn, knocked me off my routine. So now any muscle I had has turned to mush after three months of doing nothing.

Falling off the exercise wagon is not new for me, as it happens every year. And then I get back into it a couple months later. But this spring I’m having a harder time getting back in gear. It doesn’t help that whenever little Franci cries for more than a minute, my stress level climbs and I reach for whatever sweet treat I have lying around.

So I’m turning to you, dear readers, for help. What did you do to loose the baby weight? I need some new tips!

Book Review: Black & White

Although Frances is seeing in color now, she still loves her book Black & White by Tana Hoban. The pages of this board book fold out so you can prop it up on the ground in front of her. The high contrast images capture her attention and hold it until she’s had her fill. Her favorite image at the moment is the butterfly.

My only complaint is that if these images are really “objects from your child’s ever-growing world”, then what’s sailboat doing in there. I wish all the images were things she’s familiar with at her current age, like maybe a crib instead of a chair. Or a hand instead of a fork.

Overall, I would recommend this as a first book for babies.

All About SamAll About Sam by Lois Lowry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

All About Sam was recommended to me by my first grader. “I just love this book!” she said. Obviously I had to see what all the fuss was about.

Lois Lowry is perhaps most famous for her dystopian Y.A. novels The Giver, The Messenger, and Gathering Blue. However, as a child of the ’80s, I knew her for her heartfelt books about ordinary family life. I cried over A Summer to Die and Find a Stranger Say Goodbye and laughed my way through the entire Anastasia Krupnik series. Well, it turns out that there is a Sam Krupnik spin-off series, too! It all started in 1988 with All About Sam. I must have been off reading Flowers in the Attic or something by then and missed it altogether.

Lowry makes the bold narrative choice to tell a story from a newborn baby’s point of view. Many have tried to pull off an unconventional point of view character like a dog or a pig or a four-year-old trapped in a windowless room, but not many succeed. (Side note: I gave Room two stars.) Lowry manages to make baby Sam sound cute but never cutsie. Even as an infant, he makes interesting observations, struggling to make sense of the world around him.

He grows up a bit and gets into scrapes along the way. Lowry gives us a rare (and surprisingly welcome) glimpse into the mind of a busy preschooler. Audrey kept interrupting my reading to ask me what part I was on. “The part where he doesn’t know what to bring to show and tell.”

She would start chuckling knowingly. “Oh yeah. He gets in big trouble for that. Now what part are you on?”

View all my reviews

Reusable Baby Wipes

Even if you don’t have the time or inclination (or laundry facilities) to use cloth diapers, you can still use reusable wipes! A stack of cheap wash clothes is a good way to go, or just cut up a couple of old towels (you could buy them at a thrift store if you don’t have towels to spare).

Here are some clothes and sprayers that would work

Homemade wipes with sprayer

Homemade wipes with sprayer

I inherited a stack of flannel wipes from my sister-in-law. These 6×6 squares are made of two layers sewn together with a double seam. The edges were cut with pinking shears so although they unraveled a bit at first, they stopped after a few washings. I ended up making more so I don’t have to do laundry as often, and it was very easy (if not a bit time consuming). I also have gotten pretty good at using one side and then folding it in half to use the next time (depending on the messiness of the diaper, of course).

 

We were told to just use water with the wipes at first, but now that Frances is a little older we use a spray bottle full of water with a couple of drops of tea tree oil and lavender oil. I’ve talked to other moms that use their own spray, but I don’t know their recipes. Anyone care to share?

 

Review: Diaper Rash Creams

For the first three weeks, Frances had the worst diaper rash.  We tried powders and creams, like Boudreaux’s Butt Paste Diaper Cream, but nothing seemed to work.

It wasn’t until a friend suggested Weleda Calendula Diaper Care, 2.8-Ounce that the rash finally went away. I’m pretty sure that means it was a yeast rash.  Frances is so much happier now, and I don’t have to waste my time worrying about her sad red tushie!

Tried this one, maybe these other calendula creams would be good too.

Have you had issues with diaper rash? What did you do to get rid of it?

Our sloping backyard is full of lilies, winding paths, and decorative rocks without any space for swings or a trampoline. In the past my kids have found it hard to run spend hours in the garden without breaking into whining fits.

This summer, a few simple tricks have changed the entire dynamic.
Involving Kids in the garden
Adopting a plant: The kids each got to select a few special flowers and one apple tree each from a nursery this spring. They helped with transplanting the new additions and have been very excited about watering and watching as blooms appear. Sometimes just asking them to go check on their plant is enough to get them outside, where they become distracted enough by blue jays and beetles to stay outside. (The picture above is from four years ago when my son was happy to drag his monster trucks through the garden for hours.)

Hunting for treasure: At thrift stores I pick up loads of colorful marbles or trickets and then hide them all over the back yard. The kids spend extended periods of time searching for loot (each having their own territory to avoid turf wars) and then hang out on the deck comparing and trading their treasures. When they later forget about said loot, I collect it from the corners of their bedroom and hold another treasure hunt!

Picnicking with popsicles: Sometimes just offering them a home blended popsicle (full of hidden vegetables and healthy fruits) is enough to get them out in the backyard.
Fairy House
Building fairy houses: Gathering up moss, twigs, and tiny flowers for fairy domiciles is something that can capture my children’s attention for hours. One house can easily start a fairy sub-development, which means that I get more time to garden!
A child's garden spot
Making a personalized garden spot: As you can see, at our old house, my son’s favorite spot was always in a tree. I haven’t done this yet at our new house, but am planning on letting each of my kids pick a special place in the garden that they can make their own. We can put down a stepping stone for them to sit on, ring it with the shells we collect from the beach at Grandma’s house, and finish by planting some of their favorites nearby. I would be happily willing to put cheezy gnomes, dragonflies or other such garden art if it meant they were excited about their garden spot.

Running through the sprinkler: Okay…this actually might not work in my garden, since the kids may have to hurdle over day lilies to get a good pace up, but maybe this will be possible someday!

Blowing bubbles: A classic! Use a homemade bubble solution recipe to make your own stuff. It’s such an obvious idea that I often forget it!

Moving worms: I know this sounds slightly weird, but my kids love digging in dirt, finding worms, and then moving them to their favorite plants. Since they know worms help break up soil and make room for roots to grow, they are certain that this is hugely beneficial to their adopted plants. (I’m not sure it’s beneficial for the worms…)
Bug scavenger hunt
Doing a bug scavenger hunt: This doesn’t have to be sophisticated, but giving young children a list of four different bugs and letting them search under rocks and bushes can take a very long time. (Again, this translates to hours of watering/weed pulling) Also, no bugs have to be caught and kept in glass jars…only to die tragic deaths later on when we all forget about them.
Sweet peas
Eating straight out of the garden: I don’t expect to get a harvest of sweet peas, blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries, because I know they’ll be consumed before they ever make it to the kitchen. It is a thrill for my kids to literally eat the fruits of their labors and wonder at how much better garden food tastes than anything we buy in the store. That’s enough to get them back out there next spring!

Have you make a science out of getting your kids involved in gardening? What other tips do you have to help get your people in the garden for hours on end?

Breastfeeding Support

eyelashes!

Picture by Mahalie Stackpole

As I’m sure you already know, breastfeeding is not only good for your baby, it’s also economical and environmentally friendly. It’s also easier said than done. While some babies latch right away, it can take a lot of time and effort for others to become comfortable breastfeeding. An improper latch can be frustrating for the baby and painful for mom and hard to correct if you don’t have any guidance!

Fortunately, there are many resources out there for moms who wish to breastfeed. Books such as The Nursing Mother’s Companion, 6th Edition: 25th Anniversary Edition are useful, but it’s even better if you can join a breastfeeding support group.

Where I live, the group I ended up joining wasn’t listed on any of the resource websites. A search for “breastfeeding groups in my area” didn’t return any results worth following up with. There’s always La Leche League but luckily I ended up finding a great twice weekly group before the monthly La Leche meeting rolled around. I had to ask around quite a bit before I finally found a local group, but it was worth the wait!

Did you join a breastfeeding support group? How did you find out about it? Did you read any books that were helpful?

The Eco-nomical Baby Guide
Eco-nomical Baby Guide
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