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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Going Natural with Baby: Chemical Free Products

The term 'natural' gets tossed around  a lot these days & it can be hard to know if a product really stands up to it's claims. I'm always on the hunt for natural and chemical- free options to replace some of the current products we use and came across Boo Bamboo Baby almost by accident.

I was giving my friend's baby a snuggle a little while ago and when I buried my nose in her fuzzy hair to give her a kiss, I couldn't believe how yummy & coconuty she smelt! When I asked her what she used, she told me about Boo Bamboo. So off I went to find the products & see how they stood up to my scrutiny. I wasn't disappointed.

The company offers four products in their baby line: a body lotion, bamboo wipes, a body wash & shampoo, and a diaper cream, all claiming to be natural, gentle, & safe. While the ingredients appear convoluted, I looked up each and every one to cross- check them against their natural claims and only came across 3 ingredients that raised minor concerns. I loved the coconut scent in the body wash/ shampoo & lotion (that's what got me to try them!), but didn't love that parfum is a listed ingredient. I also appreciated that the diaper cream & wipes were unscented, recognizing that these get used on some of the most sensitive parts of a baby's body. The products also contain bamboo extract, a source of silica, which has great benefits for skin & hair. If you're like me, you'll be sneaking the body wash & lotion for yourself! ;)

All Natural Baby Lotion 

Loved the coconut scent! Rich & creamy. Perfect to moisturize after a warm bath.

Product attributes: all natural & organic ingredients; paraben & DEA free; gluten free. 

Ingredients of Concern: isopropyl palmitate- can be pore- clogging & can cause acne, dry skin/ skin irritation. 
My rating: 8 out of 10

100% Bamboo Wipes 

I liked that these were unscented and loved the softness of the bamboo, making them a great choice for delicate skin on faces & bums; they stood by the claims of being gentle. They were thick & strong and held up to the challenge of dirty diapers. The pouch also made them convenient to toss in the diaper bag. 

Product attributes: gentle, biodegradable

Ingredients of concern: none. 
My rating: 10 out of 10.

All Natural Baby Wash & Shampoo 

Again, loved the coconut scent. This stood by the claims of being gentle & safe: it got into Ari's eyes a few times and it didn't sting (major bonus for babies & kids). 

Product attributes: all natural & organic ingredients; paraben & DEA free; gluten free. 

Ingredients of concern: parfum- a myriad of harmful ingreidents can be hidden under this term; hydrolyzed soy protein; soy concerns me as it is known to be genetically modified. 
My rating: 10 out of 10. 

Soothing Diaper Cream

This cream is thick & rich, allowing for coverage where it's needed; I liked using it at night to help protect against dampness. If you've struggled to find a diaper cream that offers protection without a laundry- list of chemical ingredients, I'd recommend trying this one.

Product attributes: gentle, reduce soreness & severity of diaper rash

Ingredients of concern: none. 
My rating: 10 out of 10.
Final notes: I give Boo Bamboo major bonus points for being vegan- friendly & cruelty free. I also liked that the wipes are made out of bamboo, a renewable resource. If you've been on the hunt for some natural baby products, check out this great brand. (They also make a sunscreen for babies & kids- perfect as we head into the Summer!). If you're looking for some grown- up products to try, they also have adult hair & body lines worth checking out. These products are great for users with sensitive skin and/ or skin conditions, as they help sooth & alleviate conditions such as eczema. Check out the Boo Bamboo website to view products & find retailers.

The website I used to look up the ingredients was Naturopathica- it had a user- friendly glossary of ingredients used in cosmetic & skincare products with an explanation of where they are derived from and what they are used for. 

Photo Credits:
Baby photo: NZ Womans Weekly
Product photos: The Pampered Baby

April posts sponsored by Gary Gallant Travel

Monday, April 28, 2014

Yummy Mummy Recipe: BBQ Ribs

It's officially that time of year: BBQ Season. I can't say that word without thinking about the mouth- watering smell that marks the lead- up to Summer. We recently had my bestie and her hubby over for dinner and I couldn't resist the opportunity to break out the barbee. And what better way to do that than with ribs??? Because we're trying to eliminate as much processed food as possible, I even tried my hand at making my own BBQ sauce. It's taken me a few tries to get it the way I like, but I'm pretty happy with the version I've posted below. Just a little heads up: cover the pot when you're mixing the sauce- mine bubbled so much that splatters made it to the ceiling & walls! 
Hint: Give yourself some time to make these babies; the longer they marinate, the better! These are a great make- ahead meal (they'd also be tasty as a slow cooker meal).

Yummy Mummy Recipe: BBQ Ribs
1 package of pork ribs (mine had two large slabs- enough for 2- 4 people)
1 can crushed tomatoes (28 fl oz)
1 can tomato paste
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp each:
- ground chipotle pepper
- ground chilli powder
- smoke seasoning (I used Trader Joe's dry smoke mix)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp honey
*For a sweeter sauce use more honey; for a more bitter sauce add some mustard

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; carefully place ribs in water & boil for 20 minutes; for really tender ribs reduce to a simmer & cover for an hour or two
2. While ribs are boiling, place all of the sauce ingredients in a pot & heat through
3. When bubbling, cover & simmer for 30 minutes (Be careful or you could have a sauce volcano like me!)
4. When ribs have boiled for desired amount of time, drain water
5. In a large dish, ladle a scoop of sauce & add ribs. Pour & rub more sauce over the ribs, coating well. Save a little bit for later
6. Cover & let marinate for a few hours (once ribs have cooled, place in fridge)
7. When ready, heat BBQ & place ribs on grill; rub/ brush on remaining sauce
8. Remove & serve

Serve with rice & your favourite sides. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Feature Friday: Mommies N Munchkins Fair

This past Saturday I attended the Mommies N Munchkins Fair. One of my friends (Stephanie from Cutie Pie Boutiquerecommended it raved about it to me and suggested I check it out. I am so glad I did. In the weeks leading up to the event, I spoke with the organizers a few times and was very impressed with how organized and hard working they were. Their efforts definitely paid off. 

When I arrived with Ari in tow I was excited to see how many people were already waiting to get in- there was a line out the door (way to go ladies!); there were grab bags for the first 100 people as a reward for arriving early. I spoke with one of the attendees- a girlfriend of mine- about what she thought of the grab bags. She had mixed reviews, as there was a lot of promotional material & not a lot of samples from the vendors, but she received a food pouch for her little one which she really appreciated (she also mentioned how much she loved the XL bag as a great Mommy tote).

The event took place at a different venue from previous years, but speaking with vendors, attendees, and from my own experience, it was an excellent choice. The layout was clear & organized, with ample room for strollers; while there was a great turnout (approx. 3,200!), you never felt cramped/ crowded.

There were performances by Will Stroet and As You Wish Princess, a balloon twister from Twist Parties (these were some of my friend's favourites), a bouncy castle from Par- T- Perfect, and face/ belly painting by Melanie Dawn. Based on the feedback I got, the performers did a great job and the only changes would be to have them on a stage in a designated area to keep the audience corralled and to spread out the performances throughout the event. From what I gathered, they were such a hit that the audience blocked the aisle during the performances and it was a little busy shifting from performer to the next, as the kids wanted to meet & take photos with them.

As an added bonus there were also a variety of food trucks & free Starbucks coffee given away outside, which allowed all of the indoor space to be free for vendors, but still conveniently close for parents who wanted to return inside after a bite to eat & some fresh air.

I got a chance to meet and speak with a lot of the vendors at the Fair and was impressed with the variety present. We really are surrounded by some talented & hard working people and I can't wait to collaborate with some of them in the future for TPB readers. Please show your support & check them out! 

MiniMocs: How cute are these???

Family Resources
An online resource for families about events & other information. Articles on a variety of subjects including travel, local activities, & giveaways. "The only pocket book resource guide for families".

Teach your child how to be healthy, independent sleepers- skills that will grow with them. Consultant Kathryn Wood will teach you why sleep is so important, show you the steps to establish healthy sleeps habits with your kids, and how to measure success. Private consultations & seminars available. 

Health & Wellness
The lovely lady from Prenatal to Parenting!
Looking for prenatal, postpartum, and/ or parenting services? Everything from doula services & hypnobaby classes to placenta encapsulation &workshops for parents. Great for parents (and parents- to- be!) seeking natural alternatives to traditional options. 

Homeopathic medicine to suit a variety of common ailments, including, teething, cold, cough, & flu, allergies, and restlessness. Products available for babies & children, with options for adults. If you've been searching for an alternative to pharmaceuticals, this is a great brand to try (I use their drops for teething & colds - for more check out my post on teething here).

Specializing in dentistry for infants & children through adolescence. Provides a 'kid- friendly' approach to oral care so their young patients understand what is going on and help remove the intimidation of visiting the dentist. Regular maintenance/ preventative & restorative services provided.

Family Entertainment & Activities
A great place to bring your kids from 6 weeks to 13 years with a variety of programs tailored to specific age groups to encourage a healthy lifestyle & self esteem. A great venue for birthday parties too!

An award- winning bilingual musician with a background in education, Will Stroet entertains children with his high- energy, interactive music. With eight albums & 1 DVD under his belt, Will can currently be found on Kid's CBC on weekday mornings. His current album, Just Imagine is available now.

The fab ladies from Discovery Toys
Turn play time into a time for learning. Everything from toys & games to books & CDs, these quality toys are a great addition to your home. Perfect as gifts or to stock your kid's toy box, these toys encourage kids to develop & learn a variety of skills as they grow. Check out our Amazing Mom post on Chelle from Discovery Toys here.

The lovely Erin Parr from Music Together of The Fraser Valley
Encourage & foster your child's love of music with MTFV. Through their classes MTFV encourages all members of the family to participate; tailored for ages 0- kindergarten. Music therapy also available to help address a variety of learning & developmental concerns. Check out our feature on Erin Parr & MTFV here.

Encourage you kids to learn how to work as part of a team& to focus on how they achieve something (rather than focusing just on the achievement) through dance and cheerleading. Xtreme teaches teamwork, dedication, focus, and a good attitude though their motto: work hard, and be nice. A fun & positive alternative to traditional competitive sports (theatre & musical theatre programs coming soon).  

Beautiful & quality children's books published in the UK. With a focus on inspiring curiosity & encouraging imagination while teaching children "respect for cultural, social, and ecological diversity". The artwork & stories will encourage your children to develop a love of reading.

Savour your memories in these stylish books created by a local Mom. A beautiful alternative to regular albums & online photobooks, these memory books are clean & classy with several motifs to choose from. Save time & energy by saving your memories in these user- friendly books. A lovely baby shower gift idea that supports local? *LOVE*. 

Satisfy your sweet tooth with confectionary bliss. Everything from vintage favourites to hard- to- find & imported items,  and even insect candies! Pick up your favourites for a treat or to stock a candy bar or goodie bags. Various locations throughout Metro Vancouver.

Looking to add the 'wow' factor to your next event? Do it with balloon decor. Everything from corporate events, weddings, showers, etc. Consultations & personalized service provided to ensure  creations compliment the style & feel of the event while adding that extra touch to make it stand out.

Babies & Kids
Lace romper from Cutie Pie Boutique
Beautiful, quality, & affordable hair accessories, rompers, & bloomer sets. Accessorize your little ladies in style with these creations! Check out our Amazing Mom Feature on owner Stephanie- we love supporting this talented lady!

Looking for a quality, handmade alternative to the mass produced options? Check out this amazing brand that specializes in sleep sacks, car seat & shopping cart covers, and other handmade items. Support a local Work At Home Mom too!

Minimoc's local handmade shoes
Canadian handmade"modern moccasins for small feet" made with ethically sourced materials. Your little one's footwear can be stylish & easy to put on/ take off with these mocs. Eco- friendly with the added bonus of supporting this local husband & wife team; we love that these cute mocs are custom made to order.

Online shop specializing in children's clothing sourced internationally. Unique & stylish clothing & accessories that offer an alternative to the mass- produced retail options. Perfect for photos & special occasions, this local lady has excellent taste!

Adorable baubles by Flounce Necklaces
How about some cute baubles for your young lady? Have fun accessorizing her outfits with adorable necklaces from this US- based jewellery line. These pretty pieces photograph beautifully and are a great prop- perfect for birth announcements & birthday photos.  

Beauty & Hair
Enjoy some pampering in the comforts of home. Packages can be shared with friends & family or kept to yourself. Perfect for birthday parties (for the young ladies of the house!), stagettes, bridal prep, ladies nights, or just because you deserve it! Services range from manis & pedis to massages & facials.

Kymm's Mobile Hair
Have your hair cut & styled in the comfort of your own home. No need for arranging a babysitter or having to travel to your stylist. A great idea for busy Moms! Contact Kymm via email at kymmbird@hotmail.com.

Belly Art by Melanie Dawn
A professional make up artist, Melanie creates beautiful works of art on the body. Whether it be her award- winning face painting at a special event, or celebrating your baby bump with some original artwork, Melanie will help create special memories with her talent. 

Beauti Control
A variety of skincare & beauty products for teens to boomers. New baby product line now available. All products are gluten and paraben free. Contact Tabitha Forsythe at tabforsythe@hotmail.com. Website under construction.

House & Home
Get organic produce delivered right to your door on a weekly or bi- weekly basis. Choose from preset and custom bin options and help make eating healthy more convenient and affordable! Small, medium, and large bins available to meet your family's needs.

The women's answer to home improvement needs! Now you can try your hand at DIYs and repairs with tools designed specifically for women. The cute colour doesn't hurt either. A great gift for ladies of all ages.

An eco- friendly locally made alternative to the chemical options on the market. Free from phosphates, chlorine, peroxide, & other harmful ingredients, this paste detergent is HE & front- load friendly. Added bonus: packaged in re- usable mason jars, receive a $5 discount on your next purchase when you return your empties! Currently available in citrus, lavender, & unscented. Each jar washes 60- 65 loads.

Quality & stylish locally hand- sewn items for the home & all members of the family- including the furry ones! Everything from unpaper towels (great idea!) & wetbags to burp clothes, and doggie tuxedos (that's right- dress your poochie in style!). 

Some goodies in a jar by Prenatal to Parenting
Phew! So much to see from so many great people & businesses! I hope you'll check out the Mommies N Munchkins Fair next year- it's a great event. In the meantime, I hope you check out some of the vendors above & let them know you heard about them on TPB!

April posts sponsored by Gary Gallant Travel

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Spring DIY: Easy Hanging Baskets

It's that time of year to get your garden ready for Spring. Even if you're not an avid gardener- or just don't have the coveted green thumb!- you can add visual interest to your deck or patio with hanging baskets. You don't have to spend an arm and a leg to make them, and it's a fun DIY project to do with the kids to get them outside & learn about gardening. Have them help pick out the plants & baskets to encourage their interest- when the baskets are finished they'll have a sense of pride from helping and the satisfaction of watching them grow. Involve them in watering and maintaining them- it will get them out in the fresh air and teach them responsibility; when they've participated in the process they'll be more interested and enthusiastic to help. (These also make great Mother's Day gifts for the Grandmas or for your hubby to make with the kids for you!)

Hanging baskets 
5 plants per basket 
(Tip: pick something tall to plant in the middle; pick 1-2 vines & trailing plants & 1- 2 low- lying plants for visual interest. Ask someone at your local garden centre for suggestions)
Watering can & water

Approximate cost for 2 hanging baskets: $25- 30

1. Select your baskets & plants
The larger your baskets the more plants you will need. I used moss- lined wire baskets with the following plants:
- 1 spiky grass (tallest plant, in centre of basket)
- 2 pansies per basket in opposite corners (low- lying plant)
- 1 petunia per basket (low- lying/ trailing)
- 1 vine per basket

2. Fill your baskets approx. 1/3- 1/2 full with soil, distributing evenly.

3. Place the plants in the baskets where you would like them arranged & adjust until your satisfied with their placement; remove your plants from their pots & loosen the dirt around their roots

4. Add enough soil to fill up to the base of the plants; press the plants into the soil to make sure they won't shift

5. Hang your baskets & water

For maintenance, make sure you water the baskets 1-2 times per day during the Summer in the morning and/ or evening (the leaves can get burnt if you water them in the scorching heat); remove dead foliage & flowers as needed.

I'll try and add some photos when they've grown to show their progress.

April posts sponsored by Gary Gallant Travel

Monday, April 21, 2014

Yummy Mummy Monday: Easter S'mores

Ok so today's 'recipe' is more of a cute idea to help use up all the yummy goodies the Easter Bunny left! A great idea for camping & bonfires!

Simply swap the usual jumbo mallows & chocolate squares with peeps & Easter eggs! Um, yes please! 

Hope you had a wonderful Easter weekend! 


Image Source: http://drewsteeves.com/blog.html/recipe-easter-peeps-smores-3104739

April posts sponsored by Gary Gallant Travel

Friday, April 18, 2014

Feature Friday: Earthwise Farm

We are so blessed living in Metro Vancouver. What we sacrifice in sunshine we make up for in lush natural beauty. There are so many amazing local organizations working hard to educate us on the virtues that surround us and promoting sustainability. 

Living here, lot sizes are shrinking and green space is slowly becoming harder to find. And if you have a passion for anything green this can be heartbreaking. Those with a green thumb and/ or a concern for the environment can find this discouraging- and even something that should be challenged. For those dedicated to encouraging green & sustainable initiatives, Earthwise Society helps bring communities together around these goals.

Located on a 3- acre property in Tsawwassen, BC, the organization offers a venue to learn & practice sustainable gardening & farming. Whether you're simply curious or an avid advocate about these practices, the organization offers a variety of programs & opportunities to help you on your way.

In addition to the regular programs & volunteer opportunities (click here for more info), Earthwise has several upcoming events to help introduce individuals to sustainable practices. (You can also subscribe to have their organic produce delivered right to your door! Click here for more info).

Upcoming Events & Programs at Earthwise Farm

Bee Friendly Plant Sale & Fair- April 26 10am- 2pm
Family- oriented event for all ages. Information about pollinator- friendly flowers, crafts, science activities, tours of beehives, & tasting from the farm's cob oven

Grow With Me Program
Family- friendly event where parents & kids spend a day on the farm. Family members volunteer together & learn about farm operations & how to grow their own veggies. Call 604 946 9828 or email the farm at info@earthwisesociety.bc.ca for more info & dates.

School Eco- Tours
All grades can book a garden or farm tour & workshop to learn what happens on the farm & how they can start their own garden and compost system. Teachers can contact the farm by phone or email to book a tour.

Summer Camps
Available for ages 7 through 12. Children can register for each theme week on Tuesdays & Wednesdays each week in July & August. Each week the kids will have the opportunity to create something to take home that helps plants & wildlife, such as birdhouses & feeders, and plant boxes. Register by phone or email. See below for dates & more info.

Junior Master Gardener: Uncover seedy secrets and grow sunflowers, beans and other yummy plants.

July 8-9

It’s for the Birds: Make a real bird house and find out how you can help our feathered friends in your garden.

July 15-16

Wild Water: Examine pond creatures, discover how chemicals affect water and make a mini water garden.

July 22-23

Secret Soil Creatures: Discover the world of creepy crawlies that live in the dirt and make a bug hotel.

July 29-30

Pollination Power: Learn about bee and butterflies, tour a real bee hive and make a mason bee house.

Aug. 5-6

Wiggly Worms and Slimy Slugs: Learn to love worms, make a worm compost and have a slug race!

Aug. 12-13

Farming Fun: Be a farmer on our organic farm, harvest some veggies and construct a scarecrow.

Aug. 19-20

Plant Science: Peer into the world of plants through real scientific experiments.

Aug. 26-27

Nocturnal Camp: Discover which animals lurk at night at Earthwise on a bat walk using a real bat detector.

Aug. 30

Time: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day. Nocturnal camp runs 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Ages:        7-12 years
Location: 6400 3rd Ave, Boundary Bay
Cost: $70/week (2 days) or $60/week for registrations of 6 or more weeks.
         Nocturnal camp is $30.

If you would like more info about Earthwise Society or would like to register for an event/ program you can contact them at 604 946 9828 or email the farm at info@earthwisesociety.bc.ca. Make sure you also check out their informative website & find them on Facebook!

April posts sponsored by Gary Gallant Travel

Images courtesy of Earthwise Society