Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Giving Chocolate Away?!

We love chocolate and this year the Little Man and I will be Reverse Trick-or-Treating for a good cause. When we show up on your doorstep we will hand YOU a piece of Fair Trade chocolate (you deserve better than that mass produced stuff any way -right?).

What is the catch? We'll also hand you a little note explaining that we are doing this in order to:

  • END poverty among cocoa farmers
  • END forced/abusive child labor in the cocoa industry
  • PROMOTE Fair Trade
  • PROTECT the environment

  • Not familiar with what Fair Trade is?
    Fair Trade certification prohibits the use of abusive child labor, and encourages the adoption of safer, chemical-free farming methods. Also, the guaranteed Fair Trade price paid for cocoa raises farmers’ incomes and supports a more environmentally sustainable small-scale farming model.
    The best news is that you can join us for FREE (well, you do have to pay for shipping). You have until October 13th to order your free chocolate and cards and I hear that supplies are limited so sign up fast! While I was signing up I also bought an extra few bits of chocolate for the ghouls that go bumping on my door.

    Tuesday, September 16, 2008

    If you live in the US: you MUST DO this

    My friend Gloria has just alerted me to this and I believe that stopping child exploitation and sexual abuse is a very important issue. There is a bill called the Protect Our Children Act that will help fund the technology that already exists that will aid in finding and arresting these criminals who are profiting and abusing children.

    This is the testimony of Grier Weeks, Executive Director, National Association to Protect Children before the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary on April 16, 2008:
    The maps you are seeing today of domestic child pornography trafficking are not simply visuals depicting illegal Internet activity. Nor do they simply tell us where the criminals are. These are rescue maps. Law enforcement is now providing you with information that can lead authorities, very predictably, to tens of thousands of locations within the United States where children are in immediate danger and waiting for help.

    That is because while all of these suspects are contributing to a massive black market that commissions the rape of children, a certain percentage are also directly sexually assaulting children themselves. Law enforcement has consistently estimated that somewhere between 30-40% of arrests for child pornography possession turn up evidence of local child victims.
    We all need to come together and let your Senator know that you support this bill. Write or call your Senator NOW. To find out where to write or call follow the link below:

    And if you don't know what to write Oprah has a great form letter you can personalize here:

    Hurry -they are voting on it this month!

    Sunday, September 14, 2008

    Soothing your Mysophobia

    ello everyone! My name is Alex and I'm a germaphobe. I just got great news in my inbox from a company that has a GREAT hand sanitizer -Cleanwell. I've blogged about them before here. Their product does not have any alcohol nor does it have anything toxic and it has a pleasant scent. I've used their product and I swear by it -it works wonders even on a trip to the local vet office yesterday. The vet office had a "veterinary grade hand sanitizer" that was so bad that the nervous dog smell remained on my hands (yuck!). I pulled out my last remaining drops of Cleanwell and the smell and grime was all gone! It is safe around babies and pets with no worries of toxicity or intoxication.

    You could win a one year supply just go to their sweepstakes page here and sign up!
    By the way you know I won't steer you wrong because I will tell you what is NOT worth the money. Cleanwell is well worth it. Check out their site they will also email you a $1 coupon!

    Monday, June 2, 2008

    Manners and the Little Man

    My Little Man has all sorts of books from travel, art, things that go 'vroom,' to things that go 'moo.' One of the things that has been missing from this collection is an etiquette book and I don't think he would take to well to an Emily Post book --unless he used it to reach the chocolates on the kitchen counter. 

    I recently found this really cool book, Mind Your Manners, B.B. Wolf by Judy Sierra, while browsing in a local children's store. Turns out the Big Bad Wolf has retired and left his sinister life behind. It is a really neat book with lots humor for the adults reading it and cool colorful drawings. I give it 4 sleepy bears out of 5. Get a copy through my Amazon link (it is free to use the link).

    Wise words to live by -no matter the age.

    Sunday, June 1, 2008

    Food Faces

    Helping to encourage a toddler to eat isn't always the easiest thing. I've never understood the idea of fun food. To me food is a necessity and at the best of times a wonderful celebration of taste, texture, fragrance and talent. But fun?

    Well, I've turned over a new leaf and here I am in 'mommy-hood' trying to make food fun. Imagine my delight when I get an email from my friend Gloria with this wonderful photo:

    She has used a Japanese rice shaper and then used a Nori cutter for the faces -how ingenious! I suppose you could also use one of those crafting cutters too. How cute are these? Thanks for the idea Glo!

    Saturday, May 24, 2008

    To All My Jewish Friends

    Better late than never right?

    Weekend Air Travel?

    While traveling by air in Europe and America I've been a little frustrated. In Europe children under two years sit on your lap with a seat belt extender wrapped around your seatbelt and the baby's waist (or whatever else you can wrangle). In the US they don't offer you that option and instead you simply hold your baby in your lap or buy an extra full fare seat AND bring a car seat -either not safe or not affordable. 

    Some clever person has invented this little vest, Baby B'air, has saved my friend a lot of grief. It is soft, foldable, washable and metal free. As you can see from the photo Little Ms. M doesn't mind the vest at all and it gives her mum a piece of mind -and who can deny it that when it comes to turbulence.

    Here is a little video from the company:

    P.S. Happy Birthday to Little Ms. M -the model!

    N.B. For an older child I've used this with great success -beats taking along the car seat!

    Tuesday, May 20, 2008

    Half Wrong?!

    I thought I was pretty nutritionally savvy until I took the Washington Post's nutrition quiz (here). Take the quiz and let me know how you do. I'm avoiding giving away any of the answers but some were very surprising. Good luck!

    Tuesday, May 6, 2008

    FREE baby stuff! The Good the Bad the Ugly

    s it too good to be true?! There are a number of new and not so new sites out there that you can either barter, exchange or just get baby and kids (even maternity) stuff for free. Have any of you used the sites and had any good or bad experiences -let me know! Or, tell me which one is the best/worst!

    Free sites:

    Exchange sites:
    Swap Baby Goods

    Happy non-shopping-shopping!

    Friday, May 2, 2008

    Welcome little babies! and a little advice

    Sorry it has been a bit since I've posted but I've been really busy visiting and house hunting. However, I've been getting a lot of good news in my inbox of recent births and soon to be births -so Mazel Tov! Auguri and Congrats to all of you!!

    For you mums my best advice for you is to sleep as much as you can and whenever you can -this is the time to lean on Daddy and anyone else. Also, you will notice that your hormones are doing you no favors right now with giving you the sweats and smellies. I can't help you with the sweating part other than to tell you to wear a lot of cotton. As for feeling smelly -I can help you there. Meet your new best friend: baking soda! Doctors advise new moms to stay away from soaps when baby is new so that they can learn your special smell and help with the bonding process. So the next best option is to use baking soda because it neutralizes odors and is a great all over scrub.

    Advice number two is for the bambino. If you spent most of your time in bed wouldn't you think that the mattress would be the most important piece of furniture in your life? Don't skimp on baby's mattress and by that I mean go for organic. A lot of non organic mattresses take a long time to de-gas the carcinogenic toxins (ever notice the new car smell of things? well don't breath in too deep because it is cancer causing). Some European studies have even linked mattress toxins to the higher incidences of SIDS. What ever the case you don't want to worry about that so just get an organic mattress. Check out Ecobaby/ Pure Rest Organics 7550 Miramar Rd #220, San Diego, CA 92126 -they are having a sale!

    If however you are unable to get an organic mattress at least get a wool mattress cover to put under the sheets. They are easily found in Europe and really help baby control heat loss and heat retention as well as being a buffer for possible mold, de-gassing and dust mites.

    Big kisses to you and your babies!

    Tuesday, April 8, 2008

    A cool all your own

    If you've been reading this blog for some time you'll know that I LOVE things that are special for my special Little Man and friends. Well, a cool friend of mine has just started up an embroidery business called Sew Sweet Personalized Gifts. She does some really cool work and she's now offering some of her talents up on Etsy. [Please tell me you've heard of Etsy! no? OMG! It is the best place to find cool hand crafted stuff from real people vs. real big corporations. Check it out at Etsy]
    Take a look at some of her cool works:

    Tuesday, March 4, 2008

    Getting organized and having it all with a child?

    Is this even possible? It is funny because a lot of moms seem to think I’m the most put together mom they know. I show up (most times) cleanly and well dressed, house is usually picked up, fresh flowers in place, Little Man is sporting another jaunty and clean outfit, laundry is mostly done and there is always food in the fridge.

    So what’s my secret? my routine?
    1. invest in good clothes that fit and all washable in the washing machine (by the way cashmere is washable in the machine just don’t dry it in the dryer)

    2. before leaving the house clean off one table surface and pull up the sheets (aka make the bed)

    3. you and the members of your family are worth the luxury of flowers -any will do whether it is picked from your garden (even big leaves and palm fronds are wonderful) or from a florist or a grocery store or the vendor on the street

    4. the children’s clothing make it good and make it last. I have the good fortune of having a friend who has a little man who is exactly one year older than mine and she passes down most of his clothing. This has been such a blessing on our pocketbook (thanks Cheryl!). Find someone you can exchange with -a mom’s group or play group.

    5. Which brings me up to the all important LAUNDRY. Always do just one full load a day to keep the monster from growing out of hand. Keep your clothes looking good by using cold water (good for environment and wear and tear on your clothing) and using slightly less than what the manufacturer recommends (remember they are in the business of selling soap not of saving your clothes). Always spot clean before throwing clothes in. Any blood or tar should be rinsed with cold water and then rubbed with a little pine cleaner (the cheaper the better it works). Oil stains -get them out with chalk or baking soda. When all else fails I keep a chlorine pen at hand for those really tough spots (use sparingly because it is a carcinogen). Another thing I keep around the laundry area instead of commercial liquid fabric softener is vinegar (the kind they sell in bulk). Fabric softeners contain too many perfumes and dyes that are potentially harmful for children and after prolonged use clothes become ‘waxy’ and frayed.
    Vinegar in the last cycle of laundry gets out the residue of the detergents, organic smells and keeps your clothes soft --all for a lot less than buying a hazardous liquid fabric softener!
    Always keep a small pair of scissors, a fuzz remover and a little sewing kit and old luggage tags that airlines put on your luggage around the laundry area. Scissors for the threats that hang off clothes after the laundry. The fuzz remover is essential in keeping your clothes looking the best, use it on sweaters, jackets, t-shirts anywhere little fuzziness appear. I’m always waiting for the washer to finish and if while I wait I make sure buttons are secure and if they aren’t I quickly tighten them up with the sewing kit --very convenient (and it keeps me from having a pile of stuff I need to sew -who wants to do that much?!). Old luggage tags have great tackiness and work wonders as a lint roller both at home or on the road so I never throw them out until they are well used up. If you don’t travel that much just keep a lint roller or a roll of thick masking tape around. Oh, and by the way if you left the laundry in the washer one moldy day too long then run a cycle with 3 cups of vinegar and 1 cup of baking soda -no soap required.

    6. Food -hmmm.... everyone’s staples are different. So I’ll tell you mine if you share yours. Here they are:
    Tuna in oil
    Tomato sauce
    Ramen noodles
    Frozen broccoli
    Olive oil
    Fresh garlic
    Frozen waffles

    If your child is teething frozen waffles are heaven sent! They won’t choke and they love the numbing coldness and they’re eating -it doesn’t get better than those quiet few moments!
    Ok, now I’ll go down the list. Tuna in oil is excellent for making pasta sauce. Put the excess oil from the can in a sauce pan and lightly sauté 1 or 2 pieces of garlic until light yellow then add tomato sauce stir in salt, fresh basil and pepper (or hot pepper).

    Chickpeas -easy to make another pasta dish or to make hummus with -the Little Man loves the many reincarnations of chickpeas.
    The quickest way to make a hearty breakfast or a light lunch is by making a potato tortilla or frittata -depending where your from in the Mediterranean. Grate on med. potato into a pan of olive oil and cumin -let it lightly brown while mixing 2 or 3 eggs and salt. Pour eggs mixture in and cook as you would an omelet.
    Ramen noodles -boil the water with chopped broccoli and 1 tbsp of peanut butter when it is boiling add noodles and flavoring as per directions. Garnish with julienne green onions.
    Then sometimes even mommies need a chocolatey rest from everything and for that I toast a waffle for myself, spread some Nutella top it with a strawberry and find a quiet corner to enjoy it in.

    Hope this helps you parents out there who are feeling a little scattered -I know sometimes I truthfully feel this way even if it does seem otherwise.

    Please leave me a comment here on the blog and let me know if this was useful to you or if you have something to add. If there is enough interest I’ll share with you my portable bag of magic tricks to calm the little beast in everyone.

    [N.B. special thanks to my friend Jaime J. (aka Cool Mom) for the inspiration for this post and has inspired me to start a blog list of other clever sites that are helpful in keeping it all together]

    Saturday, March 1, 2008

    What I'm lusting for now: Bakefiets

    Being half Dutch I have a soft spot in my heart for chocolate, potatoes, pancakes, bicycles and boats. The latest bicycle that gets my heart racing? The Bakfiets! All of them or any of them!

    They ride and handle like a dream and look at how many munchkins you can fit in there! I've also seen it with 2 car seats strapped in. A family bike -don't you just love it?! Now, if I could only get someone to give me one...

    Wednesday, February 27, 2008

    The Big Top in Town

    A few weeks ago Cirque du Soleil was in town performing Corteo. I was on the fence as to whether I should make it a date night (haven't had one of those in FOREVER) or family night. Well, since we're still new here and we don't have a sitter we made it a family night.

    If you've never been to a Cirque du Soleil show it is an AMAZING circus unlike any other. They don't use animals and the performances are artistically flawless from the artistry of the costumes, music, athletic ability, lighting --well, everything. The Little Man was so thoroughly entertained he didn't even move and all he could say was "WOW" and "MORE PLEASE." Not bad for a 2 year old! So if you've never taken your child or your inner child to a Cirque performance YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST -you won't regret it.

    Friday, February 22, 2008

    As they say in France "Publicité"

    This is my response to an article that ran in the NY Times titled, "Parent Shock: Children Are Not Décor."

    Wednesday, February 6, 2008

    End Towel Violence Now!

    I found many warnings on the wrapper of my new towel from Japan (love that Japanese dollar store) and I would like to know how does one treat a towel violently?

    Scary Baby Powder & Lotion

    Just when you thought you could avoid the dangers of phthalates* by using special baby bottles and avoiding the plastic toys that go in the mouth here is news that'll hit your baby in the privates. The short version is that in order to reduce your baby's exposure you need to not use lotion or powder except when medically necessary. WOW... There is a reason the European Union restricts the use of phthalates --I think it is time for America to restrict its use too.

    *one of the big problems with phthalates is that it has been linked to, among other things, male reproductive malfunction (I was wondering why there is such a need for Viagra these days).

    Monday, February 4, 2008

    Baby's First Bento Box

    Well, it was inevitable --the Little Man has started school. He is now in pre-school (where has the time gone?!). So I've really been wondering what to do about his packed lunches until I got inspiration from the Vegan Lunchbox. She serves up some amazing lunches which have inspired me to use a Bento Box too.
    So when I was driving around San Diego I noticed a Japanese store. Well, I should say it was a total Japanese emporium complex and I'm in love with it! So baby's first Bento Box came from their dollar store -isn't it cute?!

    Let me explain the pieces. The yellow boxes with that white cover all go together to form one tiered lunch box that is held together by that little elastic belt with the car, fork with holder, the lucky napkin and finally the little red cloth bag that holds it all.

    Wednesday, January 30, 2008

    If I were a crafty woman...

    I would take all of my old cashmere sweaters, you know the ones with a hole in the sleeve or some other flaw, and do this to them:

    Pure genius! This would be perfect for a premie baby. Anyone of you crafty enough to do it and send me a sample?

    Monday, January 28, 2008

    Painful tummy? Fussy?

    I swear by gripe water. In case you aren't familiar with it it is an English homeopathic remedy for babies with colic, hiccups, teething pain, upset stomach and or gas. The ingredients usually include fennel, chamomile, ginger and a little bicarbonate. On occasion I've been known to take some as well. Check out my Amazon store and you'll see it under Essentials -and buy it from there (no added cost to you and a few pennies in my tip jar).

    Sunday, January 27, 2008

    It doesn't get sexier than ...Choreplay

    Remember foreplay? I don't either. I think it was that lovely little past time we had when we were still in the infancy of our relationship. Now with an infant what keeps the marriage alive and happy? Choreplay. What, you haven't heard of it yet?

    It is that sweet moment in the day when your significant other takes over the chores for you (folding laundry, doing dishes, cleaning bottles, etc) whilst you ...relax. There is no stronger aphrodisiac than watching a man clean the floors or make dinner while you sit the couch (or bathtub) reading a magazine. Are you getting enough choreplay in your relationship??

    Neglected Baby

    It has been a bit since I've last posted because of our horrendous move across the pond and country, but I'm back! I'll open this season with the latest "sippy" cup that my friend at Table Bread has alerted me to. Besides looking really cool and being durable it ranks high on my list because it doesn't have that ubiquitous plastic mouth piece have a lot of doctors in Europe calling for a ban. The plastics that they do use are certified free of Bisphenol A, phthalates and DEHA. I've ordered mine so we will see how they are.
    Do you have one of these cups or one that you swear by? Leave me a comment!

    UPDATE: Well I finally got it and I'm a little disappointed. The spout is like any other hard "sippy" cup and the top is difficult to screw on which could spell disaster in your bag. For those of you who like putting juice in the cups they warn that pulpy juices might not be a good idea. On the plus side it is very easy to clean and the "plug" is a good size so it won't float off into the drain. Over all I give it a 3 sippy cup rating out of 5.

    UPDATE ON THE UPDATE: The spout issue got worse, the water tasted funny and in the end I got so frustrated I tossed them -it was crap. Save your money.

    Thursday, January 3, 2008