Ruby Rocket’s Shares Healthy Snacking Options with Philip’s Academy in Newark, NJ

It may be frigid and gray outside, but things at Philip’s Academy are quite vibrant and full of energy.  Last week, I had the unique opportunity to visit Philip’s Academy, a charter school in Newark, to cover an assembly on nutrition and healthy snacking presented by Ruby Rockets.

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Ruby Rockets, a frozen snack brand known for its naturally sweet, non-GMO veggie and fruit pops, presented an informational presentation to eager students. The brand, who aligns with making nutritional choices, suggested to the grade schoolers that making healthier snack options has many benefits.  The brand, which boasts snacks that don’t contain any extras such as added sweeteners, artificial coloring or chemicals, presented a slideshow with healthy snacking guidelines. 

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For healthier options, Ruby Rockets suggests that snacks should:
  • be low in sugar, contain sugar from fruit and veggies only
  • have a 2:1 ratio between carbs and protein
  • high in dietary fiber
  • have around 200 calories
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After the informational presentation, the children at Philip’s Academy were treated to Ruby Rockets as a dessert following their lunch. Many of the children were excited about tasting Ruby Rockets for the first time. Representatives from Ruby Rockets presented the kids with the naturally colorful frozen treats and were greeted with elation from all corners of the cafeteria.

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The students at Philip’s Academy are no stranger to making healthy choices. The school has a curriculum-based initiative that follows many environmental and sustainable concepts with its innovative EcoSpaces program. As part of EcoSpaces, the school has its own rooftop garden and maintains an AeroFarm, which is a hydroponic garden that doesn’t require sun or soil.

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As part of the program, the students’ lessons about sustainability, urban farming and their healthy lunch program is reinforced with hands-on exposure in their teaching kitchen. The students’ salad bar is a unique feature of the cafeteria. It was quite inspiring to see so many children enjoy a spectrum of vegetables and fruits.

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Ruby Rockets wanted to partner with Philip’s Academy because they felt that they were a good fit since their EcoSpaces program reinforced what they were doing.  

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When Frank Mentesana, EcoSpaces Director at Philip’s Academy, saw Ruby Rockets’ ingredients and understood their mission, he agreed that they were in line with what they were trying to do.  In fact, “we make smoothies all the time—almost all the time.  I looked at their ingredients and they sound like our ingredients,” Mentesana said. “I saw they had beets in one of their pops. We do a beet and berry smoothie. We do a spinach and kale smoothie. This was a great opportunity for the kids to see snacks alternatively. We also do tastings and those ingredients are on our menu and appear in different forms. For example, they’ll try beets six different ways. So, they may not like beets one way, but they may like it another way.”

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And because the dining room is also used as a classroom for the students at Phillip’s Academy, the conversation that started at the assembly with Ruby Rockets was a topic of discussion during and after lunch.

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As an outsider looking in, I admired the way things were run at the school. Not only was the EcoSpaces program mind-blowing, but I thought the interaction between students and educators was inspiring. Overall, the school exuded such positivity and seemed like a model for a cohesive learning and teaching environment. I think I came away learning more about urban farming and the EcoSpaces curriculum, considering how the students were so well-versed with healthy eating. 

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When asked what their favorite part about Ruby Rocket’s frozen snacks one intuitive student told me: “I love that these pops have natural colors and sugars from the fruits and vegetables.”


What grade schooler says that?  Super smart ones who are a reflection of their learning environment.

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Well, there you have it: this, my friends, was a prime example of students schooling adults. After spending a day with these students, I feel the need to boost my beet intake! 


A big thank you to Philip’s Academy for welcoming me to cover this assembly and event, and to Ruby Rockets for letting me be a part of this conversation on healthy snacking.


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Ruby Rockets come in Rock-it Red, Orbit Orange and Galaxy Green. The frozen snacks can be found at retailers such as Wegmans and Stop and Shop.


Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post and I was compensated for my time and efforts. Opinions on NKT are my own, just as healthy snacking is always encouraged.

Toy Fair 2015 Faves: Knit’s Cool, Snap Pets, Lego Minecraft, Plan Toys

There was so much to see and do at Toy Fair this year. Before I share about the trends I saw, I wanted to share a few of my favorites from this year’s show. Most of these toys won’t hit shelves until this summer or fall, so here’s your sneak peek at a few of my favorite next kid things:

Knit’s Cool

Spinmaster’s Sew Cool did so well last year that they’re riding the maker trend with a number of cool activity sets for Tweens. Knit Cool is an interesting set that allows kids to knit with ease, similar to that of finger/arm knitting. I can’t wait to see this generation of kids continue to make cool things with their own imagination and ingenuity.

Snap Pets

Selfies and tech toys were displayed loud and proud at Toy Fair. Snap Pets from Wowee is a fun selfie tool that can be used to take selfie images or as a remote. Tweens will love the small size of this cool selfie tool. 

Lego Minecraft

Speaking of creations, Lego, as expected, has a slew of cool new sets. Because Lego Minecraft was one of hottest gifts last holiday season, I thought I’d share a few photos of the upcoming sets in this series.

I saw a lot of new and upcoming Lego sets that encourage kids to forego the instruction manual and enjoy open-ended play. The crafting box is just one of many sets that give suggestions on what to build, but just like the digital version of Minecraft, this set capitalizes on pure imagination.

The Mine is another cool set that I loved seeing coming to life. The skeleton, creeper and spider are my favorite part of this set!

The Ender Dragon is another cool set that is sure to be huge among Minecraft aficionados.

Plan Toys

Plan Toys remains one of my absolute favorite toy companies, not just because they produce aesthetically pleasing goodies, but also because they’re eco-friendly and socially conscious.
Here are just a few of my favorite finds from my Plan Toys booth visit.
This chalkboard table set would look super cool in a playroom or classroom!

This rocket nesting toy is so eye-catching. The toys nesting inside were never-ending!

I can’t resist boat toys. This sailboat was so classic and cute!

If only NYC taxis could be this innocent and cute. Nevertheless, I love this sweet wooden taxi.

You can’t go wrong with wooden pull toys. Plan Toys owns the cute card in this category.

 More details and fun finds to come!

Beachin’ it with Paul Frank Summer Essentials

Lazy summer days simply don’t exist in our house.  Since we live in an active lake community and an active town in general, we typically find ourselves trotting from one fun event to another. Most of our summer mornings are spent at our lake’s “beach,” so we are in beach mode for almost the entire summer.


For us, “beach mode” entails snacks and meals on the go or packaged to eat on the beach.  We also always have our beach essentials packed into our beach bag and wagon.  Beach essentials include staples for the kids such as sunscreen, towels, beach toys and, of course, snacks!

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On that end, our June Saban Brand-bassador box included some super cool Paul Frank beach staples to supplement our ample supply.  I love that our Paul Frank pride is on display with the Skurvy Beach Towel, Reusable Snack Pack and Tumblers.

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The Skurvy Beach Towel is a big, cozy towel that’s both suitable for guys and girls.  It has polka dots, complemented by the signature Paul Frank Skurvy.  Both of my guys love warming up in this towel after a swim or simply laying out on it under the sun.  This towel can be found on for $17.00.

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The Paul Frank Snack Pack is a cool eco-friendly reusable snack pouch.  It folds flat, yet opens up to an elongated triangular shape that seals with Velcro.  The Snack Pack holds fun snacks like pretzels and popcorn and is perfectly sized for smaller portions.  My only wish is that it was bigger!  The Snack Pack retails for $6.50 each on

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The tumbler is a fun cup, perfectly suited for either of my guys.  It has Julius on the front, with a convenient rubber bottom.  Like the Snack Pack, the tumbler is BPA-free and dishwasher safe, so clean up is easy and convenient.

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All of these beach essentials are perfect for on-the-go summer outings or relaxing days at home!


Full disclosure:  samples were provided as part of the Saban Brand-Bassador program.  As always, all opinions on NKT are my own.

It’s Easy Being Green

The Next Kid Thing: Easy Being Green
To round out Earth Week, I thought I’d do a round up of green things that we’re currently loving. In addition to some earth friendly items, I included some goodies and gear that we’re already playing with, or are on our ongoing wish list.
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1. Hello Kitty Raincoat

A departure from the classic yellow slicker, this fun raincoat features the iconic and super-cute Hello Kitty. In addition to the frog raincoat Kitty’s wearing in the graphic, ruffles in back make this chic raincoat stand out in girly outerwear.

2. HDMX Jams Portable Speaker

We are a techy family to say the least, but we’re all about unplugging, too! And when I say unplug, that also goes for wireless technology. I love this HDMX Jams Portable Speaker for so many reasons. Beyond its cool packaging (Jam, get it?), these Blue-tooth compatible speakers pack a punch. For less than $50, the speakers offer an affordable way to share jams with friends, better yet, for those impromtu dance parties with your iphone!

3. Playmates Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Playmates makes the hot-again TMNT action figures and sets. If you have boys who are into this sort of thing, perhaps you’re already familiar with the buzz with these familiar ninja-savvy turtles. Donnie is the brains behind the guys (er, turtles’) Ooze-Zooka, so beware, Kraang and the Foot Clan!

4. Lunch Bots Quatro

I love love love Lunch Bots stainless steel containers. The quatro has dividers to give the container the Bento Box treatment, which is especially helpful for school or work lunch, and even appeasing those eaters who just can’t have their food touching.

5. Feeding Baby Green by Dr. Alan Greene

I have been such a fan of Dr. Greene since before Biggie was born. I read his articles and books throughout my pregnancy and subsequent first years as a mom. Dr. Green released Feeding Baby Green a few years ago, but his message on how to feed baby healthy, wholesome food is as timeless as it is invaluable.

6. Hello Kitty Hello Spring

This adorable book from Abrams came to me on a cold wintry day. So, now as the brighter, sunny days reflect the pages in this Hello Kitty book, we can all finally say, Hello Spring. Perfect for the littlest to biggest Hello Kitty fan, this book embraces the best aspects of the season, highlighting them in such a way that Hello Kitty does best.

7. Ruum t-shirt

New this year, Ruum is finding a way to make classic and modern styles merge in our kids’ closets. The company once known as 77Kids was bought by the former head of The Children’s Place, so expect to find fun, functional and sometimes funky clothes from Ruum (sounds like room). Tees like this one showcase the fun fashion that Ruum embodies.

8. Washi tape

I’m absolutely obsessed with washi tape! This paper tape that comes in a myriad of designs can be used for virtually anything—crafts, decor, day-to-day usage and more.  We currently use washi tape for labeling and a number of crafts.  You can find washi tape in crafts stores and on Etsy.

9. Little Green Shampoo and Body Wash

We test out a lot of kid bath products, and one that we’re currently loving is this Little Green Shampoo and Body Wash.  I received several samples of this line in a swag bag a few years ago, and recently learned that this is a local product, as in the creator’s spa is 2 miles away.  What’s great about this combo shampoo and body wash is that it cleans everything without drying the hair our skin out.  There’s no parabens, allergens or sulfates and is formulated for sensitive skin like my guys.  Love this line and can’t wait to try out the other products.

10. Trash Pack Garbage Truck

If you asked me what toys were going to be big in my house last year, I honestly would have never guessed it would be trash.  And when I say ‘trash,’ I’m of course referring to Moose Toys’ Trash Pack.  Despite their small size, these toys are huge in my house.  I wrote about them around Halloween and how we gave them out for our Trunk or Treat, and like the Pied Piper, the neighborhood kids still ask me if I have more.  So, when Christmas time came around, Santa remembered this and gifted Biggie with a Garbage Truck to go with said Trash Pack.  Our Trash Pack Garbage Truck came with Series 3 Trashies like Putrid Boot and Scrummy Screen.  Collecting things didn’t get big for us until last year, so the Trash Pack has become a mainstay around here.  The garbage truck complements the collectibles and is often used to transport and store these eraser-like toys.
And because the Trash Pack has moved onto series 4, be on the look out for a review of their latest and greatest.

Baby Days: Nighttime Changing Routine

The baby days continue to consume me, both personally and work-wise. After an informative afternoon with famed pediatrician, Dr. Harvey Karp. I was inspired to share our nighttime changing routine, one of my favorite times of the day…for more reasons than the obvious! Find out how we incorporate Stokke, Under the Nile, Badger, CJ’s BUTTer and Fisher Price into our nighttime changing routine.

Earlier this week, I enjoyed a lovely lunch with the amazing Dr. Harvey Karp of Happiest Baby on the Block. I learned so much during the candid conversation over lunch at the book publisher’s NYC office discussing his latest book on sleep. (post to come) And now, with our baby right at 4 months, naturally, there are so many changes going on. He’s turned the corner on sleep, his eating habits are more predictable and his behavior is all around fun.

As a second time mom and mom of a preschooler and infant, I’ve found that the one of the hardest aspects of motherhood is finding balance. Yesterday, for example, finding time to balance the four year old, four month old AND write in between was complicated, to put it nicely. The four year old, like most preschoolers, demanded my attention. The baby sat so quietly for most of the day, but it was the big kid who tested my patience as I tried to make deadlines. Ultimately, something gives, and every time it’s the writing…but, such is life.

And since the baby didn’t get nearly as much attention, I’m SO grateful for our nighttime routine. It’s that one time of day when it’s just baby and me, and we’re both awake, happy and usually relaxed. So, while big bro hangs with daddy, it’s just us for 30-45 minutes of uninterrupted quality time–if we’re lucky.

There’s so many elements that contribute to how fun this can be, but here’s what we’re doing right now:

1. Badger Nighty Night Balm
I can’t get enough of Badger Balm. Truly. I was first introduced to these products via Healthy Child Healthy World. The Bug Balm was the first product we used and now, swear by. And so, when my husband brought home several sample of other balms, I immediately fell in love with even more Badger Balms that I didn’t even know existed! The organic Nighty Nighty Balm is, should I say it, the bomb. In lieu of lotion at night, I use this balm, which has a soft, but wax-like consistency, to give the baby a little post-bath massage. What a life, right? I use this time to help him exercise and stretch those chubberific legs, soothe his arms and then softly massage his chest and back. His coos and smiley face is enough to keep this in my routine. The balm moisturizes well and smells unbelievable. You think the baby smell is awesome? Just add this to the mix. There’s no synthetic fragrances, just chamomile, a little lavender and more. So sweet.

2. Changing Table: Stokke Care
This solid wood changing table from Stokke was our Christmas and Birthday present from my inlaws. While this beautiful piece of furniture deserves its own post, I’ll highlight what makes this such an integral part of our routine.
The first time around, we were city parents who were starved for space. We shrugged off the need for a dedicated changing table and opted for just a changing pad that we threw anywhere to do the job. After over two years of changing anywhere and everywhere our backs ached and that changing pad was practically crumbling for so much usage and handling.

So, this time around, when we were asked what we needed, we said nothing…EXCEPT a changing table. So, why the Care? Aside from the fact that it matches our Stokke Sleepi System, it’s multifunctional and grows with the baby like several of Stokke’s other products. After the diaper-changing days, the Care can be turned into a desk. (I know, right?)  The Care changing table boasts a lot of storage space and is compatible to various heights–perfect for taller parents. (Our backs are thanking us this time around!) The side compartments are just as convenient as the storage baskets that sit atop two shelves. As a cloth diaperer, the storage area is ample for my stash, as well as our bountiful inventory of baby toiletries and acoutrements. This is my most used baby staple, and one that I’m thrilled will truly grow with us!

3. CJ’s BUTTer
Heh. I said butt. Ok, got that out… So, both of my children much like other members of my immediate family, have extremely sensitive skin. Finding a diaper rash cream or ointment that REALLY works and doesn’t use toxins or harmful chemicals can be next to impossible. Burt’s Bees is my usual go-to diaper cream; in fact, the big kid was fond of eating it when my back was turned. Unfortunately, Burt’s Bees isn’t cloth diaper friendly. Thankfully, with cloth diapering, we don’t see too much diaper rash or irritation, but it’s when we switch over to disposables when we’re on the go or on laundry days, the irritation sometimes arises. CJ’s BUTTer which I’ve always seen on cloth diapering sites as a great option for diaper ointment, was sent to me as a sample in a Bluum Box. It was love after first swipe. The ingredients are all natural, it’s made with love by a small company, it works well and can be used beyond diaper rash (for black/mixed hair to separate locks? who knew!) It moisturizes and seals the irritated areas and I love that it contains essential oils. CJ’s BUTTer is my new go-to for diaper ointment.

5. Hooded Bath Towel: Under the Nile
This thick, luscious hooded baby towel is made from organic Eygptian cotton and you can totally tell. It’s both soft and durable and surpasses the quality and texture of the thin baby towels we received from the big kid’s baby shower. We have tons of baby towels, but honestly? This Under the Nile towel is the one I grab every time.  And bonus, my photographer friend, Maegan Dougherty, who has photographed our family many times pre-baby #2, shot some pics for Under the Nile’s clothing line, which can be seen on the front page.  Nice, right?

5. Fisher Price Giggle Gang
Another stuffed toy and one that laughs? Ha! Yes…but this one is too cute to pass up. It’s just a round, vibrant plush toy that giggles when you press it’s belly and it’s contagious and chewable! I have a video review of these guys coming up, but I couldn’t not include him on here because we keep Fuzzy on our changing table to distract Mr. Squirmy baby. Laughs all around!

6. Badger Baby Oil
For our first kid’s baby shower, I received several containers of baby oil. I honestly had no idea what to use it for, so I never really used it. This time around I find myself using it as often as I can. I use it in diaper wipe solution, for dry skin patches and most often after bath on baby’s scalp to help avoid cradle cap. I use just a tiny drop and it works so well. I’ve read articles that say to AVOID using oils on the baby’s head, but alas, this is something I still do and have no issues whatsoever. With with calendula and chamomile, the Badger Baby Oil smells so lovely, I love using it at night to complement the Nighty Night balm. Bonus: I love to include it in so many of my baby shower gift baskets because it not only lasts forever, but it’s a great alternative to the more questionable products in the baby aisle.

There are so many products out there, and many more that we use, but these few just so happen to be the ones we use in our current routine. All of them are fun, sustainable and worthy of sharing!

Full disclosure: the changing table was a gift from family, but all of the other products were either items in a swag bag, samples from a company for review or samples obtained from my husband’s employer, which has no direct affiliation with NKT. As always, all opinions on NKT are mine.

Best of Sunscreen for 2011: Tips, Ingredients and Tried and True Brands

It’s finally the unofficial kick off to summer, and I hope everyone has exciting things planned for the weekend!  Just in time for more sunny days, endless amount of outdoor play and loads of BBQs, the Environmental Working Group has released their comprehensive list of Best Sunscreens for 2011.  The list was analyzed in-house, with their findings based on health hazard, protection and overall stability of the product. Find out if your sunscreen made the cut.


NKT Faves

Many of my favorite sunscreens made the list once again, and there are also several products that I’m glad to see have new formulas, resulting in better scores.

Blue Lizard
Blue Lizard is what our family uses on a day-to-day basis around here.  With its thick consistency and trusted effectiveness, it’s no surprise the Baby Australian and Sensitive formulas made EWG’s Best of Beach and Sport Sunscreens.

TruKid is a longtime favorite for our family.  Because of its portable, gluestick size, the Sunny Days Stick is a mainstay in my bag and perfect for sending with the kid to daycare.

Kiss My Face Sun Sticks
I love most of Kiss My Face’s products, so I’m excited to see they have a kids’ stick, too.  Remember Zinc from back in the day?  Apparently, the Kiss My Face kids’ mineral sunblock stick leaves shades of blue, pink or white on easily burned spots like, ears, lips, nose and cheeks.  How 80s!

California Baby
Another parent fave, California Baby, puts out a great range of products that are often top-rated.  California Baby No Fragrance Sunscreen Lotion made the list, alongside of several other CF Baby sunscreens.  Even though I personally haven’t used this sunscreen, several of my friends swear by it, so it’s certainly on my list once we deplete our current stash.  Even better about California Baby?  This brand can be found in the baby aisle of most Targets.

Realistically, not everyone has easy access to these safer brands.  In fact, you’ll probably be hard-pressed to find many of the brands listed in EWG’s Top Beach and Sport Sunscreens at your local drugstore.  Don’t have time to order online at or run to a natural food store to pick up one of the safer sunscreens?  Here are a few brands that can be found at most grocery or drugstores and received moderate scores:
Aveeno Active Naturals Natural Protection Mineral Block Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
Coppertone Kids Pure & Simple Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50

What Does Practically Green recommend?

At the recent Mommybites Summit that I attended last week, I sat in on a wonderful discussion led by green expert, Susan Hunt Stevens of Practically Green.  She mentioned that California Baby and Badger are two popular, safer sunscreen picks for kids.  Both brands are well-rated on EWG’s sunscreen list as well.  Hunt Stevens also pointed out that she has yet to find a safer aerosol spray sunscreen, so in general, she advised to stick to the old school lotions. Trust me, I love the convenience of those sprays, but if there’s an option that contains less chemicals, (the same chemicals which are often linked to health issues and hormone disruptors) why not opt for the safer option versus the convenient option?

Safer ingredients

For safer sunscreens, EWG recommends to look for products that include these ingredients:
Titanium dioxide
Avobenzone or Mexoryl SX

and avoid these ingredients:
Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate)
Added insect repellent

Check out EWG’s sunscreens to avoid.

Tips for Sunscreen

Obviously we all know “how” to use sunscreen, but do you really know how to use it effectively?  Growing up in a beach town, I literally spent my summer days—from dusk to dawn on the beach or at the pool—but, I barely ever used sunscreen.  I have to admit, when I became a parent, proper sunscreen usage was an anomaly, so I had to learn how to use sunscreen for the sake of my fair-skinned babe.  Goodness knows, my husband needed some tips himself!  So, here are just a few pointers courtesy of the American Academy of Dermatolgy and EWG.

  • Sunscreens expire.  Be sure to check your expiration dates when dusting off last year’s stash. You can use the sunscreen that you bought last Beach Umbrellasummer, but keep in mind that if you are using the appropriate amount, a bottle of sunscreen should not last very long.
  • Sunscreens should be applied to dry skin 15 to 30 minutes BEFORE going outdoors. When using sunscreen, be sure to apply it to all exposed areas and pay particular attention to the face, ears, hands, and arms.
  • One ounce, enough to fill a shot glass, is considered the amount needed to cover the exposed areas of the body properly. Don’t forget that lips get sunburned, too, so apply a lip balm that contains sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Sunscreens should be reapplied approximately every two hours or after swimming or perspiring heavily. Even so-called “water-resistant” sunscreens may lose their effectiveness after 40 minutes in the water. Sunscreens rub off as well as wash off, so if you’ve towel-dried, reapply sunscreen for continued protection.
  • There are a number of combination cosmetic products, such as moisturizers that contain sunscreen, but it is important to remember that these products also need to be reapplied to achieve continued UV protection.
  • Pick the SPF appropriate for your skin type and solar exposure. But remember that UVA protection in U.S. sunscreens maxes out at about 15, so higher SPF products will not fully protect your skin from sun damage. The American Cancer Society recommends that people use a sunscreen with a SPF of at least 15, the American Academy of Dermatology opts for 30.

Have a safe weekend, everyone!

Photo credits: Fullofgrace and Paddyduke

Tips for Greening the Kitchen

Even though Earth Day/Month is over, I’m in the camp that hopes that the green momentum keeps going year-round.

On our transition from apartment to house, one room that I’ve emphasized greening has been the kitchen.  It’s the area that is responsible for feeding the people I love, and so, naturally, it’s also a place where we always convene together as a family.

I’ve read so many great resources on greening the kitchen, but I thought I’d reference Whole Living Body + Soul once again.  So, here are some helpful tips on how to green your kitchen.

1.  Use Glass Containers

Like many other homes, we used to use what was convenient and inexpensive…then concerns about BPA sparked several years ago, and the plastic binge began.  Why risk high levels of the hormone disrupting chemical, BPA?  For kitchen storage containers, glass is a safer alternative.  My rec:  check out the Glass Lock Storage Containers from Snapware.  They’re stackable, durable, BPA-free and are seriously air-tight.  I found the best deal on Snapware’s Glass Lock Storage Containers at Costco and loved them so much I had to buy more at Home Goods.  Even Lifehacker agrees that they rock.

2.  Compost

There’s so many good reasons why you should compost. but reducing trash and creating nutrient-rich feed for your plants and garden are pretty high up on the list.  My parents have composted since I was a little girl, so once we had better resources to do so at our house, it was second nature.  Most convenient way to integrate composting in the kitchen: have some sort of pail, whether it’s re-sealable, old coffee tin or a compost bucket by the kitchen sink.  Every time you clear your plates after a meal, scrape waste into the pail.  Veggies, fruit, egg shells and coffee grinds are just a few of the items that can be included in your compost pail.  My rec: check out TJ Maxx or Home Goods for inexpensive compost pails.  They’re unobtrusive and often have carbon filters that help with the smell.

3. Do Smarter Dishes
Whole Living Body + Soul recommends to run the dishwasher at night to avoid peak energy rates.  In the summer, too, this will keep less humidity in the air, which will keep things cooler, thus put less strain on the AC.  Also, switch to plant-based detergents.  I’ll have to do a separate post on this one day, but through trials and tribulation on finding the best natural dishwasher detergent, we had the best luck with BioKleen Automatic Dish Powder.  In my opinion, it cleans MUCH better than most conventional detergents that are found on the shelves.  The grapefruit smell is pretty awesome as well.

4. Minimize paper waste

Paper waste is one of my many downfalls in the kitchen.  I’ve added  dishtowels throughout the kitchen, as well as many reusable towels.  My next step is to use cloth napkins every day.  But there are times when reusable napkins don’t make the most sense, so it’s helpful to use paper products that use recycled fibers.  Scott Naturals napkins uses 80% recycled fibers, which fits the bill for us, especially with all the outdoor picnicking we’ve been doing.

And since it’s the last and final week of the Scott Natural 4-Week Test Drive, we couldn’t end it without another great giveaway.

Read More

Tips for Greening the Bathroom

Bathroom Wall ColoursWith spring cleaning still fresh on the mind, it’s a good a time as any to chat about tips on greening the bathroom. Aside from the fact that I absolutely abhor cleaning the bathroom, a dirty–not to mention toxic–powder room is unacceptable, considering it’s an area that harbors some of the most bacteria in a home.  And with kids constantly going in and out, taking showers, brushing teeth, sticking their head in the toilet (don’t ask), cleaning a bathroom is necessary evil for all us.  So, why not green-it while you’re at it?

Yesterday, I attended an event where we chatted about healthy living, and in the gift bag, I received a complimentary issue Whole Living Body + Soul. It had great content relevant to greening your home, including an insightful section on the bathroom.  So, here’s just a few takeaways from the article on greening your bathroom.

1.  Avoid PVC Shower Curtains According Body+Soul, most shower curtains are made from polyvinyl-choloride, otherwise known as PVC, a plastic that can release hormone-disrupting phthalates into the air. Suggestion: If you haven’t already, ditch all of those gross-smelling PVC shower curtains and head to Target or Bed Bath and Beyond to get yourself a 100% EVA shower curtain or shower liner.  They’re PVC-free, cost almost the same and are much better for your home.

2. Consider Low-Flow Showerheads One of the first things we did in our house after we first moved in, was replace the showerheads.  Not only did we want to dispose old germs, but we wanted something that was eco-friendly and efficient.  It’s recommended to replace older showerheads with Low-Flow models that deliver 2.5 gallons or less per minute.  Suggestion: We went with Waterpik’s Eco-Flow showerhead, which boasts the WaterSense label, the water efficiency label from the EPA.

4. Fresh Air When bathrooms inevitably get smelly, it might be your first reaction to grab an air fresher.  Problem is, most conventional air fresheners contain hormone-disrupting chemicals. Play it safe: opt for safer air fresheners that contain essential oils, or better yet, open a window.  Suggestion: make your own natural spray by using 30 drops of essential oil with one cup of water in a pray bottle.  I’ve tried peppermint, as well as lavender, but there are so many options. You can find brands such as Aura Cacia in health food stores.

5. Use Recycled TP and paper products If every family in the U.S. replaced a roll of conventional toilet paper with a roll of tp that contains recycled material, we’d save a lot of trees.  A LOT.  Some may complain that the consistency of tp made of recycled material isn’t as soft, but in the grand scheme of things, will that matter if our kids’ kids world is no more?  Suggestion: check out the next post.

3 Sprouts Storage Bins are Sustainable and Cute

Last week’s Spring cleaning post was a perfect reminder that, not only do we have to finish our remodel so we can dig the rest of our stuff out of storage, but that we also need to organize the entire house—the playroom included.  Toys, toys and more toys!  I’m sure many of you can relate to the toy storage debacle.

Beyond the imminent purging that goes along with Spring cleaning, I’m on the lookout for sustainable, yet functional storage options for the kid’s playroom.

I first spotted these incredibly adorable storage bins from 3 Sprouts at Toy Fair a few months ago.  The cute pink and blue elephants first caught my eye, but it was the eco-friendly composition and functionality of these bins that completely drew me in.

These circular bins are made of organic cotton canvas and the details are felt appliques made from recycled plastic bottles.  At 17.5″ in height and 17″ in diameter, the bins are roomy enough for laundry and ideal for mounds of toys.  When the laundry or toys don’t require storage, the bins can be folded and tucked away.  Roomy, cute and compact!

The designs of the animals are simple,  modern, and positively cute.  The owl, a prevalent trend in kid prints from last year, is one of my faves. I’m also loving the raccoon’s mysteriousness and that sly fox can’t be overlooked.  Also? How cute are their caddies?  Fill it all with books or layette, and all of the above are baby shower-worthy, without a doubt.

3 Sprouts storage bins retail around $39 and can be found online and in specialty stores, including one my fave NYC boutiques, giggle.

Crafts Go Green: Eco-friendly Art Supplies for Kids

Crafts are a fun family activity, and one that we love doing outside on our deck.  When we’re painting and doing messy crafts outside, the little artist’s canvas seems limitless, and thankfully, cleanup time is much easier—or so it seems.

Many of my favorite eco-friendly crafts are of the DIY variety.  The kid and I are fans of repurposing old household items and painting scraps of wood from our ongoing remodel.  Even better than recycling the medium is making your own tools.  Aside from DIY crafts, there’s a myriad of eco-friendly and kid-friendly art supplies that make craft time safe and colorful.

Here are just a few of my faves:

Glob Arts and Crafts Paints

Glob Art & Crafts Paints are botanically-based paints that also have fruity scents. These paints are colored naturally with pigments from fruits, vegetables, flowers and spices with natural food-grade ingredients. I love the Glob paints that come in packets; all you do is add water when you’re ready. Whether you and the kids are more watercolor painters or gauche painters, you add water and can determine the desired consistency. Glob also comes in Easy Shake jars, paint sets and other kits.

The color palette that’s offered is pretty basic, but after mixing and matching the paints, the spectrum of colors is seemingly endless. Glob can be used for paints, as well as for coloring DIY play dough, coloring eggs and more.


P’kolino, the makers of gorgeous modern children’s furniture and toys, also have a great line of art supplies.  Through a collaboration with Jovi, P’kolino offers kid-friendly, non-toxic art supplies that includes, Triangle crayons, fingerpaints, markers, colored pencils, dough, creative dough and poster paints.  P’kolino recently introduced their new line of art supplies which are inspired by famed Pop Artist, Romero Britto.  And a coloring book inspired by Romeo Britto?  Yes, please.  The sustainability, bold colors, combined with the modern influence of P’kolino’s products make these art supplies ones to check out.

Stubby Pencil Art Studio

Stubby Pencil Art Studio is the mecca for eco-friendly art and school supplies. This online shop has a plethora of kid crafts and a great selection of supplies that are non-toxic, recycled, fair trade, educational, sustainable or environmentally responsible. I love perusing all of the different crafts and unique supplies, many of which you’d be hard pressed to find at your local big box craft store. Of all the green crafting goodness, however, I’d have to say my personal favorites are the cupcake crayons (!) and the colored Smencils. Ideal for birthday party gifts, the colorful, hand-poured cupcake crayons come in a 4-pack and are made of soy. The Smencils are made from 100% recycled newspaper, sharpen just like wood pencils, and have delicious scents like watermelon, bubble gum and cotton candy!