Free Range Kids advocates allowing children to develop the skills they’ll need as adults, instead of trying to protect them from everything.  It started because of the huge backlash to the author’s column about letting her nine-year-old ride home alone on New York City public transit.  Bravo!  (Over-protectiveness is another thing many people told me I would understand once I became a parent.  But I’m still against it!)

Speaking of public transit, you’re ten times as likely to die in a private car as on public transit, per mile traveled.

Parent Hacks collects quick little tips for better parenting. 

The Environmental Working Group offers this handy resource for learning what’s in your health-and-beauty products and what those ingredients are.

Tiny Choices is a blog about little things people can do to make a big difference.

If you live in Pittsburgh and are in any way confused about how or where or what to recycle, here’s the city’s Webpage on the subject.  Notable highlights: Paper and cardboard are now collected at curbside in some neighborhoods.  All businesses, even small ones, are required to recycle.  So are all special events attended by 200 people or more.

Green Mom Finds has a lot of useful product reviews for environmentalists and/or parents.

An investigative report on Swiss Diamond Cookware’s claims that it is Teflon-free and indestructible.  Here are the reasons to avoid Teflon.

The Center for a New American Dream has a lot of positive ideas for escaping consumerism.

How to write about Africa. 

My cousin Simcha posted this series explaining differences between good and bad art, pointing out many things I had noticed subconsciously but never really seen.

An atheist saw an image of the Big Bang on a piece of toast! 

Seriously, though, there may be five things that are worse than global warming.  But don’t worry–environmental superheroes are here to help!

This year’s Easter message from the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church USA is about environmental stewardship.  She also said, in another speech: “Why are we here?  To give glory to God.  How do we do that?  By acknowledging the gravity of the current situation, and the pull of God’s gravity – back into right relationship.  What gets in the way?  Fear, timidity, greed, selfishness, laziness and ignorance – mostly a lack of compassion for our fellow creatures. Or, in other words, treating them in a way that ignores their gravity, their substantial and unique reflection of God’s own creative glory.”

Microwave popcorn may harm your pet bird.  See the bottom of this article.

A while back, there was some media hype about married people having lower blood pressure.  Turns out that if you read the actual study and think about it, there’s not much to it.

Dharma Trading Company sells all kinds of basic, well-made garments and other cloth items at reasonable prices, many of them made in USA, organic, and/or fair-trade.  They’re great for dyeing (Dharma also sells dyes) or if you don’t mind plain white or natural-colored stuff.  The only thing I’ve bought there that wasn’t totally satisfactory was the roll-top lunchbag–it doesn’t stay closed very well, and the strap isn’t long enough.  I really like their silk underwear, children’s socks, and dish towels.

What if Fox News had existed throughout history?

An ordinary housewife climbed Mount Laundrymanjaro!  Very inspiring.

Here are some nice pictures of daddies around the world carrying their children.

Cloth Diaper Details

I already explained some of the advantages of using cloth diapers.  Now, for those who are interested, I’m going to give all the details of how we did it.  Many different styles of cloth diapers are available these days, so there’s a lot to choose from, and it can be daunting.  Pre-motherhood, I found it very useful to read an individual family’s “method” and see how some of the options can work together.  We were very happy with our choices Read more…

Cloth Diapers

I always knew I would use cloth diapers on my baby.  My parents and most of my extended family had, so I was used to the idea and saw it as a sensible choice financially and environmentally.  Also, I had babysat for disposable-diapered babies and found their diapers hard to tolerate aesthetically; they just feel so fake and crinkly, not something I’d want wrapped around my body!  When I tried cloth menstrual pads and found out how much more comfortable they are than the plastic kind, I was even more convinced both that I wanted my baby in cloth and that I could tolerate the extra work involved.

However, before I became a parent, I couldn’t mention cloth diapers without a lot of people leaping to tell me that I didn’t know what I was talking about.  I’d never cared for a baby long-term or washed diapers myself, so I couldn’t possibly know how unbearably disgusting they are and how very necessary it is to wrap them in plastic and put them in landfills.  It was true, I had never cloth-diapered my own child.

Okay, now I have.  Nicholas wore cloth diapers for two years and eight months before he was toilet-trained.  I know what I’m talking about now, and I don’t ever want to hear “disposables are just so much more convenient” ever again from anyone who has never tried cloth! Read more…

What to Do with Half-Eaten Fruit

Anyone who spends time with young children is familiar with this phenomenon:
“I want an apple!”
[eats four bites]
“Let’s save it to later.  NO, Mama, don’t eat it!!  I will finish it next time.”
[next day] “I want a banana!  No, not an apple, a banana.  NO, Mama, don’t eat my apple!!  It’s for tomorrow.”
Eventually the refrigerator is filled with bitten fruits, turning brown and mushy.

Well, here’s a way to turn those fruits into a cooking project for parent-child togetherness, resulting in a tasty yet healthy snack! This works with any fruit except melon, so far as we know.

Collect all half-eaten fruits and fruits that are a little past their prime.  (If you feel you don’t have enough total fruit, throw in a can of crushed pineapple too.)  Remove moldy parts and cores, but edible peels can be left on, and parts that are so mushy you wouldn’t eat them raw will be just fine when they’re cooked.

Cut fruit into small chunks.  (My three-year-old can use a paring knife ineptly but safely; when he was younger, he’d use a butter knife.  I give him something to poke at while I am cutting, then finish the cutting of his piece.  Fruit doesn’t need to look nice for this recipe, and mutilating it actually helps it to release its juices and absorb other flavors.)

Put fruit in a pot over medium heat.  If it seems dry, add a little juice or water.  Instruct child in spice-sprinkling technique.  Let child season fruit with cinnamon, ginger, and maybe a little salt.  Taste it and adjust seasoning accordingly. If it tastes sour, add some sugar or honey or sorghum syrup.  When juice starts to bubble, reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently (let child stir, but take a turn yourself every once in a while to make sure it isn’t sticking to the pot), for about 15 minutes or until it turns into a nice saucy stuff.  Cook with lid on if fruit is very dry or you want a very liquid sauce; otherwise, let the juice boil off for more intense flavor.

We like to eat this with O’s cereal and plain yogurt.  It also can be used as a topping for ice cream or oatmeal or pancakes, or eaten by itself.  It’s similar to Cinnamon Apples but is fat-free and doesn’t necessarily need added sweetener–a lot of fruits get very sweet when cooked.

Bonus Feature: What to Do with Leftover Canned Corn
Puree it in food processor or blender.  Measure to find out how many cups you have, and multiply the Pumpkin Cornbread recipe by that number, substituting corn for pumpkin.  It’s not as nutritious, but it adds moistness and fiber to the cornbread.  It’s also not as flavorful, so season it in one of these ways, depending on what you plan to eat with it:

  1. Cinnamon.  Use a little extra sugar.
  2. Herbs, like rosemary and oregano.
  3. Substitute salsa for the orange juice.

P.S. Sixteen months after writing this article, I chose it as my “defining post” for this blog carnival.  I figure the common features of my articles are practical tips for everyday living, concern for the environment, parenting, and cooking…and this article combines them all!

UPDATE: In 2017, after a few experiences of making cooked fruit with my second child who’s now almost 3 years old, I’m linking this post to the Hearth & Soul Link Party, where you can find many other great food-related ideas! This week has an Easter theme; we’ve often made a huge cooked fruit sauce out of the fruit left over from our church’s Easter receptions.

Just this morning, my breakfast was yogurt and granola with apple left over from Lydia’s preschool lunch–sweetened with memories of all the cooked-apple-and-yogurt breakfasts I ate while pregnant with her. 🙂

Oh, and if you’re here for food ideas, be sure to check out the latest chapter of A Robot’s Cookbook!