Archive | Girls Favorite Things

Pajama Holiday Tradition

I know so many families that give PJs at Christmas and Hanukkah and I love the tradition. Kids love to receive new Pajamas which is perfect for parents wanting to give practical gifts and it seems kids always need new sleep wear. I’ve been waiting for the organic PJs to arrive at My Little Green Shop because the designs and sizes are like no other store!  Seriously – it’s impossible to find organic Pajamas in the size range from 3 months old to 12 years old. It’s hard enough to find 100% cotton PJs for my older children so the fact they are available in organic cotton is great. So the good news is the PJs have arrived and the store is well stocked. Another piece of great news is everything in the store is reduced by 20% when you use the code Wishlist20 at checkout. The discount code is good until December 1st so shop soon!

Let’s also have a chat about why organic PJs should be at the top of your sleep wear list. Most of the big box stores sell PJs that are made from polyester. This material has naturally occurring flame retardants and in trying to limit chemicals in our bedding, pillows, and sleep wear – cotton is the way to go. And if you choose the organic cotton route with sleep wear, you can be assured that developing systems are not surrounded by the pesticides and chemicals needed to grow cotton.  The reason these organic PJs are budget friendly at $35 is because they are manufactured overseas. Organic clothing is usually much more expensive so it’s the very tough balancing act of trying to minimize chemical exposure, but stay on budget, and manage your footprint. It’s a tough thing for sure!  But for children that suffer from skin irritation, eczema, asthma and allergies – I would really recommend an organic sleep solution that includes natural pillows, mattresses and sleep wear. To read more on PJs and Polyester – click here.

I read a fantastic article by our friend Bethe from The Grass Stain Guru today. The title of the article “Holiday Shopping: Don’t Lose Your Sh*t People!” might just summarize the entire message of the post – but besides for being very funny and factual, she talks about a the concept of Four Presents that’s been circulating around social media. I LOVE it and agree that it’s a balanced and very smart guide for parents. Each child gets 4 presents:

1.    Something they want

2.    Something they need

3.    Something to wear

4.    Something to read

It’s easy and really keeps you on track with gift giving and not just running through a toy or electronics store mass purchasing gifts in order to fill some void that doesn’t actually even exist with our children. This also got me thinking about My Little Green Shop and their sourcing of PJs for the 4th present. Let’s address the other 3 points of the Four Present concept. The easy point is the ‘something they want’. All children have requests at Christmas. But actually only giving them 1 gift of the many they’ve vocalized will make them appreciate that gift so much more than receiving 10. Also, when we see our children’s Christmas lists, deep in our hearts we know what gifts are truly a good idea. The ‘something they need’ gift doesn’t need to be school supplies or dull and boring. Rather, it can be anything that you think they ‘need’ that they’ll appreciate after the glitter and glow of Christmas morning dims. My kids ‘needs’ a new hockey stick. Will he gloss over getting it on Christmas morning and only talk about the gift he got that he ‘wanted’? Probably. But 2 months later when he’s still using that hockey stick, he’ll think it’s great that Santa brought it. We’ve already covered ‘something to wear’ – although it could be something very functional like Puddle Gear (perfect for rain or snow), new boots, or super functional PJs. And lastly…’something to read’. What if you gave yourself permission to give your children a book to love this Christmas? Something that takes you back in time through the pages of your own childhood. I’ll always remember listening to Charlotte’s Web, James and the Giant Peach and devouring James Herriot All Creatures Great and Small when I was young. Why not give the magic that a book can bring to your child? I have book recommendations here for recent books I’ve read preschool aged to late elementary that engage children with nature.  To use these Four Presents as a guide – even if you don’t follow it to the letter (I would include a gift that is handmade) it’s something I really needed to see and read. Thank you for posting it Bethe!

Now ready for some cute pictures? These are some of the great new organic PJ designs available at My Little Green Shop!

 

Related Articles:

Polyester PJs and Flame Retardants

Plastic Ocean Pollution From Your Home

Books To Engage Children With Nature

Clothing Mis-labelling Leads To Composting Problems!

Harry Potter Magic

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2 in 1 Summer Shoe – Salt Water Sandals

With the rain on the West Coast – we’ve had a delayed response in purchasing summer footwear for the kids. My reluctance to purchase another pair of plastic summer shoes last year resulted in my oldest son actually wearing his running shoes all summer – that’s a dedication to reducing plastic! But it’s tough to beat plastic shoes for kids because they can be worn in the ocean, beach combing, water park, etc. So when venting my frustration about this to Maria, Owner of dandelion KIDS, she introduced me to Salt Water Sandals. This was a new recommendation and with how cute the sandals are it was amazing to discover they are water shoes!  After raving about BOGS footwear for the same reason, 2-1 boot for snow and rain, I thought these could be my summer shoe solution for my girls. And after almost a month of testing – they are! First, check out how cute they are!!

Knowing that my girls would love the stylish design, I purchased a pair and received a pair for the review. My girls are tough on shoes because they are rough and tough little things.  These sandals have been incredible.  Not only can my 6 year olds manage the buckles themselves, they wear these as their ‘dress-up’ shoes with dresses for events we attend, they are worn bike riding, and as the summer warms up they can wear them into the ocean for beach walks. We tried a beach walk before having these shoes and my girls had cuts all over the bottom of their feet from sharp rocks, barnacles, etc., so thank you Maria! It’s important to note that Salt Water Sandals are also machine washable . . they have the ability to bounce back into shape.  Ours haven’t reached that point of scuffing yet, but it’s only a matter of time so I love this!

We know I love a good story and two great tidbits on these sandals is the company behind the shoe has been in business for over 60 years and were created as an alternative to traditional children’s leather sandals as a way to cope with leather shortages in World War II. The sandals were made primarily from scrap leather left over from making men’s shoes. Maria shared with me that both herself and Stephanie, co-owner of dandelion KIDS owned these sandals as children. I guess even back then they had an eye for sourcing great products!

Available online at dandelion KIDS. They fit on the bigger side so if you’re in-between sizes, go down in size.

Related Articles:

BOGS Boots

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Fa La La La … Lead?

I wasn’t planning on writing an article warning parents of lead this holiday season but as you’ll read below, researching something on my own Christmas shopping list encouraged this article to be published. Many parents think of toys being recalled with lead in the paint from years ago..that doesn’t seem to happen very often anymore. Could it be we are supporting a new age of purchasing locally made wooden toys so this concern isn’t as high?  I hope so!  Besides for avoiding imported painted toys from overseas there are a few other ways to avoid lead exposure this Christmas for children.

Children’s jewelry is still an area of concern for lead. I would honestly love to hire The Smart Mama and have her walk through a big box store, dollar store – any store that sells cheap jewelry with her XRF machine and wait for the results. But since that isn’t going to happen, what is the easiest way to not have to worry about lead or cadmium in children’s jewelry?  Do not purchase cheap jewelry for children. I was recently reminded of this when I started searching for personalized necklace jewelry stores for Christmas gifts. We all know how much I love hand stamped jewelry and this year is no exception. When I went to order the necklaces, there was a Swarovski Crystal attached with each necklace. These crystals are always available for mom or child necklaces so you can showcase different colors for birth months, etc. Did you know that Swarovski Crystals are man made and contain lead? Because of California Proposition 65, stores that carry jewelry containing swarovski crystals, certain base metal findings, and other leaded glass items – warnings must be posted if sold online because potentially a Californian could purchase the jewelry. When is the last time you remember seeing a warning on any jewelry sold at the dollar store, Claires, etc.?  You see the State of California regulates synthetic chemicals sold in products that cause cancer, birth defects, or reproductive harm. When a product may contain one of these chemicals, there is a strong warning placed on the item being sold. Cool hey? If you are not familiar with California Proposition 65, read more here. I found California’s Metal-Containing Jewelry Law an interesting read too. Made me think of a few more items that I should look into: the gemstones (polished stones) my girls love to play with and to go through their dress-up jewelry again. Boys are not totally exempt from this since they have metal badges and medallions. It also helps me to remove my guilt when I quietly throw out any of the cheap jewelry they might receive at parties or as gifts because unless you have a way to test cheap jewelry for children – how would you know? And I have one daughter than loves to put things in her mouth while she’s daydreaming.

So after doing more research on the swarovski crystals, I worked with the artist making the necklaces for me and she was able to recommend all materials that were lead free. I opted for stainless steel charms to be personalized and a charm with glass accent- not crystal. When you work with someone making you a jewelry piece, you really can take the detective work out of it because they are very knowledgeable about the materials in all the different stone settings, etc. I would not be able to ask these questions buying inexpensive kids jewelry at the mall, shelf, or site that doesn’t have detailed information on it’s products.

Of course other ways to avoid lead and cadmium all together is purchase felted or knit jewelry. Sound a little too crunchy for you? It’s not at all and with selling felted rings at Green Planet Parties – I can tell you my girls love them. You just need to remove them to wash hands, but they expand to fit all finger sizes and no homework here – no metal used… ditto for the ponytail holders as seen below. Sometimes it’s just nice to not have to research and investigate everything! Although I found it very rewarding to work with the artist making my girls necklaces because after chatting back and forth, she’s now sourcing all glass bead alternatives for future child’s necklace designs.

 

 

 

Lead in your Christmas tree?  That’s up next tomorrow.

 

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Toxic Lipsticks & EWG Video

 

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Eco-Friendly Dolls for Christmas

I’ve been asked this questions many times over the last few weeks with parents getting ready for Christmas: “What is an Eco-friendly doll?”  Greener dolls are often called Waldorf dolls because historically they didn’t contain facial expressions to further enhance imaginative play for children. I believe the definition of Eco-friendly dolls include ‘manufactured locally’, ‘stuffed and made with natural materials'; no plastic or polyfill preferably.  I prefer a face on the Waldorf dolls when I was searching for my twins because children become quickly accustomed to how ‘real’ many of the plastic dolls look.  But we know that plastic dolls are far from Eco-friendly. I have yet to find a plastic doll that’s make from a recyclable plastic or from ‘rubber tree’ design like the toy Sophie the Giraffe.  When I think of an Eco-friendly doll, my first thought are Bambolettas or Dragonfly’s Hallow dolls. I was lucky enough to purchase two Bamboletta dolls for my daughters but it took me close to a year. Why a year?  The demand for these hand-made dolls is so high, you are very lucky to actually get the opportunity to purchase one. Both doll makers handcraft these beautiful dolls, step by step, from dying the wool to create the magical hair, use wool stuffing, hand-embroidered faces, even the doll’s clothing is made the by the respective store. They are unique, one-of-a-kind, and like nothing you will find in a traditional store. They are truly Eco-friendly.  Follow either of the Facebook pages for a few days and you will get the feel of how much work and time goes into creating these dolls. Here is the link to my article on Bamboletta Dolls from last year. Here is one of my girls snuggling their Bambo.


By now you’ve fallen in love and your chances are low to purchase a doll in time for Christmas. That wasn’t my intention – honest! There is hope, with getting a doll. I’ve also just become a fan of Crazy Baby Accessories doll’s called Gumdrop Kids and asked her about her beautiful waldorf dolls. I wanted to know what the dolls were stuffed with and the dolls listed in the shop are a mix of wool and polyester, but can be custom ordered 100% organic for an extra $20.  I can’t believe there is actually a listing this time of year – walk don’t run mamas!

One of my favorite things about these dolls is the interchangeable clothing options that become available after you own a doll. There are many stores that make clothing for these dolls and the clothing is also mama-made and totally unique! One of my favorite waldorf doll clothing suppliers is Reggies Dolls. She is a very sweet person and the clothing she makes Waldorf Dolls is awesome. I purchased some mermaid tails for my daughter’s Bambos and it solved my dilemma of trying to find a Waldorf mermaid. It transformed the Bambo from a doll into a mermaid and was easy for my girls to pull onto their dolls. With different clothing options your children will play with these dolls longer. It’s kind of neat to add to the dolls wardrobe and see how adding PJs, bathing suits, mermaid tails, etc. keeps the dolls in more demand by the child. Also promotes reusing with the doll because instead of buying more dolls to change things up, you are just adding clothing.

I’ve also carried dolls stuffed with wool and bamboo at Green Planet Parties – trying to make an affordable option for Eco-friendly dolls.  Also for Christmas I love the Sweetie Petites that are fabric panels, ready to be sewed to create a little doll and yes, they come with carded wool stuffing! They are a completely different designs from the Waldorf dolls I’ve talked about, but also a very nice option for greener gifts.

 

I hope this explanation of an Eco-friendly dolls gives you some options. You will most likely not find these in a store – check online by using Google and the phrase ‘Waldorf Doll’, checking out winter markets, or checking out my above recommendations. I love the Bamboletta and Dragonsfly Hollow blogs so much because they are able to breakdown and educate us why these dolls are so special, why they cost what they do, and why it’s important to support how they are made…it’s mama powered and mama created!  That’s important.

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Heathly Crafting with Children

This article has been tough to write because the crafting world is gigantic…it’s impossible to try and cover the thousands of products that crafty people have in their cupboard. I walk into a Michaels store and I’m overwhelmed by two things: the varied depth of their craft materials and how much of it is imported & very cheaply produced. So much of that stores reminds me of the dollar store and it makes me nervous. I’m an average person on the scale of crafty – my children have always loved painting and making little projects, but with the inevitable smell that comes from opening specific paints, glues, and inks, I’m admittedly a little skeptical of how healthy these supplies actually are.

The inspiration for this article comes from a woman in the US, named Julia Andrus, who created a line of crafting materials after surviving a self described ‘mean’ cancer. Julia realized her exposure to even low levels of toxic materials in craft supplies could have contributed to her chemical exposure. On a mission to change her lifestyle and environment, Julia created EcoGreen Crafts and I guess it’s because an avid crafter created this line of products, the quality is as effective and amazing as traditional supplies. I’ve found in the past that sometimes using plant-based crafting products you loose some of the texture in paint and glue. This isn’t the case with the acrylic paint and Green Glue and is the reason I’ve stocked Green Planet Parties with these products. Just like my claim with the O’Bon pencil crayons (best I’ve every used) I can say the same about the EcoGreen Crafts Acrylic Paint.  They are amazing!  I asked some seriously crafty people to test the acrylic paint and everyone reports back loving it! It’s creamy, comes in a great sized tube, and there is no scent because the non-metallic shades of these paints are no-VOC. The metallic paints in this line are anchored to a No-VOC base, but end up being low-VOC after the metal pigment has been added. The popular 6 colors I’ve chosen to carry are popular with children and contain no volatile organic compounds. These paints are not manufactured in North America and that is reflected in the price point. These non-toxic paints are priced equally to traditional acrylic paints which is wonderful…parents love switching to same priced greener products, but while the price would increase, I hope they are one day manufactured in the US. If you’ve been searching for plant based white glue? This all-purpose green glue is great for back-to-school shopping.

For parents that enjoy painting with powdered paint, setup your environment with plant based so that powder cannot be inhaled that may contain lead. There are several paints on the market that use plant based pigments..the only brand I’ve tried is GLOB and these paints are manufactured in the US. As far as paint brushes go – I’m actively researching a ‘greener’ paintbrush. It’s actually a very difficult product because you are dealing with two issues: the handle and brush materials. If you go for a non-synthetic brush you might have anxiety about the methods used to obtain real animal hair for the brush…and these brushes are super expensive. ‘Greening’ up the handle of paint brushes is relatively easy because there are bamboo brushes on the market, but I’ve yet to find a brush I’m happy with at an affordable price.

Hands down – this point is the most important for providing healthier sculpture based craft material for your child! Don’t ever waste your money again on store bought play dough. From the amount of traffic and comments on this article “The Perfect Home Made Play Dough Recipe!” I know how many parents have discovered how easy, affordable and fun making your own play dough can be. Kids love to sculpt and it unleashes free-play at it’s best for young children and since you’ve made the dough yourself, you don’t need to worry if a small piece ends up in a child’s mouth. I’ve also experienced headaches from the synthetic scent from store bought play dough. Another sculpting product that shouldn’t be sold or wind up in your home is polymer clay that is used for sculpting small figurines…it’s made from PVC! Invest in clay that is packaged and marked ‘non-toxic’ and PVC-free. The dollar stores are not where you should be purchasing materials like this…there are no sort of guidelines it seems for this material. The amount of incorrect information on the internet about polymer clay is disturbing. Many crafting sites list polymer clay as a safe material even though it contains PVC and phthalates…it’s disturbing. I don’t have a source/brand for an alternative to PVC based polymer clay but I will post in the comments when I find one.

I was spoiled years ago when trying Clementine Art crayons – they were like applying butter to paper. I think all children would miss the variety of colors that you can achieve with a box of Crayola crayons, but traditional crayons are manufactured with paraffin wax which is petroleum. There are many brands of soy or beeswax based crayons if you are looking to ‘green’ your art supplies. I think the soy brands offer more color options, but I have only had the pleasure of using beeswax based.

Pencil crayons and pencils can easily be ‘greened’ with O’Bon. I’ve written about this brand before and love that these pencils are not produced by trees, but made from recycled newspapers. Not only is the story behind O’Bon cool, but I’ve never been happier with the pencil crayons. The quality is amazing and children love the fruit or wild-animal designs.

You can tell from the length of this article the crafting world is a vast area to try and write about in one article. For those searching for North American made craft sets which are convenient and make a great gift – check out the new brand Artterro I found at My Little Green Shop. Just one look at the packaging and you know this brand is different. I can’t wait to try these kits with my kids – not only are the supplies made of higher quality (glass beads vs. plastic, felt wool, handmade paper) but many of the components are made in the US. The craft world has seemed slow to manufacture locally – the concern of course that crafting will no longer be an affordable pass-time. It’s nice to see companies like Artterro putting an emphasis on this and side stepping the norm of producing craft kits that are filled with questionable ingredients – both for human health and the environment. Differences that impress me are the wool felt dresses in the Art Dolls Kit, copper wire & wooden handles (!!) in the amazing Bubble Wand Kits (eeep I love these!!), and for the older crowd the Paint with Wool Kits are very unique. Imagine encouraging a child to felt? It’s incredible that the boxes that Artterro supplies are packaged in can be transformed into frames to later showcase art work. Pictured below are the finished kits from Artterro with bubble wands and felt painting.

I hope this gives you a starting point to help green your craft supplies. It’s a huge undertaking, but like greening your bathroom or kitchen, I recommend starting with baby steps and incorporating these changes when you’re looking to replenish art supplies. Look for crafts with No-VOCs (Volatile Organic Compound) which are the chemicals that produce off-gassing vapors. Packaging is a great way to improve your craft supplies and look for supplies marked ‘non-toxic’, made with soy or beeswax, PVC-free and phthalate-free. I’ll have more recommendations coming in August because once again I’ll be putting together my own school supply boxes for my children with an effort to create kits that are more sustainable and chemical free. Stay tuned and please share your experiences with sourcing better quality craft supplies.

Related Posts:

Wildlife Pencils Produced from Recycled Newspapers

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