colds, sore throat, coughing....sound familiar?

at the sign of a cold in this family I just run for cover, a cold can blow through our family like a tornado (we do lots of kissing!) I am now on my second round of infestation of a cold that has now settled into my chest, on the upside I have that sexy, raspy voice, but it's not so sexy on my kids...I feel so bad for them! BUT I do have some suggestions before you pull out that pharmacy stuff! visit this website, the steiner storehouse, and it will give you some good ideas of treatments that are all biodynamic and natural...I have tried many of them and have had terrific results. somehow with this particular cold I forgot and didn't really take anything, so there you go....as of now I am stocked up! for your kids I would suggest the Uriel pharmacy plantain/beeswax ointment, it feels a little like the old "vics" rub, but natural, we love it and the kids love to have their chest rubbed, very soothing! (plus it works!)

breeze through the section of weleda cold remedies to find what is good for your family, but you can be certain that these remedies are very organically clean and natural. the liquid echinacea is really good as well, and easy to give to your kids because it can just go in their drinks. we have also used their new echinodoron which are great because kids can just suck on them, not so scary! these are just some ideas, but they work for us, please let me know if you have some good, or even bad, results!

this website is also a great place to get terrific art supplies for kids (and yourself!) the best crayons on earth! and lots of other great arts and crafts....have fun!

why can't it just be soap?

my sister sent me an idea for a blog about laundry soap, and I thought to myself, oh, we all use "green" soap, but then as I read on I realized that maybe we don't...so here is her blog, thank you linda!

I’m not sure if it is just me or if I am so tuned into the “green” world that it seems to be everywhere. Even the NBC news is green. Sometimes it just seems so overwhelming, what can one person do? One of the easiest ways I know to help is to choose products that are green, and opt out of ones that are not. Everyone does laundry. Imagine if we all stopped using detergents with unnecessary chemicals like perfumes and dyes that are harmful to the environment. I was walking down our neighborhood road yesterday and could smell the houses that were doing laundry. That was some pretty potent stuff they were using. These are all synthetic chemicals produced in a factory causing unnecessary pollution. I like a detergent form the co op that is biodegradable has a slight natural fragrance. And if I need extra cleaning power I use some prewash like Biz in the wash. Works great. Also those dryer sheets, whose marketing idea is that...adding more chemicals to your clothing, you don’t need them. It's just another waste of chemicals, pollution and money. One more thing to think about is that powder detergent works better and is better for the environment, there's need to ship water around when you are adding water to the wash anyway.

My husband brought home some dishwashing soap from the grocery store the other day, I was amazed at the fragrance. I could smell it from the front door and couldn’t figure it out until I walked into the kitchen. It was just some normal soap like Dawn, but I couldn’t believe the amount of fragrance. Even the kids noticed. I figure it is probably better for ourselves and the environment to forgo these synthetic chemicals. Natural dish soap is readily available where I live and probably in your neighborhood as well.

some terrific brands that are natural and biodegradable are from seventh generation and ecover. the image above is from a new product, cleanut, that is, for now, only available in europe...but I loved the packaging! (click here to read more about it on treehugger)


a loaf for kids ...and you too!

This post is from my friend and artist/stylist Karen, she now lives in Switzerland, but our lives crossed paths when we lived in San Francisco and also in Italy...she is a wonderful cook and I have been begging her for this "loaf" post! -thanks karen!

thank god for the loaf, or I don't think my daughter would eat. Loaves are the easiest things
to make, you can put anything in them and they can be super-nutritious, and best of all, kids (usually) like them. I got the idea during my San Francisco vegetarian days from the Greens Restaurant cookbook. They have something in there called the Cheese and Nut Loaf and it is so YUMMY. After having made that a few times I ventured off to do my own thing which is basically any combination of what I have on hand. I think life in the kitchen is easier when you're not having to measure and follow a recipe, so use your own ideas. But basically it goes like this...

1 part cooked grain
3/4 part vegetable or legume
1/2 part cheese
1 part nuts or seeds
4 eggs

Use a nine or ten inch loaf pan, butter or oil it and put some wax paper in preheat the oven to 375
By part I mean 1 cup or so, if you have two loaf pans it's a great idea to make an extra one, you'd be surprised how fast you can eat these!

For grains, I think you can use just about anything, I have tried amaranth, quinoa, brown rice (that is what the Green's cookbook uses), oats, barley. I often mix amaranth and quinoa together.

For vegetables, really anything goes and any mixture as well. For legumes, I've only tried with lentils but I imagine other beans would work too. Cook the vegetables and chop them up in a food processor, leave the beans whole if using.

Grate any hard cheese that you like, I love gruyere in it.

Toast the nuts or seeds and again, chop them.

Mix it all up in a bowl and...

Beat the four eggs and mix them in, add a little milk if it is too thick and pour it all in the pan.

Bake for about an hour, but keep an eye on it and check that it is not gooey inside when done, like for a cake.

For the dipping sauce, which always makes a meal more fun, use plain yogurt and mix it with tamari and a flavorful oil like toasted sesame seed or pumpkin seed.

I really don't think anyone could mess this up, I've made some bizarre combinations and it always tastes good!

In the loaf pictured, I used red quinoa, leeks with broccoli, gruyere, pumpkin and sunflower seeds and the dipping sauce is yogurt, tamari and toasted sesame seed oil. Even better served with fresh carrot juice.


cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and cloves...oh my!

at this time of year we are so drawn to these scents, I thought it might be interesting for you to know what these spices help to support.

helps to ease allergies, relieves pain, fights bacteria (even e coli) and fungi (e.g. candida)...maybe that's why I have heard it's good for women...and it helps to relax muscles.
-you can sprinkle it on food or mix 1 tsp in a cup of hot water 2 to 3 times a day with meals. this one is not really for kids, but I do tend to add a stick of cinnamon when I give my kids hot apple cider and they really love it.

perhaps the best source of cineole, an antiseptic phytochemical that kills the bacteria causing bad breath; breaks up chest congestion and fights bronchitis, colds, indigestion, inflamed mouth and sore throat...another chai tea please!
-select whole, not open, pods. break open and you will find the "seeds", mix about 15 seeds in a cup of hot water up to 5 times a day.

digestive aid, particularly for overindulgence or morning and motion sickness; contains anti-inflammatory zingibain and other compounds useful in arthritis and preventing arterial plaque (boy is that a good descriptive! yuk!)
-enjoy 3 to 10 g fresh ginger or 2 to 4 g dried ginger up to three times a day; mix 2 tsp of powdered root in a cup of hot water daily. (ask your OB as it could be good for nausea and vomiting in pregnancy). I put it in my kukicha tea in the morning when I am cold as well...keeps me warm, or so I think!

contains eugenol, a powerful phytochemical that anesthetizes, kills bacteria and fungi, fights free radical oxidation, and helps thin the blood.
-take 100 to 300 mg of powdered clove daily; sprinkle a little over cuts to prevent infection. for toothache, rub on a little clove oil but don't swallow.

I found much of this information in a handout from my co-op. it also suggests that you should only use spices (and herbs for that matter) from your organic foods co-op as other spices can be exposed to irradiation, but this is not allowed with organic production. spices usually last about a year, so change when you can, if you buy from your co-op they are purchased in bulk and the prices are much cheaper.

Duct Tape Activities !!

Children don't often need fancy gadgets to be entertained. We are trained to believe this perhaps.... but it is just not true. Kids, even the youngest, have fertile imaginations and can be entranced by numerous simple things. Even a piece of string with an object tied to it can be fun, or taking all of Mommy's cutlery out of the drawer, or emptying the tissue box.... or worse.... unraveling all of the toilet tissue! Here is another idea that is less accessible without a parents help - but equally as interesting and often fun as all heck! Of course, as with all items found or made - we suggest parental guidance to avoid unforeseen problems. For example, applying the tape to Daddy's leg hairs does not always make for fast friendships!!!

Duct tape:
Kids love duct tape! In fact, they love it so much that you may have to hide it and dole it out to excited toddlers. A great and simple activity with duct tape will appeal to children of all ages. Simply wrap a piece of 2” wide tape around your child’s wrist – sticky side out – like a bracelet and send them outside. All manner of leaves, flowers and sticks will adhere to the tape making a beautiful piece of artistic jewelry that tells the story of your child’s outdoor adventures.


holiday greeting cards

it's that time of year again! I personally love this tradition, my parent's always sent out a photo of the family (sometimes just the kids). I think because we didn't get to see our immediate family much since they were in sweden, that my parents did this just to keep in touch (and I also think since we were the only ones in the US, my dad liked to show off a bit!) at any rate...we did it! and my sister and I have kept up the tradition with our families. we both usually cut a piece of colored construction paper in half, glued our 'family photo' to it and than wrote something nice in colored pen...somehow that was just our simple way of staying in touch!

as I passed through etsy shops this morning I found this nice company 'modern printed matter' that makes terrific cards that could include a photo, or not! either way they are beautiful...and you can browse through more etsy shops here for other wonderfully creative card makers! speaking of etsy, this is a good place to find small designers/artists making wonderful things...for that one-of-a-kind gift for that one-of-a-kind friend! check out the 'childrens' section for more wonderful things for kids....(but that's a whole other blog!)

good luck with your cards and the post office says you need to get them in by the 17th of december to get out by christmas!


finger puppets

this is one of those things that seems like more of a european "game" than something that we do here because when we were in amsterdam every kids toy store that we visited had these wonderful finger puppets and it all seemed so fun! and these wonderful finger puppets in the above image are from Ikea! I think its a perfect toy for those rainy day afternoons, just make up a story, put on your finger puppets and away you go! (in amsterdam we got these funny ones with heads on them so we usually pull together a nice little story and then everyone starts to chase each other eventually!) they also make a nice bedtime story, and our puppets can get my 2 year old to do things that I can't get her to do!!


here's Little Lark !!

Started in 2006 by friends Christy Nyboer, a painter and sculptor, and Jean Sammis, a graphic designer and owner of Lark Press - Little Lark is all about doing things right. I love a company that can marry style with conscientious production. Little Lark uses 100% organic cotton and is proud that its apparel is sweatshop free, USA made, and each item is silk-screened by hand ( I always love that) so each garment is not exactly the same and with that you get the feeling that your item is unique.... well..... like a piece of ART! even the presentation is part of this aesthetic - all hand printed. your item will arrive in a lovely Muslin bag that is reusable - so whether it is intended as a gift, or just for yourself or little one, it will seem like a special present.

I think that the gnome would make a wonderful christmas card...and I love that all of the t-shirts are unisex, because who knows what your second or third baby will be! (just kidding...kind of!) lots of cute earthly looks! visit little lark here!

i love treehugger

I was browsing around treehugger and came upon their 'how to be green gift guide', it's really terrific! I was going to do small posts on these ideas (and I still might highlight some of my favorites) but here it is treehuggers gift guide all in one shebang! we do our best when it comes to the holiday season to keep the bar low as far as gifts are concerned, but somehow I always end up buying a lego something or another, as much for myself as it is for my kids! last year I found a massive set at the flea market...is that green!? I think so....(hey treehugger there's one to add to your list!) ...good luck, I just suggest that you don't get caught in that last minute 'frenzy', that can destroy anyones best laid plans to stay green for the holidays. visit them here for some great gift-giving ideas!


Alternative Healthcare: Herbal Medicine

Herbal Medicine:

Herbal medicine uses the healing substances in plants to cure ailments. It is the oldest form of healthcare known to mankind and has been used throughout history by all cultures. Herbal medicines come in several different forms including: tinctures, teas and capsules. Several major producers of herbal medicine make preparations specifically for children.

Maybe you’ve already had success using calendula cream for diaper rash or chamomile tea with honey for a toddler with a tummy ache and are now ready to incorporate more herbs into your medicine cabinet. There is a wealth of information to help guide you in making herbal choices for your child, but be sure to exercise caution and remember that beyond being pretty plants, herbs are medicines and should be treated with respect.

visit herbsforkids - this is a great site for general information about treating children with herbs and a good source for purchasing products.
visit mothernature - is another great site for information on herbs, vitamins and homeopathy

Alternative Healthcare refers to a diverse range of healing practices (some have been around for thousands of years!), which we currently view as “alternatives” to the Allopathic method we have become accustomed to. Many of us have dabbled in these so-called alternatives with encouraging results and some of us rely on Homeopathy, Reflexology and other natural options as our primary defense against disease and discomfort.

At Nonchalant Mom we believe that parents, working with the support of their trusted doctors and healthcare practitioners are the best advocates for their child’s optimum health. If you are curious or feel instinctively drawn to a particular method then arm yourself with information! To jump-start your investigation we have provided you with some basic definitions and a wealth of informative websites.


secret shop

a friend sent me a link to this website and I just had to share it with you because I think it's pretty brilliant! I'm not entirely sure that I can explain them but com-pa-ny seem to be a very resourceful couple aamu song & johan olin, from finland. even their website is super smart! start with the folder 'at the moment' and find out what they are doing now in their mini-blog, then don't miss 'shop' for more fun! I was willing to stock it all at nonchalant mom...it's really fun and super clever! you will get seriously held up poking around their website...don't miss it!

they recently had an exhibition at KIASMA the contemporary art museum in helsinki called 'secret shop' where their installation was the store pictured above, and these images are some of their creative genius!

go company! -visit them here.


kit+lili are on a roll!
teresa and meg from kit+lili have created one of the most exciting new kids collections to come along in years...and we are all benefiting from it. although I don't think they were really going for it, I think it's really scandinavian! ha! or at least how all the kids in sweden run around in bright colors, it just makes everything more exciting. kit+lili is so simple yet clever that you say to yourself, I could have done that...just like a jackson pollock! clever, YES! I want to dress my kids in bright colors, organic fabrics and there it is the simple t-shirt. I love it all and I think kit+lili is going to take over the world!

meg hails from a talented family where her father created illustrated books for kids, she also was a designer at fenn, wright & mason...remember them!!...they were one of my favorites! and teresa, well this bombshell of energy will set you straight on anything...they are close friends in NYC, their kids are best friends, and they said to themselves one day, HEY...let's do this ourselves instead of talking about it all the time, well it's the right time and the right place! I think they were very resourceful with their production and have created something truely unique that will be a staple very soon! believe me, if I could I would buy everything I would...thanks teresa and meg!!
(you can find their collection at nonchalant mom and many others!)


kobacha squash

this is my favorite time of year because I get to eat kobacha squash, and I could eat it every day! kobacha squash is prominent in macrobiotic cooking, and I don't know if it's so much for it's healthy benefits as much as it is because it is a squash used most frequently in japan, either way it's super delicious. I really think it has the most wonderful flavor of all of the different types of squash and it also imparts the most flavor in anything with which it's cooked. it will also give you a good workout, the skin is SUPER tough and you will find your own way of cutting it after awhile, but it's certainly not easy. I use it for everything but here are a few recipes that are easy and delicious!

preheat oven to 400 degrees
wash any dirt off skin
cut squash in half and scoop out seeds and pulp
cut into slices about 1/2 - 1 inch thick (leaving the skin on)
put in a bowl and toss with olive oil and tamari (and if you want some rosemary)
pour out onto a roasting pan
(make sure that everything has been coated with olive oil)
roast in oven for about 45 minutes
flip slices when you are at about a 1/2 hour

for this you need to get a little workout by cutting off the skin
it's easiest if you cut into slices as above and then cut the skin off each piece but somehow find your way into cutting off the skin and cutting the kobacha squash into small cubes.
start by
sautéing course chopped onions in olive oil and then add your kobacha squash cubes and you will see them breakdown after sautéing for a bit, at the end add some tamari (I mix the tamari with water if I am cooking for the kids) and this will really sweeten it nicely!

you can serve as is or you can add cooked brown rice to the
sauté and you will have a lovely rice-squash dish or you can also use with pasta!

cut into larger cubes as above and put in a steamer (you can also leave the skin on for steaming) and steam for until tender and serve! perfect!

pressure cooker
this is one of my favorite recipes for kobacha squash
wash dirt off skin and take out seeds and pulp.
cut squash into fairly large chunks (with skin on)

in your pressure cooker
sauté a bit of green onion (yellow is ok too) with olive oil
add 1 cup of adzuki beans that you have soaked for at least 8 hours
add 2 cups of water
your cubed squash
and some tamari
pressure cook for 12-15 minutes
this comes out very sweet and delicious and is a real energy booster!

If you are having trouble with your ovaries or trying to get pregnant you can substitute black beans and it's a very healthy dish to strengthen your ovaries.

if you have trouble finding kobacha squash they carry it at most whole foods or ask your local co-op to get it...they usually know exactly who to ask for a good organic kobacha squash!


hara warmer!

this is my invention...and I've been telling everyone about this for years and I actually tried to talk Tse cashmere into the hara warmer when I was working for them...but everyone just thinks I'm a little crazy. but I think this is the greatest invention AND it will keep you warm, I promise you. so here is the trick (well it's not really a trick, it's the truth, ha) your "hara" is located below your belly button and it holds your chi energy, if you keep your hara warm you will be warm all over. so take your favorite scarf, wool or cashmere work great, depending on how large it is fold it in half the long way (or we have folded ours three times the long way) and just wrap it around your waist like a sarong...you can wear it anytime and anywhere, and it looks super under jackets or sweaters AND best of all, it will really keep you warm! if you are pregnant I think it looks great to emphasize your lovely growing belly (especially if your top just isn't big enough to cover your belly). if you have a red scarf I think it is optimal to bring additional energy to your hara...we used the beautiful virginia johnson shawl to wrap meredith so that you can see how it works. one photo is the shawl as a hara warmer and the other as a scarf....so stay warm this winter and wear your hara warmer!!


The Nonchalantdad: Breaking the Rules

The other day I allowed something with my children that I don't often allow. I let them sit in the back end of my car - the very back. Now, I can hear all of you out there getting ready to clobber me with your (perhaps warranted) criticisms and warnings. All of which I will probably agree with - to a certain point. Let me clarify something here. I am not letting the children crawl around free of restraint while I am travelling down the motorway in a torrential rain at speeds of 80 mph. Around where I live there are some fairly peaceful roads where you do not expect alot of crazy traffic, nor do you expect to reach a high rate of speed. These are roads made for daydreaming.... that is, if you are not the driver. The roads are tree lined and at night the sky is usually dark enough, and clear enough, that the sky offers all sorts of treats.

I am old enough to remember when I was a child. A time before we let our worries and concerns overwhelm us completely to the point of near inertia. Now, of course, children are often belted into a car as if they were astronauts - belts and buckles... the whole tangled lot. I think I even passed a car the other day that had 2 children wearing crash helmets. I'm not against this idea necessarily. After all, who wants to see their children come to harm?

But, I remember a time when there was less awareness or concern. There was no center divide in my mother's car. It was one long bench back and front. And seatbelts... well... they were there... let's just say that. I recall my mother on many occasion making a turn to the left or the right - and there we'd go sliding from one side to the next. It was kind of fun. Of course, it wasn't always a success. One day my mother had me sitting next to her in the seat up front after our shopping trip to the grocery store and as she turned to the left while making an exit I drifted down the seat until I banged against the door and kept going out. Out the door I flew and only saved myself by hanging onto the door as my mother slammed the brakes on. My knees were skinned to the bone. Ouch.

So, yes, nothing is perfect. And nothing is guaranteed in life. Nothing can be totally safe. Yet I remember laying down in the back of my father's or mother's car as they drove during day or night. Laying down and staring out the window up at the sky, or the passing lights, or signs, or buildings. There was just so much excitement in seeing the world from a different perspective. And you just can't beat those early opportunities to see the world like magic. I'd hate to think I am denying my children that pleasure - that opportunity to enjoy life from different angles.

So, if the weather is nice enough, the road quiet and steady, the speed not excessive, then I let my kids excitedly jump in the back and lay down. Suddenly, while fussing one moment, they suddenly become quiet. And every so often I'll hear 'ohhh' or an 'ahhh' as they point out airplanes, clouds, or trees flying past. Theres so much to see when you're not tied into a seat.

And, if that is not enough for you... then you'll like this next one. Sometimes I allow my son to ride with his head sticking out the sun roof of my car on our short journey from the bottom of our drive up to the house. Am I crazy for allowing these things? Maybe. Am I courting to much danger? Maybe. But is it worth every moment to see there face full of basic wonderment and freedom? Well..... yes.