Archive for the ‘environmentally friendly’ Category

Baby’s Dresser


Posted by Rebecca, April 11th, 2012

Since we started planning a nursery, the Hemnes 8-drawer dresser from Ikea has been in my plans.

(via Ikea)

The question was the color. Ikea has a few options that would work– the black brown, the gray brown (pictured above), the white or we could paint it a bold color. The bold color was my choice up until we actually painted the room. When I saw everything all complete, I couldn’t help but think of a white dresser.

I figured this would be a piece of cake, we would just buy the dresser in white! But then I realized something– Ikea’s white furniture is not solid wood. Part of the appeal of the Hemnes collection was that (I thought) it was all solid wood. After selecting a solid wood crib that was made without the use of formaldehyde, I wanted to also have a safe dresser.

Our line of thinking around here has always been that we do the best we can. We knew that it would be impossible (or rather, out of our budget) to make a 100% eco-friendly, non-toxic nursery, but we wanted to make smart decisions where we could. I knew it would be inevitable that say, an upholstered chair and our hardwood flooring would off-gas somewhat, so we used no-VOC paint, solid wood molding for the paneling behind the crib, non-toxic construction adhesive and purchased an organic mattress and changing pad. We tried to cut out the chemicals where we could.

I also know that nearly no dresser is 100% solid wood. Unlike cribs, many dressers contain particleboard to make up the back of the dresser or drawer components, so I assumed this would be part of our “suck it up” off-gassing to account for. Still, I could not swallow the idea of a particleboard and fiberboard dresser. We started to look for other dressers that were white and solid wood.

I should mention here that my original, original thought was to find a secondhand dresser to refinish. I don’t know where all of these bloggers with awesome Goodwill stores and thrift shops live, but we looked for a few months and never found anything we liked as much as the Hemnes dresser. Okay, we never even found anything we liked, period.

In looking at other options, we quickly realized that no one can beat Ikea in price. Pottery Barn Kids and Land of Nod have high quality, solid wood furniture, but it is more than double the price of Ikea. $700 for a dresser was not in our budget. We also checked the usual baby furniture at Babies R Us and Buy Buy Baby, but we did not find a single dresser we liked there either… and they were more expensive than Ikea.

We decided to take a trip to Ikea to check out the dresser in person. We liked it. We scratched our heads. We talked in the dresser section for probably 20 mins. We said our mantra was always to do the best we can within our budget. Since we’re going over budget with our glider purchase, we knew we couldn’t do it again. We decided that I was just being neurotic and that plenty of people have non-solid wood furniture. We cut out where we could. Mike told me that if this purchase was going to bother me, then we shouldn’t do it. But we did it, and it did bother me even minutes after buying it.

I felt that maybe we should have gone with one of the children’s furniture lines because at least they have some sort of certification from the JPMA or whatever. So I decided to email Ikea and ask them if their non-solid wood products met any sort of emissions standards, specifically if they were CARB compliant in the state of California (the strictest emissions standards in the US). Their response shocked me. Part of the email read:

We have strict rules concerning formaldehyde, and we do not permit the use of paints and varnishes containing formaldehyde additives. For wooden products, we apply the German E1 standard and have done so for many years now. For textiles, we apply the Finnish regulations.  In both cases, these are currently the strictest within their field worldwide.

I googled around a bit and found that Ikea had run into some trouble with formaldehyde emissions in their furniture products back in the 90s. Since then, they have a policy that they will meet the strictest regulations that exist within their markets, which for furniture is currently Germany. That way, they don’t have to make a separate piece of furniture to sell in the US, Germany, Japan or wherever. Kudos Ikea!

My googling also let me to find that the second round of California’s CARB emissions should be more strict that the European E1 standards. Interesting and good for California! Now if only the rest of the country would catch on…

I have seriously read so many documents about parts-per-million, different types of wood and standards around the world that my head is spinning. I feel much better about my purchase knowing that it contains minimal amounts of formaldehyde (since formaldehyde does indeed occur naturally in wood and some off-gassing will inevitably occur in all pieces).

Moral of the story: Don’t be afraid to email companies and ask them about their policies. Even if it just helps you sleep better at night knowing what you purchased, it’s worth it.

Very long story short: We have a new dresser and we are very happy with it 🙂

Some parts of the dresser are indeed solid wood and the drawers are lined with adorable yellow striped paper. These little top drawers are perfect for storing our cloth diapers.

We thought of changing out the standard drawer knobs, but I actually like them. The dark balances well with everything.

It’s amazing how quickly a room can get smaller when you add furniture. I seriously used to think this room was too big for a baby!

We love how classy the white looks in the room. We’re happy that it only cost us $299 for a brand new dresser and that it came with some morals. Thank you Ikea for bringing some non-solid wood standards to the little people, you get a bad rap far too often.

Okay, who made it to the end? 🙂

A Lil House Baby Shower


Posted by Rebecca, March 12th, 2012

On Saturday, our families threw us a baby shower. It took place at the same local bed & breakfast where we got married almost 2.5 years ago.

It was sort of rainbow themed, though my mom, mother-in-law and sister-in-law Jen kept the decorations to a minimum to not take away from the classic house.

My sister-in-law ordered these adorable invites and thank you cards and set them up on the entryway table with favors and candle holders made out of tissue paper.

Yes I blurred out my last name. Not that I necessarily care if you know it, but it just seemed wrong to blantantly post it you know?

On the other side of the entryway were some adorable centerpieces my mother-in-law made with crayons and baby pictures of Mike and I.

I forgot how big the house was. There was no formal seating during the shower and just seating throughout the many rooms of the house (probably about 5 large rooms downstairs?). I opened gifts in this large living room area.

And that seriously ends where Mike took pictures. We were so busy making the rounds that we didn’t get pictures of a lot of things, including the rainbow cupcakes, food, a shot of me actually standing and a shot of us together. Thankfully I did ask a friend to take some pictures while I opened gifts. We received so many amazing things, which was even more apparent when I went through these pictures and realized I am smiling ridiculously huge in most of them.

That’s a puppy cat hat. I’m not sure if it’s a puppy or a cat. I think I decided it’s a chihuahua.

My sister in law painted this wipe case with my favorite, Puss in Boots. It has our last name on the right side so of course I blurred it out, but I couldn’t resist posting my Puss in Boots impression (learned from Darwin)…

We also got loads of baskets full of goodies, which I love (and are generally my gift giving choice when I go to baby showers :)) I wish I had before pictures of how adorable they all looked.

Of course, no baby shower is complete without a poop reference.

The blog wasn’t forgotten at the shower either. My mother-in-law gave me this bib…

I caught Macky wearing it already….

I always love reading about baby gear on blogs and I got a lot of ideas for what to register for by reading blogs. I like seeing what sort of baby stuff people with a similar style to mine find, so I figured I’d share some of our choices that we received on Saturday. Maybe it will help a fellow pregnant lady out? 🙂

1. bumGenius Elemental Cloth Diapers– Mike and are planning to use cloth diapers most of the time. It seems to be one of those topics that fascinate people like how we don’t eat meat…we’re crazy, what can I say? The truth is we try to do the best we can with what we have. We’re not trying to fit into any label or group, but we do what we feel is best for us. We went with the all-in-ones because we think it would be easiest for us. We are thinking of picking up some bumGenius 4.0s also to try while we figure out what we like best. We know it will be a learning process (I mean, what won’t be!?) but we’re confident in our decision.

2. Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat in Romantic– I did the usual research, determined this one was safe, easy to carry and a nice classy fabric. SOLD!

3. babyGap Convertible Printed Bundler– Not only does this have an adorable gender neutral star pattern, but it’s super soft and converts from a bundler to a one piece with pants!

4. JJ Cole Diaper & Wipes Pod in Mixed Leaf– I love all things JJ Cole. They’ve managed to make baby gear look super chic. The pattern on this won me over and I thought it would add a nice pop of fun to my solid gray diaper bag (I also got the matching pacifier and bottle holders)

5. Fisher Price Space Saver High Chair– This pattern is sold exclusively at Target and for some reason I love the childish numbers on it. We went with this as opposed to a traditional stand alone high chair because we don’t have a lot of room in our eat in kitchen and we didn’t want an extra giant thing hanging around. Plus we like the idea of taking this anywhere with us, but it still functions exactly like a regular high chair. It even turns into a booster for older kids!

6. Lifefactory Glass Baby Bottle 4 pack (in gender neutral colors)– Mike and I stopped using plastics for our hot food probably over a year ago. Something about the thought of leeching creeps me out. We traded in all of our ziploc plastic containers for glass, so it only seemed right to use glass bottles for the baby as well. We went with these because not only is the colorful sleeve adorable, but it helps protect the bottle from breaking. They also come with solid caps to hold snacks or sippy cup lids so that the bottles grow with the baby.

7. giggle Better Basics Striped Cap– Because it’s adorable, organic, striped and a bright color. We also received the matching bibs, mittens and booties!

8. UppaBaby Vista Stroller in Silver/Mica– Some of you spotted this in the box in one of our nursery posts. I could write a whole lengthy post on our stroller decision, but the UppaBaby won out at the last minute. I was set on a Baby Jogger City Select for months, then suddenly changed my mind. I love that the UppaBaby comes standard with a bassinet and we went with a 2011 model (which were cheaper than the newly released 2012 ones). So I was pretty convinced.

One item I meant to include but forgot is the Ergo Baby Organic carrier. I am totally going to be one of those people that walks around with my baby strapped to my chest (how else will I blog?) and I love this carrier. I’m debating whether to get the infant insert for the Ergo we received at the shower, or go with a different carrier for the newborn stage (like a Moby). Any thoughts?

Sorry I went mommy blogger for a few there, but you can open your eyes now 🙂

Anyway, we are very lucky to have super generous family and friends who not only threw a beautiful shower for us, but made sure our baby was set with a bunch of wonderful goodies. I cannot wait to have the room all ready so I can begin to put some of this stuff away!

ps- The plan all week was to paint the nursery on Sunday, but I was drained after all of the excitement so Mike worked on it solo. Maybe it will be done by the end of the week for a reveal 🙂

Mud, Sweat and Fears


Posted by Rebecca, July 5th, 2011

This weekend consisted of a lot of cleaning up. The weeds out front were the first to go. Did you think I was kidding about the 4 foot weed?

Those stems sticking out of the top? Follow them with your eyes and see how tall they are. I was considering waiting until it bloomed and seeing how it looked, but instead I plucked it. It was very rewarding.

I also (finally) cleaned and organized my side of the closet. I seriously had things that were not unpacked from our move over a year ago. I donated 3 bags of clothes and got rid of a bag of clothes/crap. I still need to finish up a little, so I’ll share pictures of that later this week 🙂

Yesterday while I was cleaning myself, Mike told me to grab a a towel and come see something. I listened and went running down the hall like a looney. Funny thing was, Macky was so excited by the running that he started running up and down the hall. The interrupted shower was totally worth seeing 3 awkward baby deer running around our property.

That’s an iPhone picture taken through our window, but trust me, they were jump-out-of-the-shower adorable.

Today, I left work a little early to pick up our veggies at the local farm we belong to. It’s an organic CSA (that’s a wikipedia link) where we pick up our veggies every Tuesday. When I got in the car to head there, the temperature was 102. Ouch.

So being the genius that I am, I decide that after I grab my veggies from their respective bins I want to grab some of the pick your own flowers. We were allowed to pick 10 stems this week and I couldn’t help but want to put some in my Kate Spade rose bowl on the island. I figure after all of the cleaning and organizing, we could use a fresh little arrangment, right?

First problem, I couldn’t find the flowers. I walked over to the green beans (yuck not a fan) then all the way back to the herbs (already have 2 weeks worth of catnip). This sounds easy, but the farm is big and it was hot. My paleness felt like it was scorching since I was without a hat and sunblock. I walked back into the barn to glance at the hand drawn map to find the flowers. I think the map was backwards? I’m still very confused by that map.

I finally spotted a man in the distance and figured those must be the pick your own flowers! So I began to walk in his direction, but the farm was muddy. I slowed down and began to walk gingerly, in my flip flops and dress, only on the dry areas. But the dry areas weren’t so dry and within a minute, my one flip flop was inhaled by the mud.

I panicked for a minute but then gave it a good tug, which firmly planted my other flip flop in the mud. So now I’m standing in the middle of a field, in work clothes, sweaty and fearful that I am in some sort of South Jersey quicksand that my wannabe hippie self was unaware of. Because I am not a hippie. Which was pretty obvious at this point.

In an attempt to blend in, I left my iPhone in the car and have pictures/videos of this. Not that I would have taken any, considering I was terrified and completely unable to move. By some sort of miracle, I pulled and pulled my feet until I got one free. After that I was able to free the other one and move along. I am still amazed that I didn’t end up actually sitting in the mud like that time in 7th grade gym class…

I finally got to the flowers and they were so…. dead and droopy. There was no way in hell that I was leaving empty handed, so I cut my 10 stems. I wasn’t going to cut a full 10, but anything less would have been a kick in the face.

When I got home, I had to hose my feet. This is the pleasant view, after the mud had dried in the heat and I had wiped my feet in the grass during the walk back to my car.

Yes I know my legs are pale. Yes I go outdoors, I was sitting by the pool all day yesterday. And yes I have heard of sunless tanners, that natural glow above is courtesy of Jergens 🙂 (I am serious).

When I whipped out my rose bowl, I noticed that car ride home had…. further killed my flowers. But I stuck them in anyway…

The best flower I picked still isn’t the greatest looking thing.

I thought maybe those ones that haven’t bloomed yet would do something for me in the next few days?

I was so covered in mud and sweat that I had to shower the minute I walked in the door. So much for leaving work early and getting extra things done around here. I blame Kate Spade and her pretty crystal rose bowl.

The first cat to eat these flowers is going without treats for 1 week*!

*Unless it’s Darwin, he needs to put on weight and can have all of the cookies he wants….

warm ups


Posted by Rebecca, October 21st, 2010

Two days ago we ordered a cord of firewood.

I came home from work to see this giant pile at the end of our driveway.  We have a wood burning (obviously) fireplace that we are very excited to use for the season.  We had one in our condo and since it was a third floor unit, we usually didn’t put the heat on until December.  So we knew we definitely wanted one again, but when we got our house option sheet, it wasn’t offered!  Apparently people don’t really want them and prefer gas? Insanity! Luckily, our special request was granted and we got our wood burning fireplace.  The smell is so wonderful and cozy, plus the kittens love it.

We ordered the wood locally (from a place around the corner) and we were excited to hear that all of that wood came from our very own development when they chopped down trees to build houses.

You see, I really try to be as environmentally conscious as possible, I was raised that way.  So I never thought I’d buy a new house and once shook my head at the thought.  But the ignorance won and it was just better financially.  So I still feel very incredibly guilty every time I think of all of the animals I left homeless.  It felt a little better to know that we will be using the wood for an alternative heat source (that maybe creates smokey pollution) but at least it didn’t travel far and is being used practically.  It helps me sleep better at night okay?!

So what are we doing to do with all that wood? We ordered some outdoor wood holder thingys off amazon and for the inside, we bought a little basket from Target.

Since we love our recycling baskets, we thought we’d get a bigger one for the wood.  It has nothing in it and still has the tag on it actually…

All this time I thought that said “arabica”, like the coffee beans.  Whoops!

Our fireplace is one of our many works in progress.  Right now it has an awkward, I-wasn’t-thinking-creatively, candle holder in it, which I do like.  But I’ll probably step up my game in the off season 🙂

And since my friend Laura told me today that she enjoyed my background/foreground pictures, I figured I’d give her another one…

The fireplace itself is currently half tiled with some of the tiles we used for our kitchen backsplash.  I wanted to include them in the family room because of our open floorplan.

It still has to be grouted and we have to figure out what to do with the rest of the fireplace.  I found some high heat paint for the black metal parts and I plan on changing out the gold hardware.

But the dilemma is what to do with the black slate bottom piece (that is ugly and cloudy in this pic)..

I wanted to paint it a shade of brown, so I don’t waste a good piece of slate, but I’m worried about the VOCs in many of those concrete type paints that the guy at Lowe’s told us to use.  It’s our family room and we and the kittens are always in there (here, I’m here now…)  Does anyone have any experience with painting interior slate?

Anywho, we’re definitely looking forward to the holiday season where the 5 of us are cuddled up the fire.  If only we could have gotten a fireplace in our bedroom too!

more pretty peppers!

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Posted by Rebecca, October 14th, 2010

I went to the farm again to pick up our veggies yesterday and saw a bin of green, light green and purple peppers together.  I should have taken a picture of all of them because they were just so pretty.  But then again, if you’ve browsed our wedding pictures, you know that I love the purple/green combo.

I overhead someone at the farm say how delicious the purple peppers were last week.  We didn’t eat ours, but maybe we’ll venture out this week and give it a shot. But for now, I put my pepper friends in the usual countertop bowl, accompanied by a spaghetti squash, some tomatoes and some other peppers.

I say purple is my favorite color, but I’m usually more attracted to turquoisey-blue/greens.  But I think I need to get some purple in this house… Shh don’t tell Mike…

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