Thursday, May 17, 2012

Dandelion, Earth-Friendly Goods - Review

Dandelion, Earth-Friendly Goods offers an array of innovative toys, bags, layettes & feeding items, made of organic, natural & recycled materials. They have a wide selection that any baby or toddler would love to have.

I have recently decided to make a switch to a greener lifestyle. Not in a completely mega crunchy way but a more subtle way. Doing a little better for my family and the environment all at once. Organic toys and feeding supplies are just one of the ways I am doing that. Are all ours toys organic and safe? Heck no! We have piles of toys that are made from plastic crap and break within minutes. I do find that organic and more earth friendly products are nicer and sturdier and I wish I had more in my house.

From their website:

Dandelion, earth-friendly goods, is a new division of Re-Think It, Inc., a family owned, family-focused company. In 1987, owners Craig & Amy Shumway had a vision to bring something truly different to the market. They’ve been developing new ideas and fresh creations ever since! The Shumway’s vision has culminated in 20 years of experience in the design and manufacture of infant products and feeding items. Our office and warehouses are located in Winter Park, FL; but you can find our quality products nationwide.

Smart parents are more concerned than ever about what babies touch and teethe, and the Dandelion brand gives you peace of mind. Dandelion offers a sophisticated look while reflecting a back-to-basics, eco-conscious style.

For my review I was sent an assortment of feeding items for both my toddler and for my baby girl as well as some stuffed animals for the girls. Pictured below right out of the box before the girls got a hold of them.

Their organic plush animals are super soft and extra squishable. My oldest daughter just loved the bear and could not stop loving on it. I honestly wish all our stuffed animals were organic and this soft!

Of course little sister (only 2 months here hence the lack of smile) had to hold hers too.

The feedings sets are actually made from corn! They are naturally BPA free and Phthalate free. The only drawback from the corn ware is that it is not dishwasher safe (which I read on the packaging). Not a big deal for me because we have a pile of bottles, pump parts and sippy cups that are hand washed every night anyway.They were super easy to clean.

Big Sister loved her feeding set. Worked great with quesadillas and yellow Mexican rice. Yum! I thought the size of the plate was especially nice for a toddler. Not to big or too small. She is 3 in this picture so you can see the size of the fork and plate in relation to her. Absolutely perfect. My husband on the other hand is not a fan of forks without metal prongs so to speak. He thinks it makes it more difficult for toddlers to spear their food. Not a problem with these forks but all toddler plastic forks in general. His suggestions would also be a third compartment instead of just two for dips such as ketchup which Big Sister loves!

They also have a pink line that is absolutely adorable! With two girls I can never have enough pink! I would definitely buy their items for myself to use with my girls or as baby shower gifts.

Dandelion recently launched a line of eco-friendly eating tableware called Re-Play. I have actually already bought the bowls and divided plates from Wal-Mart. They can even go in the dishwasher. Super sturdy and cute too! I was given some crappy little plastic bowls as a gift when I was pregnant with my first. After I bought these the old ones went straight into the trash. These are really great bowls!

I feel confident that any products I use from Dandelion, Earth-Friendly Goods are top quality and good for my family to use and enjoy.

Buy It:
Visit the Dandelion, Earth-Friendly Goods website to find some eco-friendly products for your family!

You can follow Dandelion, Earth-Friendly Goods on Facebook & Twitter.

Disclosure: I received the above mentioned products from Dandelion, Earth-Friendly Goods to facilitate in this review. No other compensation was received. I was under no obligation to write a positive review. This is my 100% honest opinion and may differ from yours.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

How I Wash Cloth Diapers in My Front Loader HE Washer

When making the switch to cloth diapers by far my biggest concern was how am I gonna wash these diapers and keep them clean? I googled the issue more than humanly necessary. For every blog and/or article I read on how to wash them I found another one contradicting it. I am writing this post on how I do it. I will preface this by saying that every mom is going to do it different. It all depends on your washer/water type and so on.

I start with a simple rinse and spin cycle with no detergent on cold/cold. This is to get any loose poop off.

I then do a normal cycle hot/cold with detergent and I press the button for an extra rinse. I also set it to heavy soiled to give it maximum water levels. This gives it a very long wash with hot water to kill bacteria and get them clean. You want lots of water so that it can get them clean. HE washers use less water than top loaders so to me this step is key.

You will read everywhere to use as little detergent as necessary. I find this to be wrong. I bought and tried a multi pack of many different all natural detergents. They all work just fine. For me I use powdered Tide original formula. The enzymes in it keep the whites white and the bacteria away. We have had zero stink issues and my diapers look like new. I am well aware that this is the opposite of natural and crunchy but I completely OK with that. I use a scoop full up to the 1 line.

I then do an extra rinse and spin cycle on cold/cold to make sure to get all of the suds out of there. This helps to prevent buildup. Buildup can make your diapers repel liquids. If there are still suds I will repeat this step.

I hang all my diapers on a small rack in my laundry room. I stick all the liners in the dryer with 4 wool dryer balls. The dryer balls are to help reduce dry time by absorbing liquid and mine have a scent called hint of baby which makes them smell nice but not overpowering.

I wash mine every 3-4 days. I use a diaper pail that looks like a basic kitchen garbage can. I use a reusable diaper pail bag that I wash along with my diapers and hang dry. I shut my lid after putting each soiled diaper in but I leave the lid cracked a very small bit (like a millimeter). I find this keeps the diapers from smelling too bad and I never smell anything near the changing pad and I am cursed with a very strong sniffer.

I do use bioliners for a majority of the changes. They are basically a thin layer of biodegradable material that catches poo. I just wipe and throw away. I also use a diaper sprayer to get a majority of the poo off for when I don’t use a liner or when it does not contain all the poo. All the poo does not need to be removed. Just the big stuff.

When it is nice and sunny out I line dry my diapers outside. This is not very often because I am busy and a wee bit lazy. It is important not to leave your diapers in the sun too long or the strong heat can break down the laminate in your diapers. It should be 2 hours max unless you live in a strong heat climate like Florida and then you should leave them in the sun for no more than an hour. inserts can stay out longer.

So that is how I wash my diapers. Like I said everyone is different but this is the method that works for me. There is a lot of information out there on washing diapers and it can be very confusing. In this household I do all the laundry and I actually enjoy making my diapers fresh and clean each time.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Can It be Easy to Be Green?

If you would have told me a few years ago that I would become a somewhat crunchy mama I would have said you have too much granola in your ears. It all started easily enough. I breastfed my first and although the first 2 weeks were pure hell on the nipples and my sleeping “schedule” was non exsistent we continued on for 15 months strong. This led to casually picking up a pair of reusable breast pads at Babies R Us.  I quickly discovered those were crappy and I sought after ones that worked better and were cuter. That was pretty much the extent of my crunchiness with my first baby. She was an extremely difficult baby and the idea of doing anything of the crunchy variety was quickly brushed aside as I took every spare minute to catch a few winks of sleep.

My second baby girl arrives. Breastfeeding is far easier this time around. Reusable breast pads were immediately placed upon my boobies and the only disposable ones I have used I won in a blog giveaway. In the three years since I have had a baby there has been a boom of “organic” and “natural” being thrown in my face. This time around I started thinking...hmm…could I do a little more for my family? Truth be told I can be an incredibly lazy person and I can honestly laugh at the crazy blog propaganda that is thrown around today in the tone of what is best for baby. It really all came down to money. The first major crunchy switch for this mama was the switch to cloth diapers. Can it be so…poop in my washing machine! Yep, I did it, I made the switch to cloth diapers and it has been so incredibly easy. I wash diapers 2 times a week and 3 months into this cloth journey has been dare I say…easy. Cloth diapers are wicked cute and I am saving money over disposables. Saving the environment from piles of my daughter’s poopy diapers has been nothing but a huge bonus. Go me! I am also a realist and to be completely honest to the 5 people that read this I use cloth diapers about 95% of the time. Could I do better, of course I can, but I am doing enough for me and my family.

How does your garden grow? So far, so good, thanks for asking. This is partially to give us healthy fruits and veggies to eat and partially because it is a great thing for my daughter to have…her own little garden. She waters it almost every day and she helps us weed and plant everything. We check on it every afternoon after daddy gets home from work. It is nice for her to see something grow that she did all on her own. We have big plans for an above ground garden next year. We have a huge back yard for it.

Do we shop at farmer’s markets, yes, we have tons all around us since we live in a small town on the coast. We have always used fresh ingredients for dinner every night, this does mean almost daily trips to the grocery store but it is right near our house. Other than frozen pizza our family rarely uses frozen food....oh yeah and bagel bites...yum! Do I make my own baby food, no, unless we happen to have something at dinner that can go in my baby blender real quick. I tend to buy more eco friendly cleaners, clothes and toys but they are not the driving force in my purchasing decisions. Am I a garbage picker, heck yes! Just last weekend I was driving by my parent’s neighbor’s house and they had a kid’s art table just sitting out there by their garbage. It would not fit in my minivan so I walked that thing 2 blocks home. A few Clorox wipes and aside from some scratches and paint marks from the previous owner it works great. I have also found a step 2 mini play house set and other goodies that people have thrown out. Re-use people!

Some say that since I am a hunter that makes me the opposite of crunchy but I say that makes me even crunchier. We do in fact shoot and eat animals so I know that my animals are cage free and they eat their meals off the land and that they had relatively good lives until they crossed the path of my weapon of choice. Some bunny people out there might think I am a horrible person and as a woman with a master’s degree in research would say…do your research. Hunting is a proven method of wildlife management. It is also a fun hobby I have done with my family most of my life and I hope to share the love of the outdoors with my girls as well. During gator hunting season here in Florida I also partake in that fun activity. Talk about crazy is by far the hardest and most fun hunting that I have done. If you live in Florida you probably understand how important it is to keep the gator populations down...they are literally everywhere.

My next journey is a big step. Dare say it my biggest into the crunchy domain so far. I will be taking the cloth challenge and will attempt to switch to cloth reusable menstruation pads. In the long run cloth pads will be much cheaper over buying disposables every month and obviously they are better for the environment. The question remains…can I do it? Can I in fact make yet another small crunchy lifestyle change? I will be posting about my journey. Thanks to My Posh Pads they have furnished me with a starter set in the promise that I blog about my switch to cloth. Challenge excepted Posh Pads. This mama is ready!