Monday, November 1, 2010

Reusable Review: AusPen Refillable Dry Erase Markers & Wipe Clean Woeksheet Covers

This week, we tried out the AusPen Refillable Dry Erase Markers with a white board and Roylco Wipe Clean Worksheet Covers. I had been wanting to use dry erase markers with the kids for a while, but was uncomfortable with the smell and chemicals. When I first heard about the AusPen markers, I was thrilled to find out that not only are they refillable, but they are also Xylene free!
We loved the markers! They are bright and colorful, and draw a great, solid line which erases cleanly from both surfaces that we drew on. I think they are very comparable to the non-refillable dry erase markers in action, but without the soul-crushing agony of adding more waste to the landfill. I'm a sucker for a well designed container, so I adore the (recyclable) container that the markers and refill ink are packaged in. It's nice and slim, and fits into our school supply bin quite nicely. The only thing that I'm not feeling the love for, is the nibs (or lack of nibs, to be exact). Since I'm using these with preschoolers, I'm guessing the the kids will crush the life out of the nibs before the markers have lived a full life. They are reversible, so that will help, but I'd love to see AusPen offer replacement nibs so that we can continue to use these forever.

The kids are really getting interested in writing letters and have been asking for help making lists, so I got them a book with some pre-writing games and activities in it. I figured I'd either get a second copy if they both really like it, or just make copies on the scanner. Then I thought about it more, and just couldn't justify using all that paper and ink and then throwing it away. I thought about using chalkboards or whiteboard and drawing my own worksheets for them, but then stumbled across the Roylco Wipe Clean Worksheet Covers and decided to give them a try. They are perfect! We can use the same workbook over and over again, until the kids are done with it, and then give it to another family to use. We don't have to purchase multiple copies of the same book, and can reduce the amount of printouts from the computer. The covers cost $20 for a pack of 10, which seemed pricey at first, but I know they will more than pay for themselves quickly.

Just for Bootie Baby Blog readers, enter AUSPEN at check out for 10% off all of Auspen products at from now until Nov 8!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Our Tuesday Lunch

Sunbutter on gluten-free blueberry waffles and chia gel with maple syrup, coconut milk, lucuma powder, and frozen raspberries

The chia gel is in a mason jar with a Tattler BPA-free lid! I've been researching for a long while, looking for something to replace the BPA coated lids for our mason jars. My favorite option until recently was the Weck canning jars with glass lids. I never ended up ordering those though, they are pretty pricey, and I really didn't want to purchase jars when we already have so many. When I stumbled across the Tattler lids in the Lehman's catalog, I was thrilled. They are BPA-free, come in 2 sizes to fit both regular and wide mouth canning jars, and are reusable. The best part was that the mister was going to be driving within a few miles of Lehman's that very week, so we didn't have to pay shipping charges, or make a special trip. I haven't canned with them yet, but have used them for bulk storage, and making chia. They are just as easy to use for those purposes as the metal lids, without the extra bonus of leaching toxins into our food. Yay!
Another way that I've found to get BPA out of our home; We buy our sunbutter in a 5 lb bucket. It's less expensive since it's bulk, but it also has the benefit of a BPA-free container. We used to buy the smaller jars by the case, but didn't like that the lids had BPA. We fill a smaller sized container with sunbutter, so that it's easy to grab out of the fridge when needed, and leave the bucket tucked in the back of the fridge. It wouldn't work if you have a mini fridge, but for a bulk buying family, it's great.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Reusable Review, extra cute edition!!

We've finally had to replace the reusable shopping bags that we've been using for many years with some shiny new ones from I chose the Baggu Reusable Shopping Bag set of 5, and the Blue Avocado Cruiser Kit. They've gone on a few grocery trips with us, and so far all thumbs are pointing up. The Baggu set folds down into a tiny stuff sack and the bags are extremely light weight (and durable). They are shaped like a traditional plastic grocery bag, only a lot bigger and in better colors. I never would have dreamed of fitting 7 boxes of cereal into such a light weight grocery bag, but these can handle that and more! I found them to be very comfortable to hold, the doubled handles don't cut into my hand at all. Since they are so light weight, they will air dry quickly after being washed.

I chose the Blue Avocado Cruiser Kit because I was looking for a PVC-free insulated bag to help get frozen items home without melting. The large patterned bag holds more than a paper grocery bag worth of groceries and seems very sturdy. We went shopping on a very humid and hot day, and even with a pit stop on the way home, none of the cold items in the (huge!) insulated bag were thawing and the interior of the bag was quite cold. This kit also comes with 2 large produce bags that are made out of an open mesh that is easy to see through. It's so great to be able to toss my Baggu bags into the Blue Avocado bag and have all my grocery reusables in one tote-bag sized bag that I can easily grab on my way out the door. has generously offered a coupon code to PirateBootieBlog readers! From now until Aug. 23rd, enter code bootiebaby10 at checkout for 10% off your order. Thanks, Reuseit!

Coming soon; Reusable Review, Lunch Edition!!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Sorry, Hun, I've got a new love. Um, I mean, Reusable Review Time!!!

I think my husband may be just a bit jealous. I've been taking my new Reisenthel Kid's Market Basket everywhere I go, and talking about it a bit too much I think. I do think it's pretty perfect though, and has made loading the kids into the car so much easier. I just pre-load the market basket with our Kleen Kanteens full of water, a few random snacks, sunscreen, and a wetbag containing a few extra pair of tiny undies and shorts, and we're ready to head out the door at a moments notice. Even with all that stuff in there, there is still a little room to toss in a book or some crayons and stickers to entertain the kids at a slow point in our day. It's allowed me to eliminate that frantic run around the house collecting all the necessary bits and stuff, and I've actually been on time a few times this week! One feature of the basket that I think is great, but haven't needed to use yet, is the drawstring closure. I find it a bit easier to just leave the cover tucked inside so that I have easy access to the contents, but I think it would be really handy if I didn't want to advertise what I was hauling around, or if I had slightly overstuffed it and needed help holding everything in .

Another fun thing that I've been using this week is the Orka Silicone Lids. My home is almost completely disposable-free, and one of the things that I've missed having is plastic wrap. Not enough to buy it, but there was the occasional wistful sigh. I was pretty thrilled to find the Orka lids, and hopeful that they would be able to satisfy my need to avoid disposables as well as keep food fresh.
They are a little clunky since they have to be larger than the container that they are covering, and I found it occasionally challenging to fit them in the fridge (especially on CSA pickup day). They depend on suction to keep them on the container, and if bumped at the right angle, they can pop off. This could be a problem with soupy, drippy foods, but is fine for more solid items. I'm thinking that using them to transport wet foods could be a problem unless the container was very stable in the vehicle. The only other thing that I experienced that is obvious when you stop and think about it, but that didn't occur to me to stop and think about, is that the container can't be totally full. You need to allow space for the lid to be pushed down into the bowl to create the suction. This isn't a problem, but does bear mentioning. My opinion is that the benefits outweigh the negatives, and I really do think they the job they are made for. They hold their suction well, and I'm guessing that the silicone will last a really long time. The multi-function aspect is pretty cool too, since they can also me used as a trivet and potholder. The kids like suctioning them to the floor and then trying to pull them up with a pop, that's always a bonus.

Starting today (7/12/10), Bootie Baby Blog readers can save 10% off anything and everything at by entering bootiebaby at check out. The code is case-sensitive, can't be combined with any other coupons, and expires on 7/26.
Also, check out all the new arrivals at, there are some great new lunch items that would help make packing lunches fun and eco-friendly! Subscribe to the mailing list (half way down the page on the left) or "Like" them on Facebook, and get special access to next week's "secret sale".

Friday, June 11, 2010

Product Safety for the People!!

I've been asked so many times about plastic safety and household toxins, that I decided it was time to compile a list of the sites that I use to research these issues. I'm definitely no expert, but I do tend to err on the side of caution (especially where my kids are concerned) and like to have as much info as possible about the products that we use in our home.

US Consumer Product Safety Commission's database for recalls and product safety alerts
This is a searchable database, and you can also sign up for their RSS feeds. They have it set up so that you can get the feed for all recalls, or just the category(ies) that you are interested in.
This is a direct link to the CPSC infant/child product recalls. also has a searchable database of recalled items. The database is searchable by brand or type of item, and is particularly useful for looking up many items at once (after a birthday party, baby shower, etc.). Categories include: Toys, Children's Items, Pet Products, Cars, Apparel and Accessories. is yet another database. This one has a broader range of categories; Consumer Products, Motor Vehicles, Boats, Food, Medicine, Cosmetics, Environmental Products.You can sign up for  email alerts, and report dangerous products.

Skin Deep Database. I use this one often. The Skin Deep Database is a guide to cosmetics and personal care products. The have thousands of entries which are rated by the safety of their ingredients. They recently put out a sunscreen guide that is fantastic. I've gotten into the habit of checking the database whenever we are thinking about trying a new product, and I feel like it's such a quick and easy way to help us eliminate as many toxins from our home as possible. The Skin Deep site is an offshoot of the  Environmental Working Group webpage (another great informational site).

Another favorite of mine is ZRecommends. This blog is written by parents who are passionate about the safety of the products that they bring into their home (although it's turned into a lot more). They do green kid's product reviews, and write amazing product guides for almost every baby item out there. More recently they have started to research other household items as well.

 The Soft Landing Blog was one of the first sites that I found when I started researching safer plastics and it is still one of the sites that I visit regularly. They also have some great product guides, and work hard to bring their readers the information that they need to make informed decisions. They also have an online retail shop where they only stock the safest kid's gear. 

SafeMama is an all-purpose eco-kid (and mama) product safety site. With reviews, recall notices, and cheat-sheets, it's a great resource. Not just toys and diaper cream, they also highlight news issues of importance to families striving to make safer choices.

Here are a few of the retail sites that I trust to have high safety standards. I feel like they take the time to research the quality of the items they sell/make, as well as have great customer service.
The Soft Landing Thoroughly researched products,extremely high standards.
Earth Mama Angel Baby has wonderful skincare products for mamas, babies, and mamas-to-be I've gotten many of my reusables here (disclaimer: I am a ambassador, but this endorsement is my own, unsolicited opinion. I shopped there long before becoming an ambassador.)

And, just because I think it's important to know what you are eating,
FDA Food Safety Recalls RSS feed / FDA Food Safety Press Release database

Feel free to add your favorite sites in the comments!!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Bring it in!

All the reusable bags you own don't mean a thing if they never make it into the store with you. I just received this static-cling window sticker from It's removable, double sided, and Free! I'm usually pretty good at remembering to bring my bags when I shop, but I'm hoping that seeing the sticker out of the corner of my eye when closing the car door will help with those times that I'm too busy or distracted to remember on my own.  I chose the rectangular tree design, but they also have a round one with an image of the earth.

*Please excuse the terrible webcam pic of the sticker :)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Hot Coffee!!

I posted a link on Facebook the other day to a post on a blog called Blissfully Domestic. The post was about the new insulated Kleen Kanteens, which I somehow hadn't known about before then. I love having a mug or cup of coffee with me in the car when I have to go somewhere on the early side of the morning, but haven't found the perfect solution. I had some pretty good travel mugs, but they never fit into my car's cup holder. I also have the Not A Paper Cup, which I love, but it's not quite large enough for morning coffee, and doesn't like to be overfilled or it drips into the cup holder. So I was thrilled to see that Kleen Kanteen is filling yet another hole in my obviously difficult life. I'll be ordering my 20oz insulated bottle from this evening, and will report back with a review just as soon as it arrives.
Do you want one too? is offering a special free shipping coupon! The coupon code is NEWCUST25 will give you free shipping on orders of $25 or more. The code is for new customers only, cannot be combined with other coupons and doesn’t apply to volume or wholesale orders. Offer ends at midnight on 5/23.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Colors Have Been Mixed!!!

I'm finally over the whole dough-mixing thing. I set up a shower curtain drop cloth (IKEA has pvc-free PEVA liners for $2, and amazon has them for $9 if you don't have an IKEA) and gave the kids a rainbow of dough balls, some plastic sticker molds for stamping, and a mini rolling pin. After about an hour of stamping and snake-making, the mixing commenced. Each color of dough was pulled apart into teeny little chunks and then piled together into a large colorful ball. We'll be bringing out the dough a lot more often now :)


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Earth Day is coming, time to eradicate your yard of everything living!

Warning: Sarcasm Alert!

I got a flyer in the mail the other day from Lowe's. "EARTH DAY SAVINGS AT LOWE'S" was proudly emblazoned across the top with a picture of an woman with immaculate garden gloves holding a plant.
It starts off pretty well on page 1 ("Make Every Day... EARTH DAY!"), with a coupon/ad for an "Eco" sprinkler and hose nozzle "designed to save water and money".  Page 2 ("Innovative, Ergonomic, Earth Friendly"), has a Reel mower and a coupon for lawn and garden products. Still pretty good. Then it starts to go downhill ("Never Use a Broom Outside Again"), with a cordless sweeper that looks like a mini leaf blower and promises to clear your patio and sidewalk with "less effort than sweeping with a push broom". Next, there are 7 pages of various weed and insect killers ("Inspired By Nature, Enhanced By Science"), including Spectracide; "Kills the toughest weed types" "Specialty formulas designed to meet all of your lawn weed needs" "Won't harm lawns when used as directed".  I had to laugh when I flipped to that one. At least they aren't trying to say that it's environmentally responsible. I do think it's an interesting choice for an Earth Day ad though, especially since the product website states the following instructions for disposal;
     If partly filled:  Call you local solid waste agency or 1-800-CLEANUP for disposal instructions.  Never place unused product down any indoor or outdoor drain.
So spray it all over your lawn, but don't even think about pouring it into a drain. Having a green lawn counts as being "green", right? 

To finish off Lowe's celebration of eco-living, they've so thoughtfully included an ad for "Freedom" Vinyl Fencing". How kind. After pouring poison on my lawn, killing all the bugs, scaring away the wildlife, and dumping chemical "food" on my plants, it makes perfect sense that I'd want to surround it all with lead, phthalates, and dioxins. Of course, without that fence, the kids might wander off and get into something dangerous.

Want to read more?
Grist loves Earth Day too
Reusable Bags Blog has been talking about cheap reusables and garbage giveaways
Treehugger's Best of Green 2010 awards
Watch The Story of Bottled Water

Monday, April 19, 2010

Fun with Recipe Modification

I'm not a big recipe user, I usually prefer to fly without navigation in the kitchen. I do get Vegetarian Times though (free subscription, yay!) and the Cabbage Casserole with Leeks, Ricotta, and Pine Nuts recipe from the March 2010 issue (pg 73.) looked really appealing. It is already a gluten-free recipe as written, so all I had to do was mod for dairy. Easy enough.
To replace the ricotta, I pureed a bag of frozen organic peas, about 3/4 cup of organic raw cashews, and a bit of salt in the Vita-Mix until it was the approximate texture that I remembered ricotta to have. Since I added the cashews in there, I omitted the pinenuts from the original recipe. I also sprinkled about 1/3 cup of mozzarella style Daiya cheese on each layer between the leeks and the pea mixture. The peas and cashews were great texturally, and added great color to the finished casserole. They were a teeny bit sweet, which was a nice complement to the flavor of the cabbage, leeks and tomatoes. It held together very nicely, and with the wonderful colors it looked great sliced. I think this would be a recipe that would work well with non-veg friends and family, and it's both tasty and filling. Now I'm curious how it would freeze.
I couldn't find a link to the original recipe on the VT website, but I did find it on RecipeZaar. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

No more bleach!!

I just read an article on Science News Online (that I found because of an article on about a non toxic cleaning method for countertops that I found really interesting. I'm not a huge bleach user, but I will begrudgingly resort to it for really stubborn germies. I do, however, use vinegar and peroxide all the time for cleaning, just not together. I'm pretty impressed at the exponential disinfecting power acheived when using them at the same time. I will be retiring the bleach immediately, and making up a bottle each of vinegar and peroxide, and using them with the cloth wipes that I keep in an easy to reach place in the kitchen. 

I've also been so into the cleaning recipes that can be found in Make Your Place (affordable, sustainable nesting skills). It's a really sweet little book, written in a very familiar and comfortable tone. I found it at my local library, but now that I've seen what a great resource it is, it's on my list. If you can't find it locally, it's available at, where it can be found for just $7, about the same price of a container of Clorox wipes (that you will never need to use since now you know how to make better ones for less!).

Monday, April 12, 2010

I'm an Ambassador!

I've been such a huge supporter of companies and organizations that are dedicated to providing safe products and information about reducing waste and toxins in our home. When I heard that one of my favorite sources of green gear,, was looking for people to join their ambassador program, I wrote them right away.
I'm proud to be teamed up with such a great company, and hope that as part of their program, I can help spread the word about reusables just a little bit further.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Mmmm, this is good! And Yummy! Can I have some more please?

We've been incorporating more raw foods into our diet, and I've also been trying to change the cold cereal for breakfast every morning routine. So, when a friend talked about the Raw Chia Pudding that she's been making, I decided to make it for this morning's breakfast. I made the recipe exactly as written, except for adding a tiny bit more sweetener and about an inch long piece of an organic vanilla bean.
It is so good, and super quick to prepare. The kids were thrilled, they ate two bowls so quickly that I didn't have time to grab the camera to catch their huge smiles. Henry asked me to make it every day, so I'll be sure to have the camera at the ready next time.
If you've ever thought about trying a raw recipe, this would be an excellent one to start with! Chia has tons of antioxidants, amino acids, and EFA (especially omega-3). It also is full of fiber! I'm looking forward to trying some more new recipes soon!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Oh, the things I can do!

Highlights of my past week's accomplishments;
Typed with both hands, ate with a fork, cut my own nails, cut the kids nails, folded laundry, used a key to open the front door, scratched an itch on my left shoulder, put Juni's hair in a ponytail. But, the one that I was most excited by is something that I haven't been able to do in quite a while...
I used chopsticks!!
With no numbness, pain, or weakness!
I still can't fully straighten my arm, and have a lot of strengthening to do, but it's amazing how much more I can do now. I started physical therapy this morning, and will be going twice a week for a while. Over a year of reduced function will take a while to rebuild, but I've seen so much progress in just the past week that I'm fairly certain that I'll be where I want to be before long.

Friday, March 19, 2010


had surgery on my elbow, too much typing hurts. i should be able to fully use my arm late next week and then i'll update the blog. i've got some new photos to share :)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Playing with letters and making "bird food"

H&J are so into learning letters that I found some printables online for them to play with. Here they are using the pom pom alphabet cards, but instead of pom poms, they are using magnets that we made using wooden discs from Michael's, glued to heavy duty 1/2' magnets. I gave them each a stack of cards on a metal tray and a pile of magnets, and they had tons of fun building letters.

The kids have been loving watching the birds eating from the birdfeeders, and are surprising me with their bird identification skills! Last week we decided to make pinecone birdfeeders, hoping to entice even more birds to the yard. We changed the recipe a bit, adding peanut butter and millet and the birds seem to be enjoying it. The other day we saw a bird on the feeder that I didn't recognize, and I wondered aloud what kind it was. I was quite matter of fact-ly informed by Henry that it was a grackle. Google determined that it actually was! We will definitely be learning more about birds.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

giveaway sharing

Homeschooling mamas, Check out this sweet giveaway at Delightful Learning!
I'm not sure how, but I've only recently learned about Learning Resources. They have some really cute things that would be fun to incorporate into our learning play.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Toddler art and OCD don't play well together -or- Oh No!! They are mixing the colors!!!

I'm pretty good about letting the kids explore a new material on their on own terms, but I did bristle when the dough colors started mixing. I know it's my own hang up. They would happily smash all the colors together and make brown. I also know that I'll eventually get over it and give them more than two colors at a time and let them have at it. But, for the time being, they each choose a color and shred it to bits with the dough scissors, and then mash it back together and make snakes cadapidders. There was a lot of kneading and pinching and flattening too. This is only their 2nd time with play dough (I was nervous about the wheat, and the w/f dough that we tried to make was terrible) , and we'll have many more chances to experiment with it. I'm guessing that right now, it's more about playing with motor skills anyway. I'm wondering what other parents do with dough. What happens to the dough that is all mixed together? Do you just pick the dominant color and store it in that container? Do you have a separate container just for it? What's really interesting to me is that I have no problem with paint being mixed in the paint pots.