Project 366 Rewind

My efforts at taking a photo a day for my Project 365 last year was an EPIC fail.  I lasted barely into the third month of the year.  I felt like I was taking photos of the same ol' things everyday.  I live a pretty boring life and don't have tons of exciting things to photograph.  This is one of my.... *whispering* resolutions.  Be more active!  Get out of the house!  Do MORE!

A great way for me to incorporate taking photos with getting off my ass...  It's the Project 366 (cause it's a Leap Year!) Rewind brought to us by Sarah from Naptime Momtog and Gina from Chic Homeschool Mama!

Naptime Momtog

There will be weekly prompts to follow so I'll have a subject for my week of photos.  This is so exciting to me! I love having prompts!  To be honest here... since getting my iPhone I have neglected my "real" cameras.  I shudder to think what will/would happen if I had the iPhone 4s with it's 8 mp camera.

January's prompts:

Week 1 - Fresh Start
Week 2 - Chilly
Week 3 - Start of the Day
Week 4 - Close

Details, details:

--Post your week in pics on Mondays. They can be in the form of a collage or separate.
--Including the weekly prompts is optional.
--Our button must be present in your post.
--Please visit some other blogs, and leave some love and encouragement.
--Submit the URL of your blog post or Flickr entries, not your home page.

I needed this motivation and can't wait to get started on Monday, January 2nd!

Holiday Awesomeness

We've been eating here and eating there.  I'm completely stuffed STILL!  I have been so far behind on working on our family photos.  I feel like I've been so busy, but haven't been able to get anything done.  I finally found the time to mess with some of them from Christmas.  This gives me a chance to use some of Alicia's Days of December photo templates!



Such cute templates!  Made even cuter with those gorgeous kids, right?  Hee hee!  I have to tell you a little secret.  I don't have an external flash for my camera.  Like everyone else I hate that blown out, in your face built-in flash.  I found a trick.  I stumbled upon a small rectangular piece of white cardboard.  I simply placed it at an angle in front of my built-in flash and bounced that sucker off the ceiling!  It did take a bit of trial and error to get the right angle, but for free I got rid of the nasty, too bright flash!  I still want the Nikon SB-400, but until then my cardboard will work just fine!

I hope everyone has had a happy and healthy holiday season so far!

*Just in case you are wondering why my daughter has her head in that box up there... the box contained super cute, super awesome... UNDERWEAR!  She was so embarrassed that she wouldn't take them out of the box.  Ha ha!

**FREE photo templates from Project Alicia found here.

I'll Be Back

Image source = {Google}
I know I've kind of been missing in action lately.  We've just been so busy getting ready for Christmas, visiting here, visiting there.  I haven't had time to dedicate to the blog like I'd like to have, but I shall return!  I will persevere over this holiday funk that has plagued my blog to return anew!

I will try to find time for Christmas photos as today is the last Christmas dinner.  I think...so hopefully tomorrow will bring you some fun holiday images!

But probably not until next week....

Just for Laughs

The older kids downloaded an app that allows them to create their own Pokemon cards.  I've never understood these trading card games, but they made a card for me.


My life is now complete.

I Covet the Bella

No, not THAT Bella.  The Tiny Tush Bella print!


I told y'all in my first ever diaper review that Charlene is awesome sauce with a cherry on top, but she really is on top of her business.  Not to mention an all around good person.  I want to bake her cookies and give her a big hug.

She read my review and noticed my "funky bubble".  She said it was a flaw with a temporary PUL supplier. I was only the second person in 11 years to have this problem!!  Talk about a great product!  I wish I could say I only had two problems in 11 years with other things I have around the house!  She wanted to switch out my funky bubble for the beautiful Bella!


I haven't tried it out yet because I just got it today, but I had to gush over it.  It really is a beautiful print.  The colors are perfect, bright yet subtle.  And soft? Oh it's so soft!  I am so excited to try this one out!  Head over to Tiny Tush to get your Bella or Bubbles, Camo or Bots, or one (or more) of the 13 other solid colors available.  I promise you that you will not be disappointed with one of these diapers!

Oatmeal Cookies for Boobies!

I've breastfed all my children, although I had to return to my un-pump friendly job with my first daughter and was only able to breastfeed her for a few months. I was so much younger and did not really have many resources available. Now there is an abundance of information from books to websites to groups on Facebook. One thing I've found helpful is recipes to help maintain or boost a mother's milk supply. So far we are doing just fine, but it never hurts to know a few tricks should the need arise.

The easiest thing I thought I could do was take some Fenugreek. I bought a bottle at the local Rite-Aid for $9. There are a few issues I have with taking this though. For starters, it is not a small capsule. I've always had problems swallowing pills so this was inconvenient. According to tons of websites/groups, for fenugreek to be effective you are supposed to take three pills, three times a day. Holy pills, Batman! That is way more pills than I would be comfortable taking in a 24 hour period. Though you can take less if... your sweat starts to smell like maple syrup. Oh and your pee too! If you make it to this milestone then apparently you are taking the correct amount of fenugreek to help boost milk production. While smelling like maple syrup is not a bad side affect, I am still not able to move passed taking nine pills a day.

Solution? COOKIES!!! Oatmeal chocolate chip lactation cookies. You can find recipes everywhere. You can even order cookies from places like Milk Makers and Yummy Mummy. For me, ordering cookies seemed a little too pricey. I am a stay at home mom so there was not any reason why I could not bake my own.  I adapted a recipe that I found in various different places around the web.


Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Lactation Cookies
Print it here!

Ingredients for 2 dozen, ingredients to make 4.5 dozen in (parentheses)

- 1/2 cup butter (1 cup), softened
- 1/2 cup sugar (1 cup)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar (1 cup), firmly packed
- 1 7/8 Tbls water (4 Tbls)
- 1 Tbls milled flax seed (2 Tbls)
- 1 egg (2 eggs)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (1 teaspoon)
- 1 cup whole wheat flour (2 cups) or regular flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (1 teaspoon)
- 1 1/2 cups oats (3 cups), NOT quick oats
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips (1 cup)
- 4 to 6 capsules of 610mg fenugreek capsules (8 to 10 capsules), opened OR
- 1 to 1 7/8 Tbls brewer's yeast (2 to 4 Tbls)

To make:
-Preheat oven to 350F.
-Mix the flax seed and water then let sit for 3-5 minutes.
-Beat together the butter and both sugars, then add eggs, mix well.
-Add flax seed mixture and vanilla to the butter/sugar mix, beat well.
-In a separate bowl, mix together flour, fengreek OR yeast, baking soda, and salt, mix well.
-Add the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture.
-Stir in oats and chocolate chips.
-Scoop onto baking sheet, bake for 12 minutes.

To start out, I only made two dozen because I wanted to try them before I made 54 cookies.  I could not find brewer's yeast.  It was extremely elusive so I used my fenugreek instead.  It gives an added maple flavor.  Since they are capsules and not pills they are easily opened and dumped into the mixture.  I only added the amounts for the brewer's yeast in case you can find it in your area.

I know it is not the healthiest recipe on the block, but IT IS A COOKIE!  Both brewer's yeast and fenugreek tend to be a bit bitter so all that sugar covers it up nicely.  You only need to eat one or two a day to help with your milk supply.  A bonus is that you can just omit the fenugreek and everyone can eat them!  And they are so very good!  It was hard to only eat a couple.  The recipe can be changed up to add things like raisins, nuts, or even peanut butter chips.  The options are really endless.  This totally beats taking a million pills everyday!

Wipe On, Wipe Off

When I got my Perfect Wipes, my first reaction was, "Ewww! No way I am going to wipe poop with that!"  We began using them as spit wipes instead.  Some where along the line though, I decided to give it a whirl.  Probably because I realized that I was using about a gajillion disposable wipes per poopy diaper.  Wipe, fold, wipe, fold. Repeat.  It dawned on me that I was being a bit ridiculous.  All about the cloth diapers and the impact on the planet, but I was still throwing away wipe after wipe after wipe.  

One day I had just had enough so I grabbed a cloth wipe.  Not knowing a thing about cloth wipe solutions, I just wet it with some warm water.  Wowza!  I used ONE wipe and all the poo was gone.  I had noticed when using disposable wipes that Rowan's bootay would look a bit stained.  No matter how many wipes I used, she would still have a yellow tint to her behind.  I always felt like she was not getting clean.  Not an issue when using the cloth wipes!  I think that she is getting much cleaner now.  

Staining of the bootay was not the only staining issue.  Since the wipes are white I did have to sun them often to keep the stains at bay.  (That Sun!  Got to love it!)  So when I ran across an 18 pk of wash cloths at Wal-Mart for only $4 in these mix of wonderful Autumn colors and white, I had to buy some.  Great inexpensive way of masking those poo stains!  The yellow ones are almost hard to use though because they match the mustard-y color of Rowan's poo's so well that I cannot always tell if I am using the "clean" side!             

I still use disposables periodically at home and, of course, when we are out.  Just like my first worries about using cloth diapers, my fears of using cloth wipes were un-necessary.  I think I may look into making some cloth wipe solutions.  This site has tons of different solutions to make yourself.  I would really like to try the Chamomile 'N Honey solution because it doesn't have any oils so I can still wash my wipes right along with my diapers.  Here's the recipe:  for every cup of boiling water, brew one chamomile tea bag, and add a teaspoon of honey.  Sounds easy, right?  I've many different ways to add solutions to your wipes.  Some reuse an old disposable container, some just pour on the wipes as needed, and I read of filling a peri-bottle with the solution.  I saved my peri-bottle from the hospital for some reason and now I have an actual use for it!

How many cloth wipe users are out there?  Do you have any tips or tricks for your wipes?

Tiny Tush Review

My first cloth diaper purchase was six Tiny Tush Elite diapers.  First selling point that got me was they are made in the US.  Second point... at the time, they were having a sale so I jumped on it!  Buy 5 diapers, get one diaper free plus a bonus 12 pk. of Perfect Wipes.  I decided to get all white for the color.  On hindsight, what the heck was I thinking?  Well, I'll tell you what I was thinking at the time.  I wanted her cloth diapers to be all matchy-matchy with her clothes so I figured if I got all her diapers in white I'd be good to go.  Ugh... I shouldn't have listened to myself.  Tiny Tush diapers come in so many colors!  I could kick myself for only getting white.  I covet the Bella print, but I'll have to sneak that one when the hubs isn't looking!  Anyway, moving on...

This is our current setting.

Right out of the box, I was impressed.  Not only did I get my 6 diapers, I received my pack of Perfect Wipes, but I also got 3 hemp wipes too!  A bonus on top of a bonus!  After pulling all of my goodies out of the box, I grabbed the receipt from the bottom of the box.  What did I see on it?  A hand written thank you from Charlene herself!  Instant wow factor.  I'm sure she does this will all orders, but it felt personal and I appreciated that attention to detail.

See?!  Awesomeness!

The shell of these diapers are made with a waterproof PUL on the exterior and a polyester micro-fleece on the inside.  There are four sizes available for the rise with the snap down systems.  I have the "original" Elite diapers, but now Charlene has made a few improvements and the Elite 1.1 is available.  The new Elite's have color coordinated snaps and a crossover snap on the tabs.  The website says they are designed to fit babies 7-35lbs.**, but I'll be honest and say (for us) it was more around 10 lbs. that Rowan began to fit in them.  (Now they have the cutest, teeny tiniest Elite Mini for babies 4-15lbs.!)

This is fastened at the largest setting.

Inside view.

Love this feature!  You can tuck the insert under here and no mess!

Outside view

Snaps

Snap flaps... ha!

These are my absolute go-to diapers for nighttime.  They are roomy without being too bulky and give lots of room for me to be able to double up Rowan's inserts.

All in all they have been and continue to be some great diapers.  I did notice a little separation of the laminate from the fabric on ONE diaper.  One.  Out of six, that are in constant rotation on a nightly basis.  For the last 4.5 months.


I only add this because in the interest of full disclosure I don't want to leave anything out.  HOWEVER, I do want to point out that this had been a NON-ISSUE when it comes to waterproof-ness.  We've had no leaks due to this and since it's only 1 out of the 6 I purchased I figure it's just a fluke and go on using it anyway.

You can find all of the Tiny Tush products here.  They are also on Facebook, Twitter, and on their blog.

**As a side note, most one-size diapers claim the 7-35lbs. range and most would be better saying 10-35lbs.**

*All opinions are my own.

It's So FLUFFY!

When I first ventured into cloth diapers, I was overwhelmed.  How many do I need?  How do I wash them?  How hard is it going to be?  Questions, questions.  The biggest issue I could think of was the initial cost.  Being a family of one income, it was a little discouraging to say the least.  I was determined to do the damn thing though.  Where there is the will, you will find the way.  So we started out with just enough to get the job done.  I wrote a post about the beginnings... how I laundered them, what we were working with, etc.  Then I realized my faux pas with the wrong detergent and found my way to the best (in my opinion) detergent, EcoSprout.

Now here we are just 4 months into wearing cloth diapers.  I'm still using the EcoSprout in our wash routine.  There are a million and one wash routines too.  If you thought it was hard to decide what kind of diapers to buy, wait until you try to figure out how to wash 'em!  I have a specific routine that I follow, but I have found that every one has a different routine and it's really trial and error to find what works for you.

The routine: We have hard water and a front loading HE washing machine.  Double whammy.  As I stated before I use EcoSprout to wash our cloth and their customer service was awesome with helping me work out a wash routine that worked for us.  I first put them through a "quick wash" using 1 Tbls of detergent on a warm wash/cold rinse plus extra rinse.  If I don't have any poopy diapers (and sometimes I don't because Rowan doesn't always poop every day) I'll do this cycle on hot.  Next I run them through the "white" cycle using 3 Tbls of detergent on a hot wash/cold rinse plus extra rinse.  I wouldn't have to use as much detergent if I had softer water.  I've never tested it, but a quick Google search turned up several results.  When it was warm outside I would hang everything outside to dry/sun.  The Sun is amazing at getting out those stains.  Now that it's turned cold, I have to resort to using the dryer.  I separate the shells from the inserts and dry the inserts on high heat.  I will either hang the shells inside on my handy dandy rack from Wal-Mart (though when I bought mine in September they were only $10) or I'll put them in the dryer separately from the inserts and dry on the timed dry for about 20 minutes on extra low heat.  This has been our routine for about 2 months now and I've had no need to "strip" the diapers.  The only time we have any ammonia (or other) issues is with her over night diapers.  I don't change her over night and in the mornings, she does have some ammonia, but it's not been a large issue.

Now when we started, we had a minimum of diapers.  I was gifted one FuzziBunz One-size and a 12 pk of Gerber pre-folds.  We then purchased 3 more FuzziBunz One-size, 6 Tiny Tush Elite One-size, and 2 EconoBum covers.  Our total cost at that point was a mere $178.  The problem is there are so many brands out there that I couldn't stop obsessing over which one to buy next.  I was trying to keep costs down, but OH MY GOD HAVE YOU SEEN ALL THE CUTE CLOTH DIAPERS???  I would love to try one of everything, but the hubs would kill me.

**NOTE:  Any cloth diaper makers/companies out there that want to gift me a sample of their product??  I'll gladly use them, review them, and tell the world about your awesomeness!

Hasn't stopped me from trying though...  hee hee.  So... here is our new total stash of fluffy fluff-tastic-ness!

+ 6 FuzziBunz One-size (1 gifted-cotton candy, 3 purchased at $19.95-buttercream, 2 purchased on clearance (the old style) at $12.95-choco truffle & crushed berries)
+ 1 FuzziBunz Perfect Size-medium-$12.76-watermelon
+6 Tiny Tush Elite One-size at $19.95 (but they were buy 5 get one free)-white
+3 Kawaii One-size at $9.75 (two suede-sage & light blue, one microfiber-purple)
+4 Diaper Rite One-size (1 as a Black Friday freebie-bubble gum, 3 purchased at $7.75-black, electric carrot, electric lime)
+4 EconoBum covers (1 as a BOGO offer with prefold insert-white trim, 2 purchased at $8.95 (cover only)-zinnia,white, 1 purchased at $9.95 with prefold insert-ribbit trim)
+1 Thirsties Duo Wrap cover purchased on Black Friday for $8.00-size 2-warm stripes(+$1.00)
+3 Diaper Rite Prefolds in Small, unbleached at $1.59 each
+11 Diaper Rite Prefolds in Medium, unbleached at $2.07 each
+12 Gerber prefolds (gifted and not pictured)
+1 large FuzziBunz diaper pail at $21.95-white
+1 small PlanetWise wet bag-$9.50-Think Peach print
+1 small/medium drawstring wet bag with a Black Friday sale

The pockets...

 The prefolds and covers... (minus the Gerber ones 'cause after I got the Diaper Rite prefolds I won't be using the Gerbers)

 Extra microfiber inserts of various shapes and sizes...

 Two small wet bags...

Ro rockin' her Thirsties Duo Wrap cover.

So far our grand total is just $366!!  This is approximate because I'm not counting shipping.  But seriously?  Less than $400 for (on average) 2 years of diapers?  Yay!!!  I am so excited to be able to cloth diaper my baby.  I wish I had known more about it with my other two children.  In an effort to just get the word out about using cloth diapers I'll be writing some reviews of the cloth that I have been using.  Anything new I'll give 2-3 weeks of use before giving an official opinion.

I should mention that with the exception of the Tiny Tush and the first 3 FuzziBunz, I have purchased all of our diapers from Diaper Junction.  I highly recommend them.  They have great customer service, competitive prices, and super fast shipping.  Check them out if you get the chance.