Artist of the Month: Michelle Sasscer, Babus Toys

IMG_8997The following post is by Michelle Sasscer, owner of Babus Toys, Herban Lifestyle’s April 2014 Artist of the Month.

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Women have traditionally learned their crafts from their mothers and other family elders, and Michelle Sasscer is no exception – her mother taught her how to knit, albeit over the phone, 3,000 miles away, while Michelle was laid up with a broken leg in a 3rd floor flat in San Francisco.  It was very slow going at first, and she timidly moved from basic stitch swatches to washcloths to eventually scarves.  After a multi-year hiatus, she returned to the craft in earnest in 2011, relishing the opportunity to nestle into an easy chair with gorgeous yarns and new patterns.

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But it wasn’t until 2006 that she learned about felting, and when she finally started to experiment with the technique, she was immediately, completely hooked.  Something about the smooth, fuzzy, warm wool texture and apparent magic of all of those stitches melding into one thick solid material, was irresistible.  And not coincidentally, this all came about while she was making toys and decorations for her newborn son, Nicholas (who was nicknamed “The Babus”, in utero, just like his daddy had been).  The moment she saw Nicky’s reaction to his first set of felted wool teething rings, Babus Toys was born, at least in her mind.  Many years later, Michelle has created toys and treasures for babies as well as children of all ages.  Using choice, sustainably produced yarns from Michigan and Peru, as well as an organic line from Australia/US, Michelle makes every piece by her own design and with her own hands, from that original Gnot teething ring to nesting finger puppet sets, to mermaid dolls, even ornaments (once she even made a bride and groom squid couple as a wedding cake topper). Oh, and her mom Ruth is still helping her out, doing yeoman’s work as a supplemental knitter.  Michelle works out of her home in downtown Silver Spring, MD.

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Babus Toys can also be found in Michelle’s Etsy store, on Facebook, and at Eastern Market in Washington DC.logo

Artist of the Month: Soyini George, YiniBini Baby

Booties10BThe following post is by Soyini George, owner of YiniBini Baby, Herban Lifestyle’s March 2014 Artist of the Month.

When Soyini George was a little girl living in Guyana, South America, her mother used to take her to visit her Great Aunt Jean. Aunt Jean was a vibrant conversationalist, often waving her scissors about as she pinned and gathered the fabric to make the most pretty dresses. It was here that Soyini learned about the love of handmade. Aunt Jean’s husband, Uncle Reggie had an award-winning, colorful garden, that all of the bees seemed to fight over. These special memories serve as an inspiration for Soyini’s line, Yinibini Baby, adorable handmade clothing and accessories for little ones.

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The Yinibini Baby collection comprises of dresses, onesies, booties, bibs, burp cloths and more! Pieces are made out of cotton, organic cotton or cotton blended fabrics. Her original illustrations are based off of childhood stories and memories. Soyini went through a rapid growth spurt as a child, and so became much taller than her classmates. This was the inspiration behind the “Too Tall Birdie and Friends” illustration that can be found on onesies and the Organic Reversible Bib.

Too Tall Birdie and Friends

Soyini’s Yinibini Baby collection of organic cotton onesies, organic bibs and booties will be at the Herban Lifestyle store for the month of March. Stop on by to get cuteness for the baby in your life!

yinibini-baby-and-bump-82For more information about Yinibini Baby, visit http://www.yinibinibaby.com.

Herban Lifestyle Store Grand Opening, Feb 8th!

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At the end of November, we moved into a large studio space in the Merrifield neighborhood of Fairfax. The space has a showroom in the front, which we have turned into the Herban Lifestyle Store! To celebrate our new space, we are hosting a Grand Opening on February 8, 2014 from 3:00pm to 6:00pm. We will have food & beverages (including delicious treats from Thunder Pig Confectionary and Momme Meals), samples, product-making demo, discounts and a drawing to win a free DIY kit! For more information, check out our Eventbrite invitation or Facebook Event Page.

At the store, customers can see and sniff our entire line and learn about the various organic and Fair Trade ingredients that go into them. The store also serves as a gathering spot for people to share practical ideas about sustainability, self-sufficiency, creative reuse, and safer products. You are welcome to join events or use hands-on resources at the store, including:

• Workshops where you can learn how to make your own truly natural personal care and household products, as well as other green crafting techniques, including a Couple’s Valentine Craft Night on February 12 and Make Your Own Organic Spa Products on February 19.

• A learning library for those of you who want to make your own bath and body products, plus a variety of USDA Certified Organic and Fair Trade Certified ingredients and sustainable packaging.

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logoWe hope you can join us!

USDA Invites You to Vote for Your Favorite Recipes for Healthy Kids

image copyright Recipes for Healthy Kids finalist South Education Center Alternative

In an effort that would make Jamie Oliver proud, last September, the USDA and First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Recipes for Healthy Kids competition. The goal of this program is to encourage the development of creative, nutritious, and kid-approved recipes that schools can easily incorporate into National School Lunch Program menus.

Entries were accepted from September through December 2010. From among the 340 entries submitted, five were selected in each of following categories: whole grains, dark green and orange vegetables, and dry beans and peas. These finalists will be visited by a team that includes a USDA official, an American Culinary Federation chef, and a school nutrition professional to narrow it down to the three finalists (one from each category) who will participate in a national cook-off event this summer.

You can see the finalists on the Recipes for Health Kids website, check out all the yummy-looking recipes, and vote for your favorite. Voting for the Popular Choice Award closes on May 15.

Team EcoEtsy’s Handmade for Earth Day Auction!

The details have been announced for Team EcoEtsy’s Handmade for Earth Day Silent Auction. The auction, which runs from April 19th to May 3rd, will feature t-shirt bags filled with eco-goodies that the talented Team EcoEtsy members have donated. There are six bags up for auction, each filled with over $100 worth of eco-goodies, representing the following themes: Baby, Health and Beauty, Home, Paper Goods, Fashion and Jewelry.

The proceeds from the auction will be donated to the World Wildlife Fund. For a full list of the items being auctioned and auction details, please visit the Team EcoEtsy website.

The auction will begin on Monday, April 19, 2010 and end on Monday, May 2, 2010. Winners will be announced on Monday, May 3, 2010.

City of Falls Church Holiday Craft Show 12/5-12/6

Please join Herban Lifestyle at the 17th Annual City of Falls Church Holiday Craft Show. This juried show will featured more than 60 crafters on two floors of the Falls Church Community Center. There will be a wonderful selection of unique handmade items and baked goods.

The show will be held on two days: Saturday, December 5th from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 6, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Admission to the craft show is $1 for adults and 50 cents for children 12 and older; admission is free for children under age 12. Children’s activities include a craft corner, face painting, and breakfast with Santa.

Falls Church Community Center
223 Little Falls Street
Falls Church, Virginia
(703) 248-5077

A Couple of Baby Bath Product Recipes

bathAs promised, here are a couple of baby bath product recipes that you can make in your own home!

Oatmeal Isn’t Just for Breakfast Bath:

Put 1 cup of oatmeal in a blender or food processor, and pulverize until it is a fine powder. Place in a muslin bag, or a square of cheesecloth tied with a string or rubber band. Place in baby’s bath water. This is makes a nice everyday skin-soothing bath.

Homemade Baby Wipes:

2 drops tea tree essential oil*
2 drops lavender essential oil*
2 cups distilled water
1 vitamin E capsule

Mix the essential oils in the water in a spray bottle. Cut open the vitamin E capsule and squeeze the contents into the oil/water mixture. Mix well. To use, simply spritz onto a soft cloth (like these biodegradable unmoistened wipes), and use as you would a commercial wipe. Please note: because there are no preservatives in this mixture, keep refrigerated and use within one week. The tea tree oil and lavender are natural anti-bacterials, but it will not keep forever.

* Use organic essential oils, whenever possible. You can find pure essential oils at Whole Foods, or online at stores like Mountain Rose Herbs. Make sure to never use fragrance oils, only pure essential oils in any products that you make for your baby. Fragrance oils can contain up to 200 different ingredients. Common side-affects can include headaches, dizziness, rash, violent coughing, vomiting, skin irritation.

Baby With the Bath Water

BabySetThe following post is by guest blogger, Julia Guarino

It is always good to consider the safety of body care product ingredients, but it is especially as when choosing the right products for your baby. With a baby’s delicate skin, the word “gentle” appeals to many parents, but the process used to make common chemical ingredients more “gentle” in fact produces a byproduct that is a known carcinogen. This byproduct, called 1,4-dioxane, is banned from cosmetics and body products in the European Union, and though not considered cause for concern in small amounts, it is present in an alarming number of baby products meant for daily use; the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found detectible amounts in 32 out of 48 products they tested this year. To avoid 1,4-dioxane, watch for these common ingredients: PEG-100 stearate, sodium laureth sulfate, polyethylene and ceteareth-20.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics also tested the baby products for the presence of Formaldehyde, which is released by some common preservatives like Quaternium-15 over time when they are stored in a container. Formaldehyde is a suspected carcinogen, can be absorbed through the skin, and causes skin reactions in some individuals. This iffy – and frankly pretty creepy – contaminate was found in 23 out of 28 baby products tested for it. Seventeen out of 28 were found to have both Formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane. If you’d like to learn more, you can take a look at the Campaign for Safe Cosmetic’s report, “No More Toxic Tub.

 This may leave you feeling somewhat overwhelmed; after all, if these ingredients are present in almost all of the products you normally buy, how can you avoid exposing your baby – and yourself – to these potentially dangerous ingredients? One excellent resource is the Environmental Working Group’s “Parent’s Buying Guide,” which rates the safety level of products based on the European Union’s cosmetics standards and other published safety data. The database contains thousands of entries, and can help parents pick safe and natural products for themselves, too!

Herban Lifestyle offers a line of truly natural baby products, made from organic and natural ingredients. Come back tomorrow for a couple of recipes for baby products that you can make in your own kitchen!

Infant Massage Makes Babies Happy

42-17251068Ongoing research by Tiffany Field, PhD, of the University of Miami School of Medicine, has shown that massage is effective in reducing stress, depression, anxiety, pain and in boosting the immune system. Field believes that massage accomplishes these various healthful effects by prompting the body to release serotonin and decrease the stress hormone cortisol. When cortisol decreases, stress is reduced and immune cells are stimulated. 

Herban Lifestyle Baby™’s new baby oil is perfect for giving your baby a massage. It is made from organic oil, lightly scented with pure organic essential oils. As one of our customers said, “We used the baby oil on [our baby] James. He was a happy little clam after bath time!”

For more information on the benefits of infant massage and local resources for learning infant, visit the Infant Massage USA website.

And this month, Great Soul Wellness Studio in Baltimore is offering free infant massage classes on Saturdays from 10:00am-11:00am. For more information, please visit their blog.

Note: Portions of this article originally appeared in my other blog, Becoming Your StellarSelf.

My New Product Has Been Named!

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Herban Lifestyle's New Baby Products

Last Friday, my contest to name my new baby oil came to a close. And I promised to announce a winner today. So, congratulations to Jana Bridgman for her winning entry, “Organic Lullaby”! Jana will be receiving a set of the new Herban Lifestyle Baby™ product line, as well as a large Herban Lifestyle™ Gift Set.

Thank you to all of you who entered. I appreciate your creative input in this process! I have to say that it was difficult to choose! 

And a big thanks also goes out to two Jennifers, authors of the  Mom*entum Resources and Adventures in Momland blogs for spreading the word about my contest!