Monday, August 30, 2010

Diaper Sprayer Mayhem

So, we've been doing cloth diapers for awhile now. I am still really liking them! We do use disposables for going to church, but I think that's mostly because I don't have a wet bag yet to put the cloth diapers in.

I hope you don't mind me mentioning it.... but when it comes to messy diapers, we at first did a lot of rinsing and scrubbing. This was getting to be a bit tedious, so my amazing husband installed a DIY diaper sprayer. I was so excited! Until the first time I got to use it. The water pressure was so hard, even with the water flow turned down on low, that it sprayed poopy water everywhere in the bathroom. Not cool!

But today I tried a new tactic, because I was not going to give up the diaper sprayer! We had a medium-sized unused tub we used to do our dishes in that was just sitting around. Now, I keep the tub under the crib where we put the soiled diapers during changings. Then, we use the tub to carry the diaper to the bathroom to rinse it out. If it's a dirty diaper I carry it over to the bathtub and using the diaper sprayer, spray the diaper down in the plastic tub while it's sitting in the bathtub. If it sprays everywhere, who cares! It worked amazingly! I am really excited. Man, the things you get excited over when you're a parent. Sheesh! :-)

Thursday, August 26, 2010


I have been in a serious decluttering fit lately. We just moved into a smaller townhome and we've had to seriously start to evaluate all the stuff/junk that we have been hauling around on these moves. Thanks to a kick start from Miss Minimalist's blog I have been going to town!

I find that being thrifty, frugal, and having a go at minimalism is an interesting balance. So, here are two tips that I've discovered so far.

1. "Tools of the trade" - I'm a baker/cook and homemaker. Any books or tools that help me out are things that I keep. Granted, I could get rid of a cook book or two, and evaluate the effectiveness of each of my tools, but I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. So, I have a lot of tools. The key is to keep them organized and if any are collecting dust, send them to the thrift store for another lifetime of use by someone else.

2. Keepsakes - I am the queen of holding onto memories. It was getting to be pretty painful with all the junk I've moved around in my lifetime - useless stuff that was just memory incarnate. Over the years I have been slowly letting go. The following trick, so far, has proved to be the best way (and the least painful) to get rid of memory objects. If I have something that holds a special memory, but isn't a family heirloom or is something that just sits around taking up space (usually in a box!), I take a picture. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but they don't mention that pictures also take up a lot less space! Once I take the picture, the memory is in effect transferred to the picture and I can get rid of the object without guilt or too much regret. Someday I might create a digital photo album full of discarded keepsakes and be able to flip through the pages reminiscing. I'm still in this memory "archiving" process and as soon as I get my camera back I think my wedding shoes will be the next to go...

Do you have any tips or tricks for being frugal, thrifty or cutting down on junk?

100 Ways to Simplify Your Life

Love this!

A Sad Little Garden

This year my little container garden was a huge bust. The harvest has been pitiful - 3 bulbous cucumbers and a handful of tomatoes with a few more a slim possibility. I've been plagued with caterpillars munching my yellow pear tomatoes, most of my plants have been dropping their flowers and all my tomatoes are malformed and small. I'm pretty sure they're been lacking in vitamins and minerals. I just haven't been up on feeding it to them. And the early start of severe thirst probably wasn't helpful. It makes me so sad! I guess I'm just not a good container gardener. I do much prefer stuff in a raised bed or in the ground. So, next year we're putting in a raised bed and I'll be much more prepared! I'll just have to forgive myself for being so neglectful this year. New baby, moving, you know. Stuff like that. Life. When the cold months set in, I'm going to start planning my garden for next season, order seeds early, and get to work early in the year. In the meantime I really am desperate to find someone who is desperate to get rid of their tomatoes. I really need to can some salsa for the winter. We can't live without it!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

"Paper" Towels!

Thanks to a suggestion from one of my readers, Julie, I made some paper towel replacements from old clothes - in this case old t-shirts. T-shirts are perfect because you can cut them up and they don't ravel. They're washable, but you don't feel too bad if you have to throw one away. Yippee!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Ball of Roving and a Spinning Wheel

A long time ago, in a land not too far away - Indiana to be exact - I learned how to spin on a large walking wheel. Within the depths of Conner Prairie, they taught me that valuable historical skill of spinning, then set me to work in the historical village, Prairietown. Dressed in an 1830s work dress, with sloping shoulders and only slightly puffed sleeves, I stood at the window and spun. The wool stretched and pulled, running its soft fibers slipping across my fingers as it wound itself sinuously around the spindle in uneven clumps and threads. While I wasn't that good, it was relaxing work and I liked gazing out the windows at passerby on the dirt road as I paced back and forth, spinning, spinning...

I haven't spun again since then - until today! Today I finally put off all pathetic excuses, pulled out my friend Mairi's borrowed spinning wheel and started spinning. Well, in reality I didn't start out quite that easily. First, I had to research how to make my big bundle of wool into roving for easier spinning. (Beautiful wool which I got from Mairi's generous fiber expert sister, Heather. Oh, and their sheep. Thank you!) I found a lovely instructive video on youtube. Then, after a half-dozen frustrating failures at starting I figured out the darn tension on the wheel and then I started spinning! Aaah, all the memories came flooding back with the wool running through my fingers. It's good to be spinning again. Now, all I need is a good audio book.

What do you think? Quite imperfect, but not too bad for starting again!
I need to learn how to ply this stuff too. Plying scares the heck out of me!

P.S. Check this story out. It's about a Sheep to Shawl contest and it sounds really intense! I think I'd go to pieces under pressure like that!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Garden Status

My poor little garden is suffering. My potted tomatoes took a hard hit when we moved because they were stuck at the old place for awhile and didn't get watered for a few days. They've made a small come-back and I harvested my first black cherry tomato a few days ago. It's mid-August already! Pretty abysmal harvest so far. We've picked all of 2 tomatoes. I think we just got a late start with the seedlings and planting them. There are a few tomatoes growing right now, and I'm hoping to have enough for a half-dozen salads before the chill winds of autumn kill them off. I just might be having a FRYday featuring fried green tomatoes. I guess that's not such a bad thing! Aaah, well. It's not like I had a baby and moved within 6 months of moving out here to Maryland or anything. ;-) There's always next year!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

First Cloth Diaper Thoughts

Today is the first day of my daughter wearing cloth diapers. Well, she's wearing her very first one right now and I have yet to change it, but I just had to share my first thoughts. Already, I love them! With the cloth diaper on, her little tush is so soft! Unlike the annoying crinkly paperness of the disposables. It's something so small, but it's amazing what a difference it makes. Just holding her wearing the cloth diaper makes me 10x happier. Who knew?! Maybe it's the cloth fiber vibes whispering "No more disposables in the landfill. Hooray!" haha!

It's taken me awhile to get our little girl into cloth diapers. I've been buying a small batch every paycheck until I've been able to build up enough to hopefully have some for a few days. Then I had to find the right detergent (unfortunately, my homemade stuff won't work). And finally, I had to wash and dry them 3 times to get them absorbent - just like you have to wash new towels a few times. I was a little nervous putting on the very first cloth diaper. Was I ready? Was I going to have a headache scrubbing the first messy diaper? Where am I going to put the soiled diapers? (Our apartment is much smaller than our last place...) Are they going to stink up my house? Was her diaper going to be completely huge and bulky? Questions to be answered shortly, I'm sure.

Well, I started to put the cloth diaper on - backwards. I laughed at myself and started over and even though my little girl was fussing and squirming I got it on and... it was beautiful! Hooray! Now maybe I'll get my husband to do the first cloth diaper change. Heh heh heh.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cool Knitting/Crocheting Website

I found this great kitting and crocheting website that has free downloadable patterns! It also has some great features like links to different types of yarns and a "My Notebook" tab where you can save favorite patterns you find, the status of projects you're working on which you can share with others, stashed yarn, a queue for future projects, and a whole lot more. If' you're into knitting or crocheting, this is a really fun website to explore! I've been knitting for 7 years, but I am still stuck on scarves and wash clothes and have no idea how to read knitting patterns. It is definitely time to expand my horizons!

Here's the site:

Monday, August 9, 2010

Goodbye, Plastic!

I am really excited about these thrift store finds of glass baby bowls (a.k.a. reclaimed ramekins. haha!) I've been contemplating my use of plastic and the recent BPA scare and I've realized that I rely on plastic a lot in my food storage and kid-dishes -- a lot more than I'd like to. So, I've decided that I'm going to slowly replace the plastic kids dishes with glass (for me to feed the baby from, not for her to eat out of on her own) and also to replace our plethora of plastic storage containers with as much glass and other safer alternatives than the cheapo Gladware stuff I've been using. I've really disliked how those plastic containers discolor and warp and get ugly from being microwaved. I really don't like to microwave in plastic containers. I just looked at what the food did to my containers and then I wondered what the containers were doing to my food. And then I thought, Yeah, it's time to switch over. I'm excited to start buying glass containers with lids for food storage in the fridge. And I already use canning jars to store bulk food items like couscous, rice, sugar, and my cornbread mix.

I've also read about a lot of fun products like stainless steel flatware for kids, cute wood and stainless steel baby dishes, and even stainless steel sippy cups! And at the store the other day I saw a cool, if rather heavy, glass water bottle with a silicone cover. It looked pretty cool. Not to mention there are those stainless steel water bottles that you see everywhere now. I'm glad I'm not the only one on this line of thinking! It sure makes it easier to find better alternatives.

Now I just need to be weaned off plastic bags and paper towels. I'm switching to cloth diapers, I might as well analyze the other "disposables" in my life, right. Do I need more cloth rags maybe to replace paper towel dependence? Can I use rags in the microwave? (We put a paper towel over food so it doesn't spatter everywhere.) Paper towels are great for cleaning up greasy stuff, but I suppose cloth could do the same.

I could see us coming off paper towels, but plastic bags? They're great for freezing stuff like meat, storing my bread, and for keeping food in the fridge fairly fresh. I do throw away any plastic bags I keep raw meat in. I used to wash my plastic bags, but it's such a hassle. I guess I just hate the idea of how much I'm throwing away, but I just can't think of any other realistic alternative for plastic bags. Any non-plastic suggestions out there?

Disposables = money + convenience - TRASH

Friday, August 6, 2010

It's FRYday! - Indian Fry Bread

Indian Fry Bread

Aaah, it's that wonderful time of the month - FRYday! Woo! Now that we're all settled into our new place I was able to have FRYday on its normal day.

Today I really wanted to make Indian Fry Bread. I was introduced to this when I lived in Utah - it seems to be a very popular local food out there. I've seen it at the county fair, festivals, and other community events. To specify, "Indian" refers to Native American. I've also heard it called Navajo Fry Bead. It's eaten as the base for "Indian Tacos" or slathered in honey and butter. Yum! Unfortunately, I never got around to trying it until a short time ago during an internship at the American West Heritage Center. A Native American woman (I don't remember the tribe) showed me how her mother taught her to make it and described how they made it on the reservation. That was a pretty cool folkloric experience. But then I got to taste it. WOW! So, so mouth-wateringly good! It just melted in my mouth. This recipe brings back that wonderful tasty memory.

Indian Fry Bread
Yield: 6

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered milk
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. shortening
3/4 cup warm water

Mix dry ingredients and shortening together in a medium-sized bowl. Rub mixture with fingers until coarse crumbs form. Push mixture to one side of the bowl and add the water. Mix in a circular motion with your fingers, then knead in an upward motion, stretching it upward with one hand. This should make a soft dough. (Or just stir it with a spoon until the water is absorbed. The other method is just really messy.)

Knead on a floured board for 2 minutes. (You might need to add a little extra flour.) Divide into 6 portions and shape into balls. Flatten one ball of dough with your fingers from the center outward until it's 6-7 inches around. Pat it firmly back and forth with your hands to help make it smooth and even. Thin out the edges so it's all the same thickness. Do the same with the rest of the dough balls.

Fry in hot oil until the edges are golden brown. Turn over and continue frying until a deep golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

Serve hot, slathered with butter and drenched in honey. Oooooooh, yeaaaaaahhhh......

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

1st Baby Food

Pea, Green Bean & Zucchini Puree

I am so proud of myself! Today I made my first baby food for my little 5-month old girl. She's been eating stuff out of a jar for a few weeks, but I have wanted to make my own baby food. So, I bought a hand-crank baby food mill and an electric baby food blender. It came in the mail today! So, with the blenders an hour fresh out of the box, washed and dried, I cooked and blended a yummy mixture of peas, and organic green beans and zucchini. I think it took me about an hour to prep, cook and puree everything. I was lucky in that I got almost all of it done between my daughter's naps. Yippee! I tested some of the cooled stuff on her right then and there. Success! She loved it. (She's definitely a veggie girl - hasn't liked bananas, and apples were okay, but were a bit sour for her.) I tasted the green stuff myself and I must say - way better than the jar stuff!

Anyway, I can't believe how empowered I feel! I know that probably sounds silly. But I did entirely jarred food for my 1st baby because my husband and I were full-time students and were both working. It was hard to be restricted on what I could feed him at the beginning. But I had to be realistic. Now, my cooking soul is super thrilled to try out new combos of veggies and fruits and grains that you can't get in a jar - especially organic stuff. My next idea is to cook some oatmeal with apples and raisins and puree that. Yum!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...