Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas By The Dozen

Merry Christmas everyone!  How was your Christmas?  Magical?  Delightful?  A veritable winter wonderland?  Good.  I'm happy for you.  Really, I am.

My Christmas wasn't horribly bad, but it just felt like a very "off" year.  Not my favorite.  To start the holiday season off right, on November 20th Ivy and I were hit by a semi truck.  We both came out of it pretty good considering, but the recovery and aftermath did put a damper on my Black Friday shopping.  For the first time in eight years I stayed home on Black Friday.  That left me with a whole lotta shopping to get done in December.  And with the accident came a bunch of doctor's appointments and new car shopping and new carseat shopping and insurance shenanigans to be done in December.  The shopping and everything did get done in time (barely) but I didn't get much decorating done.  I got no baking done.  Things just weren't feeling as Christmasy as they should.

The weekend before Christmas I marked out on the calendar to be a CHRISTMAS PREP EXTRAVAGANZA!  We were hosting Christmas for the inlaws this year so at the very least I needed to clean house and I was also hoping to finish up that decorating too.  Saturday morning Violet and I got to cleaning until I bent over to turn on the tub faucet (to fill a mop bucket) and my back went out.  Just went down south for the holidays to visit family I guess.  I crawled to bed and stayed there all weekend unable to walk.  Needless to say, things yet again didn't get done as I had planned.

Christmas went fine, gifts were opened and meals were eaten and there was cheer and whatnot.  But I'm still sitting here feeling kind of unsatisfied.

Lucky for me though, I remembered - THERE ARE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS!  I still have time to salvage the season and have some fun.  So my goal is to do twelve days of gluten-free and dairy-free treats.  I don't know if that will make everything better, but at least we can all drown our sorrows in marshmallow and chocolate.

Grandma Beccie provided the treats for Christmas, which were delightful, and I'll hunt down her recipes for you all.  My contribution for Christmas was a quick batch of gluten, dairy, peanut free Muddy Buddies (using this recipe).  I was so-so about these because I am a huge peanut fan and the almond butter just seemed subpar to me, but no one else had my reservations and the whole bowl was promptly devoured.

So yesterday when I decided to do this, I was trying to think of an easy treat to make that I had the ingredients for on hand.  In scanning my cupboards, my eyes rested on a Tupperware container of Cascadian Farms Honey Nut O's.  This cereal did NOT go over well with my brood.  I thought it looked good, but they won't eat it.  I tried it, it's not terrible, but I agree with them, it's not great.  It was an expensive box of cereal though so I didn't want it to go to waste.  So I rounded up a recipe for Almond Honey Cereal Bars from the Cascadian Farms blog and figured I give it a go.  Maybe the cereal would be more enticing slathered in honey and sugar? 

Turns out, it is.

They are all gone already except for the four I put in a bag marked "DO NOT EAT (FOR SATURDAY)".  We are doing a family gift exchange on Saturday so I thought I should keep a variety of treats from this week's projects to share with everyone.

And for today, another easy project with all the ingredients already on hand.  Grandma Marcia had bought the makings for chocolate dipped pretzels (ingredients: chocolate, pretzels) so I whipped those up today.  Glutino pretzels dipped in melted Enjoy Life dairy free chocolate chips.  Easy peasy.  Also extremely delicious.  This is a great one because it is basically indistinguishable from its dairy and gluten full version.  Yum.

Tune in tomorrow for the fourth day of treats.  It should be exciting because at this point I again have no idea what I'll be making ;-)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

That's It?

Last year the Flats and Handwashing Challenge was exhilirating.  It felt challenging and exciting and like a real accomplishment.  As I finish this year's flats challenge, I'm left feeling a little, "meh".  Last year flats were a whole new world for me, but this year, they're old hat.  I've been stuffing my pockets and covers with these little darlings for a year now so it's no big whoop.  I had everything I needed already on hand so I didn't even have to prepare for this year's challenge at all. I just woke up Monday morning, slapped a flat on Ivy, and went on with my day.  At bedtime I stuck the dirties in a bucket of water and soap, went up and did the bedtime routine with the kids, then came back down and scrubbed and rinsed for about ten minutes.  Not very challenging.  I didn't even set up a clothesline - lazy old me just hung them on the porch chairs and railing overnight and they were still there and plenty dry by morning.

I'm not saying handwashing is easy.  Spending an hour washing and hanging a big old bucket of flats that I had been neglecting for three days as I was trying to get the car packed for our weekend away was no picnic.  But it wasn't a big deal either, just a bit time consuming.

And the pinnacle of my nonchalance about flats - when at the last second my mom said she would watch Ivy while we took the big kids on vacation, I said "Thank you thank you thank you!" and headed out the door.  I didn't leave her any instructions or alternate diapers or anything.  Ooops!  But never fear, she was around last year for the Walmart Flats Challenge so not only did she rock the flats, but she also knew that when she was running out of flats Sunday night, she could put the baby to bed with a receiving blanket in her cover.  The highlight of the challenge I think.

But, while the whole thing does seem a little anticlimatic, I think this is a good thing.  Because really, flats shouldn't be a big deal.  People used to use them all the time without any fanfare or patting themselves on the back.  And I think that's what we need to get back to.  While I do love me some fluffy mail, and I could talk for hours about cloth diapers with anyone who asked, I think that the future for cloth diapers is banality.  I mean, these are diapers.  They catch poop.  Do you chat with your mom friends for hours about disposable diapers?  How about baby socks or onesies?  Nope, because it's no big deal.  It's ordinary.  You might recommend your favorite brand, but there just isn't that much to say about them, because how to use them and wash them and dispose of them is common knowledge.  You don't have to wonder where to buy them, you know because you've seen them at Target a thousand times already.  And that's the place that we want cloth diapers to be.  We want them to get to the point for mothers around the world where we no longer need advocacy groups.  Where  moms no longer feel the need to congregate in online groups to discuss in minute detail washing routines and fabrics and fit because they can chat about those things with the mothers around them in real life if they're having trouble.   I can't wait until we reach the day when new moms learn everything they need to know about cloth from their own mothers or from the childbirth prep class at the hospital, along with the other basic baby care knowledge.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Part Deux: A Different Perspective

I'm finally back!  This post was meant to be posted over the weekend for you all, but a cranky modem + heading out camping with kiddos meant that it got delayed.  But here it is now for your reading pleasure.  Part of the fun of a blog is hosting guest bloggers and hearing from other voices.  Today we're hearing from brand new blogger, Andrea Brumsey, about her experiences with the Flats and Handwashing Challenge

I am taking part in the Second Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge  hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry .  For 7 days I will be using only flat cloth diapers and handwashing them in an effort to prove that cloth diapering can be affordable and accessible to all.  You can learn more about the rules and why this challenge was started by visiting the announcement post .  This year there are over 450 participants from all over the world! should I start...well I started my cloth diapering journey in Jan.'09 and have not looked back since. I have cloth diapered 3 of my 4 children and 2 of them are still in diapers. Well I guess one technically as my 3 year old only uses one at nap time and one at bed time. I use to use pocket diapers full time but I was having so much trouble figting the ammonia smell that was lurking in my diapers. I stripped the diapers over and over with little to no success. I then began to do some research on what I could do. I was ready to give up on cloth diapers. But then I discovered flat cloth diapers and I fell in love with them.

I purchased my first set of flat cloth diapers from Swaddlebees Flat diapers is where my journey began. Now I have a cloth diaper stash of flats. I have my Swaddlebees and Flour Sack Tea Towels that Iove to use as diaper, as well as receiving blankets that I use as night time diapers.

I have tried many many folds but they have all failed to work the way I thought that they should. The fold that I find works well for both my 3 year old and and my 17 month old is the kite fold. I find that the Kite fold proves to be very very trim and also very very absorbant. There are many layers which is excellent for both girls and boys.

I am enjoying using flats, even more than I thought that I would. They are super easy to wash and dry very fast. I use to use diaper pins and loved using them all the time but as my DS got older he refused to stay still for more than a couple seconds. Even though I was using pins for months I wasn't fast enough and was scared that the pin would hurt his skin. So, I switched to using a Snappi. I have also switched to using velcro closure diaper covers instead of snap closure covers. The velcro closure diaper covers are much easier to fasten with a squirmey baby. I also find that since switching to flat diapers my son no longer gets diaper rashes.

Before I started The Flats and Handwashing Challange my washing routine consisted of putting the diapers and covers into my washing machine and do a pre rinse with cold water and no detergent. Then once the diapers have been rinsed I add cloth diaper safe detergent anf set the washer on hot water and let it go through a regualr cycle and add an extra rince. Now that I am participating in the Flats and Handwashing Challange I start by taking my wash bucket and putting it in my kitchen sink. I then ad cold water and use my hands to aggitate the water for a few minutes. Then once i see that they are rinsed enough I dump out the water and then add hot water and 2 drops of Dawn dish detergent. I then use my hands again to clean and agitate the diapers. Once I have finished washing the diapers i dump out the soapy water and add clean water.It usually only takes one or two rinses to get all the soap out. I then ring the diapers out and hang them up to dry. I find that washing them by hand reassures me that that my diapers are squeaky clean.

Since I started using Flat diapers I have converted 3 people to cloth diapers and 4 more to give it a try. I use cloth diapers because I want my children to have the best. Cloth diapers are free of all the nasty chemicals that disposable diapers have. I also love all the money I have saved from not using cloth diapers and cloth wipes. With Flats a family can purchase and use cloth diapers for a little less than $40. As little as $40 diapers can get you enough diapers for your baby from newborn to potty training.

Mommy to 4 beautiful children and Navy wife,
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