Friday, August 26, 2011

How Cool are These? Wooden Animal Track Sandals for Kids

Wooden Animal Track Sandals for Kids

Jun 22nd, 201

Keeping track of the kids is child's play with these super fun sandals! Wherever your child goes they will leave behind beautiful little animal tracks.
 The shape of the sandal creates a perfect platform for the tracks, which are available as four different species (cat, monkey, lizard, and owl) as well as a special dinosaur design. Read on to see them all!
The Kiko+ Ashiato sandals are based on the design of traditional Japanese gela sandals, with a rectangular wooden base that gives them a playful vibe. It's such a cool concept–I know my little ones would be all over these!

With Kiko+ only recently kicking off their worldwide product launch, I've only been able to find the sandals on various Japanese websites and  this website in Germany (€22/pr). THey should become more widely available over the next few weeks.
For more information, visit the Kiko+ website. I'd love to hear how they turned out if you buy a pair!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Free T-Shirt to first 1,000 "I Survived the Summer of 2011"

***NOTE: T-shirt fans - The Facebook application is getting your information. You will be getting your free tee-shirt. If you haven't gotten yours, read below asap. 

Be one of the first 1,000 people to “Like” Deals in DFW here and commemorate the 2011 summer scorcher with this fun t-shirt. Hurry supplies are limited, Get em’ while it’s HOT! Deals in DFW is a new daily deal site brought to you by the Dallas Morning News offering exclusive deals for the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex for 50 - 80% off!

Fine Print:
Available to the first 1,000 registrants or while supplies last. Offer valid for Texas residents only. Limit one per person, not valid for previous registrants of You must "Like" Deals in DFW on Facebook before Midnight on August 25, 2011 to be eligible for this offer. Winners will be notified by email no later than August 30, 2011. Please allow 2-3 weeks for shipping and handling. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Guest Post: Top 10 Green, Healthy Tips for Decorating Your Nursery or Baby’s Room!

Green, Healthy NurseryDecorating a nursery is a special and exciting time. But when you've never had a baby before, it can also be overwhelming. Little babies need a surprising amount of stuff, including things you may have never heard of before! The good news is the desire to create a safe, warm, beautiful place for our babies is instinctual - it's called nesting. The “Peaceful Nursery: Green, Healthy Tips For Your Baby’s Room”app gives you all the information and guidance you need to ensure you enjoy the process.
The “Peaceful Nursery: Green, Healthy Tips For Your Baby’s Room” features a quick and easy shopping checklist of all the right items to buy for the nursery, along with tips that include: How to make healthy choices when shopping for your baby; Why going green is so important for infants; Choosing paint color; and arranging yournursery to help your baby sleep better. The app also includes video insights from the app’s co-authors, Healthy Home and Lifestyle experts Laura Forbes Carlin andAlison Forbes.
Carlin and Forbes want to help you with the overwhelming process of designing the perfect nursery for your new bundle of joy and offer these tips to guide you along:
Don't Get Caught Up in the Hype:
When shopping for baby, keep in mind you may not need everything that's recommended. Parents develop their own parenting philosophy, and should stock the nursery according to their needs. While shopping keep in mind every parent hopes that some new product will make the parenting job easier---but unfortunately that's usually not the case! While some things are helpful, others become a waste of money and clutter, so try to keep it simple.
Don't Buy Lots of Toys:
Babies don't need many toys. As we all know babies are often more interested in regular household items, like bowls and spoons, rather than actual toys. If you get lots of toys as gifts, put some in the closet to save for later. Every once in awhile rotate which toys you have out. Rotating toys makes old toys seem fresh and new. If you plan on having another child, take time to carefully clean and then store toys so they're in good shape for your next baby.
Don’t Use Conventional Cleaning Products:
Household cleaning products are one of the causes of indoor air pollution. Many household cleaning products contain toxic chemicals such as ammonia and phenol. To avoid exposing yourself to these hazardous pollutants, look for non-toxic, environmentally safe household cleaning products.
Don't Buy What Looks Good in Lieu of Function, Comfort, and Organization:
Transitioning to parenthood and caring for a newborn is time and energy consuming enough- --you don’t want to have to negotiate with unnecessary items or things that do not function properly. Taking care of your baby means doing the same things over and over. You may change a diaper 8-10 times a day. It helps to be organized and have a place for everything in easy reach.  Similarly, you want to be comfortable---choose a nursing chair that feels good. If you keep function, organization and how something feels in the forefront of your mind versus what looks good- you create a space that supports your routines.
Don't Wear Shoes Inside:
Having people remove their shoes before they enter your home is a simple and free tip to creating a healthier home. By having a shoeless household, pesticides from lawn and garden products, pollutants and dirt will not be tracked inside. This is particularly important when you have young children that play on the floor!
Do Go Organic and Natural:
Unfortunately, many materials used to decorate, including certain types of paint, finishes, carpeting, fabrics, and particleboard, contain harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde, toluene and benzene. These chemicals are Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), that through a process called “off-gassing,” release fumes into the air. Pound per pound babies breathe more air, eat more food, drink more water and are therefore exposed to more toxins. Babies’ immature organs are less able to cope with the toxins in their environment than those of adults. Fortunately, there are healthy alternatives, such as solid wood furniture (rather than pressed wood which can contain formaldehyde) and organic materials and mattresses. If organic sheets and clothes are too pricey, buy 100% cotton clothes and sheets that are untreated (avoid anything that says stain-, wrinkle-, or water-resistant). Wash the fabric in an all-natural laundry detergent two or three times before use.
Do Use No-VOC Paints in Soothing Colors:
Paints can give off toxic fumes known as VOCs. These chemicals can remain in the air even after the paint is dry. Use No-VOC paints, which are a healthier, less toxic option or you can also use natural paints, such as milk paint or natural lime paint. Choose colors such as light blue, lavender or other pastels for a restful, relaxed atmosphere and save the vibrant colors for accents Anything permanent like a mural or wall paper that are active or “busy” can be overwhelming and are hard to change if your child has trouble sleeping. Keep in mind children have no problem brightening up the room at playtime with colorful toys. When painting, focus more on creating a "sleeping room," rather than a playroom.
Do Talk To Your Friends and Research:
The best “research” is hands on. Try to visit a friend with a newborn whose parenting style you think will be similar to yours. See what your friend finds essential and what she or he could have done without. Read books as well. If you plan to co-sleep- there goes the need for a crib and everything that goes along with it. Maybe you have the perfect height dresser to strap on a changing pad and you have saved yourself from a changing table. I have never seen a diaper pail that does not smell. Buy some bio-bags and individually wrap each diaper and toss it instead of purchasing the fancy diaper pails.
Do Open Your Windows:
Create a healthier home immediately, and for free, by just opening a window. A study by the Environmental Protection Agency found that pollution inside a home could be two to five times higher than outside the home, even in large, industrialized cities. Ventilating your home on a regular basis creates a way for chemicals released from common household items to exit and fresh air to enter.
Do Think Ahead:
It is hard to imagine now, but you will have a big boy or girl before you know it. Instead of decorating the room for an infant you may wish to create a room where the majority of things will work for the next ten years or more. If you buy a crib, buy one that converts to a toddler bed. This way, it will last for years. Instead of buying a changing table, consider buying a changing station to out on top of a regular dresser.
“Peaceful Nursery: Green, Healthy Tips For Your Baby’s Room”(.99) has versions compatible with iPhone 3 and iPhone 4, as well as iPod Touch, and is available from Apple’s App Store on iPhone and iPod touch or at It’s also available for Android and can be purchased on the Google Android Market.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Scientists Warn Chemicals May Harm Breast Development

Exposure to chemicals early in life may alter how breast tissue develops and raise the risks of breast cancer and lactation problems later in life, scientists concluded in a set of reports published in June.

The scientists are urging federal officials to add new tests for industrial chemicals and pesticides to identify ones that might disrupt breast development. In some cases, they said, mammary glands are more sensitive to effects of hormone-disrupting chemicals than any other part of the body, so low levels of exposure may be causing breast changes.

“Few chemicals coming into the marketplace are evaluated for these effects,” said one of the reports, based on the findings of more than 60 scientists who convened a workshop in Oakland, Calif., in 2009.

Recent animal tests show that when rodents are exposed to some hormonally active chemicals in the womb or as newborns, their mammary glands do not grow normally, and the changes can slow or speed up breast development, impair breastfeeding or cause cancerous tumors later in life. Included are estrogens used as pharmaceuticals, phytoestrogens in plants consumed as foods and synthetic compounds including bisphenol A, flame retardants and pesticides, according to the report, which was published online in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
Whether the same thing happens with human beings is largely unknown, although scientists say that rodent breasts develop much like human breasts, in the same stages.

“Animal studies demonstrate that early life exposure to hormonally active agents can lead to effects on mammary gland development, impaired lactation and increased susceptibility to cancer. However,
 the influence of environmental exposures on breast development outcomes is poorly understood, as is the relationship between breast development, lactational deficits, and breast cancer,” wrote the authors, who are scientists from the National Toxicology Program, the Environmental Protection Agency and the nonprofit Silent Spring Institute.

In a related report published in April, scientists with three federal agencies who studied mice exposed in the womb to a chemical used to make Teflon found delayed breast development and impaired lactation. The effects were found in the mice at the concentrations detected in the water supply of an Ohio town near a DuPont Co. plant that uses the chemical, known as PFOA. Water supplies are not routinely monitored for it.
"If human exposures in distinct populations are approximating those provided in this study, concern over human breast health and lactational competency are justified," said the authors, led by Suzanne Fenton, a mammary gland expert at the National Toxicology Program.

Traditional animal tests required by federal officials have linked more than 200 chemicals and contaminants to breast cancer. But, in an editorial published Wednesday with the workshop report, Julia Brody and Ruthann Rudel of the Silent Spring Institute and Mhel Kavanaugh-Lynch of University of California said that those tests "may be missing many more" because they look only for tumors and "neglect development effects."

Developing better tests "is essential to identify chemicals that may interfere with breast development and contribute to cancer, so we can use this knowledge for primary prevention," Brody, Rudel and Kavanaugh-Lynch wrote in their commentary.
Breast cancer is the leading form of cancer in women, and some experts are concerned that chemicals acting like hormones may raise the risk if exposures come during critical development times. The most critical times are in the womb, and during puberty and pregnancy. During these times, hormones regulate how mammary glands grow, and if they grow abnormally, it may cause cancer and other problems later.

"If we care about chemicals and breast cancer, or other breast effects, we have to look at the breast tissue when we test thechemicals. That is not currently what is happening," Rudel said.

Note: This is a slightly abbreviated version

Read more:

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Emeril's Watermelon Limeade

This flavor-packed limeade is a real thirst quencher during the dog days of summer, when watermelon is at its best. Should a festive occasion arise, it also makes a wonderful margarita mixer when paired with premium white tequila.

Recipe makes 5 cups, about 4 to 6 servings


8 cups cubed watermelon (seedless), or 1 quart watermelon juice
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup sugar, or more to taste
Lime slices, for garnish (optional)


1. Place half of the watermelon cubes in a blender and process until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve set over a large bowl; discard the solids. Repeat with the remaining watermelon cubes. You should end up with about 1 quart of watermelon juice.

2. Add the lime juice and sugar to the watermelon juice, and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Taste, and add more sugar if necessary. Transfer the limeade to a nonreactive pitcher and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

3. Serve over ice in tumblers, with lime slices for garnish.

Courtesy of Emeril's Farm to Fork: Cooking Local, Cooking Fresh.

Read more at the Daily Green.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

6 Innovative Solar Powered Vehicles

Inventors are creating solar planes, trains and automobiles (plus scooters, bicycles and more) that promise to revolutionize transportation and promote oil independence. Check out six of the most promising prototypes.

By Jim Motavalli
Solar Cars
Everybody likes the idea of solar-powered transportation, but it's easier to imagine as science fiction than it is to make real. But when an airplane took a 24-hour solar-powered flight -- and landed safely -- it got everyone fired up again. So here's a look at various forms of transportation driven by the sun -- none of them ready for commercialization just yet. But the dreaming is getting closer to reality.

The 11th semi-annual World Solar Challenge (first run in 1987) takes place in Australia next October, and it's a cross-country race for whimsical vehicles that are like giant solar panels with wheels. There's a sporadic U.S. version, too, the American Solar Challenge (run last June), and it's a great challenge for college teams and other contenders to get something across the finish line.

In production cars, solar can run the cigarette lighter or something equally undemanding. You can get a panel on the Toyota Prius as part of the Solar Sunroof Package (it keeps the interior cool). Toyota's Wade Hoyt told The Daily Green that only 15.4% have ordered that option since the 2010 Prius was introduced in May of 2009.

The upcoming Fisker Karma, a high-performance electric sports car akin to the Chevrolet Volt, also has a rooftop solar panel from U.S. Quantum, designed to produce about 130 watts and, like the Prius, run a fan to cool the interior (and replenish an on-board battery).

Photo Credit: World Solar Challenge

Solar Planes
Even the organizers of theworld's first 24-hour solar plane flight don't see this novel form of transportation replacing the jet anytime soon. But they definitely proved that, for the first time since Icarus came down to earth, zero emission flight is possible (well, besides human-powered aircraft perhaps).

The ultra-lightweight solar plane, like a giant dragonfly with a 207-foot wingspan and 12,000 solar cells, flew over the Jura mountains in Switzerland and reached nearly 30,000 feet before touching down July 8 near the Swiss capital of Bern.
The Solar Impulse is a single-seater plane that could, at least in theory, stay in the air indefinitely. But 24 hours is impressive enough. "We achieved more than we wanted," said solo pilot Andre Borschberg, whose flight was seven years in the planning. "Everybody is extremely happy."

The co-founder of the endeavor, balloon record-setter Bertrand Piccard, said the flight sets new standards for solar power. "There is a before and after in terms of what people have to believe and understand about renewable energies," he said. There are a number of other solar flight pioneers, including the Zephyr, which stayed aloft for 83 hours (but not with a person aboard).

Photo Credit: NASA/Wikimedia Commons

Solar Trains
The Southwest Solar Train Project is just a dream, from a visionary who'd like to see a high-speed magnetic levitation rail link between Texas and Phoenix or Los Angeles. "Electric trains," says Stu Baurmann, "are relatively comfortable, reasonably safe, and can run on any electric energy source, including the abundant solar energy available in the American Southwest."
Another idea, a bit long in the tooth now, was for a solar-powered light rail-type of thing in Santa Cruz. One that actually moves, though not all that fast (and on wheels), is the Urban Solar Train from Switzerland. "The main engine is powered by electricity, while most of the accessories are powered by photovoltaic energy," says the text accompanying the YouTube video.

More practically, Italy launched a train with solar power assist in 2005. Like the Prius, the panels on the roof provide energy to cool the passenger compartment (and also help with safety and lighting). PVTrain has been in development since 2003, and is partially funded by the European Union.

Photo Credit: Rimessa Ferroviaria Pistoia

Solar Bicycles
There's something awfully homemade-looking about this prototype solar bike. The photovoltaic panel appears kind of precarious there! The basis for the Sinclair Zeta II is anelectric bike bought used on eBay for $40. The solar panel is a five-watt affair, and with it so jury-rigged it takes the owner daily the two miles to work.
For a mere $1,200 to $1,700you can try an EV Sunny, a more professional version of the Sinclair Zeta II. With electric bikes, the solar panel may not make a huge contribution, but it's more than a decoration.

Photo Credit: Gotwind
Solar Scooters
It is indeed possible to power a scooter on solar electricity. Indeed, the owner of onehomemade version claims he's done 700 plug-free miles. It doesn't look all that high-tech. The ride is a stock EVT 4000E outfitted with a Xantrex (formerly Trace) C-40 charge controller, and four Atlantic Solar 30-watt panels, mounted two to a side. The panels fold open while in charging mode and are closed while driving.

Roger McGuinn of the Byrdsalso has a solar scooter, although his solar panels aren't onboard. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer's approach seems eminently practical, and he reaches heady speeds of 20 mph. "Solar is the way to go," says McGuinn. Do try it at home!

Photo Credit: Gizma

Solar Concepts
The dream of running our transportation systems on solar power remains strong, and many futuristic concepts have been conceived of, such as this "JPods" version of Personal Rapid Transit. It's possible that with increasing efficiencies, such ecotopia possibilities may become reality.

Photo Credit: BillJamesMN/Wikimedia Commons

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Skin We’re In: The Final Chapter

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

This article was written by ME and featured on A Nation of Moms.
In our final week of investigating the components of the products that we use on our skin each day, we will finish with a discussion on Sodium Lauryl (Laureth) Sulfate.  SLS, or SLES, is added to many of our shampoos, toothpastes, tooth whiteners, hair coloring products, body washes, liquid hand soap and even some candy.
It’s purpose it to create the wonderful lather that we all so very much enjoy, but did you know that it is regulated as a pesticide?1
There is debate on the effects of this additive on our health, but once again it is simply a matter of awareness and the decisions that you choose to make in your own home.
Does sodium lauryl sulfate pose a significant cancer risk?   No.
It is considered an irritant, though, and is a suspected gastrointestinal and liver toxicant.  Ever wonder why they tell you not to swallow toothpaste?
According to the National Toxicology Program, it has shown moderate reproductive effects in experiments.
So, all in all, should we be worried?  We should always be worried.  Every small step that we can take to better our health should be taken.  This does not mean that you need to throw everything out, but if you can find alternatives for your regular brands the next time that you are at the store – try it!
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Sunday, August 14, 2011

What Did You Do All Day?

By: Veronica Kavanagh (View Profile)

A man came home from work and found his three children outside, still in their pajamas, playing in the mud, with empty food boxes and wrappers strewn all around the front yard.
The door of his wife’s car was open, as was the front door to the house and there was no sign of the dog.
Proceeding into the entry, he found an even bigger mess. A lamp had been knocked over, and the throw rug was wadded against one wall.
In the front room the TV was loudly blaring a cartoon channel, and the family room was strewn with toys and various items of clothing.
In the kitchen, dishes filled the sink, breakfast food was spilled on the counter, the fridge door was open wide, dog food was spilled on the floor, a broken glass lay under the table, and a small pile of sand was spread by the back door.
He quickly headed up the stairs, stepping over toys and more piles of clothes, looking for his wife. He was worried she might be ill, or that something serious had happened.
He was met with a small trickle of water as it made its way out the bathroom door.
As he peered inside he found wet towels, scummy soap, and more toys strewn over the floor. Miles of toilet paper lay in a heap and toothpaste had been smeared over the mirror and walls.
As he rushed to the bedroom, he found his wife still curled up in the bed in her pajamas, reading a novel.
She looked up at him, smiled, and asked how his day went. He looked at her bewildered and asked:
“What happened here today?’”
She again smiled and answered, “You know every day when you come home from work and you ask me what in the world I do all day?”
“Yes,” was his incredulous reply.
She answered, ‘”Well, today I didn’t do it.”