The Big Green Parenting Experiment

raising a healthy family in a toxic world

bring it on 2013! my resolutions

Unbelievable. Here I am, on New Year’s Eve, wondering where 2012 went. This has been a remarkable year for my family and I and I am confident that 2013 will be even better. I am totally one of those people who is looking back, reflecting on the year and thinking of the changes that I want to make for 2013.

Yes, I make resolutions. I do believe that a new year is great motivation to make fresh starts and set goals. Some succeed, some fail. For 2013 I’m going all out and focusing on something that I have been neglecting: ME. These resolutions are important goals that I have set to help me feel like me again, more like a human. As a first time mom, I’ve been completely focused on the happiness and well being of my baby. And while I understand that this is completely normal, I also understand that my mood and energy affects hers also. By focusing a bit more on myself, I can be better for her and for my husband.

So, here they are:

1. Eat clean. (again). I feel so incredible when I am eating a totally clean diet. My biggest challenge is going to be conquering my sugar addiction. My plan is to go cold turkey and try to replace refined sugar with more fruits and clean substitutes. I plan to log what I’m eating and drinking, focusing on fresh, whole foods and plenty of water. I used to do this and I know I can. Also, contuining our crusade to rid our house of GMOs.

2. Scheduled exercise. I used to be fit. I so want to get back there. I used to weight train 4-5 times a week, run 9-10 miles 3 times a week and do yoga every day possible. My goal is to schedule 20-30 minutes of “me time” a day to do an intense workout. My body is really craving it and I know it’ll be the boost I need to gain my self confidence and energy back. I can’t wait to have that “hurts in a good way” feeling again. I am also running the Saratoga half marathon this year so I WILL be ready!

3. Work on time management. Routines work. It can be tough with a teething toddler who may or may not resist a nap and require my undivided attention. But much like she thrives on a routine, I think I will too. Allot time for housework, exercise, meditation, play, husband, blogging (of course) and rest. I would love to try and devote time to all of these things that are so important to me. All of the things that make me ME.

These are some pretty tall orders, I know. But I’ve done them all before and I CAN do them again. The better I am, the better I will be for my family and that is my motivation.

Better me = better us.

Let’s get this New Year started!

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recycled newspaper gift bags

We get sooo many newspaper flyers in the mail without even subscribing to any newspapers. It’s mind numbing. They go directly from the mailbox to the recycling bin, day after day. Well, not anymore! This is a very simple, crafty little way to give your newspapers new life! I am totally in love with this idea! I spotted it on pinterest and knew that there was going to be plenty of these in my future! The possibilities are endless. I just can’t wait to add personal touches onto these fab little gift bags.

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The original post on pinterest is from How About Orange who received a recycled newspaper shopping bag from a retailer. She was inspired to create one of her own. Now I am inspired! Let’s do this.

What you’ll need:

  • newspaper
  • scissors
  • card stock
  • glue stick
  • twine
  • ruler

I started out by following the directions for the bag from the link on Pinterest. She walks you through creating the smaller bag, pictured above on the right. Once I mastered that one, I was ready to try variations.

Today’s project: a wine gift bag for a birthday party.

Wine gift bags are a bit easier since they are square so there is little measuring involved. You can easily customize to the particular bottle if you’d like. Today I’ll be making a bag for riesling which is generally a taller, thinner bottle than most so I am customizing a bit.

Bottle diameter = 3.5″
Total newspaper width needed – 15″ (3.5″ x 4 sides + ~1 inch for seam)

Bottle height = 16″
Total newspaper height needed – 19-20″
(16″ + 1″ for top edge + 2″ for bottom of bag)

Lay out two sheets of newspaper on a table or flat surface. Measure out the size of the newspaper you will need, in this case 16″ x 19″. Cut out. Tip: I found it easiest to glue the two sheets of newspaper together before cutting.

Once your cut piece is laid out, you will start folding, as follows:

1. Make a 1″ fold on one of the side edges. This will be where you glue the seam of the bag.

2. To make four equal width sides, fold the opposite edge of the paper in to the fold that you just made.

3. Fold in half again in the same manner.

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4. Fold 1″ to 1.5″ on the side that will be the bag opening AND make a 2″ fold on the opposite edge, which will become the bottom of the bag.

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5. Next you’ll need to cut two pieces of card stock: 1″ x the width of the side of the bag, in this case 3.5″. Glue them along the top edge of the bag in the first and third sections. These will help support the top of the bag when opened.

20121207-083447.jpg6. Next you will glue down the entire ‘flap’ on the top side of the bag. This will hide the card stock and give the top edge a finished look.

20121210-193246.jpg7. Now to form the shape of the bag, glue the first fold that you made on the side edge to the interior of the other edge. You can start to see it coming together.

20121210-193440.jpg8. And now to create the bottom of the bag, you simply fold the opposite sides in as if wrapping a gift and then glue the two remaining sides down one by one. I failed to take pictures of this process since both hands are necessary to make it work. I did find it easiest to rest the bag on a table while doing this step. Here is the completed bottom:

20121210-193858.jpg9. To complete the bag, you’ll just need to add some finishing touches. Measure a piece of card stock to glue on the bottom inside of the bag for additional strength. Poke (or punch) two small holes in the reinforced top sides of the bag, insert twine and tie off to make handles.

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Tada! A recycled newspaper gift bag! (The bag was just tall enough, despite how it looks in the picture. Next time I’ll add that extra inch.) I added some lime green tissue paper for a splash of color. So cute! I visualize making these with Schy for holiday gifts, maybe with red or green stamped snowflakes on them and ribbon handles! You can even use different appropriate sections of the newspaper for particular people: sports, real estate, etc.
I am totally digging these bags. They’re super creative (super cheap) and can easily be personalized! And it’s a useful way to use some of that newspaper that everyone has laying around! Try it out and let me know what you think. I’d love to hear your creative ideas.

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day 13: 30 days of thanks

Today I am thankful for the internet! What an unbelievably amazing source of anything and everything you never cared about! We are so lucky to have so much information at our fingertips. I remember, loooong ago, we had these giant sets of dusty books to use as references. How inefficient was that? There are so many things that have been improved thanks to our glorious internet. I’m able to share pictures, shop, look up recipes and research any current obsession in minutes. And all at the same time if I like. It’s such an incredible wealth of knowledge and I truly do not know what I would do without it. It is such a wonderful, powerful tool. I use it all day, every day and am always discovering new ways to use it. I am thankful for all of the things that the internet allows me to do and I look forward to what’s still to come.

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green product review (& discount!): reusable swiffer wet jet pads!!

If you own a swiffer wet jet, you know just how convenient it is… and, of course, how wasteful those replacement pads are. Not to mention… what a RIP-OFF! Even the generic Target brand pads are about a dollar a piece. REALLY??

Today I am reviewing our new favorite household product. The reusable wet jet pad. I found this particular pad on ebay and after careful review of all of the other options, I gave it a go. AH-MAZING.

I was SO excited to receive this product in the mail. After beginning the journey to a chemical free home series (part one, part two), I planned to tackle floor cleaning alternatives next. I originally intended to create my own reusable pad when I discovered this wonderful product. These pads work beautifully. Much better than their disposable counterparts that we were overpaying for. We love our wet jet. Especially when we’re cleaning up after three toddler meals a day. It’s just so convenient.

On to the review:

Appearance: At first glance, I was very impressed with the product. It is well made, neatly stitched and appears to be quite durable. The pads are pretty thick and look very absorbent, as advertised. The pads are available in a great variety of colors. (I chose green.)

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photo taken after a couple of washes

Use: Initially, I was a bit concerned with the hook and loop staying fastened to the wet jet itself, but I was proven wrong. It stayed attached very well and the fit was great. The pads are super absorbent. MUCH more absorbent than the disposable pads. The floor is practically dry when you’re finished, which leaves me confident that all of the dirt and dirty cleaning solution and/or water have been picked up, rather than being pushed around the floor. The absorbency was actually quite alarming at first as it takes a little more effort to push the mop across the floor. You get used to this change quickly, especially for the trade off of total grime removal. It is a nice change from the filthy disposable pad sliding across the floor and bunching and tearing before the job is even finished!

Construction: The pad is constructed from a highly absorbent yellow core made from wood pulp, a totally green by-product from the lumber industry. The mopping surface is made from high quality (new) cotton towels which are selected for durability, long wear and quick drying time.

Cleaning: The pads are extremely easy to clean by tossing them in a warm wash cycle. They can be dried in the dryer, however we opted for air dry. They were practically dry when we removed them from the wash and were fully dry and ready to use again in no time. Many of the pads are bleachable for easy sanitizing also. We have only washed them a handful of times, but so far they have held up great!

We purchased our pads on eBay during a buy one, get one free promotion, so we paid $6.85 for two pads with free shipping! I’ll probably buy a few more for those more frequent mopping days (read: toddler meal-slinging). To purchase this fantastic product from eBay click here. The seller is now offering 20% OFF to anyone who mentions the big green parenting experiment review when they order! You can also find these pads and other great green products at www.EZgreenPRO.com.

This is an excellent green product and I highly recommend picking up a few! Our household will never go back to wasteful, disposable pads and saving money is always a bonus as well. If you love your wet jet as much as I do, order some today. You will not be sorry!

BGPE rating: A+

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I was not paid or compensated in any way for the review of this product. This review is based solely on my personal use and opinion and I am in no way affiliated with the seller of this product, just an extremely satisfied, supportive customer! Thanks for reading!

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journey to a chemical free home – part two

We are still on our mission to rid our home of chemicals.  Unfortunately, our inspiration for this mission is super active and getting into everything these days, which generally consumes most of our time!  And this is EXACTLY why it is so important that we make this happen.  While we all do our best to keep our little ones safe, sometimes accidents happen.  I heard someone say recently that if it can’t be ingested, it shouldn’t be in the home.  It seems daunting when I look at all of the bottles under our kitchen sink.

Is it really possible to replace all of these things with effective natural alternatives?  Yes.  Today our journey continues with [simple] homemade toilet bowl cleaner and disinfectant.

You will need just three ingredients. That’s right. Three!

  • 1 c. baking soda
  • 1 c. white vinegar
  • 10 – 12 drops of tea tree oil
  • other essential oils (optional)
  • mixing bowl
  • spatula or popsicle stick to stir concoction with

Amazing.  This “recipe” has been derived from various sources online.  This mixture worked extremely well for us!

You’ll want to do this in close proximity to the toilet to be cleaned… In a mixing bowl, combine one cup of baking soda and 10 – 12 drops of tea tree oil. I had a wooden popsicle stick handy to stir with. Next add your vinegar, stir quickly into baking soda and pour into toilet bowl. Let sit for a minute or two and scrub with toilet brush.  Sparkly!

This worked just as well as any toilet bowl cleaner that we have ever purchased!  And to be honest, it smelled much better too.  The acidity of the vinegar is an effective solvent, deodorizes and effectively kills germs while the baking soda acts as a mild abrasive.  Tea tree oil has natural anti-viral, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. You can refer to journey to a chemical free home – part one for a list of other effective oils.  This cleaning method is also great for septic systems, which we currently have.  And of course, there are no harmful fumes for you and your family to breathe in.  Mom approved!

You can safely use this natural cleaner on all surfaces of the bathroom including the outside of the toilet bowl, sink and other surfaces.  I seriously can’t believe that it took us this long to use this method.  It is so easy, inexpensive and most importantly, safe for your family!

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Stay tuned for a really great green product review in part three!

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consign me up!

Babies are expensive! And as many of us know, things can be pretty tight when you’re trying to raise a child (or children) on one income. I just had a little bit of a reality check when Schy outgrew her first pair of shoes. Yep, the $40 pair of Stride Rite shoes that she has only had for TWO months! So, yeah, if her feet grow a half size every two months from now until who knows when (age 2? 3?) that is potentially $240 per year! And that’s just for one pair of shoes! Nevermind cute little holiday and special occasion shoes that she’ll only wear once or twice. Just another reason for those of you parents with late walkers to count your blessings!

Buying shoes and clothing at a rate like that are not exactly what I would consider to be environmentally friendly. They are worn just a handful of times, if that, and put aside to hopefully someday hand down. At least that’s how it works in my house. We had it good for a while when Schy was younger. She has a cousin just 5 months older than her. You remember… the one whose mommy graciously gave us the world’s most annoying toy? We were fortunate to receive all of her hand-me-downs and Schy wasn’t yet walking so there really was no need for a good pair of shoes. Not to mention we almost had enough clothing from the baby shower to last for the first year of her life. Ahhhhh. Life was good.

We are at the point now that we need to start buying new seasonal clothing and shoes for her. I have taken obsessively to ebay, just searching for a nice pair of gently used [quality] shoes for her so I don’t have to spend $40 on the next pair. I know that there are tons of moms out there in the same position… appalled that their child has outgrown these adorable little shoes that have barely been broken in. What a waste!

Last winter, a good friend of mine had taken to consigning her daughter’s clothing. She was able to bring in the clothes that her daughter had outgrown and essentially trade them for second hand, gently used clothing in the next size up. And they were nice quality, often name brand clothes. Her daughter was excited because she still got to shop for them and they looked like new and they were new to her. I could see myself getting into this, but not at the time. I had a dresser full of clothing that would last for a year. Well, that year has come and gone.

So, I’m now discovering the beauty of consigning. These shops are everywhere, as are parents whose child wore a pair of baby Gap jeans once before they outgrew them. Schy and I went on a shopping trip today to find jeans and pants for the fall. I ended up with 3 pairs of name brand jeans and two pairs of leggings for $21.85. They are adorable and look like new. These shops are generally pretty picky about what they will sell so you can expect to find nice quality items. After all, who wants to buy clothing that looks stained and worn out. I didn’t have any luck in the shoe dapartment, but I did just win a shoe lot on ebay, 5 pairs for $19.14 including shipping! Two of the pairs are new with tags and the other three are in excellent used condition. Score!

I haven’t been the consigner yet so I can’t report to you from that side, but this store was packed with clothing so I imagine that it’s not a bad gig. I have two or three totes of ‘like new’ clothing in the attic that i will have to go through someday. I’m sure someone else would just love some I the ridiculously cute dresses that she wore only once. So this is my green revelation for the day. Consigning rocks! There are so many great used items out there that have so much life left in them. It’s like recycling clothes. Chances are Schy will wear these pants a few times, outgrow them and they will STILL be like new.

Give it a shot. You may be able to pass along some of the clothes that you have stored in the process. If you don’t know where to start simply google consignment shops in your area. The guidelines and policies for buying and selling are generally on the site and if they are not, stop in. Check it out. You’ll be surprised, trust me.

Have consigning tips? I’d love for you to share!

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a cloth diaper story…

We cloth diaper.  We love it and have had a wonderful experience.  We decided to cloth diaper after reading some horrifying statistics about disposable diapers.  Here are just a few:

  • Disposable diapers contain chemicals such as dioxin, a carcinogen that may affect your baby’s health.
  • Disposable diapers are the third largest single consumer item in landfills, and represent about 4% of solid waste.  In a house with a child in diapers, disposables make up 50% of household waste.
  • Over 300 pounds of wood, 50 pounds of petroleum feedstocks and 20 pounds of chlorine are used to produce disposable diapers for one baby EACH YEAR.
  • No one knows how long it takes for a disposable diaper to decompose, but it is estimated to be 250-500 years, long after your children, grandchildren and great, great, great grandchildren will be gone.

(Disgusting, right?  That’s just a few of the reasons.  Facts courtesy of the RealDiaperAssociation.org.  This is a great site for a disposable diaper reality check.)

We made the decision to cloth diaper well before Schy was born.  One of the easiest decisions we made on the path to becoming parents.  The potential health risks to our baby and negative environmental impact were enough for us.  It’s also much more cost-effective than buying disposables from birth until potty training.  I think that it was somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 to $800 for cloth compared to $2400 -$2600 for disposable. And if you use them for a second child?  You do the math.  Huge savings.  Of course, with cloth it is an upfront expense which can seem like a huge burden on top of all of the other items you are trying to buy in order to prepare yourself for baby.

Cloth diapering can seem like a daunting endeavor.  I can’t say that there weren’t times in the first month of Schy’s little life that we just didn’t feel like scrubbing her tiny diapers every day.  But we did.  And it simply became part of the routine.  It takes very little time each day and is now much easier since she is eating solids and not EBF.  So, let me tell you about the basics, in my experience anyway.

Infant diapers are pretty much essential for the first few months.  We used the BumGenius infant diapers and loved them.  I would say that I highly recommend them.  If you keep an eye on BumGenius items, they often do a buy 5 get the 6th free sale.  Every little bit helps!  A lot of diapers claim that they fit 8lbs and up.  In my experience, there was NO WAY that Schy would’ve worn those enormous diapers at 8lbs!  They would have been gigantic and they definitely would’ve leaked around her skinny little legs.  I know it might seem hard to buy tiny diapers to use for such a short time.  Use your judgement, but in my opinion, the infant diapers are essential.

Now, the overwhelming task of choosing the right diaper. I have no idea how people know what the right diaper is until they physically have a test subject in front of them.  There are pocket diapers, prefolds and all-in-ones, one size, etc.  I researched and read reviews and compared prices and finally came to the conclusion that we were going to try the BumGenius 4.0 one size diapers.  These seemed to consistently have the best reviews across a number of different sites, and we were really happy with the quality of infant diapers, so we went for it.  I bought 10 to start.  Yeah.  10 isn’t really going to cut it.  I had no idea what I was doing then!

bumGenius One-Size Snap Closure Cloth Diaper 4.0bumGenius Elemental Organic Cloth Diaper

I was intrigued by the BG Elemental all in one (AIO).  These are organic and a little more expensive, so I only sprung for 6 of these and about 6 more BG 4.0 shells.  In the beginning we really hated the Elementals.  They are pretty difficult to rinse thoroughly of breastfed poopie.  We don’t have a diaper sprayer, which probably would’ve helped.  I was disappointed since I’d spent the most on those and we were unhappy with them.  NOW, however, we love them!  Schy is eating solid food which makes clean up much easier and the AIO is much easier to wrap around a speedy baby as she running off than a two piece diaper.  If I could afford more of these right now, I’d buy many.  The BG 4.0’s have been great.  We’ve been using them since Schy outgrew the infant diapers, so say about 9 months.  They’ve held up well, with the exception of one snap that has pulled through.  It’s still usable, just harder to snap that one.

That brings me to the next dilemma: hook & loop (velcro) or snaps.  After reading the reviews, I decided on snaps.  The consensus was that these are much more difficult for little ones to pull off when they reach that ‘diaper pulling off’ stage!  The snaps also hold up better in the wash.  I witnessed this first hand with the infant diapers.  The velcro tabs did start to catch lint and curl a bit toward the end of the three months of use, no matter if we made a diaper chain or latched them to themselves.  Velcro may give a slightly better fit for those in between sizes, but you may also have to replace the tabs after so many months of use.  Who has time for that??  My verdict: snaps.  Hands down.

I did order 6 flip covers also once we realized that the Elementals weren’t going to work out, at least for a while.  The Flips are fine, but not nearly as good as the BG’s.  (I think Flips may be made by BG.)  They aren’t lined like the BG’s are and the liners tend to slide down and bunch up in the shell.  Looks uncomfortable, so I assume it probably is.  But they were much cheaper and they work just fine.

I’m sure that there are other great diapers out there, but the BG’s are what work for us.  I have learned some tips and tricks along the way, but I’ll save those for another day!  I am constantly preaching the superiority of the cloth and if I am able to change just one person’s mind from using disposables, I will be happy.  If all cloth diapering families did the same, we would be taking a huge step in the right direction!  Our landfills are big enough.

What are your favorite cloth diapers?  And what made you decide to CD in the first place?  I am happy to answer any questions that you may have, also!

Schy rockin’ her BG’s on a hot summer day.

(I am in no way affiliated with BumGenius.  I am simply a lover of their product and have not been compensated in any way for promoting their products.)

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homemade baby wipes?!

Poor Schy. She has had a particularly bad couple of nights, waking up every 2-3 hours to eat and be comforted back to sleep. The most difficult part of being a mother is not knowing what is wrong when they’re this young. If that doesn’t make someone feel helpless, I don’t know what does. When your baby wakes up crying and flailing, it’s somewhat heartbreaking. She developed a runny nose and tiny little sporadic cough on Monday. She may have been run down from the big weekend of parties and bridal showers. She was also exposed to many different kids, people and, of course… germs. It hasn’t seemed bad enough to disrupt her sleep, though. Maybe new teeth? Gah… how those teeth ruin everything!

Anyhow, today was her big one year appointment. She did NOT take it well. I think she may have been scarred from the last visit, involving a 103 fever and a torturous throat culture. Heartbreaking for everyone, I assure you. As soon as we left the waiting room and entered that long hallway, it was all over. She was officially a wreck. We were “the ones” that they’d be talking about at the end of the day. I have come to accept that I have a very emotional child. Generally, these emotions are positive. But when they’re not… they’re REALLY not. She screamed and cried at the nurse who walked us to the room. She screeched while being weighed and measured and shrieked at every single move the doctor made. It was unbelievable. She stopped for air when the doctor left the room. We didn’t even get to ask her the questions that we had prepared about almond milk and first dentist visits… THAT should go well.

I did show the doctor a red blotchy rash on her bottom that appeared this morning. I’ve read that sometimes when babies are teething they’ll develop a rash, but it’s a touchy subject among different doctors. Some believe that it’s pure coincidence and that it has nothing to do with teething. Others insist that the increased saliva created by teething is swallowed and can be irritating to the stomach and ultimately, the perfect, sensitive little bum. I’ve also read that store-bought wipes can be extremely irritating to these sensitive areas, especially when they have a rash. This leads me to the search for a homemade, non-irritating alternative. Why did it take me a year to think of this?

I found multiple options on natural birth and baby care. Amazing! You can use any of the following recipes to soak paper towels or cotton cloth, to be washed with your diapers. Now c’mon… we all know which choice I’ll be making! And, this finally gives me a use for the drawer full of receiving blankets that we no longer use! Wow. This is exciting!

Baby Wash Recipe #1

  • 2 TBSP Baby Wash (choose a natural wash!)
  • 2 TBSP Olive Oil or Coconut Oil*
  • 2 Cups water

Mix well in a spray bottle or your wipes box. Spritz on wipe if using in spray bottle. Swish solution around over wipes if using a wipes box.

Baby Wash Recipe #2

  • 2 TBSP Baby Wash
  • 2 TBSP Olive Oil, or 1 TBSP Calendula Oil, or Coconut Oil*
  • 2 Drops Tea Tree Oil
  • 2 Cups Water

Mix well in a spray bottle or your wipes box. Spritz on wipe if using in spray bottle. Swish solution around over wipes if using a wipes box. Tea Tree Oil has lovely disinfectant properties along with its wonderful, clean smell. You can omit the baby wash from this recipe if you wish.

Aloe Vera Recipe

  • 1/4 Cup Aloe Vera Gel
  • 2 Drops Tea Tree Oil
  • 2 Cups Hot Water

Stir or shake until this recipe is well mixed. Don’t use until the mixture cools. Spritz on wipe if using in spray bottle. Swish solution around over wipes if using a wipes box.

Vitamin E and Essential Oils Recipe

  • 2 Drops Tea Tree Oil
  • 2 Drops Lavender Oil (Please be sure to use only pure essential oils – don’t use synthetic oils.)
  • 2 Drops Chamomile Oil
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 1 Vitamin E Cap

Cut open vitamin E capsule and squeeze into the water, and add essential oil drops. Mix well in a spray bottle or your wipes box. Spritz on wipe before using if in spray bottle. Swish solution around over wipes if using a wipes box.

These are awesome! I am so eager to try them. So eager that I couldn’t bear to wait and try them out before I shared them. Time to find a spray bottle and start cutting up receiving blankets! I’ll be trying #2 first. There will certainly be a follow-up so hang tight!

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journey to a chemical free home – part one

If you haven’t realized it already, I am a complete chemical-phobe.  I have been buying organic as often as I can for as long as I can remember.  There’s just something about chemicals, pesticides and growth hormones that rub me the wrong way.  I made a conscious effort to put minimal chemicals in or on my body throughout my pregnancy.  Now that Schy is a very active girl, I understand that it is impossible to protect her from all contact with all things chemical, but I can limit her exposure (and any harmful future side effects) when she’s at home.

I’ve started this journey to a chemical free home with the most commonly used chemical spray – the all-purpose, antibacterial cleaner.  We spray this stuff on everything… the counters, the table, the kitchen chairs and any other surface that may need cleaning and/or sanitizing.  There are endless natural options that can be made at home.  We are not talking serious, multi-ingredient concocting here.  This is simple stuff that can be done in minutes with 2 or 3 ingredients, which you may already have on hand.

Our go-to cleaner lately has been the white vinegar and water solution.  White distilled vinegar has pretty amazing antibacterial properties.  The level of acidity in vinegar makes it very effective at killing bacteria, mold and germs.  It can be used either diluted or straight and the effects are greater with higher concentration.  There’s just one problem.  It smells like vinegar!  Okay, so the smell doesn’t linger for that long, but it does linger.  Although, tried and true, I’m ready to move on to the next.

I have moved on to reading about the antibacterial properties of essential oils.  These are great because you can customize them to smell like something that you enjoy… at least more than vinegar.  Unless you like the smell of vinegar.  I am not here to judge.

Here are some of the best antibacterial essential oils:

  • Lemon (antibacterial, stimulates natural immune system, mood lifting)
  • Tea Tree (anti-viral, antibacterial, anti-fungal)
  • Oregano (very potent antiseptic, antibacterial)
  • Lavender (antibacterial, calming)
  • Eucalyptus (antiseptic, anti-viral)
  • Peppermint (antiseptic, anti-viral)
  • Rosemary (antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic)
  • Thyme (antimicrobial)

*Please use caution when experimenting with essential oils.  They are pure extracts.  Even though they are natural, they can irritate and burn skin if applied directly.  They may also cause allergic reactions.

Here is a quick recipe for a homemade antibacterial cleaner.  You can experiment using this recipe as a basic template.  You can also make a spray without using dish soap by simply adding 5-10 more drops of oil if you would like.

Antiseptic and Antibacterial Spray Cleaner (from 100% pure essential oils)

  • 8oz. spray bottle (clean and repurpose one that you already have)
  • 1 tsp. dish soap (we use planet brand environmentally friendly dish liquid)
  • 7.5oz. of water
  • 10 drops of your favorite antibacterial essential oil(s)

Combine essential oil(s) with dish soap and blend well.  Add water and mix well.  Spray onto countertops, surfaces, etc. and wipe with a damp cloth.

There are an endless number of scents that you can create.  I love lemon and rosemary.  It has such a pleasant and clean smell.  I also love the earthy smell of tea tree oil.  I use tea tree as a natural bug repellant as well.

So, there you have it.  One chemical household cleaner down… many more to go.  This is easy enough for everyone to try.  And so much safer for your family and the environment.  It’ll probably save you quite a few bucks, too!  Who doesn’t love that?

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the longest, fastest year of my life.

So, here I am, in front of the screen.  Enjoying a quiet moment while my one year old naps. WAIT… ONE YEAR OLD?!?!  What just happened?  Did I really just say that?  And could it possibly be true???

It’s true.  My sweet, innocent baby girl is turning ONE in just eight days.  Over the last month I have found myself in constant contemplation.  Where did the year go?  What did I do right?  What did I do wrong?  And the list goes on.  As a first time parent, I have so many ideas, so many plans.  I have a general path and goals as to how I want to raise my child.  I have definite beliefs and have made conscious decisions that I know not everyone agrees with.  (I know this because they tell me.)  This truly is the most difficult and most rewarding job in the universe.

My name is Alli.  I am married to the love of my life and soul-mate, Stephen and we are the most proud parents imaginable of a very active, spirited and hilarious baby, Schy (pronounced Sky).  I am a tree hugger, lover of organics and sustainability and always trying to find ways to lessen our family’s environmental impact.  I’m beginning this blog to share what we have learned over the past year and what we will continue to learn over the coming years as we attempt to raise a healthy, environmentally conscious (‘green’) child in an increasingly toxic world.  We breastfeed, cloth diaper, buy organic and belong to a local CSA.  We reuse, repurpose, recycle and do our best to conserve where we can.  We have our trials and tribulations, but overall, it is all well worth the effort.  I plan to share with you different ideas, recipes, homemade and chemical free solutions, tips, products and reviews that support a green lifestyle in hopes of passing what we learn along to the earth’s next generation.

I look forward to sharing our personal experiences and seeing where the next year takes us.  I look forward to and encourage your feedback as well.  As cliché as it may sound, together we can make a difference!

So welcome!  Let the big, green parenting experiment begin!

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