Friday, February 26, 2010

My Cloth Diaper Wash Routine

1. Empty pail into washer. Toss in pail liner.
2. Add 1c vinegar
3. Cold Rinse
4. Add detergent (currently Green Mountain Baby--it was on super clearance at Kroger)
5. Hot Wash with a Cold Rinse
6. Additional Cold Rinse every other time
7. Hang Dry in warm weather or Tumble Dry Medium

Clean Fluff!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Traveling with Cloth

I mentioned in a post last week that Sweet E was in disposables on our recent trip to California. It's not because traveling with cloth is difficult...I've done it many times (including two in cloth at Disney World!). Sadly, the new airline baggage restrictions have made it tough to fly with my diapers. They take up a lot of space...I usually pack a small duffle just for dipes. I didn't want to spend $50 to take my diapers, so disposables it was. BUT, if you have room in your suitcase or are taking a road trip, cloth diapering is a snap.

* Like I said, I like my diapers all together in one place, like a duffle bag. If you're road tripping, a laundry basket is perfect for the job. Diapers can be organized and right where you can see them.

*A nice, big wet bag is a must. This replaces your diaper pail. I love my extra large from Leslie's Boutique so much that I ordered one for dirty clothes too. When MJ has stayed at Giggy's house, my mom is amazed that the cute zippered bag does not smell in the least.

*Take a smaller wet bag or two for the diaper bag for outings, just like you would at home.

Now, if you're gone more than a couple of days, you'll have to wash your diapers at some point. I bring a tiny jar of detergent with me. If you're staying with family, hopefully you can use their washer and dryer. If not, bring a roll of quarters for hotel laundry or laundr-o-mat.

[NOTE: It has been said that public machines contain residue of heavy detergents and dryer sheets. I believe this is very true, however, one wash won't hurt your diapers, especially if they are natural fibers. Microfiber can be a bit more finicky...You know I can't stand the stuff.]

If you're lucky, you'll find a new HE machine with more options, like a pre-rinse and additional rinse. This is AWESOME, because it will save you a couple of bucks from not having to run those cycles alone. For the sake of this post, let's say you aren't so lucky. How you wash your diapers is kind of a judgment call. If they aren't super-soiled, you can skip the cold wash. You'll have more stains, but they'll be just as clean, and you can sun out those stains at home. You can also also rinse the diapers first to save a buck on that first wash. Again, it's totally up to you.

1. Cold wash, no detergent (use pre-rinse instead if available, or rinse by hand, or skip)
2. Hot wash with detergent
3. Cold wash, no detergent (use additional rinse if available or skip entirely.)
4. Dry on high. In my experience, public dryers do not run as hot as mine at home. If I don't dry on hot, I need like 4 cycles...and that's ridiculous.

Using cloth diapers on the road isn't much different from doing it at home. Do it once, and you'll never go back!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Two Ingredients, 1 Hour, 5 Meals

One way I've been trying to stretch our dollars is to make the most of the meals I prepare.

- I always make enough to have leftovers for lunch
- If possible, I double the recipe and freeze or freeze smaller portions for quick lunches
- I think of ways to use the ingredients for other meals, like leftover spaghetti for a pasta bake

One of my favorite recipes is one for Roasted Butternut Squash and Sausage. I saw a recipe somewhere that inspired it, but I can't cite it now. It doesn't really matter anyway, I always take a recipe as more of a guideline than something to be strictly followed. Anyhoo, it's super simple:


two big butternut squash (or three smaller ones)
sausage of your choice (i like preservative and nitrate-free organic chicken apple)
one sweet onion*
olive oil*
balsamic vinegar*
herbs (optional)*
pure maple syrup (optional)*
brown rice*

*I'm assuming these ingredients as pantry staples in my "two ingredient" count.

Peel the squash and scoop out seeds. Dice into bite-sized chunks. Cut sausage and onion about the same size. Toss in a baking dish, reserving some squash. Drizzle with olive oil and season with herbs if you choose. I fly by the seat of my pants and make this a bit differently every time. Place the reserved squash in a pan of it's own. Roast both pans on 350 until squash is soft, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare brown rice.

Remove the pan of just squash. Drizzle the Squash and Sausage with balsamic vinegar (and a tad of pure maple syrup if you choose), and return it to the oven, under the broiler, for a few minutes. This will allow the vinegar to reduce a bit an the veggies to caramelize.

Here's what you've got:

1. Dinner- Balsamic and Maple Glazed Squash and Sausage over Rice

2. Baby Food- Puree that plain squash and freeze in ice cube tray. Don't wash the food processor yet...>>>

3. Pasta Sauce- Put leftover squash and onion with all the pan goodness (vinegar, herbs, etc) in your food processor and pulse. Freeze two cups for a delicious sauce to serve over whole-wheat bowties. Keep the rest in the food processor for...>>>

4. Soup-Add a touch of vegetable broth (or water if you don't have it) to the puree and blend until it has a soupy consistency. Serve for lunch or freeze for later.

5. Rice pudding- Spoon leftover rice into ramekins. Microwave 1C Milk until warm. Stir in 1T honey and 1/4t cinnamon. Beat an egg in a separate bowl and temper with a bit of the warm milk, then mix together. Pour custard over rice and bake in a 1" water bath in your already-hot oven for about 45 minutes, or until set.

Viola. All I bought was the squash and sauasage, and look what I have to show for it!

Another Budget Post

A long while ago, I wrote about some comments I've gotten. People have told me they'd love to be greener and healthier, but they don't have the time or money.

Yes, making these changes does take a bit more time. Our society has become one of convenience. It takes about 4 seconds longer to measure a scoop of oatmeal than to open a packet. It takes 15 minutes longer to make your own pasta sauce (coming soon!), It takes 10 minutes longer to hang clothes on the clothesline, and 3 minutes longer to start a load of cloth kitchen towels. All of those little increments add up, and when a mom feels she's already in the red for time, it can be a bit discouraging. Instead of looking at these accruing minutes as time lost, just look at it as an overall lifestyle change. There are plenty of days when I wish for just 20 more minutes, but I've never once considered sacrificing the things I mentioned for those minutes. The extra time it takes to do these things is time spent outside or cooking with my daughter...things many moms are in too much of a hurry to do.

As far as the money goes, I'll reiterate: Going green will SAVE you money. One of the major pieces of the puzzle is consuming less. The consumables I've given up (paper towels, disposable diapers, etc) are things I no longer have to buy. Cleaning supplies? Not on my grocery list.

I've saved so much money by buying second hand. A fun little anecdote for you: I recently had to take inventory of the items in our house for insurance purposes. When calculating for insurance coverage, you use replacement value--that is, what it would cost today to buy a similar item--not what you paid. The inventory was a fun little revelation of my thriftiness. Nearly all the big items in my home are second hand, antique store or garage sale finds, or scratch and dent. I simply don't pay full price for things. So for each item, the replacement cost was far and above what I actually spent. I hope I never have to replace these things though; their charm and character cannot be duplicated.

I do spend more money on buying organic. What goes into my family's bodies is just not something I'm willing to compromise. BUT, I think the grocery budget balances itself when I also refrain from buying expensive packaged and prepared items.

Although I've always felt my green ways save us money, I've had to kick the savings up a notch. My husband recently started a new job after being laid off. The new job is wonderful, but comes with a substantial pay cut, forcing me to evaluate every dollar I spend. So I'm meeting a new challenge head-on: Be Green, Be Healthy, Be Thrifty. I know I can do it. I hope you'll read along with me as I try!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Follow and Become a Fan!

I have had several cool companies offer me awesome stuff for giveaways when I reach 100 followers and/or Facebook fans. I can tell you're reading, so click that button!

When I reach 100 fans, I'll host 5 days of Giveaways!

Tell your friends!

Bargain Alert! Hanna Unders

Through Sunday, underwear is on sale at Hanna Andersson. Hanna is my absolute favorite place to buy new kids clothes, and the Unders are a favorite item. They are made of organic cotton in a kid-friendly style with flat seams. I'm not a fan of bikini cut on toddlers...these have a nice, low leg and high rise. Unders also come in a training style with extra layers of cotton for catching small accidents.

Hanna Unders are somewhat pricey, so snatch 'em up while they are on sale!


Year ago, the FDA decided that it was okay to add "meat filler" to ground beef. Problem is, the filler, made from various parts of cow, was often infected with salmonella and other bacteria. A brilliant scientist (or team of them) came up with a way to "sanitize" this filler. Ammonia. Yep, the patty on your McCheeseburger contains ammonia. So does much of the ground beef you find at the grocery store. Disgusting, no? Even more infuriating. What is going on with our country that this is deemed an acceptable food? The more I read, the more turned off I got. So much so, that I have given up ground beef. It's not really a leap for me; I'm not much of a red meat eater. If I must have it for some reason, I'll order it from the local farm in my CSA.

Here's a link to the US patent for the device that treats meat with ammonia. A quick G00gle search will tell you everything you want to know.

Just another reason that I'm making a huge effort to use only "clean" ingredients when I cook.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Dirty Dozen- Cosmetics

I've told you about the Dirty Dozen fruits and veggies, but here's a list of twelve things you should avoid in your health and beauty products...and why.

I'll admit, I'm pretty terrible about remembering the why. I'll read up on a particular substance and make the decision to avoid it, but I can't back that up with a reason if someone asks me. I like this handy little cheat sheet for a quick reference. I plan to tuck a small version in my wallet so I can sneak a peek when standing in the beauty aisle.

Hope you find it helpful too!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Disposable Diapers Suck.

When I first wrote about cloth diapering, I mentioned these benefits:

5. Better for snugglin': They're soft, comfy, and super cute
4. Better for the wallet: $250 for multiple kids v. over $1500 for one kid in 'sposies
3. Better for the Earth: fewer diapers in landfills, eco-friendly production
2. Better for the bum: No Leaks, No Rash
1. Better for her health: No harmful chemicals against my baby's tush!

I feel like I might not have emphasized that "no leaks" part enough. Most parents of tiny ones will tell you that newborn poop has a way of escaping the diaper. This is simply not the case with cloth. I have had to change Sweet E's clothes due to a diaper leak four times in her whole five months. Guess what? Three times were in the last six days, when she was in disposables while we were out of town. The other was when she was in a 'sposie in the hospital with flu.

Not a coincidence, folks. Any cloth-diapering mama will tell you the same thing.

I'm so glad to be home to my diapers!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

And the Winner is...

#41 MrsEAM!!!

She said:
My DD isn't ready to sleep limb-free, but she's definitely outgrown her swaddlers! This would be a great stepping stone for us!

Email me at mjsmomma07 at gmail to claim your Woombie!

Redraw for non-response---#16 Erin!

Friday, February 5, 2010

You Are What You Eat

I've been paying very close attention to the things that I eat. Until now, I'd been very selective about what I feed my toddler, but not nearly so choosy for myself. I decided that needed to change. I stared by refusing to buy things that had ingredients I wouldn't find in my kitchen (monoglycerides, anyone?). But then, If what I'm getting has such simple ingredients, why not just make it myself?

This has led me to a new post idea, "The Replacements." I'll take an item I used to buy and find a healthier, greener replacement. Most of the time, it will be a recipe, but I'll occasionally replace with a store-bought product. I'm all about the homemade...

1. It's healthier (I control what goes in)
2. It's greener (Again, control of ingredients, less packaging, manufacturing, shipping)
3. It's cheaper (Budgets are tight these days!)

...BUT, there are times when it's just not practical. Pasta is the first example that comes to mind. I love the idea of making my own pasta. I dream of seeing oodles of noodles piling up on my counter as I turn the crank on a gorgeous stainless steel gadget. Then I wake up. I'm not sure how I'll fit in a shower today. Fresh pasta isn't gonna happen, ya know?

So I need your input. What store-bought item can you not live without, even though you know it's not the best choice?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

GIVEAWAY: The Woombie!

My little E is a swaddle junkie. She loves the cozy confinement of a swaddle. Long before she was ready to sleep with limbs free, she outgrew traditional swaddle blankets, and I worried about developmental delays from being tightly wrapped at an older age. So how could I keep her from startling herself awake while still giving her a little wiggle room? Enter the Woombie.

This adorably peanut-shaped sleeper met all my needs. Keeps E's arms contained? Check. Let's her move them around? Check. Fits her long leggy frame? Check.

It's now on my mommy-must have list.

The Woombie comes in three styles. Original, Deluxe, and Winter Fleece. A tighter "Lil' Houdini" Woombie will join the line-up in a few weeks.

Want one? The folks at KB Designs are giving one away to one Super(Natural)Momma reader. Here's what you need to do:

1. Leave me a comment telling me why you want a Woombie.
2. Become a follower of my blog, comment to say you did.
3. Become my fan on Facebook...another comment!
4. Join the Woombie Group on Facebook...comment 4!
5. If you have a blog, post this giveaway and put your link in a comment for a bonus 5th chance.

It's that easy. I'll pick a winner randomly from comments at 10am on Thursday, February 11.

Good Luck!