Eco-novice's Top 10 Posts of 2012

awards,babies,baby,celebrations,people,persons,Photographs,prizes,special occasions,trophies,winners,winnings

In reverse order for dramatic effect!

10. Early Potty Training Reprise
  9. Homemade Yogurt
  8. Labor and Delivery Hospital Bag Packing List
  7. Homemade Chewy (Not Crumbly) Granola Bars
  6. Natural Deodorant that Works for My Husband
  5. What Does a Baby Need?
  4. Potty Training a 4-month-old Baby
  3. Avoiding Toxins in Baby Products
  2. Natural Nursing Pillows

And the most viewed post published in 2012 was:

  1. Non-toxic Crib Mattresses

Those are all posts published during 2012. Click here to see the list of posts that were viewed most during 2012. The suspense!

What was your favorite post of 2012?

Quiz: What Do You Do When Your Kids Receive a Gift Card?

Your child just received a gift card (or cash) as a gift. Do you:
A. Take the card/ cash and spend it on toilet paper, nose drops, that DVD you've been wanting, or a birthday present for another child.
B. Let your child pick out whatever he or she wants.
C. Purchase for your child the toy you would want him or her to pick (a puzzle, board game or Legos, not the latest collectible plastic figurine).

The Poop Report: Diapering and Pottying at One Year

Sometimes my 3yo entertains my 1yo on the potty for me.

My one-year-old reliably uses the potty when she wakes up in the morning and after her two naps. In fact, I will even leave her in a Kissaluvs fitted diaper with no waterproof cover for a nap because I know she will not pee on the bed when she wakes up. She'll wait until we put her on the potty. And she occasionally wakes up dry in the morning too. She will pee many more times on the potty if we put her on it. One day I realized around 5 pm that she was still in the same diaper I'd put her in that morning. We go through few enough diapers that often I realize I haven't washed diapers for five or six days. Once I ran out of cloth wipes before anything else.

A Few Favorites from MightyNest

Rainbow stacker ($78) sold by MightyNest

MightyNest is one of my favorite online stores for eco-friendly products. Their Registry and Wish List tools make it easy to help friends and family find gifts for your family that you'd love to have in your home.

Today is the last day for 15% off and free shipping at MightyNest on any order over $25 (use the coupon code REINDEER15). Your order today is also guaranteed to be delivered by Christmas! So it seems a great time to share with you some of my favorite products from their store that are difficult to find anywhere else. We own and have test driven for many months the first six products.

Rainbow stacker ($78). I reviewed this toy recently here. In addition to being a stacking puzzle, this toy by Germany company Grimm's Spiel and Holz can be used to make bridges, arches, tunnels, homes, boats, or for construction play. The larger size is really cool, but the smaller size is just $16.99. All of Grimm's toys are beautiful and open-ended. I also have my eye on the Color Connect Game ($34.95), which would be super cool for making designs as well as for playing a strategy game.

stockmar beeswax crayons

Beeswax crayons ($13.49 to $39.99). Do your kids eat crayons? Mine do. That's why I decided to invest in some crayons made with something besides petroleum. The rectangular ones are fun for rubbings.

Blessed Nest organic nursing pillow ($87). Before my third baby, I tossed the hand-me-down My Brest Friend (stuffed with polyurethane foam containing flame retardants) and invested in natural nursing pillows. My baby is one-year-old, and I am still regularly using my Blessed Nest Nursing Pillow, made with organic removable and washable organic cotton cover and filled with organic buckwheat hulls. Read my full review of this nursing pillow here.

Stainless steel 8 oz. cups by Sanctus Mundo ($7.95). We first purchased these cups about 18 months ago. Since then, several friends and many family members have purchased them after trying them at my home or based upon my recommendation. Dishwasher safe, made in Thailand, and just the right size for little hands, I wrote about why these cups make the perfect child's cup here.

Stainless steel plates by Sanctus Mundo ($8.95). Because we liked their cup so much, I decided to also try Sanctus Mundo's stainless steel plates. The smaller 8" size is a good size for my children and they clean up beautifully in the dishwasher.

Stainless steel sippy cups ($16.50 and up). We love both the Klean Kanteen sippy cup (which my 5yo and 3yo now use with the sport spout) as well as The Safe Sippy. Stainless steel containers mean beverages are not sitting in plastic. They also keep their drinks colder longer. We use The Safe Sippy at home and the Klean Kanteen in the car and on-the-go (church, lunch at the park, etc.). My kids have one of each. Note that The Safe Sippy is not leak-proof (liquid dribbles out slowly when not upright). Klean Kanteen recently changed their sippy spout, so I cannot comment on that one (the old one leaks a little, but less than The Safe Sippy). Click here to read a review of all the stainless steel sippy cups we've tried.
stainless steel divided plate
Din Din Stainless Steel Bus Plate ($17.95). Dishwasher safe and made in Korea. We haven't tried this one yet, but I think it is very charming and would make a great gift for a toddler or young child.

casa cabana print

Casa Cabana Cardboard Playhouse ($45.95). Made of recycled cardboard, this 27 x 27 x 41 inch playhouse features a door, 7 windows and spyholes and is ready to decorate. An eco-friendly way to encourage both artistic expression and pretend play. 

Gift Sets ($25-$100). Still not sure what to give? Check out MightyNest's Gift Sets (examples: New Baby Gift Set, Young Artist Gift Set) 

Or just give a Gift Certificate.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate for MightyNest  Many links are affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see my full disclosure policy here.

This post is part of
Top Ten Tuesday

Looking for a Wooden Monster Truck?

Dog Wood by Dave's Monster Truck is 10 inches long, 6 inches tall,
weighs nearly a pound and a half, comes in several colors,
and costs $15.95 (plus $12.95 US shipping).

Look no further. I found one for you on Etsy. This truck is made by Dog Wood by Dave and it made the perfect birthday gift for my 5yo.

Ten Green Goals for 2013

My green goals are designed to help my family reduce waste and energy use, reduce exposure to toxins, and improve our connection to nature. 

1. Expand my homemade snack repertoire. I currently have two main snacks in my repertoire: healthy whole grain "cookies" and chewy granola bars. I like snacks that are easy to make in bulk, kid-friendly, good for on-the-go, and, of course, healthy. Any suggestions?

2. Transition from cloth diapers to training pants/ underwear by 15 months. I have been practicing early potty training with my third child since she was four months old. At one year, my daughter uses the potty at least 3 times a day and for all of her poops, and holds her pee for hours at a time. It's time to switch over, but because I don't have a million training pants, it will require that I commit to taking her to the potty more consistently than I am now. I'm psyching myself up for this. I waited until around 20 months to transition my second child out of diapers and later felt that I had waited too long.

Eco-Ditty Organic Cotton Sandwich Bags

As Eco-novice readers know, I love reusable bags! I'm happy to say that I haven't purchased a box of disposable plastic baggies in several years. I have reusable bags in many different shapes and sizes and made with many different materials.

Recently we have been test driving Eco-ditty's reusable sandwich and snack bags. Eco-ditty food bags are
  • Made in Colorado
  • Made with 100% organic cotton fabrics (GOTS certified and fair trade)
  • Available in a variety of attractive and stylish fabrics
  • Have an undyed organic cotton liner -- no synthetics, plastics or chemicals touching your food
  • Printed with low-impact inks and dyes
  • Hook and loop closure
  • Washable by hand, machine or dishwasher (line dry is recommended -- although I accidentally dried mine in the dryer and they are still fine)

Children's Book Advent Countdown with an Eco-friendly Twist

My take on the children's book advent calendar uses
reusable fabric bags instead of wrapping paper.

Last year I happened upon a lovely idea for an advent calendar: 24 children's books all wrapped in shiny red wrapping paper (numbered with a candle-shaped label).

Advent calendar by Babyccino Kids blog

I love the look of those different-sized overlapping rectangles in matching red paper all lined up on the mantle. And I love the idea of counting down to Christmas by opening a wrapped book each night and reading it together as a family! But guess what? I don't use wrapping paper.

Come On Already, California! We Need New Flame Retardant Regulation Now.

Just read this excellent post on EWG's Enviroblog about recent flame retardant research. The author suggests at the end of the post writing to California' Bureau of Home Furnishings to tell them you support the efforts to reform fire standards (TB117-2012).

I was sitting at my laptop when I read that. Since my children weren't screaming (yet), I decided to go for the gold and just do it. The link in the Enviroblog post wasn't super helpful, but a little googling later and I had the Contact Us page for the California Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation, where I found the following information:
Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation4244 South Market Court, Suite D
Sacramento, California 95834-1243
Telephone (916) 999-2041
FAX (916) 999-2043
Here is my email I sent off:

If I Can Sew This, So Can You: DIY Reusable Gift Bags

Thanks to my stellar friend Lys, I learned to sew last year. I've probably sewn less than 10 times total, but I now know how to thread my sewing machine (actually my sister's friend's sewing machine) and sew a straight line. I may have forgotten how to thread the machine actually, since I haven't sewn since my baby was born (over a year ago), but I have the instructions and am confident I can figure it out again!

One of the best things I did with these new skillz is make reusable fabric gift bags. Mostly I used free cast offs and scraps from Lys' extensive stash, which is why, while all the fabrics are nifty, they don't really coordinate. But I did buy a little bit of holiday fabric to make Christmas gift bags. A little splurge. Fabric is expensive even on sale! I bought several fabrics that were just green or just red so that I could cleverly use these for birthdays as well.

These bags are about as easy a sewing project as it gets. And fast. I whipped up 20+ bags in little more than a hour. This season, my fabric bags are done early enough to be used as wrapping for my Children's Book Advent Calendar! Here is how I did it.

New Favorite: Rainbow Stacking Toy

We have a new favorite toy at my house: the Giant Rainbow Stacker.
rainbow nesting blocks
I've had my eye on this toy for a while. I love everything about it: made of natural and non-toxic materials, open-ended, durable, well-made, and aesthetically pleasing. I leave it on display on top of our piano in the living room until the next play adventure. 

The 5yo, 3yo, and baby all love our Giant Rainbow Stacker.

So far, our Giant Rainbow Stacker been used as tunnels for cars and balls, houses for dolls, boats for animal figures and puppets, and as a bridge for little ones and vehicles. They are also a wonderful addition to our regular wood block set. 

In Search of a Better Sweetener: Alternatives to White Sugar

Honey is my sweetener of choice.

About a year ago I decided I wanted to stop using white sugar in my baking. It's true that my family would probably be better off with no sugar, but that's not really what I was going for. Specifically, I wanted my sugar to be less refined and, in particular, not bleached. So I began doing some research on the different types of unrefined cane sugars out there (raw sugar, evaporated cane juice, turbinado, demera, rapadura, muscavado, panela, sucanat, etc.). In trying to figure out what exactly was the difference between all these unrefined brown sugars, I ended up also learning about the many liquid sweeteners now available that are not derived from cane sugar.

Now when deciding what sweeteners to consume I consider:

  • Level of refinement
  • Glycemic Index (although it is very difficult to find definitive information about this)
  • Distance (where the sweetener is grown and produced)
  • Price (although it can be tough to compare sweeteners on price, not only because some are measured by volume and others by weight, but also because you often don't substitute them one-to-one)

Eco-novice's Favorite Alternatives to White Sugar

Green Phone Booth's Meaningful Memories Holiday Challenge 2012

Halloween, my least favorite holiday, is finally behind us. Hopefully folks will now stop throwing handfuls of candy at my children. My son attends a dual immersion elementary school with a large Mexican-American population, and it has been interesting to be part of a Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration for the first time in my life. My son and I made a poster about my grandfather, for whom my son was named, for a class project for the holiday. I would love to trade Halloween in for Dia de Los Muertos permanently: instead of teenagers at my door demanding candy, a kind of festive Memorial Day where families and communities celebrate loved ones who have passed. Next up (for us Americans) is one of my favorite holidays: Thanksgiving. 

Pretend this says 2012 until I get
a chance to update this button.

And on that note, it's time to kick off the Booth's Meaningful Memory Holiday Challenge. Time to reflect on the kind of holiday season we want to enjoy. What do you want your holidays to be like?

Continue reading at The Green Phone Booth

This Halloween Get Yourself Some Unjunked Candy

Unreal Candy: candy without the junk

Ah, Halloween. Possibly my least favorite holiday.

I've been dealing with candy overload for over a week and we haven't even gone trick-or-treating yet! All year I studiously avoid feeding my children foods with high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, excessive amounts of sugar, or food additives (non-food ingredients added to packaged and processed foods including artificial colors, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives). And now they are eating all these things by the fistful. I can't seem to stop people from giving my children candy, handfuls of candy, everywhere we go. I take some candy and toss it every chance I get, but I have to be very sneaky and subtle now that I have a 5yo who is not so easily fooled. Every night my little candy monsters cry and scream and plead and whine for just one more candy. 

Early Potty Training: Dress for Success

When friends and family members discover that I put my babies on the potty, they express surprise that I have time for such endeavors. The truth is, if early potty training cost me much more time than just changing diapers, I'm not sure I'd still be doing it. My goal is to make early potty training as easy as possible for myself, and one of the ways I do this is by dressing my babies to make taking off and putting back on a diaper quick and easy.

Green Phone Booth: Sweet Potato Bisque

Temperatures are getting cooler and I'm seeing more and more squash at the farmers market and in my CSA bag. This easy soup (from a friend of my sister) is one of my favorite ways to use up sweet potatoes. This was a favorite baby food of my second child.

Click here to continue reading at The Green Phone Booth

What I'm Reading (a Short List of Green Favorites)

OK, here's the truth. Since I had my third baby, I often go months without opening Google Reader. I love a great green tip as much as the next gal, but I just don't have the time to keep up with all the awesome green blogs out there. I do try to keep up on the news, particularly news related to environmental and health issues. Here are the websites and blogs I still manage to regularly peruse for information and inspiration.

Environmental Working Group
Home of the Cosmetic Safety Database, the Shopper's Guide to Pesticide in Produce, and the Guide to Healthy Cleaning, EWG is one of my favorite resources for reducing my family's exposure to toxic chemicals. I also heartily admire and support their work to reform our national Farm Bill. EWG's blog about environmental connections to public health, Enviroblog, is at the top of my Google Reader.

Healthy Child Healthy World
Another great resource for avoiding toxic chemicals. Their blog helps keep me up on the latest research and legislation with toxins. They frequently feature posts by experts, and have many great posts for parents beyond the topic of toxic chemicals, such as a post about toddler development with respected pediatrician Dr. Greene (including how to handle toddler meltdowns), or ideas for family nature adventures. I get their weekly e-newsletter to make sure I don't miss anything.

My Plastic-free Life
I am always trying to further reduce my use of plastic, and particularly disposable plastic, and Beth's blog (and book) are my best resource for doing so.

Green Phone Booth
I post about once a month now at Green Phone Booth, but read almost every post published. I love this collaborative and the sense of community fostered there, and the diverse perspectives offered by this awesome group of eco-heroes.

Additional Suggestions
There are many more blogs I wish I had time to read. If you are looking for additional green bloggy reading, may I suggest the contributors to the recently launched Green Sisterhood. I also recommend checking out the many blogs that are part of the Green Moms Carnival, such as Groovy Green Livin or The Smart Mama. You can check out additional organizations I frequently use for research on green topics and safer products here.

I also do my best to stop by the blogs of readers who comment whenever I have the chance. Thank you for your questions and encouragement!

What are your favorite green websites? 

Natural Nursing Pillow as Sitting Aid for Baby

My 7mo baby using the Blessed Nest nursing pillow as a sitting aid. I still use it for nursing too.

I never liked nursing with the Boppy pillow I received as a baby gift. But I did find it useful as a sitting aid for my first and second babies once they were around five months. My babies are pretty late on the physical developmental milestones. My current baby at nearly 10 months still isn't sitting independently. Plus I have wood floors and falling over hurts. So, for me, some kind of sitting aid comes in very handy and is used for many months. But I don't own a Boppy anymore. It didn't make the cut during the last move.

So I was pleased to discover that my Blessed Nest nursing pillow actually works quite well as a sitting aid. It works well because it's so flexible and adjustable. I can move the sides all the way around so they fit snugly around the sides of the baby, and distribute the hulls either evenly or variably with more in the backs or on the sides.

I thought some of you might like to know.

(You can read my full review of the Blessed Nest nursing pillow and other natural nursing pillows in this post.)

One Small Step: Bar Soap in One Bathroom

About a year ago I switched to a shampoo bar. My husband too. It has great natural ingredients, is handmade by an Etsy shop, and requires minimal packaging. My soap (from Dress Green) came wrapped in tissue paper in a cardboard box.

So I was thinking about how lame it is that we still use liquid hand soap at our house. Which means that, along with the actual soap, I'm paying for a whole lot of water and a non-reusable plastic bottle. So why haven't I switched to bar soap (which is arguably a smaller step than switching to a shampoo bar)?

My kids. I mean, shoot, I finally just trained them to wash their hands. And I've trained them to do it using liquid soap, and I'm loathe to disrupt the conditions under which they will actually wash their hands without copious amounts of bribery or nagging.

But I had an idea. I switched from liquid soap to bar soap in just one location: the master bathroom. My bathroom. And since I wash my hands more often than anyone else (with diaper changes and bottom wiping and all manner of other dirty tasks), the bar soap gets plenty of use. And I am noticing how very, very long the bar soap lasts in comparison to the liquid soap. Of course all the frugalistas out there know that bar soap is much, much cheaper than liquid soap. With all that extra dough I can to afford to spring for the deluxo natural organic essential oils shea butter moisturizing handmade eco-friendly packaging bar of soap. Personally, I like Whole Foods french milled organic lemon verbena bar.

So now every once in a while I get my kids to wash their hands in my bathroom. They need a little more coaching on how to use the bar soap, but they can do it. My kids sometimes use WAY too much liquid soap (they love to create a sink full of bubbles), so that's another reason to make the switch to bar soap with them. I'll be honest, though. I'm not really running in that direction. I think I'll just keep helping them wash their hands with the bar soap in my bathroom every now and then until it's no big deal.

What about germs? Don't worry. People have already worried about that, and it's not an issue. Nonetheless, I can already tell you the last place I'll be switching to bar soap is the kitchen.

What about you? Are you using bar soap? Could you change from liquid soap to bar soap in one location in your home?

Photo credit: soapylovedeb

This post is part of
Frugal Friday

The Poop Report: Diapering and Pottying at 9 Months

I love letting my 9-month-old wear a Kissaluvs fitted diaper
(without cover) around the house.

My 9-month old pees and poops on the potty every morning. Maybe twice a month she only pees without pooping. And here's the really crazy thing. Two days in the last month she has woken up completely dry. That's 10+ hours in the same diaper, folks. Dry. And that's how I know that babies can hold it.

Don't Throw Out the Baby OR the Bathwater

About a month ago, my husband brought the bathtub outside on a hot day to help the sweaty baby cool off. We don't have a wading pool. Since she hadn't been bathed in a while (frequent occurrence), he decided he might as well suds her up while she was enjoying cooling off and splashing around. When the baby was ready to get out, the 3yo (who often resists baths) decided she wanted in on the action as well, and so she also got a very much needed bath that afternoon. What a success! We have since given all baths outside.

Here is why outside baths are such a brilliant idea:

Wood Keys by Etsy Shop Mama Made Them

My 8-month-old with wooden keys by Mama Made Them.

When my first child was a baby, I used to sometimes give him my car keys to play with while buckling him in the car seat. But one day after buckling him in, I walked over to my car door and just before opening it heard the familiar "beep" of the car alarm. I had accidentally left the car keys in the hands of my baby and my baby had locked me out of the car. Before total panic could set it, my baby pushed another button and unlocked the doors. Needless to say, after that experience, I never again let him play with my car keys.

Even if you are no where near your car, you should avoid letting small children play with your keys because household keys often contain lead and little kids love to put keys in their mouths.

But recently I was thinking about how my current baby is always trying to grab my keys out of my hand. And why not? Keys are fun. That's why there are about 100 varieties of plastic toy keys for sale. I once owned a set of colorful #5 plastic toy keys, but I have long since purged all plastic infant toys from my house. And so I thought, I should get her some wood keys.

Eco-crafting is Easy with Green Kid Crafts

First you should know that I am not in the best position to review craft projects because I don't really do crafts with my kids. But for the benefit of my crafty readers, and because some part of me aspires to being the kind of mom that does more crafts with my kids, I agreed to review some craft projects by Green Kid Crafts, an earth-friendly craft project subscription service.

Labor and Delivery Hospital Bag Packing List

So you're having a baby. What should you pack in that bag you are taking with you to the hospital? I've had a lot of time to think about what to pack in my hospital bag for labor and delivery. All three of my children have been overdue. My first two babies came two weeks over due and were induced, so those deliveries were basically scheduled and I had much more time than I ever wanted to think about what to put in the bag. Here are some things to consider taking if you will soon be finding yourself in a labor and delivery room.

Eco-novice's Favorite Breastfeeding Gear

It's World Breastfeeding Week!

For me, one of the wonderful benefits of breastfeeding is the fact that you don't need any gear. You will forget the diaper bag or change of clothes or favorite toy many, many times in your parenting career, but if you breastfeed, you'll never forget the milk. Nonetheless, there are some things that have made breastfeeding easier and more comfortable for me. They aren't necessary, but they can be useful.

Nursing pillows. I am able to read and even write or use my computer a little while nursing if I have a nursing pillow. For my third baby, I ditched the polyurethane foam one in favor of two natural nursing pillows. One is filled with buckwheat hulls, the other with organic cotton. I love them both. The buckwheat one has also worked really well for my baby as support/ padding for sitting.

Our Favorite Natural Baby Teethers

I used to have lots of plastic baby toys.  First I got rid of all the soft plastic toys (in case they were made of vinyl and contained phthalates), then I got rid of all the plastic toys except those that I knew were made of "safe" plastics. But in the end, I decided to banish all the plastic baby toys. I found that when I had plastic as well as natural toys, I often had to watch my baby favor the plastic ones.  But for my babies who never got to suck on plastic, I've found they like the natural toys plenty.

Since babies spend so much time with their hands and their toys in their mouths, and since babies are especially vulnerable to synthetic chemicals, why mess around with plastics? These days there are tons of awesome teethers, rattles, stuffed animals, blocks and other toys for babies made of cotton, wool, bamboo, wood and other natural materials. Here are some of my third baby's favorite teethers:


10 Ways I'm Reducing Single-Use Plastic

Here are some ways I'm reducing the amount of plastic in my trash (or down-cycling bin).


I cloth diaper and early potty train my kids. Their cloth diaper covers are partly plastic, but they are reused hundreds and hundreds of times. Disposable diapers are full of plastic petroleum products and are used one time before ending up in a landfill.

I don't buy little plastic toys for party favors. In my experience, these toys last 2 days before breaking and ending up in the trash.


I haven't bought Ziploc bags in a couple of years. I use reusable food bags and containers instead. When we need utensils on-the-go, I bring real silverware.

I make my own yogurt. We still use some purchased yogurt, but I estimate we are using 1 or 2 less plastic tubs per week. The milk I use to make yogurt comes in reusable glass jars. We are able to recycle our plastic yogurt tubs with Terracycle through my organic food delivery service.

I buy raw ingredients in bulk in paper bags (wheat berries, oats, dried beans, etc.) and make many things from scratch. I use reusable containers to store our homemade bread and snacks.

I bring reusable grocery bags and produce bags to the farmers market and other stores. Shopping at the farmers market also allows me to avoid those annoying tiny plastic produce stickers. Yep, they're plastic.

Away from home, I drink filtered tap water from my stainless steel water bottle so that I never need to buy bottled water. I avoid any beverage packaged in plastic.


I use an electric razor. No disposable razors or shaving cream necessary!

My husband and I use a shampoo bar. I am trying to find a good hair conditioner bar (suggestions?).

I wear lipstick less than one time per week. Other than that, I don't wear make up. I don't use any special skin products. Just soap, and occasionally lotion.

How have you reduced your plastic waste?

Everything I Know About the Farmers Market

Do you enjoy taking your kids shopping with you?

Today is my last day posting over on Dr. Greene's blog. I'm posting about why I take my kids to the farmers market with me, and how to make the experience of shopping at the farmers market with children more enjoyable. Click here to read and comment on my post Take Your Kids.

In case you missed one, here are all five of my posts on Dr. Greene's blog about Getting the Most Out of Your Farmers Market:
In other news, the Safe Chemicals Act has passed Committee, the first official action to address toxic chemicals in 36 years! But there is still a long ways to go to get the law passed. Stay tuned for opportunities to contact your representatives and make your voice heard. I also recommend subscribing to the email list for Safer Chemicals Healthy Families (coalition to pass Safe Chemicals Act) -- that's where I get my info!

Just a few more days to enter the giveaway for Plastic-free Beth's awesome new book: Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too. Click here to enter the giveaway.

Have a great weekend!

Q & A with Beth Terry, Author of Plastic Free {Giveaway}

One of my favorite resources for plastic-free living is Beth Terry's website My Plastic-free Life. I frequently search her blog or consult her Plastic-free Guide when trying to reduce my plastic consumption. Now Beth has published a book and I am thrilled to be able to offer you the chance to win a copy. Beth Terry's new book Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too is one of the best green books I've seen. This book combines convincing explanations of the problems with plastic with incredibly comprehensive information regarding plastic alternatives (the book is over 300 pages!). Some of my favorite parts are the inspirational bios of Beth's heroes and the action item checklists at the end of chapters. I love a good action item checklist. 

I recently had a chance to ask Beth a few questions about her book.

Wait. Why Am I Doing This?

A few weeks ago when I made honey whole wheat bread, I got distracted -- a regular occurrence in a house with three children under 5 -- and I let the bread rise too long in the loaf pans. And so the dough fell. I walked into the kitchen and saw this:

How did that make me feel? Really, really bummed and more than a little bit ticked. I thought of how I had carefully waited for a summer day that wasn't too hot for baking, a day when I could begin the bread in the afternoon so I could bake it in the evening when things start to cool down. I couldn't help but obsess about the freshly ground wheat wasted, the local honey wasted, but most of all, I agonized about my precious time wasted. To say that I don't like it when things don't go as planned -- well, that would be an understatement. I'm not really a roll-with-the-punches kind of girl.

Then just yesterday I was making my bread, and I noticed that the second batch hadn't risen in more than an hour. I had forgotten the yeast. Dang it!

Another day, I forgot the salt.

Moments like these, I find myself wondering, why am I doing this? Why am I making bread when I can buy it at the store? Why when I have so very little time to accomplish anything? Why am I torturing myself? Why? Why? Why?

100% Whole Wheat Honey Bread Recipe

This recipe is an update of a recipe first published here.

I've been making four loaves of whole wheat bread about twice a month for close to two years now. I even made it through the first trimester of my last pregnancy, a newborn baby, and a couple of hot summers (sans a/c) without missing a step. Here is an update to show you what I've learned and how I've tweaked the recipe over the last dozens of batches.

Multi-grain Buttermilk Pancakes

Lately I've been making this pancake recipe with whole wheat, quick oats, cornmeal, and molasses instead of my usual whole wheat pancakes. It's my current breakfast favorite. This recipe comes from epicurious by way of my friend Megan. I've made a few changes from the original recipe. Instead of light molasses, I use blackstrap, because that's what I've got. And instead of white flour, I just use more whole wheat flour. I'm sure they would taste excellent with butter in the batter, but the lazier approach is to just use oil and butter the griddle.

Multi-grain Buttermilk Pancakes

Good News: CA to Change Flame Retardant Regulation

Someday, you might not have to wonder if your nursing pillow contains chemicals
linked to cancer, neurological deficits, developmental problems and impaired fertility.

Last week my husband called me during his commute to tell me he'd heard a story on NPR about California and flame retardant regulation. After a bit of googling, I found the story online: Governor Orders Change in State Policy on Flame Retardants in Furniture. Then today, I went back to the Chicago Tribune Watchdog's page for their Flame Retardant series and found this article in the Updates: Key agency moves to scrap rules that made toxic flame retardant common in U.S. furniture.
Tonya Blood, chief of the California agency that regulates furniture, said the new test will require furniture to resist a smoldering cigarette. The existing standard requires the foam in furniture cushions to withstand a candlelike flame, even though candles are a far less common cause of fires. Federal safety officials have said that the fabric covering most furniture is sufficient to meet a smolder standard, making it unnecessary to add chemicals to the foam underneath... Blood also said she will work to exempt most baby products from the state's flammability standards; manufacturers have added flame retardants to many such products that contain polyurethane foam to meet California's rule. (source)

Plastic Free by Beth Terry (book excerpt)

The June Theme at The Green Phone Booth is Reading! Today I'm posting an excerpt from Beth Terry's new book Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too.

I've had a chance to skim through Plastic Free, and it is one of the best green books I've seen. This book combines convincing explanations of the problems with plastic with incredibly comprehensive information regarding plastic alternatives (the book is over 300 pages!). Some of my favorite parts are the inspirational bios of Beth's heroes and the action item checklists at the end of chapters. I love a good action item checklist.


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