An Alternative to Plastic-Save the Planet and Stay Healthy

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Sigg Water BlanketsConcern about the environment has made me look at ways to improve our family’s carbon foot print. One of the easiest changes is to stop buying bottled water.

We have a filter to improve the taste of our water and I bought a couple Sigg bottles for me, Jay and Georgia. They are made from aluminum and don’t leach into your beverage, which makes them a great alternative to plastic. I picked our bottles up at http://www.reusablebags.com/

They also carry Klean Kanteen. The Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Sippy Cup includes a 12 oz stainless steel bottle, a sippy adapter and two Avent sippy spouts. which means you don’t need to worry about your toddler and bisphenol-a, BPA.


Snug-A-Bug Blankets Featured in Pregnancy and Newborn Magazine

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Pregnancy and newborn magazineSnug-A-Bug Blankets “What a Hoot” minky baby blanket has been featured in the January 2008 Pregnancy and Newborn Magazine.

I would like to thank the editors at the magazine for picking one of my blankets to be featured, and I would like to welcome the readers to my website.

For those looking to purchase “What a Hoot”, or any of my new Snug-A-Bug Blanket styles, please follow the link to my Etsy shop.


Georgia’s First Sign Revisted

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Georgia

Georgia was almost 1 year old when we started to teach her sign language to communicate early. She was quick to pick up the sign for “more”.

Since that time, she has learned a number of new signs including “milk”, “eat”, “change” and “dog”. She seems to go through spells where she uses her signs frequently then other times she rarely uses signs. I have found the real key to her signing is Jay and I—the more consistently we use the signs the more she uses them. Georgia is now beginning to verbally communicate—her favourite two words are “hi” and “cookie”—but is still using some of her signs.

SIGN with your BABY Complete Learning Kit: US DVD Version, Book, Training Video (DVD), Quick Reference Guide

Most studies of children who learn sign language show that they are quicker to communicate verbally and get less frustrated. I would definitely agree that Georgia doesn’t get easily frustrated and we have not had the complete meltdowns that I have seen with other babies her age. Can I say without a doubt that it is because of the early signing? No, but I am glad that we started using the sign language with her.

Read my previous post on our start with sign language, Georgia’s First Sign: How I Gave My Baby a Communication Headstart.

The two resources we used to get started with signing are:


Photo Books: My New Obsession

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Shutterfly.com

This year for Christmas I was looking for a gift idea for my parents and Jay’s parents when I stumbled upon photo books. They are like scrapbooks—only they are done on your computer.

I have a macbook which comes with iPhoto. In iPhoto I can make a photo book right in the program. When you are finished creating your book—which includes style selections, image resizing and more—you upload your book to Apple and they send you out a finished book. The books come in a variety of sizes, colours and types, (soft and hard cover) and, in a wide range of prices.

I have played with different photo book software before from Picaboo and Shutterfly but I had never actually finished a book and ordered a printed copy. I was very happy I did at Christmas. The Photo Books were the favourite gift. The book was a collection of pictures from Georgia’s first year. Jay’s Dad takes it everywhere with him to show.

Since the success of the books I gave as gifts, I made a smaller softcover book of Christmas 2006. It is a nice way to showcase your photos—and in many ways is nicer than uploading your images to be printed—rather than putting them in a photo album.

I must admit almost all of my photos I have had printed in the last 10 years are sitting in photo boxes and are never looked at. I plan on scanning all of our wedding photos and making a wedding photo book as well as taking pictures of my grandparents and making a memory photo book for Birthday or Christmas presents next year.

The nice thing about the photo books is that if you are not that creatively inclined they have different themes to help you lay out your pictures. The other reason I really prefer it to scrapbooking is that it is digital. I have found that with digital scrapbooking you can easily change something you are not happy with.

Picaboo

While I liked the ease of using iPhoto to create the photo books, it is limited in the number of themes. Picaboo is a free program that you download to your computer and you can easily use your images to quickly make a book and you don’t need to be hooked up to the internet to create your book. The downside of Picaboo is that they don’t have a mac download.

Shutterfly also has a large number of themes and styles to choose from but you need to upload your images to their site which can be time consuming if you want to play around with more images than you plan to put in your photo book. However, since it is a web based system it doesn’t matter what OS you are using. They also carry a range of other photo gifts, prints, and free online photo sharing and photo storage.

I think the next photo book I make will be from Picaboo. They have a wider variety of page layouts and backgrounds. Unfortunately because they don’t have a Mac download I will have use my PC.

What has been your experience with making a photo books, and how did it turn out?

Picaboo – Create a Photo Book. Special Offer: buy 1 get 1 free!


Charlie The Pug of Love

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Charlie

It has been a while since I have posted to the blog. It has been a sad couple of weeks around our house. One of our pugs, Charlie, became sick and died suddenly on 26th of October.

He was nearly 11 years old, and Jay and I have had Charlie almost the whole time we have been married.

It is a big adjustment for all of us. Charlie was a sweet friend and a very special dog, his death has left a big hole in our hearts.


Baby Pictures – One Mom’s Tips on Taking, Editing, and Sending Digital Photos

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Thanksgiving Dinner 2006

One thing is certain with a new baby: you are going to be taking lots of baby pictures. Digital Cameras are great for capturing every moment. I love our digital camera, I bought it for Jay a couple of Christmas’ ago, but I seem to be the one who uses it the most.

The Hardware

We have a Canon A85—I highly recommend their cameras if you are thinking about buying one—the optics are great and the model we have has a tonne of options. I will admit, I prefer the “auto” setting—just point and click.There are lots of great buying guide websites around if you are looking for reviews of cameras like DP review.

The Canon A85 is 4 mega-pixels—most cameras available now have at least that many mega-pixels. One thing I would recommend looking for in a camera is an optical zoom vs digital zoom. Optical zoom is the zoom using the lens, a physical magnification of the object vs digital which is just a magnification of a portion of the picture. With a digital zoom you can end up with a pixelly image.

The other important factor with digital photography is the memory card. The bigger the memory card the more pictures it can hold. Speed is also important. The memory cards come in different speeds the faster the card, the faster the recycle time which means more pictures. I didn’t realize how important it was until I used my sister’s camera last month, she had a slow memory card and it seemed to take forever until I could take another picture.

To Print or Not to Print

When it comes to printing off the pictures a film camera does not compare. You can pick the images you want fix them with your photo software and print them at home or send them to your local photo store. When ink-jet printers first came out I loved the idea that you could print the pictures at home. The problem I have found with printing at home is that it often takes 2 or 3 tries before I get a decent quality print and with the cost of ink-jet ink and photo paper it is kind of expensive.

Now I send all my pictures to a photo-lab to be printed. There are so many choices and you can get the pictures for such a good price. I use Blacks Photography. They are more expensive but I think the pictures look great! We usually pick them up so they are printed in the store and I think that the store that we use, at Mic Mac Mall in Dartmouth, is far superior to other Black’s stores. In my opinion, if you find a spot that does excellent prints stick with them, because good quality prints are often because the staff in the photo lab are good at their job.

The Software

As well as printing pictures, I find that with a baby I am e-mailing a lot of pictures to people. I had been using Adobe Photoshop to prepare my images for e-mail. I would colour correct, I would use the dodge tool to fix red eye (a very common problem with babies) a very tedious way to fix it, then resize the images for mail. There is nothing worse than getting an email of a picture and all you can see is a giant eye.

I started using Picasa, Google’s photo software, which I downloaded for free. It has a very easy to use red eye fix and when you want to e-mail the picture you just click the e-mail button and it resizes it for you! Now Picasa also has a web album so you can resize your images and people can look at them online and download images suitable for printing—something that e-mailed photos not always great for. The free online album offers 250MB of space but you can buy more if you need too ($25 for 6GB).

If you are Mac user iphoto has similar software with an easy to fix red eye and the one click e-mail.

What tips do you have for digital photography?


Georgia’s Favourite Books

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First 100 Animals (First Words)

Georgia loves books. She has board books, lift-flap books, push and pull tab books, but her favourite books are animal books.

I stumbled across a series of books by Roger Priddy they are fantastic books. They are bright and colourful with great pictures.

The first one I bought was First 100 Animals (First Words). She would spend half an hour, or more, flipping through the pages looking at the animals babbling the whole time. She liked the first one so much we have bought a bunch of them; First 100 Words, Colors (Bright Baby), Trucks (Bright Baby).

A couple weeks ago we found a series of chunky books, Puppies, Kittens and Animals . They are small about 3 inches square. Georgia loves to walk around the room with them flipping the pages and reading (babbling) out loud.
I highly recommend the books you can visit their website to see all the series available.

What books are your babies favourite?


My 4 Best eBay Buys–Part 2—Baby Items—The Baby Bjorn, Boppy, and Crib Duvet

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If you missed Part 1 you can read it here.

My next 3 best eBay buys are all baby items, a Boppy, Baby Bjorn, and a crib duvet.

The Boppy is a must have for any Mother who plans on breastfeeding. Unfortunately they are not easy to find in Canada. Ebay has a large number of Boppies for sale and many of them are new. I bought my first one for $12USD, lower than retail. I bought a second Boppy so I could have one upstairs and another downstairs. The second was also a great price at $9.

If you are looking for a baby carrier, especially a Baby Bjorn, I would definitely recommend checking out a used one on eBay. Baby Bjorns retail for more than $99CAD. I bought mine for $9.99USD. I must admit that it was an amazing price, most Baby Bjorn on eBay sell for about $35-$45USD, still much cheaper than in the store.

If you are looking for one I would recommend buying a newer model. They have the blue and red coloured clasps, and adjustable straps at the head rest. I would stay away from the snap models, they are more difficult to move a sleeping baby without waking them from the carrier to a crib.

The fourth best buy was a down duvet for Georgia’s crib. I found a shop on eBay that sells very nice quality down crib duvet. They have a number of different sizes and qualities. I bought a medium level duvet for $38USD, a very good deal.

As you see I have found a number of great buys on eBay and it is one of the first places I look for deals. What are your best eBay buys.

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My 4 Best Buys on eBay—Part One—The Scooba

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If you have read any of my other posts you may have surmised that I am a fan of eBay. Almost all of my experiences buying from eBay have been positive, see my post on the crib set if you want to know about my one bad experience. There are some buys that stand out as the best.

The first was my Scooba, you may have heard of it’s brother the Roomba the robotic vacuum, Oprah gave it away on one of her favourite things show. The company that makes the Roomba, iRobot, now make a floor washing robot the Scooba. I received the Roomba for my Mother’s Day gift, yes I did ask for it, and as their commercial says I love my robot.

When I heard about the floor washing robot I was definitely interested in it. The Scooba in Canada retails for more than $500 CAD from the dealer in Canada or $349USD from the iRobot store, more than I was willing to spend, a lot more. So I checked on eBay there the Scooba’s were going for under $250USD, I had even seen a few go for under $170USD, a much more palatable price. I decided I didn’t want to pay more than $190USD.

There seemed to be a number of sellers who repeatedly listed Scoobas. After researching their feedback and their shipping rates I narrowed it down to 3 sellers to buy it from. These sellers tended to list a Scooba weekly, after two and a half months of bidding and being outbid I finally won the auction for less than my limit $187.50 USD plus shipping. Now all I had to do was wait for it to arrive.

Two weeks later it was at my door and was just as described new in box. It took about 8 hours to charge up the battery and then it was ready to roll. It uses a cleaner by Clorox that is specially formulated to work with the Scooba. It doesn’t smell to strongly and most importantly is safe around pets and kids.

The Scooba moves slower than the Roomba and does a light vacuum, squirts out the clean water, scrubs the floor and squeegees it clean in a single movement. It took about 30 minutes to make its way around the kitchen floor. When I dumped the water it was very dirty and the floor had been mopped the day before, so I set it up for a second go and the water was much cleaner the second time. It does a very nice job of cleaning the floor and the best thing is that it frees you up to do something else while you are mopping the floor.

The downfalls of the Scooba are that in Canada—at least where I live—you can not pick the cleaning solution up at the grocery store. I ordered about a years supply from the iRobot store, they give you a 15% discount when you register the Scooba. The other con is the time it takes to recharge the battery is about 3-4 hours so you can’t do your whole house in one day, which requires some planning. I will be watching eBay for a second battery at a good price!

Overall, I’m very happy with the Scooba it does a great job cleaning the floors and frees me up to do other things. With a baby crawling around the house it is very nice to know the floors are squeaky clean.

Check back for Part 2—Baby Items—The Baby Bjorn, Boppy, and Crib Duvet

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The Crib Set: Ebay and the Hunt for the Perfect Nursery Design, Part 2

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Read Crib Set Part 1.

Fast forward 6 months, my husband and I were just finishing Georgia’s nursery when I went into labour. Her crib was still in a box and I had not found another bedding set.

Georgia was about 4 months old when I first felt how soft minky was and I decided I would make a crib setout of it.

When I was pregnant I had thought about making one, but we are in an older home that we are slowly remodeling and I did not want to add that on to my to do list while pregnant.

I searched for the minky fabric and found a number of stores in the US that would ship to Canada. Then I needed to find a backing fabric that I could also use for a bed skirt. I found a butterfly material by Jane Sassaman that I loved and the colours went well with the minky. Instead of making a comforter I made a duvet cover and bought a very nice crib duvet from a reputable seller from eBay.

I wasn’t sure how much Minky I would need to make the set and I of course ordered too much. With the extra material I made a blanket for her car seat, every where we went people commented on the blanket and wanted to know where to get one.

This is how Snug-A-Bug Blankets was born.

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