Take It Smiling

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Valentine's Day Contest Prize

Victoria over at Life Starring Ellie and Eve is holding a fun Valentine's Day contest and these cards, made by moi, are one of the prizes!

The set includes six handmade notecards, two of each color family on three different black and white backgrounds. They measure 3 1/2" x 5".

The backgrounds come from calendar pages that were so pretty, I just knew I had to repurpose them.

The sassy gal is Lovely Bella from Stamping Bellas. She is colored in with various permanent markers. The flower in her hair sparkles in real life, though it doesn't show well in the picture.

The sentiment on the front reads "You're absolutely fabulous" and on the inside it continues, "No, seriously -- you are!" The sentiment comes from the Stampin' Up! set called Absolutely Fabulous.

The set is tied together with a ribbon of black with white stitching and it's ready to give as a gift for yourself or a friend! Envelopes are included.

Overall, the set is classy yet fun, and a little bit kitchy. I hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My Papercrafting

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Small Hands Make a Big Difference

My kids recycle, they turn off the water when they brush their teeth and turn off the light when they leave the room. They pick up trash when they see it on the way to the park. They know the three r's (reduce, reuse, recycle). I might think my kids are special but I really just think they're just doing what they must do, what every child must do. The world is different today and that's just how it is.

With this thought in mind, I approached the director of my preschool about instituting a recycling program.  The amount of water bottles we toss at lunch... ug.  The amount of construction paper we toss after completing projects... double ug.  And guess what!  She's onboard!  She's asked me to compile a list of items the children can recycle but I'd also like to include a list of simple things children can do every day to help the environment.

What are your thoughts?  What do your kids do to help?  Please leave a comment... I have one week to compile the list.  Thanks in advance!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Plastic Bottle Facts

(Copied from http://www.nubiusorganics.com/ - be sure to check out Nubius Organics incredible line of reusable water bottles, organic clothing, baby products and more!  Their prices are actually reasonable too!)

plastic bottle garbage

Bottled water is said to be safer than tap and is definitely more convenient, so what's the problem?
  • Bottled water creates tons of trash. Each year, more than 26 billion bottles are thrown away (less then 15% are recycled) and 16.5 billion gallons of water are wasted to provide Americans with "convenient" access to water. The plastic from these bottles doesn't biodegrade - it now a permanent part of our landfills. In 2005, 2 million tons of plastic water bottles ended up clogging landfills instead of getting recycled.
  • Bottled water is no safer than tap water. Non-profit Natural Resource Defense Council conducted a four-year review of the bottled water industry and the safety standards that govern it, including a comparison of national bottled water rules with national tap water rules, and independent testing of over 1,000 bottles of water. The conclusion was that there is no assurance that just because water comes out of a bottle it is any cleaner or safer than water from the tap. And in fact, an estimated 25 percent or more of bottled water is really just tap water in a bottle -- sometimes further treated, sometimes not.
  • Bottled water hurts the environment. In 2006, the equivalent of 2 billion half-liter bottles of water were shipped to U.S. ports, creating thousands of tons of global warming pollution and other air pollution. In New York City alone, the transportation of bottled water from western Europe released an estimated 3,800 tons of global warming pollution into the atmosphere. In California, 18 million gallons of bottled water were shipped in from Fiji in 2006, producing about 2,500 tons of global warming pollution.
  • Plastic bottles pose a health risk. Studies have shown that chemicals called phthalates, which are known to disrupt testosterone and other hormones, can leach into bottled water over time. One study found that water that had been stored for 10 weeks in plastic and in glass bottles contained phthalates, suggesting that the chemicals could be coming from the plastic cap or liner. Although there are regulatory standards limiting phthalates in tap water, there are no legal limits for phthalates in bottled water -- the bottled water industry waged a successful campaign opposing the FDA proposal to set a legal limit for these chemicals!
And when bottled water marketing convinces one in five people that the only place to get drinking water is from a bottle, it threatens the political will to adequately fund our public water systems.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Apparently, I'm Fabulous!

Hey, according to Victoria over at Life Starring Ellie and Eve, I'm fabulous!  How cool is that?  Of all the blogs in all the world, she somehow walked into mine...

This award does have some conditions.  First, I must list my top five addictions.  Second, I must pay it forward and award five other blogs for their fabulousness

Hmm... five addictions... here goes:
  1. Twitter
  2. Starbucks sweetened black iced tea
  3. Salty snacks
  4. Anything with roasted red peppers
  5. Several reality TV shows: So You Think You Can Dance, Project Runway, The Bachelor/Bachelorette, America's Next Top Model
That was actually pretty easy to do!  Let's see if I can narrow down my favorite five blogs:
  1. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - By Barbara Kingsolver, with Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver, accompanies the book by the same name.  This book changed my life... how I eat, how I shop... an incredible MUST READ.  The blog gave me more insight into Barbara's garden and the seasonal workings.
  2. Feels Like Home - Aside from having loads of interesting and helpful information on her blog, Tara is a lovely gal.  She is so helpful and sweet.  Get to know her on Twitter too!
  3. Resourceful Mommy - Amy is a blogging maven (no really, she is... check her out on the Maven Track at Blissdom '09) and she is the reason I have this blog.  First I learned dreamed of being a writer.  And then I watched her do it.  And then she taught me how to network online to make my dream of crafting as more than a hobby come true too!  Her blog is phenomenally informative too... she is truly resourceful! Get to know her on Twitter!
  4. From the Land of Pleasant Living - This is a biased choice, I'll admit.  My longtime friend just started her own blog and I just love it.  Dana's sense of humor comes shining through her writing and I enjoy keeping up with her and her kids through her blog.
  5. A Year of Crockpotting - Yep, you read that right. Stephanie has cooked a meal for her family in her crockpot(s) every day for an entire year.  I subscribe to her blog and receive her posts via email (that's how I learned to make Thanksgiving's sweet potatoes in the crockpot!) but I also use her site as the world's largest crock pot recipe source.  It's easy to search for recipes by type (i.e. side dish) or ingredient (sweet potatoes).  The best thing is that Stephanie is a real person!  I emailed her about the sweet potato recipe (wondering how long to cook it if I changed the recipe amount) and she replied that same day.  Amazing.
I hope you enjoy your fabulous award, everyone.  I certainly have enjoyed all that you've shared through your blogs.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Just Say "Ew" to Diaper Pail Systems

Note: On my honor, this is NOT a paid product review.  I am writing about this product because I believe in it so strongly and want others to know about it too.

I'm on kid #3 now and I like to think that I've learned a few things along the way.  I don't know everything about any one of my kids, of course, but I have learned which baby products aren't worth their weight in salt.

The baby product industry makes a gazillion dollars each year and the majority of the products are terrible for our children and the environment.  Whether its plastic items with phthalates (now banned in California because of the health risks associated) or painted items tainted with lead, our children are being harmed with things we buy for them out of love.  Even the most basic of show of love for our infants - keeping them clean in a fresh diaper - exposes them to chemicals such as Dioxin which can cause a myriad of health problems.

And some baby products are not only bad for the environment and the world in which we are raising our babies, they just don't work.

Diaper pails are a terrific example.  When I was pregnant with my first child, I registered for all of the products I was told I would need and a Diaper Genie was one of them.  Imagine, a product that would hide that stinky diaper smell!  But I was sorely disappointed.  The smell was not hidden.  It was, in fact, amplified.  The smell eventually leached into the plastic body of the Genie so that the smell greeted me each time I open the receptacle.  My husband and I tried everything - we washed out the receptacle, we sprayed it with Lysol and left it outside to air out over night - but nothing worked.  Eventually, we opted to buy another Diaper Genie.  

Huh?.  In hindsight, I'd like to kick myself.  Why would we spend more money on a product that wasn't working?  And when I think of the environmental impact... ugh.  We repeatedly spent approximately $25 for the disposal system and $6 for the plastic bag refills (they hold 30 small diapers, fewer as the child grows and uses larger sized diapers).  We spent $6 every week?  Every month?  For years???  We spent all that money on something that not only wasn't doing what we expected, it was adding plastic bags to landfills.

So then came kid #2 and we knew better.  We didn't even bother with the Genie.  We just put stinky diapers in plastic bags, tied 'em up and then tossed them in the trash.  Ugh again.  More plastic going into a landfill.  Yes, we were reusing the plastic bags but they were still landing in a trash heap for 500 years

But now, with kid #3, I've found the miracle stinky diaper container! I've found "Keep Me Tidy Diaper Sacks" by Classy Kid, Inc.   These seem like plastic bags but they aren't - they are made of a biodegradable polyethylene.  They keep the odor completely inside the bag and I can toss those stinky diapers right into the trash with 1/2 the guilt (still feel guilty for using "disposable" diapers but just haven't gotten past the convenience yet).  And they are super affordable!  It costs approximately $3 for 75 bags!  And each bag fits 3 stinky diapers (at least size 3 and smaller... will let you know how many fit once kid #3 grows into them).  I can use one bag to hold an entire day's dirty diapers.  Miraculous!

Order Classy Kid's Keep Me Tidy Diaper Sacks right now or visit their website to learn more about their environmentally and kid friendly products (I'm going to try the toilet seat covers and place mats next).  You won't be sorry, I promise.  And tell your friends, too.  Let's start a diaper pail revolution after years of being revolted!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

My Photography

Wahoo! I Won!

What a friend! After reading my post Handmade Gifts for All 2008, Tara at Feels Like Home suggested I enter my creations in a contest over at Foodie Mama.  And guess what!  I won a prize!  And it is sooo perfect for me.  

I won the Blue Avocado Cool Kit, a set of 5 reusable shopping bags that replace 13 plastic bags! I already use reusable shopping bags everywhere I go (even the mall!) but these add so much to my arsenal and I am so excited.  

The Cool Kit includes:
  • 1 "pak" (carry-all) bag
  • 1 "gro" (multi-use) bag
  • 1 "chil" (insulated) bag
  • 2 "veg" (produce) bags
Here is a photo of the kit straight from the Blue Avocado site:

Aren't they gorgeous?  

And the site... wow.  So much helpful information on  storing the kit compactly, growing the kit later and remembering your bags when you leave the house.  I am thoroughly impressed and just so thrilled to have won this prize.

Thank you, Foodie MamaBlue Avocado and Tara from Feels Like Home.

Find Me on the Web

Read my articles on photographing children and infants on Picture My Camera

Check out my Mom Expert recommendations on Wishpot

Follow me on Twitter

View my Splitcoast Stampers paper craft gallery
View my Flickr photography gallery

I am thrilled to have been featured on these websites:
Foodie Mama: Gift Guide (contest winner)

Mothers and Daughters Creations: Weekly Design Challenge (winner)

DC Nature: Photo featured
Life Starring Ellie and Eve: Fabulous Blog (award recipient)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Interesting Discoveries: A Trip to the Toy Store

My mother lives in Florida and, for Christmas, she sent each of my children $25 so that they could buy what they wanted instead of guessing what they might like.  First, they were THRILLED to receive mail and then they were thrilled to find cold, hard cash inside the holiday cards.  They're thoughts raced of possible purchases... 

So today was the day.  We loaded up and headed to Toys R Us.  Normally, I would take them to a lovely little toy store right in our town (to buy local) but they don't carry LeapFrog products and I was hoping my son would buy a language arts Didj cartridge so he could practice his spelling words.  (If you have a son, age 5-10, who is really into video games but you hate the thought of him wasting away in front of a screen, you MUST check out Didj by LeapFrog.  Fabulous graphics and MATH and SPELLING that you can adjust via the Internet.)

My son did not, in fact, decide on a Didj cartridge and upon removing his choice from the packaging, I was quite disappointed.  My son chose the Indiana Jones and the Lost Temple of Akator playset by Hasbro (photo to right from Amazon.com).  This toy retails for approximately $42.00 but he paid $24.99 plus tax.  The deal was good but the product?  Beyond being more plastic junk (my opinions about buying more plastic junk were quickly vetoed), we already have this toy.  Did my son own it before today?  NO.  Did my son own the Star Wars Lava Mountain?  Yes.  Are they the same toy?  YES!  Can you believe it?  Hasbro has simply regurgitated the Lava Mountain toy, in a new color and with a few minor scenic adjustments.  The balls of lava that shoot out of the volcano's mouth are now giant boulders that roll from the top of the mountain, the lava pit is now a pool of quicksand and the nubs for electrical towers (not shown) now hook up to trees.  I'm thoroughly disgusted.  Take a look for yourself:

My daughter's choice redeemed the day's experience, thankfully.  She choose a Barbie Thumbelina doll ($12.99 at Toys R Us, $15.99 at Amazon.com).  What I love about this toy is not that it's more plastic (can't avoid it altogether) but the packaging is environmentally friendly.  The box even discusses the fact that the cardboard can and should be recycled and it offered a little green tidbit ("Recycling one aluminum can saves enough electricity to run a TV for three hours.")  And, believe it or not, there were no twisty wires holding the doll in place!!!  Just a few tiny threads held the doll in her packaging and let me say, after working my fingers raw removing toys from their packaging on Christmas Day, I was thrilled.

I'll be honest... I've never liked the way toys are made to "supplement" movies but this new approach to packaging by Mattel impresses me.  I already love the Barbie movies for their positive messages and gentle themes and now I actually appreciate their toys. 

Copyright ©2010 Andrea Diuguid. All content, including text, photographs and concept design elements featured in this blog are © Andrea Diuguid.