Archive | December, 2011

Pip and Pin – A Chic Way To Support Local

I spent last weekend surrounded by handmade goodies at an artisan show so I was already a pretty happy camper… but then I met this magical sister team called Pip and Pin and I need to share their store.  When you meet incredibly talented upcoming artisans I already feel lucky, but Megan and Katie have personalities that can only be compared to beans of sunshine. They even laugh at the same time and you feel good in their company. I’m so happy to share the wonderful store & faces behind Pip and Pin!  The sisters came up with their company name after their two grandma’s that taught them how how to knit. Their funky fashion and fresh concepts using a classic art medium such a knitting produces an amazing combination.  I purchased a knit headband and  cowl scarf with buttons for myself and sister for Christmas – I cannot take off the scarf because it’s so stylish and cozy! With the reactions of everyone complimenting me every where I go – I’d say it’s a great idea for holiday gifts. Handmade is always the perfect gift for the person who has everything and could buy themselves anything. Check out some of the Pip and Pin magic (pictures taken for their site):

An interesting little side note from this weekend. My friend Rosie taught me how to knit. I must have done basic knitting when I was younger because it felt very comfortable right away. I literally went from iphone girl to knitting girl within a few hours. When I came home from the show, I put three of my kids on my lap and let them hold the needles while I showed them the steps and they all loved it. I had comments like “I like seeing you knit rather than working on your phone” or “What are you going to make me mom?” or “When can the scarf be finished..tomorrow?”  The questions that came from my children was amazing to hear and I especially liked them all commenting on the fact they like watching me knit. I think it’s good for our kids to see us practice what we’re always preaching with trying to reduce electronics and actually making something handmade.  I’m sure one day I could knit a cowl scarf, but once you learn the story and see the design style of a store like Pip and Pin – it feels good to shop and support these local girls and their unique craft.



A Greener Christmas Plan

I wrote a guest post for Yummy Mummy a few weeks ago and I’m so grateful because the topic was ‘greening your Christmas’ and it helped me set a plan for this Christmas. I think these steps can help anyone, no matter where you are on your greener journey, so please take a look at these suggestions. I’ve added a few more since the Yummy Mummy article as I had an epiphany of sorts thinking about Black Friday shopping this year. If you follow me on Facebook – you’d know this stuff!

How will I get rid of it?

If you are shopping for someone in your home (kids, spouse, etc.) ask yourself this one question “how will I get rid of it?” In this article, we learned that from day 1 after purchasing anything to 6 months later, we are only still using 1% of our purchases. The Story Of Stuff video asks us to look at our consumerism and wonder if it’s possible that 99% of ‘stuff’ we purchase is trashed?  If this staggering fact is true, asking ourselves this one question every time we shop is so important. Do you want to know something scary? At the end of the summer, my household was trying to purge old toys that we’ve had for years and took them to the local thrift store. They turned away all of our toys because they simply had too many. Have we junked so many household items that the donation stores are now full?  Now what do we do with them? Before you purchase that plastic toy, fake Christmas tree, fake Christmas wreath, inflatable anything, plastic nick-knacks…ask yourself the question. In North American society we need to become responsible for our own crap. You bring it into your home and life – you are responsible for it’s disposal. I think this will be a huge trend for 2012…we see examples of a greener society and supporting local for 2011. I believe responsibility of one’s own garbage will be huge for 2012.

From The Kitchen

Did you know it’s cool to can? Harkening back to how our grandparents thanked the special people in their lives is making a comeback. Christmas baking, canning, layered ingredients & attaching the recipe in a mason jar is a wonderful and healthy way to say I love you this holiday season. It’s really the reason why I sourced these beautiful mason jar inserts. Adding a splash of ‘hip’ to a classic idea is never a bad idea and these inserts are gorgeous! Also a very cool way to make baked goods healthier is not adding synthetic food coloring to frosting, icing, etc. This is now easy with all natural food dye!

Gifts That Give Memories

Do you still remember the first time you saw The Nutcracker or first professional football/hockey game? Are you trying to encourage your child’s love for nature or a local aquarium?  Giving gifts that will give a child experiences or a memory is a magical thing. Check your local ticket master and checkout if a play, sports event, Disney On Ice, ballet, symphony, etc. is happening between Dec – Feb. I would have never thought my boys would be interested in a symphony, but it was their favorite field trip of all time from school. I think children just love something different and if they’re getting quality time from a special adult in their life – even better!

Holiday Décor

Holiday décor is a wonderful opportunity to bring the outdoors inside! Go on a pinecone, acorn, and leaf expedition around your neighborhood and see what you find. Line the middle of your table with gifts from the earth that can later be composted. Replace traditions that involve disposable décor; paper holiday crackers can be replaced by reusable felt crackers, cloth napkins & advent calendars, and earth friendly decorations crafted with reusable cotton.

Gifts Wrapped Up

Think outside the box this year with gift-wrap. Imagine the tons of waste after each family opens gifts Christmas morning and the environmental impact. Reuse what you already have or invest in reusable gift-wrap. Start traditions within your family and trade cloth Santa Sacks that can be used every year and passed down as heirloom gift-wrapping solutions. Have an old sheet of fabric not being used? Discover the art of tying knots to wrap gifts called furochic. Start early with Christmas crafts and have your children paint craft paper or use newspapers for greener gift presentation.  If you don’t have time to get crafty, source gift wrap or gift bags that have seeds embedded. Kids love the concept of giving items that friends or relatives can plant!

Toy Packaging

The plastic packaging surrounding a gift indicates the quality of the gift inside. Toys that are packaged in plastic, bound with plastic ties is a reflection of what’s inside. Talk to your family and children about how gifts are commercially packaged. Discourage gifts that are surrounded by non-recyclable, wasteful packaging. Encourage gifts that have been gently used. Shopping for gifts 2nd hand is wonderful for helping to reuse what we already have on this planet and great for staying on budget.

Shop Local

Select a few gifts on your list and make sure they are manufactured locally. Seek out companies that not only ‘design’ locally – but also look for items ‘manufactured’ local. Finding a gift that has been hand crafted is a great feeling for both the person purchasing the gift and receiving! Many locally made gifts have a wonderful story – make sure the recipient learns the story of why and how the gift was created.

Tree Debate

It’s the age-old debate: fake or real Christmas trees? Which one is better for the environment? Since learning that all fake Christmas trees are made from PVC – a toxic material that releases dioxin – my view is this: if you are currently enjoying a fake tree, by all means keep reusing! If you need to purchase a new Christmas tree, visit a local tree farm. Or switch things up this year and decorate a tree outside. Here is a full article on why fake trees are toxic.

Make this holiday truly memorable by shopping in a way that feels good. Big box shopping can be cheaper, but does it give you a good feeling like supporting a smaller store or business? Are there areas you can green and the effect will ripple?  Think of your child’s classroom – most holiday gift or card exchanges are very environmentally unfriendly. Select plantable cards and organic candy canes so allergies aren’t a problem. Keeping things unique, magical, fun, and green is easy this year!



Holiday Shopping & Making Magic Fund

It just doesn’t feel like the holidays if you can’t give back. This year, for me personally, the need to really enjoy the holiday spirit of helping others has been at the forefront of my holiday planning – but where do you start? Many recent news stories were very inspiring; one in particular was published in the The Vancouver Sun a few months ago by a inner city school teacher asking for help.  It doesn’t matter where you live, read the article she wrote – it will move you. Click here.  The teacher named Carrie inspired a fund to be started by the paper that published her story; The Vancouver Sun Children’s Fund launched a special fundraising project called Adopt-a-School. This project identifies schools and their specific needs throughout Metro Vancouver. It’s special in the fact you can go to the site and look at individual needs within a school so even a single family can identify something to donate (shin guards, winter coats in particular sizes, mitten, socks, etc.). This site allows you to feel like you can make a difference at a grass root level. The most needed item identified by all the schools of course is money so they can assess and fix their most outstanding needs. The great thing about donating the money via Adopt-a-School is they will match all $$s that are contributed so the money is being doubled at the time it’s contributed – very cool!

Through Mommy Footprint and Green Planet Parties, I connect and work with many very dedicated and passionate small business owners. After MF reader Ti linked me to the Adopt-A-School site (thanks Ti!), I emailed a few of these businesses to see if they wanted to join efforts to help this fund. They are all BC business owners, but their sites are online and setup to ship anywhere in North America.  Please give them a click or little shout-out as they are donating a portion of their sales over the next week. We even have a name – Making Magic Fund. We are a total of 13 BC small businesses owners joining together to help children. Between December 5-11th if you shop at these stores – proceeds will be donated to help schools, which help children, and that helps families. Even if you’re not local, a quote I read from the amazing letter written by Carrie has stayed with me:

Think about what you vote for, speak for, and speak up against. Are you willing to put your time and/or your money towards affecting change? Will you advocate for a child that is not your own?

Here is a list of businesses that are under the Making Magic Fund. Please shop and support this cause – it’s inspired from the heartfelt plea of a teacher and has inspired a movement for helping other schools in need.  Take a peek at these sites and feel good shopping with a small business that is giving back this holiday season. I also have and would shop at these stores and think it’s wonderful that their focus is supporting safe products for our children and home. Thank you to all the businesses involved and for their enthusiasm and energy to make this happen!

Apricot Culotte:  an e-boutique specialized in previously loved baby clothes that we bring in from France. We also carry end of season brand new designer baby clothes including some very nice French organic brands.

Bamboobino: an adorable line of children’s clothes and accessories made from soft, eco-friendly bamboo.

Bumblebee Toys: offers a unique collection of natural toys, crafts and playthings to inspire the imagination and nourish the senses.

dandelion KIDS: modern kids shop that stocks hip baby clothes, stylish duds for boys and girls plus cool, unique gifts for the next baby shower or kids birthday party.

Fill Your Own: offers an array of carbon-neutral, non-toxic and reusable products ideal for both kids and adults.

Giving Gifts: carries gifts that give – fair trade, eco friendly and fun gifts for babies, kids, adults and pets.

Green Planet Parties: where it’s possible to shop for eco-friendly party supplies in one place! Supporting locally manufactured decorations & goodies!

Kippo Kids: proud to offer you a quality mix of products that include a good selection of eco-friendly, handmade, organic, and Made in Canada items.

Maxwell Designs: leading Canadian designer of beautiful purses, the best diaper bags in Canada, and many accessories.

My Little Green Shop: is a hip e-boutique that provides a wide range of safe, non-toxic products for babies, children and mamas. We are careful that the products we carry meet our standards of what’s safe and eco-friendly.

Onyx Containers: food storage containers that are of the highest quality, manufactured in responsible conditions and available at affordable prices.

Puddlegear: toddler and baby raingear- children can play outside feeling warm, unrestricted and dry in their PVC and Phthalate free rainwear – certified by oko – tex.

Today I Ate A Rainbow: passionate about creating tools to help parents and caregivers raise healthy kids!

We are all like-minded small business owners championing for one cause – such a cool array of products!  This is our logo (designed for us by the talented Marina Duque)! If talking about this special project, you are welcome to use the logo. We hope it will be a logo that will become recognized and used annually to help those who need it.



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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