The problem with Australian made baby formula…

I’m back after a long hiatus. Between planning a wedding and an unexpectedly nasty sinus infection, life just seems to have gotten away from me. But here I am, rising from my cyber slumber to write potentially my most dramatic post yet – because Australian babies are in danger.

Baby formula

All You Need is LLUF is all about making consumer decisions that promote the fair treatment of workers, because sadly there are many countries where governments are not prepared to protect their people from exploitation (and of course many companies happy to capitalise on this situation). And in a shocking display of what happens when a government does not sufficiently regulate it’s markets to protect the people, in 2008 contaminated baby formula killed six babies in the People’s Republic of China and put another 54,000 in hospital.

Ever since then Chinese nationals have been looking outside their own country for formula. This has resulted in such massive shortages in the UK and Hong Kong that it has been made a criminal offence to send baby formula out of these countries in bulk. And now it is resulting in similar shortages here in Australia.

So you see, the problem with Australian made baby formula is that there isn’t any left on Australian shelves.

Mothers and fathers all over our country are tearing out there hair trying to get access to food for their small children. Horror stories abound – about driving all over town, reaching out on social media to other families about where certain brands may be in stock, or for short-term loans. I mean seriously – people are borrowing half a tin of baby formula because they cannot get what they need to feed their children.

Caroline Raj, of the baby and toddler blog Mamma Raj, first reported on this crisis just over a week ago after having to buy her little munchkin a different formula type because it was all she could find. Since then she has been inundated with messages from other mothers in the same situation. After realising how many babies are being put at risk, Caroline decided to set up a petition, asking the Australian Government to follow suit with other countries, putting in place safeguards to ensure the food security of Australian babies is protected. You can read and sign Caroline’s petition on change.org or read about other things you can do to help here.

5 alternatives to giving chocolate this Easter

I’m no health nut. And I love chocolate as much as the next overworked, slightly hormonal woman who occassional eats her feelings. But I feel like there are so many more sweet treats in everyday life than there ever where when I was a kid. Maybe that’s just because my Mum doesn’t tell me what to eat anymore, I don’t know. But I don know that there are alternatives out there to giving chocolate:

1) Easter themed books

Like these appropriately themed second hand books collected from local op-shops and second hand book stores.

bunny books

2) Real eggs

Healthy and delicous, and pretty as well. Die your egg shells with food die, or for something more adventurous, try coloured devilled eggs.

Colored Eggs in Easter Basket - Free High Resolution Photo

3) A real chicken or a real bunny

There are plenty of homeless bunnies and chickens available for adoption through the RSPCA. Just remember that an Easter bunny, just like a Christmas puppy, is a lifetime decision. Be a responsible pet owner.

Rabbit

4) Toys

If real bunnies aren’t your bag perhaps you should consider a bag of toy bunnies, like this cute as a button carrot full of fairtrade bunnies.

bunnies

5) Hours of fun

Or sit down with the people you love, no matter what age they are and do some easter crafting. Be inspired by these 40 great Easter craft ideas.

craft bunny

Have a happy (& quiet) weekend with this great game for kids…

This weekend marks the end of National Seaweek. It is also a long weekend in four states which means that a significant proportion of the nation will be tearing it’s hair out trying to keep small children occupied. Unless of course they read this blog, because I am about to share one of my favourite childhood games, that is not only appropriately themed, but also super easy to throw together with things you’ll already have (probably).

Step 1 – take your child for a walk to find the perfect stick. You might wonder what the perfect stick looks like, and I couldn’t tell you, but I can guarantee your child will know it when they see it.

Step 2 – turn your perfect stick into the perfect fishing rod. This involves cutting a piece of string to the desired length, tying a magnet to one end, and then fastening the other to the end of the stick.

Step 3 – ensure there are plenty of fish in the sea. There are multiple options creating fish. Fabric off cuts, paper, old cereal boxes. Whatever you have lying around. Noting that being able to decorate the fish keeps your child occupied for longer, so materials need to be adapted for age and skill level. See some examples of fish below.

go fish

Step 4 – release your fish into the wild. I personally used to love throwing my fish into the stairwell and then fishing through the railing. But if you’d like to keep it a bit more contained (or don’t own a stairwell, of course) then a big blue sheet or an empty paddling pool also works a charm.

The biggest advantage to this game is that putting the ‘caught’ fish in a bucket is a natural extension. Less clean up is always a big plus, as is following up a hard day of fishing with a big serve of fish and chips 🙂

Happy long weekend everyone.

5 things in your kitchen you really need to stop throwing away…

Coffee cubes

1. Unused coffee

Got leftovers at the bottom of your percolator or plunger? Not a problem!

We keep a jar of leftovers in the fridge for iced coffees. But if you don’t go through caffeine, glorious caffeine, as quickly as we do then pour into your ice cube tray and freeze. Then you can add them to your iced coffees (and espresso martinis!!) to get extra chill without watering down your drink.

Be sure to transfer your coffee cubes to an airtight container or ziplock bag once frozen though. Noone likes that freezer taster in their beverage!

Dish brush 1

2. Old dish brushes

When your dish brush gets a little bent and dirty, don’t throw it away. These are great for cleaning the shower, or anywhere else you might ordinarily use a traditional scrubbing brush.

I love that the handle allows you some extra distance from some of life’s more unpleasant cleaning jobs – like this little doosey in our backyard.

Dish brush 2

3. Empty glass jars

Why pay big money for BPA free lunchboxes when you have glass jars in the house?

Not only do my old honey jars hold in a cold soup for transport better than any airtight sealed plastic number I’ve ever had, but these old coffee jars are the perfect size for packing salads – seen here with a quinoa and cranberry salad (yum!!).

See this article for a great guide on how to pack the perfect salad in a jar.

Salad Jar 3

4. Rubber bands

You know those little purple things that come around every bunch of herbs you buy?

These puppies are actually suprisingly useful for repairing broken zips.

Rubber bands

5. Orange bags:

Ok, so now I’m really stretching. But if you have no better option your mesh citrus bags can be used in the laundry as a wash bag for your delicates. Or things you need to keep together: socks, bikinis, lego (no kidding – I saw someone wash their lego in the machine Pinterest!!).

Hooray for more money, and less landfill. Have a great week guys.

DIY dinosaur – stencils and directions for cooling up girls (and boys) clothing.

We know quite a lot of babies that are due in January. Some are little sisters to girls that were born in March last year, so they will be inundated with hand-me-downs; but others are first babies, making clothes a very appropriate gift. After hours of trawling through baby clothing sites (local and fairtrade, of course) I finally lost it.

Why – in the name of all that is civilised –  if baby clothes must be sold on line through seperate ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ pages, do the boys pages have to contain all the cool stuff?

Boys get trains, firetrucks, dinosaurs, spaceships. Do you know what little girls get?

%$#@ing butterflies.

Now I am not saying that girls should never be allowed to wear butterflies, and I think ruffled diaper covers are as cute as the next person does. But wouldn’t it be nice if our girls were encouraged from the day they are born to believe that being feminine is not all about lacey pants and fostering a love of quiet, safe, pretty things?

A simple way around this would have been to buy some ‘boys’ clothes for the anticipated girls – leaving it to their parents to team them with pink leggings or little headbands if they were concerned about having to explain to every new person they meet that “no, she’s a girl”.

But like I said – I lost it.

So instead I bought pink and purple organic cotton onsies from Willy Wagtail (an Australian made kids clothing line) and a jar of Permaset textile paint (also Australian made) and set to work to make some very cool onsies of my own.

Dinosaur_cut

First I drew a rocket, a pirate hat, and a dinosaur – frankly, 3 of the coolest things on earth – and cut them out to create a stencil.

After I had my little stencils, I placed an old diary inside the onsie to stop any paint seeping through, held the stencil over the front of the onsie and got to painting.

Dinosaur_paint

Now you might like to do something fancy – screen print, or whatever – but I just used a paintbrush I’ve had since highschool to brush the paint around. Can’t say I’m too disappointed with the results.

Onsies

Just in case you wanted to make your own onsies I have included an image of my stencils for you. Feel free to copy them, cut them up, and paint them onto the clothing of any child who likes cool things. Regardless of their gender.

Stencils

Presentation is everything

I had promised myself I wouldn’t post about second-hand books (my one true love) for a while given my recent post on the great book swap but I was in the op-shop (again) today, and I overheard the Salvo’s turning away a box of books because they just can’t move them out fast enough. I hate to think of those books rotting in landfill and the family that Salvo’s can’t help because they can’t sell the books they have in stock. But I understand that many people prefer to watch movies, listen to music, and play on their phones than curl up with a good book, and that even many readers have converted entirely to eBooks. So what would most people do with a second hand book anyway?

Well, thanks to Pinterest and an old encyclopedia I picked up this arvo in just one episode of House of Cards I can tell you they can make them in to super-cute bows to wrap pending birthday presents with!! And if I can do it, you know anyone can. No hilarious ‘nailed it’ pictures here.

The classic bow

1. The easiest of all the bows to make, for the classic bow you need to start with 2 pieces of paper that look like glasses:

Classic Bow 1

2) Fold the ends of each into the middle like so:

Classic Bow 2

3) Put one on top of the other and wrap a skinny slip of paper around them to hold together. Done.

Classic Bow 3

 

The star-of-wonder bow:

1) Possibly the most common style in newsagents and dollar-shops these days, the star-of-wonder bow is both labour and sticky tape intensive when compared with the classic bow. First cut out 3 strips of paper, 3 strips of slightly shorter paper, 2 strips that are slightly shorter again, and one more shorter strip – ensuring that the difference between each size is the same:

SOW Bow 1

2:) Fold the ends of each strip around and secure to the back of the strip:

SOW Bow 2

3) Arrange on top of each other with the larger strips at the bottom. Voila:

SOW Bow 3

The wiggly worm bow:

1) This one only works for waxier papers, but I was suprised to see that it actually really works. Cut a sheet of paper into strips, leaving approx. 2cms at the bottom uncut. Then use the edge of your scissors to curl the strips just as you would curling ribbon:

WW Bow 1

2) Fold along the bottom so that the curls are closer together:

WW Bow 2

3) Once you have reached optimum curl-density, attach:

WW Bow 3

A-door-able: stay warm with this super easy, eco-friendly DIY project

Over the last two weeks I have talked about staying warm with less (using the Bogan Heat Pack, or BHP) and with the amazing Tasmanian made Mongrel Socks. Moving on to the next part of the LLUF philosophy (less; local; used; fair), I want to talk about how you can stay warm using second hand clothing. Not to wear – so don’t freak out if you are a person who prefers to avoid second-hand clothing – but to sew into a super cheap door snake…

The advantages of making your own door snakes from second hand clothing or material are many and include:

  • You can choose a material that matches your décor, as opposed to choosing between the bright red and the brown striped options at the supermarket.
  • They are very easy to sew – a good way to practice your skills.
  • In the words of Napoleon Dynamite ‘girls love guys with great skills’. That’s right men. Sewing your own door snake will make you more attractive to women.
  • You are can choose to use all recycled and/or biodegradable materials, reducing your impact on the planet.
  • You can save your wallet too, by drastically reducing your heating bills.

Oh the list goes on.

I personally, struggle to cut up second hand clothing that isn’t either ruined or truly hideous. I prefer to wear them. And if you are so inclined, I would encourage you to shop-up at your local Vinnies/Salvos/whatever. I have bought some awesome jumpers, jackets and cardis from various op-shops and my star winter-find has been a bright pink snow suit with matching hat which I intend to give a run in the mountains this weekend. Too. Much. Fun.

So I have chosen an old shirt of Mr LLUFs that is well beyond saving to make into my door snake. If you are choosing an item to destroy I would probably recommend using pants or dresses – for the length – and avoiding stretchy materials because they are harder to sew with. This second tip applies if you have decided to use new material as well.

doorsnake2

As you can see, I have decided to stuff my doorsnake with plastic bags lying around the house, but for best results I suggest you use a grain such as rice or wheat. See instructions below:

how to sew a doorsnake

P.S – This is my first time putting together sewing instructions so let me know if they don’t make sense and I shall revise accordingly :-S

The BHP – the weirdest trick for staying warm this winter

warm

My first winter in Canberra I cried in public three times because I just didn’t want to be that cold anymore. After four years here I still desperately long for the mild winters of my beloved Brisbane, but I’ve stopped crying. Needless to say, the subject of staying warm is close to my heart, so now that we are in the middle of winter I thought I’d do a series of articles to help you through the worst of it using each element of the LLUF mantra (less, local, used, fair) – starting with less.

Now I don’t usually associate winter with less. I associate winter with more clothing, more emotional breakdowns, and as I outlined in the ‘No Sweat’ article, more food and a whole lot more red wine. However, one sneaky trick, imparted to me by my first housemate and childhood friend (love you babe), allows you some extra toasty warmth by repurposing things you are almost guaranteed to have around the house. I call it the bogan heat pack or BHP.

The BHP requires three things. A wet tea towel, a plastic bag, and a microwave. Just hear me out.

  • Firstly, fold the wet tea towel – and I mean saturated – to the desired size, keeping in mind that the more times it is folded the less of you it will cover, but the longer it will stay warm (I prefer to fold it twice), and place inside plastic bag. Fold plastic bag around tea towel.
  • Secondly. Place the plastic bag inside the microwave with the opening to the plastic bag on top. This will reduce any water running out onto the microwave plate or onto you when you pull it out.
  • Microwave for 1-2 minutes. Be super careful when removing from the microwave as this baby will be very, very hot. This is no sweet and simple store bought wheat bag we are talking about.
  • Finally, wrap it up in another tea towel – preferably one of the fluffy ones for a bit of added luxury – and cuddle/place on your cold or aching body part.
  • You might also like to grab your laptop and start researching how to change your name to Shazza -your call.

The BHP has many advantages over the traditional hot water bottle or heat pack, as it not only doesn’t need to be stored anywhere, does not get lost down the back of the cupboard during summer, and costs nothing.

As long as you heed the very, very hot warning, you can’t go wrong with the BHP.

The best kids movies with an environmental theme

Need some inspiration to by less/used? Try:

The Lorax (2012) – ∗∗∗∗∗

I love this movie. Based on a book by the fabulous Dr Suess and beautifully animated this movie tells the story of a young man who is so busy chasing profit that he doesn’t realise the consequences of thoughtlessly using up the worlds natural resources. It points some very cute fun at our consumeristic society with my favourite moment where Ted’s mother show’s him all the buttons on the remote for their new tree, the Oak-a-matic – ‘summer, winter, autumn and… disco!!!

It also goes against Cartoon Hollywood’s standard stereotypes, with a fat old lady being instrumental in saving the day. But the most important message this movie has to impart is to empower people to take action for the things they believe in:

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.’ – Dr Suess, The Lorax

 

Wall-E (2008) – ∗∗∗

Set thousands of years in the future when humans are living in a giant shopping mall in space and the only thing on Earth is Wall-E, a somewhat romantic robot who’s directive is to compact the disgusting piles of rubbish that cover the entire Earth. Then EVE arrives , a very career oriented lady-bot who looks like a flying tampon and has an inbuilt arsenal which she is not afraid to use. Wall-E is instantly smitten.

EVE’s directive is to scan the Earth for any signs of plant-life and to return it to the mothership, signalling that Earth is ready for recolonisation. When EVE and her new shadow Wall-E arrive at the flying shopping mall hilarity ensues as their actions cause humans to slowly realise that there is more to life than social media and junk food, and that although saving the Earth may be hard work, it’s totally worth it.

 

Happy Feet (2006) – ∗∗∗∗

This is a tale that warns of the dangers of both trash and resource depletion in a much more present context. Mumbo is a penguin who is born dancing into a conservative religious species who do not approve. When Mumbo refuses to repent for his toe-tapping ways he is banished. His subsequent adventures lead him to believe that ‘aliens’ (humans) are the cause of a major food shortage and the near death of his friend Lovelace who’s magical necklace (the plastic loops from a six-pack of cans) begins to choke him.

Enraged by the thoughtless destruction that has been visited upon the Antarctic, Mumbo swims all the way to the US to try and educate people about the consequences of their actions. Funny, cute and incorporating some great mash-up musical numbers, this movie has the added bonus of the message that it doesn’t matter how much of a freak people think you are -you can still change the world.

 

Pocahontas – ∗∗∗∗

Less of a cautionary tale, and more a reminder of just how awesome our natural environment is. The main character is not white, which is a refreshing change, and what’s more is a kick-ass heroine who is not afraid of love, but is careful not to trust her heart to the wrong person. A great role model for little girls everywhere. Although horribly historically inaccurate the most powerful message of this movie is wrapped up in its most famous song – Colours of the Wind: ‘You can own this Earth and still, all you’ll own is earth until you can paint with all the colours of the wind’ (or just generally learn to appreciate nature).

 

Now I recognise the irony in suggesting you consume a movie to inspire you to consume less, so of course I encourage you to source these movies second hand, or buy digital copies wherever possible.

Saving the world one staple at a time…

 

I like to be environmentally responsible whenever I can, and when I heard the internet rumour that if every office worker in the UK alone used one less staple per day 120,000kg of steel would be saved every year, I thought – that’s great, I look forward to saving the world one staple at a time.

All the feel-good eco-stores have paperless staplers available which, apart from having dreadful reviews where more than 4 sheets of paper are concerned, are also made in China. I enquired with one of these stores, who were very prompt in responding, but unfortunately were unable to confirm that the people who manufacture these stapleless staplers are paid a fair wage, and allowed to do so under safe conditions.

Unable to identify any Australian or fair-trade alternative, I started to wonder if you could get reusable staples. It wasn’t long before I realised, with some embarrassment, that I have used such a thing before. They call them paper clips.

After a long Google search I was unable to find any Australian made paper clips, and, unless I wanted to pay $19.95 for a set of 3 giant paperclips – which I did not – I was unable to find a suitable fair trade option either.

In one last desperate attempt I decided to visit Officeworks. I should probably have wandered the aisles of a mum-and-dad office supplies shop, but I don’t know of any – and Officeworks is so very close to my work.

I never said I was perfect.

Anyway.

paper bindersOfficeworks provided me with a range of clip styles made in China. This included paper and bulldog clips by Celco, who in spite of marketing itself with a little black Australia, has most of its products manufactured offshore. The single exception appears to be paper binders which Celco actually has manufactured in the country it so proudly displays on its boxes.

Paper binders have a few clear drawbacks as a staple replacement – they are a bit exxy at $15.74 for 200 19mm binders; they are a bit large, with 19mm being the smallest option available; and they are a bit sharp, with a paper piercing point capable of giving you a nasty scratch. They are however reusable, very stable and capable of holding a large quantity of paper together if required.

If this is still too much metal for you, my final recommendation is to try out some different paper-binding folding techniques such as:

http://www.bloomize.com/how-to-bind-papers-without-staples-or-clips/

http://www.bloomize.com/how-to-bind-papers-without-staples-or-clips-4/

Let us know which ones work for you!!