Archive | November, 2010

A New Spin On Superhero Themed Gifts

I was inspired to write this post from the awesome ideas in the Cool Mom Picks holiday gift guide – they did such a great job in choosing original ideas for Superhero fans, without adding the usual plastic toy options. I’ve got some beautiful little nephews to buy for this Christmas who are very into Superheros so I wanted to highlight the CMP ideas plus a few of my own.

From the CMP guide….for the kid obsessed with super heroes

Personalized Cape

For the child that already has everything superhero – this personalized cape with their initial is awesome!

Personalized Adventure Story

I love the idea of personalizing an adventure story with your very own superhero.  I walked through the steps of setting up your superhero and their appearance…you can really get close with how the superhero looks by changing eye color, hair styles, etc.  So much fun and again, great gift idea for the little super hero fan that already has everything.

Superhero Mask and Cuffs

Green Planet Parties carries superhero themed lightening bolt arm cuffs and masks that are made 100% with felt and have large eye holes so the superheroes can see where they are flying!  These would compliment any capes or dress-up costumes and make the perfect stocking stuffer (size and price point). I love these so much because there isn’t any vinyl used to make them which make them a safe and fun alternative around the eyes and face.

Custom Reversible Superhero Capes

Yes I’m back to capes because we all know that kids love them. For the die hard Superman, Spiderman, Batman/girl child – The Cosmic Banana shop will nail it because kids will visually love them, but what’s great is they are hand-made in the US. I like them so much because the appliques are hand-stitched…not glued which means they will last a very long time. Check out the girlie superhero designs too!

Shutterfly Photo Books

Have you ever used the Shutterfly site to create family Photo Books?  I used to make one every year for my in-laws and parents each year as a Christmas gift….they loved them! A very special idea for your superhero fan would be to take a bunch of pictures with him/her dressed in their favourite ‘saving the world’ outfit and made a little story using Shutterfly. You can make your own story or talk about how much you love your superhero…any child would love this. My kids look through our Shutterfly photo books regularly and love the special captions that were personalized especially for them. Shutterfly is always good about having discounts and/or free shipping on their Christmas cards, calendars and photo books so always check out the home page for updates.

From having two boys I know there is magic to be found in believing in Superheroes. Great job to CMP and other talented artists for thinking out side the box and encouraging this wonderful world using earth friendlier Christmas ideas.

Related Articles:

Boys and Fun Alternatives to Electronics

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Harry Potter Magic

It may sound odd but I only discovered Harry Potter maybe 8 months ago. Funny, because the books and characters are now such a big part of my household. There’s been no looking back since reading the first of 7 novels with my boys. Why am I writing about it? Until my sons (ages six and eight) sat on either side of me listening to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, they had never been gripped by a novel. They loved their picture books when they were younger, but weren’t transfixed by books how I remember being as a child and it always worried me a bit. The Harry Potter books changed all that. To get them to listen to the first book, I promised they could watch the movie after we finished it. This tactic worked and 1/2 way through the book I don’t think they cared about the movie anymore. Each book in the series got better and by the time we got to Harry Potter 7 (Deathly Hallows), I couldn’t’ believe how addicted both myself, my husband and boys were. My 6 year old would beg to read more after already reading for hours at a time. It’s a good thing it was summer when we started the series because there weren’t any sports or homework interrupting us getting through all 7 books. It’s really one of the highlights from our summer and it was such an incredible experience to learn about the magic of Hogwarts and the characters together with my children.

I wanted to mention this series because it’s been such a wonderful journey for my entire family. I became even more bonded with my boys from discovering Harry Potter with them, learning and loving all the characters and of course the incredible author who has the best imagination on the planet. J.K. Rowling created a world where every child (or adult) can escape the stress from everyday life and float into a world where wizards, magic, and relationships develop into such an amazing place to visit. If you are looking for a Christmas gift and don’t know what to get a child….think about Harry Potter books. At one point in their lives, children will read a book from this series and think it’s amazing. Once you get to the books 4-7…they get very long. If you’re having a tough time getting through the books, we take the audio CD books from the library and listen to the narrated story in the car or instead of watching TV, which is brilliant too. The books – of course are best…but I’d prefer my kids listen to a narrated story than watch TV.

We went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part I last night and it was really good. I like to think that the first part of this two part conclusion to Deathly Hallows was a special bonus for die hard fans that will have to say goodbye to the beloved main characters Ron, Harry, and Hermoine. Unlike the other movies, this one was mainly focused on these three and their lovely relationships. The quality of acting was so much higher than other Harry Potter movies – they’ve set quite the stage for the last movie Deathly Hallows part II. I just cannot wait to see how it all ends on the big screen.

I believe J.K. Rowling changed the way children think about reading. . . I know this has been the case at my house. Only since getting through the Harry Potter series is my older son now good with sitting down and reading other books on his own. I watched  J.K. Rowling’s interview with Oprah and one thing she mentioned really moved me and I thought it was worth repeating. In the last part of her interview with Oprah she shares that a girl popped up in front of her on the street and said “you are my childhood”. What an amazing thing to be told and I’m sure she is not the first or last to think this. Harry Potter will always be a wonderful memory for my children and as an adult it took me to a wonderful place to escape and bond with my sons. Ultimate magic – thank you JK Rowling and the Harry Potter empire for the truly magical world you created. There is nothing like the wizarding world and learning that love really is the most important thing of all.

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Time To Detox – Miessence Can Help

What is your chemical exposure like within your home?  The easier areas for myself have been kitchen and cleaning products to de-tox. A little harder and more intimidating is your personal hygiene because there is so much false information with marketing and green washing within the beauty industry. If you want to detox your bathroom, beauty products, shampoo, facial wash, right down to deodorant and shampoo, check out Miessence. The one-stop shopping experience at the Miessence site makes finding your ‘must have’ products easy, whether it be all natural deodorant, hair products, makeup, etc. It will also be a little more affordable with the 20% discount Miessence is offering on the entire site until November 29th.  Use the code ‘elyo20′ at checkout and save money!  The Miessence products would make awesome stocking stuffers or gifts for loved ones. I noticed there is even hair gel!  I know an 8 year old boy in this house that would love some gel that is truly void of chemicals (do you know how hard it is to find gel, deodorants, shampoo all on one site??!)

Why Miessence in the world of organics? For me, I have two criteria besides the actual products themselves (which in this case I have tested): how knowledgeable are the people selling it and how does it rate with the experts?  In the vast world of social media which I’m fairy entrenched, some of the top advocates for human health are Miessence representatives. Erin Ely from Miessence is always reaching out to support the topics of how to improve health and the environment and is a trusted source for me with questions regarding personal care products. This is actually very important when purchasing products that you are ingesting, inhaling, & rubbing on your skin and hair. Also, the trusted folks at EWG have given the entire line of Miessence products a very solid rating across the board.  I have also been testing the lemon shampoo, conditioner, and facial cleanser for the past month and I’m very happy with the results. My skin just loves the daily cleanser..it is incredible.

Why should you be using organic makeup and personal hygiene products?  It is vital to reduce our chemical exposure. In my opinion, it’s our daily intake of household toxins that  has boosted the numbers of prostate and breast cancer and why so many suffer from infertility and more terrible health problems. From the food that we eat, to the plastic that seems to encase everything we purchase, to the chemicals and perfumes that we ingest and inhale…our chemical exposure has never been so high. I am hopeful that the small changes I make on a daily basis help my own family’s health and that is why I share these recommendations with you. It’s why 3 months ago I completely stopped using all products and adopted the ‘no poo‘ strategy to my beauty regime but I realize washing your hair with vinegar and baking soda can sound a little extreme to most people. This is where Miessence can help – you can replace the bulk of your bathroom’s personal care products easily and in one place. I haven’t worn deodorant in years and I rarely wear make-up , but in this world, those decisions are not realistic for people that go to work outside the home or still enjoy a daily beauty regime. This is why I’m writing about Miessence – it is a great fit for anyone, regardless of the degree of ‘green’ a person chooses to go with beauty.

My favourite Miessence product has been the facial cleanser. Skin care is something that is much harder to remedy with a home-made recipe so it’s been wonderful to use this silky soft cleanser and know that it’s good for my skin. I think with Christmas coming, it’s also the one area that women will splurge and will add to their own list to Santa. Safe and organic moisturizer for your skin is also a wonderful treat, a great product to add to the everyday items like shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, and deodorant.

So treat yourself to better health this year and pickup some Miessence products. The research is there – limiting your chemical exposure is important and it doesn’t need to be difficult.  One more thing you can tick off the Santa list.

I wanted to mention a new campaign that’s started on Facebook helping consumers by calling out companies that ‘pink wash’. This term is similar to green washing (telling consumers a product is eco-friendly when it’s not) as pink washing is a label on companies that market proceeds from their sales that are donated to breast cancer research (if they money actually reaches the cancer societies), while doing nothing to remove the chemicals from within their product that actually cause cancer!  If you would like more information on this Facebook fan page, click here or search Pinkwashing Hall of Shame on Facebook.

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Greener Holidays & Eliminating PVC Under The Tree

Hello!  I’ve been away for ages and miss writing terribly so I’m thrilled to be covering a few different issues on my mind: greener ways to wrap gifts, the annual ‘fake or real’ Christmas tree debate, and Toys R Us and toxic toys. Much of my time in the last 2 months has gone to sourcing for my on-line store Green Planet Parties. I wanted to find items that were very green and practical…items that are truly unique, truly green, and still whisper Christmas when you see them. What do you think about gift bags, gift wrap, gift tags, and cards that are seeded with wild flower seeds so they can be planted once they start to tear?  Sounds kinda cool right?  I thought so – I’m very proud of the category called ‘Christmas Wrapped Up‘ and the products listed here are either plantable or reusable. Not only are the plantable items magical, but the reusable cloth santa sacks, Furochic wrap, fabric gift tags, and wooden clothespin reusable/vintage vibe items looking great!  If you are like me, I cringe when I wrap presents for people or even when I reuse traditional gift bags because there is a strange odor from them.  It’s not my imagination..I’m convinced they are coated with something toxic. I know I should be using newspaper or craft paper, but sometimes (especially around the holidays) you want unique and seasonal presentation with gifts.  Enter plantable gift bags or wrap and cloth Santa Sacks – these products are truly green and will remove any guilt with wrapping your gift and leave you singing Fa La La La La the entire time!

My next holiday themed topic is the annual debate of ‘fake vs. real’ Christmas trees. Which one is truly kinder to the environment? Some people say that reusing a fake tree is a better choice because you’re not cutting down young trees each year.  Others will argue that trees grown specifically for Christmas season is a better choice for the environment. I haven’t felt qualified to cover this topic in recent years but I’m ready to voice my opinion and let me start by saying we’ve used a fake tree for close to 6 years and I always felt a little smug because the thought of cutting down baby trees made me sad.  But – then I learned that all fake Christmas trees are produced from PVC.  This is the plastic (#3) that is called poison plastic.  You just need to understand that after you purchase a fake tree it will never leave the earth in an environmentally kind way.  Never. It’s taken me years to fully understand that a fake Christmas tree releases toxic dioxins into the air, into our bodies from the time the plastic is produced with making it, after you purchase it (the reason it smells) and there isn’t a way to effectively dispose of the tree. If you burn it – more dioxins are released, it cannot be recycled, so it will continue to exist when discarded for a very long time. The issue of PVC isn’t only about it’s harm to the environment, but also human heath.  Please note that I’m not suggesting anyone with a fake Christmas tree throw it away.  When something is functional, it should be reused as much as possible.  This information is for people struggling with the decision of “should I purchase a fake tree this year”?  When I purchased my fake tree, I had no idea what it was made from. Now I can make an educated decision on my tree this year, but it won’t involve throwing out a fake tree if it’s still usable.  Would I ever purchase another one?  Definitely not.

A new trend last year were little tree companies that will bring you a potted tree to use over the holidays, then it’s returned to the nursery or transplanted. It is easy to find they companies using Google but I warn you, this option is wonderful and very eco-friendly, but it’s expensive. Could you not purchase a potted tree on your own for less money I wonder?

Or – a very sustainable option exists out of Chicago.  The price of this tree is the equivalent to an expensive fake tree – but it’s lovely and hand made, and I want one all for myself to decorate with acorn ornaments.  This picture is from the talented Forestry Handmade site… get ready to swoon.

Now that I’ve softened you up with wonderful relaxing photos of handcrafted Christmas trees, I have some hard facts about toys and PVC. I have drafted so many articles that I’ve never published because they are full rants about Hasbro, Disney, Barbie, Toys R Us, and many more companies that produce and sell plastic toys because of my frustration that they can’t keep the issue of ‘safe plastic’ a priority for our children’s health. I’m going to try and remove all the personal conflict I feel about plastic toys aside (I’ve ranted along these lines before) and stick to the facts that CHEJ outlined this week on a new site they’ve launched called Toxic Toys R Us. This is a project run by consumer advocates looking to inform consumers about the sale of PVC-contaminated toys at Toys R Us. The hard facts are that although Toys R Us promised to remove PVC plastic, phthalates, and lead from toys they sell back in 2008 but tests have shown that toys they sell still contain PVC and no amount of labelling from the large toy manufacturers will help parents to understand if they are truly safe.  I cannot wait for their Toxic Toys R Us 2010 Report…I wish it was already out. And it’s only Toys R Us that’s been called out on the issue of PVC and toys.. . and we should be aware that all other big box stores carry the same products, the same toys, with the same set of standards.  Again, what is the problem for a toy made from PVC to land under the tree Christmas morning?  The same problems that I outlined with the fake Christmas tree are true for toys.  I wonder if this is the Christmas that as parents (myself included) wake up and realize the damage plastic has done.

Sorry for the lengthy post, but I have very mixed feeling about Christmas and it’s wonderful that I can purge my feelings and perhaps help others who might be confused about different choices we can make this holiday season.

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