Blog

MY CHILD’S TOYS TRY TO BE NATURAL

All-natural plush toysI remember going to Whole Foods once and seeing there a teddy bear–non-toxic, organic materials. It was lovely. Also, it was 30 dollars, for a relatively small bear. I did not buy it for my child and I could never get it out of my mind after that.

Ever since, I have been looking for a more natural plush toy. My daughter loves stuffed animals, like any child. She does have a whole cohort of puppies. “All new materials, consisting of polyester fibers”–not my ideal thing, obviously.

Some of the plush toys out there I cannot even touch anymore, with their plasticky, unnatural feel. I kept looking all these years on labels, thinking maybe I’ll get lucky enough one day to find one which says “cotton fibers”. And yesterday it happened. In Target. Where I found a new line of stuffed toys called All-Natural, made by miYim. The biggest size is around 15 dollars, and the smallest is only 5. It is not organic, but it is untreated cotton, with natural (mineral and soy) coloring. And they are beautiful. Don’t you think?

My daughter chose the dog again. That’s fine with me. Because she put the plastic baby doll back in the shelf.

She actually wanted a baby doll. She had looked at all the babies and, as a very responsible child that she is, she picked up the smallest, two dollar one. “Can I take the baby home, mami?”.

But mami told her no. “It’s made of plastic. It gives off dangerous fumes. It’s not good for your health. Don’t you like this cute, natural teddy bear?”

“No, mami. I only like the baby.”

“But it is bad for your health and for the planet. It’s made of plastic. Pick up a nice, natural, soft, cotton toy.” And she did. My amazing child. She put the baby doll back and chose this cute dog. I knew I was doing the right thing, because I have to instill these values in her already, but it didn’t feel good, not letting her have the cheap toy she had her heart set on.

Later in the evening she would tell her father that the baby doll was made of plastic. “Bad!”

A MORE NATURAL PERFUME

Perfume … there is something magical about it, isn’t it? Something wondrous about the  worlds it brings to life–the memories, the sensations, the desires. It was long ago that I read Perfume by Patrick Suskind, but, bizarre as it was, how it felt like a magnificent unexplored territory that enslaves us all: the power of smell.

Like any other woman out there, I like my perfumes. Ok, as you well know, there was a time before my green life and a time after. Before, I loved Bulgari, Guerlain, Lancome and Chanel. But after I realize they all use synthetic fragrances. Yes, those expensive, amazing perfumes, that used to make my birthdays and Christmases, are not natural at all. Sad news for my husband who just lost his foolproof, all-occasion gifting strategy.

As I had no desire of slabbing chemicals on my skin, I had kind of stopped using perfumes for a while. As you know, many of the natural body care products are fragrace-free. That means without chemical fragrances. But most of the time it also means without any smell whatsoever. I like nice scents. They help lifting my moods. They help with my concentration. They help with my sense of well-being. Blame it on my being european (my husband does) but I couldn’t get used to living in a fragrance-free world. So, first place one natural inclined person turns for fragrance are the essential oils, right?

I have been addicted to essential oils for a very long time (Mountain Rose Herbs is a good source for these, although I buy many of mine from Romania). It must be at least ten years since I left the house without a small bottle of spearmint oil in my bag. I use it against headaches and for concentration help. I used it in college and at work. In my bathroom I always have orange essential oil (or any citrus fruit, for that matter), which I put in the bath water. It makes me happy, I swear. Since birth the eucalyptus oil has helped my daughter deal with colds. These are the three oil that I always have around. But you see, I have never used them as perfume. That was a new concept to me. But I tried. I mixed a carrier oil (almond) with a few drops of essential oils and applied it on my skin, before leaving home. I have to report that unfortunately my mixtures would never be too sophisticated or even moderately satisfying. Essential oils have a strong smell and when I go to buy them, I can never decide which would go well with what. Most seem to smell too unpleasant on their own. I ended up using my homemade tangerine perfume for a while, until I could find a better alternative.

Sure, I did read in magazines about natural perfumes, that cost even more that the ones made by the famous French perfumeries.  I didn’t really want to go there (not before my next birthday at least, which anyway involves a lot of hard work toward husband training).

Well, this weekend I made a great discovery in an unusual place: Borders. The book store. As a matter of fact, I shouldn’t be that surprised because at Borders I was also introduced to Burt’s Bees, a few years ago, when it was not available everywhere. My new discovery is Pacifica perfumes. How did I live without these until now?

These perfumes are made using safe and sustainable raw materials, including natural ingredients and essential oils. They are vegan, free of parabens, propylene glycol, phthalates, lead, and the packaging is recyclable.

I love all that. And something I love even more: they smell like nothing else on the face of earth. Honestly. They smell divine. I bought two solid perfumes for $9 each. They are called Tahitian Gardenia (I picked it up from the shelf and kept it to my nose for an hour. I could not put it back down) and Tuscan Blood Orange (told you about that citrus smell). Sure, there is also a Tibetan Mountain Temple, which I must have. Don’t even care how it smells, although I’m sure it will make me happy.

I finally have a perfume! It doesn’t last very long, but well, one cannot have everything, right? I’m happy. My fragrance-free life is over.

THE NON-PLASTIC BABY

Cotton handmade baby dollIt’s here! Meet baby Rupa.

Still feeling guilty after not buying for my very sensible child a small, cheap toy that she wanted, I went ahead and created a more natural version of the plastic baby out of flannel and organic cotton filling and cotton yarn for clothes.

I considered making a nice Waldorf baby for her, with this pattern from Echoes of a Dream, that I used before. Softie Making is another great web site with ideas for doll making. But I kind of liked this pattern from Martha Stewart, because it seemed suitable for a baby. Well, I didn’t actually use the pattern provided (who’s going to print that?) but I looked at the images and traced my own. Which resulted in a very skinny baby, but it’ll have to do.

I made it in one day, clothes included. A frantic, obsessive day. But it can be done. My other doll creation took about a week. I guess it’s not all that difficult. The actual doll was ready in three hours, but the clothes took longer time to knit. If I really knew what I was doing, I could probably finish the doll in one hour.

I’m happy I did this. And guess who else is very happy: “Mami, it’s my birthday, or it’s just a present?”

And she continues: “Thank you, mami. I don’t want this. Now give me my puppies.”