Thursday, February 24, 2011

Crunchy Mommy

Hi There,

I'm partially what is called a "Crunchy Mommy." My husband and I try our best to be environmentally conscious. When I was in third grade, I went to my elementary school principle and asked if I could start a "Earth Club." When I was in law school, I took as many environmental law courses as possible. My husband has his masters in biology. Now as a mother, I'm trying to continue our effort to conserve resources. (Don't get me wrong though. I'm still guilty of driving an SUV and I often forget to use our recycling bins)

I thought I would pass along two things we're trying, and the resources that have made them possible.

Homemade Baby Food

Bananas & Blueberries...Yum!

The first one is making our own baby food. This is good because of two things: it's fresh and healthy for baby and it's good for the environment because it takes away from the harm manufacturing and shipment creates. When possible, I use fresh veggies and fruits from my mother-in-law's garden or a local farmers market. I create fun combinations (and some really odd ones like pear and peas), and freeze extra food in ice cube trays. One ice cube is usually 1 ounce. We still have store bought food sitting around, but we try to use fresh before we go to our store bought stash.

I would highly suggest the Wholesome Baby Food website for recipes and information (such as what food is okay for infants and what foods aren't). I got a baby food grinder for Christmas. It's a KidCo and it's fantastic. Really easy to use and clean.

Making Some Bananas & Blueberry Goodness

Cloth Diapers

Loving Life in my Thursties Blackbird!

Second, I'm a cloth diaper mom. I absolutely absolutely love cloth diapering. However, if you've never known anyone to cloth diaper, you probably think a few things. 1. It's gross. 2. It's a lot of work. 3. It's not good for baby.

I can absolutely advocate that isn't the case with cloth. Especially with the new modern cloth diapers. The choices for cloth diapering in this day and age are very overwhelming. I decided to try a little of everything to decide what worked for us. I would definitely suggest if you're thinking about doing cloth do a cloth diaper trial with a website like Jillian's Drawers. You pay a fee to try all different types of cloth.

For those who don't know cloth, let me give you a very simple break down of your options. (As you research, you will learn this is a very basic explanation)

Prefolds (or flats or fitteds) with a Cover: This is probably what you thinking of when you think about cloth diapers. Chances are if your mom cloth diapered she did this with "plastic pants". Those days are over. We're talking about high quality cotton prefolds with a stylish PUL cover. This is much more breathable on your little one which means you don't have to worry about getting that nasty diaper rash that many people might associate with cloth diapers.

What I've tried and loved: Green Mountain Prefolds (absolutely rock) with Thurstie, Flip, Bummis, Little Beetles Wool and Happy Henies Wool covers. I mostly stick with my Thursties (Duos) and Flips now. I used Snappis while my baby was young, but now I just trifold the prefold in the cover.

Pros: Cheapest system to try. Prefolds are natural fiber, so they don't get the stinks like a synthetic material.

Cons: Not as easy for babysitters or those not familiar with the process. The prefold will be wet against the baby's skin which can aggravate diaper rash.

All-in-One Diapers: This is a diaper that is exactly like a disposable. You don't have to stuff anything into the diaper, you just put it on just like you would with a 'sposie. They fasten with either velcro or snaps. Velcro is easier, but wears faster. Snaps last longer but are challenging.

What I've tried and loved: I love my BumGenius all-in-ones. I have tried a SposiEasy and hated it.

Pros: Very easy for anyone to use. Most like a disposable. Very absorbant. Has a microsuede or microfleece material against the skin of the baby which stays dry even when the baby wets the diaper (like a disposable). You can get "One Size" diapers that will grow with the baby. That will help with cost.

Cons: Much more expensive than prefolds. Since the absorbing material is sewn into the diaper, they take longer to dry than other options. The absorbing material is microfiber...great at absorbing, but since it's synthetic, it can start to stink if you don't wash completely.

Pocket Diapers: This is the mix between a prefold option and an all-in-one diaper. There is a pocket behind the microfleece to stuff a microfiber insert into. This is my favorite diaper option!

What I've Tried and Loved: I've tried BumGenius (both 3.0 and 4.0), Fuzzibunz, Thursties, and GroBaby (Now known as Grovia). Fuzzibunz is my least favorite option. Grobaby is the's like wearing a 'sposie. I really like my BumGenius...but definately get snaps. The velcro is terrible. I also love my Thursties Duo. Fun prints and it's design is the best.

Pros: The diapers dry faster than the all-in-ones since the insert is seperate. You can also add absorbancy for night time. There are one size options so the diaper can grow with baby. Other than stuffing the inserts, the diaper is very easy to use.

Cons: The diaper is (usually) synthetic material, which can stink if not completely washed. This option can get expensive.

Other things to know: You'll need to wash the diapers in a cloth diaper safe detergent...I've use both Charlies and Rocking Green with success. I have bought diapers from both Kelly's Closet, Green Mountain Diapers and my local shop, Elegant Mommy. Great experiences with all of them. There are all sorts of options for unique situations (trainer pants for potty training, swim diapers, inserts for heavy wetters) end up with a problem, there will be a solution!

Are cloth diapers stinky?

No more stinky than disposibles! You keep them in a diaper pail (which you would do with disposibles) and then you wash them. When the baby is breastmilk fed, you just throw the diapers in the washer (no need to get the solids off since breastmilk solids are water soluble). When you move to solids, I just use a biodegrateable liner. I just throw the solids in the toliet. I never have to touch anything "gross," and I keep rubber gloves on hand if were to need them. You can also have a diaper attached to your toliet. No touching needed.

Are they actually good for the environment?

There is conflicting information out there about the water use from washing being just as bad as disposables. First of all, if you have a high efficiency washer, you're not using much water or energy. Second of all, disposables do not decompose and are terrible on the environment (unless you use a biodegradable one....and there are only one or two on the market) I don't use the dryer on covers: only inserts during the winter.

Don't they cause tons of diaper rashes?

Maybe the diapers of yesterday caused problems with their plastic pants. That's not the case today! Especially if you use microfleece, since there is no wetness against the baby's bottom. Everything breaths more. Plus, you should be changing your diapers frequently irregardless if you use 'sposies or cloth! I have found that I get rashes in both cloth and 'sposies at an equal rate.

Don't you do laundry all the time?

Absolutely not. I do 1 load a week. (I probably should do two and sometimes do, but mostly I do one) That's nothing compared to all the laundry you will be doing for your little one. And considering that you have to go and buy disposables and don't have to buy cloth but once, it's really nothing.

If you are lucky, there might even be a diaper service nearby. They provide the diapers and haul away dirty ones for a fee.

My personal reasons for choosing cloth:

1. It saves a ton of money. I spent around $500 for my stash. That's from newborn to potty training. I've already saved at least half of that. It's estimated that you can save up to $1,500 with each child. If you use your stash on subsequent children, then you're saving even more money!
2. It's better for the environment.
3. They are cute. I mean honestly....they have flowers and hearts for girls and robots and firetrucks for boys!
4. Your child will potty train faster. I've been told by many many people that since babies can feel the wetness (especially with prefolds), they will potty train faster.

Chilling in my pink BumGenius.

Whew. That's a lot of information! I had some people ask me my opinion, and I figured some people might benefit from all the research and testing I've done myself. Feel free to contact me if you have a specific question! I've found much of my information by talking with other moms online.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Super Bowl Sunday Pepperoni Rolls

Hi Everyone!

As we prepare for Super Bowl Sunday here, I was thinking about what food I was going to make for the game. We may or may not be having people over, but I've been looking for this recipe for a long time....I might have to make it and bring it with if we decide to go somewhere else for the game.

If you've ever been to Old Chicago you know that their Pepperoni Rolls are to die for. Really really good. Suburban Utopia has the recipe for these wonderful rolls.

Click here to get the recipe!


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

DIY Wednesday: Seriously Cheap Floor Rug!

Hi Everyone!

As you know, we've moved and are in the process of decorating a very large house. Our previous home had all carpeted floors and our new home's very large bedroom is all hard surface. (Not really hardwood per se...looks like the subfloor I had on my floor in my old home)

Not only can it be cold, and the unfinished floor can pinch your toes, but the hard surface means that every time our large German Shorthair Pointer jumps out of bed it's loud and not only wakes us, the other two dogs but has been known to wake the baby.

Our bed with our new carpet rug!

So, since we rent, carpeting isn't really an option. But a rug is. However, we have a king size bed. A rug that would fit under the bed (which is approximately 6 feet by 7 feet) and still be big enough to muffle the sound of a dog falling out of bed would be quite expensive. Like around $300 expensive...for a lame boring not soft one.

I've googled "cheap rug" at least a hundred times trying to find a solution. Over and over, carpet remnants would come up but usually websites would say that it wasn't a great idea and it would unravel. You'd have to get it bound to prevent that and it would be expensive.

Well....bounding is easy enough. Get a remnant and save a load of money!

Step One: Go get a remnant.

"Before" Image. Hard floor.

I went to my local Lowes and found a nice looking remnant. It was 5 feet wide and 12 feet long. An odd measurement, but I decided I'd work with it for $47.00. I then cut it in half with a utility knife. A great way to get a straight line is a chalk line. Just use a utility knife along the chalk line. My dad discovered this while installing carpet in my old house. I cut mine pretty odd (in a U shape) under the bed so I wouldn't waste rug that wouldn't be used. So my rug actually ended up looking like it was around 10 feet by 10 feet. My rug didn't have an attached pad, but still was plush. If you could manage one with pad, I think you're rug would be even more comfortable.

After purchasing my remnant, I got my binding supplies: some grosgrain wide ribbon in a matching color and hot glue sticks. (I use grosgrain because it doesn't show hot glue as easy) Those purchases cost about $5.00

Therefore, I ended up with a rug that was 6 feet by 10 feet (but looked like it was 10 feet by 10 feet) for $52.00. That's right $52.00!!!

Step Two: Leave it or Bind it

Now, you can leave the rug without binding, especially if you're not going to use the rug for a long time. Or you can bind it.

Unfinished Edge

First, start by working around the edges and hot gluing the ribbon to the carpet. I found the easiest way to do this is to first glue the ribbon to the back of the remnant. This allows two things: the ribbon to look even on the front and allows you more control on the front.

Of course, you need to work in small segments since the glue dries quickly.

Working my way around the edge of the remnant.

You will probably find that the process gets easier the longer you do it, therefore, I'd start on a section that will be hidden if you can. The main issue you want to watch is keeping the ribbon even on the front. You can also choose to put less ribbon on the front for a different more polished look. I wanted to make sure I got all the loose fibers got caught so I went a bit wide.

Finished Binding

"After" Picture (with my lovely German Shorthair Pointer, Cash, modeling the bed)

Now, that looks much better! Now I just have to 1) Make a headboard 2) Make a duvet cover and 3) Paint my night stands...then just half of the bedroom will be done!
I'm tired thinking about it!


DIY Wednesday: Valentine's Garland & Cards

Hi There,

Time for some Valentine's decorations! I usually only decorate for Christmas, but since I now have a child, I kinda like to get in the celebratory spirit for each holiday (even the "greeting card" ones!)

I did a very simple project with scrapbook paper. I tried to mix it up and put some blue in and different textures even if it's a simple project. I simply cut the paper into different size hearts, used a hole punch on each side of the heart and threaded some ribbon through.

These are some Valentines me and my 9 month old daughter made. It was her first time coloring...she was a bit more interested in eating the crayons rather than using them :)

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