lucy is seven months!!!

new talents include:
~ scooting around the room (in reverse)
~ practically crawling forward--see photo #4
~ showing off her new tooth-and-a-half--see photo #1
~ gleefully shrieking at the top of her lungs, most often while mommy tries to catch up on sleep
~ sticking out her bottom lip, valleygirl-style
~ taking a dainty approach to solids--rice and peaches only, mommy!

"this getting old thing is rough..."


something's wrong...

when people are trampling other people in a rush for stuff. black friday stuff. i don't care about shops opening at 4 a.m., or people skipping out on thanksgiving dinner with their families to camp out in front of big box stores (as long as they're not my people!). but the following story about today's trampling death of a walmart employee is absolutely sicking:

"...As many as a dozen people [were] knocked to the floor in the stampede of people trying to get into the Wal-Mart store, according to Nassau County Police detective Lt. Michael Fleming. The employee was "stepped on by hundreds of people" as other workers attempted to fight their way through the crowd, Fleming said."

i, for one, skipped out on black friday this year. well, kinda. i did hit up joann's late-morning to get supplies for holiday gifts that will be in the works soon. but other than that, i stayed home and kept my wallet buried safely in the depths of my diaper bag. i cannot recall the last time i sat out on this nationwide spending spree. in the past, i've been the kind who rises in the wee hours of morning to shop 'till i drop (armed with a master plan of stores to visit, stacks of ads, and a few snacks to give me that much-needed energy as i power through line after line). i typically convince jeremy to come along for the ride, and together, we basically talk each other into buying things. gifts for people on our lists. gifts for each other. gifts for ourselves.

this year we hardly even looked at the ads.

still, around 7:30 a.m., jeremy and i felt a little forlorn. like we were missing out on a great big party or something. we briefly considered going out (though we had nothing to buy) but steadied ourselves in the face of consumerist temptation.

less stuff. less stuff. less stuff. that's going to be my mantra for the next few weeks. if you see me talking to myself in a corner... feel free to ignore. or, you know, join along!


lucy's first thanksgiving...

aside from the basics like mommy & daddy, if lucy could talk, i think she'd give thanks for doggies. doggies big and doggies small, not much else makes her so happy. except for kittens. lucy sure does loves fluffy lil' kittens. anyway, we had a wonderful thanksgiving filled not only with yummy food, but also the excellent, loving company of our families. it just doesn't get much better than that. except, of course, to see lucy thrilled to bits with her very furry friends--molly, jenna, and lucy-the-dog-not-lucy-the-baby.

happy thanksgiving!


news from the formula companies...

and it's not good. i've been lucky enough to be able to feed lucy without any formula supplementation. though challenging at times, i'm so glad not to have to worry about stories like this. melamine has turned up in brand-name infant formula here in the united states. the same stuff that, you know, killed a bunch of dogs awhile back, and later put thousands upon thousands of chinese babies into the hospital (many of whom are still there). reports state that only trace amounts have been found in u.s. infant formulas, in levels that are for now being considered harmless. my take? melamine has been found in infant formula. enough said.

the findings make me sad for formula-feeding mommies, many of whom want to breastfeed exclusively but aren't able to, for whatever reason. the simple act of feeding a hungry baby (be it by bottle or by breast) shouldn't come with doubt, worry or guilt. if it's not melamine in formula or bpa in bottles, then it's the presence of dioxin and other nasties in breast milk, appearing in concentrated doses due to the ever-rising prevalence of chemicals in our society.

did generations past have to deal with these types of worries? overhanging guilt of things that simply could not be avoided? where did society fall off, letting our tiniest members come in contact with questionable chemicals and known carcinogens? this all goes far past formula--to baby shampoos and lotions, baby diapers, baby clothing, baby food, baby toys. something is just not right with this picture, and the very worst part is that despite all that i know about all of this, i can't shove my daughter into a bubble. she's exposed. i may have reduced her exposure, and i will try my hardest to continue to do so to a reasonable extent. but lucy, like every other baby in america, is exposed. and there's nothing i can do to change this.


an eco-score...

recently a gardening company that i do a bit of freelance writing for had a sample sale. i was lucky to have gotten a chance to attend--in addition to scoring a few nice things for our home and yard, and a half-filled bolt of sunbrella fabric (for an upcoming sewing project), i was also able to get a bunch of eco-friendly items for super cheap. my take-home pile included a big stack of books--lots of gardening, birdwatching, and nature-inspired books for kids, including a 'grow it, cook it' cookbook. i'm giving a few of the books as gifts this christmas (in handmade book bags), but am also keeping a bunch of them for lucy.

books for me included '1,001 ways to save the earth' and national geographic's 'the green guide, a complete guide to consuming wisely.' more on the green guide in another post--it's seriously a good but scary compilation of eco-info. not for 'take-it-to-heart,' 'believe-everything-that-you-read' people such as myself, but i digress.

i also scored 3 envirosax and a reisenthel mini maxi shopping bag. i've already gifted the envirosax to friends (they got a lot of play during our trip to monterey) but the mini maxi is mine to keep. it's a bit bulky on my keychain, but i swear it makes my keys easier to find in my overstuffed diaper bag...or in the couch cushions...or under the bed...or left hanging in the front door. you know. not to mention that with it, there's no worry of ever not having a bag in my possession--i've already used it on a number of occasions. i highly recommend the mini maxi, despite the fact that it holds less than an envirosax bag.

another great score at the sale was an indoor planting kit crafted by green toys. green toys is a great company that makes kids toys out of recycled milk containers--without the addition of nasties like bpa or phthalates. all of their products are made in my home state of california. from californian milk jugs, no less. maybe even some of mine? i'm familiar with the company because of their tea set (pictured below), which is on my 'someday' list for lucy. i'd never seen the planting kit before, but i think it's pretty cute. they also sell a sand play kit and a cookware and dining set. hmmmm...


mirror, mirror, on the wall...

lucy has a favorite mirror in the house. a big one, right above the fireplace. there's always this cute baby in it, staring right back at her, and the two of them are always pleased to chat and giggle back and forth. as a result, the mirror is full of tiny baby handprints, drool and smudges. today i gave a shot at cleaning it without the use of windex. plain vinegar, squirted from a spray bottle, and wiped with a flannel cloth. all the smudges gone, without any streaks left behind. i was really impressed at just how well it worked. so well, in fact, that i might just get around to cleaning the glass slider sometime soon. and some windows. maybe.

windex actually gets a low toxicity rating on the household product saftey database. still, lucy will soon be getting around on all fours and i'm already highly aware about what's beneath the kitchen and bathroom sinks, not to mention what'll be in contact those little hands and knees. we've gotten rid of nearly all of the toxic stuff, and don't use anything more than water, vinegar, baking soda and dr. bronner's castille soap in our day-to-day cleaning. but even these, in larger quantities, can be hazardous. still, it's nice to know that what we're using in our home does not pose an elevated risk to us, to lucy, or to our animals.


a happy birthday gift...

in an effort to give handmade whenever possible, i fashioned up this pretty picnic blanket for my lovely friend nicole's 27th birthday. she's an outdoorsy kind of gal so i though she'd appreciate it. and it turned out beautifully, if i do say so myself. i'm making one for myself next, if ever i can find the time.

this is a simple, straightforward project well-suited to any beginner such as myself... the hardest part by far was picking and laying out the fabrics. to make the blanket, i used a wonderful tutorial that can be found here. it's written by a very creative blogger named erin at house on hill road. her addition of rock pockets, sewn on the reverse, are really clever and super cute. the blanket is nicely oversized, and can be backed with a full-sized flat sheet with good scrap to spare. i didn't get around to adding the buttons that are pictured on the tutorial--instead i designed a matching bag to tote the blanket around in. the folded blanket fit perfectly, with a little extra room for a few beachy things. i even added a pocket. ooh-la-la.

pictures of my completed blanket are below. and who would have thought we'd be able to use it to lounge around on the beach in mid-november? chalk it up to some birthday luck. good things are in store for someone this year!


home again...

lucy and i are home from the monterey coast. we had a wonderful time with 2 of my very best friends, and all stayed together in a nice house very near to the beach. we were spoiled rotten with 85 degree temperatures, zero fog and hardly a breeze to speak of--and were able to lounge around on the beach as though it were summertime. the only bummer was not bringing enough warm-weather clothes, but we made due with what we had.

our rental property was not only within walking distance to the beaches, but also to several grocery stores. this is a luxury that i don't get to experience during my regular life, and it was so nice to be able to hit up the store for a bottle of milk (and, um, doughnuts) while out on our morning walk. i'm jealous of people who get to do this kind of thing on a regular basis! and i was also excited that the homeowners of the rental property kept a compost bin in their backyard. i didn't find it until the second day there, and tossing out food scraps after composting all this time felt very strange.
we were able to spend a long morning at the montery bay aquarium. i hadn't been since i was quite young, and hardly remembered any of it. we had a wonderful time. the sheer varieity of sealife that they house there is amazing. i liked the jellyfish and sea otters best, but lucy was enthralled with the pengiuns, who tried to nibble at her wiggly fingers through the glass wall. as far as eco-related stuff, there was loads of information about ocean sustainability, especially as related to responsible seafood consumption and the permanence of plastics.

anyway, here are just a few lucy pictures from our trip. i took way less pictures than i normally do--she's getting more and more active (and also a bit clingy) and without jeremy with me it's hard to have the camera out all of the time to capture those random, priceless moments. enjoy!


blogging break...

lucy and i are headed to the coast for a girls-only getaway. i'll be back on tuesday night with plenty of pictures to post. have a great weekend!


dig in. we've got pancakes with syrup & butter, waffles, bacon, fried eggs and (the piece de resistance) a banana with removable peel. yummy (felt) food. not so tough to make and i am pretty pleased with how it all came out. i went to bed last night dreaming of dougnuts and avacados, eggplants and carrots chocolate chip cookies and wee boxes of milk. now to find nice eco-friendly felt (made from recycled from soda bottles) in the appropriate colors! my local craft store (michael's) didn't have much in the way of anything other than primary colors and weird glitter-infused stuff. as i recall, joann's has a wider, nicer selection. 

this set isn't technically for lucy. i'm finally buckling down on sewing some christmas gifts for my handmade holiday. my felt breakfast is destined for an adorable 2-year old girl that i know. hopefully she is ready for them--some of us (above) seem more interested in gnawing on the plate... 


checking in for trash-talk...

we are nearly 1/2 way through our month of trash-watch. it's not been too difficult--in fact jeremy might say it's been even easier since he's not had to bring the trash out to the curb for pickup. we aren't accumulating crazy amounts of garbage yet. i'm just kind of disgusted that the bulk of our garbage is food packaging. the most of which is unidentified plastic, things i'm not sure are recyclable anywhere. i know that my waste management facility only accepts hdpe #1 & #2, so that's clear enough. but then i read online that cereal liners (which we have at 6 of for the half-month) are hdpe #2. and we've been tossing them in with the trash.

plus there's lots of other plastic--a surprising amount. clingwrap from cheese. plastic bags from farmer's market-purchased tortillas, farmer's market-purchased spring mix & spinach, trader joe's pizza dough. plastic trays from crackers and oreo boxes. many, many, many ziplock bags that have been reused several times and are no longer something i want to hang onto. right now we've got a trader joe's paper bag filled with all of this packaging. i suppose in the general scheme of things, 1 bag for nearly 2 weeks of trash isn't horrible. but it's still not ideal.

we did send a package of not-so-good sausages and some past-its-prime feta out with garbage pickup last week (to avoid attracting critters). neither the sausages nor the cheese could be composted, and i didn't want to give them to the dog. food waste has always been an issue in our house b/c i am a true believer in the law of expiration dates, and have, in my paranoia, made jeremy question things too instead of taking an "eat-and-see" approach. we are getting better at this--shopping less has made a real difference. and lots of our questionable food finds its way elsewhere of the trash--becoming compost (whithered produce, moldy bread), chicken feed (stale bread, crackers, chips), or dog food (ignored leftovers, and other things that pass the sniff test but aren't in my personal culinary agenda).

and just in case you're curious, we've gone through 3.5 rolls of tp. who keeps track of this stuff?



election = over...

what are people doing with all of their campaign signs? (besides, um, wearing them).

i don't personally have any signs of my own, but reading up on the issue it seems that nearly all types of campaign signs are recyclable--from wood to metal to corrugated plastic. so don't just toss! if a particular material isn't accepted by your local waste management facility, chances are there's somewhere nearby that will process it... earth911.com can help you locate a place.

feeling super crafty? here's a link for do-it-yourself directions on turning plastic campaign signs into bicycle accessories--handlebar baskets, panniers and fenders. follow the individual links on the page to view the instructions. not only do i not have any campaign signs, but i also don't have a bike so i seriously can't try this at home.

the eco-conscious county of brevard, florida is recycling plastic signs into materials to make park benches. read the article here. they win the prize for creativity!


follow up to old navy post...

after getting a blog comment that old navy was still sending out plastic bags in some areas, i decided to give their customer service a call. i was connected to a very nice gal who knew absolutely nothing regarding the stuff & save promotion and reusable bags. but she did some investigative work while i waited patiently on hold, and came back to report on her findings. seems that this is a trial run for a change in the program. cards (good for reusable bags) were issued to customers in the following markets: san francisco, philadelphia, los angeles, houston, minneapolis, seattle and phoenix. experimental, toe-in-the-water marketing. she had no other information to offer.

i'd personally be a little offended if my market wasn't considered "green" enough to warrant a card instead of a plastic bag, but i suppose that this is still a step in the right direction. perhaps they'll see increased sales in the aforementioned markets, despite an ever-tanking economy. let's hope!


just leave it to me...

if you've been reading this blog for awhile, you might recall my letter to old navy asking them to reconsider sending out hundreds of thousands of plastic bags as part of their "stuff & save" promotion.

i am thrilled to report that it seems they have listened.

a good friend of mine mentioned to me today that her sister recently got a card in the mail from old navy. instead of having a plastic bag attached, the card simply explained the stuff & save promotion, and invited customers to come to any old navy store for a free reusable tote bag in which to stuff. apparently there was also some eco-related verbiage on the card, but i didn't get one in the mail yet so i can't quote it directly.

kudos to old navy. this is a nice step towards being an environmentally responsible company, and i hope others in the marketplace take note.

is this nothing more than a great coincidence? maybe. of course, i prefer to imagine that i am singlehandedly saving the planet. who shall i write to next?


back to basics...

three new additions to the toy hall of fame today: the skateboard, the baby doll, and the stick. though i love the simplicity of all the aforementioned items, the stick is by far my favorite. i mean, toys don't come more natural than a stick. no batteries needed. no small parts posing a choking hazard. no worries about toxic chemicals (as long as it doesn't come from a poisonous tree!) or concern with where it's made (grown?). and as an added bonus, the stick inspires creativity--from faux gun to magic wand we've seen kids of all kinds running around with them.

from the cnn.com article:

"it's very open-ended, all-natural, the perfect price -- there aren't any rules or instructions for its use," said christopher bensch, the museum's curator of collections. "it can be a wild west horse, a medieval knight's sword, a boat on a stream or a slingshot with a rubber band. ... no snowman is complete without a couple of stick arms, and every campfire needs a stick for toasting marshmallows."

careful of your eyeballs, kids!


get more life out of garbage...

today i happened across a helpful site dedicated to recycling: earth911.com. it's full of lots of information, articles and links, but the finest feature by far is the search engine that helps you to recycle (almost) anything locally, as long as facilities exist. i was searching for a place to take all of my plastics at the end of "trash watch november," since our recycling company only accepts #1 & #2 plastics. with the help of this site, i found dozens of facilities that accept plastics #1-7, the closest being only a few miles from my house.

searchable categories include: paper, metal, hazardous materials, plastics, glass, electronics, household, garden and construction materials. click here to get to the site.


the peanut-butter & jelly pledge...

this campaign is really cute. it promotes the adoption of vegetarian habits as a means of reducing environmental impact, using the ever-popular pb&j as a "spokes-sandwich."

"you recycle. you choose organic. you conserve energy. now take at-home environmentalism to the next level... each time you have a pb&j, you shrink your carbon footprint, you reduce greenhouse gas emissions and water pollution, you cut back on habitat destruction, and you conserve water."

there's a space on the site where you can pledge to commit to meat-free meals--as many per week as you like. i happened to have a peanut butter and (apricot) jelly sandwich earlier this week and it was delicious. i haven't taken the pledge but am considering doing it in december--cutting back to meat 3 dinners per week, along with vegetarian/vegan breakfasts and lunches. i don't know i'd be able to give up the milk in my cereal though, as i'm not a big fan of soy. oh, and i do so love cheese of all kinds.

i find it amazing that refraining from the consumption of animal products has such an overwhelming environmental impact. it's an efficiency issue--large animals need large amounts of grain & water to sustain themselves. 40 calories of grain are needed to produce 1 calorie of beef. producing 1 calorie of meat takes 100 times the amount of water as producing a calorie of grain. math is not my strong point (and the preceeding sentences are a little confusing), but even i can see that that's a bad equation.

albert einstein said that "nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet." too bad it's so difficult for people like me to give up on meat. we don't eat massive amounts or anything, but it does certainly have its place on our menu. i think i have a veggie cookbook burried somewhere in the garage. maybe i'll try to dig it up... in the meantime, these pb&j kids are kinda cute.


big things going on tonight...

with all this history in the making, i've been a little distracted. tonight i find myself hoping that change will indeed come, and that at least some of that change will be focused on how to better handle our environment and climate change (among tons of other important issues, of course). barack's speech this evening was full of hope & promise--i know we're all counting on him to deliver.

besides all that, we had a slight touch of wintry weather over the end of last week and the weekend. a large storm passed through, and now we're being hit with some chilly air from the north. it all serves as a harsh reminder that this half of the year leans a bit in the un-eco direction: the days are shorter, with more need for artificial light. cooling temperatures already have me eyeing the heater to keep lucy comfortable. the bathtub is calling my name in the evenings. diapers are taking nearly 3 days to dry indoors--good thing we have lots to go around--and i'm not up to the task of line-drying our clothes indoors.

not yet anyway. wait till the mid-winter energy bills come--i might get motivated. in the meantime, i'm looking into ways to cut down on drying time: an extra spin cycle, dryer balls, and throwing a dry towel in with the damp clothes are all methods that are supposed to have good results. we'll see what works best!


lucy is six months!!!

this post is a couple of days late, but we were waiting for nice enough weather to have an all-outdoor photoshoot. the girl was nothing more that totally cooperative--i swear that every month she becomes a bit more of a ham in front of the camera. just like her mamma.

"um, guys? what's with all of the props?"

new talents include:

~ gnawing on books
~ spitting out applesauce
~ calling jeremy by his proper name (a-dada da da DA!)
~ babbling at the moon while the rest of the world (with the exception of mommy) lies sleeping
~ rocking back and forth on all fours. look out world, she's a baby with a mission to get moving.
~ popping the ecobinky out of her mouth--and--putting in right back in


trash-watch november...

i can't fully believe that we're committing to this, but here goes. november at our house is gonna be all about garbage. we've decided to keep tabs on the amount of trash that we generate through the course of the month, in part out of curiosity, and in part as a learning tool: if we know how much and what kind of waste we create, then we'll be better armed when it comes to changing our habits. that's the hope, at least. 

here's the base of the plan--though i'm sure problems will pop up along the way!

~ keep all garbage that we accumulate throughout the month while at home
~ bring home all reasonable garbage that we accumulate while out of the house 
~ separate waste into four categories: compost, recyclables that can be processed by our trash company, recyclables that cannot be processed by our trash company, and actual trash--stuff that cannot be composted or recycled. 
~ toilet paper won't be kept, but we will keep the empty rolls to track usage
~ we'll go 1 month without setting our garbage out to be picked up, with the exception of nasty stuff--especially food that can't be composted. we aren't looking to attract any vermin during this project!

i think that's it for now... pictures to come?