Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Thank You Card Giveaway!

To celebrate my fledgling business and the holiday season, I am giving away 1 set of 10 Snowdrift Thank You Cards in your choice of color! I will choose the random winner at midnight on Friday, 12/21/07.

There are 3 simple steps to enter:
1) Pick your favorite stationery design from www.saucydesigns.com
2) Tell me what you would like to see on a thank you card, OR send me a link to a card you like from another source.
3) Email your choice of color, and answers to 1 & 2 to "moreinfo (AT) saucydesigns (DOT) com" with "Thank You Giveaway" in the subject line.

Get 2 bonus entries by adding a link to this giveaway on your blog! Make sure to include a link to your blog entry in your email to receive your bonus.

Good Luck!

Get Toy Info In A Text Message

Moms Rising has put together an awesome free service (standard text message rates apply). While you are shopping for toys, you can text 41411. In the body of the message write "healthytoys toyname" where "toyname" is the name of the toy. If the database has information on that toy, you will get a text message back with that info. It is just AWESOME! See the website above for more specific search instructions by store or brand.

If you are shopping online, there is a web search as well.

Happy shopping!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Electricity Meters In The House

I often think about how useful it would be to have electricity and water meters in the house. It would help me remember to turn off all kinds of appliances if I saw my meter spinning out of control.

The Energy Orb could give you a general idea of how much energy you are using.

This article at Green Options highlights how important this feature is for living off the grid. They suggest that if we all act like we are living off-the-grid we can save energy and reduce the total load on power plants, in turn reducing the size/number of power plants.

Things they suggest doing beyond turning off the lights are:
1) Run only one high-load appliance (like dishwashers and dryers) at a time. This reduces the total load on the grid.
2) Unplug items that pull "phantom" current when they are turned off. Computers and microwaves fit into this category.
3) Check the meter.

Things I need to turn off more often:
Home computer
Home stereo system

What kinds of things do you leave on when you shouldn't?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Wrap With Fabric!

A while ago I wrote about wrapping with fabric. Better yet, wrap your gift with other gifts.
We went to a 1 year old's b-day party today and I decided to try it out. I filled a Dipees and Wipees diaper bag with feeding bowls and utensils. Then I wrapped it with a strip of grosgrain ribbon saved from a past gift. I made a tag from some card stock and marker and we were ready to go.

For baby showers, the gift can be wrapped in a receiving blanket.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I am definitely doing this for the next shower or party I throw!

Angry Chicken is one of my new favorite blogs. Amy is a crafting diva, and she inspires me to create more fun in my life. Move over Martha...

These cakes in a jar are awesome. I don't need another reason to have sweets in my life right now, with the holidays and all, but this is darn cute!!!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Boycotting Fisher Price

On the topic of boycotts. I do not think a sweeping boycott of chinese-made toys is necessarily in order. I do believe in boycotting the big offenders.

The big toy companies that refuse to demand lead-free materials from their Chinese manufacturers are really to blame. We put the safety of our children in the hands of companies like Fisher-Price. When I find them on the offenders list it worries me. But when information is released that they are being resistant to removing toys that are known to contain lead, I know I need to take action. How can I trust you to keep my child safe Fisher Price?

So this year, I will not be jumping on the bandwagon of boycotting all Chinese-made toys. Instead I will target the big offenders.

Check out this article by Consumer Reports which details the reasons for my action.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Nestle Boycott

I did not know about this until today, so I thought I would pass it on. Apparently there has been an international boycott on Nestle products since the 70's. Advocates of breastfeeding and nutritional education claim that Nestle markets their products in unethical ways to new and expecting mothers. You can read a little more about it here.

I can attest to the large amount of formula samples, free babgs, and coupons that were thrown at me during pregnancy and in the early days after Weapon X was born. I had my mind set on nursing, so I was not swayed, but I can imagine how someone who was not educated on the importance of nursing exculsively for the first 6 months might be convinced that using formula is easier. It might very-well be easier, but it is certainly not cheaper. And nursing took off all of the 50 pounds I gained during the pregnancy. I don't think formula will do that for you!

*Note* The boycott is not against formula. It is against the unethical marketing of formula.

If you want to join the boycott, also be aware that Nestle owns the following brands:
Purina Dog Chow
Hot Pockets
Poland Spring
Lean Cuisine
Coffee Mate
Nestle Carnation
Pure Life

How To Make Room For Christmas!

You could buy this awesome play table and store your toys more efficiently, but for $350, we wonder if your money can be better spent. As an alternative, we purchased our pre-loved Imaginarium train table on Craigslist for $45 and used baskets we already had around the house to store toys underneath. (reduce and reuse!)

We also took all toys that Weapon X has outgrown and set them aside for our niece who is 1 year younger.

We made the final decision to list our double size futon on Craig's List!
We will replace it with 2 twin futon matresses on top of eachother. This will allow us to make more space, but pull the extra futon matress out (trundle style) when we have guests. We also think it will make a great reading space for X when we pile it with the pillows we already had for the futon.

The crib will be the last thing to go.
After we sell that, we will have room for a tool bench or toy kitchen, but that may have to wait until X's 2nd birthday. He isn't climbing out of is crib yet, so we still think it is the safest place for him to sleep for now.

Oompa Farm Puzzle Giveaway

Did You See That is giving away this super cute Farm Puzzle. Head over to see the entry details.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Think Before You Pink

With all the talk about BPA in bottles and formula, I start to wonder about how much of what I put on my skin ends up in my breastmilk. I do not intend to be alarmist, I just thought I would share what I found.

Unfortunately, at least some of what we ingest, breathe and put on our skin ends up in our breastmilk. According to Think Before You Pink, 1/3 of cosmetics (including Avon, Estée Lauder, Revlon, Mary Kay) use "known, probable or possible human carcinogens."

"Toxic Bad Guys"
The Environmental Working Group created a great product database called Skin Deep which has ingredient lists and rates the safety of the products listed and gives reasons for the ratings. This has been a great resource for me. Not every product on the market is listed, but there is a feature on the site where you can enter in the ingredients from your product's label and Skin Deep will create a rating sheet based on the info you entered.

Trukid has a line of products (which we have not tried yet) that are free of a list (that they complied) of "Toxic Bad Guys." They list the big offenders on a handy printable shopping guide because there is no way the average person could remember all of those crazy names.

My Plan:
When it comes to products that touch the largest amount of skin on a regular basis (like foundation and body lotions), I am going to try to find brands that use no (or less) toxic chemicals. Lipsticks/gloss have a high chance of being ingested, so I will watch out for those too. Products like mascara have a lower chance of being absorbed because they are not touching skin so I won't worry too much about those. Also an area of concern is my son's eczema cream that we slather on twice daily. We will probably start using pure shea butter instead of the Aquaphor we have been using.

My Guides To Style

I love Tim Gunn from Project Runway and Guide to Style.

He is just the most likeable man on the planet. He seems to truly care about everyone he meets and makes me want to throw all my embarassing clothes out of my closet! Of course, then I would have nothing :) Tim! I need your help!

Amy Butler is my other favorite love. Her fabrics are so gorgeous and inspirtational! Who wouldn't want a bag, skirt, or nursing cover made from one of her fabrics? Visit her website here.

Look forward to some blankets and nursing covers made in Amy Butler fabrics available on www.saucydesigns.com soon!

Monday, December 10, 2007


Buzz-Buzz, Busy Bees was a fast favorite.

Occasionally we like to take a trip to Half-Price Books. There really isn't ever a reason to buy full-price books. We like to flip through books in person, but if you have a specific book (or CD) you are looking for, you can almost always find it in the "New and Used" section of Amazon. We have found some amazing used deals on the Putamayo Kids CD series.

On our last trip to half-price books, we found Buzz-Buzz, Busy Bees. My son loves to read, but usually he picks one book after the next. He made me read it 4 times in the store, and a few more times on the way home. Each page has a barnyard animal asking the bees to hang out. Each time the bees reply, in a different way, that they are "Buzz-Buzz" too busy.

The illustrations are beautiful. They are much more complex and fluid than most children's books, but still draw in my 17 month old with 3D bees that disappear, one by one, as you turn the pages.

The real clincher is the last page has a buzzing sound chip. This drove my toddler wild and really got him riled up when we read the book again. Every time I read the "Buzz-Buzz" line he went insane in anticipation of the last page. His reaction was so great the lady next to us bought one too!

*Tip: Cleanse your book and magazine shelf by taking a pile into Half Price Books. They evaluate your stack while you shop and you can get a nice discount on your purchase.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Safety With Toddlers In The Bath Tub

Bath time is not such a treacherous venture until babies can stand. When they can do that, the fun really begins. The following are a few tips to help create a safe, fun bath time environment.

Non-Slip Bath Mat
They come in all shapes and sizes and are pretty straight-forward. Make sure it covers a good portion of your tub so there are no slick spots. I suggest hanging it to dry every night to prevent mildew. If you allow mildew to collect, the mat may end up slippery.

You can consider the rough, stick-on tub appliqués. We have some and find they do the job for adults, but unless you put them very close together, they do not work for tiny baby feet.

Bath Spout Cover
We have the Boon Flo. It does an ok job, but its position needs to be adjusted at every bath time. If you consider an inflatable option, be aware they need to be re-inflated frequently to be effective. In any case, I think the spout cover is helpful, but I have one more trick up my sleeve.

Basket Of Toys
Of course you need bath toys. That is a given! But we use ours as a safety feature. We place the basket between the spout and our baby. In this configuration, your child has a much reduced chance of hitting his head on the spout if he does slip.

No Standing In The Bathtub
This is tricky and requires consistency. We instituted this rule because my husband is disabled and cannot catch Weapon X quickly if he slips. We have special circumstances, but I think this rule is a good one for all new standers.

We have relaxed on this rule now that X is stable on his feet, but we were very strict about it in the beginning, and he (mostly) respected the rules because we were consistent.

A Few Other Common Sense Bathing Tips
*Always test the water temperature before putting your baby in the bath.
*Keep the water level low.
*Never walk away from your baby, even for a moment.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Craig's List for Thrifty, Eco-Conscious Parents

In the spirit of recycling and cheapskatiness, we recently bought a train table on Craig's List for half the price. It is pre-loved, but our 17 month old didn't notice this, or that Santa arrived 1 month early. Ok, let's not kid ourselves. Weapon X doesn't know who Santa is, but he is darn glad he finally showed up.

Craig's List is a free online classifieds website with special sections for specific cities. This is certainly the season to buy and sell gently-used children's items on Craig's list or other classifieds sites. Especially when your children are too young to know the difference.

Also consider Freecycle, or your local used children's stores.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Vitamins To Grow On

Weapon X takes 2 vitamins everyday; DHA and a general multi vitamin. Why? X is picky… darn picky. He mainly eats flax waffles, O's, blueberries, whole wheat pasta, and the special sauce (apple). Sometimes he fits in some grapes (cut lengthwise), pears, cashews, and almond slices.

I grew up on veggies, so I do offer veggies daily. But I sadly dispose of every single piece because he refuses to eat them (though he does like to feed them to me!). The exceptions to his ban on veggies are sweet potato fries and veggie chips (fried squash, carrots, green beans, and taro). He loves them. He specifically searches out the zucchini pieces. I just don't want to feed him a steady diet of fried foods, so we limit our offerings of these awesome chips. We buy them at our local market in the bulk section.

DHA For Brain And Eye Development
Researchers tout the benefits of DHA for heart health in adults and for brain and eye development in children. Read a great report on NPR about DHA here.

The Nordic Natural soft gels that X takes can be swallowed whole or chewed. They are round, and about the size of a pea. X chews them and seems to like/tolerate them, which baffles me. They are flavored with a "Strawberry Essence." I am not sure what that means, but it does cover a large portion of the cod oil taste. I can still taste it, but as long as X doesn't care, that is what matters. We always offer these before the gummy bears, because he LOVES the bears and knows he has to get through these to get to the gummies :)

Weapon X takes 4 soft gels which equals 1 serving and provides:
Calories: 9
Fat: 1g
DHA: 125 mg
EPA: 82 mg
Other Omega-3s: 45 mg
Vitamin A: 130–300 IU
Vitamin D: 1–4 IU
Vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol): 14 IU

Gummy Bear Multi-Vitamin For Picky Eaters
X takes 1 Rhino Gummy Bear (by Nutrition Now) per day (2 bears equals 1 serving). He has never once snubbed his nose at these yummy gummies, and I cannot tell the difference between these and regular gummy bears. Rhino has a wide variety of supplements for children. We have only tried the bears, but will definitely try some of the other offerings in the future.

My only issue with the Rhino bears is the sugar. They taste so great because they don’t skimp on the sweet stuff. Of course, he only eats one bear, so it's not like he has a whole bag.
2 gummy bears contain:
Calories: 15
Carbohydrates: 4 g
Sugars: 3 g
Vitamin A (as retinyl palmitate): 2,500 IU
Vitamin C (as ascorbic acid): 18 mg
Vitamin D-3 (as cholecalciferol): 60 IU
Vitamin E (as d-alpha tocopheryl acetate): 15 IU
Vitamin B-6 (as pyridoxine HCL): 0.7 mg
Folate (as folic acid): 240 mcg
Vitamin B-12 (as cyanocobalamin): 4 mcg
Biotin: 60 mcg
Pantothenic acid (as calcium d-pantothenate): 5 mg
Iodine (as potassium iodide): 37 mcg
Zinc (as zinc citrate): 2.2 mg
Choline (as choline bitartrate): 10 mcg
Inositol: 10 mcg

*Note that the gummy bears do not have any iron, and we chose them partially for this reason. If you want to provide a supplement to your child that has iron, Nutrition Now also offers a supplement called Rhino Iron.

Only For Toddlers Who Have Mastered The Art of Chewing
Both the DHA and multi-vitamin should only be taken by toddlers who are good chewers, have molars, and are willing to take their vitamins while sitting down. They are labeled for ages 4 and up because of the potential choking hazard.

Keep Out Of Reach Of Children
X begs for the gummy bears. This reminds me that all vitamins should always be kept out of the reach of children, especially vitamins that taste like candy. Vitamins are good for you in the right amounts, but fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) and iron build up in the system and can be toxic when taken in larger doses.