The Big Green Parenting Experiment

raising a healthy family in a toxic world

avoid getting sick with one simple step. true story.

So, you don’t feel like getting sick this winter, eh? Alright, great! Neither do I. Especially when I have an active toddler to chase around. Well, you’ve come to the right place. And I have to warn you, if you haven’t ever tried this you may be skeptical. But, trust me on this. This is a tried and true way to avoid getting sick.

I have one word for you. Garlic.
Ok, here’s a picture, too.

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If you’ve been following along, you already know about my recent discovery of garlic as a natural bee sting relief. Seriously, is there anything that garlic can’t do?? This super food has unbelievable healing properties and is much easier on our systems than antibiotic medications.

Garlic is the ultimate super food. When garlic is crushed or cut, it releases a sulfur compound called Allicin, a powerful amino acid. Allicin boosts and stimulates the immune system when ingested. It is also gentle on the digestive system and does not disrupt the natural balance of bacterial flora like typical pharmaceutical antibiotics do. Not to mention that garlic is proven to have more powerful antibiotic properties than penicillin and tetracycline. Really.

So, does it work? Yes. It works. I have been taking garlic at the first sign of illness for months now. Whether I wake up with a sniffle or a slight sore throat, garlic practically stops the illness dead in its tracks. I have just started to take it preventatively. Right now I am taking one clove a day with a tall glass of water. In the past, if I woke up feeling a bit ill, I would generally take it three times a day for a couple of days to give the ol’ immune system a super boost. Worked every time.

Sound gross? It’s really not. You don’t need to chew a clove of raw garlic, although if you’d like to, by all means. Have at it. You may just want to avoid any conversation for the remainder of the day. I chop one clove into pieces that I can easily swallow, about half the size of a vitamin. They can be larger, but just remember that the edges aren’t all smooth and rounded so it may hurt a bit going down. Just swallow your garlic chunks like you would swallow pills, with a big swig of water. I try to drink a nice tall glass per clove.

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I have never experienced any stomach sensitivity afterward, but it is possible. My husband fully chewed the clove the first time he ever tried it and it bothered his stomach. When he started swallowing chunks, he didn’t have any further problems. If your stomach is on the sensitive side, you may consider taking it before or after a meal. I’ve never experienced any odor ‘side effects’ either, though that is also entirely possible. The swallowing method does seem to eliminate the strong garlic breath.

So there you have it! How to avoid getting sick in one super simple step. I will follow up after winter and fill you in on how the preventative method worked out.

What do you think? Have you tried this? And if you haven’t, would you?

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Review and GIVEAWAY: Zenoobi.com

I was very excited to be contacted by Zenoobi.com to do a review of their fabulous site and one of their products. If you’re unfamiliar, Zenoobi is an eco-friendly and organic online retailer offering merchandise that ranges from baby and kids to furniture and household items. After exploring the site I was thoroughly impressed with the variety of merchandise that they have to offer.

At first glance, the site is very well-organized and offers a perfect balance of simplicity and variety. It is extremely easy to navigate and very user-friendly. It is apparent that the website is thoughtfully designed for a pleasant shopping experience. I had a very good first impression of the site.

I loved browsing the various products that they have to offer, from adorable organic baby clothing to my personal favorite, Aden + Anais swaddle blankets! (If you don’t already own at least one of these, now is your chance! Great gift, too!) There are a variety of natural bath & body products including the Earth Mama line, unique toys and crafts and even furniture for your little one or the nursery. And if that’s not enough for you, they also offer a large selection of natural cleaning products, bedding and household items.  Zenoobi.com carries an array of reputable names such as Happy Baby organics, Mrs. Meyers cleaning products, GreenToys, thinksport and many others.

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Zenoobi.com carries a fantastic selection of items for mama’s and mama’s to be. I received a bottle of Earth Mama Angel Baby Happy Mama Spray to try out. I haven’t tried many aromatherapy type products so I was eager to give it a shot. Described as ‘bliss in a bottle’, this spray is specially formulated with a blend of oils to be uplifting during stressful times and to curb pregnancy nausea. As the mother of a toddler, I used it for the former. The fresh citrusy scent is indeed uplifting! A spritz in the air or on the wrist and it really does give a refreshing feeling of calm. I’m sure the deep breath helps too! I obviously didn’t get to test the effectiveness on nausea. I have a hunch that it would depend on the woman as we all have very different aversions during pregnancy. I wouldn’t hesitate to give it a try if I should ever find myself pregnant again. I thoroughly enjoy this ‘bliss in a bottle’ and look forward to having it handy when we get further into toddlerhood and I need burst of serenity now!

Zenoobi.com is a great site for those, like myself, who like to support eco-friendly retailers. Based on my experience thus far, I would highly recommend giving them try. If we all did our part to select environmentally responsible products and support retailers like Zenoobi, the world would be a better place!

HOW ABOUT A GIVEAWAY???

Zenoobi.com is generous enough to be offering one of my lucky readers a $20 gift code for their site! Great time to pick up one of those sweet swaddle blankets I was raving about!

You will get one entry for each of the following:

1. Like Zenoobi on facebook and leave a comment about the giveaway. Bloggers be sure to ‘like’ from your personal FB page for it to be counted.

2. Like the big green parenting experiment on facebook and leave a comment. (Again, from your personal account.) if you already like the bgpe, leave a comment saying so to receive your entry.

3. Sign up for the Zenoobi.com newsletter and mention it in one of the above comments.

All entrants will receive a gift from Zenoobi.com, so please be sure to leave your comments so I can contact you! Who couldn’t use an extra $20 towards gifts right now? I know I could!

Zenoobi.com also states that they plant a tree for every order placed! How sweet is that?!

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Green Promise: Benjamin Moore Aura BzzCampaign review

I was pretty excited to be selected for the Benjamin Moore Aura BzzCampaign this month. I’ve been known to paint some rooms (alright, a LOT of rooms) and I love to get creative with color. I’m just not really a neutral kind of girl. Our new house has been making me twitch since we moved in last year. There couldn’t possibly be any more tan and beige in this place. Blech. There’s nothing wrong with that… it’s just not for me. Not to mention, all of our furniture is neutral since it’s used to having a bold, vibrant wall behind it.

As I read about the product that I was about to sample, I was excited to learn about the Benjamin Moore Green Promise. Benjamin Moore promises to meet or exceed environmental standards by assuring that their products remain low or zero-VOC after the tinting process. Benjamin Moore Aura is considered a low-VOC paint. It’s no secret how much I love products that are better for the environment. Let’s do this!

So, my least favorite room of all has been the pale yellow kitchen. Now, I’m not a lover of yellow to begin with but then there’s the jaundice-like glow that is captured on every face in every photo that we’ve ever snapped in the kitchen. Enter exhibit A.

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Don’t get me wrong, she looks adorable, but her color is just a little, well… off.

We have some pretty dated, rustic, panel-esque cabinets in the kitchen which I have been planning to overhaul by painting white. And for quite some time I’ve had my heart set on vibrant apple green walls which would look so yummy with crisp white cabinets! So, now is my chance! I received my BzzCampaign kit with a coupon for one FREE gallon of Benjamin Moore Aura paint (retail $67.99 + tax!) and couldn’t wait to get started. As I flipped through the lovely color palette that they sent along with the coupon, my nerves started to get the best of me. I began to fear that the shade of green that I so loved would have the same effect as the yellow. After some contemplation and browsing the lovely color selection that Benjamin Moore has to offer, I decided to go with Thunder. It is a nice, light shade of grey (dare I say neutral) and will be a beautiful backdrop for black framed kitchen art and pops of bright apple green.

Here’s a before shot of the pale yellow kitchen. The picture actually makes it appear less horrifying than it really is. Trust me.

After picking up the paint, I was super anxious to get started. I was actually quite surprised by how strong the paint odor was. Other BzzAgent reviews had given the impression that the paint was nearly odorless. I do not agree. I actually thought that it was a bit on the harsh side for a low VOC paint. Maybe because I have been using ZERO VOC paint for so long? Fortunately the weather was on the mild side so I was able to open up a couple additional windows. (Note to self: November in Upstate New York is not the best time for painting.) I was under some time constraints with the BzzCampaign, so the painting must go on! Actually, the odor aired out very quickly and within an hour or two you couldn’t even tell that I painted.

And, the after. Much better, but now I am really anxious to paint those cabinets!

The paint itself was fantastic. I noticed right away while I was cutting in that it covered extremely well. The paint appeared much thicker than other less expensive brands that I have used. It went on smoothly and the color was just as expected. Typically I would expect to do 2 or 3 coats of cutting in, but, honestly, with this paint it isn’t even necessary. Other brands are much more watery and fall short in the coverage department. After one coat I was definitely not disappointed by this paint. I do plan to do a second coat since I still have a half-gallon of paint left. I imagine the second coat will impress me even more.

So, bottom line, this is an awesome product that Benjamin Moore has to offer. The coverage is amazing and I have never seen such a fabulous color selection. It does bear the Green Promise, which I love, although the odor is a little more harsh than I expected. This wouldn’t have even been an issue if I was painting in warmer weather and had all windows and doors open. This would not likely deter me from considering this paint in the future. Finally, there’s the price tag. The $70 price tag is pretty hard for me to swallow for paint, no matter how spectacular. I did love the results, but for a single income family the added expense is just not realistic. Of course, home improvement projects in general are not realistic right now. In a different financial state, I would probably consider using this product again.

Overall, Benjamin Moore Aura is a great product that anyone [who can afford it] should consider. I’m glad that I had a chance to try it. Thanks BzzAgent and Benjamin Moore! Job well done!

(Along with my BzzKit I received multiple coupons for $5.00 off a gallon of Benjamin Moore Aura. If you’d like to give it a try, let me know and I’ll send one your way!)

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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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natural bee sting relief!

This is SO cool! I love learning new things!

Yesterday Schy and I were out and about. We made our big trip to the consignment shop and then we decided to pop in on the husband/daddy for lunch since we were in the neighborhood. We had about 45 minutes to kill so we stopped at a nearby outdoor shopping plaza to walk around. We happened upon this great shop called Ten Thousand Villages and went inside to check it out. As I reached for this super cool toy that looked like a little paper person pedaling a bike when you pushed it along the ground, I was STUNG by a BEE! I was so extremely startled that I jumped and flailed and frantically shook it off of my thumb. It was probably pretty funny to watch, actually. That bee had the nerve to land on Schy’s leg so I swatted it off and stomped on it! I don’t normally stomp creatures if they’re not bothering me, but I was terrified! This thing was after us! And Schy already has enough going on with her crazy allergy purple blotch hive rash all over her. We did NOT need one more thing with her right now.

I felt so violated. I looked at the remnants of the bee on the ground, picked up Schy and fled the scene. I haven’t been stung by a bee in years. And call me a wuss, but I forgot how bad it hurts! Within the hour my thumb swelled up and was sore and itchy and just generally really uncomfortable. I poked at it and looked at it all night. When I woke up this morning it was the first thing I had noticed. The swelling was even a bit worse. My skin was so tight that it hurt to bend… and the itch! Almost unbearable.

I googled natural bee sting treatment to see what I could find. I came across a website called vegetable gardener that claimed to have 12, yes 12, natural bee sting remedies. Number one on the list…. GARLIC! I went for this option because I always have it on hand and I always love to find new uses for garlic. It’s healing properties are so amazing. I pulled a fresh clove of garlic from our CSA out of the refrigerator, crushed it with a large knife and removed the peel. I pressed it onto the sting and walked around for the next 10 minutes with my thumb sticking out, trying to balance my odoriferous garlic sting treatment. I felt a difference within the first minute! It seemed to throb a bit for a minute but then, like magic, the stinging sensation was gone. By the end of the 10 minutes my skin was not nearly as tight and I could bend my thumb again! Unbelievable. Is there anything that garlic CAN’T do, really? This remedy gets one garlicky thumbs up from me!

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Here is a complete list of the 12 remedies on vegetable gardener:

  1. Garlic cloves
  2. Lavender essential oils
  3. Baking soda & water
  4. Peanut butter
  5. Plaintain
  6. Calendula flowers
  7. Bee balm
  8. Basil
  9. Onion
  10. Honey
  11. Parsley
  12. Apis Mellifica

The site lists more details for each. It also states that what works for one may not work for another so there are no guarantees that the garlic will work as well for you. Hopefully you can avoid having to treat a bee sting in the near future, but at least now you have a plan. And it’s always nice to have some natural remedies on hand with little ones around!

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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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first birthday cake smash… without the guilt!

As the big first birthday approaches, I have found myself growing a bit anxious about one thing.  The ever-so-popular cake smash.  We eat healthy, which naturally means that baby Schy does also.  I feel less than excited to give her a pile of sugar to dig into, regardless of how adorable it may be.  And don’t even get me started on the food coloring!

I have made all of Schy’s food from fresh, organic fruits and veggies from the beginning and have come to rely on the website  Momtastic’s Wholesome Baby Food.  The site is full of age appropriate foods, recipe ideas and tips for feeding baby.  I was pleasantly surprised when I searched the site for “healthy first birthday cakes” and found a number of options!

Schy’s Aunt Alyssa, who is a phenomenal photographer, came to take her first birthday pictures this past weekend so we wanted to do a trial run before the big party.  We decided to go with the low sugar vanilla cake and the whipped cream frosting.  I colored the frosting with homemade food coloring made from organic raspberries.  It was delicious!  And most importantly, Schy loved it!

Here are the recipes from Momtastic’s Wholesome Baby Food:

Vanilla Cake adapted from a recipe for diabetic cooking

  • 1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar (diabetics use Diabetisweet measure for measure to  replace sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8  teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons  canola oil (I used olive oil)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray an 8″ X 8″ baking pan with low-fat spray. Sift the dry ingredients and set aside.

Whisk together wet ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add the dry  to the wet and mix until most of the lumps are gone. Pour mix into the pan and  bake at 350ºF for 30-35 minutes or until knife or toothpick inserted in the   center comes out clean.

You may add all ingredients together if using a stand mixer –  just be sure to mix up the dry for about 30 seconds to ensure the soda and  powder are spread out.

Whipped Cream Frosting  (Makes 1 frosting for a 2 layer cake)

  • 1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/8  teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Directions: In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, salt and vanilla until smooth. In a small bowl, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Fold into the cream cheese mixture.

Schy's First Birthday Cake

Schy’s first birthday cake!

**I baked the cake in a rectangular pan and cut out two circular cakes using a small mixing bowl as a template.  The size was perfect!  I also only used about one third of the frosting that this batch made.  The recipe could easily be halved. 

For the pink coloring, I simply pureed a bag of frozen, organic raspberries in a food processor and pressed through a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds.  This method worked great, although the more you add, the looser the frosting becomes.  The pink frosting probably wouldn’t have piped very well, unless it was very well chilled.  The raspberry flavor with the cream cheese based frosting was FANTASTIC!  I will actually be using this recipe for all of the cupcakes for this weekend.  We could all use a little less Red No.42 in our lives anyway!

Oh, and who can resist a picture of a baby with frosting on her face??  Enjoy!

Baby approved!

*I will be baking this cake again this weekend and will be sure to take more pictures of the processes to have on hand.  If you’d like more pics posted, please let me know!

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