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Friday, April 22, 2016

Celebrate Earth Day Every Day

Every year, Americans use approximately 102.1 billion plastic bags, creating tons of landfill waste and pollution in our waterways. (www.ewg.org) 

Earth Day makes people reflect on their impact on the environment.  What are they doing right? What could they do better?

You don't have to make huge changes to make a difference.  There are little steps you can take that will add up over time, and Bumkins is here to help!  Check out the following tips below for some easy ways to make your life a little "greener."



Tips for Reducing Lunch Waste at School or Work:
  • Carry your lunch in a lunch box or a reusable snack bag.
  • Try a reusable container for your drinks.
  • Use reusable snack bags instead of plastic bags.
  • Use reusable forks, spoons and knives or wash plasticware and use it again.
  • Buy food items in bulk and make individual servings using reusable containers.
  • Get fun cloth napkins to wash and reuse.
  • Bring a thermos or coffee mug from home to the cafe instead of using disposable cups.


Tips for Traveling Green
  • Pack toiletries in reusable travel bags instead of disposable plastic bags.
  • Bring a reusable water bottle and refill from water fountains instead of buying individual bottles.
  • Bring reusable wet/dry bags for soiled clothes, spill-able bottles and a tote bag for groceries.
  • Don't buy travel sized items, dispense product from full-sized bottles into small reusable containers like these.
  • Turn off — and unplug! — lights and electronics while you're away. Turn down the thermostat. Suspend newspaper delivery and mail services.


Tips for Staying Green at Home
  • Use rags or hand towels instead of paper towels or napkins.
  • Use art smocks and bibs that can be washed and reused to protect clothing.
  • Cut your shower time by 20% or take one fewer shower per week.
  • Buy locally sourced food when possible, instead of .
  • Cloth diaper your baby! The Union of Concerned Scientists has estimated about 18 billion diapers are thrown into landfills every year.  
  • When crafting, use reusable splat mats instead of disposable tablecloths or newspaper to protect tables and floors.
  • Avoid using disposable plates, cups, silverware, napkins, etc. (Including food to-go!) 
  • Minimize toilet flushing—“if it's yellow, it's mellow, if it's brown, flush it down."
  • Replace your light bulbs with CFLs or LEDs, which use less energy.
  • Avoid using the clothes dryer by hanging your clothes out to dry whenever possible.
  • Turn off—and unplug!—lights and electronics while you're away.
  • Donate unused items to thrift organizations and shop at thrift stores to buy gently used items instead of new.
(http://www.earthguardians.org/50simplethings)

Have Plastic Bags to Recycle? 

Visit PlasticFilmRecycling.org, enter your ZIP code into the search tool, and it will find the nearest place to take any unwanted plastic bags. You can also use 1800Recycling’s recycling search tool to find your closest plastic film recycler.

There's no need to go completely off the grid to help save the environment.  Making a few adjustments will add up over time, benefitting both you and the Earth.  Just by replacing disposable products with reusable ones, and reducing your consumption, you'll not only help save the environment, you'll save money—a win/win situation! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

My Cloth Diapering Journey

By Tammy of Musing of a Working Mom

Five years ago, when I was pregnant with Pumpkin and the ink on my master’s degree in environmental journalism was still wet, I tried to convince my husband we should use cloth diapers. He was not in favor and, because he would be staying home with her two days a week, I didn’t push it.

Two years later and pregnant with Peanut, I still wanted to give them a try. My reasons for using cloth had to do with the environment (billions of diapers go to the landfill each year) and baby’s health (cloth can be better for skin because they don’t have the same chemicals for absorbency, perfumes or dyes). But the way I convinced my husband to at least learn about it was the cost savings.

Peanut in her cloth diapers.

We went to a class at Zoolikins, a local natural parenting store, where we learned a bit more about the different kinds of diapers, how they work, how to wash them, etc. It all seemed doable. And while there was an investment up front, it would definitely save us money over the long run, considering we were spending at least $50 a month on diapers for Pumpkin.

Peanut came home from the hospital in disposables and, after coming out of the fog of the first few days, I was ready to make the switch. But I couldn’t remember anything with my mommy brain. I went back to the store for a refresher on cleaning the diapers and how to put them on. (In future weeks and months, I went back a couple of other times for questions about fit and found the staff at the store to be such a great resource.)

The Bumkins Snap-In-One cloth diapers looked really big on my tiny little Peanut, especially at first, but it wasn’t really a big deal. As we grew used to seeing the cloth, and she got bigger, we didn’t notice anymore. Plus, the snaps on the diapers allowed us to adjust as she grew.

The laundry routine was new for us, but we got into a habit of washing them every other night and hanging them to dry before we went to bed so they were ready to go in the morning. In the summer, especially, this was easy. In the winter, we’d sometimes need to put them in the dryer for a few minutes in the morning before packing the bag for daycare.

We kept a wet bag in her bag for school for dirty diapers, plus one in the diaper bag in my car, and a large one in her bedroom. (Every day care we toured was on board with cloth, so that also helped make the decision easy.) Once Peanut started eating solids, we put a cloth diaper sprayer in the girls’ bathroom and added a wet bag there so we wouldn’t have to transport the diapers after rinsing them. The laundry routine stayed the same.

New niece in her new cloth diaper.

For a few reasons, including Peanut being close to potty training, we stopped using cloth not long before her second birthday. I’m glad we were able to keep it up that long, and the timing worked out nicely: my sister had her first baby in February and we were able to share many of our diapers that were in good condition.



She also requested that I help teach her how to use them when I came to visit about two weeks after the baby was born. In addition to some hand-me-downs, I brought a few new items that were either favorites of mine or things I wanted but never bought myself: a soft, bamboo nursing cover that doubled as a scarf, a couple new diapers, cloth wipes (we keep these in the changing table and in the kitchen for cleaning faces and hands after meals), bandana bibs for drool and spit up, and washable nursing pads.

I know cloth diapering seems intimidating, but the experience for us was a good one. The only thing I would change would be to have started with Pumpkin. Changing up a routine while also adding a second baby is a little more difficult than it probably would have been if we’d done it from the beginning! I didn’t try to convince my sister, but I’m glad she chose the cloth route, too.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Finding Your Baby’s Style of Solid Food

By Alicia of Lollygag Learning

Nova is almost ready to enter a new phase of babyhood—eating solids! There is so much information about starting solids that it can easily become overwhelming. With our first baby, I did a lot of reading and researching, and I had a checklist of questions for the pediatrician and my breastfeeding support group. That was only 2 years ago, so it’s still fresh on my mind! After all of that preparing, the introduction of baby food was over in the blink of an eye.

I’m very thankful to have a pediatrician who takes the time to bounce around ideas about feeding. Also, since Nova has a sensitive belly, I am meeting with a nutritionist who is also a lactation consultant. While breastfeeding, I have pinpointed several food sensitivities for Nova including dairy, soy, wheat, tree nuts, and peanuts. The food sensitivities are a new challenge for me since my first baby did not have any issues with the food I ate. I have decided to wait to start solids until Nova is around 6 months old and sitting unsupported.


There are 3 different styles of feeding that I will experiment with when we start solids: purées, finger foods, and baby-led weaning (BLW). One thing I’ve learned since I became a mom is that it’s good to make a plan, but be willing to change it! With Nova, I plan to try a little bit of purées and finger foods and see how she does. We will see what she likes, identify her style and preference, and go from there. Maybe it will be 100% purées or a mix of two styles. I’m thinking it will be a little bit of each style. It will be so fun to see her learning and experimenting!

Purées: I don’t think you need any kind of special baby food making machine to make purées. If you have a good blender or food processor, or just a fork you can do purees easily. The stage of feeding baby food purées is so short that I don’t want to purchase another kitchen appliance that will sit in the cupboard unused afterwards. Start with a simple age-appropriate fruit or veggie, and blend it while adding breast milk, formula, or water until it is soupy and thin. The food should pour off of the spoon like a liquid. If it is so thick that it sticks to the spoon it might cause choking or constipation at this age. Some great first fruits or veggies are avocado, sweet potato, banana, pear, apples, or butternut squash. I like to bake the sweet potato and squash, and steam the apple to soften before puréeing. If you want to try mashing the food with a fork, you will notice it is more textured, which is great once your baby has a little more experience.

Not sure how thick to make your purées? Check out this video to see the consistency foods should be when it's mashed versus blended.

video


Finger Foods: Small diced fruits and veggies can be served for Baby to self-feed and get a great sensory experience, while learning about their food. Be sure that the food is very soft and you can easily squish it between two fingers the way that their little gums will mash the food. Teeth are not required for finger foods because babies learn to mash with their gums before they ever get molars. I tend to dice the food to about the same size of a baby puff snack or Cheerio. It’s small enough to pick up with their tiny fingers, but it’s not too big or firm to be a choking hazard. Follow your baby’s lead and interest!



Baby Led Weaning: Offering whole foods in their purest form, with no purées or dicing, is the idea behind baby led weaning. This approach is said to help baby have better eye-hand coordination, learn about their food, self-feed, and regulate how much they eat. You can try offering a large slice of avocado, a half of a banana with the peel as a handle to grip, or large slices of baked sweet potato.

At first, your baby might not eat a lot of the food you prepare, but that’s okay! Breast milk or formula should be the main source of nutrition until they are one year old, unless otherwise instructed by your pediatrician. Follow your baby and do what feels right when you are deciding how to introduce solids. There are many different styles and you’re sure to find one that works best for your baby.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Winner, Winner, Soup's for Dinner

By Jessica a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist


“Souping” is officially a verb, as in “souping is the new juicing.” Once humble, now decidedly posh, a diet of soup alone has ascended the hierarchy of nutrition trendiness to the point where, as the New York Times reported, there are competing soup cleanse delivery services and cookbooks. Savory soups loaded with vegetables and flavored with herbs and spices are finally getting the attention they deserve, but breakfast smoothie bowls made with yogurt or milk and topped with fruit and granola are a different kind of “soup” that’s popular too.

As a Registered Dietitian as well as a minivan mom of three, I am delighted that nutritious, delicious soup is in the wellness spotlight. (Plus, I always like to think I am tuned into the zeitgeist, even though I left Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and moved to Phoenix 11 years ago.) I’ve been a fan of soup for years; after all, soups are comforting, hydrating, and there are a million different types to suit your fancy.

Whether they’re sweet or savory, warm or cool, broth-based and chunky or pureed to a creamy texture, soups can be tailored for everyone in the family. One of my favorite things about eating soup at home is that it’s easy to dish out quickly, so everyone gets to sit and eat together immediately.

Here are my top five reasons why soup is a clear winner for dinner:

1. Nutritious - Soup is an ideal way to add nutrient-rich plant foods into our diets. Vitamins and minerals stay in the saucepot and end up in our bowls. Cooking vegetables softens the fibers and increases absorption of certain nutrients; for example, the heart-healthy antioxidant lycopene in cooked tomatoes is more easily absorbed than lycopene in raw tomatoes. In a pinch, use frozen and canned vegetables, too. (Rinse canned vegetables to remove extra sodium.) Protein-rich beans, lentils, edamame and quinoa are vegetarian-friendly additions that contribute both protein and fiber. Mix in brown rice and whole grain pasta for a heartier dish. Lean meats, poultry and fish can be added too. Garnishing your soup with fresh chopped parsley, basil, or dill adds extra flavor and immunity-boosting power.

2. Flexible - There are so many soup recipes that can be adapted to accommodate food allergies, seasonality of local foods, and dietary preferences. Texture can be adjusted to meet developmental needs and sensory issues. Adding more chicken or vegetable broth easily thins out a soup. A one-year-old who’s still learning to eat with a spoon may find thin liquids challenging, so a thicker soup that’s the consistency of applesauce or yogurt may be easier to manage. To thicken, try adding a few teaspoons of oat flour or a slurry made from flour or cornstarch mixed with broth. Use local and in-season vegetables for peak flavor. During hot weather, try serving cool melon soups, breakfast smoothie bowls, and gazpacho.

3. Introduces new flavors– Every cuisine around the world has their soup specialties, so trying new recipes is a great way to introduce new flavor profiles to young taste buds. Italian minestrone, Chinese hot and sour soup, Japanese miso soup, Mexican albondigas, Ukrainian borscht, Indian mulligatawny soup, Spanish gazpacho, and Thai coconut curry soup are zesty gateways to international cuisines. For your very youngest soup-eaters, try adding a sprinkle of cinnamon or ginger to puréed butternut squash or sautéing lentils with a bit of coconut oil, garlic and onions before blending them to a creamy consistency.

4. Kid-friendly kitchen duties –Invite your little one to be your soup sous chef. Offer them the opportunity to help out with one – or more – of the simple cooking steps involved in the recipe. Preschoolers can rinse broccoli in a bowl full of water in the sink, strip kale leaves from the stems, and push buttons on an immersion or countertop blender to purée a soup. Elementary school-aged kids can peel carrots, scrub potatoes, grate cheese, and use a knife to chop onions, celery, and fresh herbs.

5. Time-saver - For especially busy days, soups can be made ahead of time and reheated right before serving. Try making a double batch and then freezing extras in small, easy-to-reheat portions. To save time prepping ingredients, use frozen, canned, and pre-cut vegetables. A variety of chopped vegetables is available in the grocery store, such as onions, garlic, and butternut squash. When you know you’ll be away all day, combine ingredients in a slow cooker in the morning and let your soup simmer to perfection so that you come home to a one-dish meal that’s ready to eat.

And sometimes, there just isn’t time for cooking. There are so many wonderful soups available in the grocery store that would make excellent back-up meals. Look for low-sodium versions when possible. You can also use store-bought soups or even combine a store-bought broth with a jar of pasta sauce as the base for a soup.
















Simple Butternut Squash Soup


Ingredients:
1 Butternut squash (2 lbs)
2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
½ - 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Slice a 2 lb. butternut squash in half lengthwise, and place the halves, cut side down, in a large baking dish with enough water to fill the dish about an inch high.
3. Bake the squash for 45 minutes, until soft.
4. Scoop the seeds out of the squash. Then scoop out the flesh and put in a large bowl. (Save the seeds and skins in a bag in the freezer for making broth, or put them into your compost bin.)
5. Add the chicken or vegetable broth and the grated ginger to the squash in the bowl.  
6. Use an immersion blender to puree the broth, ginger, and the squash until creamy. You can leave it as chunky as you wish. Add more broth for a thinner consistency.

















Turkey Vegetable Rice Soup


Ingredients:
2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
½ cup cooked turkey
½ cup cooked brown rice
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
4 tsp low-sodium soy sauce

Directions: 
1. Heat the broth on low-medium in a pot on the stove.
2. Add the frozen mixed vegetables to the broth and let them cook for 3-5 minutes.
3. Add the turkey and brown rice.
4. Stir in the soy sauce.
5. Add sliced green onions for garnish, if desired.





Breakfast smoothie bowl


Combine:
Plain yogurt
Berries – but use whatever is in season! Sliced bananas and frozen berries shine here.
Homemade granola: it’s sweetened already, but you can drizzle with a little honey if you want.



Creamy Mushroom Soup


This Creamy Mushroom Soup is one of our family’s recent favorite soups. It’s incredibly savory due to the umami-rich mushrooms.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Spring Activities for the Whole Family!

By Tammy of Musing of a Working Mom

For the past few years, our Easter routine has been: have breakfast, open Easter baskets, go to church, then head over to my in-laws for Easter dinner. This year, however, my dad and stepmom will be in town, so we are hosting Easter dinner for 10 at our house. And, other than a sign we hang on the front door and some egg cups, it turns out we have no Easter décor.

Spring letters


I thought a fun project Pumpkin, my 4-year-old, and I could do together would be to create the word “Spring” with wooden block letters and personalize them using scrapbook pages featuring her favorite Disney princesses.

Pumpkin selected which pattern would be used for each letter. Following the instructions from a tutorial I found online, the first step was to trace the letters onto the paper, placing the letter face down on the back of the scrapbook page). After cutting out the shape with scissors, I then lined the paper up with the block letter and trimmed the excess with an Xacto knife. Once this was done, Pumpkin used a sponge brush to coat Modge Podge onto the front of the letters. The Modge Podge was dripped all over the Minnie Mouse splat mat, but easily peeled off once dry. After each letter was coated, I placed the paper on top and smoothed it out. After watching me do it a couple times, Pumpkin asked if she could place the paper, too.


After she went to bed, I smoothed out the edges of the paper with fine sandpaper, and then added an extra coat of the Modge Podge and left it to dry overnight. Once they were ready, I placed them on a cabinet in our dining area, and added Easter eggs, grass and some of the girls’ princess dolls. The girls love it, and it makes our dining room much more festive!



Pink eggs


Both Peanut, 2, and Pumpkin were able to participate in our next activity. For the past couple of years, we have dyed our Easter eggs using beets (pink), purple cabbage (blue), and turmeric (yellow). For our princess-theme, we did some just with beets.

First, I peeled and chopped the beets then boiled them until they were soft. I strained the beets and saved the liquid, adding a couple tablespoons of vinegar. (I saved the beets to make myself a salad with goat cheese and chopped nuts. Yum!)

Now it was time to dye our hard-boiled eggs! First, I handed the girls princess bibs to keep the mess at bay. I honestly don’t remember the last time Pumpkin wore a bib (she tends to resist the “baby” things her little sister does) but she couldn’t wait to put one on once I showed her it had Belle on it.

This is the first year Peanut was able to participate, and she had a lot of fun. At one point, when I wasn’t looking, she put as many as she could in one cup. We dyed most of the eggs for just a few minutes each, but put a couple in the liquid in the refrigerator for a few more hours so they could see how much deeper the color would get.













For the eggs that didn’t sit in the dye, we used temporary tattoos to add their favorite characters. I used a damp washcloth to apply them to the eggs, just like I would if the girls were wearing them. The transfer wasn’t quite as easy as doing it on skin, and I had to peel parts of them and stick them with my fingers (tweezers might have come in handy) but it worked and the girls were so excited about it – they pouted when it was time to crack them to eat!

Once we were all done, the splat mat went straight from the table to the washing machine, making clean up a breeze. The girls will be so excited to show off their creations for the rest of the family!



Thursday, March 17, 2016

Egg Dyeing Using Natural Ingredients


With Easter just a hop, skip and a jump away, we wanted to bring you a green option for enjoying the fun of coloring eggs!  Our contributor, Carly, offered up the following recipes for primary color dyes made with natural ingredients that you can find in your own kitchen.



video


For red dye: Take 2 beets and roughly chop. Combine with 1 quart water, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and 1 tablespoon salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid for dyeing.

For yellow dye: Heat 1 quart water, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and 1 tablespoon salt in a saucepan. Add 6 tablespoons ground turmeric and stir well. Simmer for a few minutes until the turmeric dissolves.

For blue dye: Take 1 large red cabbage and shred it. Combine in a saucepan with 1 quart water, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid for dyeing.



Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Happy International Women's Day!

Bumkins celebrates strong women everyday because we were founded by one! 

In 1989, Jakki Liberman started Bumkins as a means to provide her own young family with an alternative to disposable diapers. Jakki began the company with a single prototype, the All in One cloth diaper. This inventive design, which rivaled disposables in convenience, became the foundation of Bumkins product offerings.