Monday, April 23, 2012

Crafty Family: Hooked Rug

My newest blog segment will be featuring crafts made by family members. We have so many talented folks in our family, and I am excited to show off some fabulous projects that they have made.

Up first is a rug made by hand by my mama. Not only does she create beautiful handmade rugs, but they are made from upcycled wool clothing! She scours thrift stores in search of 100% wool garments, rips the seams apart, sometimes dyes them new colors, cuts the fabric into thin strips, and hooks the strips through canvas to create beautiful rugs. It is pretty cool that she is able to turn 80's shoulder-pad suits into these beautiful and functional works of art! She started rug hooking a few years back and has made dozens of rugs already. Her house is adorned with some, she has given many as gifts, and has even donated some to be sold at auctions for charities.

She made this one for Penny before she was born, and it now sits proudly in Penny's room. She loves to point out the animals that she knows and say their sounds. My mom also made a Noah's ark rug for Penny's cousin and is working on a huge four-season tree one for our kitchen. Here are a few detail shots:

In the close-ups, you can really see the individual wool strips that make up the larger images. And here is what the back looks like in case you are curious:

She also made this one for us a few years back. It is super, super thick and feels like walking on pillows. It is a more primitive technique called "proddy" in which thick strips are used instead of the thinner ones.

If you're interested in learning more about rug hooking, here are a few links:
Rug Hooking on Wikipedia
Hungry Hook Primitives Tutorial
Rug Hookers Network Tutorials
Jeanne Sullivan Design Tutorial
Rug Hooking 101

Friday, April 20, 2012

Real Diaper Week: Day 5

Happy Real Diaper Week, people! The great cloth diaper change will happen TOMORROW, April 21st, in which we will attempt to break the Guinness Book record for the largest simultaneous cloth diaper change. Check to see if there is an event being hosted in your area (chances are good!) and join in the fun. Leading up to the big event this week, many bloggers are following the themes posted at the link above. Today's theme is Real Simple Real Diapers Reuse, and the blog hop at the Eco Chic is interpreting that as traveling with cloth.

Today I'm going to talk a bit about my favorite ways to travel while still using cloth diapers, but first I will list some of my credentials in this area:
  • my kid was on over 25 flights during her first year of life (I lost track after that, but I know it's more)
  • we moved halfway across the country when my daughter was 4 months old
  • during our move, we were in and out of hotels and without our "household goods" (that's what they call the stuff in the moving van) for about a month
  • we have immediate family in 7 states and have visited 6 of them with Penny
  • we have traveled by plane, train, and automobile with the baby in tow
Here are all of the ways I can think of to diaper on the go, and we have tried all of them:
  • use a diaper service at your destination
  • pack diapers and launder them where you're staying
  • pack diapers and use a laundromat
  • pack diapers and hand wash them
  • pack enough diapers to use them and bring them home dirty
  • use disposables 
Yes, I admit to using disposables while traveling. Once. I will never do it again. I couldn't handle that disposable diaper smell. I don't really want to bash disposables here, so I will just say that it is not for me. Even with the convenience factor considered, in my opinion, there are far better options. My preferred method of cloth diapering while traveling varies depending on the situation. Here are my recommendations:

1. Use a diaper service at your destination. This option is perfect for when you're staying with family/friends and are shy about asking to wash dipes in their laundry machines or when you're staying somewhere without laundry facilities. I bring my own covers and small wet bags (the ones that go in the diaper bag), and the diaper service provides the prefolds and the large wet bag. I've done this twice now, and it really simplifies everything. Nothing extra to pack or cart home. All the convenience of sposies with all of the clean, healthy, fresh, green benefits of cloth. It usually costs under $20 for a week (depending on how many dipes you need), which is probably what you'd spend on a pack of sposies, and diaper services are almost everywhere these days.

2. Pack diapers and wash them at your destination. This is perfect if you're staying in a rental, timeshare, or condo with a washer & dryer, or if you're staying with family members who are supportive of cloth. Remember to pack your own detergent, and it's probably a good idea to do a load of towels or other clothes with your detergent in the washer first–just to clear out any remaining buildup/residue. If there's no washer on site, you can take your dipes to a laundromat or wash them by hand (although I do think using a service is better than washing by hand). I did both of these while we were moving and staying in hotels. If you ask at the front desk of your hotel, they are usually helpful about directing you to the closest laundry facilities. Often times, there are even laundry facilities on site that you can use.

3. Pack enough diapers and bring them home dirty. This is really only practical for very short trips, but if you're headed out for just a night or two, this is totally an option. Although, I always wonder what would happen if TSA had to hand-search a bag of dirty diapers. Talk about a dirty job.

When packing diapers for travel, I prefer to bring either flats, prefolds, or a Flip/Grovia AI2 type system with inserts/covers. Pockets and AIOs don't pack well in my opinion, as they take up so much space. Also, it's a good idea to throw any dirty diapers in the wash right before you leave so that they aren't sitting dirty the whole time you're gone. If you want to completely avoid sposies, you'll always need at least a couple cloth dipes for the day of travel there and back, even if you are using a service at your destination.

Happy travels, folks! Where are you headed on your next vacation?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Real Diaper Week Day 4: Cloth Diaper in Daycare

Happy Real Diaper Week, people! The great cloth diaper change will happen this Saturday, April 21st, in which we will attempt to break the Guinness Book record for the largest simultaneous cloth diaper change. Check to see if there is an event being hosted in your area (chances are good!) and join in the fun. Leading up to the big event this week, many bloggers are following the themes posted at the link above. Today's theme is real simple real diapers for babies, and the blog hop at the Eco Chic is interpreting that as health benefits, cloth diapers in hospitals, or cloth diapers in day cares. Today, I'm sharing a post from my archives (4/11/11) about cloth diapers and daycare. Enjoy!

The topic of daycare diapering has come up a few times lately, so I wanted to address this subject. First of all, the Real Diaper Association has a page dedicated to Daycare Cloth Diapering. This is a great resource for parents who want to find a cloth diaper-friendly daycare or convince their current daycare to accept cloth diapers. It sounds like the reasons that daycares may be against cloth diapering are the same reasons that families may not be using cloth diapers: mainly lack of education on the subject and lack of exposure to cloth diapers.

There are some daycare facilities out there who gladly accept cloth diapers–the RDA has a list available. If you are already using a daycare that is not on the list, have a conversation with the people running your facility. Show them what cloth diapers look like these days. Show them how everything will work. Once they get all of the relevant information, they will realize that using cloth diapers will not be all that different from what they're already doing. They will also experience fewer (i.e. no) blowouts, which means they will spend less time changing your baby into clean clothes! They will have less trash to deal with, and your baby will be potty trained at age 2 and a half, so your daycare will have a YEAR of fewer diaper changes for your child! It may also save them money if they are accustomed to providing diapers. If they are still hesitant, perhaps you can convince them to try it out for a few weeks. Remember, your daycare consists of people who work for you! You are paying them to provide a service to you.

If your baby goes to daycare and you see that as a hangup to switching to cloth, here are some ideas as to how cloth diapering will work at daycare:

  • You may have better luck convincing daycare to use cloth if you choose all-in-one or pocket-style diapers (see Cloth Diapering 101) with velcro ("hook & loop) closures. These will be the closest to using disposables in terms of how the diaper change will go. 
  • You could also consider hybrid diapers with disposable inserts as a transition tool. Once they get used to the hybrid diapers, switching out the sposie inserts for cloth ones will just be a small step.
  • Purchase several wet bags. Each day, you will send a wet bag and several clean diapers to daycare. If you're using pocket-style, make sure the pockets are pre-stuffed and ready to go on your baby. The caregivers will drop the dirty diapers into the wet bag after a diaper change. When you get home, you can dump the contents of the wet bag into your diaper pail and throw the used wet bag in your pail as well. An exception to this would be if there is a poopy diaper in the wet bag. In this case, you'd pull that one out separately and deal with the poop (see the Poo Page). If you're using poo liners, you may be able to convince your daycare providers to dispose of the liner and poo before putting the dirty diaper into your wet bag to make it a little easier on you when you get home.

If daycare is the only reason you aren't switching, you could do part-time cloth diapering and still save yourself a bundle (as well as reap all of the other benefits of using cloth). Cloth diaper on the weekends and at night for a few weeks and see how it goes. After giving yourself a trial period, you will probably come to love cloth diapers and realize that it really isn't that different from using disposables. That may be the motivation you need to convince daycare to accept them and go full-time. Even if you don't go full-time, part-time cloth diapering is still better than no cloth diapering!

Anyone have first-hand experience with cloth diapers and daycare?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Real Diaper Week Days 2&3

Happy Real Diaper Week, people! The great cloth diaper change will happen this Saturday, April 21st, in which we will attempt to break the Guinness Book record for the largest simultaneous cloth diaper change. Check to see if there is an event being hosted in your area (chances are good!) and join in the fun. Leading up to the big event this week, many bloggers are following the themes posted at the link above. 

I know I missed Day 2–sometimes I just can't blog every day. I'm a mom, ya know. Things come up. Yesterday's theme was real simple real diapers waste reduction, and today's is cost savings. The blog hop at the Eco Chic focused on environmental benefits yesterday and cost savings today. I did address some cost savings information on Monday by telling you how you can cloth diaper for free, so go read that. I was going to share some fun facts about the environmental and cost benefits to cloth today, but honestly, I think this information is already presented incredibly well by the Real Diaper Association. Why re-invent the wheel? So please follow this link, and read all about the benefits of cloth. I know most people don't follow links in blogs, but just do it this once. Go read it. It'll only take a couple minutes and will prove very enlightening. I can't copy the facts over here because they're copyrighted, so you've got to click.

I will tell you a couple of things just to pique your curiosity.
  • Dioxin is the number one most toxic of all cancer-causing chemicals. Dioxin is found in disposable diapers. That's right–we put this chemical right up against our newborn babies' most sensitive areas. It is illegal in most other countries, but here in the USA, there aren't any restrictions on its usage.
  • It takes over twice as much water to manufacture disposable diapers as it does to wash cloth ones.
  • Regardless of what type of diaper is being used, feces is supposed to go in the toilet. Over 99% of disposable diaper users do not follow this rule, which leads to contamination of groundwater and outbreaks of e coli. There's a reason we don't poop in the trash can.
  • Kids go through 5,000 diaper changes in the first 20 months of life (at 8 changes/day avg). Here is what 5,000 diapers looks like. You could at least double this for the typical usage of the average American baby, as potty training is rarely completed by 40 months.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Real Diaper Week Day 1: Cloth Diaper FOR FREE

Happy Real Diaper Week, people! The great cloth diaper change will happen this Saturday, April 21st, in which we will attempt to break the Guinness Book record for the largest simultaneous cloth diaper change. Check to see if there is an event being hosted in your area (chances are good!) and join in the fun. Leading up to the big event this week, many bloggers are following the themes posted at the link above. Today's theme is real simple real diaper outreach, and the blog hop at the Eco Chic is interpreting that as cloth diapering 101. I already have my CD 101 information linked on my home page, so feel free to go read that.

In the spirit of today's theme, I'm going to present a very doable (in my opinion) and specific plan for how to "switch over" to cloth, no matter what stage of diapering you are in, without spending an extra dime. Please note that this plan is put together based on prices and what's available right now, today. I'm using my favorite and local cloth diaper stores and services as my references, but check your local resources, as many CD stores and services also offer these diapers. You can also get really great deals on used cloth diapers. Check craigslist, ebay, diaper swappers, and your local baby consignment shop. Many CD retailers also sell used diapers on consignment. In Omaha, one of our local CD stores always has consignment diapers on hand, and there is also a huge used diaper sale twice/year put on by the other CD store. There might be something similar in your community, but if you aren't wanting to wait for these sales, here's some information to guide you and help you right now.

Ok, so according to RDA, the average monthly budget for disposable diapers is $66. For this example, I'm going to assume that you can put up one month's diaper budget up front. I'm also assuming a baby who is at least 7 pounds. So at the beginning of the month, instead of buying sposies, here's your shopping list:
3 Econobum covers ($9 ea) ................$27
24 used osocozy prefolds ($6 per 6) ...$24
1 Kissa's Pail Liner..............................$15

Use the padfold for your prefolds (as shown). You absolutely cannot go wrong with this setup. The pad fold with covers is about as easy as cloth diapering gets. You basically just fold the diaper in thirds so that it's a long rectangle, but here's a tutorial. I like to keep them padfolded in my diaper drawer so that I can just grab a clean one and lay it in the cover. At night, just use two or three padfolded diapers. Cotton prefolds are very forgiving with laundry routines, so you have a high chance of success with these in that respect also. They can be bleached occasionally without problems and can be dried on high heat without showing much wear. As for covers, just wipe the inside with a wipe between diaper changes and use the same cover all day. You only need to wash it if it gets really dirty where isn't really clean after a quick wipe down. If you'll be away from home while diapering, keep a plastic bag in your diaper bag to store your dirty dipes until you get home.

With this plan, here's your frequency of washing based on baby's age or number of diaper changes/day:
0-3 mos– every 2 days (12 diapers/day)
3-6 mos– every 3 days (8 diapers/day)
6-24 mos– every 4 days (6 diapers/day)
24 mos & up (potty training)– every 5-6 days (up to 4-5 diapers/day) FYI 90-95% of cloth diapered kids are potty trained at age 2 and a half.
Adjust accordingly as to how many diapers your child goes through. Regardless of what type of diaper a child is in, diapers should be changed every 3-4 hours. The more frequent changes at younger ages are usually due to more frequent bowel movements at those ages.

The second month, you would be spending another $66 if you were still using sposies, but now you won't have to buy diapers at all! You may wish to pick up a few more things to make life a little easier. Here's my optional shopping list for month 2:

1 Kissa's Pail Liner..................$15
2 small Kushies wet bags......................$11.50
3 Econobum covers ($9 ea) ....$27
1 yard fleece fabric..................$5
Total ........................................$53.50

Look at that–under budget! I feel like I'm on a reality show! No, honestly, I can't think of another thing you'd need, so you'll be saving money after the first month. The small wet bags are to keep in your diaper bag to store soiled diapers while away from home. When you get home, toss the dirty diapers in your diaper pail and rinse out the wet bag, wipe it clean, or toss it in with your dirty dipes if it really needs washing. Since you have two, you'll always have a clean one. The extra pail liner is so that you always have one clean while yours is in the wash. The fleece fabric can made into stay-dry liners as described in this post.

I would also recommend changing your laundry detergent to Charlie's Soap whenever your old stuff runs out. It's very economical (especially when purchased in bulk), very green, free of anything that could cause problems for sensitive skin, and won't cause buildup in your diapers. Use it for all of your laundry. More on laundry here.

The third month, you can really start saving. Save for new, fancier diapers if you want to. Although, most of the CDing moms I know just use prefolds and covers and love them. Or save for rising gas prices, organic food, a family vacation, college tuition, a new boat. Whatever you want, folks! And when your kid turns two and a half and is using the toilet, sit back, kick your feet up, and have a glass of wine. And toast to all those poor saps who didn't take this advice and are still changing diapers and, quite literally, throwing money away!

Please share this post with any parents you know who are using disposable diapers, and maybe they will be inspired to make the switch.


The links are just examples to show you what you can find. Econobum covers are the best deal I've found for a one-size cover (which means it will fit from 7-40 pounds). The store linked for the covers is Cotton Babies, based in St. Louis and the company who makes Econobum (along with lots of other popular CD brands), and they always have free shipping. They also have a money back guarantee on everything, so you can feel free to try anything and send it back for a refund if you don't like it. How cool is that? The used prefolds are from my local diaper service, but I'm sure you can find used prefolds at lots and lots of places. Check with your local diaper service. Even new, they are only about $2 each for really high quality ones. You can get lower quality new ones for the same price as high quality used ones. As for the wet bags/pail liner, the Kissa's pail liner and Kushies wet bag are the ones I have and are the best prices I was able to find. I think the Bummi's large would also work as a pail liner, and I think it's only $11, but I can't find it in stock anywhere right now. You can always find fleece remnants for super cheap at Jo-Ann or other fabric stores, so you can probably find that for even less.

Friday, April 13, 2012


I've been posting lots of vegan recipes and links over on my Facebook page. I am sort of obsessed with Post Punk Kitchen and am amazed at how creative and awesome every recipe there is. I especially love that she uses things like lentils and brown rice to create healthy, filling, meat-alternatives rather than always using soy or wheat. Everything I've tried has tasted great, so I'll just tell you about the difficulty levels and time. Here's what we have made from there so far and my thoughts:

Tamale Shepherd's pie: medium difficulty, medium time-wise
Snobby Joes: easy, quick. I think there is something wrong with our chili powder because these were so spicy we could barely eat them. We made them again and skipped the chili powder and they were awesome. Maybe taste before adding the chili powder?
Pesto: medium, quick (we doubled the noodles and used the recommended amount of sauce, and that was perfect for us)
Beet burgers: medium, medium. This recipe also works as a healthy, homemade meat substitute if you want to make a "meat" sauce for pasta or something
Tofu balls: medium, quick. We could taste the peanut butter, so we might make a substitute for that if we made these again, but I love that they give the illusion of meatballs.
Sunflower mac: medium, medium. 
Curry Udon: easy, medium
Curry Fries: easy, medium

If you're looking for a quick and easy weeknight meal, try the snobby joes. If you have more time and want to get a little fancy, go for the tamale shepherd's pie. Those were my favorites so far.

Also, I think I may have to get a Vita-Mix. I have been using the food processor so much that I think it would be worth it. It's what all the vegans are doing. Right?

Finally, a friend of mine started a blog to share her kid-friendly vegan recipes. Check her out at Food Therapy for Five. This cookbook is also great with lots of seasonal vegan recipes, although I feel like a lot of the recipes in that book feel more like side dishes to me than entrees. That seems to be the biggest challenge, one which PPK (above) has really mastered.

I would love to hear from you and get input on your favorite recipes and sources for vegan cooking. Join the conversation over at FB or post in the comments here. Also, is anyone interested in a cook-along? Something like choosing a recipe that we will all make on the same night?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Sunshine Clutch

I joined in on the sew-along at See Kate Sew, and here's my sunshine clutch!

Wanna know the best part? Other than the ruffle, this clutch is 100% upcycled! The "i love you" fabric was part of an old t-shirt I used to wear, and the white linen came from a pair of my hubby's shorts that are now too big. The ruffle was just a scrap from my bin, so I didn't have to buy a thing for this project. I just love breathing new life into old things and finding ways to reuse.

Open...and cute little details make this so fun.

In fact, I like the inside so much that I might even like this better inside-out!

I guess that is part of the beauty of this design that Kate came up with.

What do you think? Love on the inside, or love on the outside?

Go check out the other sunshine clutches and maybe even make your own! (It's not hard–I promise.)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Easter bonnet and other ruffled sewing

Gigi (my mom) sent Penny a sweet Easter dress, but she was afraid a bonnet wouldn't ship well. My grandmother always sent me a new dress for Easter, and I loved tearing open the box and twirling around in whatever frilly, girlie frock arrived, so I definitely think buying dresses is a grandmotherly tradition. But what Easter dress is complete without a bonnet? Really. Rather than buy one, I searched the world wide web (and Pinterest) to see what I could make. I became smitten with this adorable ruffled bonnet at The Cottage Home. Simple. Ruffled. Sweet. Adjustable. All of the things I look for in a springtime sewing project. I used a pink fabric that's been sitting in my stash for awhile and a cream bedsheet for the ruffle. You could totally make this reversible by using a contrasting color for the lining, but I used pink for both sides. This was a great tutorial, but if I made another one, here's what I would change:
1) I would make the strips for the ties wider OR press them right-sides out before sewing and just topstitch from the right side. It was super difficult to turn them after sewing such narrow strips.
2) I would use the extra-wide single-fold bias tape. It didn't specify, so maybe that is what the tutorial had in mind, but I used the regular width, and I think it would have been near impossible to guide my ribbon through the bias tape space in the back after sewing. I laid the ribbon in the slot and then sewed the bias tape on, but even that was tricky.
I love that this bonnet is adjustable by opening or closing the back ribbon. Maybe Penny will be able to wear it for another Easter or two. Here are a few more photos:

She could be Little Bo Peep in that last one!

Another Penny project I finished recently is this cute little softball dress. Josh and I had signed up for a softball team last fall, and all of the games were super late at night, so I didn't go to a single one. I hated to get rid of the t-shirt after never wearing it, so I turned it into a cute little dress for the girl. Sadly, I didn't get a "before" picture, but it was one of those 3/4 sleeved baseball tees. I took the sleeves off, took the sides in, and used the sleeves to make little flutter sleeves and a ruffle for the hem.
This was super easy, super fast, and looks so cute! She will have to be the team mascot if we play again.

LOVE this one!!

If you're in the mood for more ruffles, Kate is celebrating Ruffles 2012 over at See Kate Sew, so go get your fix there!

On an unrelated note, I am running out of photo storage space, so I'll be deleting some older photos. I will still post lots of photos, but then I will pare down to just a couple highlights as the posts get older. Sorry if anything gets lost in the shuffle. Let me know if you find any major holes if you're looking through the archives.