Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Introducing... The Diaper Pail.

A friend of mine asked about our diaper pail today, so I figured I would share.

We use a Wahmies Pail Liner (the laundry is in right now) in a plain old plastic, foot-pedaled trash can. It works pretty good. It smells when we open it, but it contains the scent pretty darn well. When picking out a trash can, choose ones with a lip on it so that there is more of an air tight seal.

We also own a Planet Wise Hanging Wet/Dry Bag for emergencies, some laundry days, and travel. It's awesome, and the prints are fabulous. This might also be a good option for extra smelly diapers, though they do not offer the same amount of storage as the trash can.

In other news, we've been searching for a daycare, and I am so excited to let you know Gabriel will be able to sport his fluffy butt even when I work full-time!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Caution: This post requires night vision.

I finally feel it is not a jinx to let you know...

Gabriel is sleeping through the night! It has been one full month of our little one willingly being rocked and sung and lowered into his crib AWAKE between 7:30-8:30 p.m. He rolls around and just wriggles his way to sleep, usually without so much as a moan. I looked at my husband earlier this evening and said, "Can you believe it has only been about one month since Gabriel started sleeping through the night?"

We couldn't believe it. It has seemed so, so long since the little man cried for milk at 2 a.m. with an insistence to stay cuddled with us, nursing from me intermittently until morning.

And there still are random nights when he just has to nurse around 11 or so, but those nights are becoming increasingly rare, and when he is finished nursing he pushes us and rolls around as if to say, "Give me my own bed!" (And so we happily carry him back to his crib).

*Sigh* My baby boy is turning into a wee little boy; he is eleven months old today.

Just one more month of an under one-year-old...

If only he would nap willingly by the age of one (He is getting to an age where I would be fine with him not napping, but he gets so grumpy without any sleep throughout the day)!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

No Impact Week: Something We've Continued...

No paper towels enter our home anymore. We use resuable kitchen towels and rags always. And it's so easy to just toss the dirty ones into the washer to be cleaned with whatever load goes in next.

My husband does sometimes suggest we have some "just in case, for the microwave," but I never give in because I am scared we would use them as a crutch for anything needing to be wiped.

But it would he handy to have them for microwave use.

But we are happier to be without them!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Another Reason I Have Issues With Formula.

Beetles. In Baby Formula.

( I will guess you are thinking, "Are you kidding me?")

No, I'm not kidding you. Similac issued a huge voluntary recall today regarding "certain lines of powdered formula which comes in plastic tubs, or 8 oz., 12.4 oz., and 12.9 oz. cans" made in a plant out of Sturgis, Michigan because the formula was processed alla beetles. Whether or not the beetles are definitely in the formula is unclear.

And what little formula has Gabe been getting in two bottles per week while I work (because I only get enough while pumping over three shifts for one bottle)?
Similac Advanced with Iron.

And why do we use this formula?
We already had it in the house because the manufacturer sent it to us... so it was free (we just finished our first can after one month of using it, and we have another that would have lasted us until he started weaning from the bottle for that feeding). And our pedi recommends it.

Annnnnd was I planning on keeping him on this formula?
I was planning on buying some Earth's Best Organic formula if we ran out.

How do I feel right now?
Angry. Guilty. Infuriated. Frustrated. Disappointed. And a little lucky.

Why do I feel like this?
Because I have been trying to load Similac's recall website for a very long time now, and it is just plain overloaded. The page will not load. I managed to get on it for a second earlier this evening, and I was relieved to find the can we are just finishing was not recalled. But I didn't get to load the can we were planning to open tomorrow. And I tried calling their recall hotline for awhile, but gave up with the endless busy signals.

Oh, and because I could have been feeding my baby beetles, which are really great for a little baby's GI tract. Instances like this are surefire proof that eating local, whole foods you make for your baby and family are THEE way to live healthy, happy lives.

I do feel lucky, though, because Gabriel mainly breastfeeds so even if we were affected by the recall, he would not have had much exposure. Any exposure is horrible, but I am thankful that breastfeeding does limit Gabe's ability to be hit by things like beetles in the belly.

So what now?
I will be at Whole Foods at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning, praying that they did not sell out of Earth's Best formula tonight. And if all else fails, I will somehow have to work around Gabe nursing.

Here is the info site and Similac hotline to find out if your baby's formula was part of the recall (If you can get through!!):

Monday, September 20, 2010

Searching for Afforable, Eco-Friendly Play Kitchen

Gabe will turn one at the end of October, which means he will turn two next October. For kids with birthdays at the tail end of the year near the holidays, it seems like it makes sense for birthday gifts and Santa's sleigh to give gifts of the future. As in, we're thinking Santa will bring a play kitchen to Gabriel because that way he can start by opening and closing the drawers, moving food from compartment to compartment, and by the time he hits two, he will be playing kitchen with me.

So here's my problem. We want Santa to bring an eco-friendly, nontoxic, wooden kitchen that isn't insanely expensive. I mean, it's a play kitchen, not a real kitchen.

And yes, I am looking now.

Any suggestions???

Friday, September 17, 2010

Teaching Gabriel to Love Animals.

I feel very responsible for how Gabriel will act toward nature as he grows. It might seem like overkill, but I am already teaching him about animals as we read books, walk outside, and play with his toys. More importantly, I am teaching him to love animals by petting them with him and explaining why each animal is special as we discover them together. Why not, right?

I tend to think simple things like telling him and showing him how to "be gentle with the dog," will go a long way because I have been showing him from an early age. I am not going to lie-- having a kid who treats animals harshly and roughly is a nightmare of mine. It would just break my heart.

Anyway, other than dogs, Gabriel particularly loves penguins. He kisses me, my husband, and his penguin quite often. (Yesterday my Mom (his MomMom) was talking to Gabe on the phone and she told him to "kiss Mommy," so he kissed the phone. So that makes four things in our home he has kissed. And I can add the word 'kiss' to the list of words he understands, while 'Mommy' is still not on it!) He particularly likes it if I make the penguin waddle across the floor to him while making honking noises.

In other news, Gabe is very into standing alone lately. Will he walk before he turns one? I can't wait to find out!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Can someone please explain...

Why MUST Gabriel crawl into the kitchen?

I mean, really. He MUST do this. Almost as much as he MUST stick his hand in the VCR. These are apparently things he just has to do or else he will flail on the ground in perilous tears (oh, hi temper tantrums!).

But if he gets to crawl on that tile... well, he sure is happy.

I really cannot handle how much older he is starting to look.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Green your peanut butter.

I'm not a member of PETA, and you all know I like my free range meatballs and burgers, but I thought this was pretty cool...
PETA Butter. As in, peanut butter, from PETA.

Here's the deets straight from the source:
"To commemorate PETA's 30th anniversary, Peanut Butter & Co. has created this special-edition "PETA Butter." It's vegan, gluten-free, and 100 percent natural with no trans fats, no cholesterol, no hydrogenated oil, and no high-fructose corn syrup. Made from pure, simple ingredients: peanuts and salt."

I LOVE peanut butter. I could probably eat a house of it, especially if paired with chocolate or strawberry jam. In fact, when it comes to pb&j, my husband and I should have bought stock in it years ago because it was our lunch staple for years.

PETA's argument for peanut butter is that it's protein and not meat. Mine is that it is delish. I have been doing some reading on it, though, and I am finding scary things in the traditional super market pb. As in, high fructose corn syrup (which I don't care what those commercials say-- it's not good for you). So when I saw this PETA butter and the fact that it's made with all-natural ingredients, my interest was piqued.

I'm thinking I might try it. Why not?

Saturday, September 11, 2010


I was a junior in high school on September 11, 2001. My first visit to New York City was as a senior in high school. I never saw the World Trade Center standing, but I did see its shining memorial tribute reaching into the night sky when I moved there in 2008.

May peace be with those who remember, survive, and mourn their loved ones today.

I will always be grateful for the heroes who gave their lives trying to save others. I was going through some hand-me-downs for Gabe this morning, and I came across a red long sleeve t-shirt with a firetruck with the words "to the rescue," on it. I found myself rubbing the word "rescue," feeling very moved by the courage so many American women and men exemplified nine years ago.


On another less serious, but still sort of serious note, it has been exactly one year since I went into preterm labor with Gabriel. He was born in late October, but I contracted pretty strongly from September 11-October 26 when he finally decided to join us. I will always be grateful for making it full term. And wow, I am so glad I am not contracting today! *Phew*

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Food, Link.

This cute baby is now offering KISSES!
Wow, I never knew getting licked by a 10-month-old could be so sweet.

Anyway, I've been buzzing around the internet today, and I found two links I would like to share.

The first is a clip from yesterday's Today Show on homemade baby food.

Yummy (and awesome that homemade baby food got some air time), but I have to contend that adding apple juice to the cinnamon apple raisin oatmeal dish is completely unnecessary. That dish would be plenty sweet and moist with plain old water. I haven't given Gabe any juice yet... he gets his cals from my milk and food. Simply needing hydration? He gets water. What do you all think about babies and juice? Do you have any juice suggestions for Gabe (beyond making our own)?

The second is an (old) article from Chow on Greening your Meat:

Nom. Nom. Nom. Seriously, you CAN nom burgers and be green! I am all about this notion. We buy our grassfed, free range beef from a local farm, and it has more flavor than I ever knew beef could have. This meat is packaged in less than what you find in the grocery store (as in, no Styrofoam). We also do eat less meat than we used to. We used to meld meals around the concept of meat. Now, we don't. One of our favorite meals is Pav Bhaji (it comes in a packet at Trader Joe's) with Brown Basmati Rice. No, it's not local, but it's a great break from meat. We have also been boycotting many fast food chains (not all) for quite some time now.

Anyway, homemade baby food and green meat is on my mind now. I guess it's my food for thought (Did I really just type that cheesy line?).

Sunday, September 5, 2010

No Impact Week Day 7: Giving Back

Sorry for the delay on this post! Labor Day weekend has been a very wonderful, busy one in our household. ANYWAY, let's reflect on No Impact Week Day 7.

Sierra Club No Impact Week Day 7 was focused on Giving Back, and there are a lot of ways to do this.

1. Donate money to nonprofit organizations and causes working for the environment.
2. Join environmental organizations.
3. Get out and physically volunteer.
4. Work for a nonprofit organization.

What do we do in our household?

Firstly, we are members of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. As backpackers, we just love our AT, and we love supporting what the ATC does to maintain the trail, protect the greenway, and educate others on the importance of the AT.

Secondly, we try to find ways to give back. We did not find anything specific to do this past Saturday, but I have volunteered to do a homemade baby food demonstration at our favorite farmers market on October 2nd! I cannot wait to spread the word and show some local parents just how easy it is to prepare local, homemade food for baby, from blueberries to peas to chicken. I am still brainstorming as to what I will be cooking up on October 2nd-- probably something in the realm of squash and apples I presume.

Here are some great resources for finding volunteer opportunities near you. Simply search with the keyword "environment" if you are specifically looking for nature-related opportunities.


Here are just a few specific national organizations to consider.
(How cool is the idea of taking a volunteer vacation? I am really hoping to take one in the next few years.)

The Sierra Club
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy
The Audubon Society: TogetherGreen

Friday, September 3, 2010

No Impact Week Day 6: Water

You'd think the horror is in the packaging and the processing,
but these consumer goods also bump up your water footprint.

**If this is the first post you are reading on No Impact Week,
you might want to read this one to orient yourself.**

Water Water Everywhere, But Not a Drop to Drink.


Water is being overused everywhere, and Day 6 of Sierra Club No Impact Week was all about becoming more aware of water usage.
Things We Already Do
-No purchasing of plastic water bottles. Nalgene rules in our house.
-Water is the primary drink in our home. No, really, we often do not purchase juice or wine or anything other than milk as a supplementary beverage.
-Try to take quick showers. I'm still working on getting done in under five minutes.
Water Damage
-While using cloth diapers does an amazing reduction of slow-composing waste in landfills, the wash of cloth diapers consumes water.

If you visit the Water Footprint Network, you'll read that the most water usage is not really from water-intensive household chores or drinks, though. Most water is consumed in production. In other words, what you buy directly impacts the environment not only in the obvious terms, but in water usage.

For instance, according to the WFN, the global average waterfootprint of...

1 Cup of Coffee = 140 litres water

1 kg (just over 2 lb.) beef = 15500 liters water
**Think about all that water the cow needs to drink (direct water usage) and all of the grains (indirect water usage) it eats while it develops over three years of more. What can help reduce your beef water imprint is eating free range, grass fed beef, which are not feasting on corn regularly or even at all.**

1 sheet of paper = 10 litres water
**You'll think twice before you waste that sheet and just toss it into recycling, won't you? I will.**

If you are interested in calculating your own waterfootprint, the WFN has a calculator on its website for you. I was slightly confused when asked to calculate how much of my family's income is spent on me, but if you know that number, you should be able to get a great estimate.

There's just one day left of No Impact Week!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

No Impact Week Day 5: Energy

**If this is the first post you are reading on No Impact Week,
you might want to read this one to orient yourself.**

It's Thursday night, and the only light in our condo right now is beaming from the screen of my laptop. And a few candles. Because today is Sierra Club No Impact Week Day 5, and we are focusing on energy.

When I woke up this morning, Gabriel and I went on a little tour of our condo and pulled the plug on lights and appliances. We don't really use much energy during daylight hours, but we never unplug things so it was nice to go and eliminate the ghost power today.

Did I still watch television today? Yes, I watched less than one hour of television while the baby -sort of- napped. My husband had class tonight, and I knew I was in for a long, long day so I gave in and tuned into Days of Our Lives just in time to see E.J. laying on his bed, (gasp), shot!

But I refrained from watching morning talk shows, and we did not put on the Phillies game tonight. Our goal is to keep the TV watching to one hour or less per day. (And did you know that smaller television sets consume less energy? Which is good for us, because we have a tiny television from when I was in high school. We just can't bring ourselves to spend money on a television.)

Other Issues with our Energy Usage

1. Temperature
I turned it off totally this morning, but as the temperature climbed to the high 90s, I needed to close the door and turn it on for a little while to cool the condo back down for Gabriel's sake. It follows-- while my husband and I are that extreme that we might eliminate the use of ac and heat unless absolutely imperative for our survival, we can't play like that with our little dude. But what we can do is simply turn off the ac whenever we can, open the window when there's a breeze, and be conservative about the temperature setting.

2. Cooking and Food
I cook. With a stove and stovetop. That is not going to change. I do enjoy eating salads and other typically chilled items cold, and I have every intention of using my freezer to keep my local produce good all year. The fridge is not going out the door. I'm totally open to suggestions on reducing energy use related to food, but I don't have any grandiose idea right now.

3. Laundry
I'm not totally against trying to do laundry by hand, but as a cloth diapering-Mommy, I am not planning to clean cloth diapers by hand. However, air drying the cloth diapers by hanging them up is a great option. What's hard for us is to switch to air drying in total because our condo association has a rule against clothes lines. I have been tempted to put one up on our patio all summer, but I haven't rocked the boat. Yet.

I know tonight's post is not nearly as extensive as last night's entry, but I will leave you with the promise that our family plans to have one night per week like this one (as in, candles only, and no television) as we move forward. And I think that's sweet.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

No Impact Week Day 4: Food

**If this is the first post you are reading on No Impact Week,
you might want to read this one to orient yourself.**

Sierra Club No Impact Week's Day 4 is food-focused.

And if you regularly read A Mom Writing, you know I have been working on greening our food habits for awhile.
Are we great at it? Not yet.
Are we better than we used to be? Holy wow, yes.

The key to local eating ** local= food grown within 250 miles of your locale** is in knowing where you live. I grew up in the town we live in currently, but I didn't know the farms in the surrounding area. I didn't know the farmers market dates. I didn't know a lot of things, but when I looked, I found it.

And FINDING it has made it possible for us to have the following local products on a regular basis:

1. Fruit: peaches, apples, berries, plums, tomatoes, etc.
2. Veggies: string beans, swiss chard, peppers, eggplant, cucumber, corn, etc.
3. Meat (as in of the grass-fed, free range kind): beef, lamb, chicken
4. Dairy: butter, cheese (limited choices on the cheese)
5. Bread: fresh-baked "green" bakery bread, rolls, etc.
6. Wine: a full range (but cranberry wine from Valenzano winery is my favorite)
7. Other (as in of the cage free, organic kind): eggs, herbs, flowers

I think it is important for me to mention now that you will find animal protein in our diet. We are not vegetarian or vegan, and while I think those eating habits are fabulous, our family is comfortable eating meat. We are not comfortable eating protein sourced from feedlots. We are not comfortable eating primarily corn-fed beef. Our feelings are that if the meat comes from a farm where animals are treated correctly and respectfully, without use of hormones or heavy use of antibiotics, we are happy eating it. Pastured protein is delicious and nutritious in moderation. We are always trying to develop alternative meal ideas for dinner featuring protein from beans or quinoa, etc., though.

WHERE did I find the information to get all of that food locally?
An online directory of farms, CSAs, farmers markets, and events. Search by your zip code and see what is near you. I would have never known an alpaca farm is within 20 miles of my home if I hadn't searched. And if you look on here before your go on vacation, you can still eat farm fresh food on vacation (Yes, we did this. The picture below is from Ludlow, Vermont's Farmers Market)

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Let's get real here. I'm not a green saint-- we do sometimes get take out (it's usually pizza from our favorite place), and we do eat some processed food. The point of this week was to avoid it as much as possible so obviously we have not and do not plan on eating anything other than home-cooked meals. But we still bought some packaged, processed food. Here is a list of the non-local things we bought:

organic milk
whole wheat pretzels
a giant bag of organic pears
a giant bag of organic sweet potatoes
sandwich-style wheat bread
luna bars
clif bars
organic yogurtturkey bacon
mozzarella cheese
chocolate chips
organic pasta
organic fair trade coffee
organic half & half

**We gave up bananas and avocados for the week. We were inspired to switch from plain old coffee to fair trade organic for now. We are not ready to eliminate coffee from our diet, and if you saw No Impact Man, it seems that was the hardest thing for Colin Beavan's wife Michelle to give up, too. We don't drink coffee on a regular basis, and we will savor our moments with it.**

The No Impact Manual highly suggests swapping the processed for the local, and I am sitting here staring at this list trying to figure out what I would do differently. From the ingredients we purchased this weekend, here are some samples of the meals we are and will eat this week (Gabe has bits and pieces of these meals, but he also eats many of the foods I have already made, frozen, and written about here). I have bolded eight ingredients for us to research finding and purchasing locally.

Yogurt and Pear
Luna Bar
Cereal with Milk
Eggs with Cinnamon Toast
Local: eggs, butter
Not: ha, everything else.

Lunch One
Baked Potato with Tomatoes, Butter, Salt
Local: tomatoes, butter
Not: potato, salt

Lunch Two
Sweet Potato
and Pretzels with Peanut Butter
Local: Nothing

Dinner One
Free Range Pork Chops with Cinnamon Apples and String Beans
Local: pork, apples, string beans
Not: olive oil, cinnamon

Dinner Two
Pepper Cheese Omelets or Swiss Chard Omelets (with or without Turkey Bacon), Plums, and Bakery Bread
Local: eggs, pepper, swiss chard, plums, bakery bread
Not: cheese, turkey bacon, salt, pepper

Dinner Three
Pastured Roasted Chicken with String Beans and Potatoes
Local: chicken, string beans, butter, rosemary
Not: potatoes, salt, pepper, paprika, lemon, olive oil

Dinner Four
Chili Con Carne
Local: ground beef, tomatoes, corn, carrots, green pepper, red pepper
Not: pinto beans, red kidney beans, salt, pepper, chili powder, hot sauce, cumin, olive oil

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Local: butter, eggsNot: flour, white sugar, brown sugar, vanilla extract, baking powder

Are you seeing a trend? I'm seeing a lot of spices and baking ingredients as main offenders. Other issues? Those foods which are not in season or native to our area, such as lemons, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and pears.

A Tip on Eating Local All Year Long
Make and freeze local ingredients while they are in season. I made my first batch ever of tomato sauce this week to freeze, and I will be doing one big batch this weekend as tomato season comes to a close. Other great foods to freeze are green beans, peas, and corn.

Stay tuned for tomorrow when we pull the plug .
The power is going out (on everything possible).