May 31, 2007
May 30, 2007
In the first trimester of my pregnancy, I was bothered by the scent of almost any moisturizer I tried. All my old standby lotions suddenly smelled like petroleum (not surprising since petroleum is a major ingredient in many skin creams).
Wish someone had told me then about Lily Organics and their all organic line of lotions, creams and other facial products. Founded in 1986 by Lily Morgan, the Colorado-based company is one of the only skin care companies to make all their products from 100% non-synthetic organic ingredients grown fresh on an organic farm.
I like the sound of their Unscented Sensitive Skin Moisturizing Cream, which is made for folks with sensitive skin that reacts to ingredients in other moisturizers. The ingredients are all vegan -- purified water, sweet almond oil, shea butter, kosher vegetable glycerin, tincture of lily flower, xanthan gum, lecithin, soy protein, hectorite mineral, citrus seed extract.
Check out Lily Organics.
May 29, 2007
Ah, Memorial Day. The start of summer - time for beaches, frisbees, kicking a soccer ball around in the park. If that sounds like your idea of fun, allow me to steer you toward Fair Trade Sports
, makers of Fair Trade soccer balls, frisbees and sports apparel.
All their sports balls are certified to be stitched by adult workers paid fair wages and ensured healthy working conditions. All apparel on the site is certified to be sweatshop-free. And all their after-tax profits are donated to children's charities.
Read more at Fair Trade Sports.
May 25, 2007
As folks know from previous posts, we're reading all we can about natural childbirth methods. (Check out our recommended reading list and also our post about Ina May's Guide to Childbirth.)
The latest book on our bedside table? Marie F. Mongan's Hypnobirthing Guide. Taught in classes around the country, HypnoBirthing is gaining in popularity as more and more women try to reduce their chances of having an unnecessary C-section by trying for a natural childbirth. Developed by Mongan, a mother of four, the HypnoBirthing method is designed to help women and their partners get through (and escape) the pain of childbirth through self-hypnosis.
HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method: A natural approach to a safe, easier, more comfortable birthing includes a full introduction to the HypnoBirthing concept, the science and history behind the movement, how it should be practiced, and practical instruction for pregnancy, labor, and the birth itself. It's not meant to take the place of Mongan's classes and tapes, but it provides an excellent taste of the HypnoBirthing Method, and a great introduction to useful techniques and exercises that any woman interested in natural childbirth can employ.
Buy HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method by Marie Mongan.
May 24, 2007
NYTimes writer William Hamilton may think compact fluorescent lightbulbs have a long way to go before they're widely accepted, but we're ready to say the bulbs are here to stay. The question is, which compact fluorescent bulbs work best and where will you want to use them? Well, readers, here are our two cents.
On Earth Day, Russ and I dropped by Home Depot to pick up our free compact fluorescent bulb, plus a couple of extras for good luck. And, because my husband is a scientist, we did a few tests, trying out different bulbs in different locations around the house.
We picked up three lightbulbs by n:vision -- in Soft White (green packaging), Bright White (blue packaging), and Daylight (red packaging). The Soft White is a 14 watt bulb -- the equivalent of a 60 watt regular lightbulb. The Daylight and Bright White bulbs are both 19 watts -- equivalent to 75 watt regular bulbs. According to the packaging, these bulbs can save $56/year in energy costs if the lightbulbs are used for 3 hours a day. All three bulbs have a 9 year warranty.
So, now the question of the hour, which bulbs - if any - would we use around the house and where would we use 'em?
Continue reading: "Comparing Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs"
May 23, 2007
Thanks for being an avid reader of our blog which is published by Blogpire Productions. We'd like to share with you a new title just launched this week - ToolSnob.com. Blogpire Productions started ToolSnob.com to help homeowners, contractors, and hobbyists find, not only the tools that fit their needs, but to point out the ones that don't. The wrong tool can end up costing you time, money and hours of frustration. Tool Snob aims to be the most reliable and entertaining source for the latest power tool news and reviews.
Want a really good reason to visit? If you sign up for the Tool Snob newsletter by using the form below or on the Tool Snob web site, you'll be eligible to win a $50 gift certificate from Amazon.com. That's right, all you have to do is sign up for the newsletter and be on the list when we pick the winner at the end of June.
Sign up for the Tool Snob newsletter and win $50 bucks.
YUM ALERT! Just discovered Stonyfield Farm Organic Low-Fat Frozen Yogurt. Oh, organic fro-yo, where have you been all my life?
I'm salivating over Creme Caramel, a 1/2 cup serving of which has just 150 calories, 2% of your daily fat and 15% of your daily calcium. Heck, I may need to eat two servings. :)
Stonyfield Farm Organic Low-Fat Frozen Yogurt also comes in Cookies'N'Dream, Minty Chocolate Chip and Raspberry White Chocolate Chunk. The company also makes a nonfat version and a super premium ice cream.
Stonyfield Farm Low Fat Organic Frozen Yogurt is available at your local supermarket.
May 22, 2007
Kathleen from Blirt sent along a sample of her fabulously hip organic cotton baby clothes. Holy moly - how adorable!
We got a long-sleeve tee with a design based on the expression "Fish Out of Water." The clothes come wrapped in neat brown paper bag packaging with a rope cord and the Blirt logo -- kind of like the kind used for whole coffee beans, but way hipper. The shirt is super-soft cotton, with the "Fish Out of Water" graphic and the expression written out on a stitched label underneath. It comes with a little booklet explaining the meaning of figure of speech.
As we mentioned, this is a shirt you'll feel great wrapped your baby in and snuggling up to. The cotton feels great against your skin and Blirt's non-toxic dyeing and screening process ensures that the only thing touching your baby or toddler's skin is soft organic fabric.
Maybe partly because of the dyeing process, the shirts come in a more natural range of colors than your typical baby gear. "Fish Out of Water" is olive green with baby blue design; other shirts in the collection are brown, light blue, granite - hip, natural colors for hip, natural kids.
As we mentioned in our earlier Blirt post, the shirts are made of 100% organic cotton, using fair trade labor practices. So you can feel good about your purchase while your kid looks good. Super cute, and a nice gift for eco-conscious parents-to-be. As an added bonus, shipping is free!
Available at Blirt.
May 21, 2007
Doug just wrote in to tell us about Simple Food Soynut Butter
. The soynut butter is made in a peanut- and tree nut-free factory using all organic ingredients. It's also vegan, kosher, and gluten-free.
Simple Food Soynut Butter comes in five flavors: Original (which contains no salt and no sugar), Cinnamon Sugar, Slightly Sweet, Sea Salted, and Chocolate.
Available at Wild Oats and Whole Foods or online at Simple Foods.
May 18, 2007
Looking for products and practices you can adopt to make the world around you a little greener? Amazon's Green Life Blog
is a great source for the latest in eco-friendly products.
Recent entries include a post for recycled melamine dinner plates (pictured above), a review of Slow Food Nation by Carlos Petrini and Alice Waters, and a link to Steve Jobs' letter describing A Greener Apple.
Read 'em all at Amazon's Green Life Blog.
May 17, 2007
Kathleen Tracy just sent in an email about her fledgling t-shirt company, Blirt . Her concept is to introduce infants and toddlers to wordplay, taking English-language figures of speech - e.g. "bull in a china shop" or "good egg" - and illustrating them with fun, lighthearted designs. Talk about a fashion statement.
But Blirt's statements don't end there. They're also concerned with the environment and fair trade manufacturing processes. The company's website includes an environmental and fair trade mission statement that lays out the costs of unsustainable, un-fair manufacturing processes, and then explains how Blirt makes sure its processes are eco-friendly, fair and just.
Continue reading: "Blirt Shirt - Organic Cotton Baby T-Shirts with a Message"
May 16, 2007
Sometimes it makes sense to get back to basics. A push lawnmower
saves gasoline, reduces emissions and noise pollution, and gives you a great workout while keeping your lawn looking green, well-trimmed and lovely.
Scott's 20-inch push reel mower is light and maneuverable, solidly constructed and durable, and at $120, reasonably priced. Has five blades which can be adjusted to nine different grass heights.
Buy Scott's 20-inch Push Reel Lawnmower.
May 15, 2007
We've blogged before disposable bamboo dinner plates
. But what about flatware?
Turns out Bambu also makes disposable bamboo utensils, sold in sets of eight. Each set contains 24 pieces -- 8 forks, knives, and spoons. Made of bamboo, they are compostable, bio-degradable, and even rinse-able if you feel like using them more than once! And at $7.95 for the set, quite reasonable at $1/place setting.
Buy Bamboo Utensil Set.
May 14, 2007
Eating flax seeds have been shown to reduce cholesterol, help fight diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, reduce menopausal symptoms and inflammation from arthritis and fight constipation. No wonder we know so many folks who are looking for ways to add flax to their diets.
You can grind your own flax seeds or purchase pre-ground flax seeds like Barlean's Forti-Flax, and add them to yogurt, smoothies and oatmeal.
Or, you can pick up some of the many foods containing flax seeds, some of our favorites of which are listed below:
Nature's Path Flax Plus Granola Cereal with Pumpkin Seeds - Totally tasty granola - crunchy, not too sweet, and certified organic. Buy a six-pack on Amazon and save big-time over the cost of individual boxes in grocery stores.
Hodgson Mill Organic Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Milled Flax Seed - Whole wheat gourmet pasta with milled flax seed. 600 mg Omega 3 oils per serving. Again, certified organic.
Hodgson Mill Brownie Mix with Whole Wheat Flour & Milled Flax Seed - Brownie mix with ground flax seeds? Sign us up. Whole wheat flour adds additional fiber (and bonus points). I recommend sprinkling grain sweetened chocolate chips on top before baking. Yum.
Oskri Organics Flax Seed Bars - Gluten- and lactose-free, with flax seeds, sesame seeds, rice syrup and date syrup. No refined sugars. Chewy and delicious.
May 11, 2007
Has the baby bootie knitting bug bitten any other pregnant women out there? I've been itching to start knitting something adorable for my baby-to-be.
Luckily, I've got a co-worker who works at a Yarn Store, and she just brought me Itty Bitty Hats by Susan B. Anderson. It's full of easy-to-knit patterns for all kinds of cute-abulous baby hats. The photos are terrific and the instructions are easy to follow.
I picked up some Manos Del Uruguay cotton Stria yarn and am on my way to a striped stocking cap in itsy-bitsy size. Can't wait to meet the little person whose head it's going to fit on.
Buy Itty Bitty Hats.
May 10, 2007
And to go with all the natural childbirth books and the birth ball? Well, personally, I've been enjoying a nightly cup of Yogi Mother-to-Be Tea.
It's made with organic raspberry leaf, which midwives, herbalists and granola-crunchy friends recommend to strengthen and prepare the uterus during pregnancy. But I've found the taste of straight raspberry leaf tea can be too strong for me, especially at night. Mother-to-Be Team also spearmint, peppermint and anise, which add a soothing quality to the flavor (and evidently can help with indigestion). The tea also includes dandelion and nettle leaf.
I like it because it tastes good.
Buy Yogi Mother-to-Be Tea.
May 9, 2007
Another natural childbirth essential? The Birth Ball aka an exercise ball or yoga ball. According to several of our friends who've recently gone through childbirth, these little babies are essential.
We've heard folks recommend using them before, during and after labor. Personally, I like sitting on mine at work -- both for the ab and balance workout and for the soft cushion (vs. a hard chair seat).
BodyTrends sells a birth ball for $15.95 that includes a pump and an exercise video. (Good for getting in shape after the birth?)
Buy a birth ball.
May 8, 2007
We went to our first natural childbirth class today at Isis Maternity. Susan, the teacher, was terrific. A midwife by training, she'd planned a homebirth for her own child, but , after three days of labor, had ended up delivering at the hospital and having a C-section. (Oddly, I found her story incredibly reassuring - further confirmation that babies come out in all different ways despite the best planning, training and intentions.)
Anyway, here are Susan's recommendations of some of the best natural childbirth books. Some -- like Ina May's Guide to Childbirth and The Thinking Woman's Guide -- were familiar to me; others were new. We'll have to check 'em out.
The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin - So many of the books on pregnancy and natural childbirth are focused on the mother's experience. This book is written for her partner -- spouse, significant other, friend -- and focuses on preparing for the birth, helping labor get started, early labor, the stages of labor, strategies for special situations, the medical side of childbirth, and ways to assist after the birth.
Birthing from Within by Pam England and Rob Horowitz - England is a registered nurse and certified nurse midwife. She developed the "birthing from within" approach in a series of birthing classes to help mothers reclaim and celebrate the spiritual, emotional, and psychological aspects of birth as a rite of passage. Her book is a collection of methods that have been used for class participants. A lot of folks recommend this book in conjunction with Ina May.
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin - I blogged about Ina May last month and am so grateful to Julie for telling me about her. The first half of the book is dedicated to women's birth stories -- positive, empowering stories -- the exact opposite of what you're probably getting from well-intentioned friends and family and depictions of birth on TV. If you're at all worried about what childbirth will be like -- what it's actually like -- and want to read something that will give you positive images to inspire you, get this book immediately.
Continue reading: "Natural Childbirth Recommended Reading"
May 7, 2007
We'd planned to grill last night, only to discover at the last minute that our grill was out of gas. Quick change of plans -- Russ made the chicken and asparagus under the broiler, and I whipped out a box of stovetop quinoa.
We had Seeds of Change Certified Organic Tomato Basil Quinoa Blend in the house, a blend of quinoa, rice, and dried vegetables and spices. Following the instructions on the package, I sauteed ours in olive oil before adding water and the spice packet and cooking for 15 minutes.
To jazz it up, I added chopped roasted cherry tomatoes and some fresh rosemary. Totally yummy. Thanks, Seeds of Change folks.
Buy Seeds of Change Quinoa Mix.
May 3, 2007
Tired of hearing your friends rave about the BBC series Planet Earth, narrated by David Attenborough? Each 50-minute episode of the 11-part series covers a specific geographical region and/or wildlife habitat (mountains, caves, deserts, shallow seas, seasonal forests, etc.).
Without being overtly political, the series maintains a consistent and subtle emphasis on the urgent need for ongoing conservation, best illustrated by the plight of polar bears whose very behavior is changing (to accommodate life-threatening changes in their fast-melting habitat) in the wake of global warming--a phenomenon that this series appropriately presents as scientific fact. With this harsh reality as subtext, the series proceeds to accentuate the positive, delivering a seemingly endless variety of natural wonders, from the spectacular mating displays of New Guinea's various birds of paradise to a rare encounter with Siberia's nearly-extinct Amur Leopards, of which only 30 remain in the wild.
Buy the Planet Earth BBC Series on DVD. Or, wait a little while and get it in HD-DVD.
May 2, 2007
Whether you're using them to make prune puree for Miriam's Low-Fat Magic Brownies or just eating them plain to increase the fiber in your diet, allow us to recommend Newman's Own Organic Prunes. They're 100% organic California prunes, with no sulfites.
Prunes get a bad rap as "old lady food" but the truth is, they're great for you. They're high in fiber, vitamin A and potassium (important for those of us who are allergic to bananas!). Better yet, they're higher in anti-oxidants than any fruit other than blueberries.
Buy Newman's Own Organic Prunes.
May 1, 2007
Our friend Miriam, a terrific cook, is always looking for ways to make recipes healthier. Here's a low-fat brownie recipe she adapted from Cooking Light
. It uses prune puree instead of butter, so the brownies are, well, almost good for you. They're also a great source of fiber -- an added benefit if you're looking to add some fiber to your diet.
Miriam's Low-Fat "Magic Brownies"
1/3 cup Prune Puree (see Note below)
1/4 cup skim milk
1 tablespoon instant coffee or espresso granules
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups unsweetened cocoa
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
6 egg whites
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Vegetable cooking spray
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Combine the first 5 ingredients; stir well, and set aside. Combine cocoa and next 4 ingredients (cocoa through salt); stir well, and set aside.
Combine sugar and egg whites in a large bowl; beat at high speed of a mixer 3 minutes or until mixture resembles marshmallow creme. Add Prune Puree mixture; beat at low speed until well-blended.
Sprinkle flour mixture over egg white mixture, and fold in. Fold in chocolate morsels. Spread batter evenly into a 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray.
Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes or until brownies spring back when touched lightly in center. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
Makes 35 brownies. I suggest enjoying them with a big glass of skim milk!
Note: To make prune puree, combine 1-1/3 cups (8 oz.) pitted prunes and 6 T water in the container of a food processor. Pulse on and off until prunes are finely chopped. Makes 1 cup.