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The best Christmas present ever is causing me problems! Researching green house cleaners (actually house cleaning services not the products) has now been added to my VERY long "to do" list. I'm ashamed to say that I knuckled and bumped it to the top. I did so out of selfishness and more than a healthy dose of the need for assistance in digging through the after holiday clutter and confusion.

Before my awakening to the dangers of household cleaning products I might have called the first commercial cleaning service with an impressive ad in the yellow pages. But now I want to know more about what will be left behind after my merry little helpers leave my home.

Here are some questions that I plan to ask all of the green house cleaners that I call.

  1. Does your company use commercial chemical free products or do you make your own out of baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and the like? If you buy your green cleaning
    products can you give me the name of the company?

  2. Are you bonded? I don't have a lot of valuable stuff but I like to know I'm covered because once upon a time (pre-babies) I had a decorator that dropped a hammer on my brand new Kohler toilet while hanging pictures and found out the hard way that she was not insured.

  3. Do you hire workers or are your cleaning professionals co-owners of the company? I like the idea of the owner polishing my furniture.

  4. Will the green house cleaners who visit my home have GREEN cards and speak English? I would prefer that there be no illegals in my house and I want to be able to communicate my needs as we go, if you please.

  5. What kind of vacuum cleaners and vacuum cleaner filters do you use? If it's not HEPA, it's not happening in my house.

  6. What do you charge and do you do windows? Even though I won't be paying the green house cleaning crew for several visits, I want to know that once I'm fully and completely addicted to having help that I can afford to keep it coming.

I'm just starting the process of interviewing green house cleaners and I have to make my phonecalls during naptime so it could take awhile but right off the bat I'm pleased to report that there are quite a few household and commercial cleaning services that advertise that their cleaning products are environmentally safe and chemical free.

That's encouraging, but we all know that talk's cheap and they are going to have to prove their claims to me before I let them in the door. If you have questions about who gets the job of becoming my environmentally friendly house cleaners, I'll probably be posting about them on Family Recipes, Babies and Green Parenting Issues in the next few weeks.


Where to Donate Used Stuffed Animals

I'm on a house cleaning mission and wondering where to donate used stuffed animals? After what will be forever remembered as the Christmas asthma attack of 2009, I've dedicated every free moment to ferreting out every possible irritant and allergy trigger in the house including all but the kids' most beloved plush toys that are worth all the trouble it takes to keep them dust mite free. I always try to recycle my kids' toys after Christmas, but this year I'm especially focused.

I know I could take the whole kit and kaboodle and leave them in the Salvation Army dumpster, but by conducting a little research I have found some answers to the question of where to donate used stuffed animals where they will do the most good.

Here are a few places that I'm going to locate and contact to see if will accept these toys or if they don't they might know of where to donate stuffed animals for children in need.

  1. SAFE (Stuffed Animals For Emergencies) is at the top of my list if I can locate a chapter near us. A friend told me that this organization collects new as well as used toys and stuffed animals. If I can find one, this is the answer to my prayers because the volunteers take care of distributing the items to children's homes, hospitals and emergency organizations like fire, ambulance and rescue services where the items are used to comfort children. The SAFE website is stuffedanimalsforemergencies.org.

  2. Homeless shelters are next on my list of where to donate used stuffed animals.

Where to donate used stuffed animals. by state:


If you live in Arizona, California and Ohio you might want to check out Project Night Night. This organization creates and donates tote bags for homeless children ages 0-10 that contain a blanket, a book and a stuffed animal. At this time, their website says they only have drop-off locations in those three states, but we can only pray that they expand.


Floridian families can contact Mushy Mates to donate their used stuffed animals to foster children and other needy kids. This non-profit group is based in Florida but helps children in all states and I've also heard that they accept donations from all 50 states but I'm unclear as to the process. Maybe somebody can respond and help us out with some details?

Mushy Mates works with case workers to get the toys to the foster children. You can also donate money as well as toys to any of their local foster care agencies, family homeless shelters or battered women's shelters and it's probably a good idea to mention the Mushy Mates' charity by name. If you have questions, you can contact Mushy Mates by email at MushyMates at MushyMates.com.

If you have any more tips on where to donate used stuffed animals, please return to Family Recipes, Babies and Parenting Issues and share them.


Is My Baby Allergic to Dogs

I have never stopped to wonder is my baby allergic to dogs because her allergies included all the common irritants like peanuts, cat hair and dairy. Her allergist never mentioned a dog allergy so I assumed that this was the one animal oriented area that we may have gotten lucky.

However, we learned over the holidays that this was not to be. As I look back the last post was made while I had images of creating a lovely holiday meal dancing in my head. Sick of leftover turkey, my goal was to come up with dishes with a fresh, new taste, something that the whole family would enjoy and that would not trigger any of the kids' many allergies.

Then, while neck deep in recipes printed off the internet one of our college friends came to visit with a new puppy in tow. Needless to say that the girls went crazy over the cute little guy. I was letting them all visit and entertain each other when my friend comes rushing into the kitchen asking is my baby allergic to dogs.

I could tell she was excited and when I saw my little one, I knew we were in a bit of trouble. Her face was red and her breathing indicated she might be in for an asthma attack. Thanks to quick treatment with her meds, all quieted down. But you can bet that I'm scheduling an appointment with her allergy specialist to see for sure is my baby allergic to dogs or was there a chemical or perhaps grass on the dog's hair that triggered the allergic reaction.

Return to Family Recipes, Babies and Parenting Issues to see if it was flea powder or dog hair that created these symptoms.


Christmas Menu Ideas

Hey everybody, I'm open to some new and interesting Christmas menu ideas if you happen to have any lying around. I made a huge pan of southern cornbread dressing using my family's traditional recipe for Thanksgiving with all the usual trimmings including a large cheesecake for those who don't fully appreciate sweet potato pie or banana pudding.

Plus, we had enough turkey to feed our large group, have turkey sandwiches for a week and then boil it for a big pot of turkey carcass soup. My nieces and nephews cringe at the word "carcass" so if you have any suggestions for renaming my favorite leftover turkey recipe I will consider them.

My problem is that after eating one creative leftover turkey recipe after another for several weeks, the idea of baking another one so soon is not so appealing to me and my husband actually turned a lovely shade of green awhile ago when I mentioned it. His Christmas menu idea is to buy rib eye steaks, potatoes and salad fixings and let that be it; he even offered to be the cook! Whoa, now that's hard to resist but I can feel all my ancestors in the background threatening to haunt me if I'm lazy enough to cave.

We are not big fans of ham around here so I need Holiday recipes that don't use ham and Christmas menu ideas that will keep both my living and departed family members happy!