Monday, December 10, 2012

My Little Gift from MMS!

Just look what I got in the mail today from Majestic Mountain Sage! Such a wonderful little box of goodies! This was my little "Thank You" from MMS for helping them in the "Fix Our Errors" blog project. I really love this company, I always order a little something from them every year. They are always very friendly with me and seem to send out my packages in a reasonable time frame.

In my little box, I received a one ounce bottle of Lemon Sugar fragrance oil, a little bit of Allantoin, Blueberry Seeds, Lavendar Buds and Calendula Petals.

Be on the lookout for some posts of what I will make with my little box of goodies. It is like Christmas come early for me.


CITR Holiday Swap Gift

One of the blogs I try to keep up on is Chickens in the Road. I love reading about Suzanne's farm, trying her recipes and looking at all her wonderful pictures. The forum is a really great place to connect, although I haven't been too active. I have been trying to limit my life online. I do homeschool three of my boys and work on Sunday School and Children's Church, so I am quite busy. Mostly though, it takes me nearly a year after having a baby to get back into a groove. Princess is such an easy baby most of the time, so I feel I can spread my wings a little sooner.

Back to the CITR forum, I'm not sure how many years they have sponsored a Gift Exchange, but I was part of it last year and I knew that I wanted to be a part of this year's. I want to share what I received. My gift was totally AWESOME! I love everything my swap partner chose to put in. Thanks to kellyb! I received a cute reversible apron, a quilted Christmas table topper, handmade vanilla sugar and vanilla extract and homemade simmering potpourri.

Isn't that some great stuff?! I'm taking some of the dried apples and orange to dangle from my Christmas tree. I'm gonna try the extract in my Christmas cookies and I've got a large mug of hot tea with some of that yummy sugar to sweeten it. I love, love, love it all.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Getting Ready for Baby--PUL Diaper Covers

Well this is the last of my diaper cover reviews. It has been quite some time since I posted. I've been avoiding my blog due to life. I love all my children. Learning to live with 5 has been an adjustment. A new schedule always pops out, it is just this time, it has taken a little bit more time. Also, I haven't been around because I'm a bit lazy. Putting my brain to work so my words sound somewhat reasonable, shooting and editing pictures (because I love pics) and using naptime to the fullest are just too taxing at time. Yup, I'm lazy. But that is beside the point.

PUL stands for polyurethane laminate. Basically it is a polyester laminated onto a knit fabric. I love this stuff because I feel more comfortable about leakage than I had with the fleece covers. One side is shiny; the polyester side and the other side is a knit. They can come in many different print depending on which company you choose.

My first experience with PUL was when I had some extra money and bought some Thirsties covers on I loved the fact that I could just fold a prefold newspaper style and lay it in. Number 1 were easy, just dump out the wet prefold, pat dry and add another. Number 2 was easy as well, but Rockbiter was a bit messy with that, so I just got another cover for him at that time. I loved the leg gussets, since even with the wool covers Rockbiter had horrible leakage around the legs. These were really cost efficient for me. Unfortunately, I only got two at the time.

They were very easy to wash. Drying was a snap. I didn't even have to put them in the dryer, just hang them on a hanger. There was some staining, but that could be sunned out if necessary. I didn't mind the stains, no one could really see them.

I had also bought a Bum Genius 3.0 at the same time as the covers. This is a one sized pocket diaper with a microfiber insert. Rockbiter didn't do too well with this as he got too hot. Princess uses this diaper quite often. My only complaint is that it didn't fit Rockbiter after 9 months. He has a longer rise than that diaper. I love the stay dry suedecloth (I think it is suedecloth, I may be wrong) inside. It really does shake off the Number 2 away quite easily. I don't even take the insert out anymore when I wash it, it usually just shakes out in the wash for me.

For Princess, I wanted to get away from the bulk and uncertainty of fleece covers and I knew that I wouldn't really have the time or energy to work with wool again (also price came into play here). So I sewed my own PUL Covers incorporating what I liked about the ones I had with the ones I've seen online. That may become a tutorial one day, we'll see.

I absolutely love my PUL Covers. They are very breathable. They are easy to clean and a snap to dry. My little girl doesn't have a skin problem with them. I love that PUL has become more available to home hobbyists as well. If your baby doesn't have a polyester allergy, then I highly recommend this type of diaper cover.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Some of My Recent Soaps

 This first soap is Strawberry Facial Soap. It is made with strawberry puree, coconut milk, rose kaolin clay, rice bran oil, coconut oil, palm oil, castor oil, cocoa butter & sweet almond oil. I strained it so it shouldn't have any seeds in it. I'm hoping it will make a really nice gentle soap for my face. It was supposed to cream and pink, but I think the fragrance oil is discoloring it a bit. I used Citrus Strawberry fragrance from Nature's Garden. It is a lovely scent and I will be ordering it again. I've heard that strawberry fragrances fade out in CP soap, so I'll be watching this to see what happens. I made this nearly three weeks ago and it was still a little sticky when I cut the rest of it today. I will have to learn more about water discounts for this one. It did ash on me, but that isn't a problem, just looks funny.
This next one is one I formulated to be coconut-free for a friend. I haven't figured out what to call it so far. I used the crockpot hot process method on this one. I love how the rhassoul clay looks marbled in this soap. It is made with rice bran oil, sweet almond oil, palm kernal flakes, palm oil, castor oil, mowrah Butter, distilled water rhassoul clay. It is scented with Nature's Garden Apple Mango Tango. It seems to be a very good formula for hot process being very loose for marbling, I will be making this again. 

I'll be testing both soaps for lather and skin feel this next week. Nature's Garden is a new supplier for me. So far, I am very happy with them. I love all the fragrance oils I ordered. I did have a problem with the sample they sent me, it gave me a migraine. It was a wonderful scent, but I'm glad they sent a sample because now I know that I can't really handle it, so I won't order it. One reason I got into making my own soaps is because I am sensitive to certain scents and strong scents. I am blessed that I don't get migraines that often. When I make soap, I tend to make them less scented than other soapmakers. NG is a great company altogether with lots of stuff I'd love to order. Ah, one day, one day....

It is nice to get back on my feet after this pregnancy and Princess is settling into a routine. I've still have a lot on my plate, but it is workable. The Lord has been very good to my family, and I thank Him for that. Now, time to work on my Autumn Swap soap.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Little More on Menu Planning

Well I'm sorry to say that I didn't get on the S.O.A.P. panel from Brambleberry. That's alright, at least I get to read about what the others are doing with their selections. So onto other things.

As you know, I love using my Menu Planner. It fits so nicely into my Home Book. But I find that often, I don't pick it up during the week after I've planned. That means I forget to start a crockpot, take frozen meats out to thaw and really mess up my plans. So I decided to make a little poster to hang on my fridge. I always go by the fridge, so when I notice the poster I can take out what I need because I'm reminded about it. I used to have a dry erase board on the fridge, but my boys kept taking it down and losing it. Also, the magnets were not very strong and kept sliding down the refrigerator. That was annoying. So I stopped using it.

After I made my little poster, I came across this neat thing on Pinterest. I think I'll end up making something like it when I have the funds, but things are really tight right now. I love playing with scrapbook paper and making things look pretty. My new obsession is making my everyday items lovely to look at. So it has been placed on the back burner.

Back to my poster, I found that even though I like started my week with Sunday the one with the Sunday on the top didn't work for me. My Sundays are very busy so most of my planning happens on Monday. I'm making due with what I printed out because I can't stand the thought of trashing this perfectly good paper. So I'm still using my menu planner, but I also put what I've planned onto my fridge poster. Everyone in the family likes knowing what is today's dinner. I laminated it after I printed it. I just pop it on the fridge with magnets. As you can see most my pretty ones have disappeared. Hmmmm, I think I need to make more!

I made my poster on Publisher, but if you didn't want to go through the trouble of making your own, I uploaded mine to Dropbox. You can get it here. There are 4 pages, 2 with my rainbow and 2 plain script. After it is laminated, you can use a dry erase marker to write down your menu. Easy and reusable.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Some of My Brambleberry Favorites

Brambleberry is one of my go to companies for my soapmaking supplies. So when they are looking for people for their S.O.A.P panel, I'm always interested but have never entered. I always talked myself out it one way or another. Well this time I thought I would try. Afterall, you will never get it if you never try. So here it is, my favorites from Brambleberry.

I love the fragrances Brambleberry has to offer. I like many of their scents. I do have to be careful because I get migraines with certain smells, but so far I've liked most of what I have chosen from their selection. My current favorite is Wake Up Rosemary. I wouldn't have even thought about getting it except that a friend of mine who helps me out with my soaping endeavors brought up that she likes the scent of rosemary, so I looked for it. It turns out, I like the scent as well. I was afraid of an Italian foodie smell. But this fragrance oil is so fresh and green! It really lives up to its name.
My next favorite is this 9 Cube Silicone Mold. I haven't had the chance to use it too much. I got interested from this post about its much bigger sister. I was so happy to see that they carried a much smaller version, since I don't make that much soap in one sitting. Now that Princess is a bit older and not so clingy, I have PLANS for it. In the picture you can see the one batch that I have done. It was a request from Roosiers. He loves watermelon and wanted to use this mold. That one is as soap crazy as me. He will give me all sorts of things and says, "Hey Mom, this would make a really great soap mold!" Ah, what a wonderful boy. I understand silicone molds are a bit tricky and you should either use sodium lactate or formulate a hard bar. I love hard bars, so that is what I did. I actually got this mold for my Sea Salt Spa bars, so I was happy with it. I can't really tell you too much about releasing with this mold. Right after I made this batch, Princess decided to make her Grand Entrance into the world, so it sat for quite a few days in the mold. I love that I don't have to line it, so if I have a little difficulty unmolding, I'm willing to deal with it. But so far, so good it unmolded fine after sitting for so long. No dents, though it was a bit tacky even after sitting for so long.

My current favorite is this Crinkle Cutter. I've always wanted one, but kept putting off getting one.  Well, when we moved from Arizona to Arkansas, I lost my regular soap blade (dough scraper). So I went ahead and bought it when I made my usual order. Man, am I glad I did. I just love it to death. I'm not sure you can see how it makes my rebatched soap look, but let me tell ya, it looks almost elegant. That is not something you usually equate with rebatched soap. My original plan was to make a Coffee Cream soap. The bottom was going to be brown with a cream textured top. *Sigh* it over heated, causing tunnels and some separation. It wasn't what I was looking for at all, so I rebatched it. I don't like wasting my materials and have fortunately been able to save all of my failures and ugly soaps. Well, when I went to cut with my new Crinkle cutter was so happy with the end result. So what I planned for a pretty soap, turned out pretty in the end. It kinda makes Cowboy Preacher scratch his head though. He always asked me, "What is up with the wavy soap." Lol, guess he just doesn't understand, I guess it is kinda girlie. Fine by me, after all, I live with 5 males. Consider it my little Girlie rebellion. :)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Pictures of a Cloth Diapered Baby

Sometimes it helps to see a cloth diapered baby when trying to decide to cloth diaper. It helps that I just love showing pictures of my cute kiddos. Here is a few pictures for your enjoyment
One Month old with Newborn Prefold and Snappi

PUL Diaper Cover

Leg Gussets

Four Months old, infant prefold and snappi

Four Months Old, Rita's Rump Pocket Diaper stuffed with infant prefold

I am not liking the pin, I will be adding snaps later on as I have time

PUL Diaper Cover

Getting Ready for Baby--Fleece Diaper Covers

Sorry it has been awhile to get back to this series. Having a newborn is always a challenge learning to adjust the newest member to the family. Princess is a little more clingy than her brothers as a little one, so we have been making her feel more comfortable which doesn't leave a lot of extra time.

Onto the fleece diaper covers. After finding that I really didn't have the time nor the inclination to continue wool covers, I needed to find a more affordable way to cloth diaper. At this time, we were suddenly without an income, so I couldn't go order material online. PUL was also very expensive as well. I found out about fleece covers from this blog. I had already sewn a lot of the pocket diapers, so I decided to give fleece a try.

Fleece is breathable and a little water resistant in itself. It does need a little different treatment from the prefolds though. To keep the water resistant properties you need to add fabric softener, so you can't wash them with your cloth diapers. The great thing about these is that you could just buy a bunch of fleece pants and use them with a fitted diaper such as Rita's pocket diapers. I had prefolds that no longer fit and no money with which to add to my diaper stash.

I found a free pattern from Celtic Cloth. With a gift of money from some very lovely Christian folk, I bought some pretty cheap fleece from Wal-mart. I had some notions left from a previous purchase. So I sewed 8 fleece diaper covers with TouchTape closures. These covers were turned and topstitched with 2 layers of fleece. They were very thick and bulky. They were a little big on Rockbiter, but they fulfilled their purpose. I wanted a wrap style that I could easily use with my existing prefolds.

We used these covers with Rockbiter from 5 months old to 28 months where they were getting too small. I love this pattern. I am so happy to have been able to use it so long. The only thing I didn't like about these is when your baby gets to be older and able to hold his bladder longer the covers don't work very well. Yes, we had diaper leaks and other accidents. I had wanted to potty train Rockbiter at that point, but being pregnant didn't leave me with a lot of energy and now with the new baby, pottytraining is put off for a bit. I am currently sewing up some trainers for him, but that is another post.

So here is what it comes down to in my opionion:

  • Inexpensive
  • Readily available
  • Breathable 
  • Bulky
  • Can be inconvenient to wash separately
  •  Needs fabric softener to stay water resistant
  • Does not work very well with a heavy wetter
I want to mention that I love that some people offer a free sample or pattern. It was a blessing for me in a great time of need. It is great that you get to try a sample before buying the full item. Sometimes a pattern just doesn't work for me and then I have a pattern that I won't use. I would have loved to support Celtic Cloths by buying the full pattern, but at the time I had the money to purchase it, I couldn't find it. So if you would like a pattern for diaper covers or fitteds, I recommend the Celtic Cloth pattern. I will express my thanks with a purchase from them as I can.

Stay tuned for my newest cover made from PUL!

Monday, May 14, 2012

My Very First Soap Swap!

I participated in my very first soap swap this last month. The theme was Mother's Day. I was very excited to do a swap as I have always wanted to but haven't due to several circumstances. I was very happy to see it came before Mother's Day.

Anyhow without further ado, here is what I got in the box. (I forgot to take a picture of my contribution; Cucumber Wasabi soap).

Friday, April 13, 2012

An Brief Introduction to My Kiddos

I thought it might be nice to get a picture of my children at this point in time. I just love them to death and for a time I thought my husband and I would never be parents. It just goes to show how the prayers of a righteous person are answered and I don't mean myself. Needless to say that I am very happy that the Lord chose to bless our family with our little ones. Yes, my husband and I considered ourselves a family before we had our children. :) Anyhow, here is a brief introduction to the littles in our family.

First up, is Boy Genius. He is my first born and such a good helper. He loves to ride his bike and learning new and interesting stuff.

My Number Two son is Roosiers. He is such a boy! He is very athletic and loves to do most sports if they are active. Baseball just drives him batty.

Number Three is Skinny. He is very sensitive and very thoughtful of his parents and his brothers and Lil' Sis. He has some problems as a baby and so was my smallest baby ever. He still is very skinny even though he often eats like a horse.

My Number Four is Rockbiter. He is very vivacious and full of energy. He takes after Roosiers in athletic ability even though he is only 2.

And my newest addition to the family is Princess. She is one month old today and thus has yet to show her full personality. She will let you know if she thinks you are keeping her from her food though. Her brothers just adore her. Well Rockbiter doesn't like to share his diaper changing table, but little does he know that very soon he won't be.
Well I hear the dulcet cries of Princess, so it must be mealtime again. I hope with this very brief introduction you can understand some of the reason I craft. I love this family. :)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Getting Ready for Baby-- Wool Covers

I’ve spoken a little about using prefolds in my cloth diaper system. It is time to talk about the other part of my system: Diaper Covers. It can be the most difficult thing to look up on the internet for people who cloth diaper. I can’t tell you how many sites I visited that had those cutesy little covers meant just to cover up the generic disposable diaper. Don’t get me wrong, they were very cute, but not really what I was looking for.
In the cloth diaper world, a diaper cover is used to keep the wetness contained in the diaper instead of on you, your furniture or the floor. When my mother diapered me, they used rubber or polyester pants which as we know, don’t breath and leads to a lot of diaper rashes. Ultimately, you do want something to contain the mess, but is also breathable. There are many options, but I’m only talk about a few. I’ve used all of the ones I’m going to explain.

Number one is a 100% to 80% wool diaper cover. Wool is great as it make for a very breathable cover thus less diaper rashes or moisture related problems. It wicks the moisture away while the wool and lanolin supposedly convert the urine salts into some kind soap. I think what actually happens is that the lanolin partially emulsifies the urine. Lanolin does have that property, which is why it is lovely in lotions. You can go days without washing a wool diaper cover just let it dry sufficiently before putting it on again. Of course, if you baby messes the wool cover, it should be washed. Which is a downside to wool covers in my opinion; handwashing. Unless you want to felt the cover, you have to handwash. A wool diaper cover does NOT need to be felted; I discovered this a bit late. After washing you also need to lanolize the cover as washing often takes the lanolin out and that is a big component to having great wool covers. I made my wool covers out of wool sweaters I found at the Goodwill Store. I used a free pattern floating online that was a type of short pants. Let me tell you, this may be a good idea for an older baby, but not a newborn, which is what I tried this on. I also had some crocheted into a wrap, but they were big and by the time Rockbiter was big enough use them, I had abandoned this method. Rockbiter kept messing each of the covers, so I was having to wash them daily and I did NOT have enough, so had to wait until they dried. I love being able to toss things into the washer and let it do the work, so having to so constantly handwash greatly influenced my decision to drop this type of diaper cover. I was a mom of four boys, homeschooling, teaching Children’s Church and Sunday and trying to keep up with housework. So what I thought was a really neat and time saving method turned on me.  Don’t get me wrong, I still like wool diaper covers but I don’t have the time for them. Maybe if it was on first or second child or if I had more time to fuss with them, or just had the time to make a ton more covers for those wash days, but I don’t and did not.

So to recap on wool covers (because I want you to have a clear picture on wool covers and I like clear lists):
1.       You should use a wool cover that is 100% to 80% wool. The softer the better.
2.       Wool covers need to be lanolized. That is the lanolin that was removed to process the wool is put back into the wool by you. I haven’t gone into how, there are many sites that have that information.
3.       Wool covers do NOT need to be felted. They are still quite useful and more pliable not felted. Wool holds onto a lot of water. Though eventually, they will tend to felt after longterm use.
4.       Wool covers do not need to be washed every day unless they are pooped on. I went go up to five days once. Just air out.
5.       Wool covers should be handwashed, using a mild soap. Please know that wool does need to be treated gently and you should research how exactly to wash wool, especially if you are trying to avoid felting. Remember that wool holds A LOT of moisture and thus needs a very long time to dry after being handwashed.

There are a lot of patterns online for wool longies ( a type of cover that doubles as pants), skirties (yup, this one is a skirt cover) and shorties. Most seem to be for knitters, which does help me, I haven’t figured out how to use two needles. There are some free patterns out there for an underwear/short type of cover and some for wraps. If you chose to go this route, you are choosing a top of the line type of cover. Wool Jersey is one of the most expensive fabrics and of course premade diaper covers can be quite expensive as well. That is why I used wool sweaters. Many people who use wool diaper covers are very satisfied with this system. I encourage you to give it a try.

As a side note, moths do like to eat wool. Try keeping your unused covers in a cotton pillowcase to keep them from being moth meals.

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Cloth Diaper Mommy Links

I'm a bit behind in my series Getting Ready for Baby because, well, I'm getting ready for our little one. I have a post about wool covers coming soon. Until then I thought I would share some videos that I found today about cloth diapering. This lady has some really cool items that I don't have or use, but it has given me some ideas of stuff I might like to have.

Here is the link to the first video: A Day in the Life of a Cloth Diapering Mom Part One

Here is the link to the second video: A Day in the Life of a Cloth Diapering Mom Part Two

I would love to do my own video, but alas, I don't have a functioning video camera as yet. Perhaps one day. Until then, I hope you enjoy these videos to help you decide whether you want to cloth diaper or not.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Cloth Diaper Care--Stripping Diapers

I didn't get back to writing on this subject because I decided to do some research on it. Frankly, I haven't stripped my diapers but once and that was when Skinny was in diapers. My problem was that I was using too much detergent. With cloth diapers you want to avoid detergent buildup. This can make your diapers stink as well as make them water repellant rather than absorbent. Either way, it smells pretty nasty.

Now I've mentioned before how I wash my cloth diapers/prefolds are first to wash in cold water with about a tablespoon of soap on the largest capacity setting. Then I wash in hot water with a half cup of white vinegar. Then onto to drying. As I put the put the diapers into the dryer, I sniff them. If they smell clean they go into the dryer, if they smell bad then I look for the culprit and get rid of it and wash in hot again with a touch of soap. Weird I may be, but I can usually smell right when I lift the lid if I didn't scrap very well. This method has worked for me from Skinny onto Rockbiter. And I haven't needed to strip diapers.

That is to say that if you didn't want to go through two washings, you don't have too. Wash once on hot water with a small amount of detergent/soap and make sure to put in the extra rinse. You will most likely have to strip your diapers every so often, but this method generally does get the cleaning done sufficiently.

I must say that apparently stripping diapers has changed since I last looked it up. So I'm just going to let you know what I learned from before. Wash your diapers in cold water with a small amount of soap/detergent. Then when the cycle has finished, take them out and put them into your largest stock pot and add water to nearly the top. Boil. This will help kill the bacteria living off the buildup of detergent. Carefully dump back into the washing machine (You can just dump the water into the sink as well and transfer the diapers into the washing machine. After all, if you have an HE machine, dumping the whole thing into the machine will only make a mess.) Wash in hot water without any detergent/soap and 1 cup of white vinegar. If you notice any bubbles at all after, repeat with warm water until there is no bubbles at all. Dry as usual.

If, after stripping, your diapers are still stinky, then you will have to do the following. Wash diapers on cold with the maximum amount of detergent recommended by the detergent company plus 1 drop of Dawn Dishwashing Detergent. Then wash and rinse until no bubbles are evident. After which you will have to adjust your detergent/soap to your normal loads since you haven't used enough to get them clean. Adjust by a teaspoon or two at the most. See if this helps, if not, add a bit more.

When should you strip your diapers? When the diapers get stinky right after your little one wets, trust me, you will know. When you notice your little one is always getting diaper rashes for no apparent reason. And when the diapers are stiff and hard.

I'm gonna put a set of links to other places that have instructions for stripping diapers. You might find their ways a little more easy to bear or work better. I must say that I am kinda sad with their "uneducated" treatment of soap vs. detergent. I use my own homemade Laundry Powder which I make using some of my own handmade soap. Granted, soaps like Dove Moisturizing have added oils and such to make their soap especially skin loving aren't very good for making laundry soap, but not all soap used for laundry soap has added oils and most commercial soaps do remove the glycerin from the soap to sell separately. I specially make my cleaning soaps without any extra free floating oils. Yes, they will strip the oils from your skin like that, but they were formulating for cleaning the house, not for taking a bath in. Also, while I do know that hard water and soap don't play nice with each other, that is why I add the washing soda and borax. Those are water softeners and I believe borax will bind with the minerals in hard water to make the soap more efficient. Sorry just a little rant about soap. Actually, since the move, I hadn't had time to make laundry soap until recently. I am so glad to start using it again. My diapers are so much more softer now and that ugly ring around my washing machine is going away. LOVE my laundry soap!

Here are some links: Zany Zebra Designs; Cloth Diapers made Easy; Lite Green Living; My Baby First and The Diaper Jungle.

A few caveats:
  1. Stay away from bleaching your diapers. Bleach will break down the fibers of your diaper faster than you think and it needs to be rinsed out thoroughly. If you really can't stand the stains, try line drying diapers. The sun is great about bleaching without harsh chemicals. Sun and grass do wonders I hear, but don't take my word on it. Drying your diapers in the sun on grass is something I've come across, but I can't do that here, too humid. LOL
  2. You may be tempted to use the smallest setting for washing your cloth diapers, DON'T. Always use the largest capacity and do not overload your washer with diapers. I only wash about 15 or so diapers plus all the fleece liners, cloth wipes and doublers that go a long with them. Water is the true cleaner. Soap and Detergents' job is to make the water more able to penetrate by breaking the surface tension. If you have an extra rinse cycle, use it.
  3. NEVER use a fabric softener on your cloth diapers. It makes them water repellent and that of course defeats the purpose of a cloth dipe. Same with the dryer sheets. If you must use something, use white vinegar. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Getting Ready for Baby--My Prefold Stash

I am about six weeks away from having baby #5. I had been contemplating cloth diapering since my second child. I started with my third, Skinny, but didn't continue because I was didn't have a stash. I had a total of four one size all in one diapers plus about a dozen Gerber prefold cloth diapers. I had problems with Skinny in the beginning. There's a reason he's called Skinny. Let me tell you, a one size isn't really for a newborn, let alone one who was 5lbs. Those diapers were HUGE on him. So cloth diapering went to the wayside while I did more researched and dreamed of saving money by using cloth diapers.

I learned a lot about cloth diapers; most of my research on the internet. My friends knew that I really wanted to cloth diaper by the time Rockbiter came along a few years later. I had heard about the miserable results of using Gerber prefold diapers, but that was all some of my friends had access to. Meanwhile, I had sewn a lot of flannel pocket diapers. I was on the lookout for diaper covers and settled on making some wool covers from recycled wool sweaters.

I found out why Gerber prefold diapers got such a bad rap in all those Diaper Forums I read. While the outside is covered with quite acceptable birdseye cotton, the padded part was a type of polyester batting. It leaks like a holey cup. It was around this time that I bought my first real honest to goodness prefold cloth diapers online. They were 2 dozen Unbleached Indian prefold seconds infant size from They were so wonderful. I saved a little by buying second prefolds and they worked so much better than those other prefolds.

Now in the world of Cloth Diapering today there are many different ways to diaper your child. Designer Diapers can be very expensive on the onset but save you money in the long run. Plus they are generally cute and decorative. I didn't go that way, which is not that I didn't want to, but I didn't have the initial investment to make which is why I made pocket diapers and the wool covers. I'm also practical; I know that I don't have to spend money on cute material which will only probably get stained. In the end I've tried a few different methods and have found my favorite, most practical and frugal way to diaper. Prefolds are for me.

I went with Indian Prefolds over Chinese Prefolds because the Indian were said to be softer. Unbleached because I didn't have to prewash as many times as the bleached prefolds. I have used these same 24 prefolds for nearly 2 years and they are holding up great. Quite simply, I love them. These diapers were a life saver when our family was without employment for a year. You can't buy disposable diapers when you have no money and what little comes your way goes to keeping the electricity on or buying essentials or any number of other things. So let me tell you a few things about prefolds.

1. When you first get them, they will need to be washed several times. Up to 3 to 5 times for Unbleached prefolds. I wash them in hot water right from the start. Warning, they are supposed to shrink 10% to 15%. Please know that you will have to adjust how you wash cloth diapers compared to your regular clothing. Most people use too much detergent to wash their clothes as it is, but you will need to use a lot less detergent to wash cloth diapers. The key to fresh diapers is more water, which means more rinsing.

  1. Use 1/4 of the recommended amount of detergent. I make my own laundry soap and use only a tablespoon of that powder for my regular clothes, for diapers I use about a teaspoon. When I happen to use store bought, I only use a tablespoon or less for cloth diapers.
  2. Wash first with cold water, this is where I add the detergent or soap in my case with extra rinse if you can. Then wash in hot water adding a half cup of white vinegar. ****NEVER use fabric softener on cloth diapers, especially prefolds**** The idea of the extra wash and rinse is to make sure that any detergent is completely rinsed away which is also why you use vinegar, which cuts through buildup. Detergent buildup on cloth diapers means the diapers will not hold onto as much liquid and will become more stinky. You will have to strip your diapers if you come across this hazard. I'll be having another blog post on stripping later on.
  3. Dry on the hottest setting. Now in the desert, I only needed to dry once using my wool dryer balls. But here in the humid South, I need 2 cycles. One full and a half cycle to completely dry these prefolds. If I had a clothesline, I would dry them that way. The sun is really good about helping with stains.

2.  Prefolds can be used many different ways. My chosen method of diapering is to do a newspaper fold and lay it into a diaper cover. I recently bought 3 dozen preemie/newborn sized prefolds to fit better into my newborn and small diaper covers and to reduce the bulk a bit. Also, the newborn size prefolds will make great diaper doublers for night time diapering and are small enough to use as a big wipe if I need it. I also am contemplating taking a few hours during the day to work on Elimnation Communication in which I'll just have the prefold on my #5 with no cover. So in total, my prefold stash consists of 36 newborn prefolds and 24 infant sized prefolds. This is all I intend to get. I wash every other day and frankly it does stink too much if I wait too long.

3.  Second Prefolds are a pretty good deal to get. These are prefolds that are not of the standard of "first water". Some of the stitching may be undone. One of mine came with holes. It was not problem to take some cotton thread and reinforce those seams and mend the holes. Seconds are a frugal way to spend your money.

4. What are the differences between newborn prefolds and infant prefolds? Newborn/preemie sized prefolds are 2x6x2. The middle padded section has 6 layers and the outer portion are 2 layers. Prefolds are all folded from one large piece of material and then stitched together, thus the term "prefold". These diapers come to you from the store about 9" x 13" and will shrink to about the size of a sheet of copy paper. Infant sized prefolds are 4x8x4; 4 layers of material on the outside and 8 in the padded area. Unwashed and new they are about 12" x 15" and shrink down to about 10" x 12" or so. I have no intention on getting more bigger prefolds since Rockbiter is potty training and had used the infant sized until that time.

I love prefolds. They are a very frugal way to cloth diaper. They aren't very trim, but they work. I've heard great things about hemp and bamboo fabrics, but really I know that these cotton prefolds work great for me and I have a system that works good for a great price; so I'm happy. Join me as I continue to take you into my world of cloth diapering these next weeks as I get ready for # 5.
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Monday, January 30, 2012

Meal Planning 2012

Here is my newest Meal Planner. I really enjoyed using this type of meal planner last year. I made a few changes from last year's.  I added a dated calendar for this year as well as a few lines for those who would like a little more structure to write in. Last year's meal planner is still undated so you can still use it if you want to use that.

I confess I had made this up in December but never could get organized enough to put up the blog post. As you can see, it has been used. I love this size because it fits in my Franklin Covey Day Planner. It has been a very good style for me. I may not use it all the time, but I do use it a lot.

A few tips on how to plan meals.

  1. Choose a day and a time to do your meal planning. I usually end up doing this Monday mornings. 
  2. Decide the time period you like to have planned ahead. I used to plan a month a head of time when I was able to do our monthly Sam's Club trip. Now I plan only a week ahead of time, because that seems to work better for us at this moment.
  3. Make a list of your usual meals. I have left a few pages for this in my planner. It was a really big relief to have a list of the meals I make frequently. Before I was very cloudy and sporadic as to what ended up on the table and sometimes that didn't turn out very well. Once you have a list, you can easily chose what you want and write it down on the day that is most convenient.
    1. This doesn't mean that you won't ever make a new dish. You know which days are really busy and could use an easy to fix meal. Plan to make a new dish or complicated dish on those days you know are pretty free.
  4. Be flexible and have a backup plan. Changes happen and a free day becomes very busy. It is good to have an easy to fix dinner on standby in the pantry for days like this. 
  5. Put together your shopping list right after you have finished your meal planning and plan to shop it as soon as you can. The point of planning your meal ahead of time is to have on hand the ingredients you need to make these meals. I usually shop once a week for a week's worth of meal because I no longer have the room or refrigerator/freezer space to more than a week's worth of food in my home. This also eliminates wasted food as I try to buy things that will be eaten and won't be forgotten in the back of the cupboard.
  6. Look at your meal planner at least once a day. Take out anything that needs to be thawed or processed ahead of time. Example, If I'm making beans from scratch, I put the beans on to soak the day before and it is in the crock pot cooking all day for a quick mash and fry at dinner time.
My boys like knowing where they can find what's for dinner. They also get a chance to suggest appropriate meals. I try to have them more involved in the meal process, but I do like to be in the kitchen alone without disturbances. I have to remind myself, I'm Mom and that means teaching the boys how to make a meal out of the ingredients we purchased.

I hope that helped a little bit. It is what helps me when I keep it up. You can get the new Meal Planner booklet here. If you need help putting it together, please refer to my 2011 post which tells you how to print and put together the booklet.
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