All posts by Maria

Our forest school to-go faves

best kids outdoor gear sustainable and zero-waste

In one of our earlier posts I shared that last year my family has started a forest school in our area. It’s been a lot of fun and of course a lot of hard work. But we all have been really enjoying having a community of outdoor loving kids exploring together on a regular basis each week. And having my kids spend 4 to 8 hours 3 days each week year around in nature with their friends has been incredible!

best kids outdoor gear sustainable and zero-waste
best kids outdoor gear sustainable and zero-waste

Here in this post I wanted to share the outdoor gear and accessories they have been using and enjoying during their forest school time. In the past I have shared our favorite winter gear, as well as our favorites for the wet and muddy season. For summers they simply wear white shirts made from organic muslin fabric and shorts, all sewn by my mom for them. Summer hiking shoes is the only area where our search for the best gear still continues, as we are yet to find something I could recommend. We have tried Wildlings barefoot shoes for children, but sadly it has not been a positive experience (see here a review of the Wildlings Shoes in this post). I just ordered Tadeevo barefoot kids shoes and will let you know how they work out for us in later posts.

And in this post I wanted to share some of the accessories we’ve been using on our hikes. As always, the products are sustainable and ethically made and their mention here is not sponsored.

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Wildlings barefoot shoes review

Wildlings barefoot shoes review

I never thought I’d do a negative review, mostly because it just felt ‘negative’ to me personally. But as we are now on a second pair of our Wildlings Shoes (more on how we happen to own 2 pairs is later in this post) and they are completely falling apart after just 2-3 months of use, just like our first pair, I felt it’d be a disservice to other parents willing to invest into best outdoor gear for their kids not to post this. And hopefully the owners of Wildlings Shoes come to hear of these issues and make much needed changes both with quality of craftsmanship and their customer service, as these shoes have all the potential to be amazing.

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Fjallraven Re-Kanken Mini backpack review

Fjallraven Re-Kanken Mini backpack review

Before I get into my review of Kanken Mini backpack, I want to quickly share with you 3 facts that stood out for me as I did a bit of research about this company prior to buying the backpacks.

  1. The fox isn’t just for the logo.

    Fjällräven actually means arctic fox in Swedish. Sadly, these beautiful animals are at the brink of extinction as a result of fur industry and now climate change. Fjällräven is involved in Arctic Fox recovery program in Sweden through co-funding as well as supplying field equipment. I think that is just amazing!

  2. Keeping plastic bottles out of the oceans

    The Re-Kanken backpacks are made from 11 used plastic bottles each, with lesser use of water and energy in the production process as well!

  3. On-going research into sustainability practices

    The company has a comprehensive set of sustainability values and appears to do an on-going research in this area to keep on improving its operations so it leaves lesser and lesser impact on our planet.

Ok, now that I shared these cool facts with you, here comes my review. 🙂

Fjallraven Re-Kanken Mini backpack review

This Spring as boys were turning 3 and 5 years old I wanted to get them new backpacks. Their old backpacks made by my mom from some upcycled old garments were adorable and very loved by both of them, but they outgrew them. And as we didn’t have any old fabric or garments around which were suitable for new backpack sewing I decided to go ahead and buy them their new backpacks.

I was hoping to find kids backpacks made of canvas, with no synthetic materials. I didn’t find anything of that sort in children’s size (not to say it isn’t somewhere out there), but I quickly discovered Fjallraven brand and was impressed with their sustainability values. I now discovered that it is apparently a very trendy brand as well and if you want to get likes on Instagram just wear a Kanken backpack :))) . But the reason why I chose these backpacks for the boys is because of the company’s sustainability values, great craftsmanship, functionality and perfect size for young children.

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Zero-waste kitchen: cleaning supplies

zero waste kitchen cleaning supplies

Hello friends, I wanted to take a moment and share with you few easy swaps you can make in your kitchen to eliminate or greatly reduce single-use plastic waste. I’ve tried many different products sold at various zero-waste shops, and these are the items that ended up working best for us.

About plastic pollution

Before I jump into sharing with you what has been working well for our family I wanted to share with you a little bit about why it matters.

 

Many people are under impression that as long as we put our plastic waste into a recycling bin it will be taken care of. But sadly we produce such colossal amount of plastic than recycling industry simple can not keep up with it and vast majority of our plastic waste ends up littering our planet and will remain there hundreds of years.

Here, in the above images is the very sad reality of where our plastic trash ends up.

And if you use instagram check out these profiles — @ourgoodbrands, @no_plasticwaste and @plasticfreedom_ — both for eye opening images of what is happening with plastic, and for some great inspiration of things you can change in that regard.

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What we are wearing in wet and muddy season

As always, this is not a sponsored post. The reason for the post is to merely share with other mamas brands that are sustainable and make great things for our little wildlings to help them be comfortable, healthy and spend as much time outdoors as possible.

Here in Colorado’s front range the Spring has arrived early this year. At least it seems so to me 🙂 It is still middle of March, but the snow is melting away in most places, our daffodils and tulips started caming out and I see first cautious signs of Spring on our walks in the forest as well.

As it’s been wet and muddy I put away our winter shoes and snow suits, and switched to wool-lined rubber boots and mud pants which I don’t know how we would do without. Especially with Eleon who loves mud with passion! 🙂 The moment we dig a whole in a garden he climbs right into it and just lounges there watching us work or pondering about life.

Over the years I found few great brands that make high quality, beautiful, toxin-free and sustainable outdoor gear for the children. So I wanted to make a post featuring all our favorites for this time of year when some days are still cold and some already warm, but you can always count on it being wet and muddy.

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Organic cotton and wool socks for kids

organic socks for children knee high socks wool socks for children

This year the winter has flew by fast. As we are heading into Spring with its ever changing weather, mud and puddles I wanted to share a quick post about recent addition to boys’s outdoor gear. On one side something like socks seem insignificant, but they can make all the difference in keeping little feet warm and comfortable, while roaming the outdoors.

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Mud pants — wet and muddy season’s essential

mud pants for children
mud pants for children
mud pants for children

When it comes to wet and muddy time of year I don’t know what we would do without mud pants also called rain pants! It is probably one of the best inventions, next to the rubber boots to help keeping kids happy and moms sane. :). Truly.

rain pants for children

They are very roomy and made of thin waterproof material, so could be used on a warm day just over shorts, or on a colder day over wool tights. I think some people even use them as their winter waterproof layer over thick wool pants. I love that they have strong elastic and a strap at the bottom so that you can pull them over the rain boots. This way when the boys very energetically stump in the puddles nothing gets into the rain boots. The other great feature is that they go up to armpit level covering the sweater or jacket, thus keeping them also protected during splashing or if kids sit around in mud. 🙂

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The reason I’ve been gone from the blog — we started a forest school!

Wow, I can’t believe it’s being that long since my last blog post — almost 6 months! A lot has happened since then. We had our first vacation in many years and spent some time to Puerto Rico, which was so amazing! Visiting the Caribbean was a dream of mine for years. The boys still talk about wanting to go back there almost daily. And today as I’m writing this post we are sitting out in self-isolation as COVID-19 continues to spread through Colorado and the world in general.

Otherwise our lives have been going the usual ways — we still have been trying to reduce the use of plastic anywhere we can, buy things consciously, tend to our garden, and find other ways to leave lesser foot print on the planet. I’ve discovered some new wonderful plastic-free and non-toxic products that I’ve been wanting to post about. I also have been wanting to share some really incredible books I read. But I just haven’t had time. The thing is, over a year ago my husband and I have decided to open our own forest school. It has fully consumed most of my time. But it has been a really wonderful and rewarding experience, and I am happy to finally having a moment to share a little bit about it with you.

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Gardening in Colorado’s Front Range: fruit trees

 colorado front range gardening growing fruit trees and berries

Hi folks, this post is region specific to share some of the things what we’ve learned in the 7 years of living and gardening in Colorado’s Front Range. Although we come from a family of gardeners and have had lush gardens in our home country, gardening at this altitude (6,975 ft or 2126 meters) has given us a lot of challenges. But gradually we found what seem to do well and give good results with least effort. And while it does take work and often comes with many heartbreaks (those late Spring 2 foot snowfalls) it is so worth it!

Whether or not you live in Colorado or at another high-altitude (and not very garden-friendly) place on Earth I hope you find this post helpful to you as well.

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Use your end of the season florals for zero-waste decorating

Hello, now that it is summer I wanted to share a quick little post about how flowers make the prettiest decorations for gift wrapping. Here I used just some of the roses from our own yard that already finished blooming and dried right on their branches. But you could use any other flowers that are abundant in the region where you live. I also really like using some of the herbs for decorating, such as rosemary, thyme or lavender. Those I just clip fresh and add to the little ribbon I’m tying around the gift. They add loveliest smell to the wrapping making it even more special.

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The midsummer tomte and the little rabbits

The Midsummer Tomte and the Little Rabbits

You might remember around Christmas I shared one of my most favorite children’s book — Yule Tomte and the Little Rabbits. It is one of those stories that touches deep into my heart and makes me feel like a little child where everything around me is magical again! And I can read over and over and over again with my boys. And now that it is summer, I wanted to share another book about the very same Tomte and little rabbits, but this time it is about Midsummer, or Summer Solstice, celebration.

Midsummer isn’t something that is celebrated in my home culture or here in America, but ever since I was a child I wished there was some special celebration during the summer when we would decorate everything with beautiful flowers, stay up late playing outside all into the night, eating special foods and listening to live music. Wouldn’t that be so beautiful?!

And then I came across this this lovely story that weaves together magical creatures, animals, traditions and seasons into a wonderful and charming story where they celebrate summer, decorate everything with flowers, sing songs and dance all night! Just like I always dreamed. 🙂

So I hope you read on and fall in love with this book as much as we did!

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Best summer sandals for the little feet

pololo children leather sandals nontoxic children footwear

With the long awaited summer being upon us I wanted to do this little post about children’s sandals that are so loved in our family. One of the main reasons for this blog was to share the products for children that are non-toxic, comfortable and sustainably made. I found such items hard to find in US, unfortunately. I think it is sad that craftsmen and boutiques have hard time staying in business due to competition with big corporations that flood the market with cheap, low quality merchandise which is often toxic and was produced at great cost to our environment and people making them. So when I find yet another brand, store, maker who offers us a different choice — I’m particularly excited to get it for my children and to share it with others.

This is not a sponsored post in any way. Just sharing the good things, since they aren’t easy to find in the ocean of the internet.

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Natural rubber rain boots for children

natural rubber rain shoes for children

As always, this is not a sponsored post. The reason for the post is to merely share with other mamas brands that are sustainable and make great things for our little wildlings to help them be comfortable, healthy and spend as much time outdoors as possible.

Jumping in puddles is one of the biggest joys of childhood as I remember it. 🙂 Another one is being able to get really dirty or stump around in wet, slushy, dirty mud. Recently we got both boys their first pair of wellies (rain boots) so they could do exactly that — stump through mud, jump in puddles and any combination of these two beloved activities. 🙂 And they have been a priceless addition to their outdoor gear both in cold and warm weather, in the forest as well as in the garden.

While there are many rain shoes on Amazon and possibly department stores I learned not all are of equal impact on the environment, some are considered toxic and of course there is quality of craftsmanship to take into account. So I wanted to share with you here the shoes we love and recommend; other brands we tried and what we didn’t like about them; some of the information on the natural rubber rain shoes vs PVC ones. Basically all that I learned and discovered so far on the topic of rain shoes to help you find the best ones for your little wild creature at home 🙂

Bisgaard rain shoes review
kids natural rubber rain shoes review
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1001 Things to Spot book series

If you are looking for some fun educational books for your little willings these series are really wonderful. They are among the favorite for both of our boys since their youngest age. What makes these books so great in my option, is that they are reach in content, yet the content is presented in simple ways and easy to grasp portions. And the illustrations are fairly realistic. Each page in one of these books shows an eco-system, such as forest, garden, vegetable patch, ocean, sea shore, desert, etc. And on each page there is a list of creatures that are to be spotted on the page and a number showing how many of them there are.

It aligns with my belief of learning through play is the best way. And here they learn both about natural world and numbers in a playful way.

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Zero-waste and non-toxic laundry detergent

Where to buy: Meliora website

Hi folks, I wanted to share with you this great laundry detergent we’ve been using that comes with absolutely ZERO plastic packaging. Which is a huge deal, considering that plastic pollution is considered one of the most severe and devastating environmental issues our planet is currently facing.

As usual, this is NOT a sponsored post. I have no arrangement with Meliora to post about their products. This is me sharing with others a product that I believe is good for our families as well as gentle on our planet.

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