15 Minutes Outside

I recently read 15 Minutes Outside, 365 ways to get out of the house and connect with your kids by Rebecca P. Cohen.

Actually, I read it when it was 80 degrees outside back in March.

It was so easy to make sure my kids got outside everyday then. But now we’re back to chilly and windy and I tend to keep myself in the warmth of my house. So I pulled this book out again for some new ideas.

Being outside helps with our mood and our overall health, yet we tend to spend so much of our day inside. And I’ve also found that my children are much more creative when they aren’t allowed their normal indoor toys. They find buckets and sticks to make soup. They build cities in the sand box, and they roll their trucks down the hill.

The benefits are many as well. I find that when we ALL go outside (adults need to get out there too!) we get along better, we sleep better, and we’re also more productive later.

[Read more…]



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

How You Can Save 20 Trees on this Earth Day

Earth Day is soon approaching us and we are encouraged by many to plant a tree, walk to a destination instead of driving, and recycle a can or two.

But how about saving 20 trees, 60 pounds of chlorine and 420 gallons of petroleum?

That is the consumption of one baby in disposable diapers from birth to potty training.

Now let’s talk about landfill waste – disposable diapers take anywhere from 200-500 years to decompose and they also contain raw human sewage that over time can leak into our ground, leading to contamination of our water systems.

But what a leap it is to decide that you will no longer just toss a dirty diaper in to a trash can, but now you must flush the poop down the toilet. Did you know that you are supposed to flush the poop away even when using a disposable diaper? It says so right on most packages, yet less than 1% of parents actually do this.

cloth diapers

Are you convinced yet that you need to try cloth? If you are teetering which way to go you should know how easy, cute, hip and cost effective they really are. BumGenius, Bummis, FuzziBunz and Smart bottoms, who would not want these on their little ones butt?

There is a cloth diapering system to fit any budget and every lifestyle.

Cloth wipes are another way to lean toward the greener side of Earth Day, with an investment of under $50 you can say goodbye to wasteful wipes that contain alcohol that dries baby skin out and preservatives that allow them an extended shelf life. Cloth wipes are soft and super cute and allow for a savings on your wallet of about $700. Just wash and dry in your washing machine with your cloth diapers and you will not have to worry about ever running out to the store in the middle of nap time again!

cloth diapers

So as we countdown to a day where we celebrate this earth and all things green, consider making a lifestyle change that will benefit your wallet, the health of your baby and this home we call earth. Change does not come easy to some and yes you will have some hurdles when making a switch to cloth or deciding on cloth for your newborn, but no one said natural parenting would be easy. In a society where we value convenience over quality of a product it takes some self confidence to declare your natural love and stick to it!

Happy Earth Day and happy cloth diapering!

 

Candis DeBoer is a cloth diaper lover who not only uses cloth diapers but tries to pass her love of cloth on to other natural living parents in her store, EcoBuns, located in Holland,MI. 



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

Vinegar as a Rinse Aid

We have pretty hard water at our house. In turn we have to use a rinse agent in the dishwasher. But, then again, who doesn’t? Otherwise you risk the possibility of getting goopey oatmeal stuck to everything in there and washing more dishes by hand than you’d like to.

And personally, I always bought the more expensive kind of commercial rinse agent offered (since I used to be a plastic junkie and all, and I wanted those containers dry). Now, I use vinegar and I love it. I’ve been using it for a few years now and rarely have to rewash anything when the load is done…..except for when we forget to keep the softener full of salt.

Here’s how to replace vinegar with your old rinse agent:

  1. Use up all of the commercial rinse agent in your dishwasher first. Unless you can figure out how to get it out!
  2. Unscrew the cap inside your washer and fill with vinegar all the way up to the full line.
  3. Screw cap back in.
  4. Close washer and run! Then just keep refilling with vinegar.

Using regular white vinegar is most importantly for a lot of us – cheaper. For just a few dollars a year, instead of a few dollars per month, you’ll be able to give your dishes a bit of an extra rinse in the dishwasher.

Plus, you’re not using any harsh chemicals that get stuck to your dishes and then get transferred to your food. Because, while a rinse aid is supposed to rinse away, it’s really to hard to tell if some of it may be left behind.

 

Do you use vinegar in the dishwasher? How does it work for you?


Homemade Baby Wipes

One of the expenses that go along with diapering, is the wipes. And the wipes you find in the stores are often irritating to little bums, so making your own is not only inexpensive, but better for your baby’s toosh.

Ingredients

  • 1 Bounty big roll – white, no dyes (I’ve found the natural paper towels fall apart)
  • 1 Tbsp natural baby bath (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp oil – olive, sunflower, jojoba
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water

Method of Preparation

1. Lay paper towel on it’s side and cut in half. Do NOT use a serrated knife. *ahem* I thought this would work better and all it does is shred the paper towel. Use a sharp knife with a straight edge.

2. Take out cardboard tube and discard it.

3. Put the rest of the ingredients in a container with a good sealing lid.

4. Place paper towel in container of liquid and turn upside down to soak through. Pull ‘wipes’ from center of roll.

You can also use the wipe solution for reusable wipes! Just place the fabric wipes in a container and cover with enough solution to soak but not completely saturate the wipes.

Do you use a natural or homemade wipe solution? If so, what do you put in it?

Natural Disinfectant

Many of the conventional cleaners are full of toxic chemicals (ok, not some, but all of them) which have been shown to have negative health effects. From respiratory issues, to infertility, and some are even carcinogenic. When you add anti-bacterial properties to them, you’d think you were doing something great for your family. And yet, using chemical anti-bacterials isn’t the answer to all our problems! These chemicals bring in health issues of their own.

And we don’t always need to sterilize everything in our paths.

Yet there are also times when disinfecting a surface can be beneficial; when handling raw chicken on a counter to or, dealing with an illness that may spread through the family. So what’s a natural momma to do?

A few years ago I ran across a couple of books on non-toxic living – one of the first issues in which I dove in to head first after having my son. And in these books it was recommended to use two simple products:

  1. White vinegar
  2. Hydrogen peroxide

When mixed together they provide an extra boost to dealing with killing unwanted bugs, and while not something considered “broad spectrum” (meaning it kills everything) the EPA states that-

“Hydrogen peroxide, well known as an ingredient in disinfectant products, is now also approved for controlling microbial pests on crops growing indoors and outdoors, and on certain crops after harvest. This active ingredient prevents and controls bacteria and fungi that cause serious plant diseases. Hydrogen peroxide breaks down rapidly in the environment to oxygen and water, and is not expected to cause adverse effects to humans or the environment when users follow label directions.”

In some studies the hydrogen peroxide was even shown to kill the e. coli bacteria.

natural disinfectant

photo credit: dno1967b

 Method of Use

In order to preserve the properties of the hydrogen peroxide it needs to be kept in the brown/opaque container that it comes in. To do this and make it easy to spray, you can just buy a spray nozzle and it’ll screw right on. Also buy a spray bottle for straight vinegar.

To clean a solid, non-porous surface, spray first the vinegar and then the hydrogen peroxide. Or the other way around – little things such as this don’t mean much. Wipe with a clean cloth.

So simple, yet so effective.



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

How to Eat Local Produce on a Budget

Summer has an uncanny knack of turning many of us into wannabe health enthusiasts. At no other time of the year is there such an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables at our fingertips. And it’s not to late in the year to take advantage of fresh produce!

Sure, you can still buy strawberries at the supermarket in December. But their taste and quality doesn’t hold a candle to the ones you can buy from a farm during peak strawberry season.

During the summer, our farmer’s markets and local stores seem almost made of juicy tomatoes, peaches, and piles of crisp cucumbers. They’re pulling out the brightest and best the season has to offer, and for many of us, these are the best prices we’ll see on produce all year.

As a result, the foodie and health nut in me adores summer. While Chris and I have been on a minimal food budget for years, my passion for whole, healthy food has taught me that I can be efficient and creative with whatever I have. During the summer, I’m grateful our little family can eat plenty of local produce.

Here are a few ways I’ve learned to do that:

1. Make friends with the local produce stand

It seems like produce stands crop up at almost every street corner over the summer. In the past, I shopped at one in particular that was close to our house. For awhile, I pulled the cash out of my grocery envelope and bought as much as I could, following the set prices.

After several weeks of being a consistent, reliable customer, they started letting me buy an entire box of produce for a very reduced price. It was a mutually beneficial deal. I knew I could get fruits and vegetables super cheap, and they knew that I would come every week.

2. Ask for “Seconds”

“Seconds” are overripe or slightly damaged produce that fruit stands know they won’t be able to sell. Quite often, they are taken home and thrown away.

Periodically, I ask the people running the stand if they have any seconds I can take home. If I’m a regular customer, they’ll often gladly give me a box stuffed with peppers, tomatoes, and zucchini that has become spotted or bruised.

When I get home, the damaged produce gets chopped, grated, etc., and packed into the freezer.

 

3. Buy a lot of produce at once

If you don’t have a local produce stand, you can go to the farmer’s market and ask to produce by the bushel or half-bushel. I’ve been able to buy local apples and squash for 50 cents a pound, and whatever we didn’t eat fresh was made into applesauce, frozen for later, or cooked into meals for the freezer.

Each market and produce stand is different, so you’ll have to discover what will work for you. However, by using a combination of these methods, I’ve been able to stock our kitchen with locally grown fruits and vegetables for a fraction of the normal cost.

That makes me love summer even more!

 

Bio: When Steph and her husband got married, they lived in a renovated shed and had a grocery budget that matched. As a passionate whole-foodie, Steph was determined to continue eating healthy, minimally-processed foods on their shoestring budget. So The Cheapskate Cook was born.



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

Norwex Cloth Review

Hi there! This is Jenny, and I blog at The Southern Institute and Natural Birth and You, but I also guest every so often at Natural Living Moms.  When Donielle asked if I would like to review a product from Norwex, a happily accepted!  I had heard of Norwex products, but never had the chance to try any of them out.  Their catalog is just wonderful, and the chance to try one of the Norwex Enviro cloths was a great opportunity.

Norwex describes their Enviro cloths on their website:

From Norwex’s website

What intrigued me about these cloths was their ability to prevent cross-contamination.

How do they do this?

Norwex has developed a patented antibacterial silver-based agent that is embedded inside of the microfiber that they use to make their cloths.  The cloth is actually able to remove up to 99.9% of the bacteria on the surfaces that you clean with the cloth.  Not only that, but it inactivates the bacteria within 24 hours, meaning that the cloth cleans itself!  In the words of Norwex, “This means cleaner cloths, less frequent laundering and reduction in cross-contamination.”  Amazing!  This feature alone sold me.  There is peace of mind that comes with using a product that you know is really cleaning and not simply smearing germs and bacteria around your countertops and tables, which is where I have been using mine.  After preparing and cooking foods I wipe up with the cloth.  After meals I use it to wipe down the table.

These cloths are wonderful!  I would love to have more of them around the house.  The one I am using is 13″ x 13″, so it covers a lot of area.  It also comes in a smaller or larger size, according to your needs.  The cloths can be used dry as a dusting cloth, or wet to clean countertops and stoves, any surface really!
Norwex also has a host of other products, including a dusting mitt, car cloth, mop pads, bath towels for adults and children, bath robes, and household cleaners.  I would really like to try their dryer balls, eliminating the need for dryer sheets.  This is too cute too… The Kids Mop Package, for your little helper.
Norwex seems like a company that I could really get behind.  If you’re trying to live with less chemicals in your home, and less waste, I encourage you to look at Norwex products.  Thanks, Donielle for asking me to review the Enviro Cloth!
*The Norwex Enviro Cloth was given to me to review.  The opinions are my own, I received no further compensation.

Jenny is a stay at home mom with three children and blogs at The Southern Institute for Domestic Arts and Crafts – a blog of sharing, learning, and creativity. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

 

 



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.

Breathe Easy – What’s in Your Ducts?


Have you ever considered what could be lurking in the unseen areas of your home? More specifically, have you given thought to what could be accumulating and circulating through your air ducts? I did, more recently, as I continued in my efforts to clean up the air in our home.

I made an inquiry amongst a group of my friends, about who they would recommend we contact about having our air ducts cleaned. The company whose name kept resurfacing was Rivertown Heating & Cooling. I devised a list of questions before calling, as I wanted to be fully informed as to what to expect. Jackie from Rivertown, was more than happy to assist me when I did get a chance to call. Below are the questions I asked, followed by her answers.

1. How is it done? They connect to the main supply with a large vacuum. They use a specially designed tool to loosen “stuff” in the vents, and blow the “stuff” into the main vent for it to be suctioned out.

2. Must the resident be gone during the service? It is up to the homeowner.

3. How long does it usually take? On average 1 1/2 hours; however it depends on the sq. footage of the home, if there are pets in the home, and a few other varying factors.

4. What are common issues w/clogged ducts? The main issue is lots of dust present. Dust will accumulate on, and in, everything in the home. It will in-turn re-circulate through the air vents. Dust accumulation will irritate the senses, make housework more tedious, and leave an overall congested feeling in the air.

5. How long does it typically take for ducts to become clogged? On average, every 3 years or so. Factors that shorten the time are a lot of people living in the home, dogs/pets, smoking, and remodeling. The greatest sign that yours are needing attention, is a constant need to dust.

6. Will a difference be noticed immediately? Yes, you should notice an immediate decrease in your need to dust, and experience relief if experiencing irritation of the senses.

7. What is the cost for an average home? On average the cost is between $150-$250. It can vary a lot based on the vent count. They always give an accurate quote beforehand, ensuring no hidden costs.

On the day our ducts were scheduled to be cleaned, two gentleman from the company arrived promptly around 10am, following a call to confirm they were close by. I showed them around our house, pointing out the location of our vents, then leading them down to our main supply room. After looking everything over they showed me a situation that prevented them from reaching one area of our vents, that was a result of how our basement was finished, and asked if I still wanted them to proceed. I decided to go forward with it, simply because it was the plan, and I knew they were going to help, even if it wasn’t to the fullest of their capabilities. They proceeded to tell me that our ducts were not bad at all, for being 7 years old; and that we had a total of 13 supply vents, and 6 return, resulting in a total cost of $254.95.

All-in-all, I was very pleased with the service provided to us by Rivertown Heating & Cooling and just as my friends referred them to me, I feel confident referring them to you. If you are thinking air duct cleaning would benefit your household, know that Spring and Fall are their busiest times of the year; but they will do their very best to get you on the schedule as soon as they can, and you can be assured they will provide you with great service, at a very competitive cost.

This is the last post in my series titled “Breathe Easy”. I hope that through my efforts you gained some ideas of how you can help create a better breathing environment in your home! If you have anything else to add, I would love your feedback, and any ideas you have to offer!

Now, take a deep breath, I am 🙂

*I was provided service free of charge in exchange for this review. The thoughts are my own and in no way swayed by this.

Breathe Easy – What’s Hidden Below Your Feet?

Lost My Balance

When I walk into a freshly carpeted room, I often get a cozy feeling. Most varieties of carpet make the floor cushy and comfortable, while also helping control noise levels, preventing echoing within walls.

What I don’t normally consider, is what lies underneath the cushy surface. The hidden dust, dander, and dirt; all hidden air pollutants that decrease the quality of air in homes. In the case of older homes with older carpet, often times there is hidden mold, mildew and bacteria, embedded deep below the surface.

Still, new carpet doesn’t mean your out of the clear either. Most carpets are made from synthetic fibers, whose manufacturing processes contain many harmful chemicals that are continuously released into the air. Carpet padding, and the adhesive glue used to lay carpets can also release irritating, potentially harmful chemicals.

Our home is seven years old, and we recently finished an addition onto our main level. In deciding what flooring to go with, all of what I’ve shared, was taken into consideration. We already had carpet in our living room, that was desperately in need of being replaced, and the laminate in our kitchen, dining, and hallway had been discontinued and was no longer available to order. So we needed to decide between new laminate throughout the entire main living area, or new carpet in the new room, and living room.

The Decision

It wasn’t exactly an easy decision. Laminate is not much better when it comes to how it is manufactured and the chemicals involved; that of which can also lead to potentially harmful off gassing. In my efforts to help keep the air we breathe inside our home clean, and help us breathe a little easier, choosing the best flooring option was my next step in promoting cleaner air in our home.

We ended up deciding to go with laminate. I did quite a bit of research, and based on what I found and our budget, we decided to go with a product made by Harmonics (Golden Aspen). It is a product designed specifically for Costco stores.

I liked that it was made in the USA, and that environmental friendliness was considered by the company, being it is a CARB compliant flooring that is also made of 74% pre-consumer recycled material. Sure there were healthier, “greener”, options available; but we did the best with the budget we were working with, and figured (hoped) a lot of the off gassing had already occurred between shipping, storage, and sale. We didn’t experience any noticeable health changes, and made sure to keep windows open for a time everyday, to allow for good ventilation.

When Carpet is Wanted

Now there is one area where I am not fond of hard floors; that area being the basement. We will never consider a hard flooring for our basement, as we like the feel the carpet adds to the area. It makes it feel cozy and warm. Whereas I can imagine hard floor on concrete making it feel just the opposite.

To promote healthy air in our carpeted areas :

  • I stress the importance of removing shoes at our front door
  • I vacuum with a certified asthma and allergy friendly Dyson, called “The Animal.” (It really is all it’s cracked up to be in terms of its suction abilities.)
  • I also open our windows when weather permits.

Still, I know there are hidden messes lying beneath the surface. And for that reason we do plan to replace it within the next couple of years, and will look for a more environmentally friendly option than what we have, when that time comes.

Included are a couple of pictures I took of our stairs after we took the carpeting up (we plan to put wood down, as our budget allows). I was AMAZED at the amount of dirt and sand that was beneath the pad. The living room area was not nearly as dirty underneath, as our stairs were. Definitely something to consider if your stairs are a high-traffic area like ours are!

What steps have you taken to promote a cleaner air quality in your home?

How to Start Cloth Diapering

drying diapers

photo credit: photoann

 

My biggest issue when I was trying to decided whether or not to cloth diaper, was where to start! I think most people have the same thoughts when it comes to it:

  1. The ick factor. I knew cloth diapering was better for the environment, better for baby’s bum, and better on my wallet. But the memory of my own mom dunking and swishing poopy diapers out in the toilet (plus the nasty smelling ‘wet pail’) totally turned me off to it. Totally. Plus, how in the world do you wash them?
  2. So many options, and everyone seems to have their very own ( and very different) opinion.
  3. The upfront costs of cloth diapers makes just about anyone run scared. And frugal ‘ol me was having a hard time wrapping my head around it! Plus, it’s a big enough purchase that I didn’t want to buy the ‘wrong’ ones.

So let’s debunk a few things and chat about how to make it work!

1. The Ick Factor

Yes, there will be ick. I won’t lie to you.

But.

Did you know that disposable diaper manufacturers also tell you to dump the solid wastes? Go ahead and look on the package, it’s there.

The actual changing with cloth diapers is no different than with disposables. And if you use cloth wipes, it makes it super easy because the wipe and dipe get tossed into the same pail. But it’s what to do after the fact that had me stumped. Well….. if the baby is exclusively breastfed, unless it is a super huge mess, you don’t have to rinse it off. Just toss the dipe in a dry pail that’s been fitted with a wet bag (got that? no more wet pail – you just have a diaper liner in either a garbage can or diaper pail). Done.

If your little one is on solids of some sort, one of two things might happen depending on how they go. You’ll just shake it a bit into the toilet or take a diaper sprayer (cost to buy one is about $40.00, cost to make your own about $5.00) and spray it off. Then drop it in the pail.

You should wash every other day as the ammonia can build up and cause the pail to get quite rank. And it can have an effect on the elastic within the dipes. What you do is take the whole bag of diapers, turn it inside out into the washing machine (you never touch the dipes!) and toss the wet bag in too.

  • Wash on cold for one short cycle with a small amount of detergent- helps to rid the diapers of any solid matter left over
  • Wash on HOT for a long cycle with a small amount of detergent- cleans and deodorizes
  • Rinse one final time – helps rid the diapers of any leftover detergent
  • Dry according to diaper directions or dry outside to “sun” the stains out

After cloth diapering my son from 20 months old until he was completely without diapers (about 10 months later) and now after having my daughter in cloth full time for two years and nights/naps for the last few months, I now realize it’s not near as icky as I thought it would be. And the extra washing isn’t a big deal either, though it took me a couple months to get a good system down so that I wasn’t running out of diapers!

2. The Options

Prefolds, pockets, one size, all in ones, fitteds, velcro, snaps…….ahhhh! So many options out there, where do you even begin to start! To make it easier, many cloth diaper companies are now offering a diaper trial.where they send you a few diapers to try and then you send them back after you use them for a couple of weeks. This way you get to really see how they work without a lot of upfront cost.

You could also buy a few different types to try them out. My experience has been that they all work – it’s just a matter of personal preference. And the great thing is about cloth diapers is that if you take good care of them and keep them in good shape, they are easy to resell! I’ve purchased many used diapers at half the price and they work just as good.

My advice is to just start! You don’t need to have all the supplies, and 24 diapers all at once. But a few and use them while you supplement with disposables until you find out what you really like to use. I started out with 3 diapers and now have built up a stash of about 14. (though I would highly recommend about 24 – you’d do laundry less and also not run out as often as I forget to wash!)

3. The Cost

Yes, cloth diapers are expensive. Spending $15.00 to $20.00 per diaper seems like way to much! There are cheaper options like prefolds (but remember you have to buy different sizes as the baby grows) but even that it still just less than $100.00 to buy what you need all at once. So what do you do if you want to try cloth but can’t afford the upfront cost?

Ways to buy diapers frugally:

  • The Cloth Diaper Foundation offers scholarships for cloth diapers that you can use for a few months until you build up a suplly of your own. {free of charge}
  • Buy used through a site like Diaper Swappers or craigslist
  • Check Cotton Babies for ‘seconds’ (dipes with slight blemishes but completely usable)
  • Sites like etsy and ebay have sellers who make their own diapers and many are great quality and cheaper than name brand (just check out their reviews!)
  • Cloth Diaper Clearance is also a great site to check out

Cloth diapering is an economical and ecological solution to diapering. Not only do you save about $2000.00 for the first child that uses them (second child it’s basically free if your dipes are still in usable condition, as most would be) you save the landfills from about 1 ton of diapers per child. And those diapers will take about 500 years to decompose. Not that’s really the ick factor!


Do you cloth diaper? How did you get started?

If you don’t what’s stopping you?

 

 

4/2/2010

 



All images and content are protected under US copyright laws, please do not copy and paste.

Links in the post above may be affiliate or referral links - meaning that through a sale I may be given monetary benefit. I blog with integrity and only endorse companies and products I love.

This blog is for educational purposes only. The information provided by Donielle, or any contributor, is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. If you are seeking medical advice, please search out a qualified health practitioner.