Exciting Ways to Encourage Learning at Home

Now that school has started, we are finding new ways to bring lessons to life at home! We are learning and growing together with a little help from some fantastic companies who make learning engaging, interesting and FUN for everyone!

Teach My Learning Kits

Whether your little one is headed off to preschool or kindergarten, or still at home with Mom or Dad, Teach My Learning Kits help little ones to be academically ready! Screen-free and designed for specific developmental stages, each set in the kit is fully coordinated to encourage matching, repetition and parent engagement… all in 20 minutes a day.

We received the Teach My Toddler Kit for our two year old son, and he has started to master his letters, numbers, shapes and colors with ease using the sets in the kit! We’ve had a blast bonding, playing and learning together with the simple, straightforward lessons in each set! The teaching tools included are fully coordinated to encourage repetition, interaction and make learning fun. According to the website, Teach My Toddler is designed around the concept of matching to encourage pre-reading skills.

The Teach My Toddler set includes 4 Board Books, 4 Full-Size Posters, 5 Foam Puzzles, 50+ Flashcards, Teaching Guide, and a handy Storage Case.

For ages 6 months to 6 years, the Teach My Kits are available nationwide online at Amazon, Walmart, Target, Staples, Bed Bath and Beyond and Teach My.

Edushape Magic Shapes

Let your child’s imagination run wild with Magic Shapes! Small pieces featuring magnetic edges stay together allowing little ones to build, design and create with ease. The platform included in the set makes it like doodling in 3-D! Magic Shapes are fantastic for developing gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and logic & reasoning in little learners, and I love that STEM is being encouraged through play. My kiddos have had so much fun stacking, building and more with this open-ended play set!

What’s neat about Magic Shapes is that they pack up easily for use while traveling or visiting grandma’s house, too!

Little Passports

Have a budding globetrotter at home… or want to instill the love of world travel in your children? It’s easy to introduce your little ones to geography, science, world cultures, the arts and more with the monthly educational subscription service, Little Passports. Bringing these lessons home, Little Passports is simply ingenious, encouraging children to learn about the world around them in a fun and engaging way. My 1st grader loved receiving the adorable suitcase in the mail with her first lesson from the World Edition, and now that she is reading, she has had so much sharing the lessons and activities with her younger brother!

In this subscription, your child will explore the world with new pen pals, Sam & Sofia. The first month, an adorable blue suitcase arrives, packed with everything needed to take off on an exciting adventure, including a passport, wall-sized world map, stickers, photos, activity sheets, and more! A different country is featured each month, with more activities, photos, stickers, souvenirs, and games to pique your child’s interest… and a fun new adventure to look forward to receiving!

4 affordable Little Passports subscriptions are available, depending on your child’s age and interest, including Early Explorers (3-5), World Edition (6-10), USA Edition (7-12) and Science Expeditions (9+).

*Companies generously provided samples and images for this article. All thoughts expressed herein are my own.*

It is back to the busy school season routine, with homework, activities, lunch box packing and dinner planning in full swing! I don’t know about you, but time seems to go quickly at this time of year, and I find myself stretched in so many directions! It is so important that I provide my family with healthy meals, but meal planning can be tough. Luckily, I was recently introduced to Dinnerly, which is perfect for busy families like ours, and it’s the most affordable meal kit on the market!

At only $5 per meal, DINNERLY is half the price of other meal kits, making it particularly attractive to young families who want to cook more at home or who want to try meal kits but find them cost prohibitive. Dinners are quick & simple, with only 5 steps and a maximum of 6 ingredients per recipe. Plus, Dinnerly is paperless, and you simply go to their website to view the recipes that you were sent that week!

We had so much fun trying 3 unique and healthy recipes with Dinnerly during the first week back-to-school… Red Pepper Flatbread, Za’atar Chicken, and the Beef & Broccoli Noodles.

Our favorite was definitely the Za’atar Chicken! Accompanied by a fresh cucumber and tomato salad and toasted bulgur wheat, it was flavorful, tender and healthy! Best part – it only took 30 minutes to make from start to finish! It reminded me of all the delicious Za’atar bread I enjoyed growing up as an expat in Saudi Arabia.

Each week, you choose the menu items you wish to make that week with your family. They have so many interesting choices that it was hard to pick only three! You can view more menu items here: https://dinnerly.com/menu

*Dinnerly generously provided a week’s worth of meals for this article & review. All thoughts expressed herein are my own.*

Back-to-School Lunch Gear Guide

School is in session…. and I don’t know about you, but I need to get more organized than I already am when it comes to prepping lunches! I have found a few exciting reusable items that have been game-changers in our lunch game, and we know you will find them super useful, too!

JOY Deluxe Insulated Lunch Cooler Tote Bag

We adore this reusable lunch cooler that transports your food and beverages in style! This fashionable insulated tote is cleverly designed, from the water-repellant exterior, to the handy hook-and-loop handle closure and exterior storage pocket, to the easy to wipe clean insulated interior, it is ideal for tweens and teens who want to carry a healthy lunch to school but want something more fashion-forward. It is available in a variety of gorgeous color combinations, such as Purple/Lavender/White and Mint/Black/White.

bblüv’s Döse Multi-Purpose Stackable Containers

Pack it up & stack it up! Available on Amazon, Döse Multi-Purpose Stackable Containers are an easy, hassle-free, and mess-free way to bring along cut-up fruits, trail mix, and other healthy snacks to school! It is compact enough to fit anywhere and is also easy to clean and can be sterilized. It’s the perfect solution for snack organization… plus little ones like to help pick their favorite items to place inside. Plus, it even features a funnel cap for easy pouring of juice, milk or water. Stackable and interchangeable, featuring 3 compartments with a large storage capacity of 4oz. Dishwasher safe (top rack) BPA, Phthalate and PVC free.

ZizzyBee Bags®

Get organized as the school season starts… whether you need a bag for art supplies, pencils and pens, crayons and markers, an extra change of clothes, or snacks in your child’s lunch… ZizzyBee Bags® are a perfect fit for anything and everything! Each bag features an easy handle for hanging up on a hook, and are made of breathable, washable mesh. The bags are available in a selection of bright prints, too!

Yumbox

Making packing a lunch for your child easy… and fun to eat! We are simply loving these reusable bento style lunchboxes from Yumbox! Plus, it saves you money by completely eliminating the need for plastic bags, multiple containers, or plastic wrap…making it a breeze to pack a waste free lunch. The lid is leakproof, and the insert can be completely removed to wash it easily. Yumbox is made from food safe materials, and is both BPA-free and phthalate-free. Did we mention how cute they are… and that dip container in the middle is giving us all the heart eyes!

*Companies generously provided samples and images for this article. All thoughts expressed herein are my own.*

18 Healthy Lunchbox & After School Snacks for Kids

Time for a lunchbox makeover as the school year starts! Ditch the junk and sugar-laden snacks, and tuck these healthy items into your child’s lunchbox instead!

1. Slammers Super Food Snacks

Fuel for school! Perfect for lunches and after school sports, Slammers Super Food Snacks were created to be delicious & instant organic fuel for active kids. Packed with superfoods, two of the flavors (Watermelon Kiwi Burst and Pomegranate Grape Crush) contain 7 grams of protein for growing bodies. In addition to these two flavors, Slammers Super Food Snacks offers 3 additional tasty varieties, EPIC (mangoes, bananas, oranges, carrots, Greek yogurt & real vanilla), AWESOME (bananas, blueberries, strawberries, beets, acai, & amaranth) and CHILL’N (bananas, blueberries, butternut squash, Greek yogurt & yumberry). Slammers Snacks can be purchased nationwide at Target, Safeway, Kroger, Costco and Walmart.

2. Rule Breaker Snacks

Rule Breaker Snacks harness the power of beans (yes, beans!) along with oats and other wholesome ingredients to create truly delicious, indulgent and guilt-free goodies. That’s right, Rule Breaker Deep Chocolate Brownies and Chocolate Chunk Blondies are made with chickpeas (they are the first ingredient!), but you’d never know it from the rich delicious flavor and texture. Perfect for anyone looking for a treat they feel better about eating, Rule Breaker snacks contain 3 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and are gluten-free, 100% plant-based (vegan), nut-free and top 8 allergen-free.

3. Banana Wave

Created from one of nature’s most universally-loved fruits, the banana, BANANA WAVE bananamilk is a delicious, creamy and nutrient-filled new option. Derived from an ancient African recipe that has been passed down for generations, BANANA WAVE bananamilk begins with a universally loved fruit that is a staple in most households – bananas. Because BANANA WAVE bananamilk begins with pure banana puree, one serving contains as much potassium as a small banana, 330 mg, and also contains 29 vitamins and minerals and 1200 mg of Omega-3s per serving. BANANA WAVE bananamilk is vegan, all natural, dairy, gluten and GMO-free.

4. Sneaky Chef No-Nut Butter

Sneaky Chef No-Nut Butter is an award-winning peanut-butter alternative made from naturally sweet and “nutty” tasting golden peas (with yes, more veggie protein!), but without a trace of peanuts, tree nuts, seeds, or soy. Available in Creamy and Chocolate (which has more protein and half the sugar of other chocolate spreads!), Sneaky Chef No-Nut Butter is so good everyone will love it allergies or not.

5. Pure Organic Layered Fruit Bars

Pure Organic Layered Fruit Bars, available in Strawberry Banana and Pineapple Passionfruit flavors, are dual-flavored, triple-layered fruit snacks produced in a nut free facility, making them the ideal on-the-go, allergy-friendly snack for kids and families! Compared to other mainstream fruit snack brands that may contain artificial additives and preservatives, Pure Organic takes a cleaner and more transparent approach, using all organic fruit and vegetable juices and purees with no artificial flavors, preservatives, or synthetic colors. Both kids and adults love them!

6. Wicked Crisps

Wicked Crisps, a surprisingly healthful snack with an irresistible taste, are chock full of nutrition from veggies, herbs and spices. A guilt-free treat for taste buds, Wicked Crisps are available in seven delicious flavors like Cheesy Cheese Pizza, Spinach Parmesan, Spring Vegetable Medley, Sweet Potato Soufflé and Red Curry Hummus (our daughter’s fave!), that combine the protein and goodness from vegetables in a crisp that is formulated without GMOs, gluten or non-organic ingredients. Wicked Crisps are deliciously deceptive nutrition!

7. Kalot Superfood

Kalot Superfood offers nutritional nut and seed butters blended with fruits, spices and a custom vitamin blend that provides up to 50% of the Daily Value for a nutrient-rich and tasty treat that can be seamlessly incorporated into hectic routines to keep bodies full, fueled and healthy. Kalot Superfood is available in nine delicious varieties including Almond Butter blends: Blueberry Cinnamon Walnut; Cherry Vanilla; Dark Chocolate Coconut; Espresso Hazelnut; Chia Cashew Butter Blends: Blueberry Vanilla; White Chocolate Strawberry; Chocolate Chip and Sunflower Seed Butter Blends: Cinnamon Apple; Chocolate Cherry.

8. HEROFUEL

Need a quick, protein-packed snack for your child’s after school sports game or activity? HEROFUEL has 10g of protein, only 6-8g sugar, the right amount of fiber and carbs for kids playing sports, or just being active! It’s the first and only sports bar made specifically for kids! Kids love the taste, parents love the nutrition. Available in kid-sized portions in two delicious flavors, Chocolate Chip Brownie and Cookies & Cream.

9. Nature’s Crush

Nature’s Crush Microwave Popcorn is a revolutionary new all-natural microwave popcorn. Different because it uses real herbs and spices, not artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, to create a gourmet popcorn experience. Nature’s Crush is whole grain, gluten-free, vegan and non-GMO. Perfect for snacks, lunchboxes and parties, Nature’s Crush fills the whole house with the aroma of delicious goodness. Nature’s Crush microwave popcorn is making microwave popcorn a pantry must-have once again.

10. Cherryvale Farms

Cherryvale Farms is a pioneer in 100% plant-based baking and a family business that drew inspiration from their own small farm in Santa Cruz, California to create delicious baking mixes everyone can enjoy at home. All Cherryvale Farms baking mix products are 100% plant-based, egg-free, dairy-free, nut-free and free from preservatives and artificial colors and flavors, making them an excellent option for those managing food allergies or intolerances. New Cherryvale Farms Instant Indulgence Individual Mug Cakes are perfect for middle or high school lunchboxes – or for Mom or Dad to keep in their drawer at work for a sweet treat!

11. Ceres’ Smoothie to Go

Ceres’ Smoothie to Go pack the heavenly taste of perfectly ripe, organic fruit into a healthy, sippable snack that is filled with the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients your body craves without any fillers, GMOs or added sugars. Packed at the peak of freshness to preserve the pure, crisp taste of exotic real fruit, Smoothies to Go are the ideal way for your littles to get their “five-a-day” recommended servings of fruits and 100% of daily Vitamin C. Each smoothie contains small chunks of luscious real fruit. Available in three mouthwatering flavors, Mango, Tropical with Guava, Mango and Passionfruit, or Apple Berry blends. Naturally vegan and gluten-free.

12. MadeGood Snacks

My son’s favorite… especially the Strawberry Granola Minis! These healthy, delicious granola-based snacks are made in a dedicated facility free from the eight common allergens: peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, dairy, egg, soy, sesame, fish and shellfish. MadeGood snacks are also organic, gluten-free and non-GMO project verified, making them the perfect school-safe snack. Choose from a variety of yummy, pint-sized snacks perfect for little ones, including Soft Baked Cookies, Crispy Light Granola, Granola Bars, Granola Minis (found at Costco!) and Crispy Squares.

13. Tree Top Clear Applesauce Pouches

Elevate kids’ back-to-school lunch game with Tree Top clear applesauce pouches! Tree Top’s new line-up of transparent pouches includes seven healthy, on-the-go fruit options. Yummy varieties include Apple, Mango, Cinnamon, Strawberry, Mixed Berry, Tropical, and my favorite, Organic. Along with being delicious, Tree Top’s pouches are also healthy: they are made with 100% American apples, and have no high fructose corn syrup or artificial flavors and colors. With each pouch at 40-60 calories, parents can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing their kids aren’t filling up on empty calories.

14. JUNKLESS Chewy Granola Bars

Seeking a snack option that your kiddos will love to find tucked in their lunchbox? JUNKLESS Chewy Granola Bars are family-friendly, better-for-you snacks that are minimally processed, contain no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, are Non-GMO Project Verified, and contain 6 grams of sugar or lower. No junk, and they taste good! The four flavors include Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, 100% REAL Strawberries and Cinnamon Roll. JUNKLESS Chewy Granola Bars are available nationally on Amazon and in select grocery stores around the country.

15. Popcornopolis Nearly Naked Popcorn

When you want to provide kids of all ages with a healthy snack they are sure to love, Nearly Naked Popcorn is a sure thing! This healthy snack contains nothing more than freshly popped American-grown gourmet popcorn tossed in a touch of coconut oil and a sprinkle of salt. One cup of Nearly Naked popcorn contains just 33 calories! This whole grain, gluten free snack is available in .55oz snack size bags that are ideal for lunch boxes, class snacks, field trips, road trips, movie nights, and more.

16. TahiniBAR

New from Absolutely Gluten Free, TahiniBAR is a grab-and-go sesame seed snack that weighs in at only 100 calories! Like tahini and its decadent dessert cousin, halvah, the energy bars are made from all-natural roasted sesame seeds. Sesame seeds help boost energy levels and are a good source of vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, Calcium, Iron, Zinc and potassium. Much lower in calories than many other bars, this 100% gluten-free treat is available in three delectable varieties, including Cocoa Nibs, Pistachio, and Vanilla, and sold in packs of 7 bars (4.4 oz.). All varieties are certified OU Kosher and dairy-free.

17. NurturMe Organic Ancient Grains Power Blends

These superfruit, veggie and ancient grain meal pouches give little ones a nutrient-boosting tropical snack! Available in 4 yummy varieties, their Pear + Quinoa + Amaranth + Spinach and Strawberry + Banana + Amaranth pouches are my son’s favorite! Easy to tuck in your child’s lunchbox at daycare or preschool, they provide a no-mess option for little hands. Made with no gluten, soy, dairy or egg. Non-GMO.

18. NurturMe Ancient Grain Cookies

Tummy-friendly and good for you, NurturMe has combined 4 nutrient-packed ancient grains to create the perfect organic and gluten-free cookie for little ones! Made with quinoa, amaranth, millet and sorghum, the cookies do not contain dairy, soy or egg. They are available in two delicious flavors, Cocoa & Honey, and their cute shapes promote learning & play! (yes, we think it’s ok to play with your food!) Plus, they are also a complete and balanced protein with all 9 essential amino acids and immune-boosting antioxidants. Non-GMO.

*Companies generously provided samples and images for this article. All thoughts expressed herein are my own.*

Looking for an alternative to tacos on Taco Tuesday? Look no further than this flavorful tortilla soup! Filled with a variety of healthy vegetables, such as avocado, onions and tomatoes, this soup is one of our favorites! You can even make the broth ahead of time and store in the refrigerator for the next night’s meal!

Tiny Green Mom’s Tortilla Soup

Ingredients

1/2 yellow onion, finely diced

1 garlic clove, minced

2-3 ripe organic tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped

2 T. extra virgin olive oil

1 carton organic chicken stock (1 quart)

1 can organic tomato sauce

1-2 T. dill

1-2 jalapeno peppers

4 Fresh tortillas

1-2 avocados, cubed

Organic sour cream (1 T. per bowl served)

Organic finely shredded Monterey Jack Cheese, approximately 1/2 cup

Freshly ground pepper and salt, to taste

Preparation

Finely dice the onion and set aside. Finely chop the tomatoes and set aside. Mince garlic and set aside.

Add olive oil to a large saucepan and heat over medium to medium-high heat. Add onions, tomatoes, and garlic; cook until transparent and soft.

Add chicken stock and dill; bring to a boil. As soon as it starts to boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice the jalapeno peppers in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Be very careful not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth while handling the pepper! Set aside.

Cut the tortillas into thin strips and set aside.

Heat 1 T. extra virgin olive oil in small skillet on medium heat and when hot, place the jalapeno peppers into the oil. Turn after 1 minute. After one more minute, place the peppers on a paper towel on a separate plate to drain.

Next, cook the tortilla strips in the hot skillet until light brown. It is easiest to place in a layer, cooking only a few at a time.  Set on paper towel on a separate plate.

To serve, divide and place the cubed avocado, monterey jack cheese, jalapeno pepper slices, organic sour cream and tortilla strips into 4 bowls. Pour the broth over the top to slightly cover the ingredients in the bowl. Garnish with freshly ground black pepper and salt, to taste.

Please do not reprint recipe without permission.

 

 

 

 

I love quiche. I mean, really love it! So, I whipped up this airy, crustless version that showcases zucchini and zucchini squash beautifully! This recipe will make 2 quiche which freeze well, if needed.

Tiny Green Mom’s Crustless Quiche

Ingredients

10 cage-free eggs
1 cup organic Half & Half creamer (or non-dairy creamer can be substituted)
1 cup organic mozzarella cheese
1 zucchini, peeled & diced
1 zucchini squash, peeled & diced
1 tsp. organic dill
Freshly ground black pepper and salt, to taste

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Peel and dice zucchini and zucchini squash. Set aside.

In separate bowl, crack open the eggs and beat until well mixed. Add in the Half & Half creamer and cheese, and combine. Stir in the dill, pepper and salt.

Divide the vegetables evenly between two pie plates. Pour the egg, cream and cheese mixture over the vegetables, again, dividing evenly. Sprinkle more cracker pepper, salt, and dill on the top, if desired.

Place the two pie plates in the oven, and bake for 30 minutes. The quiche will be done when a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Serve & enjoy!

Makes 2 quiche.

Do not reprint recipe without permission.

Today is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day! Yes, there really is a day for everything! One of our favorite things to make are soft & chewy chocolate chip cookies, and the recipe below has been adjusted through the years to make the very BEST chocolate chip cookies. I even cut 1/2 cup of sugar out of the recipe to lower the sugar content. The key to the perfect cookies is to bake them until they are almost done, only slightly brown on the bottom. When you take them out of the oven, they will continue to bake a bit longer as they cool down on the baking sheet. In this recipe, 7 minutes in our oven is the ideal timing.

My husband loves these cookies… without the chocolate chips! So I always bake a tray without the chocolate chips first, and then add in the chocolate chips to the rest of the batter. I think the base for these cookies could be made with other delicious ingredients, such as macadamia nuts, pecans, raisins, or chocolate chunks.

Tiny Green Mom’s BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

2 sticks of organic, grass-fed butter, softened

3/4 cup Organic Sugar in the Raw

3/4 cup organic brown sugar

1 tsp. organic vanilla extract

2 cage-free eggs

2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal, ground to a fine powder

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2 1/2 cups King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour

1/2 cup frozen chocolate chips (or more, if you like)

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Place two cups of oatmeal in a food processor or blender, and ground to a fine powder. We use our Ninja Blender on the Flour/Mill setting, and it works very well. Set aside.

In large mixer, cream the butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla extract together. Add in the oatmeal and mix well. Add in the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix well. Slowly add in the flour 1/2 cup at a time until and continue mixing until batter is well blended.

If adding chocolate chips or other ingredients, stir them in by hand. I find using frozen chocolate chips makes the chips stay together well when baking.

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 6-8 minutes, or until slightly brown on the bottom of the cookies. In our oven, 7 minutes is the magic number for the ideal cookie.

Remove and let cool…. or don’t! Why not enjoy a warm cookie right out of the oven! Yum!

Do not reprint recipe without permission.

 

Have you ever wanted one thing – just one thing – more than anything else in the world? A toy? A new bike? A computer game? Did you imagine that this one possession would make you incredibly happy – forever? For Benji that one thing is an enormous orange kite. In BENJI AND THE GIANT KITE (Clavis Publishing; August 2018), bestselling author Alan C. Fox tells the enchanting story of a young boy who learns that possessing something is not quite as meaningful as letting it go.

In His Illustrated Children’s Book, BENJI AND THE GIANT KITE, Bestselling Author Alan C. Fox Focuses On Perseverence, Dreams, and Letting Go

BENJI AND THE GIANT KITE, with illustrations by Eefje Jujil, is the second in Alan Fox’s series of picture books. The first, BENJI AND THE 24 POUND BANANA SQUASH, was named a notable children’s book of 2017 by Booklist magazine and has become a much-loved story for youngsters and parents alike.

Alan Fox explains that like all of his books, “BENJI AND THE GIANT KITE is based on a real-life incident. This one happened when I was a child. I decided to tell the story, because I wanted to share the sense of achievement I felt by working hard to obtain something I really loved. But once I saw the kite flying at the beach, I wanted to let it go. My dream had been accomplished. It was time move on to another, new experience. You must always keep going to fulfill your dreams and aspirations.”

Would you like to win a copy of BENJI AND THE GIANT KITE for your family? From August 1st – August 5th, 2018 you can enter to win daily on Tiny Green Mom!

First, leave a comment below to let us know why you would love to win the BENJI AND THE GIANT KITE Giveaway!

To obtain extra entries:

Follow @TinyGreenMom on Instagram. This is only valid for one entry.

Like this post on Instagram @TinyGreenMom. This is only valid for one entry.

Follow @TinyGreenMom on Twitter. This is only valid for one entry.

Leave a comment on another Tiny Green Mom post. Leave a comment below with the name of the post you commented on. This is only valid for one entry.

The BENJI AND THE GIANT KITE Giveaway ends on August 5th, 2018 and is open to the US only. Please make sure to leave a separate comment for every each and every entry that you make so that they will count for you!

Thank you! We can’t wait to announce the winner of this giveaway!

Updating your baby’s nursery to a more timeless, neutral space for your little one, or looking for more classic pieces that could work for more than one child? We have compiled some tips on creating an eco-friendly, modern space that will grow with your child that won’t break the bank!

Choose materials carefully. For the walls, opt for a child safe, enviromentally-safe, no or low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint, such as Real Milk Paint. Paint is one of the top indoor air pollutants, and VOC’s are the toxins that off-gas into the air upon application. Most major paint manufacturers now make a no or low-VOC line of paint with a wide choice of colors, so when picking out paint, read labels carefully or ask a store associate for assistance.

We all know that the color in a space can greatly affect our mood… and our children’s mood! For young children, opt for a color scheme that promotes a healthy night’s sleep & a calm, nurturing atmosphere for play. A neutral color can help to stabilize and ground, while green is an ideal color for any space. Green is neither hot nor cool & symbolizes growth & new beginnings. Use yellow sparingly, or not at all, as yellow is the hardest color for your eye to break down.

In addition to paint, carpet is another major indoor air pollutant, so instead look for hardwood, bamboo, cork, rubber or tile options for bedroom flooring. Adding an area rug made from natural fibers adds the needed warmth you want in a bedroom, plus offers a sound deadening quality to help sound from bouncing off the floor & walls. Wool is strongly suggested as it is a self-extinguishing fiber, an added bonus. We love this ABC Classic Rug from Peurobaby, as it is ethically made from 100% raw materials and non-toxic dyes. It is also washable, which comes in handy with little ones! It is extremely lightweight and easy to pick up and move, with anti-slip underlay to ensure safety.

When adding furniture pieces to your child’s room, such as dressers or chairs, look for unfinished wood furniture, and then stain/paint with a NO VOC stain or paint. This will limit any off-gassing of toxins that a finished piece of new furniture would emit into the space. Another eco-friendly choice is to choose a recycled or upcycled item from a family member or friend. For a fun, timeless piece that blends in seamlessly with any space, the Wooden Toddler Slide from Peurobaby is perfect for indoor use, and encourages exercise, motor skills and independence! Available in a wide variety of colors, the slide is made from molded wood and finished with water-dilutable finish, free of methylpyrrolidone and free of phthalate plasticizers.

For additional play items that grow with your child, choose items that delight their imagination and encourage independent play, from a wooden kitchen to an adorable Chalkboard Ride-On Wagon! This little wagon is a favorite with my children… my now 6 year old likes to decorate it with her artwork, and my little guy likes to pull his wooden cars around in it! It wipes clean easily, too!

When choosing new linens and bedding for a neutral space, think cool colors such as blues, greens, and lavender to calm and soothe, rather than jarring, bright colors! Organic cotton blankets, sheets and pillows give your child a soft, safe place to snuggle into at night, and if possible, opt for Naturepedic, a company that makes GOTS certified organic cotton sheets, pillows, and more… all allergen-friendly, as well! We also adore Aden + Anais, who make the softest, breathable, 100% cotton muslin blankets, changing pad covers, and sleep sacks.

It can be fairly simple to makeover your child’s space to create a delightful, neutral space in which to sleep and play! When in doubt, opt for eco-friendly, natural, and classics that grow with your child.

*Peurobaby provided a sample & images for this article. All thoughts expressed herein are my own.*

Fun and festive, these delicious 4th of July red, white and blue berry cake parfaits will be the stars of the dessert table! With berries in season right now, this is a winning combination!

This recipe uses Miss Jones Organic Vanilla Cake Mix and Miss Jones Organic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting, plus lots of fresh berries, which makes for easy baking, assembling and cleaning.

We love that all of Miss Jones’ mixes and frostings are vegan-friendly, so everyone can enjoy this festive, patriotic dessert! Plus, they are perfectly portioned and ready to serve!

For this recipe, Miss Jones’ used parfait glasses & drinking glasses, using the rim of the glass to cut out circles from a sheet cake, but you can also use crumbled cake to fill mason jars for a dessert on-the-go if you are spending the day at a picnic or someone else’s home.

Red, White and Blue Berries and Cream Cake Parfaits

Ingredients

1 box Miss Jones Organic Vanilla Cake Mix
1 jars Miss Jones Organic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
3 eggs (“Mom” prefers cage-free eggs)
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted (“Mom” prefers organic)
6 oz raspberries
6 oz blueberries
6 oz blackberries

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13 in pan with parchment paper and spray with oil.

In a large bowl, mix together cake mix, eggs, butter and milk together until combined.

Pour batter in prepared pan and bake for 35-45 minutes. Cool completely.

Use the rim of the glass to cut circles out of the sheet cake. Push the cake circle to the bottom of the glass. If it’s too tight, use a knife to trim a little around the edges.

Fill piping bag with frosting. Pipe some frosting over the cake layer and add some berries. Place another cake circle on top and layer with frosting and berries. Keep layering until you reach the top of the glass.

Serve and enjoy!

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 35-45 minutes
Total Time: 50-65 minutes

*Recipe and image courtesy of Miss Jones Baking Co.*