Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Learning About Endangered Animals

Green Start is an adorable box set that includes a huggable 100% earth-friendly plush animal and an illustrated storybook. Kids will love playing with the little gorilla plush while reading about these endangered animals. Comes with a reusable storage box.

Made by Green Start

Monday, August 30, 2010

Little Twig Eco-Giveaway. Congratulations Shannon

Congratulations Shannon B. Collier (Zip Code 06604). You are the third winner of our little twig Eco-Giveaway.
 Please e-mail us at EcoLogicalMom(at)ymail.com to redeem your US$100 gift certificate. You will love little twig products.

Lemon Peels...All You Need!

Lemon is so versatile. We've just came across a list of useful new things to do with that. Organic and inexpensive...can't beat that!

Around the House
1. Clean greasy messes
Greasy pans? Splattered stove tops? Messy counters? If your kitchen has been the victim of some sloppy sauteing, try using lemon halves before bringing out possibly toxic chemical cleaners. Sprinkle some salt (for abrasion) on a juiced lemon half and rub on the greasy areas, wipe up with a towel. (Be careful using lemon on marble counter tops, or any other surface which may be sensitive to acid).
2. Clean your tea kettle or coffee pot
For mineral deposit build up in your tea kettle, fill the kettle with water, add a handful of thin slices of lemon peel and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and let sit for an hour, drain, and rinse well. For coffee pots, add ice, salt and lemon rinds to the empty pot; swish and swirl for a minute or two, dump, and rinse.
3. Clean your microwave
All it takes is one exploding bowl of food to render the interior of your microwave officially gunked, sometimes gunked with cement-like properties. Rather than using strong chemical cleaners, try this: Add lemon rinds to a microwave-safe bowl filled halfway with water. Cook on high for 5 minutes, allowing the water to boil and the steam to condense on the walls and tops of the oven. Carefully remove the hot bowl and wipe away the mess with a towel.
4. Deodorize the garbage disposal
Use lemon peels to deodorize the garbage disposal (and make your kitchen smell awesome at the same time). It is a great way to finally dispose of spent lemon peels after you have used them for any of these applications.

5. Polish chrome
Mineral deposits on chrome faucets and other tarnished chrome make haste in the presence of lemon--rub with a squeezed lemon half, rinse, and lightly buff with a soft cloth.
6. Polish copper
A halved lemon dipped in salt or baking powder can also be used to brighten copper cookware, as well as brass, copper, or stainless steel. Dip a juiced lemon half in salt (you also use baking soda or cream of tartar for the salt) and rub on the affected area. Let it stay on for 5 minutes. Then rinse in warm water and polish dry.
7. Clean a stainless-steel sink
Use the same method described to polish chrome, applied to any stainless sink.
8. Keep insects outMany pests abhor the acid in lemon. You can chop of the peels and place them along thresholds, windowsills, and near any cracks or holes where ants or pests may be entering.
9. Make a scented humidifier
If your home suffers from dry heat in the winter, you can put lemon peels in a pot of water and simmer on the lowest stove-top setting to humidify and scent the air.
10. Refresh cutting boards
Because of lemon's low pH, it has antibacterial properties that make is a good choice for refreshing cutting boards. After proper disinfecting give the surface a rub with a halved lemon, let sit for a few minutes, and rinse.


To eat
11. Keep brown sugar soft
If your brown sugar most often turns into brick sugar, try adding some lemon peel (with traces of pulp and pith removed) to help keep it moist and easy to use. (For all recipes using lemon peel, try to use organic lemons--and scrub the peel well to remove any residues and wax.)
12. Make zest
Zest is the best! Zest is simply grated peel, and is the epitome of lemon essence--it can be used fresh, dried, or frozen. If you don't have an official zester, you can use the smallest size of a box grater. (If you know you will be using lemons for zest, it is easier to grate the zest from the lemon before juicing them.) To dry zest, spread it on a towel and leave out until dried, then store in a jar. To freeze, use a freezer-safe container. Use zest in salads, marinades, baked goods, grain dishes, etc.
13. Make vegan lemon biscotti
Once you've made some zest, make these vegan lemon biscotti cookies. De-li-cious!
14. Make twists
Strips of peel, aka twists, are good in cocktails, sparkling water, and tap water. Use a vegetable peeler to make long strips, or use a knife and cut the peel into long strips, cutting away the white pith which is bitter. These can also be frozen in a freezer-safe container or bag.
15. Make lemon extract powder
Make zest or twists (above) making sure to remove any of the white (bitter) pith--and dry the strips skin-side down on a plate until they dried, about 3 or 4 days. Put in a blender (or spice grinder) and pulverize into a powder. Use the powdered peel in place of extract or zest in recipes.
16. Make lemon sugar
You can make lemon extract powder (see above) and add it to sugar, or you can use fresh twists, put them in a jar with sugar and let the peel's oil infuse the sugar.
17. Make lemon pepper
Mix lemon extract powder (see above) with freshly cracked pepper.
18. Make candied lemon peel
Orange or grapefruit peel can be candied too. Yum. Candied peels are pretty easy to make, and can be eaten plain, or dipped in melted chocolate, used in cake, cookie, candy, or bread recipes. These recipes for candied citrus and ginger use Sucanat, the most wholesome sugar you can buy.


For Beauty
19. Lighten age spots
Many folk remedies suggest using lemon peel to help lighten age spots--apply a small piece to the affected area and leave on for an hour.
20. Soften dry elbows
Use a half lemon sprinkled with baking soda on elbows, just place your elbow in the lemon and twist the lemon (like you are juicing it) for several minutes. Rinse and dry.
21. Use on your skin
Lemon peels can be very lightly rubbed on your face for a nice skin tonic, then rinse. (And be careful around your eyes.)
22. Make a sugar scrub
Mix 1/2 a cup of sugar with finely chopped lemon peel and enough olive oil to make a paste. Wet your body in the shower, turn off the water and massage sugar mix all over your skin, rinse, be soft!

source: Yahoo and Care2

Organic Foods Can Contain Non-Organic Ingredients


According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture standards, a food product can be labeled as "100% Organic," "Organic," or "made with organic ingredients." To be 100% Organic, the item can only contain organically produced ingredients. "Organic" means that 95% of the ingredients listed must be organically grown.
However, a few years ago the USDA formalized their list of ingredients that are exempt from the above, as a result of petitions from suppliers alleging that they are too difficult to source in organic forms. So there is a list of 38 ingredients that don't have to be organic even if a food is labeled as such. These include celery powder, sausage casings, some colorings, fish oils, hops and others.


Source: Daily Green

Creating a Healthy Nursery for your Baby (and the Planet!) - Part VI

Continuing with our discussions with Claudia Kalur, a European interior decorator and founder of a Room for Frances, this week we are talking about Soft Furniture. Great tips and suggestions! Feel free to ask questions using the comments field here or on our Facebook page.
   

Soft Furnishings - Part VI

An upholstered chair will be, along with the crib, one of the biggest investments you will make when putting a nursery together for your baby. It costs just as much if not more than a crib but, if well chosen, it will also last a lot longer.
Regardless of the style you choose, more traditional or more modern, a rocker or a plain upholstered chair, there are a couple of things you should have in mind: firstly, make sure you sit on it and that it feels comfortable - remember, you will spend many hours on it, be it feeding or rocking your baby, or simply resting; secondly, pick a chair that has been built as closest to home as possible (the choices for USA-made furniture are endless thanks to the many factories in, for instance, North Carolina and California) and that is made from sustainably harvested wood; thirdly, prefer if possible a chair that is filled with latex foam; and lastly, that is covered in a natural material such as cotton or linen.
Thankfully, the options exist out there - and remember, you do not have to get a chair from a children's furniture place or catalogue (although Land of Nod has great options). There are companies like Cisco Brothers, Lee Industries and Mitchell Gold that make beautiful chairs that can go later in a living room, or even your teenage child's bedroom - and the look can always be changed with a slipcover (ever so useful and easier to clean!). The slipcover is also a great option if you are giving a new life to a chair that you already own!
The same principle of natural, preferably un-dyed or organic fabrics applies to window treatments, especially if you are using floor length curtains. Natural fabrics such as linen or cotton have a much more beautiful drape and are, of course, healthier.
Finally, and certainly no less relevant, try to purchase organic crib bedding. I always suggest to my design clients that they do not buy bedding sets, which usually come with either crib blankets or covers that you cannot use until the baby is much older. If you buy a set of 3 or 4 fitted sheets and one or two crib bumpers that match all these, you will save money and you will be able to alternate the look of the room. If you prefer to buy non-organic, then I would recommend that you buy 100% cotton bedding, wash it a couple of times before use and let it air. 

Click here to access last week's posting from Claudia, covering "Furniture" concepts.

Stay tuned for coming weeks when Claudia will be discussing more topics about eco-friendly children's rooms and nurseries.

Claudia Kalur is the founder of A Room for Frances, Nursery and Children's Room Design. She lives in rural Connecticut with her husband, Steven (an architect who specializes in green building systems), their 18-month-old daughter, Margot, and their doggy, Bayou.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Last Chance to Win: Little Twig Eco-Giveaway this Weekend!


Be entered now to win little twig signature organic body care products this weekend! This is the last chance! little twig is a line of signature organic bath and body care products for kids and adults.

The prizes are amazing!
- 3 US$100 gift certificates each to be used at littletwig.com. Winners are announced on August 16, 23 and 30, 2010.*

It is very easy to participate!
Sign up to our new EcoLogical Mom e-Newsletter by clicking here.

All participants must be subscribed until the end of the Eco-Giveaway.

Check out little twig's gentle organic baby bath products. They also offer organic line of suncare! Logon to little twig's Facebook page for great specials during our Eco-Giveaway.

Good luck!

*  Winners will receive a gift certificate with a promo code where they  will have to spend all at once. Code expires in 60 days from the day it  is issued

Winners will be chosen at random.
 "little twig gift certificates" are provided by little twig.

Waste-Free Lunchbox

This is a cool lunchbox kit for kids to take to school. The leak-proof stainless steel containers and food kozies are BPA, Lead and Phthalate Free. Made with stainless steel and #4 plastic lids, all recyclable. 
Check out the variety of sets available.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sign Up and Participate


Sign up now for our EcoLogical Mom Bi-Weekly Newsletter! You will be entered to win US$100 worth of signature organic body care products from little twig this weekend!
The e-Newsletter covers hot green topics and news on Healthy Living and Eco-Friendly Parenting, including easy-to-make healthy recipes for the whole family.

Not all topics featured in the Newsletter will be posted on our social media, another great reason to sign up and try it. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Sign up now! Just click here, or use the link below.
http://eepurl.com/zgVP

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Kid's Jam Session

We truly believe that music is very important in children's education. We've come across this musical instrument set from Sevi. It is handmade with hard woods and painted with non-toxic eco-friendly materials.
The five piece percussion band includes: drum, maracas, jingle stick, castonets, and triangle. Perfect for a jam session!

Made by Sevi

LunchBots

We found another nice eco-friendly lunchbox for the kids. LunchBots is made with stainless steel, both container and lid. Non-VOC finish and dishwash safe. Very practical and ideal for snacks!
By LunchBots

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bayer Pesticide: Unnacceptable Diet Risk

A pesticide that is a major product of Bayer CropScience's Institute plant will be phased out because it "may pose unacceptable dietary risks, especially to infants and young children," the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency confirmed Tuesday. EPA said Bayer had agreed to end production of the pesticide Aldicarb by Dec. 31, 2014, following completion of a new agency study that found kids could be exposed to up to eight times the level of the chemical considered safe.

Source: EWG and Charleston Gazette

Safe Ways to Eat Eggs

Here are a few things to have in mind before you stop eating eggs because of the recall:

1. Know where your eggs are from.
Check your eggs for recalls. As long as your eggs are not associated with these two farms—Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms— they should be fine. Try to buy only local eggs and often organic. This doesn’t guarantee that they are safer but organic standards make it less likely that hens have been fed contaminated feed and buying local makes it easier to trace eggs back to a farm that may have a contamination problem.


2. Cooking eggs kills Salmonella.
If you cook an egg thoroughly (no runny yolks) to 160 degrees F or higher, or until both the white and the yolk are firm, it should be safe to eat. This means hard-boiled eggs, scrambled eggs and eggs in baked goods should not pose a threat. Pasteurization will also kill bacteria and most products that use raw eggs (such as mayonnaise, raw cookie dough, ice cream, etc.) use pasteurized eggs. If you are making these things at home, though, make sure your eggs are safe.


3. Keep your refrigerator at the right temperature
Keeping foods at below 40 degrees F greatly reduces the growth of bacteria.


4. Make breakfast at home.
Cooking at home doesn’t guarantee you won’t ever get a foodborne illness, but if you know the proper food-safety measures you are less likely to get sick from the five most common foodborne illnesses.

5. Check your kitchen for other recalled foods.
Check the FDA website to find out what other products have been recalled. In the past few days there have also been major recalls of pistachio nuts, alfalfa sprouts and mamey fruit pulp, all related to Salmonella contamination.


Sources: Shine and Lisa Gosselin from Eating Well

Monday, August 23, 2010

Congratulations to the Winner of our Second Little Twig Eco-Giveaway

Congratulations Ericka Monteverde (Zip Code 85745). You are the winner of our second little twig Eco-Giveaway. Please contact us at EcoLogicalMom (at) ymail.com to redeem your US$100 gift certificate to be used at littletwig.com.
You will love little twig's products!
 

Creating a Healthy Nursery for your Baby (and the Planet!) - Part V




Continuing with our insightful discussions with Claudia Kalur, a European interior decorator and founder of a Room for Frances, this week we are talking about eco-friendly Furniture. Great tips and suggestions! You can ask questions using the comments field here or on our Facebook page

Furniture - Part V
There are three main pieces of furniture that are fundamental in a little one's room: a crib, a
changing table and a chair; and the choices are endless, in price and in style.
The most important of the three is the crib - and before we get to the eco-friendly options, you need to know that you should purchase a crib that meets the federal guidelines of the
Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). All new ones should meet and some even exceed the guidelines but when you "inherit" a crib, or purchase a second-hand one, you must pay special attention. These guidelines concern all safety related issues like the sturdiness of the frame and the width of the bars, so be sure to inspect it carefully before you use it.

So what is eco-friendly furniture? In short, it's furniture made from sustainable materials (from renewable resources, recycled materials, etc), free of harmful chemicals (such as certain wood preservatives and adhesives,
lead paints, etc) and built in a resource-efficient way (for instance locally made furniture). The best choice is, of course, a piece made with a local hardwood, and by a local craftsman but often that is not possible or feasible. Luckily, today there are several options that are second best to that - just google "eco-friendly cribs"!
But there are a few things I would like to mention and that I think you should consider... The first one applies to EVERYTHING that claims to be green, sustainable, and eco-friendly and it turns out to be
Made in China. Hardly green, considering the distance it had to travel and from a country that (in 2007) was responsible for almost 22% of the world's gas emissions, not to mention the destruction of their environment through water and land pollution. Yes, the USA was right behind it, with 19%, but quality control in the USA (as well as South-America and Europe) is much more reinforced and the distance traveled is a lot shorter (I am not even going to go into the humanitarian and political issues surrounding China!).
If your budget does not allow for a new sustainable crib, the alternative can be a second-hand crib, for instance. The advantage is, of course, that you are paying less than a brand-new piece, you are extending its life and, if it is not eco-friendly, it has already aired the
VOCs for a while. Please be aware that you must (cannot emphasize this enough!) inspect the condition of the crib and make sure it is not more than a couple of years old.
As I have mentioned before, one of the best things you can do for the planet (and future generations) is to buy quality items, built to last, and extend their life as much as possible. This is particularly important when it comes to children because they grow so fast! If you choose carefully, all the furniture that you buy for the nursery can last for quite a while.
The crib - some adapt to
toddler beds, and some even to double beds. Yes, I know, your child (or you) may not like the style anymore... but it can become a bed in a guest bedroom. The changing table - if it's a dresser, it will be useful for a lot longer. Better still, a vintage dresser can become a changing table and then a dresser again! The chair, even a rocker, especially if it's an armchair rocker, can remain in your teenager's room or be used somewhere else in the house.
If you can splurge on one thing, I would suggest the mattress - and I highly recommend choosing an organic one, like Naturepedic. However, if you cannot afford an organic mattress, please be sure to buy the mattress early on and let it air for as long as possible before the baby arrives and use an organic pad. A crib mattress can last you quite a few years if you move your baby from the crib to a
toddler bed (they usually take the same size mattress), or if you have more than one child. If you always use a protecting pad, you will also be able to pass it on to someone else!

Click here to access last week's posting from Claudia, covering "Lighting" concepts.

Stay tuned for coming weeks when Claudia will be discussing more topics about eco-friendly children's rooms and nurseries.

Claudia Kalur is the founder of A Room for Frances, Nursery and Children's Room Design. She lives in rural Connecticut with her husband, Steven (an architect who specializes in green building systems), their 18-month-old daughter, Margot, and their doggy, Bayou.

Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

Some prefer the New York pizza style, others swear by the Chicago style....we like both! Here is a Chicago Style Deep Dish Spinach Pizza. We bet your family will love it, even if they live in New York.
 
Chicago Style Deep Dish Spinach Pizza
Servings: 8 servings
  • 3/4 pound bulk Italian turkey sausage (optional)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 8-ounce tomato sauce (try making it yourself with organic tomatos, herbs and garlic)
  •  4-ounce sliced mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried basil, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 16-ounce loaf frozen whole wheat bread dough, thawed
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (6 ounces)
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
  • 1 slightly beaten egg
  • 1 tablespoon margarine or butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese or Romano cheese

For meat filling, in a large skillet cook Italian turkey sausage and onion until meat is brown and onion is tender. Drain fat. Pat with paper towels to remove additional fat. Stir in pizza sauce, mushrooms, basil, oregano, and red pepper.
For crust, on a lightly floured surface roll two-thirds of the bread dough into a 12-inch circle. (If necessary, let dough rest once or twice during rolling.) Carefully place the circle in a greased 9-inch springform pan, pressing the dough 1-1/2 inches up the sides. Sprinkle bottom of the dough with 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Spoon meat filling over cheese.
Pat spinach dry with paper towels. Mix spinach, egg, and remaining mozzarella cheese. Spread spinach mixture over meat filling.
Roll remaining dough into a 10-inch circle on a lightly floured surface.
Cut circle into 10 to 12 wedges. Arrange wedges atop spinach mixture, slightly overlapping edges and sealing ends to bottom crust along edge of pan. Brush top with melted margarine or butter and sprinkle with Parmesan or Romano cheese.
Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until filling is hot and bread is done. If necessary, cover with foil the last 10 minutes of baking to prevent overbrowning. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove sides of springform pan. Cut into wedges. Makes 8 servings.
    Source: recipe based on  Better Homes and Garden and Shine

    Friday, August 20, 2010

    Dream Worlds Around a Sleeping Baby



    If you haven't seen Mila's Daydream Pictures (amazing art!) yet, you are missing out big time!

    Adele Enersen, photographer, creates dream worlds around her sleeping baby. This dream photography is inspired by Enerson’s imagination of what her sleeping baby might be dreaming of at the time. Unbelievable creativity. Absolutely stunning!

    Child Food Allergy


    We came across these Alergy Allerts from Mabel Labels, and thought they could be very useful at school. The set comes with 20 waterproof labels that are dishwasher and microwave safe. Stick them on sippy cups, food containers, travel gear and lunch boxes to alert teachers and friends about your child’s food sensitivities to nuts, gluten, dairy, etc.

    Find at at mabel.ca

    Be Entered to Win this Weekend!


    Be entered now to win little twig signature organic body care products this weekend! little twig is a line of signature organic bath and body care products for kids and adults.

    The prizes are amazing!
    - 3 US$100 gift certificates each to be used at littletwig.com. Winners will be announced on August 16, 23 and 30, 2010.*

    It is very easy to participate!
    Sign up to our new EcoLogical Mom e-Newsletter by clicking here.

    All participants must be subscribed until the end of the Eco-Giveaway.

    Check out little twig's gentle organic baby bath products. They also offer organic line of suncare! Logon to little twig's Facebook page for great specials during our Eco-Giveaway.

    Good luck!

    *  Winners will receive a gift certificate with a promo code where they  will have to spend all at once. Code expires in 60 days from the day it  is issued

    Winners will be chosen at random.
     "little twig gift certificates" are provided by little twig.

    Cottage Cheese Pesto

    We've just seen this recipe in the New York Times and loved it! So versatily, and very yummy!! Who doesn't like Pesto? Can be used as a dip, spread or pasta sauce (thin it with a spoon of the pasta cooking water)

    Cottage Cheese Pesto
    Servings: 1 cup

    • 2 plump garlic cloves, halved, green shoots removed
    • 1/2 cup fresh basil or parsley leaves, or a combination
    • 1 cup low-fat or nonfat cottage cheese
    • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
    • 1 tablespoon plain low-fat or nonfat yogurt
    • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan 


    Turn on a food processor fitted with the steel blade, and drop in the garlic. When the garlic is chopped and adhering to the sides of the bowl, stop the machine and scrape down the bowl with a spatula. Add the basil and/or parsley, and process until finely chopped. Stop the machine, and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, and process until smooth and creamy. Serve with pasta, or as a dip or spread. If serving with pasta, use 2 to 3 tablespoons of the cottage cheese pesto per serving. Add a spoonful of the pasta cooking water to the cottage cheese mixture to dilute it before tossing with the pasta.

    Nutritional information per 2-tablespoon serving (using fat-free cottage cheese): 43 calories; 2 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 3 milligrams cholesterol; 2 grams carbohydrates; 0 grams dietary fiber; 131 milligrams sodium (does not include salt added during preparation); 4 grams protein.

    Source: Martha Rose Shulman and NYTimes.com

    Thursday, August 19, 2010

    PVC, BPA, Phthalates...Here is Some Clarification



    We hear about toxic elements in children's toys, food and clothing all the time, but not always know exactly what they mean. We did some research, and here is the explanation for the most common elements: PVC, Phthalates, BPA, Mercury, Lead, Cadmium.

    PVC

    Detection of chlorine in a toy component indicates the likely use of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) or vinyl, a widely used type of plastic. PVC is of concern to the environment and public health during all phases of its life cycle, from production to disposal. Besides being a carcinogen, at the end of a product's life, PVC can create dioxin when burned, PVC is not easily recycled. Phthalates are used in many plastics, especially PVC products, as a softening agent to make the plastic flexible. Lead and other heavy metals are sometimes used as a stabilizer or to impart other properties to PVC plastic.

    Phthalates

    Phthalates are a group of industrial chemicals that add flexibility and resilience to many consumer products. Phthalate plasticizers are not chemically bound to PVC, they can leach, migrate or evaporate into indoor air and atmosphere, foodstuff, other materials, etc. Consumer products containing phthalates can result in human exposure through direct contact and use, indirectly through leaching into other products, or general environmental contamination. Humans are exposed through ingestion, inhalation, and dermal exposure. It is found in tablecloths, furniture, vinyl flooring, shower curtains, wall papers, garden hoses, inflatable swimming pools, plastic clothing such as raincoats, children's toys, automobile upholstery and tops, medical tubing, and blood storage bags.
    Animal studies show that phthalates are as toxic as PVC itself, causing cancer, thyroid and kidney diseases, possibly due to their effects on the endocrine system. Being fat-soluble, they also tend to accumulate in the body. Steps have already been taken to ban phthalates from plastic nipples on baby-bottles, children’s toys and plastic tubing for hospital use.

    BPA

    Bisphenol A, is used in a wide variety of products including plastic bottles and food can liners. More than 90% of Americans have detectable BPA in their bodies. Studies show potential effects on the brain, behavior and prostate in fetuses, infants and children.

    Mercury

    Mercury is a metallic element. Its compounds are often used in inks, adhesives, and as a catalyst in reactions to form polyurethanes. Mercury can exist in different forms and some forms are more toxic than others. Methylmercury is a form of mercury that is particularly hazardous to the developing brain. The main pathway of exposure to methylmercury is from eating contaminated fish and it is unlikely that this form would be present in children's toys. However, the use of mercury in children's products means potential exposure of workers to this compound and release to the environment when the product is discarded. Mercury is a persistent toxic chemical that can build up in the body.

      Lead

      Lead is a heavy metal that continues to be used in a wide variety of consumer products. Lead is often used as a stabilizer in PVC products and for pigmentation in paint, rubber, plastics, and ceramics. Lead's chemical properties also make it easy to use in castings of metal products such as jewelry 
      Scientists have found there is no safe level of lead for children - even the smallest amount effects a child's ability to learn.

      Cadmium

      Cadmium is a heavy metal used as a stabilizer in PVC and in coatings and pigments in plastic and paint. Cadmium exposure is associated in animal studies with developmental effects, including possible decreases in birth weight, delayed sensory-motor development, hormonal effects, and altered behavior. Cadmium can cause adverse effects on the kidney, lung and intestines. It is classified as a known human carcinogen, associated with lung and prostate cancer. 


      Classy Organic


      Lovely 3 piece set, made with 100% certified. It includes a white snap front jacket with dove color piping, striped pocket and "little lion roar" motif embroidery and applique, a bodysuit with "my little cub" applique, and  a dove and white striped pull-on pant with patch pocket on a decorative padded hanger. So cute and classy!
      Check out other designs too. All very cute!
      Sizes 0-12 months

      Made by Organically Grown

      Wednesday, August 18, 2010

      Recall: Eggs with Salmonella

      Officials with Wright County Egg issued a national recall for 13 brands of eggs with particular date stamps because they had the potential to be contaminated with salmonella. The eggs were packed between May 16 and August 13.
      The recalled eggs are packaged under the following brand names: Lucerne, Albertson, Mountain Dairy, Ralph's, Boomsma's, Sunshine, Hillandale, Trafficanda, Farm Fresh, Shoreland, Lund, Dutch Farms and Kemps. The eggs are packed in cartons of various sizes, including 6-egg cartons, dozen-egg cartons and 18-egg cartons.
      They feature Julian dates ranging from 136 to 225 and plant numbers 1026, 1413 and 1946. Dates and codes can be found stamped on the end of the egg carton. The plant number begins with the letter P and then the number. The date follows the plant number. For example: P-1946 223.

      Salmonella Enteritidis can cause fever, abdominal cramps and diarrhea that begins with 12 to 72 hours of eating contaminated food and lasts four to seven days. It can cause serious illness in people with compromised immune systems.

      Consumers shouldn't eat the eggs and they should return them to the store where they were purchased.
      This recall is of shell eggs only. Other egg products produced by Wright County Eggs are not affected. Consumers with questions should visit: http://www.eggsafety.org or contact the Egg Safety Media Hotline  404-367-2761.

      Source: msnbc.com

      Pertussis Outbreak, Protect your Family Now

      Have you, parents, had a pertussis vaccination booster? The current outbreak in California is beginning to spread across the United States. While kids have been vaccinated, adults and teenagers can carry the virus and contaminate infants and toddlers. Pertussis can be deadly to infants!
      The CDC recommends the following vaccination schedule per age group:

      • Infants and children are recommended to receive 5 doses of the DTaP vaccine at 2, 4, and 6 months, at 15 through 18 months, and at 4 through 6 years. All 5 doses are needed for maximum protection
      • Adolescents are recommended to receive the Tdap vaccine at their regular check-up at age 11 or 12. If teenagers (13 through 18 years) missed getting the Tdap vaccine, parents should ask the doctor about getting it for them now
      • Adults who are 19 through 64 years old are recommended to get a 1-time dose of Tdap in place of the Td booster they’re recommended to receive every 10 years. No need to wait until you are due for your Td booster—the dose of Tdap can be given earlier than the 10-year mark since the last Td booster. It's a good idea for adults to talk to a healthcare provider about what's best for their specific situation.
      • Pregnant women should ideally receive Tdap before pregnancy. Otherwise, it is recommended that Tdap be given after delivery, before leaving the hospital or birthing center. If a pregnant woman is at increased risk for getting whooping cough, such as during a community outbreak, her doctor may consider giving Tdap during pregnancy. Although pregnancy is not a contraindication for receiving Tdap, a pregnant woman and her doctor should discuss the risks and benefits before choosing to receive Tdap during pregnancy.
      • People 65 years and older do not currently have a whooping cough booster vaccine licensed for their age group. However, people in this age group can talk to their healthcare provider to see if getting Tdap is a good decision for them. This discussion can include weighing the risks and benefits of receiving Tdap. Receiving Tdap may be especially important during a community outbreak and/or if caring for an infant.


      For more information, logon to CDC.org.

      Tuesday, August 17, 2010

      Receipts Loaded with BPA


      The University of Missouri Division of Biological Sciences laboratory was commissioned to test 36 different store receipts, and found huge amounts of BPA in most of them. The total mass of BPA on a receipt was 250 to 1,000 times greater than the amount of BPA typically found in a can of food or a can of baby formula.
      According to EWG Spokesman Alex Formuzis, "BPA is used to coat thermal paper used by major retailers, grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, fast-food restaurants, and automatic teller machines (ATMs). The chemical reacts with dye to form black print on receipts handled by millions of Americans every day.”

      A Swiss study found significant amounts were transferred to the skin simply by grabbing the receipt. People are advised to be sure to wash their hands after handling receipts to keep the BPA from being transferred to food or to the mouth.

      Source: EWG and  Shine

      Crab Cake Burgers

      Crab meat is very nutritious, and low in calories and fat. Introducing crab cakes to kids is a great way to bring new and alternative ingredients to the table.
      Check out this Crab Cake Burger recipe. You can eat it with a salad or bread. Perfect for the whole family!

      Crab Cake Burgers
      Servings: 6 portions

      • 1 pound crabmeat
      • 1 egg, lightly beaten
      • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs, (see Note)
      • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
      • 2 tablespoons minced chives
      • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
      • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
      • 1 teaspoon celery seed
      • 1 teaspoon onion powder
      • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
      • 4 dashes hot sauce, such as
      • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
      • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
      Mix crab, egg, breadcrumbs, mayonnaise, chives, mustard, lemon juice, celery seed, onion powder, pepper and hot sauce in a large bowl. Form into 6 patties.
      Heat oil and butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until the butter stops foaming. Cook the patties until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side.

      Per serving: 163 calories; 8 g fat (2 g sat, 3 g mono); 86 mg cholesterol; 6 g carbohydrates; 16 g protein; 0 g fiber; 350 mg sodium; 310 mg potassium.

      Source: Eating Well 

      Monday, August 16, 2010

      little twig Eco-Giveaway: First Lucky Winner

      Congratulations Jamie Kaun (Zip Code 78250). You are the first winner of our little twig Eco-Giveaway. Please send us an e-mail to EcoLogicalMom(at)ymail.com to receive instructions to redeem your prize, a US$100 gift certificate to be used at littletwig.com.
      You will love little twig's products!

      City Construction Toys


      Many boys love construction trucks and cranes; City Construction Vehicles are perfect for them! The 3 included vehicles, dumper-truck, crane, and forklift, are made from replenishable rubberwood processed naturally and free from any wood preservatives. Boy, we know a few kids that will love these....
      Designed for kids 3+ years of age.

      Made by Plan Toys

      Sunday, August 15, 2010

      Creating a Healthy Nursery for your Baby (and the Planet!) - Part IV


      Continuing with our insightful discussions with Claudia Kalur, a European interior decorator and founder of A Room for Frances, this week we are talking about eco-friendly Lighting. You can ask questions using the comments field here or on our Facebook page.


      Lighting - Part IV
      When deciding on lighting for the nursery (or any room, really), just think about the layout of your furniture and what tasks you will be performing where - this will tell you the kind of lighting (type of accent or ceiling) and how strong you will need it (task or ambiance lighting). However, when it comes to environmentally conscious lighting, whether you like using ceiling lights, or you're like me and prefer accent lighting - it is all about the bulbs!
      While a few years ago, no matter how eco-conscious you wanted to be, the thought of using bright white fluorescent bulbs was enough to make you cringe, now there are endless options for softer or brighter lighting, less white or yellow, and in all sorts of tones that take your fancy. There are even bulbs that take only a few seconds to reach full power, instead of gradually, and now there are also dimming and 3-way switch fluorescent bulbs!
      And seriously... there is no longer any excuse for anybody NOT to be using compact fluorescent light bulbs. Despite industry propaganda as to the modest mercury content of these bulbs, fluorescents are of modest risk even if broken but should be handled carefully none the less.  In fact, all sorts of fluorescents bulbs have been used for years (remember your school room?) and there was little industry concern of them until they became part of the greater trend towards energy conservation. Compared to incandescent bulbs, they now can emit a just as pretty light, they are dimmable (although these are more specialized and you may pay a bit more for a good dimming fluorescent), they are cheaper than ever, they last about 10 times longer, they save you 7 times as much energy (and money) and they produce about a 2000th of the carbon emissions. It's a no brainer!
      As to what lighting goes where - I prefer accent lighting; it gives a cozier feeling, it is task oriented and you save energy by having smaller light bulbs on. We still have ceiling lights but I rarely use them. There are two table lamps in my daughter's nursery, each with a different wattage bulb, depending on the task that they perform: the one on the small table is for general lighting and ambiance, and has a warmer, yellower and weaker light; the lamp on the changing table is brighter and whiter (you want to be able to see what you're doing! To make it easier, if you can, have dedicated outlets for your accent lighting and place at least one switch by the entrance to the room. Another fundamental change is the use of dimmers - once you've used them, you will see how rarely you really need a full blast of light!
      Lastly but not least - vintage lamps are a great way of being sustainable and they add so much character to any room (just make sure your wiring is new and safe!). Try also craigslist, fairs, eBay and estate sales in your area - you can find vintage, new or like news lamps and accessories for a much cheaper price and you are extending the life of these items - which the best thing you can do for your planet!

      Click here to access last week's posting from Claudia, covering "Wall Treatment" concepts.

      Stay tuned for coming weeks when Claudia will be discussing more topics about eco-friendly children's rooms and nurseries.

      Claudia Kalur is the founder of A Room for Frances, Nursery and Children's Room Design. She lives in rural Connecticut with her husband, Steven (an architect who specializes in green building systems), their 18-month-old daughter, Margot, and their doggy, Bayou.

      Friday, August 13, 2010

      Fimo Fun


      We came across some kids playing with Fimo Clay. The results of their art work was amazing! Kids can form shapes with the clay, in 10 different colors, and set them in the oven. It is a fun tool to help kids develop creativity. While it is not organic, it is a simple, low maintenance and inexpensive entertainment!


      By Staedler

      For Lil' Feet


      These adorable Eco friendly Baby Booties are made with cotton yarn in brown and white colors. They have double sole for stability and comfort and vintage buttons.
      Booties are 4 inches from heel to toe (for babies 3-6 months).

      Handmade by  IraRott

      Be Entered Now to Win this Weekend's Prizes!

      Be entered now to win little twig signature organic body care products this weekend! little twig is a line of signature organic bath and body care products for kids and adults.

      The prizes are amazing!
      - 3 US$100 gift certificates each to be used at littletwig.com. Winners will be announced on August 16, 23 and 30, 2010.*

      It is very easy to participate!
      All participants must be subscribed until the end of the Eco-Giveaway.

      Check out little twig's gentle organic baby bath products. They also offer organic line of suncare! Logon to little twig's Facebook page for great specials during our Eco-Giveaway.


      Good luck!


      * Winners will receive a gift certificate with a promo code where they will have to spend all at once. Code expires in 60 days from the day it is issued

      Winners will be chosen at random.
       "little twig gift certificates" are provided by little twig.

      Thursday, August 12, 2010

      Adorable Sushi Roll Cloth Wipe and Washcloth


      What a cute present! Disguised as an adorable sushi roll, this handmade cloth wipe looks yummy enough to eat! The cloth wipe is 100% cotton, topped with bright green marbled flannel, and backed with looped terry cloth. It comes packaged in a small chinese take-out box, making it ideal for any gift-giving occasion or even as party decoration and/or favors. Use it to wipe baby's bum, drooly chins or runny noses.
      Using cloth wipes are both environmentally-friendly and economic. Machine washable and dryable.

      Source: Enchanted Dandelions

      Great Natural Stain Removers for the Toughest Stains

      Cleaning products can be toxic, and sometimes are quite pricey. Use these great natural stain removers and cleaning mixtures instead. You won't regret it!

      Coffee stains:
      For fresh coffee stains, blot up as much liquid as possible before treating. Then, beat an egg yolk in cold water and spread over the stain. Rinse fabric with cold water, repeat if necessary, and let dry. Baking soda and white vinegar are good alternatives if eggs aren't available.

      Food stains on plastic:
      To get food stains out of reusable plastic containers, pre-wash plastic, and then apply lemon juice or baking soda to the stain. Place the container outside in direct sunlight and let sit until the stain has faded. Rinse with cold water and repeat if necessary.

      Oily food stains from cloth:
      Sprinkle corn starch or powder on a fresh stain, then soak the fabric in a mixture of baking soda and water. For tougher stains, dab rubbing alcohol on the fabric before washing. You can also spray dish detergent, and leave for an hour before washing it.

      Color stains:
      To remove colored stains, like those from wine, juice or berries, first blot up as much liquid as possible. Then, soak stained area in lemon juice or white vinegar to lift the stain from fibers. For red wine, soak stain in club soda, milk or white wine to remove the color.

      Gum: 
      Put the fabric in the freezer, wait until the gum is frozen and then pull it off of the cloth.

      General cleaner on countertops, ovens, bathtubs and sinks: 
      Mix baking soda with a bit of water and scrub it.
       
      Getting rid of mold:
      Add 1 or 2 teaspoons of essential oil to 2 cups of water in a spray bottle, or 20 drops of grapefruit seed extract to 1 quart of water.

      All purpose surface cleaner:
      Mix together equal parts white vinegar and salt. Scrub surfaces with a natural cleaning cloth.

      Cookware cleaner:
      Coarse salt does wonders for scouring copper pans and ceramic baking dishes.

      Clean tile and grout paste:
      1 cup water and 3 cups baking soda mixed into a paste works great for cleaning tile and grout. Use a toothbrush to scrub the paste into grout.



      Wednesday, August 11, 2010

      Eco Notepads


      Speaking of green school supplies, check out these notepads made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper! The cover design incorporates environmental themes, like "rethink" and "re-use" and are printed using harmless vegetable-based ink.
      For each large notebook purchased, Ecojot will donate a workbook to a child in need.
      Several colors and sizes available.

      Made by EcoJot

      Biodegradable Corn Pen

      These pens are made of biodegradable corn. Except for the ink refill, this green pen is made from Mater-Bi, a revolutionary new material derived from corn starch. Mater-Bi looks like plastic, but it is completely biodegradable, disintegrating about 8 months after being discarded (breakdown occurs in soil, composters, landfills, etc.).
      Available with blue ink, this green pen is light and comfortable for writing.

      Sold at Grass Roots , also sold in bulk by Amazon

      Sign Up Now and Participate!




      Sign up now for our EcoLogical Mom Weekly Newsletter! You will be entered to win up to US$300 worth of signature organic body care products from little twig, as early as this weekend!
      The e-Newsletter covers hot green topics and news on Healthy Living and Eco-Friendly Parenting, including easy-to-make healthy recipes for the whole family.

      Not all topics featured in the Newsletter will be posted on our social media, another great reason to sign up and try it. You can unsubscribe at any time.

      We will be launching it soon. Sign up now! Just click here, or use the link below.
      http://eepurl.com/zgVP

      Tuesday, August 10, 2010

      IdBids Concept: Teaching Children to Choose Green


      We really like IdBids concept. These cute toys teach children ages 3 and up that being green is a good thing!
      Children learn about the Earth and what he or she can do to make a difference. Fun Field Guide and simple check list will help children continue to take their own iddy biddy steps every day. Once the Field Guide is complete, the child - with the help of a grown-up - can go online and claim their reward. Scout will create a personalized Idbids Certificate of Completion that you can print to celebrate the iddy biddy steps the child took to help keep our Earth happy, healthy and green.
      The Idbids family are Scout, Lola and Waverly.

      From IdBids

      Gimme More Veggies!

      Helping the family eat vegetables is easy with this quick recipe. It tastes very good, and you can customize with the family's favorite veggies.

      Vegetable Crepes
       Servings:  4 portions

      • 1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream
      • 1/2 cup chopped fresh chives, divided, plus more for garnish
      • 3 tablespoons low-fat milk
      • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
      • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
      • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
      • 2 cups chopped zucchini
      • 1 1/4 cups chopped green beans
      • 1 cup fresh corn kernels
      • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
      • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
      • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
      • 4 9-inch “ready-to-use” crêpes, or whole wheat tortillas (both found in most grocery stores)
      Stir sour cream, 1/4 cup chives, milk, lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl until combined. Set aside.
      Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, green beans and corn and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to low; stir in ricotta, Monterey Jack, the remaining 1/4 cup chives, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Cook, stirring gently, until the cheese is melted, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
      To roll crêpes, place one on a piece of parchment or wax paper (or leave it on the piece of plastic separating the crêpes in the package). Tortillas as a lot easier to handle! Spoon one-fourth of the vegetable-cheese mixture (about 3/4 cup) down the center of the crêpe/tortilla. Use the paper (or plastic) to help you gently roll the crêpe around the filling. Place the crêpe/ortilla seam-side down on a dinner plate. Repeat with the remaining crêpes and filling. Serve each crêpe/tortilla topped with 2 tablespoons of the reserved sauce and more chives, if desired.
      Per serving: 302 calories; 17 g fat (8 g sat, 6 g mono); 46 mg cholesterol; 25 g carbohydrates; 15 g protein; 3 g fiber; 687 mg sodium; 485 mg potassium.

      Source: Eating Well

      Balancing your Meals


      Lauren Slayton, a registered dietitian from New York City, published through the Daily Green a guide with 6 steps for balanced meals. It is quite easy to follow, and can make a big difference to the quality of our diet. Check it out!

      1. Let Veggies Dominate
      Vegetables should replace meat as the principal of the plate. If you picture a plate veggies should occupy half of it. And if the thought of a ton of broccoli doesn't excite you try to compose dinners with 2 veggies (one green and one starchy or some salad and another seasonal vegetable).

      2. Eat Your BlackBerry
      With vegetables taking center stage, protein can be put in its proper place. Whether grass-fed beef, lean poultry, wild salmon or pork we should think more like the Japanese and consider meat a condiment. Look at your BlackBerry, that's your portion cue.

      3. Eat Double Stuff
      Most foods are a composite of nutrients. Tofu, whole grains and legumes have significant amounts of both protein and carbs. Pair any of these with the veggies (see #1) and your meal is balanced and easy. And regardless of whether you are an omnivore, locavore or carnivore less meat and chicken and more (I didn't say only!) whole grains and legumes is really the way to go when it comes to health.

      4. Eat the Real Stuff
      In addition to considering the components of a meal, we now know the importance of investigating the quality and origin of ingredients used. When I was growing up fruit cocktail was a frequent stand-in for fruit. Fruit cocktail is not fruit. It does not taste like fresh, seasonal peaches or pears, nor do berries or peaches shipped from god-knows-where in the middle of January. When possible chose local, seasonal produce and humanely grown meats.

      5. Eat a Larger Lunch
      With the balanced meal we grew up with came the notion of the humongous dinner at the end of the day. Our workdays do not end at 5 anymore and there are many hours between lunch and dinner. Consider moving lunch up as the largest meal of the day.

      6. Don't Forget Fat
      I'd like to think we have enough distance from the '90s that fat phobia is finally waning. Fat helps make you feel full and adds flavor and interest to dishes. And it's not just about olive and canola oil. I love using sunflower seeds, pine nuts, walnuts and sesame oil when I cook. And when you feel satisfied with your meals, you can keep the cookie monster a childhood memory as well.

      With these basic pointers in place, the possibilities are endless. I hope your meal planning has been simplified and that there's peace of mind knowing you're feeding yourself and your family well.

      Sources: Daily Green and Lauren Slayton, a registered dietitian, is the founder of Food Trainers, a New York City-based holistic health and nutrition counseling service. She has developed several programs, including Mindful Menus and Market Foodtraining, to give individuals, families, corporations and athletes attainable strategies for managing a healthy lifestyle.

      Monday, August 9, 2010

      little twig Eco-Giveaway. Don't Miss It!

      We are so excited to introduce our new weekly little twig Eco-Giveaway. little twig is a line of signature organic bath and body care products for kids and adults.

      The prizes are amazing!
      - 3 US$100 gift certificates each to be used at littletwig.com. Winners will be announced on August 16, 23 and 30, 2010.*

      It is very easy to participate!
      All participants must be subscribed until the end of the Eco-Giveaway.

      Check out little twig's gentle organic baby bath products. They also offer organic line of suncare! Logon to little twig's Facebook page for great specials during our Eco-Giveaway.


      Good luck!


      * Winners will receive a gift certificate with a promo code where they will have to spend all at once. Code expires in 60 days from the day it is issued

      Winners will be chosen at random.
       "little twig gift certificates" are provided by little twig.

      Creating a Healthy Nursery for your Baby (and the Planet!) - Part III


      We've been having very insightful discussions with Claudia Kalur, a European interior decorator and founder of A Room for Frances, about eco-friendly nurseries and children's rooms. This week Claudia is discussing Wall Treatments. You can ask questions using the comments field here or on our Facebook page.

      Wall Treatments - Part III
      Walls are the largest element in any room and, from a design stand point, there are several options that will help you define the look you want for your nursery or child's bedroom: painting, wallpapering, wood trims and wainscoting, for instance.

      Let us start with the easiest - wall color: easy to wash and easy to change. There are now endless options on the market for Zero-VOC paints. Volatile organic compounds are chemicals that are known to have detrimental affects on our health and the environment - when we say that it "smells of fresh paint" - those are actually the VOCs that you're inhaling. We personally swear by Natura, by Benjamin Moore but there are plenty of other good brands on the market like Mythic Paint, the Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company and Health Spec by Sherwin Williams, among many. If you insist on using normal paint, do your best to avoid going in the room for at least 24 hours and let is air out before using it - especially if you are pregnant!

      Regular wallpaper is one of the least eco-friendly products you can ever have, but there are now several alternatives made of paper from sustainable forests and without the off-gassing elements. The only issue when it comes to little one's rooms is that is not washable - what makes a wallpaper washable is the very toxic PVC coating. However, if you are using wallpaper in a room for an older child (6 year old or older), there are great "colour me" options like the Tick-Tock, from Minimoderns, or the Frames Wallpaper, from Land of Nod - even if you use it on just one wall, it is great to release the artist in your child - and you! 

      Wainscoting is also a beautiful option - it makes a room cozier and warmer, both in appearance and in temperature, and there is now the green alternative, High Definition Polymer System (HDPS) wainscoting. The downside once again is that those crayon marks are not that easy to clean or re-paint! 

      Whatever you decide to do on the walls of your nursery, there certainly are now several environmentally friendly and beautiful options, whether you are aiming for a modern and more traditional look. 

      Click here to access last week's posting from Claudia, covering "Flooring" concepts.

      Stay tuned for coming weeks when Claudia will be discussing sustainable lighting  for children's rooms and nurseries.

      Claudia Kalur is the founder of A Room for Frances, Nursery and Children's Room Design. She lives in rural Connecticut with her husband, Steven (an architect who specializes in green building systems), their 18-month-old daughter, Margot, and their doggy, Bayou.