Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Cloth Diapers and Reviews

If you are like me when you hear those mom's boasting about cloth diapering, breast feeding, etc., you picture mom's who whip their tops off in public to nurse, co-sleep with their kids until they are 8 and have babies wrapped in organic muslin that they then wash in the stream... I have quite the imagination I know but turns out "normal" people can cloth diaper too! Just let me think I'm normal, please!
First of all, don't buy into the whole "it's really easy" speal you hear from veteran cloth diaper-ers. It is like when I give my husband a recipe for dinner, say "don't worry, it's really easy" and am then surprised when he messes it up. It is easy for me because I have cooked it 100 times have been in the kitchen with Mom since I was a kid, and also have restaurant experience under my belt. So cloth diapering is easy...once you get used to it
When we first started cloth diapering I hated it, after about a week I finally decided we would just cloth diaper 2-3 days a week, and only because we had the diapers so may as well use them. I figured we would still save a little money as a pack of disposables would last longer. However the more we did it the more I got comfortable with it. At our house we didn't start cloth diapering until Cooper was about a month old, I really can't imagine worrying about laundry and stuffing diapers with this newborn who I barely know, along with the physical stress that comes with giving birth. At this point we cloth diaper about 60% of the time and are working toward using cloth more frequently

We still do not cloth diaper outside of the home, once we run out of gifted diapers we will probably cloth diaper more, but we have the diapers so why not? I also use disposables at night because he sleeps at least 8 hours if not longer and I do think the disposables absorb better and therefore equal a dry toosh. Once the budget has some give I will buy some overnight inserts and we will try cloth overnight. We also found for our son, cloth diapers actually worsen his diaper rash, so we will always have a few disposables on hand. I have heard of other mom's who only cloth diaper when their babies HAVE diaper rash, so the whole "every baby is different" thing is frustratingly true.

Now onto the diapers, we are currently using a handful of brands, they all have pros and cons but none to the point of "I won't use X brand" or "I will only use Y brand".

Lovely Pocket Diapers - I bought these used from a friend, they were in great condition, the ones I have come in newborn and one size. The newborn ones were not true pocket diapers, the insert was sewn in and they took forever to dry. Thanks to my handy dandy seam ripper, they are now legit pockets.
Pros: Not bulky and easy to use
Cons: the texture of the liners attract everything! They come out clean but with little pills from other fabrics as well as an abundance of pet hair.
Cost: $7 without shipping, new. I paid about 6 for each of mine

Sunny Babies - I get mine from shopdiapers.com, they ship from China so I have paid extra to get expedited (8-15 days) shipping. They are probably the cheapest or one of the cheapest I have found.
Pros: Come in solid colors as well as cute patterns. Cheap!
Cons: Bulky, the liner is 3-4 inches wide. They only have one row of snaps so I feel like it isn't the most secure fit.
Cost: $5-7 without shipping new

Alva - I also get these from shopdiapers.com so same shipping issue. They offer snap closures as well as hook and loop or self sticking.I really like the Velcro because Cooper has a Buddha belly and the key to no leaks is a tight diaper, I don't feel like I am hurting him when I get the diaper really tight because I don't have to stick my fingers underneath the snaps against his belly.
Pros: Very trim! Not much bulkier than a disposable diaper
Cons: It is so trim sometimes the goods come out the sides! I am sure this isn't an issue for girl babies.

Flip - The flip is a hybrid diaper, no pocket, just an insert that is "held" on each end by an edge of fabric. The great part about hybrids is you can just change out the insert, I have 2 covers so when I change an insert I use the other cover so the the most recently used cover can "air out". I can just use the two covers almost all day, I only have 2 slip liners but my Sunny Baby liners fit in them and I have an abundance of those. However I have a child who wants his money's worth when it comes to poo smear, he ensures every square centimeter of that diaper is graced with his poo! Thus the cover is no longer reusable, however this is the situation with a pocket diaper as well.
Pros: Super easy, since you just flip out the insert. The have two vertical snaps for a snugger fit.
Cons: No benefit for BM's
Cost: $16 new without shipping, I bought mine used, 2 covers plus inserts for $20

I cut up several old t-shirts into squares then folded them in half, my sewing machine is having issues so a friend sewed the edged using a zig-zag stitch. I have a little bottle of warm water (I reused the "personal care" water bottle I was given in the maternity ward, as well as a bottle of what I call Butt Spray that is a mixture of organic coconut oil, Babyganics bath wash and water. After a true Little G poo I hose him down, wipe, thn polish and wipe with the butt spray!

Daily use and Care:
We have invested in flush-able diaper liners to help reduce the poo! Not all liners are flush-able so read the fine print. Poop still gets on the cloth but not as much, When we change diapers we immediately flip the flush-able liner into the toilet, for a poo diaper I rinse it in the sink with hot water and a little Oxy clean, I remove the liner and rinse it too. For a pee diaper I toss the flush-able liner then throw the diaper into the bag in one piece, the liner will come out in the wash.
I do not keep an actual Wet bag with water and solution in it, just diapers. Reviews seem to be mixed about wet bags, some say they  work as a pre-wash, others say they just collect and grow bacteria. We currently use Charlies Soap, or if I am washing towels with it I might use our Seventh Generation liquid detergent. I throw a scoop of OcyClean in as well, I am hoping to find a product not tested on animals that actually works! Charlie's Soap (very ethical company with no animal testing) makes a spray but it is outrageously expensive for how much you get and has the most unpleasant smell! I am currently trying out Bac Out (which isn't tested on animals, yay), as a pre-treat spray, so far so good and it smells lemony and wonderful. I need to do a load with just the Bac-Out an no Oxy-Clean just to see if it works... but I fear change.
 From what I have read diapers should only be washed at most every other day, so ideally you would want 2-3 days worth of cloth diapers to account for laundry. Leaving diapers wet or dry out in the sun will remove stains, but so will repeated washing's. This weekend we got a new (hand me down, but new to us) washer that has a heavy stain cycle and a sanitize heat setting, I am in heaven!
Air dry both liners and covers, you can dry covers in the dryer but they dry so fast on their own I don't see the point. If I am need of diapers stat I will dry covers and liners for 10-20 minutes after about 40 minutes of air drying. I just dry mine in my laundry room, they would dry much faster outside in the sun and wind.

Even if you just cloth diaper part time, that is still fewer diapers in the landfill, yay for anything that helps the Planet!

More diaper goodness to come! When the Mr. G gets a chance to help me, I plan on having Little G put on a diaper fashion show so I can post pictures!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Food and Eating

As many of my dear friends know, I really enjoy a lot of things about French Culture, not so sure about French people I don't personally know any native French and though we were in a hostile in London with a very rude French family it wouldn't be fair to judge an entire culture by such a small sample.
I am almost finished with my second French parenting book (let me clarify though, these are not step 1. do this, step 2. do that; but more societal comparisons "The French do this, which contrasts with how American's do this because...").

The first book I read was Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman, she is American and her husband is Brittish, both of them being writers they can work anywhere and her husband convinced her to move to France with him as he was already living there. In the end she ends up describing her children as "poorly behaved French kids and very well behaved American kids." What most infatuates me about the French culture as I have now seen in two books, though I am nowhere near an expert on the subject, is most parent's seem to be on the same page about feeding, sleeping, discipline, etc. Which is such a drastic difference to Americans, just make a status about parenting on any social media website and watch how fast the comments come in!

The second book I am reading, I am almost done is called French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon, she is Canadian and her husband is a Frenchmen who was perfectly happy to NOT be in France. I enjoyed this book very much and most enjoyed gaining a different perspective on meals.

To start, I love food, my whole family likes to tease me for how much I love pie! Who doesn't love pie? For the French eating is so culturally ingrained it is basically a past time, and everyone seems to follow very similar "rules" and "procedures" for meal times. I have been a very picky eater since I can remember, I recall going on hunger strikes for take out... usually Arby's... being such a strong willed child it took more times than I care to admit to realize that not only was no one taking me to Arby's but I got zero attention, except maybe the occasional "cut it out." We did not have a short order cook, however we were allowed to make something else ourselves. I appreciated this at the time but I do not appreciate being a picky eater now and my husband and I now enjoy challenging our taste buds by introducing different foods into out meals, even foods we are certain we won't like!

The French do not substitute, you eat what's offered or you do not eat. I can see where some parents would think this is cruel but the book did bring up the good point that no one is trying to get their child to eat worms, they are trying to get them to eat generally well liked and nutritional foods. If a child doesn't eat dinner, they will just eat better at breakfast. Something at first I did not like was that if a child refuses to try something the French just let it go, or even remove the item from the plate. I was firmly of the belief that kids should HAVE to try everything. Karen explains that by removing the food, you are stopping the power struggle , there is no argument to be had. Then apparently next time the food is at the table you gently encourage the child to try it again.

Of course I do not have children (until June 2014) but I feel very lucky to be around friends and relatives with kiddos who are in general good eaters. We have good friends whose children are good eaters (Simon and I are still getting used to introducing more veggies) their daughter who has always been offered these foods, will down a small bowl of cherry tomatoes like it were candy! Like the French they encourage her to eat what they are having, and if she doesn't want it, fine, no big deal. There is usually enough options she finds something she enjoys!

Options is what finally encourage me to start writing this today. Of course the French eat multiple courses with every meal... because it's fancy. This is a very strange thing to me as I am most used to eating, a main dish, and that is all. We didn't have big elaborate meals growing up, my parents always made pretty fancy salads but I was not a salad eater so often I just got the main entree.

We have started doing not necessarily courses, but kind of. I have been trying to do a little appetizer, like chips and salsa or my bacon stuffed pepper that are easily thrown in the oven for 20 minutes, with or without a salad, a main course (it's still hard for me to remember to prepare a side dish) and a small dessert, usually just ice cream. We eat less of each thing so we are eating the same amount, but getting a wider variety of food.

Now what really prompted me to write the post I have been wanting to write for weeks, but of course putting off because I'm lazy. I plan on prepping my chicken tetrazzini tonight for tomorrow's meal, so the thought of making an actual dinner for us in addition seemed daunting. I knew what we had left in the Eat Out budget and thought sandwiches were sounding, easy and within the budget. I got to the grocery store, we needed eggs and of course ice cream, before I headed to the eggs section I thought "I should look at the cheese!" Simon's mom almost always serve a cheese plate before meals, my bet is because her husband is British, or like any sane person she just loves cheese! I got some multi-grain crackers, smoked Gouda, (my favorite because as creepy as it is, it sort of tastes like meat) a Spinach-artichoke cheese, and some Laughing Cow soft Swiss. Suddenly I was exited to make a dinner, I love surprising my husband (he has an almost scary passion for cheese) and of course I really enjoy making meals he will love! I was so excited to cut everything up and make it look all pretty, for dinner we had popcorn shrimp and some kind of potato side, it was a potato sliced (not all the way through) with oil and salt and pepper, needless to say someone posted it on Facebook.

What I enjoyed most about the French eating book is it gave lots of info about how the French eat as well as how they incorporated these tactics into their own family's eating lifestyle. For example French kids eat one snack a day, and French adults don't snack at all, however when the family moves back to Canada after a year in France they practically have to let their children snack. Not only does their school age daughter only get 10 minutes to eat her lunch (after all the work her parent's spent teaching her to eat slowly!) and there are several designated snack times within the school day.

I personally have been working on my snacking as well, this was harder earlier in my pregnancy because my blood sugar level was so crazy but it's fine now and it's really crazy how much I was eating just to eat! I decided to simply monitor the snacks and if I was actually hungry I would eat, if I was simply thinking "I bet that would taste good" then I wouldn't, needless to say as long as I am paying attention to my snacking, I don't snack as much and I even go whole days without snacking!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Favorite Creulty Free Products

It seems like only a few months ago that I was so frustrated about not being able to find cruelty free (not tested on animals) products in stores. The most popular dogs in researchs labs are beagles, as you may know I have a very very soft spot for all animals especially dogs and especially beagles! I won't horrify you with pictures of lab animals but I think animal testing is just something people never think about.

                                                How cute is my Wonder Woman Beagle?

Last time I got my haircut my stylist was recommending a product and I told her I prefer Paul Mitchell products because they are creulty free and she said "are all the other products really tested on animals?" it's just one of those things no one and thinks about and until recently it was so hard to find cleaning/beauty products that weren't tested on animals!

Unfortunately for me my blog is not sponsered so I am not a paid advertiser but I just wanted to share my favorite products and where I got them in case you ever feel the need to be creulty free! Of course not all of our products are cruelty free, it makes no sense to throw things out, I already paid for them and thus supported the company's practices but I am in the process of making our house a "cruelty free" home!

                                                     My humble collection

Here we go...

Brand: Seventh Generation
What: Laundry/dish detergent, they also make paper products
Where: HyVee, Target and Whole Foods
Other: Also paraben free, meaning if it ever ends up in a lake it will break down and not effect the natural habitat

Brand: J.R. Watkins
What: All Purpose cleaner
Where: Target
Other: Smells great

Brand: Paul Mitchell
What: Shampoo and other hair products
Where: Almost any salon from Great Clips to the fancy places I don't go to
Other: It isn't cheap but priced the same as the other salon only shampoo.

Brand: Yes (yes to cucumber, carrots, etc)
What: Body wash and lotion, etc
Where: HyVee and Whole Foods
Other: It smells just like fresh cut cucumbers and is just super clean feeling

Brand: Tom's of Maine
What: Toothpaste
Where: HyVee and Whole Foods
Other: This has to be one of the most socially conscious companies out there, natural products, recycling, employees are paid to volunteer, you name it! 

I forgot to take a pic of our hand soap but we use Bath and Body Works because none of their products are tested on animals, and all their stuff is cute which is a plus.

I used to be really into cleaning products and cosmetics so I had a bunch of everything, but my step father in law was more than happy to crush my love of these products by explaining to me how they are all the same (he has a Ph.D. in chemistry so I know he's right). I still have quite a bit of stuff but I don't plan on replacing all of it when it runs out. I am always finding more and more organic products at every store I go to, if the same demand is there for cruelty free products I can only guess companies would make these products available!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Home Buying-Part 1

As promised I am blogging today about home buying! We start our REAL search with an agent in March, we are beyond excited
The very frst step is to figure out what you can afford, and you will most likely need to create a budget to get an accurate assessment of what that it is. I use a spread sheet with formulas, but I used to use a notebook... but I lost it all the time and the Mr. would always have to find it! Oops! I would be happy to share a copy of my budget format if someone can tell me how to put it on here!

One tip I cannot stress enough:
                What you can afford does NOT equal what you will get approved for!
Lenders look at gross income (before taxes are taken out) and debt, student loans, cars, credit cards, etc. They do NOT look at your luxury spending such as groceries, fuel, heat! Which unfortuantely means you will have to be a grown up and restrain yourself, because a realtor will be more than happy to sell you a home you can't afford. The Mr and I look at pricier homes and say "we could buy that house... or we could go on vacation a few times a year or go on fun dates" we don't want to be struggling to make a house payment. Our lender asked us our price range and approved us for that but the Mr spoke to one lender one the phone and they gave us an estimate of what we would get approved for that made both of us say "something exasperative and explicit".

When buying a house as a couple both your credit scores will play a factor and it's not bad to look into what your debt:income ratio is, there are many online calculators.  Make sure your taxes from the last 2 years are in order, we ran into a bump with our first house and after several trips to the IRS office and the accountant's we were able to sort it out, but it was so not worth the stress. Needless to say we don't do our own taxes anymore!

Get an agent you know, this is one of those places you want to take your mom up on the always "Oh I have a friend..." you need this person to have your best interest in mind. We really feel our first agent was only out for himself but it was our first home so we didn't even realize that until we had to sell our house. Our agent works with a large firm that does a lot of investing so at first I was apprehensive, but he has already pointed out some great things we wouldn't have thought about  because he looks at home appreciation, after our last house we definitely want this house to appreciate in value!

Get an idea of what you want, what both of you want. We have tried several times to make a hard list but there are just too many factors! Close to work... unless it has everything else we want, 4 bedrooms...unless it has a bonus room, and the list of "unless's" goes on and on.

Take your family's advice into account... sort of... my dad is big DYI farm boy so when it somes to "how easy could we fix this, etc" he is my go to guy! However keep in mind they will shove advice on you whether they know what they are talking about or not, so if you don't think they REALLY have an answer, maybe just skip it. Also keep in mind things like will your family be there all the time, if yes it may be important to you that they are comfortable, if not then get what you and your spouse want for your family.

Lastly on a totally unrelated topic, there has been major snow in KC and I worked from home today so I thought I would share two lovely photos.

Hanky frolicking in the snow
                                                                  Zoe in a wig
Have a great weekend!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Buffalo Ravs and BWW Worthy Boneless Wings

This past week I made two awesome meals, I almost hate to share them because I want to hoard the awesomeness, but I know how often I get recipes from blogs and how much I appreciate it.

I have realized I will never be a great blogger because I cook just like my Great Grandma Viv, no recipe, a little of this a little of that and you better know your way around a kitchen because I don't direct well, my poor Mr has quite the time getting cooking help for me because I can't wrap my head around the fact that not everyone loves to cook and has been doing so since they were 8!

Buffalo Ravioli

We discovered these at Stefanina's, a local Italian restaurant in Troy Missouri. The concept it so simple yet so tasty... toasted ravioli, in buffalo sauce, dipped in ranch!

You will need:
Pre-packaged toasted ravioli (I used the cheap brand from Hyvee and they were perfect)
3-4 tbs Butter
1/3-1/4 cup Frank's Red Hot
Ranch dressing or Bleu Cheese dressing

Recommended Materials:
Huge bowl w/ lid

I didn't plan on blogging this therefore did not take any pictures, so just use your imagination:

How to:
Cook ravioli's to directions on package
While they are cooking melt butter in pan or microwave... How much butter and sauce you use will make the sauce more mild or hotter, I used 4 tbs butter with 1/4 cup hot sauce and it was very good but almost too mild.
Using whisk or fork blend butter with Frank's (or any other buffalo sauce you enjoy)
Toss ravs and sauce in a large bowl, I have one with a lid so I put the lid on and shake the crap out of it!

Serve with celery, and ranch or bleu cheese. I used the Hidden Valley Ranch from the packet because the bottle kind just wouldn't cut it for these! Enjoy!

BWW Worthy Boneless Wings

No pictures one this one for the same reason as above, I also didn't plan on straying so far from the recipe or on them being so darn good!

The Mr. and I love Buffalo Wild Wing's Boneless wings and though I highly doubt this is how they make theirs, the coating on the chicken was so similar the only real difference was I always get honey BBQ there and I just used original KC Masterpiece on these.  WARNING after typing everything out I realized this is definitely one of those recipes for someone familiar with cooking chicken.

You will need:
1 lb chicken boneless/skinless chicken tenders or breasts (I like the tenders because they tend to be cheaper and you will be cutting them up either way)
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (why not right? But don't try to use more of this flour than regular because it's very grainy and won't stick as well)
2 tbs season salt
1 tsp sea/kosher salt
1/2 tbs black pepper (all of the additional seasonings can be adjusted to taste, or leave some out or add other seasonings if you want)
BBQ Sauce
1 cup canola oil

Recommended Materials:
That big ole bowl again

How to:
Cut the chicken into bit size chunks
With a fork or whisk mix eggs and milk
Soak chicken in egg mixture in the refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour, the recipe said 10 minutes, but my husband wasn't home yet and I didn't like the idea of chicken and egg just sitting out that long so I threw it in the fridge

Preheat oven to 400 F.
Mix flours with your seasonings in large bowls. Remove chicken from egg mixture and coat in flour mixture, then place on a cookie sheet (I covered mine with parchment paper to make clean up faster). Once all pieces are coated and on cookie sheet refrigerate again. I wanted to make sure the mixture was really on there before battering again. After 20 minutes (that was how long it took until the Mr to get home) remove chicken then dunk in egg and re-flour. While doing this heat oil in a pan on about medium. We have a gas stove in our rental and it has a low and a high so this is a guess. Cook about 5 pieces at a time in hot oil using tongs to flip them until golden on both sides (cut into thick pieces if you are worried they aren't done). You will get lots of icky stuff in the pan from the flour breading, so after a few batches I turned the stove off and used a paper towel to blot out the junk!

Once all chicken is cooked, thin out your BBQ sauce with a few tablespoons water... KC Masterpiece is super thick and wonderful and I worried about it sticking to the chicken. In batches place chicken and sauce in bowl and toss with lid on. You can use a big bag or just stir in a bowl if you don't have a bowl with a lid. Place chicken onto a different baking sheet again with parchment paper or aluminum foil (or wash the sheet you used before). When all your chicken is coated cook in oven for 5 minutes, this will cook the sauce onto the chicken. Serve with celery and ranch or bleu cheese. Enjoy!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Gift Wrapping

I really wanted to wait to post this because I didn't want my sister to see the gift I am bringing to her baby shower but now that I wrapped a second gift I couldn't wait.

As I have mentioned I really try to limit waste and as much as I love wrapping paper and fun gift bags (I used to work at Hallmark, of course I love this stuff) it just ends up getting ripped through and tossed. I hit Pinterest up for gifts using brown paper and newspaper. We don't get the newspaper but we were given a UK paper by the Mr's mom so I have quite the stash now. I came across this great bow! So I keep clicking to find the tutorial, which is of course in German! However there were step by step pictures, and I am a pretty smart girl so I figured it out. I was too lazy to make a tutorial but I will list the steps.

-Cut strips of paper (to desired thickness) and make loops
-Use a dot of glue and press together, for big "bows" use your fingers to get the desired round shape on each side, for small holes use a pencil or paint brush/toothpick whatever.
-Keep making smaller loops and repeating the steps until you have the bow you want
-Cut strips with notches on the end for the ends of the bow

The one of the right I followed the tutorial exactly and wrapped a piece of paper in the middle of the bow, I made 3 loops for the one on the right and just glued them all together.

The paper was a little too boring for me so I used brightly colored paper for the blue one and a piece of craft foam to make the dinosaur on the left.

Now your paper can get one last use before hitting the recycling bin!

Monday, January 7, 2013

My Official Rant of 2013

Everyone is making New Year's resolutions, but my Mr. made a great point last night, why are we supposed to make resolutions when it is so stinking cold out? I want to be more active, but I am not that fond of being active and I don't like being cold... so I am going to say my getting more active won't be going down anytime soon!

Anyways instead of a resolution I have chosen to do a rant!

Here goes...

I am officially sick of girls (I'm sure there are some men too) who are in serious relationships but are constantly whining about not being married. I am not talking about those who have been in relationships and are not ready to be married or simply don't want to, but those who are desperate to be married and aren't.

                                          Being engaged was pretty fantabulous if you ask me?

Why would you want to marry someone who obviously doesn't want to marry you? Or keeps pulling you along saying "soon" it is not 1950, and it's not his decision alone. As soon as I met the Mr. I thought "I want that!" and a few months later I knew this was the man I was going to marry, and I told him so. I also told him if we weren't engaged before I graduated I was moving back to St Louis and that was that. So he had about exactly a year to decide if I was the Mrs. for him or not!  

I know that sounds terrible, but my actual thoughts were, "If he doesn't feel the same why about me why would I waste my time?" We looked at rings after 8 months, to my surprise on his suggestion and were engaged at 10 months. Now how we got engaged and married certainly isn't  for everyone, but my point is, don't settle if you aren't getting what you need or want.

A hair stylist told my grandma she was growing her hair out because she thought she would be getting engaged that year. We both thought... "you think you are getting engaged?" This isn't something you talk about? If you don't know I am going to assume that you probably are NOT going anywhere in that relationship!

Hope you enjoyed my rant of 2013, I would love to hear what others' rants are!