Sustainable gift guide!

posted on: Saturday, December 10, 2016

I'm feeling pretty merry by getting this post out before the end of the holidays with a four-month-old in my life. 

If you're trying to live by your sustainability standards (or want to get some) during the season of giving, this post is for you. The pieces I've curated here are from some of my favorite online stores that know what they're doing in regards to sustainable products. Largely produced by the artisan entrepreneur community around the world and in the US, they are sold through businesses that value people, planet, and profit, and most gifts are under $50.

They are also what I would pick if you handed me some of your money and begged me to do your gift shopping.

Personally, my favorite gift in the entire world is a gift card (or food). The act of perusing the world of things and experiences and finding just what I need, designed how I like it is so. nice. But sharing a list of gift cards wouldn't be as pretty, ya'll.

So, besides being beautiful/useful, what makes these things sustainable? It's all in the supply chain! For the most part, they each meet the following:

+ produced by fair trade labor with living wages
+ made with renewable, healthy materials in healthy conditions for workers/artists

On top of that, I have my own criteria:

+ Doesn't take up space (small/foldable)
+ Can be used up, or used for a long time
+ Doesn't scream "I'm sustainable" from first glance - the crunchy or ethnic look does not suit everyone.

Cheers to slower shopping this holiday!
Rodales - Nubby Fingerless Gloves 
Rodales-This gorgeous mug is made in Ohio 

Mata Traders - brass cuff 
Made fair - wool blanket

Bambeco - beard oil for the men folk. You all know someone who's got a beard right now.
Bambeco - pomegranate and spruce candles (ahhh)

Bohem - tea towel

Bohem - beautifully illustrated/funky story for kids about the food chain...
Bambeco - olive wood spoon - wishing I had this for meal prep.
Bambeco-Hanging Nest Aerium
Rodales-I've actually eaten this, GOOD STUFF! Eat alone or turn into hot chocolate.
Rodales - Who would't want a pretty whisk? I know I would! (Plus it's dishwasher friendly)
Rodales- One item for cheek and lip, I'm in!
Three Cords Haiti- This can be a headband or necklace. The company employs Haitians with disabilities, as well as at-risk women. I have one in white, and it goes with everything.
Three Cords Haiti - This can be a clutch or makeup bag

Raven + Lily - journal

Noonday Collection - Infinity Scarf

Mama learnin'

posted on: Saturday, November 5, 2016

I feel like a new person now that Ira's first three months are gone. He is blossoming by the day into himself, and it is awe-inspiring to witness. Life is amazing.

A few things I've learned about being a mama:

1. It's true about putting them down BEFORE they get over-tired and overstimulated. Earlier, Ira would get so fussy between 7-9 each night. I blamed growth-spurts or hunger, but he was just ready to go to bed!

2. Routine. I do not do much by a schedule, ever. I just started working on a bedtime routine with Ira since I moved him from his basket and swaddle in our room, to his crib down the hall with his sleep sack to stay warm (I don't put blankets/pillows in with him). He has taken to it better than I could've hoped - he was ready to stretch out! Around 7:30-8 p.m., we bathe him, rock him, feed and put him in his crib.

He also takes a morning and afternoon nap, either on the go or in his crib, no matter where it happens, I'm now able to see it coming.

Just implementing a little more structure has helped all of us feel more organized with our days and able to enjoy each new milestone with Ira even more.

Life with baby Ira

posted on: Friday, September 23, 2016

We did it! Cody and I can now take care of a baby and not feel terrified every second of the day about it. We can even change diapers quickly. 

Ira is two months old, and time has flown and dragged. That feeling is usually based on if Ira is having a good day or a bumpy day, which equals how tired we are.

I still look at Cody everyday and ask him if he can believe that our baby is really here. We used to say the same thing when we lived in Pennsylvania - "Can you believe we live here?" Especially when the seasons were changing. It's so good to stop along the way to observe those moments.

I'm still working on his birth story - and they are tall orders. The memories are more powerful than what I've been able to put into words so far. I want it to be encouraging, but honest about what I found with my own natural birth with Ira.

Here's to summing up the first several weeks with our good old boy, and it hardly captures all of it.

  • He's been gaining weight well, his birth weight was 7.9 and now it's 13.10 lbs! He's 24.25 inches long as of 9/22. This leads me to...
  • Breastfeeding - it's a learned behavior. Having never been around newborns or breastfeeding mamas, the first day I tried to hold Ira like I used to hold my dolls to give them bottles - on his back. The lactation nurse gently directed me to hold his belly tight against my own like "a frog on a window pane." Love the imagery.

    • Ira hurt me big time the first week and I dreaded feeding him. We took him to the lactation consultant at 2 weeks old, and he was diagnosed with a  lip and tongue tie we had to resolve at a pediatric dentist office during week 3, but feeding has been MUCH better ever since. I'm so glad we caught it early.
    • Community helps so much! I found a great group of women and babies at our local hospital's breastfeeding group. We meet up there every week to just socialize, but we've gone out to eat, and even grab "cry baby" movies that have showings for just moms and babies so no one is bothered when a baby starts making noise. 
  • Ira really changes by the week. We have no set schedule, rather we created a routine with him. I watch him for signs of sleepiness and hunger and try to catch them before he comes unglued. 
  • He's sleeping in his basket pretty well! He eats at 10:30 p.m., 3 a.m., and 6:45 a.m., almost on the money every night. A few magical times he's done 10:30 to 5 a.m., praise the Lord.
  • I just learned about the Wonder Weeks. They are the weeks right before a big developmental milestone is reached and make babies harder than usual to console - like crying for three hours at bedtime. You'd think he's about to start spouting Shakespeare the way Ira has carried on during these times. He had his first this past week and we survived by swaddling Ira tightly and rocking him to sleep. 
  • His smile is here! It's that open-mouthed newborn smile that's HUGE and lovely. And heart- melting. His eyes are not giving away their color yet! They're still that grayish-brownish funny newborn color that almost isn't a color - with a tiny light brown streak in the left eye. 
  • I am a new mama, but I am also the same old me and I want to hold onto that. A little time everyday to shower or have Ann-time is key to what makes me tick. When Cody comes home, sweet Ira gets popped into his arms and I take an hour to do...whatever. It is good.
Tummy time on papa's back
He's now outgrown this little outfit; taken from his 5 day old pics I took
We love getting out of the apartment with Ira, mostly on walks right now

Wearing his uncle's smocked shirt, made by our Aunt 30 years ago :)

Ira likes standing, especially when I try to get him to ball up in his Solly wrap. He prefers being able to stretch out.

First beach trip to Galveston Island

At the breastfeeding group doing tummy time-he is surrounded by other babies on the floor and it's mind-numbingly cute!

Two-month checkup...and shots :(

Love our nugget - I don't think I'll ever believe he's really mine ;)

Nursery reveal + 39 weeks

posted on: Sunday, July 10, 2016

After weeks of moving, unpacking, and becoming legal residents of Texas, we are at the end of pregnancy and baby boy's nursery is done! We have a two-bedroom apartment and the baby's room is actually divided into thirds - the other side is our office and music room, complete with our cellos on the walls.

Our 39 week appointment was this week, and baby is locked and loaded and ready to roll. In other words he's head down and facing the right way. I couldn't have asked for a better pregnancy aside from the exhaustion that came in the first trimester, and know I'm very blessed to be able to say that. 

His official due date is July 16, next Saturday - but we are betting on the full moon helping him out on July 19!

The nursery is a mix of old and new - and lots of art! My goal was to keep his items to a minimum in a fun, gender neutral feel using a lot of what we already had (except the crib obviously, from this sustainable baby furniture company). 

The antique dresser is mine from college, and I just replaced the drawer pulls for something more modern. It holds all his diapering supplies, the first three-six month's clothes (just jammies!), swaddles, a baby wrap, and those little baby accessories I thought would be useful like tiny socks, bibs, a teeny swim diaper, and sun hat. 

Baby's books are from our own childhoods, and his wall art is also something special to us. 

The little owl was bought by my grandparents on a trip to Mexico in the 1950s. I painted the canvas over the crib over five years ago, and even named it "The Baby's Dream," so I suppose it has been for this baby from the beginning. The little string "goodness garland" on top of the painting was handmade by a dear friend back in Pittsburgh.

Cody and I made the mobile last week from leftover guest favor tags from our wedding, zero-VOC paint from a furniture refurb project, an extra dowel rod we had laying around (doesn't everyone?), and the pom pom thing off a winter hat that got destroyed over three Pennsylvania winters.

Baby's first ultrasound pictures hang over his changing table/dresser to remind us of the awe we felt when we first saw him. I hope this memory comes in handy in the wee hours of the morning, when we are cleaning up the inevitable blow-outs I hear are headed our way. 

Last, the little fox that hangs from the corner of the green wire basket represents our first memory of baby. The day we found out we were going to have a child, we took a long walk to absorb the news in a beautiful old cemetery near our home in Pittsburgh. It was a gray and cold November morning. As we turned down a long road a beautiful red fox stepped out of the woods next to us. After a minute he turned and disappeared the way he had come -  I have no idea what that moment meant, but I found the fox ornament over Christmas, and got it to preserve that memory.

We are following the American Academy of Pediatric's recommendation to keep everything but a crib sheet out of his bed.  In the pic I'm using it to store one of his toys, but it won't stay there. 
Because he is a Cancer, we threw in a few crabs for good measure! There is the little fox ornament, and a turkey feather we found in the same graveyard we hiked through all the time in Pittsburgh, tucked into the plant.

While I'd like him to take naps in his room to get used to it, baby boy's main bed for the first few months is his moses basket in our room.

Those are breastfeeding supplies in the little basket - like lanolin, and granola bars for energy. We are planning to spend the first week in bed learning to feed little baby. And sleeping.
This is an Under the Nile scrappy doll made from bits of leftover baby clothes. 
Hoping that our next post will introduce our son! Please keep us in your prayers for a safe delivery and a healthy, strong baby (and parents). #unreal

Barley & Birch: Reader Discount!

posted on: Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Remember my sustainable baby registry post from a few days ago? There was a pretty darling onesie on it sporting some chic cacti from Barley & Birch, a kid's fashion brand that's about as sustainable as you can get in terms of its production and materials quality, and their nature-inspired designs ROCK. They also have a wonderful blog that explores sustainability from many angles, and includes DIY projects and inspiration for readers.

When brands are transparent about their practices, it makes shopping so much easier for customers trying to be more conscious. 

I am thrilled to team up with Barley & Birch to share a discount code with you for their online shop - from now till the end of 2016, you can use the code MEANTGREEN2016 for an extra 15% off your order!

Before I share some of my favorite pieces from them, it's important to me to highlight what it is about Barley & Birch that can change the fashion game. Here's their mission statement on how they view sustainability from not just an environmental view, but also socially and economically as well:

"Environmentally, we decided to make every single facet of the line carbon neutral. Not only do we offset any emissions created by production and shipping, but we work with manufacturers and suppliers that are largely powered by solar energy. We chose only certified organic cotton and water-based inks, so we do not pollute the air and water with chemicals. We are made in the United States, so we do not emit the massive amount of carbon associated with trans-ocean shipping. We are largely paper-free and any paper involved with the line is 100% post-consumer recycled. Essentially, we chose to go beyond the level of convenience to be fair to our planet and to our customers.

Socially, we give at least 15% of our profits to a variety of organizations working all over the world to improve the lives of others. We fund everything from educating rural farmers on sustainable agriculture to providing shelter to victims of abuse. We are proud to aid in the growth of justice and equality throughout the world."

B&B does nature-inspired and fun prints SO well. Here are some pieces from them that spoke to my sense of design (many of these come in short sleeve styles as well, and kid Ts!) I'd definitely put my little boy in all of these, once he gets here!

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