manny & simon rockers: let the spoiling begin

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This is gonna be a big, BIG year for my family. Me, I’m newly engaged and planning a wedding (more on that later). But the real big news comes from my sister who is going to have a baby! We don’t know the sex just yet, but I’m already finding impossibly cute unisex clothes and toys that I’m dying to buy for “it.” One of these Manny & Simon animal rockers is high on the list. They’re made of 100% post-industrial recycled wood residuals and painted with non-toxic and ultra low odor paint. These little guys come with a hefty price tag, but every kid needs an Aunt to spoil him or her rotten, right?! — Erica P.

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fed up with school lunches? you’re not alone

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Sarah L. pointed me to Fed Up With Lunch, a website by a teacher gone undercover (with the Bondsian pseudonym “Mrs. Q”) to photograph, eat, and discuss the hot lunches served at her school each day. The results are fascinating, discouraging, and sometimes disgusting. But there’s hope, too, especially with growing interest in her project and guest posts on a variety of lunches from across the country and globe, good and bad, and how we can make them better. Recommended reading! — Mary T.

Related: What do your kids each for lunch?

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lights out for earth hour on march 27

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Light pollution affects the way we experience nature. So does climate change. This weekend, we can make a small gesture toward tackling both by switching off our lights. Saturday, March 27, marks the World Wildlife Fund’s third annual Earth Hour, an opportunity for individuals, businesses and governments to go dark in a show of support for action on climate change. Last year, 80 million Americans, 318 cities, and eight states joined more than 4,000 cities and 87 countries worldwide in the effort. Participating is easy: simply turn off your lights at 8:30 p.m. local time.

Debate rages on about whether it’s counterproductive to light candles during that time, so you might opt to just savor the dark. But if you need a little illumination, try a (mostly) carbon-neutral beeswax or soy-based candle, like those from Shelterrific fave Linnea’s Lights.

Learn more at My Earth Hour. And be sure to check out Care2 for a nifty list of seven things to do in the dark! — Sarah C.

Photo by Flickr member Cinamonas

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spring fever: new designs from loll outdoor

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We’re all just itching to get outside and into the sun — and thankfully we’ve already got an early spring here in the Northwest. But all this lovely weather has me dreaming of new outdoor furniture to enjoy it in, and these fresh picks from Loll Designs are what I’m dreaming of! A pair of coco chairs (shown in apple) out on the deck? Sigh! Perfect for having coffee while I look at the lilac blooms. And that coffee is resting on a tiered topo table (shown in sky) while a family of robins chirp inside their pitch birdhouse (shown in leaf). But these are cooler than the average plastic furniture. Loll makes their products out of recycled milk bottles, and they’re constructed to last. See them all here. — Megan B.

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new woolly pocket planters launching march 5

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Around here, we’ve got spring on the brain — despite the winter weather predictions of a certain clairvoyant groundhog — and it turns out our timing is perfect. On March 5, the folks over at Woolly Pocket are set to add five new additions to the modular gardening family: four standalone pockets and an updated “Wally” vertical planter to offer a sleek design alternative to their utilitarian counterparts.

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All Woolly Pocket planters are made from a breathable felt derived from 100% recycled plastic bottles, but the new planters are made from updated version that is twice as thick and three times as dense — in other words, sturdier. And were that not enough to ponder as we tick off the days until spring, new colors will be available in April, and by May, the Woolly Pocket site will include new features so that gardeners of all levels can discuss their passion and progress.

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Woolly Pocket is doing good beyond their goods, too. Last summer, the company launched their Woolly School Garden program — learn more in Dwell’s interview with founder Miguel Nelson — to teach children in K-12 schools about gardening and nutrition. Such developments may just provide the inspiration we need to keep us busy dreaming, planning and indoor planting until the thaw. (And course if all else fails, you can carry a little garden with you in the Woolly Pocket handbag.)

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Watch the video or visit Woolly Pocket for pocket planting how-to’s. — Sarah C.

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