a lucy-bug...

happy halloween! i'm proud to show off my little bug friend, modeling her first halloween costume. i made it using a simple pattern i found at this great website--if you're into crafting for babies & kids, this is an excelent site full of easy tutorials and projects. the nicest part about lucy's costume was that the back part stuck to the shirt with velcro, which made it easy to get her in and out of her carseat & highchair without having to get her undressed.

anyway, lucy's costume is totally eco-friendly--i made it out of felt scrap that my mom had kept around since i was a kid. lucy already owned the pants and shirt, and the super-cute booties were knitted by my brother's girlfriend, who has amazing amounts of crafty talent. nothing new was needed to complete this project... though i did search high & low for a secondhand black onesie that wasn't a turtleneck (i can't stand turtlenecks) but came up with nothing. no matter. people seemed to get the main idea...

lucy says, "my antennas aren't wonky. they're handcrafted with love by my mommy..."

have i mentioned that this little bug is getting ready to crawl? wait, lucy! i'm not ready yet!!!


a crazy-good idea...

i stumbled across something new today while browsing around at elephant pharmacy: a crayon recycling program. what a great, eco-conscious idea for getting rid of broken and itty-bitty leftover crayon nubs alike. elephant pharmacy has a donation box--which happened to be overflowing--and it seems they ship them off to an organization called crazy crayons. this crayon recycling program takes "old, rejected, broken crayons to a better place, where they'll be recycled into fresh, new crayons."

check out their website--these aren't your standard crayolas! recycled crayons take on brand-new shapes, including butterflies, firemen, numbers & letters, fruits, fish, hearts and more. 34,000 pounds of crayons have been recycled through crazy crayons since april of 1993, when the program first began, and all profits of newly created crayons help to keep the program running. wax-coated crayon wrappers are turned into firestarters, which are also available for purchase on the website.

since crayons are petroleum-based, they sit for ages in a landfill once tossed. having tossed many crayons myself in my nannying years, i'd never given them a second thought. but even the littlest things add up. plus, this is a great way to get kids excited about and connected to recycling. how great would it be for elementary schools to have a "broken crayon drive?"

of course, lucy's not coloring just yet. she's still simply in awe that she can get those fingers to move all on her own. but i'll for sure be donating to this program at some point, and hopefully purchasing a few crazy crayons for lucy to enjoy. and speaking of alternative art supplies, check out these soy-based crayon rocks. eco-friendly, cute and functional, all in one. gotta love it.



i'm happy to finally get to share our pumpkin patch pictures. we were lucky enough to take 2 visits this year, this first to farmer john's pumpkin patch in half moon bay (pumpkin capital of the world), and the second to larry's produce in suisun valley. both are working farms--no strip mall pumpkin patch for us this time. instead we checked out where the pumpkins are grown, and got way filthy sitting around in the dirt and hay, soaking up the autumn sunshine. tractors, a 1200 pound pumpkin, hay towers and tunnels, little red wagons and wheelbarrows, an indian teepee, squash of all kinds--i'd forgotten just how fun the pumpkin patch is. of course, i'm seeing it through lucy's eyes now, who is apparently a HUGE fan of the color orange (see picture # 01).

happy (almost) halloween! costume pictures to come!


you know what i love about glass?

there's no question as to whether it contains harmful chemicals. there's no worry of heating it, leaving it in the car, sticking it in the dishwasher, scratching it... on and on. the simplicity of glass is absolutely refreshing. which is why all of lucy's bottles are glass. i don't have to give them a second thought, except for the occasional realization that eventually she'll get around to tossing one down on the tile floor. hmmm... a knitted coozie is soon to be needed around these parts!

there's tons of information to be found online regarding the chemical bpa and it's presence in bottles, sippy cups, baby plates, cutlery, etc. i won't regurgitate it all here--canada has pretty much summed up the main idea by working to ban the sale of all baby bottles containing bpa.

thankfully, many companies have responded to consumer outrage over recent bpa findings. even more thankfully, there are great people out in the blogesphere that care enough to contact companies that manufacture baby feeding gear, do tons of research, and compile their findings into an easy-to-navigate format. enter the site zrecs.com. i happened to be doing a few google searches tonight for something related (checking on the presence of bpa in avent sippy attachments for the kleen kanteen--safe, by the way) and found an entire section of the site archives devoted to the massive job of listing out companies according to their use of bpa. the information can be accessed by clicking here. it's extremely helpful to anyone looking to buy feeding products for a baby or toddler--if you've ever stood in front of the feeding display at a place like target, searching for important information that's simply not available, then you know just how frustrating this area of consumerism can be.

now we just need a site for grown-ups too!


getting ready to party...

someone that i adore is having a half-birthday soon. any guesses as to who it might possibly be?

she's come a long way, this girl. a six-month birthday, right around the corner. it's a milestone worth celebrating. so i've been hard at work, crafting her up a little something special.

my first attempt at both quilting and sock-creature making. i'm pretty pleased with how both came out. the elephant was crafted from a pair of socks following direction from the book sock and glove. the quilt i pieced together using scrap fabric left over from my diaper-making frenzy. piecing the quilt together wasn't nearly as difficult as i thought it would be, but i did screw up on the binding--3 times. instead of removing my mistakes, i stitched over them with a new layer of binding. the end result left me with a very stiff edge--this quilt is definitely not cuddle-able. just as well--we've happened to have recently lost a vintage mini-quilt that i kept in the diaper bag for lucy sit on while out and about, so this one can take the place of it. and i'll try my hand at lovey-making again sometime very soon. she's got a quilted lovey made by a good friend of my mom that she is really starting to take to, but i think it's a good idea to have one waiting in the wings, just in case!


don't leave home without it...

if you live/work/shop/play in the san francisco east bay, i totally recommend picking up an ecometro guide. it's quite similar to the entertainment books that my classmates and i used to sell to raise money for our school--basically a big book of coupons. what's great about this particular guide, however, is that all of the merchants included are generally eco-friendly in some manner--natural grocery stores, toy shops that carry toys crafted in europe & america (imagine that!), independent cafes, restaurants that use local, sustainably-harvested ingredients, mom & pop bookshops, etc.

the book retails for $20, but i was lucky enough to get handed one for free right as i was pulling out my wallet to purchase a copy. seems they had a few to give away and i happened to be in the right place at the right time. major score. even still, $20 is a drop in the bucket compared to the savings that the book offers (over $3,000). i've already saved money at elephant pharmacy and five little monkeys (a local toy shop), with big plans to visit a bunch of included merchants in the near future--whole foods ($10 off of $50), the food mill ($5 off $25), and 7th heaven yoga (buy one class, get one class free). i'm also excited about placing an order with planet organics, a home delivery service of local, organic produce. they offer $25 off of a minimum order of $32. that's an amazing deal.

the guide is also full of manufacturers coupons for savings on brands i typically buy: tom's of maine, barbara's, amy's, biokleen, kashi, cliff kid, etc. it's quite a refreshing change from the coupons in the sunday papers--usually all for products that we have no use for.

the ecometro guide available in the following areas: east bay, california; eugene, oregon; portland, oregon; seattle; and twin cities. if you happen to live in one of these areas, i highly recommend checking it out... saving money while supporting local, sustainable business = a win/win situation.


eat well everywhere...

i'm finally going though a stack of booklets and papers that i got out at the slow food nation festival in san francisco awhile back. talk about information overload... expect a lot of food related posts in the coming days. one majorly delightful find has been a website guide dedicated to helping people find "good" food locally. "good," in this sense, is of course local, sustainable, humanely raised, and organic whenever possible. plugging in a zip code generates a search-- mine reveals 6 bakers, 137 restaurants, 4 butchers, 4 farmers, 55 stores, 12 caterers, 62 farmer's markets and 3 personal chefs within a 20 mile radius. not bad--but lots of them are in san francisco--and i don't tend to get out that way much. a narrower search (10 miles) found 4 caterers, 12 stores, 6 farmer's markets, and 33 restaurants. no bakeries! sigh...

the eat well website (which you can access by clicking here) also has an awesome "road trip" feature. by working with google maps, it allows users to plug in starting and destination points--and pulls up any "good" food along the way. isn't the internet amazing? oh and apparently this site is functional for canada too--i know i've got a couple of loyal canadian readers so this made me think of you guys!

the site also boasts a list of what each state grows throughout the year. looking ahead, i can see this will be a winter full of broccoli, mushrooms, greens of all kinds, mandarins, avocados, and grapefruit. i am missing berries already!


can i live with you guys???

check out this eco-friendly dollhouse, crafted by a company called smart gear. it comes complete with solar panels, rain barrel, windmill, recycling center and scooter. i think this is just the cutest thing--not that we need it--just that it's so nice to see "green" products geared towards lucy's generation. jeremy and i have often said that most of the changes that we've made as of late (cloth diapering, line drying, recycling some water, refusing plastic, etc.) have been made to get us deep into the habit of being ecologically responsible people. our hope is that by the time lucy is able to make her own day-to-day environmental decisions, the earth-friendly choices will already be second nature.

the dollhouse itself is crafted from rubberwood (a renewable resource) and recycled wood, instead of plastic. were you expecting anything less?


our energy bill...

as predicted, our energy bill was on the rise this month. it jumped from $33.86 to--well, i don't know what it jumped to. it appears that the main portion of our statement has gone missing in action. like most things around here (the $8 ecobinky included) i'm sure that it sprouted legs and meandered away on its own. it'll probably turn up on its own good time. but i digress.

anyway, as i recall our gas usage increased by around $1... not too bad considering i used the dryer a handful of times to prep fabric for sewing projects. electricity was another story, jumping nearly $7 in the matter of a single month. gasp. what could it possibly have been? were we sleeping with the lights on? leaving the refrigerator open all day? putting our christmas decorations up early?

no. jeremy reminded me that he'd been charging a few car batteries out in the garage early in the month. he's got some loud, extra-large contraption that he hooks them up to for hours at a time. it's like a maxi version of our AA battery charger. so there's the likely cause of the increase. nevertheless, we're trying to make a more conscious effort at having only 2 lights on in the house during the evenings while we work on random projects, surf the internet, etc. two lights--we each get to pick one.

yes, i am an eco-nerd. and i am dragging my husband along with me.

lucy's first autumn...

i'm absolutely dying to post pictures from our recent trip to the pumpkin patch, but our camera is in the shop and i can't get the pictures off of the camera that we borrowed, because we haven't got the cable. i hope to get a hold of it soon (and i'm not-so-patiently waiting for our camera to return), but until then here are a couple of fall-themed snapshots featuring my most curious little friend.


take that, baby einstein...

lucy at the san francisco museum of modern art a couple of weeks ago. moma offers free admission on the first tuesday of every month, so i took her on a bit of a field trip. i wasn't expecting too much in the way of excitement (she's still a baby, after all) but was charmed to see her very much engaged in room after room of bright colors, patterns, textures, and graphic blacks & whites. her favorite work seemed to be this amazing, floor-to-ceiling piece, which was composed completely from fabric flower petals. don't let the picture fool you, the museum was as crowded as crowded can be (seeing as how admission was free and all). this photo took some quick work on my part, and cheerful participation from my budding museum-goer! but i so wanted to document lucy's little introduction to art--i'm proud to say that instead of plopping her in front of a baby einstein cd to experience matisse and monet, she's now seen the real deal. the idea kind of goes hand-in-hand with our no-tv experiment, which has now blossomed into our no-tv way of life... good things are happening around here. our garage is getting cleaned out. we're eating dinner as a family, seated at the kitchen table. jeremy is working on his new (old) truck, while i'm working on my first quilt as a gift to lucy for her half-year birthday. and neither jeremy or myself can name off any current crappy commercials. as with the san francisco moma, cutting out the tube comes highly recommended.


my california baby...

when it comes to lucy's bathtime products, i am a firm believer that less is best. though she gets a bath nightly, we only use soap 3 times per week--the other nights are just a chance for her to splash and play, with no scrubbing involved. on soap nights, we use a teeny bit of california baby calming shampoo and bodywash. just enough to get a good lather all over her skin and hair (it doesn't take much). we're only about 1/3 of the way through our first small bottle, and she's well on her way to six months old.
california baby calming is lavender-scented, and at first it was a bit too fragrance-y for my taste. after years of working as a nanny, i was much accustomed to the fabulous, babylicious smell of johnson's products, and it was a tough switch. but now i associate the smell of lavender with a squeaky-clean, pajama-clad, damp-headed, snuggly little lucy. and i love it.

here's a quick, side-by-side comparison of ingredients in both the california baby brand and johnson's (very popular) head-to-toe baby wash:

johnson's head-to-toe baby wash:

Water, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, PEG 80 Sorbitan Laurate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, PEG 150 Distearate, Tetrasodium EDTA, Sodium Chloride, Polyquaternium 10, Fragrance, Quaternium 15, Citric Acid

california baby calming shampoo and body wash:

Water (Purified), Aloe Vera (*), Decyl Polyglucose (Extracts of Corn, Coconut, Palm *), Vitamin E, Vegetable Glycerin, Jojoba Oil (*), Citrus Seed Extract, Vitamin B5
"Our products contain organic & sustainably grown ingredients. Many of the plants and flowers that are grown for essential oil distillation are very hardy, do not need pesticides or fertilizers and are by default organic and/or sustainably grown."

let's just say that i'm content with my decision!

we've also started using the california baby super sensitive baby lotion, as some very dry weather over the past couple of weeks left lucy with scaly legs and a few eczema-like patches on her arms chest. i'd previously been moisturizing her with organic olive oil, but needed something more. this lotion, applied after bathtime, did the trick within 3 days. lucy is back to her normal self--butter-soft skin and all.

same story there with the ingredient breakdown vs. johnson's. it seems outrageous to me that a company would choose to expose little bodies to big chemicals, but i guess that's the way of this crazy world. kudos to companies like california baby for providing a safe, effective alternative, even if it does come at a slightly higher out-of-pocket cost to the consumer.

oh. and by the way (out of curiosity) i took a whiff of the offending johnson's product while at target a few days ago. i was slightly delighted to find that the smell no longer holds the same appeal--in fact, it seemed a bit faux. and my california baby just doesn't do faux. no way!


junk in the trunk...

i could be referring to lucy's big ol' cloth-diapered booty, above, but alas, i am referring to actual junk in the trunk. the car trunk, you know? according to chevron's website (which offers tips for getting more out of every fill up), for every hundred pounds of weight taken out of the car, gas mileage increases by 2%. i don't have a trunk--just a back cargo area--but weight does not discriminate. once i started thinking about it, i realized that i might be schleping a few extra pounds all over town. our stroller (rarely used) tips the scales at around 20 pounds. also, the paranoid, over prepared driver that i am likes to keep an emergency kit--complete with spare clothes, flip flops, boxes of crackers, sunscreen, a swimsuit, a mexican blanket, 3 towels, 2 flashlights, a bottle opener,disinfecting wipes, a miniature sewing kit, a book of matches, trash bags, a book of sudoku puzzles and 2 gallons of water. just in case i go flying off of a hill and don't get discovered for a few days. or happen to stumble across a pool party. you never know.

to be completely honest, a 2% reduction doesn't seem like all that much to me. but when coupled with others (keeping tires properly inflated, driving slower on the freeway, gentler braking, etc) the benefits really begin to add up--around 25-27%. which sounds nice. and makes me begin to think i need to rethink my "emergency" supplies.

note to self: the car is not a closet...


a little taste of summer...

before it fades away entirely. true to form, the best weather in the san francisco bay area hits right about now--just after summer has officially passed. we've had a good string of very pleasant days: not too hot and not too cold. morning fog and evening fog have disappeared, and the wind off of the bay has subsided for a bit. now if we could only do something about the shortening of days!

still, taking a walk through the farmer's market this past weekend is a reminder that autumn has officially arrived. stone fruits are beginning to lose gusto, the raspberries and blueberries have all but disappeared, and apples and winter squash are popping up all over the place. we sought out one lone peach from a pile of rock-hard, fairly tasteless fruits, with the intent of using it on pizza for dinner this week. this is a new recipe that i am simply loving. we had peach pizza one afternoon at the cheeseboard pizza collective in berkeley about a month back, and it was practically to die for. so good that we were inspired to make it ourselves at home. if you've still got peaches hanging around in your area, give this recipe a go... you won't regret it!

summer peach pizza:

spray pizza pan liberally with olive oil, and sprinkle with cornmeal. spread dough out thinly (we use trader joes plain dough if we don't make our own). rub dough liberally with olive oil, and top with 1 super-thinly sliced peach, a small sliced red onion, and a handful of fresh spinach, minced into long strips. top with crumbled feta cheese and sprinkle with a bit of pepper. bake at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes or till crust is good and crunchy. so good. ours tonight was actually missing the onion--but still delicious. i'm looking forward to tomorrow's lunch!

p.s. best when served with a cold beer!


we're fancy...

i'm ashamed to admit that for the large part of our 4-year marriage, jeremy and i have eaten dinner in front of the television. this was mostly my doing, as i liked to veg out after work and watch a few of my favorite shows. our kitchen table sat for the most part unused, later becoming a dump spot for papers, junk mail, random articles of clothing, and most recently, my sewing things. because of this, even though we aren't watching television anymore, we still eat on the couch in front of a blank screen. strange, right?

fast forward to this weekend. we've made some new developments and i'm happy to report that my sewing station has been moved into our brand-new crafting studio, lovingly built by jeremy himself. it's not totally complete yet, or i'd post pictures. but it's well on its way to complete functionality & coziness. which frees up the use of our kitchen table. we sat there tonight for dinner, with little lucy in her highchair (first time!) curious at the significant change in routine.

anyway. that's a long-winded introduction to the eco-friendly aspect of this post. we've been using cloth napkins for a few months now, in place of paper towels. the switch required minimal upfront cost, as i found a set of 10 at the crate & barrel outlet for ~$1.75 per napkin. they're quite boring--solid tan in color--but i can throw them in with either darks or lights and not have to worry about them getting wrecked, or wrecking any of our clothing.

cloth napkins have a certain way of elevating the whole dining experience--for instance, we visited my parent's house yesterday for dinner and my mom had taken the time to roll her new cloth napkins into little napkin holders, placing one napkin atop each plate. by the way, she found said cloth napkins at thrift town, and they happen to be an exact match to her striped seat cushion covers (which are also crafted from cloth napkins... it was an excellent discovery, and eco-friendly as well!).

anyway, we're not that fancy. i find that not every meal even qualifies for a napkin (we're sooo tidy around these parts...yeah right!). but when we need to wipe up, cloth is always within easy reach. it's an altogether simple way to cut waste and save cash--a single roll of brand name paper towels (which we used as napkins) is usually around $2. we were saving some money by purchasing in bulk at costco, but talk about throwing money into the compost bin!

we now go through a roll of paper towels about once every other month. i use one or two to line our inside compost bucket to help with the ick factor, or occasionally wipe down a mirror, and they totally came in handy during our ant infestation. now and then i'll use one to wrap up a sandwich when i'm running out the door, in order to save a ziplock. that's really all they get used for anymore. for all other chores, i've turned to using cloth rags. it really is a lot less wasteful--we were replacing our paper towel roll about once a week at the height of our non-eco friendliness. and we certainly weren't alone. this article estimates that paper towel use in america generates 3,000 tons of landfill waste each day. a statistic that's alarming and just horrendous, if you ask me, especially when the alternative is cheap, simple and accessible.

now what can be done in the world outside of our own little homes?

if you're into spreading the work guerrilla-style, click here to order yourself a set of 20, 50 or 100 "these come from trees" stickers ($5, $10 and $18, respectively). you can stick them on paper towel dispensers in public restrooms, where it's estimated that these stickers reduce consumption by about 15%... with each sticker saving 100 pounds of paper (a tree's worth) every year. i think it's a tremendously cool idea, and i'm totally going to spend 5 bucks to do my part.

whew. save trees, go cloth. this felt like a very long post!


when daddy mows the lawn...

the whole house comes out to watch him. though we have a perfectly functional gas-operated mower, jeremy insists on using his grandfather's vintage push mower, which has got to be at least 50 years old.

some, like lucy and maizy, like to hear the whirring of the blades, and watch the clippings flip upward into the wind. some, like me, like to laugh at jeremy running around, wearing himself out. at any rate, i give him tons of credit for his efforts.

"Traditional gas-powered lawn mowers are responsible for 5 percent of the nation's air pollution, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which recently created emission regulations for small engines like those that lawn mowers use. One gas mower running for an hour emits the same amount of pollutants as eight new cars driving 55 mph for the same amount of time, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists."

"Americans burn 800 million gallons of gas each year trimming their grassy yards, according to the EPA, but the gas that doesn't make it into the mower's fuel tank is also an environmental concern. The EPA reports that 17 million gallons of fuel are spilled each year while refueling lawn equipment — more than all the oil leaked by the Exxon Valdez off the coast of Alaska in 1989."

the link to the rest of the article can be found here.

jeremy says he likes the exercise. he also says he's offsetting our neighbor's emissions, who uses a ride-on mower for a plot of grass sized similarly to ours. serious. it's one of those things you'd just have to see to believe.


technically challenged...

there's a brand new post (complete with a few lucy pics!) if you scroll down past yesterday's "stay-at-home mom" post. i started working on the new post last night but didn't finish, so it's posting out of order and i don't know how to change the date. anyway, i didn't want it to get missed!



i offically became a stay-at-home mom. not eco-related, i know. but i am proud of our decision to do this for lucy, and our dedication to make it work, no matter what. so here's a celebratory post (kind of like a toast, but more tech-y).

me & lucy. it's gonna be a fun ride, i can tell.

turning trash into treasure...

okay, well, it wasn't trash. but once lucy starting rolling, i felt that i should take the bumper out of her crib. the (cough) $70 bumper, that is. (note to self: though cute, bumpers are a waste of hard-earned cash). what to do with a very long, padded rectangle? turn it into something cute, of course!

lucy's ability to roll coincided with the need to protect her from our hardwood floors during the all-important tummy time. i saw a bit of information online about turning a crib bumper into a playmat, but there weren't any directions on how to do so. so i set off on my own, determined to make it work. i didn't take pictures along the way, so this will be an illustrate-your-own tutorial (sorry about that!).

i started by cutting off all of the bumper ties. then i cut the bumper in half, and then cut each half in half, so that i was left with 4 identical sections. i paired 2 section together, right sides facing, and stitched all the way down the side, backstiching at each end. i then repeated with the other pair, and then sewed the 2 pairs together. this wasn't anywhere near easy, since the bumper batting was very thick. i must have broken at least 10 needles--no exaggeration--and muttered every curse word in the book. but finally i was left with a 3.5 ft. x 4 ft. rectangle, which was already functional as a playmat and had some nice finished edges. unfortunately though, some of the edges were raw (from cutting in the middle of the bumper when making those 4 sections).

to pretty up the look of my playmat, i took 2" wide satin ribbon that matched the color of the bumper, and cut long 2 pieces, each the length of the perimeter of the mat. i pinned the ribbon together, right sides facing, and stitched down the length of it with a 1/4" allowance. pressed open the seams and pinned the ribbon to the mat, with the right side facing out. then i stitched the ribbon down all the way around the bumper. on the very last side, for fun, i pinned down 4 of the crib ties into loops, and stitched the ribbon over the raw ends. this left me with sturdy loops (shown below) for attaching toys so that they can't get away from my girl while she's playing around.

this mat is a great size, nice and big, and yet it folds up easily lengthwise because of how it's constructed. with all the sitting lucy's been doing lately, it's nice to know that when she does take the occasional just-out-of-mommy's-reach tumble, she's protected. and it looks nice, too!


break the bottled water habit...

i frequently read a great blog called "no impact man." a quick synopsis of his website:

"a guilty liberal finally snaps, swears off plastic, goes organic, becomes a bicycle nut, turns off his power, composts his poop, and, while living in new york city. generally turns into a tree-hugging lunatic who tried to save the polar bears and the rest of the planet from environmental catastrophe while dragging his baby daughter and prada-wearing, four seasons-loving wife along for the ride."

anyway, the center for a new american dream has asked for no impact man's help in kick-starting a national campaign to break the bottled water habit. their hope is for their efforts to go viral--for readers to email friends, who email their friends, who email their friends, and on and on and on--and for people to sign the following pledge:

"i pledge to break the bottled water habit by thinking outside the bottle and using a reusable water bottle instead of buying bottled water. i also pledge to support the efforts of local officials to stop spending public funds on bottled water and prioritize strong public water systems over bottled water profits."

sounds good to me. i haven't purchased bottled water in quite some time. plastic-bottled water, that is. this is my first week of giving up 6 out of 7 days of purchasing coffee, so that lucy and i can attend mom & baby yoga while still staying in our budget. as a cheap treat, i've bought a couple of bottles of sparkling water from trader joe's. the bottles are glass, which certainly isn't fantastic, but it's still far better than plastic (please tell me i'm right!). and as a rule i fill up our klean kanteens before we leave home so i'm never desperate for a drink while we're out & about.

anyway, here's the no impact man post. check it out if you can--there's a really great nightline video where people do a blind taste test of bottled water and new york city tap water. guess which wins out??? he's also got quick facts like these (along with some other great links):

~bottled water is up to 1,000 times more expensive than tap water
~forty percent of bottled water is tap water anyway
~bottled water is less stringently regulated than the FDA than tap water
~the transportation of water around the world by ship and plane causes unnecessary carbon emissions

and here's another (from newdream.org, the pledge site):

bottled water is full of oil. making bottles to meet americans’ demand for bottled water requires more than 1.5 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel some 100,000 cars for a year. (new york times) to put it another way, the entire energy costs of the lifecycle of a bottle of water is equivalent, on average, to filling up a quarter of each bottle with oil. (pacific institute).


even if you don't visit no impact man's blog, you can still click here to sign the pledge. i did!


a better binky...

lucy's got a brand-new binky, and while it sure isn't pretty, it's about as eco-friendly as they come.

the ecobinky, by a company called ecopiggy. the (100% recycled paper) packaging states that it's "made from pure rubber from the rubber tree... ecobinky = non toxic + non allergenic." a nice equation. we've been using the gerber nuks, which are bpa free, with a silicone nipple, but the shield of the pacifier is still hard plastic. and since we all know that plastic is neither natural or eco-friendly, (simply for the fact that it does not ever break down into anything less that teeny tiny plastic particles), this pacifier is a great find. in addition, the hard plastic of the gerber nuk leaves markings on lucy's face if she's been sucking on it for more than a few minutes. the ecobinky is soft and smooth, and leaves no marks whatsoever. it's crafted in the eu without the use of chemical softeners, pvc, or phthalates, and is molded as a complete piece, which lowers the choking hazard significantly (the nipple won't separate from the shield during use). fashion accessory it ain't. but i love it anyway.

lucy seems to like it too. the nipple is a bit larger, and i think it stays in her mouth easier. plus, it's made of the same material as sophie the giraffe, her favorite toy. what's not to love there?

i picked up the ecobinky at elephant pharmacy. it was $8.99 for one, which is pretty steep for something so easily lost. but the high price tag has me constantly conscious of where our new binky is--something i can't say about our nuks. i'm embarrassed to admit that we've got at least 10 of them floating around in 3 different diaper bags, my car, and throughout the rooms of our house. why is this? at $4.50 for a 2 pack, they're cheap, and therefore dispensable. there's no real "ouch factor" to misplacing one, or two, or the whole lot. which, in the long run, equates to more plastic being consumed... something that i don't want to be a part of. so i forked over a bit of cash for something better. now i just need this "organic binky bungee" and we'll be good to go!


when life gives you chickens...

you are supposed to make lots of omelets.

when life gives you chickens that have decided to stop laying eggs, you find yourself shelling out the cash for eggs that come from cage free, organically fed, local chickens, because you have witnessed the plight of the chicken, appreciate the fact that they have their own personalities, and generally feel grateful for the fact that they give birth once a day so that you can chow down on things like egg salad. and, after shelling out said cash, you glare at the chickens in your own backyard for being total and complete slackers.

meet porter, foster & cee-cee. our backyard birds. at one point in their lives, these cuties (along with a 4th bird, called plum, who died of suspected illness this year) blessed us with more eggs than we could possibly enjoy. we got to give them away, which was fun, and people took them eagerly. well, times have changed. though we provide them with food, water, access to bugs, and a lovely little coop, egg production has ceased entirely. while that's pretty normal for this time of year, with the shortening of days and the cooling of temperatures, we sure didn't get many eggs this summer either. it turns out that chickens really only lay steadily for 2 years. after that, production declines at a pretty rapid pace. since our chickens are 3 years old, the slow down makes sense. now the question is what to do with a bunch of non-laying hens. we made the mistake of naming them, which makes the thought of giving them to someone who'll eat them pretty unbearable.

the average life expectancy of a chicken is 7-8 years. that's 4-5 more years of keeping eggless chickens. to anyone considering starting their own mini-farm, i'd say take this info into consideration first! but we do like having hens. most of the time, anyway. they're not a low-maintenance animal by any means--they make a lot of mess, and have to be closed up in a coop every night to keep them safe from predators. they are quite loud and can actually be completely obnoxious. they rip new plants out of the ground by the roots, are the sole reason that i cannot successfully have a sprawling pumpkin patch, and will annihilate a veggie garden if given the chance. jeremy has the not-so-fun task of getting up at dawn every day to let our trio out of their coop so that they don't wake the neighbors (or me). roosters aren't the only ones getting vocal as the sun comes up.

still, it is fun to see them come running across the yard at the possibility of a few breadcrumbs tossed their way. children love them--lucy is now at the point where she is excited to watch them walking around on the grass when we let them out of their pen. all that poo is great fertilizer for the soil. and when we're digging around in the garden, our chickens are sure to be keeping us company, dining to their heart's content on earthworms and grubs and clucking away with glee. we've learned lots on what's normal (and completely abnormal) about how often chickens lay--if you buy your eggs from a typical caged egg farm (95% of u.s. egg-producing chickens spend their entire laying lives in a crowded cage, till they are shipped off to be killed), then you are likely supporting animal cruelty.

i once saw cee-cee and jeremy share a pancake. i'm glad we could give our girls a (literal) taste of the good life. we'll let them hang around, i guess. my farmer's market sells cage-free eggs. good thing.


weekend revelation...

we had a birthday party this weekend. a celebration for two of lucy's cousins, who were turning one and four. due to a bit of poor planning on my part, we needed to stop off on the way to the party and pick up birthday presents. in our rush to get out of the door that morning in order to have time to go shopping, i found myself wondering why i hadn't made anything for the birthday kids. especially since i've been sewing practically every night. well, it was too late to do anything about it by then. so off to baby gap we went. each of the kids got a cool-weather outfit.

in the past, i've found it really fun to go clothes shopping for kids. but this time, it just felt... plain. boring. terribly unexciting. i kicked myself again for not making something while i wrapped up the gifts (in previously-used bags & bows, of course) and off to the party we went, having dropped nearly $80 on two pairs of pants, a sweatshirt and a long-sleeved shirt--that was with my 30% off coupon, too.

our gifts ended up being "stuff" in a pile of "stuff" that grew with the unwrapping of each box and the opening of each bag. i'm not saying that they weren't appreciated--i'm sure that they were, in the way that children (and their parents) can appreciate such things. but there was nothing too terribly thoughtful or special about them. which is something that i wish i could have changed.

in anticipation of my baby showers, i most wanted things that we needed--things off of the registry. a high chair, a stroller, things of the like. and i was totally thrilled to receive them. what sticks in my mind now, however, are the gifts that were given with obvious intent to be special: the hand-dyed burp cloths, the painstakingly-crafted quilts, and the vintage baby clothes that my grandmother wore as a toddler.

the experience of this weekend's gift-giving made me think again about the idea of a "handmade holiday." it'll be difficult, especially when it comes to the boys. but i think i'm up to the task. my head's in the right place about it. and it'll keep me out of the mall, which, during the holiday season, can only be considered a good thing.

oh--and the next baby i know to turn 1 is totally getting a set of these.

adorable. the full tutorial on how to make them is located here. lucy's set is already in the works... shh! don't tell her!



i'm taking a slight break from all things eco to reflect on what a wonderful time i had with lucy today. we went to a mom & baby yoga class at a privately-owned studio in berkeley this morning. lucy and i accepted an invite from new mom friend of mine, along with her 8-month old baby boy finn. i'm so glad that we did!

the studio was set up upon our arrival. yoga mats were laid out, and next to every mat was a set of cushy pillows covered by a fluffy towel, making a comfy bed-type place for each baby. each space also included a cozy blanket, a stack of spit-up cloths, various yoga accessories (blocks & straps) and a box of kleenex. as soon as we sat down, lucy was handed a basket full of natural baby toys to paw through--wooden teethers, hand-knit finger puppets, blocks and things of the like. i felt silly with my oversized, stuffed-to-the-gills diaper bag sitting beside me!

class began with stretching, rocking & swaying with the babies, along with focusing on different types of breath. new age music played in the background, along with "in utero" sounds also coming from somewhere in the distance. we were told to focus on healing our feminine organs. at this point, it became clear that "trendy yoga" this certainly was not!

after about 20 minutes of stretching we stripped the babies down to nakedness and placed them on their pillow beds for a massage (coconut oil was provided). lucy loved every minute of this. she often gets a quickie massage after bathtime but this was much more of an in-depth event. i learned a few new techniques as well, which will come in handy at home.

we got the babies dressed and nursed them. some babies fell asleep and were placed back on their pillows. others, like lucy and finn, were content to play with toys all on their own. the rest of the babies were taken by assistants out of the room while moms practiced "real" yoga (without babies in our arms!). the instructor took us through a whole set of totally difficult poses. now i don't know what those assistants did to the babies that they took away, but when they brought them back, they were fast asleep! each little one was placed gently on his or her pillow bed, and held there for a moment with "purposeful hands," ensuring that they didn't startle themselves awake. seriously, these women would take a wailing baby away and in no time flat, they'd have it back, sleeping away like a little angel. eventually lucy began to fuss, and one of the assistants came and worked her magic on lucy as well. after being gone for about 20 minutes, she was placed beside me, eyes closed, as we finished up the class by singing a goodbye lullaby to the little yogis.

it's impossible to impart the strange beauty of this 2-hour class. i was left feeling both worn out (i haven't exercised in a loooooong time) and totally at peace. to be surrounded by a large group of new mothers was wonderful (and lucy loves looking at babies of all kinds), but i also was reminded at just how powerful simplicity can be. connecting with myself and my breath, along with lucy and her delicate rhythm, was absolutely refreshing. and i can't help but think that this type of activity is something that she will come to enjoy and learn from as well.

anyway. it was over-the-top, even for me--there were 5 other cloth-diapering mommas there, which says a lot--but i was pleased to find myself feeling calm & connected. very good feelings to have. i *might* be dragging jeremy back to the studio for a chanting of the sanskrit on sunday. the instructor said the babies love it...



lucy LOVES sophie...

please meet sophie the giraffe.

made from all-natural rubber and decorated with food-grade paints, sophie is a natural alternative to plastic baby teethers. with a hollow inside, she's soft and malleable, which i imagine must be very nice to toothless gums. she's also quite easy to grip--take a look at that nice long neck and those four skinny legs. the ears and horns are great for detail-oriented chompers, and those rosy cheeks are awfully cheeful, too.

i know what you're thinking... sophie kinda looks like a dog toy. well, get this--sophie has a squeaker, which means she sounds like a dog toy too. but at about $20 each, i wouldn't be handing over sophie to any dog, no matter how much they promised to behave.

no, sophie is a baby toy. i've spotted her now and again in other mother's diaper bags, at baby boutiques, and most recently in a catalog for land of nod... someone seems to be gaining popularity! as a general rule, we don't leave home without our little giraffe. at a friend's home a few weeks back, i was interested to learn that sophie is hugely popular in france (she's crafted in the french alps), and that practically all french babies have a sophie of their very own. this tidbit was told to me by a woman who lived in france, and came to california not long before having children of her own. once she knew she was pregnant, she called home and asked friends to ship over a sophie immediately!

as a new mom (who swore that there would be NO plastic toys in the house) i'll be the first to admit that it's pretty difficult to find age-appropriate toys that aren't made of plastic, or that aren't made in china. or, most commonly both. i've often found myself having to pick and choose (plastic made in germany, israel, etc) or turn a blind eye (brightly-colored plastic stacking cups that lucy really seems to enjoy). it's absolutely refreshing to find a safe, all-natural, eco-friendly, french-made, handcrafted teether that lucy gets excited about. (watching a 5 month old baby get excited is like nothing else!)

sophie was given to us as a shower gift from lucy's lovely cousin shannon. i can't think of another toy that i would go and rebuy if we were to have lost it. but for sophie, without a doubt, i would.


it's october...

finally. september really seemed to drag. maybe it's because i couldn't kill any time by going to the grocery store. other than milk, meat and cheese, everything else was pretty much off limits for "whole food september." we visited the farmer's markets as always, loading up on lots of fruits and veggies, but gosh, a girl would really like a bag of chips here and there. (if my tortilla recipes had worked, i could have made myself tortilla chips--but i digress.) throughout september, i found myself highly involved with a non-napping lucy, and didn't get to try as many recipes as i'd have liked. of those i did try, there were some successes (the granola, stuffed zucchini, and homemade pizza dough) and some total failures (tortillas (flour AND corn)) that ultimately became dog food.

the upside to the last month is that our pantry is looking much cleaner. we ate through a bunch of canned stuff, and also cooked up some boxed baked goods (peanut butter cookies, shortbread, crumb cake, brownies) that had been hanging around for, um, years. our freezer is also manageable again with stuff like bagel bites, trader joes bambino pizzas and fishsticks gone (all of the aforementioned purchased while i was pregnant!). it does feel like a fresh start to what's in our house. i can't say that we learned too much, as we had a ton of food on hand and also got invited to eat with family quite a bit (i suspect they felt sorry for jeremy). and you might have read a prior post on our general failure of limiting dining out to twice during the month.

i walk away from september with a bit of regret that i didn't cook more (i was dying to try my hand at making butter & a bisquick-type baking mix), but also a teeny bit of enlightenment about the reward of making food from scratch. i like knowing what's going into my body. i'd already pretty much assumed that i'd be making lucy's food when she starts solids, but this experience (along with melamine-tainted infant formula in china) cemented that assumption.

as an added bonus, i am now fitting kinda-back-to-normal-comfortably into my pre-pregnancy jeans. this is nice. this probably has very to do little with how we ate (can you believe that list of desserts?) and more with the passing of yet another month, but hey, i'll take it without question.

as for what to give up in october--well, i think i am taking a month off. between general sleeplessness over the last few days, stress about possibly returning to work part-time, and coming down with some kinda achy-icky bug, i'm doing myself a favor and taking it easy. perhaps i'll come up with something for later in the month, when all is running smoothly and beautifully again.

a girl can hope, can't she?