Thursday, November 6, 2014

Eco-Friendly Holiday Gift Ideas 2014

As we get into November, my mind turns to the upcoming holiday season. Now that I have a toddler in the house, I am even more careful about selecting eco-friendly and non-toxic gifts. I hope this list will give you some good ideas for your own children, significant others, friends, family, etc. Some of the items we own and use. I would recommend these products. Other items we would like to receive as gifts this year (denoted with WANT). I will continue to add to this list as ideas pop up.


Holiday Gifts Under $25

Tropical Traditions - non-toxic body and beauty products would make a great basket or great bonus gifts. We use Tropical Traditions natural soap on a daily basis. They also started carrying a great selection of pure essential oils.

Halo Organic Sleep Sack - we have been using organic cotton Halo SleepSack Wearable Blankets for almost 1.5 years. These sleep sacks are perfect for all seasons to keep baby warm and comfortable. Cotton provides breathability and reduces the possibility of babies overheating.

Stainless Steel Straws - Eco at Heart makes wide straws that are perfect for any drink or smoothie. The straws come with a cleaning brush.

Eco-Kids Eco-Finger Paint (WANT) - powder based paint made with natural ingredients and natural colors. Mix powder with water to create paint. No need to worry about the baby or the toddler putting it in their mouth.

Epicurean Eco Plastic Cutting Board (WANT) - I have a regular Epicurean cutting board and would love to have a bigger one in the eco plastic.

Mason Jar Pour Caps (WANT) - this is a perfect gift for any Mason jar lover. Transform canning jars into containers for drinks, snacks, and more. Sizes available for regular mouth jars and wide mouth jars.


Holiday Gifts Over $25

Swell Stainless Steel Water Bottle (WANT) - I need to replace my old stainless steel water bottle and need something that can withstand dropping by a toddler. I love the shape of this bottle. Insulation helps to keep drinks cold.

Organic Cotton Half Apron (WANT) - I have never used an apron, but have found myself always searching for a towel. This organic cotton half apron from A Green Kitchen is adorable and functional.

ERGObaby - 19 months later, we are still using the ERGObaby carrier on a regular basis. The baby carrier was especially useful during the recent 18 month sleep regression. My 19 month old son weights about 24 pounds. Wearing him in the ERGObaby is still comfortable.

Envirosax Shopping Bags - I have a couple of these and I absolutely love them! The handles are big enough that I can easily sling them over my shoulder, even when I am carrying a toddler with the other arm. Strong as can be! Easy to stuff in any bag. Purchase a set or just one reusable shopping bag.

Excalibur Dehydrator (WANT) - I have a cheaper dehydrator that works very well, but I have always had my eye on this one. I love the polyscreen tray inserts and large capacity.

Le Creuset Dutch Oven - I use my Le Creuset Dutch Oven (in Cobalt) for just about anything. I feel comfortable that toxic chemicals, like those in non-stick pans, are not leaching into my food.


If you have any questions about these products or our experiences with them, please contact me. I am always willing to share eco-friendly and green products for your baby and your family. Happy holiday shopping!


Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links to where I usually shop. Your purchases support this blog at no additional cost to you. Regardless, I feature and recommend only brands and products that I myself would use.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Easy Home Repairs and Renovations [Sponsored]


Many homeowners today, especially new homeowners, are often buying homes that need some immediate repairs. Or, they find out that closet space is not adequate, the bathroom does not fit their needs, or they really can't tolerate that strange ceiling in the dining room. But, if they are living in a new town, or don't have familiarity with a home contractor, it is hard to know where to start.

 To meet this need, many homeowners have discovered the online based service, renovationexperts. Our company accepts input on any size project and lets the customer receive at least three contacts to choose from. These contractors will negotiate with you for price, specifications and other aspects of your project. All contractors have the required licenses for their state and location and are anxious to contact new customers. The website is easy to use, and a visitor to the website will see that any type of service is available from air conditioning to windows. Our site has contractors for the outside of the home as well; services for the yard, garden and exterior of your home are well represented. All our contractors will contact you within 24 hours with a free estimate. Our service only accepts experienced contractors with excellent customer service. Best, there is no charge for this service, unlike some websites.

So, when you need to select a contractor for your home, go to renovationexperts.com and click today to easily obtain solutions for your home projects.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. I received a small amount of compensation that helps to offset the costs of providing eco-friendly and natural content to you.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Pouch2Go Reusable Food Pouches [Review]

We started our transition to solid foods with the Baby Led Weaning strategy, with a little bit of spoon feeding mixed in. There were some foods, like yogurt, applesauce and soups, which I wanted to offer to my son. While he was still learning the fine motor skills required to pick up food and get it to his mouth, he had not quite mastered the skill of holding a spoon with liquid/puree in it steady enough to get it to his mouth. Then, he got to a certain point where he did not want to be spoon fed. He wanted to be independent and feed himself. Reusable food pouches are a great way to offer foods to your baby and toddler while promoting independence and enabling on-the-go snacks.

Reusable Food Pouches            
Rating: total green check marks out of 5.

The Good
The Not So Good
Easy to clean
Made from plastic
Convenient for on-the-go snacking

Opening big enough for chunky purees




I held off giving any type of food pouch for a little while. Let's be honest. Those little food pouches are expensive. I did not want my son to get hooked on them and be a slave to purchasing them every week and throwing them away. I know there are ways to reuse the lids, but the single serve pouches produce a lot of waste. I started to see reusable food pouches on the market, but was hesitant. Some were hard to clean, others were hard to use.

When my son decided that he no longer wanted to be spoon fed yogurt, I had to try something new. Though he can get food to his mouth fairly well with a spoon, I wanted him to eat a bit more yogurt than 1/8 cup. Plus, I wanted to offer snacks on-the-go that were contained and convenient.

Pouch2Go pouches are exactly what I was looking for. I cleaned the pouches before use, as recommended. Yogurt was the first food to go into the pouch. As soon as my 19 month old son saw the pouch, he became excited. He took the pouch and started eating the yogurt. Success! He finished the whole pouch of yogurt! Maybe it was a little bit of the novelty of the pouch or maybe he really missed yogurt. Either way, I am pleased that he did so well with the pouch. Our previous experiences involved him turning the pouch over and squeezing everything out.

Each pouch holds 4 oz. This is the perfect size for a toddler or a baby. The reusable food pouch is also a good size for throwing in the diaper bag or your purse to have snacks on hand.

The pouch was easy to clean. The plastic is firm, so the pouch is easy hold open while I get the scrubbing brush inside. The pouch closes like a zip lock bag. The zippers are designed to stay closed. I experienced no issues with leaks. Though, I did store the pouches in a big Ziploc bag just in case.

I try to avoid plastic when possible, so that is one of the negatives of the product. However, for this type of product, plastic is going to be the best material.

Overall, I really liked the pouches. They were easy and quick to fill. I can quickly spoon food into the pouch right before leaving the house. The foods I have tried so far include yogurt and mashed butternut squash that was leftover from dinner. The pouch opening is big enough that even chunkier purees would still fit through. Pouch2Go Reusable Food Pouches are good to have on hand for on-the-go snacking and for toddlers who would like to eat independently.

Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. All opinions are my own.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Green Pancakes with Organic Spirulina Powder [Review]


One of my passions and hobbies is cooking, including baking. In high school, my mom introduced me to baking. I did not start cooking until I was living on my own after I graduated from college. After I got married, I started cooking more meals from scratch, incorporating local produce and exotic spices. While cooking is second nature now, baking is making a comeback. I enjoy trying new recipes and tweaking old recipes to make them healthier. Baked goods can benefit from adding a little organic protein powder or organic spirulina powder to boost the vitamins and nutrients. Sari Foods Organic Spirulina Powder is a natural source of vital nutrients and vitamins for a healthy body.


Organic Spirulina Powder             ($25.95, 16oz)
Rating: total green check marks out of 5.

The Good
The Not So Good
USDA Certified Organic
Zip lock does not work
Very fine powder, mixes easily
Plastic bag
Great source of vital nutrients




What is spirulina? Spirulina is a natural blue-green algae (cyanbacteria) powder that is very high in protein and nutrients. The algae forms tangled masses in warm alkaline lakes. The algae is dried and prepared as a food or food additive. This algae can be consumed by humans is one of the most potent nutrient sources available. Purchasing organic spirulina is important to avoid any contamination from the ponds and bodies of water where it grows. Contaminated spirulina, potentially non-organic spirulina can contain contaminants that would make it likely unsafe for children to consume because children are more sensitive to the contaminants.

Sari Foods grows spirulina in natural soda lakes in a remote area of Mongolia and is cultivated with pure desert water from 500m underground. This water is naturally free of environmental contaminants and is naturally rich in minerals and trace elements, making the conditions optimal for spirulina that is both pure and nutrient-dense. The area where the spirulina is grown is free of industry and pollution.

Spirulina is a fantastic source of many nutrients and vitamins that naturally boost the immune system and fight aging and free radicals. Nutrients and vitamins include:

  • Dietary protein
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin B12 (perfect for vegetarians and vegans)
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Selenium
  • Beta Carotene
  • Chlorophyll
  • Phytonutrients
  • Antioxidants and essential amino acids (GLA, Omega 3, 6, 9)

Now that we have given a brief overview of spirulina, let's talk about using the powder. Sari Foods Organic Spirulina Powder is very fine. When I opened the package, the powder poofed out and dusted the counter top, reminding me of very fine all purpose flour. The package has a zip lock top, but it did not work very well. I had a difficult time getting the zipper closed all the way and decided to transfer to a glass container. I would like to see the packaging improved so the zip lock top closes all the way and is easier to close. The powder is so fine that the zip lock needs to work!

I smelled the spirulina powder and tasted a bit on my finger. Very strong smell and even stronger taste. The spirulina powder is very concentrated, so a little goes a long way. One would not necessarily take a teaspoon of spirulina powder and follow with water. The powder can be added to drinks, smoothies, baked goods, etc. 

I have mainly been adding spirulina to baked good like breads and muffins. When I added 1 teaspoon of the organic spirulina powder to pancake batter, it made it very green. Once the pancakes were cooked, the color wasn't as prominent. I think my toddler would find green pancakes fun when he gets a little bit older. I also made homemade raw almond butter and added about 1/2 tsp of the organic spirulina powder to it. Spirulina's deep green color makes it great for natural food coloring. I love the versatility of the spirulina powder. The fine grain of the powder results in easy and quick mixing into your favorite food or drink.

Green Pancakes Recipe
Add 1/2-1 tsp of organic spirulina powder to the pancake batter.

Every week, I am finding new foods and drinks to add the spirulina powder to. As the flu season has started, spirulina powder is a great way to keep my family healthy and strong to combat any illnesses we are exposed to. I keep reminding myself that a little spirulina powder goes a long way. The 16 oz package will last me a long daily with weekly use.

Remember to buy organic spirulina. Conventional and non-organic spirulina can be loaded with heavy metals and toxins that can cause harm to your body. Sari Foods Organic Spirulina Powder is a potent food additive to naturally boost immunity and strengthen your family's health. I would purchase this product again.

Disclosure: I am not a medical professional. If you have any questions or concerns about using this product, please consult a qualified medical professional. Spirulina use does have precautions and warning, so please do your research on any side effects and interactions. I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. All opinions are my own.


reCAP Mason Jar Pour Cap [Review]


I have acquired a number of glass Mason jars over the past few years from my canning endeavors. From the small 4 oz canning jars to the big 1/2 gallon canning jars, I love the versatility for more than just canning. The 4 oz canning jars are perfect for storing leftovers for my toddler. The quart and half gallon canning jars are great for storing grains and dried beans. However, Mason canning jars can be used for so much more! From on-the-go drinks to organizing pantry items, reCAP Mason jar pour caps transform ordinary glass jars to containers that shake, pour and store.


Mason Jar Pour Cap              (wide mouth, silver color)
Rating: total green check marks out of 5.


The Good
The Not So Good
Transform Mason jars into storage containers
Cap is made from plastic
Regular and wide mouth sizes






I have seen Mason jars being used for purposes other than canning a lot lately, but never took the plunge to try it myself until recently. I have been using used lids and rings if I was storing something in the fridge or the pantry. The used lids cannot be reused for canning. Instead of throwing them out, I decided to use them if I were storing something in the canning jar. However, unscrewing the ring and lining up the lids and rings when putting back on was becoming a bit cumbersome each time. Let's just say, I prefer easy and efficient methods. The reCAP Mason jar pour cap is the answer!

ReCAP Mason Jar Pour Cap is made from plastic and is 100% BPA free. The caps are also made in the USA.

The jar pour cap can be used for many different uses like pouring liquids and solids. That means you can use a Mason jar like a portable cup with a lid. Though I would be careful if pouring hot liquid as the glass would get very hot. Likewise with cold liquids. I could see myself using the pour cap for thinner soups if I wanted to take food on the go.

I really like that the caps can be used for just about anything. The opening is wide enough to allow most items through. The reCAP pour cap has a rubber gasket inside that provides for a good seal against the glass Mason jar. I feel comfortable that nothing would be spilled. The top opening is firm enough that it will come open accidentally, but easy enough to open. The opening is about the size of a quarter.

 



I am in love with reCAP Mason Jar Pour Caps. I would like get a few more lids for smaller containers that I can take on the go. ReCAP Mason jar pour caps are a great way to reuse Mason jars in many different ways.

Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. All opinions are my own.


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