Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Plastic Bag Alternatives

I have often found myself thinking about this subject. When grocery stores around me started selling reusable bags for 99 cents, I purchased 4 from my regular store. I have since added more to my collection- 3 from another grocery store and one from Ace Hardware (it was free with purchase- bonus!). I have come across coupons from various stores giving them away with purchases and offering discounts. In fact, I save 5 cents for each bag I use each time I go grocery shopping. But now I have an additional incentive to start using the reusable bags- not having to pay for plastic bags.

Seattle will start charging 20 cents a bag in January (story at this blog). The City Council recently voted 6-1 to approve charges for grocery, drug store and convenient store paper and plastic bags. That cost can add up quickly.

But I LOVE my reusable bags. I have learned that I can fit what might take up 3-5 plastic bags into one of those reusable bags, meaning less trips to and from my car. In addition, the straps are more comfortable carrying than the straps on plastic bags. And the bags are very durable. I just empty them out and put them back in my trunk so they're handy when I need them.

However, I have found it a little uncomfortable at times to pull out a bag for a store like Albertson's when I'm at a store like Target. So I have started looking for other reusable bags that are more universal (and no one has commented at all about my using bags from their competitors or other stores other than to thank me for bringing in a bag).

Some of my favorites I've run across at Amazon (because of their low prices) are these and these. What are your favorites?

Are you already using reusable bags? Do you plan on using them in the future? I'm thinking that this trend will continue, and it's best to be prepared.

Mini Carmel Apples

Everyone loves caramel apples-- which is why I was so excited when I saw great tutorial for mini caramel apples! It has great photos and easy to follow instructions!

Click Here For Tutorial

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Lullaby, and Good Night

I often find myself singing nursery rhymes and lullabies my mother sang to me when I was a small child to my own son now, only to replace forgotten lyrics with the word "something." My husband has also picked up this habit - it's pretty sad. Thank goodness a simple internet search turned up this website for us to remember and relearn some favorites we've long forgotten.

KiDiddles is the offspring of
Terry Kluytmans, a single mom who lives with her daughter, Tiana, on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. The idea for KIDiddles came about after Tiana joined Terry's family through adoption in May 1994. She wanted to sing to her daughter -- just as her father had done with her -- but was having a difficult time remembering the complete lyrics to any given song. She went online to see what she could find, and came up empty-handed. She started her own collection of songs through visits to garage sales and second hand book stores, and decided to share what she found. And so the KiDiddles site was born.

KiDiddles is super easy to navigate. You can search by subject, song title or even lyrical excerpt. You can sign up to print out song sheets of most songs to put into your own personal songbook. And if you can't quite remember a tune, many songs even include a midi file of the tune on the lyrics page to help refresh your memory.

If you do run over to KiDiddles and fall in love with it the way I have, please read and follow the copyright rules before using it in an inappropriate manner (no reproduction, no redistribution, and no commercial use).

*Image and website creator information courtesy KiDiddles.com

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Just Click to Give; then maybe shop


One of my longtime favorite websites is The Hunger Site. All you have to do there to help donate food to the needy is visit the site once a day and click where it says, "Click to give." Sponsors do the rest by donating on your behalf.

The site also has five "sister sites" that you can get to simply by clicking on their tabs at the top of the page, and, you guessed it, by clicking on their accompanying "click to give."

The fun part: you can also give by shopping on any of the sites (Hunger, Breast Cancer, Child Health, Literacy, Rain Forest, or Animal Rescue.) I picked out some of my favorites to show you. Their items are a bit like having Pier One and Etsy shops all rolled into one, with the added bonus of giving back at the same time.

The Hunger Site









Tuesday, July 22, 2008

How to Cut a Watermelon

Summer just wouldn't be summer with out watermelon. Here are two links that will help you enjoy your watermelon to the fullest.

The Old Farmer's Almanac's Nine Ways to Tell if Your Watermelon is Ripe www.almanac.com

Instructable: How to remove most of the seeds when cutting up a watermelon
www.instructables.com



Photo courtesy of the US Agriculture Research Service

Friday, July 18, 2008

Etsy, RookieMoms & BlogCoach

Ok, I have 3 *great* finds today...


The first one is a blog for local Utah Etsy sellers. I love Etsy, and I love supporting locals.
So as I'm writing this, I'm thinking...there must be other local Etsy groups out there...
Sure enough there is!
Check out the etsy sellers near you or groups of etsy sellers that have something in common (like Vegan Etsy or the Jewelry on Etsy Team)



My second great find is RookieMoms.com
I found this site because I went to High School with Heather & she found me via Facebook yesterday. So I checked out her site, blog & BOOK (all co-written with her friend Whitney). There is so much great info, I kept thinking, who do I know that is a new mom, or will be a mom soon that I can share this with....well, the answer is: possibly you.

In a nutshell, "RookieMoms.com is more than 300 activities for new moms that are more fun than wiping someone's tushy."

Their blog is more personal, "about pregnancy, babies, toddlers, preschoolers and the products that go along with these experiences".

And their book, The Rookie Mom’s Handbook: 250 Activities to do with (and without!) your baby, was "inspired by the enthusiasm their website readers had for their activity suggestions", and contains 250 activities which are organized by the baby’s age.

If you're at the BlogHer conference, Heather and Whitney are there...tell Heather I said Hi :-)...her gorgeous curly red hair will be hard to miss!

Which reminds me of a story...bear with me...
I was on a cruise with my family & my 6ft tall brother with red curly hair says to me "how come the guy that cleans our room knows who I am?"
I looked at him and said "seriously?...how many guys with red curly hair & a goatee do you think are on this ship?!"


Ok, one last cool site....if you're looking for tips on how to make your blog better, check out TheBlogCoach.org. "At BlogCoach, you'll find helpful, informative articles about blogging, blogging resources, and a friendly community full of plain-talking bloggers and web publishers eager to help you grow your blog."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Modest Maven

One of my favorite things about the Hip Homemaker is that it's provided a venue for several of my favorite things: writing, homemaking, crafts, and especially networking! (If you ask any of my close friends, they'll tell you that I'm a "networking addict," if such a thing exists. Why re-invent the wheel when it comes to finding good ideas for things? Save it for what you do best.)

After my somewhat verbose "Modest Magazines" post, I was ready to start in on reviewing some of the modest clothing links that the two magazines provide. With the limited budget I've been living on the past two or three years, I couldn't have done it justice. Then Modest Maven stepped into the picture with her new blog:
Modest Maven: "All your modest clothing news." So far it's mostly a review of the websites. And what a list it is...and a list of links as well.

MM's Blogroll
A Simply Modest Blog…
All your modest clothing news
old fashioned lady
Pretty/Modest Blog

modest clothing company
Be Precious Clothing
Christa-Taylor
Downeast Basics
Funky Frum
Layers
Modbe
Sexy Modest
Shabby Apple
Shade Clothing
Stop Staring
Taqwa Iman
The Mod Bod
The Soon Collection
Vintage Hem

(please, MM, keep it up! And anyone else who orders from some of these lesser known places...like the ones so many of Laurie's HH bloggers tell us about.)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Review: Hippychick Hipseat

I am obsessed with baby carriers. I have tried many different kinds: the basic fabric wrap, the Mei Tai carrier, the New Native sling, the Baby Bjorn, the Hip Hammock, and the Ergo. So far the Ergo is my favorite but my only complaint is that it's very bulky and doesn't fold down small when we're not using it. But it definitely is the most comfortable for me.

Well, I just bought myself a Hippychick Hipseat. I've been wanting one ever since I saw it on Babygadget but the price (about $70 plus $16 shipping) seemed a bit much for something so basic looking. But then a couple weeks ago I saw a used one on eBay and ended up buying it for $18 (plus $9 shipping).

My first impression is that it is pretty high quality. It is very basic but it does look well made. It kinda looks like one of those hip packs. I was surprised at how hard the seat is... the website says the seat is made of padded foam but mine, at least, doesn't seem to be very padded. You can remove the foam piece and throw the outside part in the washer.

Wearing it is very comfortable. So far I have only worn it around the house, but it is very easy to use and feels natural. Slipping the kid on and off is so quick without any straps to deal with. It's definitely easier carrying my 2-year old on it because he helps by holding onto me. I have to use more effort when carrying my 10-month old, but it's still a lot less effort than just using my hip. I will probably use it a lot more for my older one since he can never decide if he wants up or down. This should make my life easier when we're out and about.

Overall I really like this carrier. I don't know if I would pay full price for a brand new one, though. I definitely recommend it if you can find a cheaper used one on eBay or Craigslist.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Giveaway: Cute Headbands!

I'm always on the lookout for cute things to keep my hair out of my face, off my neck in the summer, or just to add more personality to my look.

Check out these fun headbands! Not only are they stylish, but there are 7 reasons why these headbands are "The Best":

*VELCRO: So they won't slip off your head!
*RIBBON: No headaches with these headbands!
*WASHABLE: They are durable!
*QUALITY: They have hidden stitching!
*2 IN 1: Each 2"-3" headband can be worn Thick or Thin!
*VERSATILE: They can be worn with anything!
*AFFORDABLE: Awesome Prices ($3 - $7)


Enter to win a FREE headband!
To enter the drawing,
leave a comment on
this Orange Plum blog post,
It ends July 15th at 9:30am MST.






check out TheOrangePlum.blogspot.com
and TheOrangePlum.etsy.com

If you don't win a free headband, place an order by 7/31/08 and get a FREE GIFT if you order $7 or more from their Etsy store!
*When checking out, you must enter "Blogger Special" in the message to seller section to receive your free gift!

Don't see a fabric you like, or need a different size? Just ask!
They will custom make headbands for you!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Sorting Out The New Airline Fees

I'm restraining myself from getting on my soapbox about all the new airline fees. Instead, I'll just offer some help in figuring out how much your flight will REALLY cost you. All of this info is available on the individual airline websites, but having this handy-dandy chart is nice because you can see at a glance who charges how much for what. If ticket prices are comparable, the extra fees could very well be the deciding factor in choosing which airlines you fly. It's also a good idea to double check the fees a few days before your trip, to see if they have increased. Here's a list of what you may have to pay for before or during your flight:
  • Making your reservation via the phone
  • Checking 1 or more bags
  • Oversize or overweight bags
  • Choosing a seat
  • Beverages
  • Snacks
  • meals
  • Traveling with Pets
  • Unaccompanied Minors
  • Curbside Check-in
  • Changing your ticket
There are other fees, like purchasing headphones, watching TV/movies, etc but those aren't listed since they generally haven't changed recently.

Airline Fee Chart

I've flown my fare share on Southwest, but never really loved flying with them. I have to say, I may be flying them more, since so far they don't charge extra for anything except Business Select.

You may also want to check out the carry-on size & weight restrictions. This past week I have heard a lot about the airlines cracking down on the carry-on restrictions that they have only half-heartedly enforced in the past. I for one will be taking the largest carry-on possible to Hawaii in September. Hopefully by packing as much as possible in my carry-ons, I'll be able to avoid the $50 (round trip) fee Delta charges for a 2nd checked bag.

Carry-on Baggage Chart

Thanks FareCompare.com & Rick Seaney!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Reading to your children just got easier.

I was searching the website for our local library when I came across the kids section. They have a whole website on Early Literacy! You may not be in Maryland, but you can take advantage of this wonderful information.

They have booklists for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Most of them are books that I've never seen before, but my 20 month old would love them.

There's even a list of tips and activities for each age group.

I also found a section just for parents and caregivers. There is information about behavior, homework help, and resources for family fun.

PS - Don't forget to add your personal children's book recommendations to this list!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Granola. Green. Natural. Etc.

I’ve been thinking lately about trying to be a little healthier. I’m not about to stop eating candy and fast food, but I started looking into chemicals and things that are in our cleaning products and personal care products. The more I read, the more grossed out I get. Finally I decided to start replacing the chemical-filled things I have with some less deadly products.

Nature Clean - That might be my favourite company in the world right now. Their website is super easy to navigate, very pretty, and there’s lots of information that even a jerk like me can understand. I’m totally into their cleaning products. They have a ton, and now that I know they work, I’m going to go tomorrow to pick up a whole bunch more.

Green Beaver is pretty sweet too. They have a really informative website as well that really helps me understand what all the commotion is about. I’m wearing their deodorant today, and I’m happy to report that I don’t stink at all. Yay! (Well, I smell like lemons, but I like that smell.)

Desert Essence is another one I’m liking. Probably easier for you Americans to find their products than the other two. I use their shampoo, conditioner, and face wash, and they all didn’t cause me to get cancer - yet. They also worked very well. That's important too.

Anyway, I wouldn’t claim to be an expert on any of this crap. It’s all new to me, but so far so good. Oh, and it was shocking to go into The Body Shop and find that every single product I looked at had ingredients that those Green people say cause cancer and such. I thought Body Shop was supposed to be so good for us. I had a gift card to spend there, so I just bought headbands and facecloths. Yep.

Anyone have any tips for other less cancer-giving products? I found Mexitan for sunscreen, but I haven’t been able to find a good sunscreen for my face that doesn’t include chemicals. I’m looking to avoid benzophenones, PABA, cinnamates, salicylates, digalloyl trioleate, menthyl anthranilate, and avobenzone. I'm also looking to avoid acne, so....

Oh, and did you know about Triclosan aka Microban aka triclocarban aka quaternary ammonium compounds? That’s the stuff in anti-bacterial products. It’s…well…bad! Look it up. It's in half the stuff I had in my house. Sick.

I have this handy-dandy list of ingredients to avoid in general.
Triclosan
Paraben, hydantoin, or quaternium preservatives.
Sulfate detergents including SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate)
Artificial aromas, fragrances, dyes.
Phthalates, propylene glycol, or pertrolatum.
EDTA

(Every Body Shop product I checked had at least one of those.) This is hard work!

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