An Effortless Way to Cloth Diapering

Before my daughter was born,  being a first time mom came with so many hard decisions.   From which bottle brand to buy down to what is the safest car seat to get.  But one very rewarding decision I made was using cloth diapers.  I knew I wanted to save money (and better yet the environment) but I had no clue where to start.  I read website after website, watched video after poopy video, and tried writing down all of the tips and tricks to using cloth diapers.   You may already know this but let me tell ya anyways…it can get very overwhelming with all of the information out there and can make you not even want to bother!!!  There are so many routes to go with and so many questions to ask.  Which brand do I use, how many do I need, what do you do with the soiled diapers, how often do I wash the diapers, which detergent is the best, etc.

I knew using cloth diapers was something I really wanted to attempt so I gave it a shot and I am so happy I did because it turns out, it’s actually quite easy!  With all of the information that I pulled from the internet , I have come up with this stress free and simple routine that I have been using for almost a year now.  Please read on!

First, let’s start with the diapers I use:

I only have one brand of diapers because it has everything I need.  I use Baby Cloth Pocket Diapers 7 Pack, 7 Bamboo Inserts, 1 Wet Bag by Nora’s Nursery .

I love them because they come in super cute patterns, they grow with my daughter, on the cheaper side compared to most diapers, and are great at preventing leaks.  My daughter is a heavy wetter at night so I just put a second insert in the diaper cover and it works great.  I also bought 3 sets of them and they last me until I need to do a load of laundry which is typically within 2 to 3 days.

Second, let’s talk dirty diapers:

Speaking of laundry, my other dilemma after finding the right type of cloth diaper is what my wash routine would look like.   It’s surprisingly not that bad! When babies  poops aren’t solid yet, you can just throw the dirty diaper into the wash without rinsing it as they are water soluble.  But when they become solid, there are several techniques you can do which I will give an update as soon as I cross that bridge.  So once my daughter has soiled a diaper and I go to change her, I pull the liner out of the cloth diaper and throw them both in a hamper I have set up in her room.   Her hamper is just a kitchen trash bin with a lid that surprisingly keeps the odors in!  It fits a 13 gallon trash bag but instead of using a trash bag I bought a Teamoy (2 Pack) Reusable Pail Liner for Cloth Diaper/Dirty Diapers Wet Bag, Gray Chevron+Slate.  It’s perfect because once the hamper is full, I pull out the diaper filled pail liner and throw everything in the wash!  I don’t ever have to reach in and touch the dirty diapers.

Once the diapers and pail liner are in the washing machine (I have a whirlpool HE front loader), I do a cold wash without any detergent on normal setting.  After that’s done, I will do a second wash with a quarter cup of detergent (free of dyes and perfumes) on normal setting with hot water and an extra rinse.  Then I dry the diapers on normal setting and use wool balls with lavender essential oil.  I have 4 balls and put a couple drops of lavender on each one.  It fluffs up the diapers, cuts the drying time, and add’s a nice scent to them!

Third, some tips and tricks that I have learned:

  • Scented detergents may cause irritation on your babies bum so use any that are free of dyes and perfumes.  I have an HE washer so I use HE detergents.  I bought a big container of Arm and Hammer free of dyes and perfume without looking to see if it’s safe for my diapers and when I looked it up, turns out it isn’t.  But it’s a big container and I’m not wasting it because it seems to be doing the job.  Maybe once the detergent is all used up I will pick from this list:  http://www.lilbumsclothdiapers.com/complete-list-safe-harmful-detergents-cloth-diapering/
  • It’s totally ok to have stain marks on your liners.  No one see’s them because they go right inside the diaper cover.  But if it really bother’s you then you can wet the liners with water and squeeze lemon juice on them and place them out in the sun to bleach it.  Re-wash afterwards.
  • After every month you will want to clean your washing machine due to the odor and residue build up.  I use Affresh washer cleaner tablets on a normal cycle with hot water and works beautifully.
  • I’ve noticed a love/hate relationship with stripping the cloth diaper liners with bleach once the diapers get a horrible smell (after they are washed and cleaned).  I have used mine for almost a year and I think with my wash routine and the amount and type of detergent I use, I have not had the need to ‘strip’ them.  Here is a good website on stripping your diapers though but I would be hesitant to try it: https://www.mamanatural.com/how-to-strip-your-cloth-diapers/. Instead I would just buy extra liners Bamboo Cloth Diaper Inserts for Pocket or Cover Diapers from Nora’s Nursery – One Size Fits All (10 Pack, Soft Bamboo)
  • Be careful of the type of diaper cream you use.  Some of them will cause the cloth diapers to repel the liquid.  This website is a good reference to which cream to use with what type of cloth diaper you purchase: http://www.fluffloveuniversity.com/learn-about-cloth-diapers/diaper-creams-and-cloth-diapers/.  I myself use Ava baby diaper creme and it is amazing stuff.

So there you have it!  This is my simple routine to using cloth diapers and although it’s not as easy as disposable diapers, it is very cost effective and rewarding to do.  Please feel free to share your tips and your routines!!!

A Simple Life In The Kitchen

Keeping it simple in the kitchen can be very challenging especially if your goal is to eat homemade and healthy food on a budget.  However, it is very rewarding if you can find that perfect balance! I always see yummy looking dishes online when I search for a recipe to try but it always ends up being so involved and using a ton of ingredients which can really get pricey.  I hate wasting food and especially hate having leftover ingredients that expire because I don’t use them again.  What I’m also not a fan of is spending too much time prepping and cooking in the kitchen…it can get frustrating and make you feel like cooking from scratch isn’t worth the hassle.

One of the best tips to keeping it simple is to work with ingredients you already have and incorporate new ones at a time.  But if you want to make something like sushi and have to start from scratch  make sure you have a second meal in mind that you could make with those new ingredients like a sushi bowl.  Also, before you go grocery shopping, look through your fridge and cupboards and think of ways to use those items up first.  Lets say you have some cans of beans, half a bag of noodles, frozen vegetables, and maybe some leftover cooked chicken.  That would make a perfect soup or you could do a casserole.

So over the years I have come across recipes that have worked great for me that kept that balance of homemade, healthy, and healthy(ish).  They are quick, easy, and inspiring meals because a lot of them are just the base of a recipe and you can tweak it however you want.  One of my favorite meals to whip up is pizza and we have it just about every week!  I used to make the dough myself using a simple dough recipe but that took a lot of time so then I switched to buying frozen dough.  It was quick and easy to put a pizza together but then I looked at how many calories were in the dough and it was a little off putting.

One day while grocery shopping I came across a package of large pita’s.  There were six 12 inch pita’s for $2.99 so I figured I would try using them for pizza!  The “dough” was already made and all’s I had to do was add toppings to it and pop it in the over for about 10 minutes.  If you don’t mind thin crust pizza then this is a perfect alternative for you especially if you want to cut calories.  Since I only make one pizza a week, I freeze the package of pita’s and when it comes time to making one, I take it out of the freezer and it will be thawed by the time your done putting toppings on it.  Voila!  Quick, easy, and a healthier pizza in no time.  You can check out the basic recipe here:  https://www.keeplifesimplestupid.com/recipes/

An Endless “Flame”

I absolutely love candles and the ambiance they give off.  They’re warm and inviting and can help set the perfect mood.   What I don’t love is the cost of the candles, having to constantly replace them,  and now the hazard of having a little one crawling around and grabbing at things. Fortunately we have other options and one of them is flameless L.E.D tea lights.  It’s a great alternative and you can get a whole pack of them for a decent price but if you use them as much as I do then the batteries die fast and you can either replace the batteries or go out and buy more flameless candles.  Not very cost effective and a pain because you never know how much time you have left when using them.

So after replacing candle after candle and being afraid to turn on the flameless ones because I didn’t want the batteries to run out, I decided I would invest in a rechargeable tea light set.  And I am so happy I did because for about $30 I got a set of 12 candles that mimic an actual flame and it came with holders for each one of them (you can click on the image below and it will send you to amazon).

Two years later I am still using the tea lights and I have never bought another candle since!  You can get a good 15 hours out of a fully charged tea light.   There is a switch on the bottom of the candles to either turn on or off which is such a great feature and will make the candle last longer.  If it starts to lose its dim then you can place the candle on the charging dock and it will take about 3 hours to recharge.  But if you let the candle completely die then it will take about 10 hours to fully charge.  This has definitely been a win win purchase!

Fridge Makeover

One of my favorite projects by far has been painting the refrigerator with chalkboard paint.  My husband and I updated our kitchen and ended up with black appliances which matched perfectly with our newly painted cabinets. But unfortunately our fridge was white and stuck out like a sore thumb.  It is an outdated fridge but it still works so the only way we were going to get rid of it and get one that matched was if it died on us and we had no choice but to replace it.  So I looked around on the internet searching for a low cost solution and I found chalkboard paint!  You can get different tinted paint but we chose black so that it would match our other appliances and we were so happy with the outcome.

When we have guests over everyone likes to hang out in the kitchen so we started to play games like hangman right on the fridge.  It’s so fun and entertaining and people also love leaving messages on it.  My husband gets up in the mornings before I do and I always look forward to walking into the kitchen because he will leave quotes for the day or little love notes on the fridge.  What’s not to love about a chalkboard refrigerator!  And I’m sure once my daughter is old enough she will love drawing on the fridge and making beautiful art for mom and dad to see.

What I did to create this was I went to Lowe’s and got Valspar chalkboard paint for about $10, blue painters tape, and a small paint roller with a tray.  I like to line the tray with tinfoil before you pour the paint because once your done its an easy cleanup.  I washed down the fridge, lined the edges with tape, and just did a couple coats with the chalkboard paint. That’s it!  A very inexpensive project that was quick to do but made a huge difference in my kitchen.

Chocolate Chip Cookies (half batch) in 20 minutes

Twenty minutes is all it takes to have delicious, soft, and chewy cookies.  It will take you 10 minutes to prep and ten minutes to bake.   I don’t really have the patience, time, or knowledge to make exquisite desserts so most of the time they are store bought but with this recipe I can do it any night of the week and now that it’s summertime I also make ice cream cookie sandwiches out of them!  You don’t need a mixer and it uses your typical pantry ingredients.

The recipe calls for chocolate chips but I’ll also use dark mini chocolate chips or I will even chop up a Hershey’s bar left over from making smores.  This is one of my go to recipes and even though it’s super quick and easy to do, everyone loves them!  Alright, so here is the recipe:

 

Ingredients

1/3 cup butter (salted)

1/3 cup brown sugar

3 tablespoons white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg yolk (make sure its large)

3/4 cup of flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

handful of chocolate chips

 

Directions

*preheat oven to 325 degrees

Partially melt butter in a microwave-safe bowl.  Transfer butter into a large bowl and whisk in the brown sugar and white sugar until smooth.  Now stir in the egg yolk.  Mix in the flour and baking soda until all of the ingredients come together and starts to pull away from the bowl.   Now lets add in the chocolate! I say a nice handful but you can measure and use 1/3 cup.

Now we are ready to bake.  With a large spoon, scoop up the mixture and form a ball with it and place on a baking sheet.  It should be the size of silver dollar and you should get six of them.  Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes until lightly golden brown on top.  Take the cookies out of the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

A Pick-me-up Self Tanner

I found that being a mother your priorities shift and you think less about taking care of yourself as you do your best to take care of your kids first.  You’re kind of put on the back burner but not on purpose…it sort of just happens that way.  I was told recently by a loved one that I should be taking better care of myself.  It didn’t hurt my feelings hearing this, it just opened my eyes a little bit and made me realize that she was right.  I peered into the mirror and saw that  my gray hair had slowly taken over (I’m only 32!), my shapely brows were turning into a uni-brow,  and the nail polish on my toes were badly chipped, just to mention a few.

So I got my grays colored, eyebrows plucked, and toenails repainted.  Just doing that had made me feel so much better.  But I wanted to kick it up a notch since summer is here and it’s dress and short’s season.  I took a quick look at my pale legs.  They never tan and frankly I don’t have the time to sit out in the sun.  I also have seen the repercussions of suntanning since I used to work in a dermatologist office and let’s just say it is not pretty!  So my options were to go get sprayed with a sunless tanner once a week or every two weeks which cost about $25 each visit or to buy my own sunless tanner and do it myself. Well ladies and gentlemen, I did my research and ended up buying my own. And I am very glad I did!  I purchased the Fake Bake Flawless which came with a spray bottle, a pair of gloves, and a mitt.  Everything cost $13 and I purchased it from Amazon.  Yes I know, almost all of my purchases come from there but that’s because I have Prime and I can find exactly what I want!

Anyways, I really am happy with this product because when you apply it, it has a nice subtle tropical scent which sadly goes away when you wash the guide off.   No obnoxious chemical smells.  I use it on my legs only because I wear tank tops and pants during the summer so my upper body gets a “tan” but my lower body definitely needs help!  I reapply once a week and this stuff dries so fast (in less then 10 minutes) so I am not stuck in front of a fan for an hour.   It is quick and easy to use and really is the perfect pick-me-up.  Since I am not a pro at this I really shouldn’t be the one explaining how to apply a sunless tanner so here is a video that I found helpful:

And some great tips that I read were to wash the mitt after EVERY use. Otherwise the product won’t go evenly on your skin.  Also, the tube that is attached to the spray nozzle is too long so you should cut it about an inch from the bottom.

This is a picture of my legs in the direct sun.  The left leg has the sunless tanner and right doesn’t.

Vacuum vs Dog Hair

We have a sweet dog named Reno.  He is a pit bull and our fur baby.  I love all things about him except seeing his short hair covering EVERYTHING.  I cringe every time I catch him on our furniture because I know his hair will be stuck in the fibers of the throw pillows and couch cushions.   I’ve tried so many techniques to removing the hair like using lint rollers, packing tape,  the original vacuum cleaner that I had then buying another one because the first one wasn’t working and then the second one didn’t work.  It was the Eureka easy clean hand vac with a spinning brush .  It barely sucked up the dog hair so I was back to square one.  Since I couldn’t find anything that would help get rid of the hair then I thought maybe I would just try keeping him off the furniture. That failed miserably!!!  I tried barriers, laying tin foil down on the cushions (they don’t like the crinkling), I’ve tried spritzing essential oils on the furniture that supposedly would deter a dog, and I even tried training him to stay off.   I was losing this battle but I had to find a solution so I stuck with it and did a little more research.  I am so glad I did because I found the answer to my dog hair problem! It’s the BISSELL 9595A CleanView Bagless Vacuum with OnePass

One of it’s features is the Turbobrush tool and it is amazing.  I can clean all the dog hair off of the cushions and it looks like he has never been on the furniture!  It doesnt take much effort either…the brush literally does all of the work.  I just lightly glide the brush and do a couple passes.  The is what it looks like:

The vacuum itself is great and I haven’t had any issues so far after a year of using it.  It’s everything I need to clean my floors (it does bare and different carpet levels) and off the furniture.  I highly recommend this product!  I will upload a video of me cleaning off a pillowcase that is coated in dog hair so you can see it in action.  I vacuumed early this morning before I wrote this post so in a couple days I will update and add the video!

-Update-

Ok, here it is!

Thanks for reading,

Lets Talk Dirty…dirty grout that is!

So now that my little one is crawling around and going everywhere, I’ve been paying a lot of attention to my floors and whats on them…and now whats in between them.  Gross black grime had been living in the grout in our kitchen for as long as I can remember and it was definitely time to get rid of it. And I admit, way overdue too!  I knew it would be time consuming having to scrub between all of the tiles but I had no excuses now.  So I did some research and wanted the best product that would do the trick and was cost effective.

One of the options that I came across was using hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and dish soap.  I tried it because I had all of the ingredients on hand but it did not work as well as I wanted it to.  So scratch that.

The other options were solutions that were made specifically to clean grout. There were a lot of them.  How do you pick the right one?  They all varied slightly and were around the same price range.  It was a little overwhelming trying to read all of the reviews and compare them and I felt more inclined to just go with a more expensive one (around $20) because hey, they wouldn’t charge that much if the product didn’t work right?  Well I will never know because I went a different route haha.  I said to heck with it, did a little more research and came across good ol’ bleach.  I already had it on hand so I tried it diluted on an inconspicuous spot on the floor.  IT WORKED BEAUTIFULLY!  I put 2 tbsp of bleach in 2 cups of lukewarm water.  I slowly poured the solution onto the corners of the tiles and spread it along the grout using a brush.  I let it sit for about 10 minutes and scrubbed.  It would have been less work for me had I used a better brush so I definitely recommend one designed for cleaning grout. This one looked pretty good on amazon and it will save your back: Fuller Tile Grout E-Z Scrubber & Telescopic Steel Handle Set

The first picture is before and the second is after.  Let me know what you think!

Summer Loving!

If you know me, than you know how much I like to take care of things on my own.  I do my research, weigh the pros and cons, and then find out how to do it inexpensively.    Through years of practicing this, I’ve gained a long list of products that have worked for me and projects that were easily attainable.  I want to share these with you because it may end up saving you a lot of time and disappointment!  We’ve all seen the pinterest fails…haha.

So now that it is officially summer, I want to share what I bought for my 11 month old daughter to enjoy in this heat while she chills in a pool.  She used it in a 2 foot deep kiddie pool as well as a large inground pool and it worked beautifully in both!  Its called SwimWays Baby Spring Float Activity Center w/ Canopy.

It cost $27.99 on amazon.   She sits right in the center and her little legs dangle and kick in the water.  The arms on the octopus hold toys and it rattles! You can also take it off the float if its too big and bulky.  The canopy is adjustable and protects from the sun which is a huge plus.  There are others like it but I chose this one because of the canopy and the play center.   AND it’s a lot easier and faster to inflate!  It’s a little pricier then most but it’s worth the extra because you get extra from it.