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WonderWoman Wednesdays…Shane Shirley-Smith President of Environmental Booty

This week’s WonderWoman is Shane Shirley-Smith, President of Environmental Booty. Shane believes that our future largely depends on our knowledge and actions. For this reason she created Environmental Booty, the green online community dedicated to helping society make conscious choices today that will change our health and the health of our world tomorrow. 

Here’s how she did it…

How did you decide to create Evironmental Booty? Was there a “lightbulb” moment?

EnvironmentalBooty.com was created because I wanted a way to help people learn to live healthier lives and create a healthier world.  My goal was to give people Eco-information, products to green their lives and a way to gather and share information about going green, caring for our earth and each other.  I created my blog to spread the message of healthy choices through Eco-conscience consumerism and looking out for our planet.  A few months after I started the blog,  my daughter took part in a play about pirates at school.  As she practiced her songs at home and told me what she was learning about pirate booty, the name Environmental Booty just popped into my head.  I  thought it would be a cute play on words to provide Environmental Booty for people as a way to green their lives.  Environmental Booty is about protecting the treasure that exists in yourself, other people and our planet.

How did you get the community started?

The Environmental Booty site is a social networking community for people and businesses traveling the path to green. It was an integral part of the concept behind Environmental Booty to have a place where people could come together, make their commitment to treasure self, people and planet and network with other green minded individuals, bloggers and business owners.  The only way to do this was through creating an online community.  I did some research online and, as I did not have a lot of capital to invest in creating my own community platform, I created the Environmental Booty  Community using the free Ning platform.  Initially I invited a few friends, sent out a few Tweets, promoted EB on my blog, main site and our Environmental Health-Wellness-Beauty Facebook Group and now we are getting new members every day.  My goal was to create a site that belongs not to me but to the EB Members and I think I have accomplished that.   

There’s the great Margret Meade quote about nothing ever changing until communities come together to change them. How has that influenced you in your work at Environmental Booty?

 The quote is, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”   I live every single day with that as my guiding principle.  It truly doesn’t take a large group of people to create change.  Just look at the work of Erin Brokovich and you will see that if you have people who desire to create positive change, they can move mountains.  My goal each day is to reach at least one person with the message to think about the choices they make in relation to how it impacts their health, and the health of our environment.  I feel if I can do that, then the people I affect will affect change in those they meet.  It truly is about disseminating information when trying to affect change.  The more information people have, and the more they share with others, the more positive change can be created. 

Your community is run on servers that are 130% green, how is that accomplished? Do you think green servers will eventually become the norm with education on the subject?

The main EnvironmentalBooty.com site is hosted by HostGator which has servers which are 130% wind powered.   They are not just neutralizing their environmental impact, they’re reversing it. HostGator accomplishes this by purchasing certified renewable energy credits representing 130% of the electricity used to both power and cool every last one of their shared and reseller servers.  In real terms this is the equivalent of removing 444 cars from the road for a year, powering 321 homes with clean energy for a year, saving 5,654 barrels of oil, or protecting 551 acres of forest for a year.  I am no soothsayer and cannot say if all servers will someday be green.  I do hope that companies will have a desire to do all they can to lessen their impact on our environment.

What is a typical day like for you Shane?

Let me just say that every single day is full of putting out fires in both my personal and professional life.  Isn’t that how all women live each day?  I have 3 daughters (4, 10 and 13), a sweet little Chi-Poo and a very demanding husband so I have days which start before the sun comes up and ends just as the next day begins.  Every morning I always try to get in a workout, get myself together, turn on the computer and get the girls going.  On a good day I make a hot meal for the girls and on a bad day they have OJ and organic pop tarts!  Then I get my 3 girls to three different schools within a half hour and get to work.  I spend the day meeting with clients (I provide Social Network Marketing Consulting) over the phone, writing blog posts, doing research on green trends, working with suppliers for my Environmental Booty OpenSky Shop,  updating my websites and networking on various sites.  Once I get the kids home from school, it’s time for homework, dinner, baths, prayers, bedtime for kids, more work and laundry!   It is exhausting as every mom knows. 

What are the most effective ways you have promoted and marketed Environmental Booty? What’s your best marketing tip?

The most effective ways I have found to promote EB has been through word of “mouth” via Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.  Our EB Members do a great job of spreading the word on their sites and networks as well.  As far as offering my “best” marketing tip, that is a tough one.  Each business is different and the road to success is different for all.  I think if I had to give my best piece of advice for online marketing it would be to get involved in the conversation and be genuine in your interactions with others.  Don’t just join networks like LinkedIn, never show up to interact and complain that you are not getting anything out of it.  Join groups, make connections, have a desire to help others without asking for anything in return and be consistent.  If you blog, post 3-5 days a week.  If you Tweet, offer valuable information each day or every other day.  If you have a Facebook account, check out what others are doing and comment. 

What advice would you give someone else looking to create an online community based on a cause?

That’s simple…don’t get discouraged, provide updated content, get to know the needs of your members and protect your members by blocking spammers immediately without guilt. 

What goals do you have for Environmental Booty this year?

My main goals this year are to grow our membership, find ways to promote the green message to our younger generations, provide green suppliers with a platform to showcase their products and continue to spread the word about green living products we offer in our Environmental Booty OpenSky Shop.

What have you learned on your business journey that you’d like to share with other business owners?

Don’t let your passion to grow your business interfere with your life.

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Study doubts breastfeeding benefit for eczema

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Breastfeeding is often advocated as a way to help prevent allergies in babies at high risk, but a new study finds that infants breastfed for longer periods may actually be more likely to develop the allergic skin condition eczema.

The study followed 321 infants who were at increased risk of allergies because their mothers had a history of asthma. Researchers found that among those who were breastfed exclusively for more than six months, 55 percent developed eczema by age 2.

That compared with 37 percent of those breastfed exclusively for three to six months, and 29 percent of babies given breast milk alone for less than three months.

On the other hand, the babies were less likely to develop wheezing symptoms as long as they were still being breastfed. Wheezing — difficult breathing marked by a high-pitched whistling sound — is a common symptom of respiratory infections in infants and young children because their airways are so small; but it can also be a marker of an increased asthma risk later on.

Exactly why breastfeeding had different associations with eczema and wheezing is not certain. But several previous studies have found a similar pattern.

Taken together, the findings suggest that extended breastfeeding should not be recommended as a way to prevent eczema in high-risk babies, Dr. Hans Bisgaard and colleagues at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark write in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

That does not mean, however, that women with a history of allergies or asthma should avoid breastfeeding, according to Bisgaard. “There are many good reasons why the mother should breastfeed her child,” he told Reuters Health in an email.

Breast milk is considered the best, most balanced form of nutrition for infants, and experts generally recommend that babies be breastfed exclusively for the first six months of life.

As for why longer breastfeeding might contribute to eczema in high-risk babies, it’s possible, according to Bisgaard’s team, that mothers with allergies can transmit a “risk factor” for eczema through their breast milk — such as antibodies or other immune system substances that promote the allergy.

The fatty-acid makeup of the breast milk could also be a factor, the researchers note. In a previous study of the same group of mothers, Bisgaard’s team found that the women’s breast milk generally had lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids than that of mothers without allergies; there is some evidence that omega-3 fats are protective against allergies and asthma.

There was no strong evidence from the current study, however, that the fatty acid content of mothers’ milk was important in eczema risk. “Therefore, follow-up studies regarding other possible immune modulating factors are planned,” Bisgaard said.

The current findings are based on 321 children who were followed starting at the age of 1 month. Their parents kept diaries to record any “wheezy episodes” — defined as three consecutive days of the breathing problem — and cases of eczema were diagnosed by the researchers.

Overall, 69 babies were breastfed exclusively for less than three months, 203 for three to six months and 49 for more than six months.

When the researchers accounted for a number of factors in eczema risk — including birth weight, parents’ history of eczema and the presence of a cat or dog at home — babies who were still being exclusively breastfed between the ages of 6 and 9 months were more than six times more likely to develop eczema by age 2 than those who were no longer being fed breast milk alone.

When it came to wheezing, the majority of the babies — 262 — had at least one episode. However, babies who were still being exclusively breastfed had a one-third lower risk than infants the same age who had stopped.

Breastfeeding, according to Bisgaard’s team, may help reduce wheezing episodes by protecting babies from respiratory infections — the primary cause of wheezing that early in life.

Because all of the mothers in the study had a history of asthma, the findings cannot be generalized to other women, Bisgaard said. Further studies are needed to better understand how longer breastfeeding might affect average-risk babies’ odds of eczema or wheezing, according to the researcher.

SOURCE: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, March 2010.

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WonderWoman Wednesdays…Tamika L. Gardner, Founder of The Baby Chef

This week’s WonderWoman is Tamika L. Gardner, Founder of The Baby Chef™. Tamika started The Baby Chef™ after creating SimplyBabyFoodRecipes.net, with the belief that every baby deserves the right to experience fresh and healthy food. Simply Baby Food Recipes offers lots of homemade baby food recipes that are easy to make and healthy for babies and toddlers. The Baby Chef™ ensures that parents will be fully equipped to make their own baby food, while making life easier with unique products that save on food preparation. Additionally, The Baby Chef offers other unique and natural products for babies and children. Here’s how Tamika did it…

When did you have the light bulb moments that became SimplyBabyFoodRecipes.net and The Baby Chef?

When I was pregnant with my first born, Nikai, I knew I was going to breastfeed her because of all the great benefits that it offers.  However, when Nikai was ready to graduate to solids, at about 6 months, I did not like the idea of buying store-bought food in a jar for two main reasons – the lack of freshness and taste, and the price. 

We had already saved hundreds of dollars through breastfeeding and I wanted to continue those savings.  So I received some advice from my grandmother, who never fed her children baby food from the jar because it wasn’t invented yet!  My father, my uncles and aunts all grew up on mashed potatoes and mashed up collard greens and cornbread.  That was the moment the light bulb went off and I researched infant feeding on the internet and eventually made my website in one weekend.

After having an internet presence for a few years, I wanted to offer parents the tools they need to make homemade baby food and other feeding accessories.  Then The Baby Chef™ was born.

How did you get the business started? 

It was really easy for me to start the business online.  I partnered up with a couple of distributors/manufacturers and had a virtual grand opening of August 2008.  

What is a typical day like for you Tamika?

Having two very young children only 18 months apart, my day is extremely busy.  I spend most of the day caring for them.  However, since I am cooking three meals a day plus snacks, I do not lose out on an opportunity to make a recipe.  So therefore I keep a camera in my kitchen and I take picture of things that were a hit and I’ll upload them to my site with the recipe.  Most of them are on-the-fly concoctions.  I spend time in the evening checking and processing orders, and working on a new business venture that will launch within the next couple of months for mothers-to-be.

You recently featured the Apple Smash Smoothie on SimplyBabyFoodRecipes.net, sounds yummy! Where do you get your inspiration for baby food recipes?

Cooking is a passion of mine and I love trying new recipes.  The inspiration comes from within most of the time.  Sometimes I could be laying in the bed and think of something new to try.   Or, I could be at the grocery store and see an interesting vegetable or fruit to experiment with.  I also get lots of inspiration from the Food Network.

What do you suggest for moms with babies and toddlers that are picky eaters?

Well I have a lot of experience in that category because even I have picky eaters!  My husband, Troy, will tell you that we eat like Kings and Queens in my household.  I go out of my way to make sure my food is restaurant quality in presentation and taste, but my kids still have picky tendencies.  They weren’t that way when they were babies, but now that they are 2 and 3 years old, they suddenly don’t like foods I used to feed them.

So here are a few tips for getting your kids to eat:

1.  Never express that you don’t like something in front of your child.  They may decide that they don’t like it just because you don’t.

2.  Offer your child a variety of food so that you can find out what they do like.  It is natural for children to dislike food.  Even adults have likes and dislikes so don’t think your child has a problem.

3.  Expand your child’s horizons by offering them food that you wouldn’t eat or dislike.  You may find that they do like foods that you dislike.

4.  Season vegetables thoroughly, especially canned vegetables.  Vegetables taste best when they are seasoned well with butter and other spices. 

5.  Be consistent and keep offering your child the same food even if they don’t like it at first.  You may find that they will eventually like the food after a few times so don’t give up.

6.  Don’t reward your child with dessert or other sweet treats if they don’t eat their meal.  In fact, it’s best to not offer desert or other sweet treats at all until they develop good eating habits.  Otherwise, they will learn that they can skip out on the meal and go straight to junk food, which can further add to the childhood obesity problem.


What are the most effective ways you have promoted and marketed The Baby Chef? What’s your best marketing tip?

The most effective way I have promoted The Baby Chef™ is through SimplyBabyFoodRecipes.net.  The people who are looking for recipes are the ones who need the tools to make baby food.  Search Engine Optimization is also very key in getting my site in the Search Engines.

I highly recommend spending time on Search Engine Optimization.  It works and I have not had to invest in expensive pay-per-click campaigns because people find my site organically.  However, it is more work involved and can be costly if you don’t know how to do it yourself.

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself? What advice would you give someone else starting their own business?

I’ve learned a lot through trial and error, and I’ve learned from my mistakes.  I’ve learned that things take time and to not try to be Super Woman, trying to do everything at once.

The advice I would give someone else trying to start their own business would be to keep taking strides toward achieving your goals, even if the strides are small sometimes.  Rome wasn’t built in a day and it will take time to have a viable business.  Also, if something is not working the way you thought, then change your plan, but don’t give up.

What goals do you have for The Baby Chef this year?

The Baby Chef™ will be going through some changes this year, but for all good.  There will be a book and an ebook coming out soon and a series of cookbooks for 2010.  Also, The Baby Chef Store will be changing, and will be a part of another site that caters to moms and children (you will still be able to reach the store at www.TheBabyChefStore.com).

The main goal of The Baby Chef ™ is to help parent nurture healthy children, which my main goal, and this will be accomplished through the books.  Prices on the site will also be reduced to give parents incentive to make their own food, should they wish to purchase.  However, buying expensive gadgets and tools are not necessary.  I made my own food and I didn’t have any of the products that I sell at the time.

What have you learned on your business journey that you’d like to share with other business owners?

I have learned to stick to my goals and to continue to ask for guidance and inspiration from my higher power.  At times, I considered shutting down everything because it is a lot to handle with young kids.  However, I have come too far and I don’t give up easy!

I have learned to be flexible, to change things as needed, and to not second guess myself.  When I get an inspiration or gut feeling, I act on it right away.  Both The Baby Chef and Simply Baby Food Recipes were weekend wonders, meaning they both were created and live on the internet in a weekend.

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Mommy Mondays…Mommy and Baby Go Bye-Bye: Traveling While Breastfeeding

Heading out of town for Easter or Passover and wondering how to navigate the “liquids rule” while breastfeeding?
 
Now, a mother flying without her child will be able to bring breast milk through the checkpoint, provided it is declared prior to screening.

TSA is also modifying the rules associated with carrying breast milk through security checkpoints. Mothers flying with, and now without, their child will be permitted to bring breast milk in quantities greater than three ounces as long as it is declared for inspection at the security checkpoint.

Breast milk is in the same category as liquid medications.

When carrying formula, breast milk, or juice through the checkpoint, they will be inspected, however, you or your infant or toddler will not be asked to test or taste breast milk, formula, or juice. Our Security Officers may test liquid exemptions (exempt items more than 3 ounces) for explosives.

When traveling with your infant or toddler, in the absence of suspicious activity or items, greater than 3 ounces of baby formula, breast milk, or juice are permitted through the security checkpoint in reasonable quantities for the duration of your itinerary, if you perform the following:

  1. Separate these items from the liquids, gels, and aerosols in your quart-size and zip-top bag.
  2. Declare you have the items to one of our Security Officers at the security checkpoint.
  3. Present these items for additional inspection once reaching the X-ray. These items are subject to additional screening.

You are encouraged to travel with only as much formula, breast milk, or juice in your carry-on needed to reach your destination.

You are allowed to bring gel or liquid-filled teethers, canned, jarred, or processed baby food in your carry-on baggage and aboard your plane.

For information on creams, medicines, or other essential items for your child, please read our guidance on these items. Click here for the list of permitted and prohibited items.

Liquids and gels, including baby formula, breast milk, or juice, may be packed in your luggage and checked with your airline.

After clearing security, travelers can now bring beverages and other items purchased in the secure boarding area on-board aircraft.

For more details on navigating the screening process with your children, check out traveling with children.

Article and Photo Coutesy of TSA.org

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Breastfeeding Fact Fridays…Can certain foods increase milk production?

A healthy balanced diet is a must for any breastfeeding mom. It is essential that you choose healthy fare from all the food groups to ensure you have enough nutrients and calories to sustain yourself as well as your baby. The typical breastfeeding mom should consume at least 2000 calories a day since breastfeeding burns on average about 500 calories a day. ..yay!

Have you ever wondered if there are certain food that boost breast milk production? Unfortunately there are no breastfeeding ‘wonder foods’, but there are several things you can incorporate into your breastfeeding lifestyle to get maximum milk production. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when choosing how to nourish your body for a healthy mother and baby.

Article courtesy of IVillage

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Tasty Tuesdays…Citrus Coconut Squash Bisque

Coconut oil is one of the healthiest oils on Earth, though it’s often overlooked because of saturated fat content. Coconut has been used for centuries for it’s healing properties and it’s satisfying taste. Some of it’s properties include: killing viruses, bacteria, fungi, and yeast; Improving insulin secretion and glucose utilization; and helping to protect against osteoporosis, to name just a few.

Get more info on this wonder oil here, and add some of coconut’s health benefits to your life with this yummy Citrus Coconut Squash Bisque recipe. A simple soup recipe that’s quick and tastes gourmet? Sign me up!!!

Courtesy of Practical Yoga

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Mommy Mondays…101 Reasons to Breastfeed…

Breastfeeding is one of the most challenging, yet rewarding aspects of being a mother. The health benefits for mother and child are numerous, and the folks over at dmomma.org have put together a list of 101 why reasons you should breastfeed. Take a peek here and bookmark it for those “difficult” days ;-)!

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