Yesterday, my mother and her partner arrived in town for a visit: a Southern stop on their grand new RV adventure. With them, they brought the gift of a dresser from their old life. It’s a perfect fit to the baby’s new life. The filling of the drawers has already begun!
For children’s clothing, Matt and I are big fans of secondhand goods in 100% cotton — so many great deals to be had! Since we’re waiting until the birth to learn whether the baby is a boy or a girl, for now, unisex clothing is the name of the game.
We are actually thankful for this gender-neutral requirement! In a world so full of beguiling baby goods, it keeps our preparatory spending in check, and ensures that much of what we buy can — with luck — be used again for baby #2 someday.
In our shopping, we’ve also been limiting ourselves to clothing for the very first weeks and months. Some of the most frequent advice we’ve been given by other parents is not to stock up on too many baby clothes ourselves, as they are a gift that the baby is likely to receive in abundance!
When we were in upstate New York recently, we took advantage of two consignment shops there: this one, where you can peruse big bins of onesies priced at 3 for $1, and this one, which just expanded into a huge new retail space bursting with fantastic stuff.
Back in Williamsburg, I made a trip to this giant twice-yearly consignment sale and found some wonderful things. (Next stops on the consignment shop list: Sugar and Spice in W’burg and the hip-hip Clover in Careytown in Richmond.)
And with that, the baby has the beginnings of a wardrobe!
My favorite item so far: a little onesie printed with dragonflies and honeybees and lines of text that include this one:
Let’s wander through the woods
A sentiment near and dear to my heart!
Two food thoughts for this Friday afternoon:
1. Finally, the time has arrived for organic peaches, nectarines, and cherries to abound at our favorite grocery store. We are in a blissful state.
2. I do believe that grilled cheese and tomato soup is one of the great food/flavor pairings in the known universe. When we make canned tomato soup, we like to mix this one (which is widely available, organic, and light in sodium. Though the can lining does contain BPA — all but Eden Organic‘s cans do — I say: pick your battles. Canned soup once a week is not a health crime!) with a can of milk for added creaminess. Mmmmmmm…..
Wishing you a weekend filled with happiness and good things to eat!
When a new season of Mad Men — the AMC drama set in a Manhattan advertising agency in the early 1960s — is released, we Netflix it. Because, well, really, who can resist the allure of Don Draper or the curves of Joan Holloway?
The many secretaries on the show are continually lifting old-school telephone receivers to their shapely ears as they transcribe shorthand at their typewriters. Seeing that lifting action repeated again and again made me realize how much, in this cell phone age, I have missed a real telephone: a full-size receiver with good sound quality and a nice heft. The kind you can prop between your ear and your shoulder and still be clearly heard. (Since 2005, Matt and I have had no landline — only cell phones.)
“I want a retro handset,” I said to Matt as Mad Men played in the background.
“Well, they do make them for cell phones,” Matt said.
“Really.” And he sent me to this site.
The folks at Novophone — and soon, I imagine, other companies — do indeed make the very object of my desire, but for $27.95 — a price steep enough that I hemmed and hawed for several weeks over the decision to drop so much cash on what is essentially a mound of molded plastic with a cord.
But then I happened across the third act of this episode of This American Life (which begins at minute 45:55): an interview with journalist Christopher Ketcham, who wrote this article for GQ on the biological effects of cell phone radiation. (As a sidenote, there is also this recent article on the subject in Harper’s Magazine.)
On the surface, the results of research into the matter seem to be a toss-up, with half of the studies showing negative health effects (i.e., increased brain cancer risk), and half not. But when the research is divided by who funded it (the cell phone industry, or independent funding agencies), an interesting pattern emerges: while only 25% of studies funded by the industry show biological effects, 75% of the independently-funded studies do. The risks appear to be greatest for individuals who begin using cell phones under the age of 20, as their brains are still developing and their skulls are thinner than adult skulls, and therefore do not provide as much of a radiation barrier. But young’uns aren’t the only ones at risk.
There was the nudge I needed to get my cell away from my ear. I ordered my Novophone that very afternoon. The handset comes in two colors (red or black) and two styles (with or without a button on the handset that allows you to answer the phone without touching your cell).
I opted for black and buttonless, since various reviewers at Amazon.com (where I ordered the phone with free shipping) commented that it was easy to accidentally hit the button and hang up in the middle of a call. (If you’re interested, check here to see if your cell is compatible with the Novophone, or if you’d need an adapter.)
I have to say: I LOVE this phone handset. The feel of it in my hand, and the quality of the sound, are exactly what I had hoped for. And it has the added bonus of cutting down my daily EMF exposure! I’d had a hands-free headset for my cell, but never liked it much — and the people on the other end of the line had complained that I sounded like I was talking from a tunnel. Not so with the Novophone!
As I talk on it, I invariably think of the Mad Men secretaries, and of the inventions that each generation creates and brings into widespread use, insisting on their innocuousness until faced with overwhelming evidence to the contrary (the type of evidence that takes decades to build and great effort to bring to light). The Mad Men era had asbestos, leaded gasoline and paint, and widespread cigarette use. My best guesses for our era’s follies? To name a few: widespread use of pharmaceuticals and endocrine disruptors like flame retardants (which we’ve applied to just about every upholstered, electronic, and synthetic-furniture item in the U.S.), and phthalates and parabens (which we’ve managed to mix into just about every personal care product Americans use).
And, of course, cell phones. Only time will tell.
I wish these baggies were named “Lunchkins” instead of “Lunchskins” because I just don’t feel that “lunch” and “skin” are words that belong together. “Lunchkins” is cute and sweet; “lunchskins” rings a little too loudly of Silence of the Lambs for my taste… (What a difference one little “s” makes, eh!?)
But I forgive the originator of the name, because the product is fantastic. These reusable, dishwasher-safe, velcro-close baggies come in several sizes (snack, sandwich, and sub) and are made of thick cotton coated with a grease-proof, moisture-proof, food-safe polyurethane lining that is certified as lead-free, Bisphenol-A (BPA)-free, and phthalate-free.
And the fabric passes a favorite litmus test of over-educated, environmentally-conscious folks like me: it’s manufactured in Europe! And as a bonus, the manufacturer is a family-run business! (I’m thinking maybe these baggies belong somewhere on the list of Stuff White People Like.)
Lunchskins come in many lovely colors and patterns. They are not particularly cheap, but so far we think they’re worth the price.
In our house, we’ve decided to eschew their true name and call them Lunchkins henceforth.
And we have high hopes that by using them, we will finally eliminate from our kitchen that pile of Ziploc bags that we mean to wash and reuse, but somehow just… don’t, because it’s so much easier just to grab new, clean ones!
I’ll report back!
[Update: Many folks debate the relative safety of polyurethane and nylon linings, particularly if hot foods are involved. The jury is out. If you want to go totally green, check out Plum Creek Mercantile, which offers 100% organic cotton natural-color snack bags -- they have no waterproof linings, but claim to contain even gooey PB&J just fine. If the idea of nylon lining appeals to you more than that of polyurethane lining, check out WasteNot Saks on Etsy. (Thanks, Suzanne, for the tip!) A nice little summary of different eco-baggies and their specs can be found here.]