Eco-friendy Skoy Cloths – a giveaway

In keeping with the spirit of the second annual Ditch the Disposables Challenge, I want to tell you about a great eco-friendly paper towel replacements – the SKOY cloth. SKOY cloths are reusable, very absorbent, bright and fun, machine washable and microwavable, and at the end of their life, biodegradable. They are non-toxic, chlorine-free and made using water-based colors and inks. According to SKOYcloth.com, “Using one SKOY cloth is the equivalent to using 15 rolls of paper towels in an average home.” To read more about SKOY cloths, check out my SKOY review from last year.

To help you with the Ditch the Disposables ChallengeSKOY is giving away FOUR 4-packs of SKOY cloths. All you need to do for a chance to win is:
– First sign up (if you haven’t already) for my Ditch the Disposables Challenge 2009.
– Then leave a comment on this post and make sure you include a valid email address or a blog URL so I have a way to contact you. Deadline to enter is Wednesday, Sept. 23. The four winners will be chosen using Random.org on Sept. 24 and notified via email. Good luck!

Watch for more giveaways in the weeks ahead from GlassDharma straws, the DivaCup, and LunaPads!

If anyone else makes or sells reusable products that are in line with the Ditch the Disposables Challenge 2009 and you’d like me to do a giveaway, shoot me an email : crunchydomesticgoddess AT gmail DOT com. :)

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Mile High Mamas Night Out (with fully-clothed swimming)*

*Alternately titled: When Mamas Go Wild

On Thursday night of last week, I joined Julie, Heather and Melissa for a drive down to the Warwick Hotel in Denver where we met up with more Boulder county bloggers Nicole and Alison and a whole lot of other Mile High Mamas (and an auntie) for a night of fun.

There was lots of mingling, eating, laughing and drinking wine tasting, all while supporting a good cause. Mile High Mamas teamed up with #GNO (Girls Night Out) Mom It Forward to support Office Max’s national initiative A Day Made Better to provide one million dollars in school supplies to teachers in need. Many of us brought school supplies to donate to the cause.

I saw many familiar faces, but met some new fabulous women too (like Chris, Megan, Melitsa, and Kellie).

After the party on the patio of the Randolf Restaurant officially ended, we were invited by the hotel staff to go see the pool up on the rooftop – the only rooftop pool in Denver. I don’t know if they realized they were asking for trouble when they extended that invitation or not. ;)

Once the mamas broke into their Charlie’s Angels poses, it all went downhill from there (or rather, that’s when the fun really began). Is this not the best pic evah?!

We decided to dip our toes into the warm water which soon turned to kicking and splashing.

Photo credit: Heather

And that’s when it happened. Aimee and Jyl were the first to JUMP INTO THE POOL (fully clothed, is there any other way? Oh yes, there is. Ask Julie and Alison about that. *wink*), followed by Heather (who was celebrating being cancer-free now!! Woohoo!) and Julie. Alison went in next, then after consulting Twitter who urged me to jump, I decided to step daintily down the ladder and went into the pool myself. I was greeted with lots of splashing. :P


Photo credit: Greeblemonkey

More Charlie’s Angels and synchronized swimming ensued.

Finally, we got out and dried off (and turned back into proper ladies) and made our way down to the bar for some more chit-chat before heading home.

There’s no telling what a bunch of mamas will do when they get together. Next time, however, I’m bringing my bathing suit – just in case. Even with the heated seats (what a nice touch, Julie), that car ride home was still awfully wet! ;P

Thanks to Mile High Mamas, Amber, Barb, Jyl and the Warwick Hotel for a great night out I won’t soon forget. :)

Don’t miss a single CDG post, subscribe to my blog. And don’t forget to join the Ditch The Disposables Challenge if you haven’t yet. I will be giving away some things to help you with the challenge starting this week!

Maclaren Beginning – a product review

As many of you know, I’m very choosy about the personal care products I will use on my children. I’m kind of selective about what I will use on myself too, but the truth is I’m much more discriminating when it comes to my kids. That’s just how mothering goes, is it not? ;)

I recently was given some new holistic personal care products from the Maclaren Beginning line to review and I have to say I was quite pleased with them.

First of all, they use natural and organic ingredients and 100% pure essential oils. All essential oils and exotic butters are sourced through fully sustainable, traceable partnerships. They do NOT use synthetic perfumes, artificial colors, petroleum derivatives, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), parabens, TEA (Triethanolamine), DEA (diethanolamine) or animal ingredients. Maclaren is also against animal testing. The products are dematologically tested on sensitive skin (which I feel is important for products that are designed for pregnant women and babies). I feel the need to add the disclaimer here that no, I am NOT pregnant, I’m just testing some products that are intended for pregnant women. ;)

Because it is a new product line, it is not yet available in the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database, although I suspect based on the ingredients that the products would score well.

The Maclaren Beginning product line includes personal care products for both mother and baby. Some of the products I (and/or my kids) tested include: For Mother – the Connecting Massage Oil, and For Baby – Comforting Room Mist, Absorbing Dusting Powder, Soothing Delicate Soap and the Protecting Nappy (Diaper) Change Balm. All of the products contain essential oils. Normally I’m not a big fan of scented products, but these scents are very subtle and calming, not at all like the synthetic fragrances other products on the market have.

The Connecting Massage Oil for Mother with organic orange, lavender and Neroli essential oils is seriously just dreamy. It smells wonderful, feels great rubbed into your skin and doesn’t leave you feeling oily. When I was pregnant I enjoyed rubbing my belly as a way of connecting with my babies. It would have been great to have this massage oil for all of those belly rubs (and back and foot rubs by your partner would feel wonderful with this too). It’s a bit pricey at $24 a bottle, but would make a great gift to a newly pregnant woman.

The Maclaren baby products I received all met with my approval and all seem reasonably priced. I tried the Soothing Delicate Soap with my kiddos (ages 5 and 2) in the bath tonight and I liked that it lathered well even though it doesn’t contain SLS.

The Absorbing Dusting Powder would have been great for my kids when they were roly-poly babies. They both had lots of lovely baby fat rolls which meant lots of creases to get sweaty and irritated and I think this product could have helped with that.

The Protecting Nappy Change Balm with organic lavender, German chamomile, Shea butter and aloe is not very thick so I am not sure how effective it would be as a barrier cream, but I did apply some to my son’s diaper area and was pleased it did not cause any irritation to him like some creams we have tried in the past have.

The only product I received that I am a bit skeptical about is the Comforting Room Mist. The directions say, “Gently pump 2 or 3 burst of the aromatherapy mist into the air. Use at home when baby is resting and safe. When away from home, use to comfort the baby, creating a sense of familiarity and a connection to the safety of home.” I just don’t see a real need for this product. I always used breastfeeding and holding my baby to create a sense of familiarity and safety. I suppose though if a mother had to be away from her baby, this spray might be useful then.

Overall I really like the Maclaren Beginning line and think it would make a great gift to an expecting mother. Oh, and did I mention the packaging is recyclable? The packaging is made from raw, uncoated, recyclable Kraft material, with uncoated paper labels made from recycled paper. This crunchy mama is all over that!

Interested in winning some Maclaren Beginning products? Head on over to Today’s Mama to enter to win.

Don’t miss a single CDG post, subscribe to my blog. And don’t forget to join the Ditch The Disposables Challenge if you haven’t yet. I will be giving away some things to help you with the challenge in the next few days!

Urban fruit gleaning – harvesting homegrown produce for free

I’ve always been a fan of free stuff, especially when that “stuff” equals healthy food for my family. Although we aren’t struggling to put food on the table, I can still appreciate using food that would otherwise go to waste. It wasn’t until recently that I learned there is a phrase for collecting and using other people’s fruits and vegetables – it’s called urban fruit (or vegetable) gleaning.

So far this year I’ve gleaned 17 lbs. of zucchini and yellow squash, a large bowl of strawberries, a couple pounds of plums and several pounds of apples. Last year I gleaned a couple bowls of raspberries, cucumbers and enough concord grapes to make 20 jars of jelly.

Fruit and vegetable gleaning is a practice that has been going on for ages (traditionally, it is “the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers’ fields after they have been commercially harvested or on fields where it is not economically profitable to harvest”), but it’s slowly moving into the spotlight recently as websites devoted to finding locations for giving or harvesting produce pop up across the Internet. Neighborhood Fruit, Veggie Trader and Fallen Fruit are three such sites.

  • Neighborhood Fruit allows users to both share and find fruit, vegetables and herbs, including the ability to register fruit trees on public ground or on your own property
  • Veggie Trader is “Your place to trade, buy or sell local homegrown produce”
  • Fallen Fruit – “‘Public Fruit’ is the concept behind Fallen Fruit, an activist art project which started as a mapping of all the public fruit in our neighborhood.”

You can also list your excess produce on sites like Freecycle (where I scored 17 lbs. of squash this year) or Craigslist.

Why glean fruit?
Tressa Eaton from Serious Eats says, “Urban fruit-harvesting engages a community, makes community members aware of their own local (and often organic) food resources, provides an opportunity for neighbors to meet over the boughs of fruit trees, and brings up important questions about public space. And in this economy the price is right.”

There are some “rules” or rather proper etiquette involved in urban fruit gleaning.

  • Ask for permission first – While technically any fruit that is hanging over or fallen onto public property is legal to take (according to a report done on KCRW’s Good Food), it is best to ask the owner first. Last year my brother-in-law (with eight kids to feed) had no qualms about knocking on people’s doors asking them if they were going to use all of their apples, pears, or whatever and if not, did they mind if he picked some. Most people are happy to see the fruit go to good use. Or as Granola Mama says, “If you are like me and have a fruit tree in your backyard, reaping the harvest can be both exciting, and well… a major pain in the ass.” After trying to harvest as many of her plums as she could, she called the “gleaners” to pick the rest and take to a food bank, which I will talk about more below.
  • Don’t take more than you can use
  • Be friendly and appreciative
  • Optional: take some of whatever of your finished product is (jar of jam, apple sauce, muffins, etc.) back to the person who gave you their produce. It’s a nice way to say thank you.
  • It’s also suggested that you arrive on foot, bring a friend, share your food, and say hi to strangers

Other ways to give or receive produce:
Using sites like Neighborhood Fruit or Freecycle aren’t the only way to find homegrown produce in your area. At the office where my husband works, someone recently brought in some of their excess zucchini and sent out an office-wide email to let people know where it was in case they wanted it. Others thought it was a great idea and now people are regularly bringing in their extra fruits or vegetables. Just this past weekend we stopped by the office and found several pounds of apples and plums there for the taking.

Ask friends or relatives if they have any produce to share and vice versa, let them know if you have any.

I also recommend walking or riding your bike around your neighborhood and paying attention to the trees in the yards. On a bike ride yesterday I discovered 10 apple trees (several of them just loaded with fruit) within a few blocks of my house, and a couple pear trees in my nearby park. I’d been down these streets many times before, but without really looking for the trees, I never noticed them. I hope to stop by one or two of the houses to ask about gleaning some of their fruit. I’d love to pick some for my family and then donate a few bags to the food bank which brings me to my next point.

Donating to local food banks:
Another excellent option for getting rid of your unwanted produce is to take it to your local food bank. The Society of St. Andrew “is a grassroots hunger relief ministry that relies on volunteers to glean nutritious produce from farmers’ fields and orchards after harvest and deliver it to people in need across the United States.”

A post and video on Cooking Up A Story tells of an organization that harvests produce to help out the local community.

Portland Fruit Tree Project provides a valuable service that helps communities benefit directly from local resources. Fresh fruit that grows on neighborhood trees is collected by volunteers, and dropped off at local Food Banks for distribution to those in need. The great thing about this program is that in large part, the fruit would not be harvested or eaten by anyone—if not for fruit gleaning.

Whether you glean for yourself and your family or to give to others, remember the etiquette above, feel good about all of the food you are keeping from rotting on the ground, and have fun!

Related posts:
From Sarah Gilbert at Wallet Pop: Picking the parking strips: the gleaning fruit movement
From Kim Severson at NY Times: Neighbor, Can You Spare a Plum?
From Kyeann Sayer at TreeHugger: Fallen Fruit: Free Produce on Los Angeles Streets
From Katy at Good is in the Air: Three Ways You Can Donate Food by Gleaning
From Julia at Homesteading – Mindful Living in Minnesota: Apple Picking!

Cross-posted on BlogHer

Don’t miss a single CDG post, subscribe to my blog. And don’t forget to join the Ditch The Disposables Challenge if you haven’t yet. I will be giving away some things to help you with the challenge starting next week!

Gone Fishin’ – Wordless Wednesday

Ava and Julian went fishing with daddy, paw-paw and me-maw on Tuesday for the very first time. Unfortunately the fish were not biting, but the kids still had a good time. :)

(Also, sorry I haven’t been posting lately. My in-laws are in town and I’ve been sick. Oh, and my laptop may be fried. Sigh.)

See more Wordless Wednesday posts at the original WW home and at 5 Minutes for Mom.

Ditch the Disposables Challenge 2009

Ditch the Disposables ChallengeIt’s been one year since the first Ditch the Disposables Challenge on Crunchy Domestic Goddess which, with nearly 150 participants, was a big success. Let’s do it again and see if we can get 200 participants this time around! For two months, September and October, I’m challenging you to Ditch the Disposables!

We live in a society of convenience, where throw-away products are the norm rather than the exception. But all of the disposable products take resources and energy to produce and then, of course, get thrown away, filling up our landfills. All of this is bad news for the environment.

If you’d like to participate in this challenge, please select one or two (or more! – this can be as challenging as you want it to be) of your disposable products to ditch*, then leave a comment saying which disposable product(s) you will leave behind for two months in favor of an environmentally-friendly reusable product. I will create a list in the sidebar linking to everyone’s blog. Of course, you don’t have to have a blog to participate. I realize that many of you probably are already living without some (many?) of these disposable products, but certainly nearly all of us can find at least one NEW thing we can give up in favor of something better for the earth. If you honestly don’t use a single disposable product, leave me a comment too and I’ll still include you in the challenge and link back to you. :)

Here are some ideas to get you started…

You can make the switch from:

  • Paper napkins to cloth napkins
  • Paper towels to cloth towels or something like Skoy cloths
  • Tissues to handkerchiefs
  • Paper, plastic or Styrofoam plates to your kitchen plates
  • Disposable utensils to regular silverware
  • If you order food “to go” or have food to take home from a restaurant, bring your own container rather than accepting Styrofoam or plastic
  • Inexpensive plastic “Take & Toss” sippy cups to Thermos or Camelbak bottles or the Klean Kanteen
  • Disposable water bottles to (again) reusable bottles like Thermos, Klean Kanteen or Camelbak
  • Plastic sandwich bags or paper lunch bags to reusable containers/bags
  • Plastic straws to glass or stainless steel straws
  • Swiffers (or similar products) to a broom and dustpan or mop (or use reusable cloths like cloth diapers/terry inserts in your Swiffer)
  • Disposable dust rags to cloth rags
  • Disposable diapers to cloth diapers
  • Disposable wipes to cloth wipes (inexpensive plain washcloths work really well)
  • Disposable feminine products (tampons, pads) to reusables like DivaCup, MoonCup, Glad Rags, Luna Pads, Pretty Pads, or New Moon Pads, among others. You can even make your own pads.
  • Grocery store bags to reusable bags
  • Disposable wrapping paper or gift bags to reusable cloth gift bags
  • Single-use batteries to rechargeable batteries

Or, for the really crazy dedicated:

  • Toilet paper to cloth wipes/washcloths (for #1 or #2 too if you are really, really adventurous)

Please feel free to spread the word about the challenge on your blog by adding the button linking back to this post. If you have other ideas for disposable products people can ditch, please let me know and I’ll add them to the list. Thanks and good luck!

I’ll host a few check in posts (every other Sunday if I can remember) throughout the two months so everyone can stop by and say how they are doing, and offer support and/or tips to others as well. Together we can Ditch the Disposables!
*When I say “ditch,” please know that I don’t mean throw them away. I want you to try making a lifestyle change from a disposable product you use regularly. If you want to save your disposables until the challenge is over, that’s your prerogative. You might also consider Freecycling them or donating them to a local charitable organization. I do suggest that whichever product(s) you choose to give up, you pack away until the challenge is over, lest you be tempted to use it/them.

Also, I WILL have a few giveaways along the way to help you out with this challenge. Stay tuned! :)

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