Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Weekend

The sun is shinning down on us now but for a majority of the long weekend we were dealing with rain and, yes, SNOW!  Nothing accumulated for long on the ground but looking out at my unplanted garden beds was depressing. 

Despite the weather our little family managed to make it outside and spend the weekend with various friends.  Here are some pictures taken by Zach from our hike today.

Dax decides to take it easy

Heading up

View from the top

Resting at the top.  Dax didn't bother to wake up.

Arrowleaf Balsam Root

Lucy cooling off

Zach and Lucy

Back at home :)
I hope everyone had a nice weekend thanks to our wonderful veterans. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Spring in the Mountains

Looks like it's going to be a good year for wildflowers in our valley.  I'm looking forward to the show.  Here's a photo from my hike today of some Indian Paintbrush popping up on the hills.
Pretty soon there will be Arrowleaf Balsam Root, Lupine (white, yellow, and purple), sweet peas, Flax, and more.  Too bad allergy season is next...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Garden Buddy

The weather wasn't great this past weekend, scattered sun and showers, but we managed to get outside and enjoy while we could.  I was relieved to get into my garden beds and clean them up for the next growing season.  I'm thinking I'm going to grow most of the basics this year: lettuce, carrots, radishes, tomatoes, strawberries, onions, potatoes, squash, pumpkin, and all the herbs.
Notice Lucy's ball in the garden bed.  Nice try!
Zach spent a grueling day Saturday hauling dirt around our yard. Every year it seems our yard/garden get's a little better but it also seems like our work load becomes a little longer. My new garden buddy, Dax, makes it a lot harder to get outside so I'm naturally prioritizing what needs to be done.  No longer a leisurely gardener my little buddy has turned me into "speedy" the random gardner.  It won't be strange to see our yard in half finished projects throughout the summer.  That's ok, we will at least have a well fed Dax at the end of the season ;) 
The Dax man hard at work.

Monday, May 16, 2011

One Month Old

I didn't believe it until it happened but everyone was right.  Time has flown since our little man, Dax, entered our lives.  It's been one month today since we have met him and I can't tell you exactly what we've been doing other then growing.  Dax is growing bigger everyday and so are our hearts for him.  Here is a little preview of his growth and ours over the past month.

Growing like weeds around here :)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

One of the Boyz

Zach had the opporutnity to watch Dax for the first time by himself (a.k.a. I got to go out for a couple of hours) last night.  How does daddy take care of his new son?  By calling in his male reinforcements.  Ian and Willie came over and helped cover all the bases with Dax.  When I came home I found Dax outside in his car seat sleeping away.  The older boys relaxed around our fire pit smoking the cigars Zach was given for being a new dad, talking about who got spit-up on the most.  After inducing Dax into a milk coma I can say the boys earned this well deserved reward.

Three guys for one baby.  Sounds about right.  Thank goodness Lucy was there to keep an eye on them :) 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Hello, Portland

Zach, Dax, and I headed west this past weekend to visit Erin and Nik in Portland.  It was a big adventure for our new little family.  Ten hours of driving each way with a three week old.  Zach was a driving machine, Dax was a sleeping machine, and well I was in charge of everything in between.

Erin and Nik were kind enough to host us for the weekend in their great apartment in the Pearl District.  I think meeting their new nephew was a good reason to have us close by. They made us feel right at home.

While in town we also had the opportunity to research a new vehicle for our family.  The ride out was a little uncomfortable for three but the ride back was like a much needed vacation.

Zach and Dax were getting pretty good at city life.  Meals out, strolling around town, and commuting became routine. 
 Erin & Nik cooked us a feast for Mother's Day breakfast before we headed back to Idaho.  We loved our visit to Portland and hope to visit again soon!

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Everyday he seems to have grown so much from the day before.  We are getting to know each other.  He is trusting that I will come if called.  I am learning that smiling may mean a diaper change is necessary.

Many firsts for our little man, Dax, but today was our first hike/walk.  I was so proud of him for being patient with mommy's incompetence when dealing with the Ergo for the first time (a.k.a. Baby Snuggler as some people call it).  Our friend, Sarah, was great in helping me attach the contraption to my chest and away we went.  Oddly, it wasn't to far off from being pregnant again and maybe that's why Dax felt so at ease. 

Wonderful to be outside and enjoy the warm weather!  I know Lucy appreciated it as well. 
After our hike I decided Dax was ready for his first big boy bath.  Our friend Megan has been amazingly generous and showed up at our door with a newborns dream tub yesterday.  Dax loved it!  And of course he was smiling right before letting loose in the tub.  If it wasn't before, it's broken in now.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Habitat Nursery Article

This past winter I had the pleasure of working with some amazing valley moms on a green nursery article for Habitat magazine.  It will be on newstands year round if your local or you can read it online at this link.  I'm also reposting on my blog for those that would like to read it here.

Nurseries for Nature
by Sarah Latham
Sun Valley Guide Habitat Magazine
Sustainable interior designer and expectant mother Sarah Latham entices local moms to share their secrets for creative and healthy children’s rooms.
Grace embraces her sister, Maeve, in the environmentally friendly nursery created by their mother, Anne Mulick.
photos by Kirsten Shultz

Quite soon after discovering I was pregnant with my first child, I made a second startling discovery: Babies need stuff. A lot of stuff. Not only that, but there’s a daunting multitude of options, and with all the health concerns and product warnings facing a first-time mother, the fear of getting the wrong item is magnified. So I set out to determine which products would be the healthiest for my baby and the environment.

According to the U.S. Green Building Council’s Green Home Guide, the most important step is to reduce exposure to toxic chemicals. Babies’ immune, hormonal and nervous systems are still developing, meaning environmental pollutants affect them more than they do adults. Creating a green nursery is incredibly important to a child’s health since newborns spend an average of 16 to 17 hours a day there.

I wanted to create a nursery where I wouldn’t have to worry about chemicals, toxins or other hazardous materials. I wanted to make my child’s room safe and green.

For answers and advice, I turned to the community of Wood River Valley mothers to glean from their experiences just how best to envelop my child in a healthy and sustainable environment.

Anne Mulick designed the rooms of her daughters, Maeve, 1, and Grace, 7, with the environment in mind. “It gives us peace of mind that we are doing the right thing,” she said.

The key ingredient for any green nursery is the paint. Benjamin Moore Aura paints are a low-VOC, low-odor, acrylic paint that releases no or minimal volatile organic compounds, though they’re more expensive than standard paint (a gallon of regular Benjamin Moore starts at $34, its Aura paint starts at $58). “The paint seemed like a logical choice,” Mulick said. “Why wouldn’t we do that for our girls?”

An area rug made of 100 percent wool in Maeve’s room also contributes to better air quality. Wool and other raw, natural materials don’t require the use of VOCs or other chemicals that are known carcinogens (such as benzene and formaldehyde), substances commonly found in synthetic floor coverings. They also contribute to the use of rapidly renewable, local and environmentally friendly practices in growing.

This is why it is also important to choose natural, and if possible, organic materials for the child’s bed. The Green Home Guide recommends real wood, natural finishes and untreated pure cotton and wool (preferably organic) bedding.

However, the crib is one area where going green can be substantially more expensive. For safety reasons, reusing cribs is not recommended and, as Becky Kinman of Hailey discovered when she researched cribs for her son, Holden, the environmentally responsible route costs more in this instance. Kinman selected a crib from Nurseryworks, which specializes in handcrafted contemporary furnishings made with environmentally friendly materials and manufacturing processes. The crib, which retails for $800, is made with paulownia wood (a fast-growing, richly grained, lightweight, fire- and decay-resistant hardwood species), low-VOC finishes and glues and formaldehyde-free dyes. Kinman also opted for an organic mattress. An alternative option is choosing an organic mattress cover, which helps limit off-gassing from a regular mattress (as does airing it out for as long as possible prior to use). For Kinman, the extra expense of a truly “green” crib was worth the investment. “With such a small space (the nursery is a trapezoid-shaped 9 feet by 11 feet), I wanted to make sure nothing was toxic for Holden or us,” she said.

Kinman offset the expense of the crib by using repurposed items for the rest of the room’s furniture. “They were items we had used in other parts of our house and incorporated into his room instead of purchasing new,” Kinman said. “So it almost felt like a wash.” Reusing existing furnishings cuts the demand for raw, virgin materials and eliminates landfill waste. An added bonus is that the items often have special meaning for the family. Old apple crates, salvaged from Holden’s grandparents’ farmhouse, were transformed into bookshelves, and a dresser from Kinman’s childhood doubled as a changing table. “We tried to make it a fun blend of whimsical art and color, along with some modern touches,” she said.
Holden Kinman enjoys racing his cars on the oak floors with his mother, Becky.
Mulick also opted to use hand-me-down, recycled and repurposed items to offset the cost of the pricier green items. An old chair passed down from Mulick’s parents was easily adjusted to the nursery courtesy of a new slipcover. “I like the nostalgia of reusing pieces from a different time into a different space,” Mulick said. Artwork from her childhood was framed and reused as decorative pieces in the girls’ rooms.

Lisa and Nate Scales came up with a practical solution for one of the biggest contributors to indoor air pollution in children’s rooms: plastic toys. They made their own.

After searching for a step stool for their two daughters, Ripley, 4, and Daisy, 1, the Hailey couple was disappointed in their choices. “They were expensive, poor quality and not the size we were looking for,” said Lisa. Fortunately, Nate, a carpenter, set about making the perfect one from wood, decorating it with no-VOC paint.

“We had so much fun with that project, so we started looking for the next toy to build and came up with the toy kitchen,” Lisa said. “It was really a great learning experience for Ripley to watch the transformation of the pieces of wood she was sanding turn into her kitchen.”

Using mainly leftover wood and salvaged scraps of pine from their wood pile, the Scales have so far created a step stool, a kitchen set (complete with over-easy eggs, noodles, tomatoes and lettuce made out of felt), a baby carrier, trees, animals, blocks and a repurposed play house.

The handmade approach is not only environmentally friendly (an assembly-line product uses more energy), but it provides the family with a deeper connection to the products they consume. “They mean something to all of us, because we all have contributed to the final product rather than some plastic, store-bought toy that has no significance,” she said.

If making your own is not an option, opt for cloth and wooden toys, available at local shops such as The Toy Store. Where plastic is unavoidable, choose PVC-free (PVC is usually identified by the number 3 in the recycling symbol) and when in doubt, smell it. Toxic softeners give plastics that strong new smell.

Creating an environmentally clean room for a child gives parents the assurance that their children are at least sleeping in a safe environment. The next step, ensuring that the rest of their world is safe, healthy and sustainable, may not be quite so easy.

Ripley and Daisy Scales play in the handmade kitchen they built with their parents.
Sarah's Sustainable Selections when designing a nursery for my first child, I wanted the room to be environmentally friendly, inexpensive and gender-neutral, as well as to have simple, fun shapes and colors.

MATERIALS I focused on finding cotton or organic products as much as possible. Washable was important to make sure I can continually clean the items.

PAINT I selected green and white Benjamin Moore Natura no-VOC wall paint (starting at $58 a gallon). I plan on painting a tree silhouette with two shades of green leaves and a brown trunk. If we have a girl, I’ll add pink accents. It’s important to finish painting at least a month before baby arrives to allow any off-gasses time to dissipate. If time doesn’t permit this, curing the room with a space heater will also do the trick.

FLOORING A striped, green, 100-percent-cotton woven rug, made by New York-based Dash & Albert, will be the centerpiece of the floor over our existing wool carpet. These rugs are lightweight, reversible, washable and affordable ($28-$385). When choosing flooring, the best option is mostly bare, embellished with a rug or two with nonslip pads, as this is easy to clean. But don’t rip up old carpet, just clean it well.

FURNITURE For the crib, I wanted as natural a sleeping environment as possible, so I decided on a crib from Dwell Studio, an environmentally responsible company based in New York City. The Century Crib ($980) is made in Canada out of solid European beech wood and painted with nontoxic paints. I selected an Ikea dresser made from renewable material (wood fibers), which will easily be separated for recycling after its lifetime. My husband, Zach, and his father, Nick, have built a changing table out of repurposed wood from our garage to place on top. For those nighttime feedings, I found a vintage rocking chair at a garage sale. I plan to make a cushion for it from environmentally friendly fabric company Mod Green Pod’s Grand Jubilee Chocolate pattern. The fabric is 100 percent organic cotton and retails at $40 a yard.

BEDDING For the bedding, I also went with Dwell Studio, known for its colorful and whimsical patterns. I opted for its Owl Sky crib set ($360), which is 100 percent cotton and uses low-impact fiber-reactive dyes and eco-friendly pigments. The owl theme is gender-neutral and gives the room a sweet, playful sensibility.

upkeep After all this hard work and research, I’ll be sure to keep the nursery safe by using natural and nontoxic cleaning products and pest controls.

Sarah Latham LEED AP ID +C (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design Associate Professional Interior Design & Construction), is the owner of White Canvas Designs. She is expecting her first child in April.