Raising My Twins

It's what's on my mind.

Buying American and “Eating Local”

Here’s a great list of reasons to buy American. Most of us have our own pet reasons. Mine are supporting our economy (especially local businesses when I can) and reducing the impact on our environment. I mean, do we really need to eat blueberries in the winter when they come from Chile? Why not eat local citrus instead?  I live in California, so admittedly I have an easier situation than somebody in the Midwest, say.

Hokkaido squash and Padron peppers

This spring and summer I’ve made most of my produce purchases from the farmer’s market, and this has actually spurred me to try fun new vegetables, like this Hokkaido squash and these Padron peppers. I learned Padrons are a popular tapas dish, the best way to prepare them being to blister them in a pan of shimmering hot olive oil and sprinkle them with sea salt. And man, are they delicious. I have bought them every week for a month! I’ve put them in chili and deep-dish pizza with delicious results too.

The Hokkaido (aka “potimarron”) is a nutty-flavored sweet squash that the market vendor tells me sells out quickly each year. I have yet to prepare mine, but I will either make soup for the babies or perhaps I’ll try this potimarron gnocchi recipe, if I have some time.

Toys are another area of interest to me as a parent of young children. I’ve started trying to buy more American made toys, and interestingly, there aren’t that many brands sold through large outlets. When I combine “Made in the USA” with “eco-friendly”, both features by which Yoyo.com allows you to search, I only get products from a wonderful company called Green Toys, which makes all their BPA- and phthalate-free toys from recycled milk jugs. And they are really cute toys.

A search for “made in usa eco-friendly toys” helped me to find Down To Earth Toys that make some adorable bug blocks and other wooden and fabric toys. Magic Cabin has a section called “Made in America” which includes fun beeswax crafts and very attractive child-height wooden planter boxes.

This search also found a very cool looking company called Zoe B Organic. The search specifically found these biodegradable beach toys, but what looks exciting is that they have biodegradable plates, cups and bowls made in the USA too. Great idea!

I recently searched for a US-made tea pot and ended up finding out that there aren’t any (there’s one with German glass but made here—ask if you’re interested and I’ll find it again). This is a sad situation. We should at least have a couple of options in every product category that are made here, don’t you think?

For my part, I’m making this part of my buying decisions, although I’m sure won’t be 100% compliant. The thing is, I really believe that by buying products made here and made responsibly, I am in a sense voting for these factors. Companies make what we buy. If we didn’t just put the lowest price as our top priority, they’d eventually be persuaded to make things the way we want them, such as with quality parts or ingredients and low-toxin processes, made here in the United States.

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All-Purpose Cleaning Spray

Today I ran out of my all-purpose cleaner, which by the way is the new trend in cleaning products, allegedly: reduce the number of products you buy to clean your house down to just a few, if not one (as if we needed trendy to make this happen). This makes finding a good all-purpose cleaner that also does glass a top priority, because it will clean most everything in your house but the laundry and the dishes (and it might do those too, I haven’t tried).

Kiwi magazine did a survey of 1000 readers of their top “green” cleaners, and I was pleased to find that those GreenWorks products by Clorox really are “green”— I had my doubts. On closer inspection, it seems the Sierra Club likes them too—their logo is on the bottle. The reason this is cool is that they are in every store, so buying green cleaning spray is officially accessible now. And it does work very well, I might add.

That said, my favorite cleaner is BabyGanics—both the all-purpose and the glass cleaner (Why are they separate though? Just buy the glass cleaner and use it for everything.) I love it because the lavender scent is super yummy, and the 4 chamber sprayer is, like, awesome! Sprays a good volume in one spritz and gets the job done.

But today, I’m out of my cleaner. So I made my own. And I thought I’d share my recipe:

2 tablespoon Dr. Bronner’s magic soap: lavender castille soap
1/2 teaspoon glycerin (there is also vegetable glycerin)
1 tablespoon rubbing alcohol
1-1/2 cups water
12 extra drops lavender essential oil (optional)

I just gave it a try on the babies’ mirror—a  good test as it’s a baby-height mirror in the play area of the living room, covered in baby fingerprints and snot (oh yeah!) It worked great. I figure glass is the ultimate test.

By the way, I use Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap for lots of stuff—there is a huge pump bottle of diluted (~ 4:1) Dr. Bronner’s in the shower, which is our body soap. I use it for hand soap, and as backup dish soap too. It comes in other scents, of course, peppermint being the most popular. It’s fully biodegradable so you can use it camping, and super concentrated, so a big bottle will last you many months.

Note 9 months later: In the above recipe, the glycerin helps to keep the alcohol mixed into the water solution. Some people don’t like using rubbing alcohol, which is fine. I make it more often now with vinegar (although I use up to a half cup). But the alcohol mixture above works much better on glass!

Current recipe:

2 tablespoons Dr. Bronner’s
2 teaspoons washing soda
1 teaspoon baking soda
Fill rest of spray bottle with hot tap water, then add:
1/2 cup vinegar (add slowly to avoid froth-over)
10-12 drops lavender essential oil (I just love this stuff!)

I’ve been loving this recipe lately because I’m cleaning a lot more bodily fluids off of things (I know! Ew! Potty training is grand.) and the high vinegar content makes me secure with the disinfectant qualities of the spray. Borax has disinfectant properties too, but the store was out. (I was surprised too.) If I have it, I add a tablespoon or so.

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