Sunday, 28 February 2010

Soft Peanut Brittle

A couple of weeks ago my in-laws went up to Spokane and brought back some candy that I never heard of- soft peanut brittle, and oh my gosh was it fabulous! It came from a candy shop at the famous Davenport hotel that is apparently known for it. I'm shocked. I spent years living in Spokane and had no idea that this perfect little confection was right in my backyard.

Well, that little box they brought home is long gone and I thought I'd try to whip up a batch, it turned out great and you're gonna love it. Think of it as a big mess of the crunchy part of a Butterfinger bar scattered with peanuts.

Round up your ingredients:
2 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
2 cups salted peanuts
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Start heating the peanut butter over medium heat in a double boiler. Wouldn't it figure, I don't have a double boiler. So I make do with a regular pot of water with a bowl stuck in the top.

While that is warming up and getting all creamy, combine the sugar and water in another pot over med-high hear. Stir it constantly. Once it starts to bubble, add the corn syrup.

Continue to stir the sugar mixture. It'll start to boil and that's ok. Keep a candy thermometer in the pot. You want it to get to hard crack stage. Just before it gets to that point, dump in the vanilla and stir.

In the meantime, add the peanuts to the peanut butter and stir it all together.

Once your sugar mixture reaches hard crack stage, turn off the heat. This is where you are gonna need to work fast. Combine the PB mixture, the baking soda, and the sugar mixture in a large bowl and combine quickly. Dump it on a baking sheet that it lined with wax paper and spread it out.

Allow it to cool completely and break it into bite sized pieces. Eat to your hearts content!

Friday, 26 February 2010

Rockin Green Detergent Review And Giveaway

Since I started cloth diapering, I have struggled to find a good detergent. I wanted something that was safe for cloth diapers, phosphate and dye free, easy on sensitive skin, and that rinsed away easily. Detergent build-up can be one stinky problem for cloth diapers and I've been there, done's time to move on.

I recently received a sample of Rockin Green detergent to review and I knew that I loved it as soon as I opened my mailbox. I was sent Fresh Linen and oh my freaking goodness, it is to die for! It is all of the things I was looking for in detergent, and then some. Another great thing about it is that it works wonders on stinky funky microfiber. I don't know what it is about MF that makes it get so stinky, but I no longer have to worry about that. A little bit of this detergent will go a long way. You only need 2-3 tablespoons for each load. I've used it on both diapers and regular laundry and I liked the results on both.

If you've read any of my other reviews, you know that I like to talk about the people behind the product. This is another great green product that was developed by a mom who was looking for a solution to a problem. Her kiddos had super sensitive skin and only WAHM products seemed to work for them. Like most cloth diapering mamas, she also battled the stink/build-up issues and needed a better way. She developed a fabulous formula and is able to supply not only her family, but also customers with some green detergent love. Every batch is made in her kitchen and her whole family is a part of making it for you.

You can buy Rockin Green Here. I hope you love it as much as I do. Or, you can Win some by entering this giveaway!
update: Winner is #61! You've been contacted!
How to enter:
Visit Rockin Green and comment here telling me one more thing about the product AND what scent strikes your fancy. Be sure to include a contact email address. (this is a mandatory comment, if not included all additional entries will be void)

Extra Entries:
Leave one comment for each entry
Ends at noon pacific time on 3/12/10. Winner will be determined by Winner will be notified by email and has 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be drawn. As always this is an honest review full of my own opinions. I was not compensated in any way other than receiving a sample to review.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Day 3, Plastic Free Kitchen Challenge

I'm making some progress. I decided to start by changing our kid dishes and cups. I had been using Take n Toss Plastic silverware (and reusing it, not tossing them) and plastic plates that I got for a buck at Walmart. We have a ton of Gerber sippy cups. I pulled all of those things out and put them in a box.

A couple of weeks ago I ordered 3 Safe Sippys from Jillian's Drawers for ten bucks a piece. Apparently they are switching to a new version and you can pick up the original version for a steal. I wouldn't pay more than $10. Jillians Drawers is out of them now, but you can still find them Here. I've been managing with just the 3, which is a big change from how many sippys we were using before. I think that when the twins are at that stage, I'll probably order a couple more.

For plates I ordered Kidishes from B.Granola, a super cute little shop that I came across. I got 8 plates and 4 bowls. I was a bit skeptical at how well glass dishes would work for B-Bear. He has been known to chuck his dishes across the room. So far these are holding up amazingly and are way classier looking than the old plastic ones we were using. I actually was sure they were broken when they arrived because UPS sure did a number on the box, but they were not disturbed in the least.

There are a couple of things I'm having trouble with. I thought maybe my readers would have some good ideas.
  • Garbage Bags...I could always use paper, but that's no good either.
  • Saran Wrap, It's so convenient to use to cover casserole dishes, unfinished lunches, etc.
What are you having trouble with? Maybe together we can find some solutions.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Dapple: Cleaning Products that are safe for baby

Our twins were born at 35 weeks and spent a week in the NICU. While we were there it was drilled into our heads that everything that comes in contact with baby must be clean. While visiting them we scrubbed in and wore hospital provided gowns over our clothes. So, when we brought the boys home, we felt the need to make sure everything was clean. I spent hours sterilizing everything they might come in contact with and rewashing everything just in case. I wanted to make sure that every toy in our house, every counter top, every door knob was germ free.

Then I started thinking about the harsh cleaners that I was using. I did some research and found that I didn't even want these things in my house at all. Not only that, but my cleaners were terrible for the environment. Yikes. I wasn't sure how to keep everything clean are not spread toxic chemicals all over.

I started to search for natural cleaners and found Dapple cleaning products. Dapple was founded by two moms who wanted to make a line of natural based cleaning products for families with children. They make their cleaners specifically to clean the messes that our little ones leave behind. I was sent their toy cleaner spray and their travel dish liquid.

They toy cleaner spray is fabulous. It works well at cleaning various sticky messes. I've used it on toys, counter tops, the dinner table, and the high chair. One thing that I love is that it is NOT antibacterial. I think that it's important for our little ones to build up their immune systems and it is hard to find products that are not antibacterial. Since it's fragranced with lavender essential oil, it doesn't even smell like a cleaner.

At first I wasn't sure what anyone would do with a travel sized bottle of dish soap, but once I put it in the diaper bag, I was surprised at how often I reach for it. I love natural baby products and I feel good knowing that I'm using safe soap on the bottles and binkies when I'm not at home. This soap is really good at cleaning out bottles. I found a sippy cup of milk under the couch the other day. (Ewwww) The Dapple dish soap worked really well at getting it clean with minimal scrubbing.

If you're trying to make the switch to clean, safe, or organic baby products, their clean-up kit is a good place to start. You can purchase their products through their website or the retailers listed Here. You can also find Dapple on Facebook Here and on Twitter Here.

As always, this review represents my personal honest opinions and I was not compensated in any way other than receiving product samples.

Recycling Organization

This was my project for today. I've been wanting an easy way to organize recycling. We don't have a curbside recycling program where I live and I really want to do a better job of recycling anyway. I'm interested to see how much we can reduce our garbage by using my new bins. The bins were only 7.95 a piece at Lowes and we are also using an old large kitchen garbage can for cans and such. I'm happy with the result.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Snack Taxi: Ditch the Baggies!

When considering making our kitchen plastic free, one of the first things that came to mind are the massive amounts of zippered plastic baggies that we use and throw away. Everyday more than one goes in my husbands lunch. Almost every time we go out there is one in the diaper bag. If you look in our fridge, freezer, or pantry you will see dozens of them holding this and that. We use so many of them that it seems like a huge feat to ditch them all together.

While looking for alternatives I came across the Snack Taxi. These little baggies are lined with a coated nylon that is free of heavy metals and phthalates. The bags are available in both snack and sandwich size and come in a variety of prints. They are all so cute and there is a style to suit anyone.

The great people of Snack Taxi were kind enough to send me one of each sized baggie and a cloth napkin to review. I've used them to cart snacks around in the diaper bag and also to pack my husbands lunch in. The size of the sandwich sack is great for sandwiches made with even large slices of bread. The nylon is easy to wipe clean and you can also just toss them in the wash, which is great for me. I love the size of the napkin and in a pinch it makes a great place mat. (Like on a grimy park table.)

Another thing that I think is great is that they are reasonably priced. The snack sack runs for $6.95, the sandwich sack for $8.95, and the napkin for only $3.95. I'm planning to order more napkins just to have around the kitchen. The also make lunch sacks and reusable produce bags, so check those out too.
Update: Winner is #44,'ve been contacted

You need some too! Here's how to get them:
  1. Buy them Here.
  2. Win a waste free lunch starter set! Including one sandwich sack, one snack sack, and one twice-as-nice napkin.
Here's how to enter:
Visit Snack Taxi and tell me your favorite print from their in-stock selections. Remember to leave an email address to contact you by. (This comment is mandatory, if not included additional entries will be void.)

Want Extra Entries
(leave one comment for each entry)

Ends at noon pacific time on 3/9/10. Winner will be determined by Winner will be notified by email and has 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be drawn. As always this is an honest review full of my own opinions. I was not compensated in any way other than receiving to review.

Glass Straws! How Fabulous!

Being a mommy of 3 under two is exhausting. Every single day I make myself an iced vanilla latte to get myself up and going. (Well usually more than just one) I like to sip these from a straw and that creates a lot of waste. Think about it, I'm throwing something away with each latte. Well, not any more!

I ran across Glass Dharma, a company that specializes in glass drinking straws. I was so intrigued. I contacted them and was thrilled when they sent me some samples to review. Before I get into how awesome the straws are, let me tell you a bit about the company.

Glass Dharma was created by David Leonhardt, a glassblower who realized how much waste is created by plastic straws. Think about it for a second. One glass straw will replace thousands of disposable ones. You can use it at home over and over again, and even take them out with you where ever you go. Imagine yourself never using a plastic straw again.

Ok, and now about the straws! I was skeptical at first about how well a glass straw would hold up in my house full of boys. I'm glad to report that with normal daily use, and being dropped once (oops), they held up fabulously. They are made of the strongest commercial glass available and ever if they do break, they are backed by the company's lifetime guarantee.

These straws are available in three styles: Simple Elegance, Beautiful Bends, and Decorative Dots. My favorite are the Simple Elegance and I have used them in everything from soda to hot coffee. They are much less wasteful, elegant, and non-toxic. What more could you want?

Update: Winner is #34, EarthlyMama...I'll be contacting you shortly :)

How you can get some:
Buy them Here.
Enter to win a $25 GlassDharma Gift Certificate courtesy of GlassDharma!!!

Here's how to enter:
Visit GlassDharma and comment telling me one fabulous thing about their straws that I didn't mention. Remember to leave a contact email address. (this comment is mandatory, if not included additional entries will be void)

Want extra Entries????
Leave one comment for each entry
Ends at noon pacific time on 3/9/10. Winner will be determined by Winner will be notified by email and has 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be drawn. As always this is an honest review full of my own opinions. I was not compensated in any way other than receiving straws to review.

Monday, 22 February 2010

The Plastic Free Kitchen Challenge

I'm challenging myself to make my kitchen plastic free in 30 days, and you know what- I dare you to play along. Here are a few of the things we are changing:
  • Switch out all childrens plates, bowls, sippy cups, and utensils with non-plastic alternatives.
  • Stop using plastic baggies. We'll discuss alternatives.
  • Ditch plastic grocery bags.
  • Change out plastic food storage containers for non-plastic alternatives.
  • Ditch the disposable silverware, straws, plastic and paper plates, etc.
  • And there's more to come!

Let's make tomorrow (2/23/10) day 1 of the challenge. Woo Hoo!!! This will be fun. Too kick it off I'll post 2 fabulous reviews/giveaways tomorrow!! (both of which pair well with the theme)

*a note to my parents: go ahead and roll your eyes, I know, I know I'm turning into a nutty, crunchy, granola mama, weirdo right? Yeah, you're probably right. :)

Sunday, 21 February 2010

LunchBots, a Solution to the Plastic Problem

Let's talk about plastic for a moment, shall we. Plastic products often contain certain additives to improve properties such as performance, lifespan of the product, color, texture, etc. These additives include phthalates and BPA. Both of these can leach out of the plastic and into your food or drinks and studies have shown that they may have harmful health effects. Another thing to note is that plastic is not biodegradable and most types are not recyclable.

Jacqueline Linder, the creator of LuchBots and mother of two, took note of this problem and decided that using plastic was not worth the risk. Her family switched from plastic water bottles to stainless and started using glass for food storage. The biggest problem she found was in packing her children lunches, where plastic baggies are the quick way to send everything off. She began researching alternatives and found few solutions to the problem. From this struggle, LunchBots was born.

LunchBots are the perfect solution to lunch time waste. They are made of safe stainless steel and are currently available in four different models that can accommodate anything from sandwiches to snacks. I was sent the Pico (pictured below) to review and it is the perfect size for packing snacks or a toddler lunch in the diaper bag. We went for a walk to a nearby park today and B-Bear had a great time munching on snacks from it while ridding along in the stroller.

I'm not sure what I love more, the product or the mom behind it. This is a company that you can really feel good about ordering from. You are supporting a company that cares about the health of children and our environment. Why not support this inspiring mom that is working hard to support her family and help us all out along the way. Thank-you Jacqueline for a fabulous product. You Rock!

And one last thing, I mentioned about that the owner of LunchBots is inspiring. After reading up on the company and reviewing the product, I am giving myself the following challenge: 30 days to a Plastic Free Kitchen. That's right, I'm jumping in at the deep end ladies and gents. So I thought, why not make an event of it! You can participate too. In fact, I dare you to! Challenge details coming up in the next post.
Update: Winner is #27, Gina

How You Can Get One
  1. Buy them here: LunchBots
  2. WIN ONE!!!!!!
Here's How to Win:
Visit LunchBots and comment here telling me which LunchBot you would like to win and why. Be sure to leave a contact email address. (This is a Mandatory Comment, If not included all other entries will not count)
Want Extra Entries? (leave one comment for each entry)
Ends at noon pacific time on 3/7/10. Winner will be determined by Winner will be notified by email and has 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be drawn. As always this is an honest review full of my own opinions. I was not compensated in any way other than receiving a LunchBot to review.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Coughing, and Wheezing, and Sneezing Oh My

It all started out with a runny nose and it's turned into bronchitis for the twins. It's such a bummer since we've spent the last three and a half months practically on house arrest. The twins never go out unless it's to the pediatrician. I pretty much only get out to go grocery shopping and I wipe down my cart with anti-bac wipes like there is no tomorrow. We wash our hands a thousand times a day and sterilize everything.

What's the big "house arrest" fuss all about? Well, my boys were born five weeks premature. They spent some time in the NICU, where we were educated about the evils of RSV and H1N1. We were told to keep them at home, to avoid group gatherings, and to keep them away from any other children (except B-Bear) for 6 months-the end of RSV/Flu season. So we do this. We missed the big family Christmas celebration in Leavenworth WA, where the whole extended family stayed together in a giant luxury cabin. We have close friends that have not met our babies because they can't come over with their children. It's a sacrifice, but it is for the well being of our children.

So back to this bronchitis thing. It's really not the end of the world and is simple enough to treat. We just use a nebulizer with Albuterol every 4-6 hours and it should clear up within 3-4 days time. I feel bad for my little stuffy babies, but thank God it's not RSV. I count myself lucky there.

On another note, I couldn't find a last minute babysitter to watch B-Bear while I took the twins to the doctor. I had to take all three by myself. It worked out so much better this time than last time. (last time multiple people told me that they felt sorry for me) I used my Ergo to carry B-Bear on my back and pushed the twins in the double snap n go. This will be my method from now on. It was great except that B-Bear thought that licking the back of my neck was absolutely hilarious. I was not amused.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Make Your Own Baby Food: So Easy Baby Food Kit

As you know, I made my own baby food for my first son. There are so many benefits to making your own that it seemed like the only option to me. Think about it, you know exactly what you are feeding you child. You know where the produce came from. There is no need to be limited to the selection the commercial baby food companies are offering. You can make whatever kind of baby food you want, and in my opinion, offering baby a good variety is setting the stage for healthy eating habits.

Here are a few things to consider before feeding your baby commercial baby foods:

  • They sometimes contain additives. Infant foods have been know to contain certain ascorbic or citric acid and flour (for texture). While those things aren't terrible, there is no need for them in freshly made baby food. Toddler foods (such as a popular brands toddler dinners) contain an amount of sodium that I consider to be extremely high for a toddler sized portion.
  • The high temperature processing needed to maintain shelf life destroys many of the nutrients and a lot of the flavor. I don't know about you, but I want my kids peas to taste like peas.
  • Do you like the idea of feeding your baby highly processed food? Even if it's organic jarred food, it's still very processed.
  • By purchasing these little portions you are creating an unnecessary amount of garbage. (hopefully you're recycling the glass...but still!). Think about how many of those tiny jars you are throwing away weekly. Then think about how those tiny jars are packaged and labeled to ship them to the stores. I'm all about reducing waste, so I had to throw this in there.
So, what can you do about it? Well, I was recently given the opportunity to review the So Easy Baby Food Kit from Fresh Baby. The basic idea is to puree your own foods using a food processor or blender and freeze it individual servings, in only 30 minutes a week. It included two freezer trays, baby food book, a DVD, and a laminated tip card.
The first thing I did was watch the DVD. While slightly cheesy, I thought it was super informational and most mamas will learn something from it. In only 22 minutes, it covered how to use the kit, benefits to making your own food, some food safety, and tips to promoting a healthy eating style for your baby.

The book tells you everything you ever wanted to know about feeding your baby. The chapters are divided by age. Each chapter covers foods to introduce during that time and fun combinations to try. I also love that the book has a little section for "feeding memories and fun", with spots to stick pictures and journal a bit. Also, each fruit or vegetable page has a spot to write when it was introduced and any other notes.

The tip card is a handy little cheat sheet to keep in your kitchen. It lists healthy eating habits, common ailments (such as what foods help with diarrhea) and among many more things choking and CPR information. I recommend keeping this somewhere handy, maybe on the fridge. It could be a lifesaver.

The trays are sturdy and best of all BPA and phthalate free! The compartments are each one ounce, which is a perfect first serving size. I love that the trays have lids, making them easier to stack and store in the freezer.
Overall, the kit is great. You can buy one for yourself (and every new mama/pregnant mama you know) here for only $37.95. It's well worth the money and you will never regret it. Also, be sure to check out their blog here.

Fresh Baby is offering one lucky reader the chance to win your very own kit.
Update: Winner is #57: Trixx!

Here's how to enter:
Visit Fresh Baby and comment telling me one interesting thing about the company. Be sure to leave an email address to contact you at. (this entry is mandatory and if not included all additional entries will be void.)
Extra Entries:
leave one comment for each entry

Ends at noon pacific time on 3/6/10. Winner will be determined by Winner will be notified by email and has 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be drawn. As always this is an honest review full of my own opinions. I was not compensated in any way other than receiving a kit to review.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Bummas, Cute Little Wipes for Cute Little Hinys

As you all know, we cloth diaper. Not only do we not use disposable diapers, but we are phasing out store bought wipes. I ran across Bummas wipes and they were kind enough to send me a sample to review.

Bummas were thought up by a mama who needed a solution to a problem. She noticed that after wiping her baby, his bum was too wet to put a diaper on right away. She came up with these super absorbent little wipes to dry her little guy off with.

We've put them through rigorous testing and they work great in every aspect. The size is just right for a wipe and also works great to clean up a spit up mess. They are made of 100% cotton woven velour terry cloth. The material is soft enough for your baby's bum, but still "grippy" (yes, I know it's not a word) enough to clean up even the yuckiest poo messes. I tested it on both infant bums and a toddler bum and was pleased with the results for both.

They are available in a variety of color sets so there is surely something that will suit your tastes. The ones pictured above are the boys and the wild ones. They can be purchased here for only $16.99 for a ten pack. That's only $1.69 per wipe. It's a great deal considering that other brands wipes sell for around $2 per wipe. Think of what you could save by switching from disposables to cloth wipes.It's also another great way to make a baby step towards reducing your carbon footprint.
Updated The Winner Is Earthlymama:

Bummas is offering one lucky reader the chance to win a pack of Bummas.
Here's how to enter:
Visit Bummas and comment telling me which color combination you would choose if you win. *This entry is mandatory. If not included additional entries will be void.*
Make sure to include an email address to contact you by.
Want extra entries? Leave one comment for each entry.
*Follow this blog publicly.
*Become a fan of Once Upon a Baby on Facebook
*Follow Once Upon a Baby on Twitter
*Grab my button for your blog. Leave a link to your blog in the comment.
*Blog about this giveaway linking to this post. Put a link to your blog in the comment.

Ends at noon pacific time on 3/5/10. Winner will be determined by Winner will be notified by email and has 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be drawn. As always this is an honest review full of my own opinions. I was not compensated in any way other than receiving bummas to review.

Speesees Giveaway and Coupon

Speesees, the fabulous company that I posted about yesterday is generously giving one lucky reader a bath towel and Speesees friend of their own.

And everyone can enjoy a 15% discount at by using coupon code "strawberry" at checkout. So, what are you waiting for....go shopping!

Update: We have a winner!
Congrats to The Wife!

Here's How to Enter
*Visit Speesees and comment telling me one other product you like or one thing about the company that you like. ***this comment is mandatory, if not included additional entries will be void*** Make sure to include a contact email address.

Want extra entries? (Leave one comment for each entry)
*Follow my blog publicly
*Follow Once Upon a Baby on Twitter
*Follow Speesees on Twitter
*Become a fan of Once Upon a Baby on Facebook
*Become a fan of Speesees on Facebook
*Sign up to receive Speesees newsletter. (under the search bar on their main page)
*Grab my button and stick it on your blogs sidebar. Include a url in your comment
*Blog about this giveaway, linking to this post. Leave a link to your post in the comment.

Giveaway open to US residents only. Ends at noon pacific time on 3/4/10. Winner will be determined by Winner will be notified by email and has 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be drawn. I was not compensated in any way other than receiving items to review.

Nosefrida Winner

The winner is #22! You've been contacted and have 48 hours to respond. Thanks for playing everyone!

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Speesees, Organic Adorableness at it's Best

In my search for organic baby care items, I came across Speesees. Speesees is a shop full of absolutely adorable organic cuteness. I contacted them and they were so kind to send me a Harmonize Bath Set and an adorable Speesees Friend to review.

Let's start off with the bath set. It included a super soft hooded towel and wash cloth. The towel is made of 100% organic interlock cotton and a terry backside. The "harmonize" image is so sweet and calming. It makes me feel peaceful. I also love that the towel is so soft, yet still thick enough to be super absorbent. I have never been able to understand why most hooded baby towels are so thin. If you hate thin useless towels, you will love Speesees towels. It is also generously sized and would probably still work on my toddler.The wash cloth is also a great size and I've even used it as a burp rag.

Now on to our new little friend. First off, it smells so good! Instead of crummy old polyfil, this little guy is stuffed with lentils and lavender. It's so cute and soft, made of organic sherpa cotton, that your little one...wait. Scratch that. You will want to snuggle on up to him and fall asleep. My toddler loves running around with it and it really sparks his imagination. When it first came, he told us it was an elephant and ran around making trumpet noises and waving his arm in the air, like a trunk. Yesterday it was a puppy: "Buppy mommy, Buppy. Woof!". It's seriously too cute, and it's one toy I feel good about him playing with.

Speesees has a fabulous mission. Their mission is to be fair in everything they make, the way they conduct business + the baby steps they take towards creating a more sustainable future for the animal, plant, and human "speesees" on our children's planet. You can feel good about supporting such a company.

Speeses has so much more to offer. I suggest checking out the web site and looking at all of their different products. They even have some things for grown-ups. You can also follow them on Twitter and Facebook. Here are a couple of other things that I'm drooling over:

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