My Lil’ Bean Q&A: Jon Spee of The Local Kitchener

After a brief pause in blog posts we’re back with a bang! We managed to wrangle some time from Jon Spee, an educator, food blogger and homebrew-master. Welcome to the blog, Jon!


Hey Jon, you’re the host of the local blog The Local Kitchener, which has some great recipes and reflections on food. What prompted your interest in growing and preparing food?

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5 Easy Eco-Friendly Baby Shower Ideas

There are lots of great ideas floating around the internet about how to throw the perfect baby shower but something they tend to miss is this: how to have a great party for the mother-to-be AND recognize the importance of the 3 R’s (Reduce, Re-use and Recycle). Like most parties, it can be easier to buy disposable supplies and cheap party favours but at the end of the party you really see the result — from plastics to trash to food waste, the entire party can end up being a total ecological disaster.

So, as most things in life, we are looking for a happy balance between convenience and conscience. And if you really think about it, the future of the baby will see the impact of the environmental decisions we make NOW! So let’s see how these five ideas can have a positive net benefit for the mother and the baby:

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My Lil’ Bean Q&A: Dr. Joanna Thiessen

Gone are the days when the stereotypical doctor with the white coat is the sole authority to decide on every aspect of our health care. We are more likely to see other people in our community with expertise to bridge the gaps in that older system. With doulas, midwives, naturopaths and others, we are fortunate to have the wisdom of people who can care for us in a holistic way. Our guest for today’s blog, Dr. Joanna Thiessen, practices out of her office in Waterloo, Ontario at George Street Naturopathic Medicine.


What inspired you to become a naturopathic doctor?

I grew up being fascinated by and idolizing my grandfather, who was a very skilled internal medicine doctor in Ottawa.  I remember sneaking into his home office to look at his medical equipment, which he kept in this old, leather bag.  My desire to become a doctor began there.  When I was a teenager, my mom got really into “alternative medicine” and started a mail-order herbal remedy business.  Our basement was stocked with bottles of black cohosh and dong quai.  At that time botanical medicines and vitamins weren’t very easy to find in stores, so a mail-order business made sense.  Her work opened my eyes to the idea that there are lots of different types of medicine.  When I was doing my undergrad at the University of Guelph, I stumbled across a course called “Complimentary and Alternative Medicine” and during the semester we had a Naturopathic Doctor come to speak with us.  I had never heard of ND’s until then, and learning about the profession blew my mind!  It was like everything I had ever wanted in a career actually existed!  I was hooked. Read more

How You Can Help New Parents

If it takes a village to raise a child then we can agree that those first few weeks of having a newborn are a great opportunity for us to help new parents. As overjoyed as they are, there’s a good chance your friends are also a little overwhelmed and could really use a hand here and there around the house. Here are a few ways you can take some weight off their shoulders:

  1. Prep Meals

Making dinner with a newborn is not an easy task. Providing meals to the new parents fulfills their most basic need. There are a ton of healthy, organic recipes out there that you can make ahead of time and pop in the freezer for the hungry parents to reheat later in the week. Pinterest is the Holy Grail of weekly meal prep recipes: see some great ideas here. Read more

Comparing Bamboo and Organic Cotton Fabrics

There have been quite a few changes in how we think about organic baby gifts since our parent’s time and one significant change has been around the fabrics used for baby clothing. In the turn towards safer and healthier living parents are more concerned about harmful pesticides and herbicides that are used on the plants that are manufactured into the fabrics for baby clothes. The result of this has been the increasing popularity of organic cotton and, more recently, bamboo baby clothing.  Read more

Being a Conscious Consumer

It is encouraging to see people taking more time and energy to do something that could have a huge impact – aligning their purchasing decisions with their values. To some degree this has been the case for a few generations, such as the Buy American/Canadian movement that promotes purchasing items made in our country to keep alive local companies. So what has changed? Well, quite a bit actually.  Read more

My Lil’ Bean Q&A: Vanessa and Melissa from Diapers & Lipgloss

Our next guests for the My Lil’ Bean Q&A are Vanessa and Melissa, a duo that are on a mission! From their start on TV they have now branched into other media to share thoughtful conversations about topics that can resonate with any mother. We were lucky enough to be featured in their December gift guide.

Vanessa and Melissa

Tell us a bit about how you two started as a media duo
Melissa and I were both correspondents on a local entertainment show on Rogers TV. Although we both love entertainment and media, our biggest passion was being Moms. Almost simultaneously we pitched Rogers on the idea of a local parenting show. A producer at Rogers thought we would really hit it off if we met, so we were set up on a kind of “blind date” at Starbucks. Soon after Diapers & Lipgloss was born and the rest is history… Read more

My Lil’ Bean Q&A: Rebecca and Jen from Pehr Designs

You know those awesome baskets that we use as the foundation for all our baby gift baskets? And those pin dot and fawn swaddles? Well those are the stylish creations of Rebecca and Jen from Pehr Designs. We’re thrilled to have them as our next guests for the My Lil’ Bean Q&A!
Rebecca and Jen; Pehr Designs
What series of events led to you starting your own home accessories company?
We’ve been friends since we were 7 years old. We share similar interests and history and when we were both about to have our first child we decided to use our maternity leave (which is a year in Canada!) and start working on our business idea. We started with our home line and the collections have grown to include Petit Pehr and soon our line of kids’ bedding!

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My Lil’ Bean Q&A: Becky from Organic Quilt Company

My Lil' Bean Q&A: Beth and Lisa from Organic Quilt Co.

We’re so happy to have as our next guest on the blog Becky (left in the picture) from the Becky and Lisa team of Organic Quilt Company. When we started our store and were sourcing products for the baskets, it was difficult to find someone that used organic fabrics for baby accessories. With their eye for the cutest patterns using organic fabrics, we jumped at the chance to partner with Becky and Lisa.

What inspired you to make your own children’s accessories?

I wanted to start a small business that blended my love of stitching and my concern for the environment; and the fact that I had 3 children ages 4, 6, and 8 at the time meant that I had children on my mind! I had a lot of recent experience with baby products, so I knew what worked for me and what didn’t. Read more

My Lil’ Bean Q&A: Karin from Homestead Herbals

Among the many benefits of working with small business owners, one of the great things is hearing their very personal stories of how they came to make the amazing products that you see in our baskets. As part of a series we’d like to share those stories with you. We’re thankful to have Karin as our first guest!

How did you begin making your own soap and massage oil?

I have been studying/practicing herbalism for more than 15 years, both through mentorships and more formal education routes. Herbalism is a passion that grew out of my love for organic farming, interest in working with healing plants, and desire to create healing herbal remedies for my own family. Soap making was a natural extension of herbalism for me – it combines both art and science, and I can incorporate botanicals from my gardens, and pure essential oils into each soap batch for added medicinal and aromatherapeutic value.
I am also trained as a post-partum doula and have been providing several local midwifery clinics with herbal healing products, like massage oils, baby salves and herbal bath blends, for their clients to use.

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