One Part Sunshine

How to have a handmade, non-toxic, natural Easter

Written by Cindy Young on Apr 15, 2014 | See Comments

How-to-have-a-handmade-natural-non-toxic-Easter.jpg

Easter is my son's favorite holiday. Of course, he loves the candy (a tradition I couldn't quite give up) but he also loves the thrill of the hunt. We try to hit at least two or three egg hunts every year, choosing ones that are a bit more difficult than picking eggs up in a field. "The Easter Bunny" sets up a very tricky egg hunt in our house, often camouflaging the eggs or putting them in hard to reach places. And although these hunts are challenging, what is more challenging is finding natural, non-toxic treats and gifts to fill the eggs and baskets.

THE EASTER BASKET

I purchased beautiful handmade baskets when my son was born, and we reuse these every year. If I could go back and do it again, I would prefer to make my own basket. There are tons of tutorials on places like Pinterest for making baskets. I particularly like these sisal woven baskets from Martha Stewart. You can also upcycle a grocery bag and make a surprisingly lovely basket. I love this coiled fabric Easter basket and this simple fabric basket. This felt Easter basket from Purl Bee is really sweet. If DIY is not your thing, Etsy has a tremendous selection of handmade baskets.

EASTER GIFTS

Every year, I try to make something special for each of my children. Things like blackberry-dyed play silks . . .

Blackberry-dyed playsilk for Baby's Easter Basket | OnePartSunshine.com

or wood-burned Easter eggs.

Wood burned wooden eggs for baby's Easter basket | OnePartSunshine.com

Another great option to fill the Easter basket are non-toxic art supplies.

EASTER TREATS

And then there is Easter candy. I grew up receiving huge baskets full of Peeps and Hershey chocolate bunnies. Now I know how full of artificial junk these treats are. Even worse, much of our Easter candy has disgusting ingredients such as anal secretions from beavers or the dried secretions of a beetle.

Jennifer from Growing a Green Family put together a great list of organic and fair-trade Easter treats.

EASTER EGGS

I personally reuse plastic eggs that I collected from a local egg hunt. But if you prefer a plastic-free approach, you can just hide real eggs or pieces of candy. My parents hid jelly beans around the house (although I might think twice about this after reading about beetle butt juice). Another fun idea is to create a scavenger or treasure hunt with a treat at the end. I love these 20 ideas for eco-friendly Easter eggs from Crafting a Green World or these DIY watercolor wooden eggs.

EASTER FUN

When the candy buzz wears off, I try to get the kids engaged in a low-key activity. One fun option is this spring sensory tray with rainbow rice:

Spring and Easter Sensory Bin with rainbow rice | OnePartSunshine.com

For more Easter tips, see my post on how to put together an eco-friendly Easter basket.

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How to Rescue Torn, Stained, Worn and Damaged Clothing

Written by Cindy Young on Mar 28, 2014 | See Comments

How to Rescue Torn, Stained, Worn and Damaged Clothing

I have a confession to make. I spend too much money on clothing. I try to buy secondhand, but I get overwhelmed by sorting through racks of junk in order to find that gem. So when a piece of clothing gets torn, stained, or ripped, I feel like crying because it usually ends up getting thrown out or donated.

With two nature-loving kids, our clothes get damaged A LOT. My son gets holes in the knees of his pants. My daughter has stains on the front of every shirt. My sweaters seems to attract moths and are often littered with moth holes. Even my husband goes through his share of clothing by regularly wearing away the fabric in the crotch of his pants (don't ask me how this happens)!

In the past, I would have just dropped the clothes off at Goodwill. Or thrown them in a box to eventually use for some craft project that would probably never actually happen. But now, thanks to Pinterest, I have a whole arsenal of tools for rescuing this damaged clothing.

Holes in the Knees of Pants

I think that just about every kid in the world gets holes in the knees of their pants. The obvious solution is to stick a patch on it. You can cut a patch out of an old pair of jeans using this tutorial. Or you can use one of the super cute patches out there. If you have leggings with a hole in the knee, you can create a patch using fabric from old clothing and cut it into fun shapes.

A more creative approach for your monster-loving little ones (or for monster-loving grown-ups) is to turn the hole into a monster face. I love this more colorful version of the monster patch.

Another cute alternative to the traditional patch is the use of wool patches. You can even use some of those moth-eaten sweaters to make the patches. Check out this cute idea from ReFashion Co-op:

Recycled Wool Knee Patches

Recycled Wool Patches for Knee Holes in Pants from Refashion Co-Op

If patches aren't your thing, you can always turn the pants into shorts.

Moth Holes in Sweaters

I didn't realize how many fun ideas there are for fixing moth holes until I did a search on Pinterest. You can just mend the holes using this tutorial. But I absolutely love this idea from Nini Makes - she covers the holes with beautifully-embroidered moths!

Another cute idea is to create round handwoven patches using this idea. Or you can use needle felting to create a sweet wool patch.

Needle Felting Wool Patch for Moth Holes in a SweaterNeedle Felting Wool Patch from GOODKNITS

Holes in Socks

Patching a sock is very similar to patching a sweater except your handiwork isn't as visible. You can use this as an opportunity to throw in a bold color or funky stitching that only you get to see! You can darn a sock hole using this tutorial or this one.

Worn Fabric in Jeans

The last time my husband wore a hole in the crotch of his jeans, I took them to the dry cleaner and they charged me $15 to basically run a bunch of lines of thread all over it. So I am determined to DIY the next time. Fortunately, Adventures in Dressmaking has a super easy tutorial for doing exactly what the dry cleaners charged me $15 to do.

Stains

I didn't think there was any hope for our piles of stained clothing, but once again Pinterest came to the rescue! If your item of clothing is a solid color, you can use fabric dye in a darker color and dye the entire thing. Or you can get more creative and use fabric paint to create a fun new pattern, like this idea for making a Tetris hoodie or this idea using stencils.

If yours stained clothing has a pattern on it, you can always repurpose it.

Ways to Repurpose Damaged Clothing

When all else fails, turn your damaged article of clothing into something new and wonderful. You can turn sweaters into baby leg warmers or fingerless gloves. You can turn socks into toys or draft stoppers. Take one of your old shirts and turn it into a dress for your little girl. Turn one of your husband's suits into a stuffed bunny.

The possibilities are endless. Of course, you may end up like me with huge boxes full of damaged clothing that you will never actually get around to using!

For more inspiration for repairing or reusing your damaged clothes, check out my Pinterest board.

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8 Ideas for Non-Toxic Bath Play

Written by Cindy Young on Feb 3, 2014 | See Comments

8 Ideas for Non-Toxic Bath Play | OnePartSunshine.com

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Choosing bath toys for my kids has always been a challenge for me. I prefer that my kids' toys are safe, non-toxic and well-made - and this usually means plastic-free. But how do you find bath toys that are plastic-free???

It isn't easy to find bath toys that are made with anything other than plastic. Plastic toys have toxic elements in them such as BPA and phthalates which have been linked to things like cancer and hormone disruptions.

And most plastic bath toys seem to have those little holes in them that just invite mold to grow (I'm still searching for a way to clean them that doesn't involve bleach). These holes are put there so that bath toys will return to their original shape after being squeezed, but they also create a haven for mold, mildew, fecal matter and other nasty stuff.

So I have compiled a list of 8 ideas for non-toxic bath play:

1. Pots and pans

My kids love to play with stuff from the kitchen in the bath tub. I just hand them a small stainless steel pot, a spoon, a whisk and a sponge. They like to make pretend recipes and then "wash" the dishes. We also have a set of small play pots and pans from Ikea but unfortunately they are starting to get a bit rusty.

2. Bubbles

Bubbles are a fun and clean way to enjoy bath time. California Baby has a great bubble bath that is free from harsh chemicals, and each bottle even includes a bubble wand.

3. Food coloring

My son loves to play with food coloring in the bath. I usually fill up a few small bowls with different colored water. I give him some droppers to go with it and he creates colorful concoctions. I have even taped sheets of paper to the wall so he can squirt the colored water on the paper to create works of art. You can also buy products made specifically for coloring bath water, such as Color My Bath's Bath Tablets which is food-safe and Made in America. A German company, Tinti, makes bath color tablets using natural dyes from things like elderberries and gardenia blossoms.

4. Bathtub Paint

If your child leans toward the artistic side, you can try making bathtub paint. The Artful Parent has this recipe for bathtub paint. Chalk in My Pocket has a great tutorial for making bathtub puffy paint. You could also just mix food coloring with shaving cream if you can find a shaving cream made from natural ingredients.

5. Wooden Bath Toys

Wood in the bath? Why not?! Some wood such as cedar is great for using outside or in other places where it will come in contact with water. Just make sure you allow it to dry thoroughly between uses (which is true for all of your bath toys). Glueckskaefer makes lovely little wooden boats and canoes for bath play. These boats are made from natural wood and non-toxic dyes and is free from varnish. Toy Boat Works makes hand carved wooden boats painted with non-toxic paint and non-toxic coating. Mama Made Them handcrafts beautiful, durable wooden bath toys in fun ocean creature shapes.

6. Natural Rubber Toys

A great alternative to plastic bath toys are those made of natural rubber. Pretty much any natural rubber toy will work in the bath but several companies make toys specifically for water play.

Hevea toys are 100% natural rubber that comes from the Malaysian rubber tree. And they have no holes for mold and mildew to grow in.

The popular Sophie the Giraffe natural rubber teething toy now comes in a bath toy! Vulli has created a Sophie Bath Buddy. It is a squirting toy so it has a hole in it - just make sure to squeeze all of the water out after bath time.

LANCO also makes natural latex rubber bath toys. These toys are BPA-, phthalate- and PVC-free and hand-painted with natural paints. Plus they squeak when squeezed!

7. Non-Slip Bath Mats

Don't forget the bath mats. Most conventional bath mats are full of toxic materials. Fortunately, Kikkerland makes a natural rubber bath mat with suction cup grippers, so your child can play safely in the bath without slipping.

8. Organic Cotton Bath Toys

Another great option for bath play is organic cotton. Cleaning organic cotton bath toys is as easy as just throwing the toys in when you wash the towels. Green Sprouts makes an adorable set of organic cotton bath toys in sea animal shapes as well as organic cotton bath puppets.

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I would love to hear more of your ideas for non-toxic bath play!

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Good Deeds to Ring in the New Year (Good Deeds #50-52)

Written by Cindy Young on Jan 1, 2014 | See Comments

Use a cold frame to grow spinach and lettuce during the winter months

At the end of 2012, my new year's resolution was to accomplish 52 good deeds during 2013. And I'm happy to say I have reached my goal! I finished this last year with my final three good deeds, which are also resolutions for this new year.

1. Use a DIY cold frame to grow greens in the winter

I have made the first step toward growing my own greens year-round. We go through a lot of spinach and lettuce, but I hate buying it in those huge plastic containers. I have been reusing the containers as much as possible - mostly my son uses them to collect bugs and plants. But they are still going to end up in a landfill eventually.

So I have committed to ditching the plastic lettuce containers. Instead, I am going to grow my own greens during the colder times of the year. My Christmas present from my husband is my very own cold frame like this one. My son and I are going to plant spinach and lettuce in pots and use my new cold frame to keep them alive all winter long (that's the plan anyway).

2. Buy secondhand clothing

I am committing to buying secondhand clothing and goods whenever possible. A great new consignment shop opened near me that sells secondhand, brand-name clothes - coincidently the brands that I love to wear. I gathered a big bag full of my own clothes and took them to trade for "new" clothes.

Of course, not everyone has a great consignment shop near their home. Online sites are another great option. Ebay is the obvious place but there are other great sites out there for buying and selling gently used clothes, including Twice, SwapStyle and Dresm.

3. Pay it forward all year long

I am going to commit to practicing good deeds throughout 2014. This past year has taught me that, whether it's letting someone get in front of me in line or picking up trash at a local park, it's easy to pay it forward in small ways.

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10 Good Deeds to do with Kids this Christmas (Good Deeds #40-49)

Written by Cindy Young on Dec 19, 2013 | See Comments

10 Good Deeds to do with Kids this Christmas (Good Deeds #40-49)

The holiday season is one of the reasons I decided to try to accomplish 52 good deeds in one year. There is no doubt that the opportunities to give back during the months of November and December are plentiful, between the toy drives and charity tree sales. But many people (myself included) forget about giving back during the rest of the year.

An excellent solution is to give gifts that give back throughout the rest of the year, like gift cards from Kiva or a gift from a SoKind Registry. Or make environmentally-friendly choices like recycling your tree that will have long-lasting impacts.

Here are some more ways to give back during the holidays!

1. Give more than stuff this holiday season - The SoKind Registry enables people to give the gift of time or to donate to meaningful charities instead of buying yet another product from a store. Users can create registries requesting things like babysitting, music lessons or donations to their favorite charity. Another great service is Unstuff Gifts. This website has tons of great gift ideas that don't involve giving more stuff - things like cooking classes or woodworking workshops. These services are also kind to the environment by keeping more stuff out of landfills. Inspired by this site, my son has decided he would much prefer a fossil- collecting trip and an art class over a bunch of toys.

2. Pleygo Holiday Brick Drive - Pleygo is collecting used and new Lego bricks and sets to be sent out to hospitals and sites that support kids with Autism Spectrum a Disorder. Unfortunately this event ended December 13th but I'm sure there will be more opportunities in the future. My son is gathering up all of the Legos that he doesn't need anymore and is really excited about sending them to other kids.

3. Holiday Cards for nursing home residents - I love this idea from The Homeschool Classroom. My son and two of his friends set to work creating colorful Christmas cards that we then dropped off at a local nursing home to be distributed to those who need them most. Many of the people there are either far from their families during the holidays or don't have any family at all. This idea hopefully brought a little bit of cheer to some of the residents.

4. Babysitting for other parents - Another great idea from The Homeschool Classroom. While I have not implemented this one yet, I love the idea of offering a few of my fellow parents the gift of time to get some holiday shopping done (at locally-owned businesses of course)! I plan to set up a fun holiday activity like decorating salt dough ornaments to keep the kids entertained while their parents shop.

5. Donate toys and clothes to the Salvation Army - This is an activity that we do every year. During the year, I collect toys and children's clothing that I find at great prices. When December rolls around, we donate them all to the Salvation Army Angel Tree drive. You can also donate your time by working the Angel Tree table or by being a bell ringer.

6. Library Book Drive - Many libraries, mine included, collect books for needy children during the holidays. My son and I went through his stash of unread children's books (mostly books that were gifted to us that my son didn't really take a liking to) and donated them to the book drive.

7. Recycle your tree (and buy it from a local farm) - Every year, our community collects Christmas trees to be turned into mulch. And then offers the mulch for free! Find a treecycling program near you using Earth 911's guide. Don't forget to buy a live tree from a local farm! Find one near you at LocalHarvest.org.

Recyle your Christmas tree and buy from a local farm

8. Bring a meal to an elderly neighbor - Do you have an elderly neighbor who is alone during the holidays? Invite them over to share a meal with you. Or bring them a homemade meal. Or even bring them the ingredients for a holiday meal.

9. Shop at locally-owned businesses - One of the easiest ways you can give back to your community is to do your holiday shopping at a locally-owned business. Even better, choose gifts that are hand-crafted by local artisans. If you can't find anything locally-made, at least buy American-made.

10. Donate to a charity in lieu of buying a gift - This option is not only people-friendly but earth-friendly too. Gift clean water to a family in need through The Water Project. Purchase donation gift cards through Kiva that the recipient can use toward the micro-financing project of their choice. Donate seeds and livestock through Heifer International.

I would love to hear more ways that your family is giving back this holiday season!

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