Category Archives: How To


Video Review of the Ergobaby 360 Carrier

Some big news here! We made our first Baby Birds Farm video! Mama Bird, Baby Bird, and Little Bird all decided we liked our new carrier from Ergobaby and decided to give the world a preview and do an Ergobaby 360 video review. The Ergo 360 won’t be for sale until next month (mid April 2014), but you can still peruse the specs by clicking here.

In the meantime, here is our video!

Many thanks to Papa Bird for making the video for us. Baby Bird thought it was fun.

video review of ergobaby 360 carrier

Disclaimer (and also an announcement): As I mentioned in my last post, I received the Ergobaby 360 and a wrap from Ergobaby free of charge. The review was my idea, however, and all opinions are my own. Since meeting with Christina from Ergo at the Baby Blogger Boot Camp, and trying out several of their products, I have decided to become an affiliate. This means if you click through an Ergobaby ad or link on my site and go on to purchase anything I will receive a small percentage. (Your price doesn’t go up, and you buy directly from the makers.) I am very picky about what I chose to promote and wouldn’t share anything I wouldn’t buy myself.

video review ergobaby 360

Probiotic “Green” House Cleaning

You are probably familiar with the idea that eating probiotics, like the ones found in yogurt and other cultured foods, are good for you and help balance out the “bad” bacteria, especially in your digestive track. And you have probably heard about the risks of overusing antibiotic medicine and antibacterial soaps and cleaning products. But did you know that probiotics can be used to clean your home?

Probiotics are microorganisms, usually bacteria, that are all around us… in a “biofilm” in our guts, on our skin, on surfaces in our home and are considered to be beneficial or healthy. For more on this, I loved the article by Michael Pollan, Some of My Best Friends are Germs, that was on the cover of the New York Times Magazine a few months ago. He talks about how we are really “superorganisms,” sharing our body with 100 trillion microbials and of the harm we have unwittingly done in the last decade by using antibiotics.

Probiotic Cleaning

I recently had the opportunity to try out a local San Diego company’s housecleaning services and to speak at length with one of the employees about probiotic cleaning. What interested me in this company, Naked Clean, was their use of special probiotic cleaning products instead of harsh chemicals. I have been trying to move away from all antibacterial and bleach-based products in my home. I have been trying to use things like vinegar and baking soda but have still been looking for something better. You can read more about why they use probiotics here.

Naked Clean Green House Cleaning

I first heard about Naked Clean on and thought it sounded pretty cool. I’m normally sensitive to artificial scents, but pregnant I’m even more so. So when the opportunity to review them came up, I jumped. Full disclosure: I received a free demonstration of their house cleaning (2 housekeepers for 1.5 hours) and a sample of Naked Clean’s probiotic cleanser. The opinions expressed are entirely my own, based on their sample cleaning and my own use of their cleaner, primarily in my kitchen. I am also human and any errors or inaccuracies are unintentional and will gladly be corrected.

What most impressed me from their sample cleaning was the white kitchen sink and sparkling, spotless stainless faucet, even brighter than when it has been bleached. At first I thought I might be imagining it, but not only did my sink get as bright white as when it has been bleached, but it actually seemed to STAY white for days, even after dumping coffee grounds in the sink.

When I told Dave, the in-home estimator at Naked Clean, how the sparkling white kitchen sink impressed me, he explained a little more about how it worked. He said that bleach appears to whiten the sink or tile grout because it actually eats away a thin layer of the enamel or porcelain each time it is used. With time, it makes the sink more porous so that it will actually stain more quickly in the future. Their probiotic cleaner, on the other hand, contains a natural cleanser, or surfactant, as well as the probiotics. The surfactant does basic cleaning and the probiotics work on the layer of microscopic biofilm that can contain harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, and E. Coli. What’s more, he explained, the probiotics stay alive for three days. So even after a surface has been cleaned, they continue to protect, without you having to do anything. This immediately piqued my interest. I have always had a phobia of the cooties from raw chicken and, ever since my husband and I suffered Montezuma’s revenge for weeks from campylobacter, I have wanted everything STERILE!

I can imagine the skeptics doubting the claim “clean once and it stays protected for three days.” Well, there is some good evidence to back it up! This study, conducted in Europe, compared cleaning a hospital with probiotics instead of antibacterial disinfectants. With the rise in MRSA and other antibiotic-resistant infections, hospitals have an interest in a disinfectant that can protect vulnerable patients without causing more super-germs. On the other hand, harmful bacteria do need to be managed. The results showed that, not surprisingly, traditional antibiotic disinfectants killed all kinds of bacteria (good and bad) quickly. However, by wiping out both harmful and beneficial bacteria, they created a blank canvas in which the harmful bacteria quickly repopulate. The probiotic cleaner on the other hand, reduced the harmful bacteria and maintained the healthy balance for three days. The study explains:

The idea behind COMPETITIVE EXCLUSION is that during the cleaning procedure a layer of probiotic bacteria is placed on the treated surface, therefore, immediately occupying the ‘field’, the area treated, with beneficial (good) bacteria. These probiotic bacteria act like allied “solders” that overwhelm the area and that will consume all of the available food sources (including dead organic matter by means of necrotrophy), leaving nothing behind for potential pathogenic invaders requiring space and food. The probiotic bacteria are formulated to be extremely efficient and outdo all other (pathogenic) bacteria. Additional to competitive exclusion, also, most important, QUORUM SENSING between pathogenic bacteria is influenced. This is an extremely fast way of communication between bacteria, making use of signal molecules. When the probiotic bacteria are applied to a surface, this immediately results in the fact that pathogenic bacteria, by means of quorum sensing, are communicated about this unfavorable condition, causing them to go into an inactive metabolic state.

This info-graphic summarizes how this works:

Probiotic Cleaning

Naked Clean’s Green House Cleaning Service

I have been a fan of getting a little “help” around the house for years. Even back in the days when I was a graduate student, working for free in this lovely system called “interning,” the little bit of money I could devote to a bimonthly professional cleaning was well worth the time and agony it saved me. Let’s just say that I like a clean and sanitary home more than I like actually cleaning. Once I moved in with Papa Bird, who likes things even neater than me, having regular professional help cleaning the house prevented a lot of fights. Once every two weeks we don’t have to worry about who is going to do the dishes or finish the laundry. A colleague of mine who is a Marriage and Family Therapist once said that paying a housekeeper was money better spent than on couple’s therapy.

Scheduling with Naked Clean was pretty simple. I was given a one hour window of when they would arrive. The house cleaners usually work in teams of two. One nice touch I appreciated: I received an email confirmation the day before. Overall, the cleaning they did was thorough and professional and I love that there was no chemical smell from the products. When I used the probiotic cleaner afterwards, I thought it had a light, fresh scent, but apparently it contains no fragrance at all. I used to hate the idea of giving Little Bird a bath in a tub that had been cleaned with bleach and other chemicals and I’m so happy to have found a natural alternative.

You would think that green cleaning services would be expensive, especially since all of the products and supplies are provided by them. They advertise prices that are a little more than hiring someone off the street, but less than most cleaning companies, and I find that to be true. For example, they start at $65 for 5 rooms.

I’m also happy to extend a special offer to my readers: $40 off your first cleaning when you mention the Baby Bird’s Farm blog! Contact them here. I hope you do and let us know what you think!

Happy First Anniversary to Baby Birds Farm and Cocina!

Just looked at the calendar and realized that it has been one year since the first post! Happy first blogo-versary to us!

Early Posts

I was just looking back at some of the old posts and photos. I think my photography has gotten a little better. In the beginning I mostly used my iPhone and Instagram filters. Some are really out of focus! Initially I thought I would be able to talk my husband into taking all the photos. Instead he opted to “teach me to fish” and taught me some of the basics of using our “big camera” and basic photo editing and processing.

I still love some of the earliest posts and recipes, like:

Tomato Time: Putting Up for Winter  putting up garden tomatoes

Family Traditions: Camping, Shooting Stars and PancakesJulia Pfeiffer

Stats: A Year in Review

I was also being a geek and looking at a year’s worth of statistics. I was curious about how people come to my site. Over the past year, my top three referral sources to date have been: 1. Search Engines (i.e., people looking for a specific topic); 2. Facebook; and 3. Pinterest.

The most commonly searched for topics have been “Belly Butter” or a variation, and some variation on “Healthy Banana Smash Cake.”

Top Posts

And, not surprisingly considering the search topics, my top 5 posts to date have been (in order of most viewed):

 belly butter recipe for natural stretch mark prevention
(Trivia: yes, that is my belly in the above photo, pregnant with Little Bird #1. I am currently about as big with Baby Bird #2.)

Social Media and More

The past year of blogging has been fun. It was something I had wanted to do for a long time. I’ve learned a lot. I pretty much get to write about whatever I feel like or have been up to. I started contributing to another website, as well, The Boob Group. And somehow the “brand” has expanded to several social media sites. Each one seems to have it’s own character and purpose and I often post things on each one that I don’t share here on the blog or on the other sites. So, please connect with me on FacebookTwitterPinterest, the Baby Bird’s Farm Google+ page, and my personal Google+ profile.

Who knows what the next year will bring?!

Cilantro Lime Kale Chips

These cilantro lime kale chips are addicting! A little spicy, sweet, salty, tart and bitter… they hit a nice balance. The cilantro is just enough not to overpower and the lime and creamy nuts keep the heat, which creeps up later, from being too hot. I asked Papa Bird what he thought of the “sauce” after blending it. “Does it need anything?” He said, “A cool ginger beer with tequila to wash it down.” I’ll take that as high praise.

Cilantro Lime Kale Chips

Check out yesterday’s post on easy kale chips, or “kale crunchies” as Little Bird calls them, for more on the basic technique. They are yummy and satisfying, but cook them a little too long and the kale can get bitter. Once I felt I had a good balance of time and oven temperature, I was longing to experiment with a creamy sauce, and came up with this cashew based recipe for cilantro lime kale chips.

I actually started the recipe without realizing that I was almost out of cashews so I used a combination of cashews and raw hazelnuts. Our cilantro plant is taking off which is what pushed me in the cilantro direction. I also used a mild green chili Papa Bird had just pulled out of the garden. I thought the raw kale dressed in the sauce would make a delicious salad without cooking. I was afraid it would be too spicy for Little Bird, but after baking, the spiciness mellowed out a little.

Cilantro Lime Kale Chips

Cilantro Lime Kale Chips Recipe

  • 1 head of kale
  • 3/4 cups of raw cashews (or cashews and hazelnuts), soaked in water for at least one hour, then drained
  • handful of cilantro, washed
  • 1-2 tablespoons of agave or coconut nectar
  • 1 mild green chili or jalapeño pepper
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne and/or chili powder, or to taste
  • a little water, if needed, to process in the blender

 1. Wash the kale in cold water. Holding the end of the stem in one hand, firmly and quickly slide your other hand down the center rib. The leaves should tear off of the rib in one move. (This is the Brazilian way–a tip my friend Michelle taught me.) Dry the kale very well and rip any large pieces into smaller bits. (Little Bird likes to help dry, rip and sort the kale.)

Or – Purchase kale pre-washed, such as the cut organic kale from Trader Joe’s. Just make sure to remove the thick center ribs as they do not dehydrate well.

2. Blend the rest of the ingredients in a food processor or a good blender (like a Vitamix.) If the blender struggles, add a little water, a tablespoon at a time, until it blends well. Blend at highest speed until smooth, scraping down the sides at least once.

3. Preheat oven to 200° F. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, massage the “sauce” into the kale. Then spread it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Bake for 45 minutes or so, checking and gently stirring the kale occasionally, until it is dried but not overly toasted.

Click on any photo in the gallery below to enlarge, or scroll through them all for step by step instructions.


Easy Homemade Kale Chips – “Kale Crunchies”

Do you love buying kale chips for snacking but get tired of paying so much? You would be surprised how easy homemade kale chips can be. I have been experimenting with several recipes, techniques and temperature/time combinations over the last year, and the following recipe has been the best so far.

Easy Homemade Kale Chips

Easy Homemade Kale Chips – Kale Crunchies Recipe

  • 1 bunch kale
  • a little olive oil (approx. 1 Tablespoon)
  • salt (approx. 1/2 to 1 teaspoon)

1. Preheat oven to 200° F. Wash the kale in cold water. Holding the end of the stem in one hand, firmly and quickly slide your other hand down the center rib. The leaves should tear off of the rib in one move. (This is the Brazilian way–a tip my friend Michelle taught me.) Dry the kale very well with a kitchen towel or a salad spinner and rip any large pieces into smaller bits. (Little Bird likes to help dry, rip and sort the kale. For more on cooking with the littles, click here.)

Or – Quick and Easy Tip: Purchase kale pre-washed, such as the cut organic kale from Trader Joe’s. Just make sure to remove the thick center ribs as they do not dehydrate well. Don’t bother washing or drying them, the drier the kale is the better it will crisp up.

2. Here’s the fun part: Place the kale in a plastic bag. Add olive oil, about a tablespoon to start and a sprinkle of salt and shaky-shaky-shake it until every leaf is well covered in a fine film of oil. (Alternatively, you can place it all in a large bowl and massage the kale with your hands.)

3. Spread kale onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Bake for 45 minutes or so, checking and gently stirring the kale every 10-15 minutes, until it is dried out but not overly toasted.

Options: You can toss them with a little parmesan cheese or your favorite seasoned salt. Try a little cayenne or spice.

Click on any picture in the gallery below to expand.

Check back tomorrow for my favorite variation on these easy homemade kale chips, Cilantro Lime, made with a slightly spicy and creamy cashew sauce.