November’s Organic Round Up

It’s time for my latest organic roundup.  I’ve decided to try to do these every couple of months after my Organic September post was so popular!  This month we’ve been trialling three new products that I’d like to share with you.

Organic Round Up

First up, and helping me with potty training on the go, is Organyc’s Organic Baby Wipes. About a week ago Joss woke up and announced she didn’t want to wear a nappy. A week on she’s doing brilliantly, we’re using cloth wipes at home but I needed something quick for out and about as she’s often using the potty when we’re literally on the go! Made from 100% organic cotton infused with organic Chamomile and organic Calendula these are a great choice of more eco-friendly wipe. They’re a really good thick quality cotton, smell refreshing but without overpowering and the addition of the essential oils is great as these are the same oils we use at home with our cloth wipes.

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Next up, for the past month I switched my usual moisturiser for these Oriflame eco-beauty smoothing day and night creams, priced at £16.95 each the two come in cheaper than my usual buy.  I really liked the packaging, with pump action nozzles they dispense hygienically and you can still control the amount you use.  The day cream contains a blend of Fairtrade Shea Butter and Fairtrade Organic Coconut Oil for a gorgeously smooth base for my daily make up routine and after a few weeks people commented that I was looking well so I assume the cream did the trick!  The night cream has a similar blend of shea and coconut oil but is slightly heavier, it smooths on nicely and after about ten minutes my skin felt plumper; this cream feels like a luxurious treat for my skin.  That it’s paraben free, fairtrade and organic makes this a really attractive eco-buy too.

The most noticable result for me is that the flaky patches I struggled to fight with my usual cream are gone, this is a brilliant result for me as they were really stubborn and could leave my makeup looking patchy on a bad day.  This is a product switch that I’m really pleased with, and sticking to!

oriflame

Organic News

In other news, Aldi, our beloved local store that we use so heavily because we don’t have a car have started stocking a range of organic fruit and veg, brilliant!  They now have a wide selection of organic products to choose from including meat and diary produce too.

My salt scrub recipe for smooth pins!

Hello sunshine, time to get my skin tip top with my salt scrub recipe!

lavender rosemary scrub

Measure out your wet and dry ingredients depending on the size of your storage pot which should have a nice well fitting lid, I use an empty Lush pot but a clean jam jar would do.  To measure pour your salt into the pot you’ll be storing in and leave a centimetre gap at the top for your oils, use roughly five tablespoons of olive or almond oil for every half cup of salt.  To prepare the fresh rosemary and lavender I simply snip the dried flowers and fresh stems with scissors, I used five drops of lavender oil for a 50ml pot.

Mix everything together well and pop into your pot, and away to the shower you go!

lavender rosemary scrub in pot

I make a similar scrub in a gorgeous pink here

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Natural Cleaning Products Part One

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There are some eco-brands that I use for home cleaning, but as it’s the season of spring cleaning I thought I’d share some eco-ideas that have multi-uses and reduce the need for lots of different products using lots of packaging.  This is a mini series so part one covers vinegar, lemon, bicarb and salt and part two will be back with borax and more!

Natural Cleaning

Vinegar – cuts through grease and limescale

Fill your kettle with a cup of distilled white vinegar and leave overnight to tackle limescale, rinse thoroughly the next day.

A mix of equal quantities of white vinegar and water make an effective floor cleaner

You can clean your windows with white vinegar and rub dry with a newspaper scrunched up to get rid of any marks

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Lemons are your friend!

They give a really fresh smell when you integrate them into your cleaning regime

When we moved in to our flat the taps were limescaley and nothing shifted it, I cut a lemon in two and jammed each half over the end of the tap and left for two hours, when I came back the scale just rubbed away!

Lemon juice cleans stains from cutting boards rub the juice full strength onto the stain and let sit until the stain fades, then rinse and dry

You can clean hard water marks on glass shower doors with half a lemon

Bicarbonate of soda

Make a paste with a tablespoon of bicarb and water and pop it on a cloth to clean your sink, sparkling!

Repeat this to make a cleaning paste for pots and pans, to remove stains from cups and clean tarnished silver

A cup of bicarb in your fridge absorbs fridge odours

To clean grout make up a paste of 2 parts bicarb, one part vinegar or lemon juice (this will fizz!) apply the paste with a toothbrush, leave for 10 minutes and then rinse

Dampen the floor of your oven, sprinkle with bicarb and dampen again. Leave the mixture overnight then remove with a cloth and rinse with warm water

Table salt

Salt doesn’t scratch so it’s great for glassware, add some salt to a stain for extra abrasion and scrub

Pour salt mixed with hot water down your kitchen sink every few weeks to deodorize and keep grease from building up

A great one for coffee lovers, add salt and ice cubes to your stained coffee pot, swirl around for a minute and rinse, it scrubs away those stains!

 

Lunch Bags for Adults: Belo&Me Jute Bags Product Review

Remember those ‘little brown bag’ lunch bags everyone used to have?  I was looking for something that sort of size and shape for my work packed lunch and had an unsuccessful try at making my own too, then I saw this beauty from Belo & Me, eco-friendly and just the right size and shape I jumped at the opportunity to try one in the name of all things lunch!

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What is jute?

Jute is a soft plant fibre produced in India and Bangladesh.  It is the perfect eco-friendly option instead of using plastic or paper.  Plastic bags are not biodegradable and the manufacturing of paper bags requires large quantities of wood, meaning less trees on our planet. Jute has none of these problems and results in a hard wearing, strong, long lasting bag.

Why jute?

‘The average plastic carrier bag is used for five minutes, but takes 500 years to decompose’ (DEFRA, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) – think of all the lunch outlets that send us away with a plastic or paper bag, that’s a lot of waste, people use reusable shopping bags, why not a reusable lunch bag?  Maybe it’s that they don’t want to be stuck with an empty bag post lunch?  This one folds up and fits in my work bag so that’s that problem solved!

What’s good about it?

Look how much space!  I fitted all this in and had room for a few cheeky snacks for Joss too!  (Ham cheese salad wrap and granola yogurt if you’re wondering!)

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Sturdy and hardwearing this will easily carry a small picnic for us in the summer and the range of designs means there’s something for everyone, popular owls, heart designs like mine, cupcakes and butterflies too.

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The price? 

£3.75 for a lunchbag with very reasonable P&P too.

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What’s also good is that the bags are handmade so you’re supporting a mama in her business endeavours as well as wearing your eco heart on your sleeve and your lunch in your hand!

Family Fever

Real Nappy Week 2014 Cloth Diapers Rock

What’s the story here? 25+ Mams and Dads and babies sat down together with changing mats and what’s that they’re holding in the air? Nappies! Cloth nappies to be exact.
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This week is real nappy week and we took part in the 2014 great cloth nappy change this weekend. As a real nappy user of almost two years now I wanted to point my readers to two of my earlier cloth nappy posts here and here

They highlight the benefits of cloth nappies and offer lots of handy tips too.

All major nappy retailers offer discounts and competitions through Real Nappy Week so if you’ve been thinking about going eco now is the time to try! There’s a great competition today with Babi Pur over on Facebook on the Real Nappy Week page!

Two years on our stash is still going strong, though I think potty training is nigh these will definitely be kept just incase we ever happen to decide to have another child as they have plenty of life in them yet, truly eco-friendly!

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Romanian Mum

Wonderful Washi Tapes and their Uses

Once something has a Hey Girl meme devoted to it you know it’s reached cult status, ladies and gents I give you Exhibit A:

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Washi tape is something of an obsession of mine, it’s eco-friendly;, made from rice, wheat or hemp paper, and as it’s non-plasticky it’s totally repositionable, tearable and removable, so pretty adaptable too.  Washi translates from the Japanese to Wa (Japanese) Shi (tape) and comes in a massive range of widths and designs, I buy mine from Ebay, but supermarkets and stationers are starting to get in on the trend.

Here’s a small selection from my own collection:

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What can you do with it?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, i.e. not on Pinterest, you can’t fail to see Washi crop up in people’s pins if you look closely.

What do you suggest?

Here’s one I made earlier, I used my tapes to cover a lightswitch cover, if I decide to change it I just remove and reposition, cut bits out to add decoration, or, as it’s made from paper and biodegrades, I see no reason why I couldn’t pop it in with my paper recycling.

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Sound Pinteresting?

See more ideas on my board, here
My favourite idea of the moment is from Le Jardin de Juliette, post here
Her Car track idea is ingenious and older kids could reposition it too!
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(from http://lejardindejuliette.blogspot.be/2012/09/washi-tape-car-track.html)

The Mum Tag

20 questions, ooh it’s like Mastermind – go! Katy from Modern Mummy tagged me in The Mum Tag, here are my responses, cue studio lights…

1. Are you a stay at home mum, or a working mum?
I’m a part time working part time studying Mam so a bit of both!

2. Would you have it any other way?
No, I don’t think so, I will be pleased to finish my Masters this month to take some pressure off but part time work strikes a good balance for me and a good balance for Joss too, being productive is a big part of my wellbeing and I get that through work and study. I was with my parents full time til I went to school and I think socialisation was missing though my parents made lots of sacrifices for us along the way and I was grateful for my upbringing it is healthy for children to mix regularly and in Joss’ case she also spends a day of the week with one of her sets of grandparents (alternating weekly) so she gets the best for all worlds!

3. Do you co-sleep?
We did up until Joss was ready for her own space at nine/ten months against lots of criticism from health professionals but we did so safely and it felt right for us. We still co-sleep occasionally and it was great for bonding and maximised sleep in the early months for all of us!

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4. What is your one must-have item for your baby?
Cloth nappies have served us really well from around ten weeks up to the potty training time that we’re probably nearing. Eco-friendly, efficient and moneysaving they have made life with no car and hence little chance of getting out at night to get more disposables much easier!

5. How many kids do you plan on having?
We don’t know, I am honest about my experience of postnatal depression contributing to the uncertainty, if and when the time is right we will decide on our plans as a family

6. Date night? How many per month?
A month? None! Maybe once every three months, but we try to do nice things after Joss’ bedtime a good few evenings a month, we’ve watched some brilliant TV series, currently we’re watching Salamander, will occasionally share a takeaway and try to catch up after a busy working day.

7. Your child’s favourite show?
The Adventures of Abney and Teal have brought together Joss’ love of porridge and the obscure! It’s all very genteel so I’m happy for her to enjoy it. She’s a big fan of the Tombiliboos from In The Night Garden too though.

8. Name one thing you bought before you had your baby and never ended up using?
Nothing! We bought really carefully, actually, scratch that, I bought lots of pairs of bootees but Joss has always loved to be barefoot!
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9. Your child’s favourite food?
Hands down got to be fruit everytimes, especially blueberries, the call of ‘bloobellies’ goes out many times a day! That said, as a treat we both love a bit of icecream!
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10. How many cars does your family have?
None, we have a low carbon footprint but it’s becoming important to us to learn to drive as Joss gets older, we might look at a car then, or just the occassional hire

11. Weight before, during and after pregnancy and now?
Cheeky! Before I was at my heaviest, during I felt really healthy and put on roughly a stone and after a year I started Slimming World to get to my current target weight of 10lb 7oz, a healthy weight for my height. I now eat a clean healthy diet and believe in not cutting out any major food groups, balance is kind to you and healthy too

12. Dream holiday with your kids?
Eventually we would love to go to America, perhaps the Canadian Pioneer tour, definitely Disneyworld, Joss would love to see Tramp!

tramp

13. Dream holiday without your kids?
Not something we’re interested in, we like to have new experiences through Joss’ eyes!

14. How has your life changed since having babies?
It’s more balanced, it was work, work, work sadly, and I look back on all that free time I had with longing, but Joss has brought in a balance now, I will relax and enjoy a cuppa while she and I play with lego or have a tea party together; I worry more and plan more but I also smile and laugh more too!

15. Finish the sentence: ‘It makes my heart melt to see……?’
Joss singing her favourite songs to her stuffed animals

16. Where do you shop for your kids?
We love H&M and Frugi for their cut for cloth fit

17. Favourite make up and skin care products?
I have a MAC habit and have done for years, I also love Lush skincare masks and shower gels and scrubs, I adore Kiehls skincare, nothing beats it for me!

18. Huggies or Pampers?
Neither! Cloth all the way!

19. Have you always wanted kids?
Yep, I’m a big kid at heart so they’ve always been part of the plan!

20. Best part about being a mum?
Sharing in the hopes and dreams of my little girl and her being my first thought in the morning and last at night, seeing her learn and grow and at the moment getting a kiss from her just makes any day sunny and bright!

I’m tagging:
Rachel from Activities 4 Kids
Vai from Rambling Through Parenthood
and Jada from Unique Young Mum

I hope you enjoy the Meme guys!

Christmas Gift Guide Part 2: Something a bit eco-fabulous

When I put out a request for people to spam me with Christmas gift ideas for eco-friendly folk Thrashion Recycled Skateboard Jewellery came forward and knocked my socks off with not just a cool product but a great project link too. The guys at Thrashion Ltd produce jewellery and gifts from broken and recycled skateboards; and they have come up with another amazing and original idea for a new recycled skateboard product in time for Christmas, with a charitable aspect too!

Thrashion Recycled Skateboard Jewellery got together with illustrator Jon Horner to produce the first ever skate ‘SNAP’ game. The 52 full colour 350gsm silk laminated cards feature 13 different designs all illustrated by Jon Horner, and are reverse printed with another of Jon’s custom designs based on traditional playing cards imagery.

The cards are packaged in beautiful hand crafted games compendium style boxes which have been produced by Driftwood Surfboards and Thrashion Ltd from recycled skateboards and sustainable wood sources.

This new and completely original product will be launched in December 2013 but are available to pre-order through the Thrashion website now! These are a limited edition item and only 10 have been made. All profits made will be donated to Skateistan. Skateistan use skateboarding as a tool for youth empowerment in Afghanistan and Cambodia, supporting community engagement, education and empowerment.

Thrashion vs Jon Horner SNAP all designs

Disclaimer: This is a project I wanted to support, I received no reimbursement, payment, product or otherwise for this post.

Christmas Gift Guide Part 1: Organic Babies Giveaway

I love to read Christmas Gift Guides both to get inspiration and get into the Christmas Spirit, but I wanted to bring out some important values in my own gift guide series which I’m focusing around an Eco-friendly festive theme.

Until Joss was 18 months old I used nothing but good old water in her bath, and we use washable wipes with water alone for nappy changes. It’s really important to me to avoid over exposure to chemicals and it was unnecessary for us to use anything more than water as it got her clean and was waste free! Now that Joss is getting a little messier with play and at mealtimes we wanted to introduce a gentle, nasty-free wash that is clean and green, and we were delighted to try the Organic Babies range by Green People. With organic certified ingredients and parabens, phthalates and other nasties out of the picture I felt confident to try the range, a little of the wash really does go a long way even when cleaning off blue paint following a messy session, and the calendula and hemp blend baby salve is another great option for keeping nappy rash at bay, but I also used it for Joss’ eczema to keep her skin soft and moisturised, and for my own dry patches – a great multi-purpose all rounder!

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Green People very kindly agreed to help me kick start my gift guide with the ideal Christmas gift for parents-to-be or for a ready-made family, I have a fantastic Hello Baby gift set to give away to one lucky reader!
The gift set contains a trio of perfectly pure bath and skincare products that have been expertly blended making them perfect for new arrivals. Hello Baby includes Lavender Baby Salve an all round skin saviour and nappy rash essential. Scent Free Baby Lotion, a divinely nourishing lotion, perfect for baby massage. Lavender Baby Wash & Shampoo, super gentle organic bubbles for delicate skin.

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To enter just use the rafflecopter form below (opens tomorrow):

a Rafflecopter giveaway

T&Cs – UK only, giveaway ends midnight 8/12/13, Rafflecopter randomly chooses the winner and this choice is final, there is no cash alternative, responsibility for sending out the prize is with Green People

Greenfrog Product Review

In my quest for eco-friendly household products I recently came across Greenfrog Natural Soap Products.  Soapnuts are environmentally friendly, sustainably produced and bio-degradable with their natural cleaning properties coming from nature’s detergent, saponin, which soapnuts are rich in they make a great non-toxic home cleaner.  I am new to soapnuts and their derived products, but wanted to give them a go in our home.   I had some questions, like whether they would smell clean, would they be as effective as other cleaners, and with these questions in mind I undertook a test of Greenfrog products!

Greenfrog’s range currently comprises of laundry soapnuts, natural washing up liquid, liquid soap and kitchen cleaner.   The products are free from nasty chemicals, have naturally anti-microbial and antibacterial properties and can be used instead of laundry detergent for soft, clean clothes on sensitive skin.

Here’s what we tested, over the course of a fairly average week in our busy household:

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First up was the bag of soap nuts, these really intrigued me, they look like wrinkled hazelnuts and smelled a little like vinegar, but they are in fact little gems. Through using cloth nappies I learned that when things are clean and detergent build up free they should smell like nothing at all, and that bubbles are just to make us think things are clean, so I quite like clean washing without the smell of flowers or other strong smells, the soap nuts did their job with two big loads of family washing, the instructions were easy to follow and I was delighted by how everything was cleaned. I also tried them with a nappy wash as we’re fairly low soiled at the mo, and again was impressed with the results, the nappies didn’t smell of anything at all which is what we want!

Next up was the cleaning spray, with a really lovely lasting neroli and geranium scent this made me feel happy to be cleaning! I’ve tried lots of natural cleaners, I haven’t used anything that did as good a job of degreasing in the kitchen as this spray, and we all loved the smell, this was definately my favourite product, and one we will use again! I can see why this was shortlisted for ‘Best New Natural Living and Home Product’ at The Natural and Organic Awards 2013! Our kitchen has never looked so clean!

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Geranium features again in the handwash, alongside mint and aloe vera with softening honey too, a lovely creamy handwash with a peppermint kick, low foaming for a fast but clean wash.

Last up, the washing up liquid, lemon and neroli, both naturally anti-bacterial, this was easy to get along with, I like a low foam for the dishes as it makes drying them so much easier!

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This is a really impressive range, I would like to try experimenting with different oil blends alongside the laundry nuts for our less soiled cloth nappies as I think with teatree we would get a great antibacterial clean, I’ll be seeking some advice on this one, and heading to our local Greenfrog stockist in York as this is easily the best eco range we’ve tried!