Archive | June, 2010

Dream Design Natural & Organic Mattresses

When I set off with my goal to purchase organic mattresses – my boys were close to purchasing a bunk bed that they saved for almost 2 years. The buildup for this was tremendously exciting and I didn’t want to drop the ball not finding mattresses they would like and that lived up to the safety requirements I needed them to have. With being a green business owner and blogger I have to admit this purchase proved to be much more difficult than I expected. It’s funny that the end result of purchasing my boys their mattresses came down to good old fashion word-of-mouth (thanks Sabrina and Trish!). Let’s not forget that I’m not buying an organic crib mattress(where there are many options available)  but twin mattresses that are larger and heavier in size. This factor almost (don’t forget I say almost) rules out purchasing larger mattresses online from across the country because the cost to ship these pieces starts to really add up.

The mattresses that we purchased are not organic but natural Dream Bed mattresses from Dream Designs. This ‘natural’ option allowed us to buy greener mattresses that are chemical free, locally crafted, and made with locally produced materials. The only difference between the organic and natural Dream Beds is the cotton casing around the exterior of the mattress is either organic or natural – also the cotton batting inside the mattress.  Oh – and quite a bit of money. The difference between the two options is more than $500 and since we were purchasing two – the decision was based on cost savings and the mattresses meeting my requirements for not containing chemical flame retardants or PVC (supporting a locally made mattress was just a huge bonus!). For a child’s organic twin mattress, you are going to pay approx. $1000.00. We paid under $500 per mattress for the natural option through Dream Designs…it’s a substantial savings.

I am very happy with the purchase. My main goal was purchasing mattresses for my kids without chemical flame retardants and a plastic exterior made from PVC. The natural flame retardant within a Dream Design mattress is wool, which meets the government criteria ~ naturally ~ so that chemicals are not added to the foam when the mattress is being manufactured. Linda, the owner of Dream Designs has amazing product knowledge and could answer all of my questions – she even cleared up the mystery that polyurethane foam can be used without having to add chemicals if it’s wrapped in wool or a natural flame retardant. The polyurethane foam that is used in a Dream Design mattress is locally sourced and also naturally biodegradable.

I always find it easier to gage size and dimensions from real pictures for products so I’ve included a few shots of my bottom bunk’s mattress. They are designed as futon mats and provide a very firm surface. Going from an older spring mattress to their new futon mattress was different for my sons and did take a bit for them to get used to. Also, you need to be wary of wetness. If you have a child that has the occasional accident, you should have a mattress protector because the exterior of the mattress is cotton without a waterproof liner. There are three options when selecting a Dream Design mattress 1) Tatami which is more like a bed topper or sleeping mat 2) Deluxe which consists of cotton & wool wrap combo around 2 layers of foam 3) Supreme which offers an extra 3rd layer of foam. Also of course – the different option between natural and organic Dream Beds. The difference in price between the Deluxe and Supreme is approx. $100 but after testing the different mattresses we actually found that the Supreme was too hard a surface and have been happy with the Deluxe. You can view from the mattress thickness below.

Being a newbie to purchasing new mattresses – I was surprised at the huge jump in price when researching kids organic mattresses from the cost of organic crib mattresses.  Thank goodness these mattresses will last 10 years and I feel good about my investment.  The joy my boys have experienced saving all that time to make a major purchase on their own has been amazing to watch. It was very cute observing my older son (who has dibs on the top bunk) experience a bit of ‘princess and the pea’ symptoms the first few weeks on the new mattresses and bunk bed. “I just feel like something isn’t quite right” he kept saying.  I didn’t want to be the one to tell him he’s missing having his little brother right next to him in bed since they’ve been split up to sleep in the top and bottom bunk. Both have settled into their independent sleeping quarters now and can’t wait to show off their new purchase to friends and proudly announce “and we even saved for 2 years!” A great experience to watch and I’m so proud of my guys…thank goodness there’s still room for Mommy on that bottom bed so I don’t loose any cuddle time.

Related Articles:

Natural Tips to Improve Bedroom Air Quality

Tips To Immediately Reduce Toxins Your Bedroom

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Sun Protective Clothing Top Recommendation For Kid’s UV Protection

It still feels weird to say it but the top recommendations from experts this summer with keeping children safe from harmful UV rays are protective clothing, shade and sunglasses. It’s a different way of thinking for parents focused on finding sunscreens every summer, but this year, clothing is recommended as a first step for skin protection – even before sunscreen. With only 8% of all sunscreens being recommended from EWG for 2010, the role of sunscreen is shifting. Once I wrapped my mind around this new information I started researching sun shirts for my boys and protective sun suits for my twins and I found everything I needed at Organically Hatched. This online store has everything you need to protect your family with a full arsenal of sun safety products – from UPF 50+ sun protection clothing, to 100% UV ray blocking sunglasses, organic sunscreen, to recycled sand toys, and more!  I’m so impressed with their sourcing and I especially love the brand of sun shirts and suits I received to review for my kids. The NoZone shirts are North American made (Canada) and after checking with the very helpful owner from Organically Hatched, I’m assured the protection is chemical free.This is the reason I’ve put off buying sun shirts for the last few years…I couldn’t get a answer to that question from stores that import their sun protection clothing from overseas. NoZone clothing is made with quality polyester that provides the same protection as spandex/nylon blend, but is also very durable.

A bigger surprise with the sun shirts and toddler swimsuits has been how much my kids love them. Having no previous experience with sun protection clothing, I’ve been delighted to discover how very effective their UV protection is and this is so important for all parents. I can still remember last year my family’s first visit to the beach that resulted in minor burns for my girls. This year they’ve already been out wearing their adorable one piece swimsuits and I’m very pleased with how effective the clothing’s sun protection is. I also can’t believe how much easier my life is because I only need to worry about putting sunscreen on ear tips, faces, and necks rather than entire bodies. I got the long sleeve sun shirts for my boys – hoping that the long sleeves would not be uncomfortable after they’ve been wet, but I didn’t need to worry because the boys love their shirts. Not only are they gorgeous colors, but the fit is perfect and roomy which is not usually the case for my beefy 8 year old.  The shirt’s material dries very quickly (doesn’t get  heavy when wet), and because they have a zipper in the front – I’m not having to squeeze their heads through a tight neck hole. Only people with kids know how important it is for them to like what they’ll be wearing for hours at the beach and I’m thrilled with the feedback from my kids. Even my girls that love wearing regular bathing suits are completely happy with the fact they wear their sun protective suits outdoors and their bathing suits at our local indoor pool. The boys are ecstatic to avoid last summer’s 20 minute sunscreen application process in exchange for a 5 minute sunscreen application and comfortable shirts.

I’ll mention again that the NoZone brand is made in Canada! I really trust the fact these items are produced in North America and love supporting North American made items. The colors they offer in their sun protective clothing will please any parent and child. I spoke with a representative from NoZone about their shirts and how they protect from the sun. I received a very helpful response to my concern that the clothing isn’t treated with chemicals.  Here is the response.

NoZone shirts are tested to be UPF 50+ and this is the highest rating and it blocks out both UVA and UVB rays. The material is woven together tightly enough that the suns damaging rays are not able to get through the fabric. We do not treat the shirts in any way. The sun protection only comes from how tightly the fabric is woven. Our shirts/ suits are 100% polyester but UV protection clothing is available is a range of different fabrics. We choose polyester for its durability, quick drying properties and several other benefits to the wearer.

What is UPF you ask? It’s not a Mommy Footprint typo – UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor and indicates how much UV protection is provided by fabric…similar to SPF rating in sunscreen. A fabric with a rating of 50 will allow only 1/50th of the sun’s UV rays to pass through. This means the fabric will reduce your skin’s UV radiation exposure significantly, because it blocks 98% of the UV radiation. This combined with sun hats, sun glasses and a recommended sunscreen will make all the difference with sun protection this summer for children.

A very cool item I noticed while writing this article and gives you insight to the excellent sourcing Organically Hatched delivers are the Aqua Sandals. I’ve never seen water-friendly kids sandals that are made of materials free from BPA, PVC, and Phthalates. WIth the price tag of only $14.99 this is a great product for parents looking for sandals that aren’t made from normal material PVC.

Pictures will be coming soon of my kids in their shirts to show how easy and light they are for children to wear. My boys have the full sleeve shirt in the below picture and they look so handsome against the ‘Marine’ blue colour. It’s been a great start to the summer having this added protection for my kids – check out Organically Hatched and enjoy one-stop shopping for your family’s sun protection.

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2010 Strawberry Season – Pick and Freeze Quickly

No wonder I forget about picking Strawberries every year!  Not only are these wonderful berries only in season for two weeks out West, but this picking window is during the hectic final 2 weeks of the school year.  I’ve finally pegged this short window where the strawberries are ripe and ready so I wanted to share this reminder.  I’m hoping to get out to a local farm this weekend and take advantage of selecting my own berries this year. Not only are strawberries my kids favourite, but I’m tired of buying the chemically pumped strawberries with the bottom layer often coated in mold from the grocery. My plan is to pick as many as we can carry and freeze berries for the first time. Here are the instructions for freezing strawberries. Google your local farms and don’t miss this very short picking season for strawberries!

Freezing Strawberries:

~ Wash strawberries in cold water and remove tops (green stems/cap). Pat dry.

~ Spread strawberries to freeze in a single layer on baking sheets (cookie sheets) – making sure they’re not touching.

~ After strawberries are frozen, put them into airtight freezing containers.

Being a rookie to freezing strawberries I’m hoping to have access to these berries all year around.  If they come out mushy after being frozen..my kids will simply have to join the smoothie train for the remainder of the year. I’ll also be freezing my berries in stainless steel airtight containers rather than plastic bags. If you need a recommendation where to find great quality stainless steel containers that are suitable for freezing food without BPA concerns, click here.

If you’re not already a member of the Mommy Footprint fan page – click here to join!

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Abeego Flats – Natural Alternative To Plastic Wrap

I can eliminate one toxic product from my kitchen now that I’ve tested Abeego Flats. What is the item I’ll be eliminating since I know it leeches chemicals directly into my food?  That would be plastic wrap.  I don’t use it for much anymore but I hadn’t found a way to seal my brick of cheese (even though it makes me cringe), to cover plates with leftover food in bowls, and cut fruit (like melons) that need a cover to stay fresh. What are Abeego Flats?  They are Eco food packaging sold in squares made from hemp/cotton fabric infused with beeswax and plant extracts.  You can smell and feel the beeswax on this product and it’s glorious. How does it look on a brick of cheese?  Check out the picture from the Abeego fan page and I’ve included it because my brick of cheese looks just like this! It’s so much better than using plastic food wrap that should never directly touch food.

The rectangle in the above picture is what your brick of cheese will look like after it’s removed from the plastic packaging and replaced with Abeego. You just re-wrap it after each use. It’s long been my peeve that the texture of my cheese is glossy on the parts that rub against the soft plastic it’s purchased in – I actually cut off the outside because I’m convinced the plastic has leeched into the cheese because the texture has been altered…spongy rather than firm like the rest of the cheese. So I’m pretty excited that these Abeego Flats actually work!  It could have easily been a disappointment – looking too good to believe, but I’ve watched this company develop over the last few years and I’m very happy with the results. Being able to replace more of the places in my kitchen where I use plastic wrap is awesome. It honestly makes me feel like a pioneer from many years ago – like I’m using a secret, old school method of food storage. I’m sure before the revolution of plastic, people used cloth to keep food fresh and the few seconds longer it take me to cover food with Abeego gives me a feeling of pride.  I really, really, really dislike PVC and don’t understand how it’s legal for companies to put it in products we use – especially with our food and products our children are in contact with.  PVC is known as the ‘poison’ plastic and I’m very happy to have this very ‘green’ product to replace PVC or plastic containing phthalates or plasticizers directly touching my food.  Isn’t the below example of covering food beautiful?

To place an Abeego flat around a bowl like the examples above, you just pinch around the edge of the bowl and you’ll feel the beeswax mold around the dish. Please understand that Abeego can replace plastic wrap – but doesn’t necessarily apply to dishes the exact same as plastic wrap.  Like most toxic products – plastic wrap was introduced and marketed to moms promising to make their life easier and more efficient. The act of applying cling wrap is very quick and if the plastic wrap you use is super clingy  - that means there’s lots of chemicals that have been applied to the wrap. These chemicals are toxic to human health.  The Abeego flats take a few extra seconds to use and the seal won’t feel the exact same. But – the desired affect of keeping food fresh does work. I used my Abeego flat on one huge brick of cheese for weeks and it stayed more fresh than using cling wrap. I also used it to wrap cut fruit and have replaced it completely with keeping left-over plates or sauce fresh in my fridge.

Would I buy more of these flats?   Yes.  I don’t know how long they’ll last for – I’ve been using mine for over a month and they are still in great shape.  Funny enough you wash them in cold water in order for them to bounce back into their original shape before using them again.  Would I recommend giving them to a person who loves plastic, has no idea that wrapping food in plastic is a bad thing and loves Saran Wrap?  No. This special product needs to be purchased or given to a person on the road to a greener path. I think most moms are trying to reduce the amount of plastic in their life and know soft plastic should not directly touch food and would love this item.  I haven’t tried Abeego’s sandwich wraps or snack holders but I will because I love the scent, texture and concept of the Abeego line. The below picture is of an Abeego Wrap – perfect size for a sandwich to eliminate a plastic bag.

And while this last note is a little off-topic – I had the pleasure of meeting Abeego owner Toni at a local craft show. I’m normally not a fan of business cards – I think in our world of social media that they are a waste of money and resources. Well I looked down at Toni’s business cards for Abeego and noticed they were made from a tiny square of fabric sealed in beeswax.  I took this unique card and still have it in my kitchen cupboard.  I love the scent of beeswax and I think it’s so cool she infused her logo into this material.

Related articles:

A Plastic Rant

PVC Items In Your Every-Day Life

PVC Plastic ~ The Poison Plastic In Your Home

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Baby Wisp Blossoms – Handcrafted Fun

I love to discover a more Eco or local product that replaces something plastic and Baby Wisp certainly has a great story. This online store has created headbands for little girls that are crocheted without needing any plastic in the design. All moms love a product that actually works and these handy little head bands are great at keeping fly-away hair in place and they are comfortable…not to mention adorable!

Baby Wisp sent me a blossom headband and blossom ponytail holders and I love them. I will even back up the Baby Wisp claim that these products are a must have for little girls. The headband is very special – so soft and will stretch to fit (and stay) on any size head. Unlike most other headbands, it actually stays in place and the crocheted flowers that are sewn to the headband are an adorable accent.

The ponytail holders are very sweet and great for partial hair-up, low ponytails or braids. They are not strong enough for a single ponytail for my girls – but ohh do I love doing two low ponytails while accenting their hair with these hand-sewn blossoms.  And yes, the crochet blossoms are my very favourite part of the Baby Wisp collections and it’s nice to not have to stop and worry about cadmium, lead, or any other nasties when purchasing these obviously safe and metal free hair accessories.

I didn’t review any of the hair clips from the Baby Wisp site, but with all small pieces, they are not recommended for children under the age of three unless supervised.  Maybe I’m just too rushed in the morning or lazy doing girlie hair, I just think the hairbands are easy and I’ve loved putting them in my twins hair.

Prices are also reasonable with at $4 for a set of ponytails with the blossoms and $13 for a blossom band that is 3 inches across of crocheted cuteness.

Article correction: The headbands are machine made and both headbands and blossoms are made overseas. The hair clips are cut, heated, and sealed by 4 local mamas to Baby Wisp headquarters.  The clips are CPSC certified which means the lead content meets strict US rules.

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