Friday, May 16, 2014

Blog Has Moved

Hey guys!! I have moved my blog here:

I am in the process of moving some of my favorite posts over to there so everything is in one location.

If you have a post that you particularly liked, please let me know and I"ll be sure to move it over.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Make Your Own Watering Bulb

Recently, my mom bought me several plants for my birthday.  Two of these plants are Stevia, the natural herbal sweetener.  Stevia is hardy until 10 degrees F.  Temperatures any lower than that will kill the plant.  So I potted it.  My two stevia plants are living on my front porch.  I will bring them in when the weather becomes cold.

Chances are, as Spring turns to Summer, I may forget to water these awesome herbs.  So I thought a watering bulb would be a good idea.  You fill it with water, turn it upside down and it provides your potted plants a continuous amount of water.  The set it and forget it of plant care.

Aqua Globes AG011706 Glass Plant Watering Bulbs, 2-Pack

While I appreciate the ingenuity of this product, I don't spend money on things like that.  I will, however, steal their general idea.  I used something we happened to have around the house: a beer bottle.  I filled the beer bottle up with water, and sunk the neck into the dirt of the Stevia's pot.

If you have bigger pots, a wine bottle would also work for this.  I'm sure you could set these up in the garden, but that seems like a lot of work and maintenance and not really worth it.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

How to Cloth Diaper (including care of diapers)

I'm going to cover four basics of cloth diapering in this post.  It will be chock of information I found useful and hopefully you will too!

1) Preparing New Prefolds:

So you just got your diapers in the mail! You got prefolds and they are brand new!! How exciting!  First things first, you must wash them so they are ready to go for your baby.This is really simple.

Put all of your new diapers in your washing machine and set your washing machine on the HOT cycle.  Add Soap, about a quarter cup.  Anything with no scents or dyes should work.  Let your washing machine run through this cycle.  Run another Hot cycle.  Do this another 3 times so that you have run a total of 5 hot cycles, only using soap for the first cycle.  After this is done, throw them in the dryer.  They can be dried on a really hot setting.  Now check to see if they absorb water.  I dripped some water from the sink onto the cleaned diapers to test.  If the diapers didn't absorb the water, I put them back in the washer for some more soap and hot cycles.  Make sure you get all of the soap out.

Note: in order to prepare your all-in-ones or pockets, just wash them once and you are good to go.  I would use a hot cycle but do not put them in a super hot dryer.

2) Cloth diapering your baby:

One of the more valuable things I did was practice cloth diapering on a stuffed animal.  That being said, I will walk you step-by-step through the diapering process with prefolds.  Flats are more like an origami project and too much work and pockets are self-explanatory.

Meet my beloved bunny.  He has been with me since for over 20 years.  I've used him for snuggles and I used him to learn to cloth diaper.  He sits still and is very patient.

There are many ways to fold a cloth diaper, but they all always ended up looking the same to me.  

If your diaper is a little large, fold it in the back:

Lay you lovely baby (or stuffed bunny) on the diaper.  Please note the fold in the back of the diaper.  This may help to keep poo in:

Fold each side in at the bottom to form a triangle:.  Some people like to roll the sides in, this is called the jelly roll technique.  I find this is exactly the same and my diaper looks the same either way I do this.  Please note there are some other methods for folding the diaper, but I don't like them, so I won't cover them here.

Bring the front of the diaper up to around your baby's belly button:

Now, use that awesome Snappi.  Fasten it on one side:

Pull across and attach it to the other side of the diaper:

Now it's time to add the cover.  Place the cover under you child:

And pull this up through their legs and use the fastening system (whether it is velcro or snaps):

Look for any places on your child where the prefold may be poking out past the diaper cover:

Poke that back into the diaper cover:

Admire your beautiful baby (or stuffed bunny) in their cloth diaper:

Now that we know how to put the diaper on the baby, what do we do when the baby has soiled his diaper.

3) Caring for soiled diapers

Go into the bathroom and run your cloth wipe under warm water.  If you think it may be a stinky, yucky mess, bring two wipes.  Lay your baby down and open up the diaper.  If it is wet, and your cover is still dry, toss your prefold into the wet bag, wipe your little one's hiney down, toss your wipe into the wet bag, put some coconut oil on any sore areas, and put on a new prefold diaper.  Do not sticky or thick diaper cream.  This will seal  you cloth diapers and make them not work.  If you do accidentally use some, just strip your diapers as described below.  Feel free to re-use your cover as long as it is clean and dry.

If there is poop in the diaper, you get to use that handy sprayer.  Clip your dirty diaper to the top of your bucket (which is already on top of you toilet).  Use your imagination here, as I didn't think anyone wanted to see actual poop.

Spray as much of the poop out as you can.

Let the diaper drip the excess water out, and go about your life for a bit.  (pretend the diaper is dripping wet here, also notice our lack of poop)

When you come back, put your rinsed diaper in the wet bag.  This may seem yucky, but all human waste (poop) is supposed to be flushed down toilets and not thrown into the trash, by law.  I don't think anyone who uses disposables does that, just an interesting fact.

When away from home, you sometimes must put the fully loaded (poopy) diaper directly in your wet bag.  Rinse the diaper when you get home.  There may be a bit of foul smell, but the smell is rather minimal.

Once you are ready to wash your diapers, empty the wet bag in to the washer and then add your wet bag (that way you have a clean wet bag, too).  Run your diapers through a cold rinse.  Add your detergent, less is more here.  We really want to avoid any soap build up.  This build up can irritate baby's bottom and will cause the diaper to become less absorbent.  I use about 2 Tablespoons of detergent for a medium to large load of diapers.  Run your soaped diapers through a full hot cycle.  Make sure your water is very hot.  We are not trying to conserve energy in this arena.  After that, add about a quarter cup of white vinegar and rinse your diapers through the cold rinse cycle.  The vinegar acts as fabric softener and adds no smell.  Finally, we hang our diapers up to dry either outside or inside on racks.  Depending on time and space, you may find it better to use the dryer.  Please do not use dryer sheets.  You won't have any problems with static or softness if you use that white vinegar.

When you wash your diapers, feel free to include any baby clothing, bibs, or wipes.  The hot water sterilizes everything, and the detergent is super friendly on baby's skin.  Also, you may already have clothing that has some diaper mess from baby on it.

Very interestingly, we don't have any poo stains on any of our diapers.  This may be because we hang them out to dry and the sun bleaches them or simply because poo is very washable.  I don't know.

4) How to strip diapers

You will know when it is time to strip diapers.  They will not absorb as well as they once did, and after only being slightly wet, they will have a strong pee smell.  Stripping your diapers is very similar to what you do to prepare them the first time.  My guess is that we do this anywhere from once a month to once every 5 months depending on when the diapers need it.

Take all of your stinky diapers and put them through a cold rinse. Now add 1 tablespoon of blue Dawn Detergent and a over a quarter cup of bleach.  I fill the pictured cup up to the number 3 with bleach.  I'm sure you may be able to use other dish detergents, but everything I have read (and what I have always done) uses blue Dawn.  If you try a different detergent, let me know about it in the comments section.

Run this through the hot cycle over and over and over again until there are NO suds.  If there are suds, your baby's hiney will not be happy.

That in a nutshell is how I cloth diaper.  As simple as I know.  Hopefully not too much information, not too little.  If you have any questions, please let me know and I will answer them to the best of my ability.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Possum Living - A Book Review

Dolly Freed wrote Possum Living in the 1970s when she was a young woman.  The book details her adolescent life where she and her father used almost no money.  They survived on the food they caught and grew.  Surprisingly, she and her father were able to do this while living in suburbia on a very small plot of land.  They were able to keep up the appearance of relative normalcy to the outside world while keeping up a high and enjoyable standard of living.  This book is equal parts "how-to" and story telling with a bit of Philosophy included.  

There were a lot of great tips and thoughts from the book such as: Buying your grain whole sale from a feed mill ( I have not tried, but may in the future). And a lot of the things her family did was very time intensive.  However, she and her father would rather spend time doing things such as cleaning fish or gardening than in a job.  There were also some less than idealized parts of the book.  Her father (and presumably Dolly) would fish out of season, or take "justice" into their own hands.  The book outlines her reality, and while I don't like these parts of her reality, I appreciate that she included it in her story.  Later in her life, she wrote a forward to the book.  She states that she regrets and does not condone much of the unscrupulous activity about which she wrote.  

I recommend this book to anyone wanting to be more self-sufficient.  It was enjoyable and inspirational, even if I found some ideas less than moral.  I got this book from the library, but would actually like to add it to my home library at some point in time.