Sunday, September 30, 2012

Necessity is the Mother of Invention – Plato

Posted by Heather Shields On 1:54 PM | No comments

We've had a lot of fast-moving changes in our life lately. My husband recently left his job of 10 years, we bought a house which moved us about 20 minutes from EVERYTHING, summer ended and school started back, we became a 1 car family, and our oldest son, Henry, started playing football. Time, organization, resources... they've all seen better days than these. But I will not be discouraged... I will be inventive. 

Cooking

When your time is crunched and your pennies are pinched you might feel tempted to resort to boxed dinners for their ease of use and low cost appeal. I'm here to tell you that you can cut those same corners while still feeding your family nourishing foods and using less time than it takes to buy a prepackaged dinner. Here are some time and money-saving tips that I have employed.

freezermeals
  • Utilize your freezer - When I chop veggies I chop a big batch. Once you get in the groove of chopping that onion, it only takes a few extra seconds to cut through another 1 or 2. Take the extras, portion them out, and freeze. Voila! Chopped veggies at the ready, perfect for putting into soups, pastas, sauces, omelets, casseroles... anything you can think of. Onions, bell peppers, celery, carrots, and garlic all work well. Grating a block of cheese? Grate the whole thing and store the remainder in the fridge if you will be using it soon, or in freezer for more longevity.
  • Cook once, eat twice... or thrice - When you're making a batch of pasta sauce, how hard is it to double or triple that recipe? Not very. Soup? Same deal. When I cook rice I cook 2 or 3 times the amount I need and freeze the extra. Casseroles again work the same. It takes no more time to assemble double or triple the ingredients. Put them in a ziploc bag, lay them flat for quicker defrost time, and you will soon have a freezer bursting with no-fuss, healthy, homemade meals!
  • Learn to love your crockpot - The most satisfying meals for me are the ones that are a product of my crock-pot. I get giddy when I'm prepping, layering, and seasoning food to be slow-cooked. I know that with a few minutes of effort I will have a hot meal, with the most tender and flavorful meats and veggies I am capable of producing. It also allows you to use less expensive ingredients like dried beans, and rather than tending a pot on the stove all day, you just season, cover, and come home to perfectly cooked (perfectly freezable!) beans. Crock-pots are a great tool for working moms, sports moms... heck, any mom! It saves time, energy, and dishes. Especially if you use crock-pot liners!
  • Let your pots and pans work double duty - Rather than cooking pasta in boiling water and then draining that still perfectly usable water and refilling to steam your broccoli, utilize the steam you're already making from boiling, to steam your veggies. Anytime you're boiling, be it chicken, corn, pasta, rice you're creating steam that you can use to cook almost any vegetable. You're saving energy (yours and your power bill's), time, money, water, and, again, the all important dishes!
  • Make your own convenience food - By carving out small bits of time to package up your own oatmeal, bake some granola bars, or put together a homemade all-purpose mix you really will be saving yourself time and money in the long run. Plus you can make this fun. My boys love putting together oatmeal packets with me, and it gives them a confidence boost that they can help and cook!

Cleaning

vacuumdyson

While I do make my own cleaners, I am far from an expert on cleaning. It's a huge time suck that, coincidentally, I hate. Yes, I hate cleaning. It absolutely makes me bonkers that I just washed that dish and now it needs to be washed again. Or that the baby wore those pants for 5 minutes, and they already have oatmeal on them. There are a few cleaning rules that I've set recently to hopefully save myself some time and stress.
  • Don't let clean clothes leave your laundry room/area without being folder or on a hanger. This is pretty self explanatory, but I haven't been doing this for long. It had been recommended to me before, but how lame is that to actually fold your laundry as soon as it's done drying. Super lame. Which is why I do it now. I'm approaching 30 and becoming super lame. 
  • Make your kids do it (aka: let your kids help) - Yes, I know it might seem like it takes longer, but I've started letting them help when they offer and inevitably they do accomplish at least part of the task. Example: My 7 year old says he wants to vacuum the living-room for me. I say ok, hand it over, and go clean the toilet while he vacuums. Does he miss a spot? Or several. Sure. But he's helping, he's learning, and I'm left with much less floor to vacuum and I've already cleaned the toilet! My two year old even helps me to unload the dishwasher. I give him the spoons and baby silverware to put in the drawer along with the sippy cup tops and valves and he loves it! And I love that he just saved me a minute or two. And he's so cute when he's feeling all accomplished and proud.
  • Make your own cleanersJust like I do. It’s easy, requires only a few simple ingredients, and takes literally seconds to put together. If I were to give you one step to simplify your life and make it more green this. would. be. it.
  • A place for everything and everything in it’s place – Every object in our lives should have a home. If it doesn’t, find it one. Or donate, recycle, or upcycle it.
Time Management

As with cleaning, time management is another short-coming of mine. I have been known to not only wait until the morning of school to pull out an outfit for Henry, but I don’t even match the socks ahead of time. It’s ludicrous really, but I have tons of great excuses if you ever want to hear them. However, even I, the organizationally inept, have put to task a few time saving tidbits.
  • Buy a calendar and USE it – I know we all have calendar apps on our smartphones, but there is something about a visual that just works for me. Put it somewhere that you look A LOT (mine has a magnet on the back and hangs on my fridge) and if you have a large family it’s worth finding a calendar with a section for each family member.
  • Set your clocks ahead 5 minutes – Maybe this tip only works for the perpetually late, maybe not, but for whatever reason it works for me. And especially my husband, since he doesn’t know they’re set ahead. He’s annoyingly punctual.
  • Don’t procrastinate – I’ll get to this one later. Just kidding. Seriously though, if you do it now, whatever it may be, it won’t be hanging over your head later. Sort the mail as soon as you bring it in, separate papers brought home by your child as soon as you get in the door, clean up scraps, trash, and dishes as you’re cooking, and hang your purse, put your shoes away, and place your keys in their designated spot immediately.
Pinching Pennies

change

There have been times in my life when I didn’t have a clue how to curb my spending. I am a therapeutic spender, and while it’s never been frivolous things, exchanging money at the cash register for some goods is a nice pick-me-up. When funds are low and your income slows down, or stops altogether, retail therapy isn’t an option. Aside from wasteful spending, even the areas where you must delegate your dollars need to be reined in, slimmed down, and spent efficiently.
  • Meal plan – This could go into time management or cooking, but the truth is that for me meal planning started as a way for me to waste less food, and use everything I had before it went to waste, and subsequently wasted our money. The principal is that you buy in bulk, saving money, use some of the same ingredients through the week, reducing your grocery items, and when you cook one meal you are preparing ingredients for several meals to follow. Example: I roast 2 chickens on Monday. We eat roast chicken with veggies for dinner, I harvest the rest of the meat and use it later in the week for pot pie. I use the bones along with saved veggies scraps to make bone broth that I use later in the week, in conjunction with a bit more leftover chicken to make chicken noodle soup.
  • Make it yourself – Instead of buying things like bread, breadcrumbs, taco seasoning, all purpose baking mix, salad dressing, cake& muffin mixes, etc. make them yourself! You can buy the ingredients to make these things for pennies on the dollar, and you are controlling the quality of the ingredients. You can also spend a bit more on better quality ingredients because of the savings benefit of making your own! I will be posting some of these recipes soon, so go ahead and SUBSCRIBE so you don’t miss it!
  • Visit your farmer’s market – I know harvest season is winding down, but our local farmer’s market still has a few weeks left. You can often times get better prices on fresh produce, eggs, and occasionally milk at a farmer’s market. And be sure to talk to the farmer’s about their practices. While many can’t afford the official USDA organic label, their practices may go above and beyond what is expected.
  • Join a co-op – Whether it is a local food coop like MINE, a CSA, or a group buy put together in your area, you will get better prices, more food, and often times a priceless personal relationship with your local farmers. This will also help to bring down the price of feeding your family organics and fresh produce in general.
  • Thrift shop & yard sale – This is the reuse/recycle portion of being green. I found my bread maker that looks like new, is fully functional, and makes baking fresh bread for my family a cinch, for $10 at a yard sale! A lot of my glass containers came from thrift shops. You can find good quality clothes, appliances, furniture, dishes, toys, books, movies, and games for a fraction of the price you would pay at a retail store. And you are helping to give someone else’s “junk” a new home. One man’s trash, and all that jazz.
When the going get’s tough, this mama gets going. The way I look at it I can either be discouraged and start feeling down in the dumps which leads to a quick spiral out of control, or I can accept the circumstances and find a way to make them work for me. It can be so easy to let life run us over, especially when we feel we’ve been blind sided. But I encourage you to stand up, dust yourself off, make a plan, and take control of your life.




Choose Your Charity - Cloth Diaper Event

Posted by Heather Shields On 1:15 PM | 1 comment

The 2012 Choose Your Charity Event



About Our Sponsors


Thinking About Cloth Diapers

Every parent wants what's best for their baby, but lots of us don't have time to do tons of research. With so many great options available today, getting started with cloth diapers shouldn't have to be complicated!
Thinking About Cloth Diaper


Launched in October 2011, Thinking About Cloth Diapers is a cloth diaper information website that has been designed with cloth diaper newbies in mind.

In the process of laying the foundation for Thinking About Cloth Diapers, Celeste, the founder and author, discovered a number of brands, retailers, and organizations that used their work to help make the world a better place. Impressed with the dedication of these businesses and charities, Celeste started to plan an event that would help build awareness for their worthwhile causes!


Welcome to the Choose Your Charity Event, which runs from October 1 to 21, 2012!

Choose Your Charity Contes

To read more about the awesome charities
you can vote for, click here!


One lucky grand prize winner will receive $200 in cloth diapers and accessories for themself, and a $300 donation to a children's or cloth diaper charity of their choice! The grand prize includes 6 innovative diapers and inserts, plus a wet bag from Funky Fluff and a Cloth Bundle from Bundles and Buzz! There are also many other prizes to be won, and the top voted charity will receive a $50 donation, too! So spread the word and help your favorite charity win!


We are very grateful for the the help from a number of wonderful organizations and businesses who have helped this dream take flight, and we would like to introduce you to a long list of sponsors who have helped make this event so exciting for you, our readers!




Funky Fluff Cloth Diapers

Funky Fluff was started by 2 moms who were on the quest for the perfect diaper – and when they didn’t find it, they decided to design it.

Take a close look at the Funky Fluff Fusion 3 in 1 diaper. This innovative diaper brings a new level of flexibility and versatility to the world of cloth diapering: with the interchangeable AI3 system, you can use these diapers as an AIO system (perfect for dads!), an AI2 (great for moms!), and a pocket system (easy for daycares!) No matter how you choose to use them, Funky Fluff diapers are convenient and reliable!

Funky Fluff Fusion 3 in 1 Cloth Diaper
Funky Fluff offers both natural bamboo blend and stay-dry diapers, plus diaper pail liners, wet bags, and more! Their fabulous wet bags have two zippered compartments and lots of room for diapers! Our lucky grand prize winner will receive 6 diapers and liners, plus a wet bag!

To learn more about the Funky Fluff Fusion 3-in-one diapers, visit
www.funkyfluff.ca!



Bundles & Buzz

Bundles and Buzz, based in beautiful British Columbia, offers a unique and exciting experience for moms! If you like to discover new brands and save money, then Bundles and Buzz is for you! Bundles and Buzz sells Bundles - an exciting surprise package full of both full-sized and sample size products, as well as discount coupons. And you save money too, because each bundle has a retail value roughly twice the amount that you pay!

Bundles and Buz
The Cloth Bundle contains at least one diaper, plus accessories and special savings! Our lucky grand prize winner will receive a Cloth Bundle, with a retail value of $70, and an actual producvt value that is much higher! Plus, another lucky winner will receive a $20 gift certificate to Bundles and Buzz! Use it toward a cloth bundle, or try out one of their other bundles! In addition to baby, and toddler bundles, they also offer you the perfect opportunity to treat yourself - the Mama bundle!



Ribbon n Stitches

Ribbon n Stitches is both a cloth diaper retailer, and an amazing cloth diaper charity organization. They don't like to say charity, because they say, "We're not a charity, we're a helping hand. We want families to stand a little taller and feel good about what they accomplish themselves.


They act as a not-for-profit, where all proceeds from the sale of their cloth diapers go towards helping families who can't otherwise afford the start-up costs of cloth diapers. Every penny they make supports cloth diaper charities Fluffy Wishes and Sweet Cheeks, or is used to provide subsidized baskets for families in their local community of Fort Polk, Louisiana! If you plan to purchase cloth diapers, here's a great organization to support with your purchase!

One lucky winner will learn first hand about Ribbon n Stitches' excellent customer service, because they are offering a prize pack, including Rockin Green Detergent and a Fuzzibunz Wet Bag, and a BALM sample!



Leettle Hands and Feet

Started by Alanna Butterfield, a stay-at-home mom, Leettle Hands and Feet is another wonderful cloth diaper retailer with a not-for-profit model. When Alanna started her business, she committed to turn over 100% of her sales profits to World Vision International, a charitable organization that strives to make a positive impact in the lives of children and families around the world.

Leettle Hands and Fee

Leettle Hands and Feet sells cloth diapers and accessories from their website, www.leettlehandsandfeet.com. They have donated a prize pack including one bamboo diaper, a set of baby legwarmers, and a 32 load bag of Generation Me laundry detergent for one lucky winner.



BALM Baby

Made in Hawaii, using Earth's most healing herbs and Hawaii's most healing oils, "THE" BALM!, is an all-natural, organic, and cloth diaper safe solution for your baby's diaper rash, eczema, cradle cap, sunburns, bug bites, and more!

Balm Baby

Malena Taylor, founder of Taylor House Inc., uses only the highest quality ingredients to produce her body and skin line, soaps, and baby care products, plus essential oils! With a focus on their footprint, this company works hard to package all of their products in quality reusable and recyclable packaging (no plastics!) and all of their shipping materials are recycled or biodegradable.

One lucky winner will receive a BALM! Baby Diaper Essentials Kit, which includes a 2 oz Diaper Balm, a 9 oz. Juice Those Wipes, a 2.7 oz Sanitize Those Hands!, and a BALM!Baby Little One!



Lil Helper

Lil Helper is a little cloth diaper company with a big personality! Lil Helper was founded in Toronto by college buddies Nader and Mohammed, with the goal of re-introducing parents to modern cloth diapers. They "believe that all babies, irrespective of their situation, deserve the same level of care as we would for our own children", and so they built a business model and a brand that contributes a portion of their earnings to a deserving cause.

Lil Helper Logo

For every 3 diapers they sell, they donate a brand new PUL cloth diaper to a family in need through their Baby Do Good program. Stop by their website, to discover their infectious enthusiasm, and to check out their diapers and wet bags! You will have the chance to win two Lil Helper diapers and wipes!



Smush Tush

Smush Tush is the creation of Kat. Kat lives in Portland, Oregon. She is the mother of two little Smushes under the age of three and a part time pediatric RN. Kat started Smush Tush in Spring 2012 because she believes in cloth diapers. She says, "Nothing makes more sense than saving money and keeping landfills free from everlasting disposable diaper garbage, and, of course, there is nothing cuter than a fluffy tush!"

Smush Tush Cloth Diaper

Kat donates $1 from every Smush Tush sale directly into a Morale Fund for the unit she work on at the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland. She works in an Intermediate Care Unit, which is a step-down unit from the Pediatric ICU. Most of her patients suffer from congenital conditions, brain tumors, extreme developmental delays, and trauma incidents. These extremely sick kiddos do not see much in funds from the community like other units do, and she felt an immense need to help.

You can check out her custom diapers in her Etsy shop, and be sure to like her Facebook page to keep up with all of her custom releases!

Smush Tush is donating a custom pocket diaper of the winner's choice. The winner will be able to pick outer and inner fabrics and will work directly with Kat, the owner of Smush Tush, to pick out a totally custom creation!



The Little Bee Company

Founded in Pennsylvania by Jona Heise, The Little Bee Company developed the slogan "Bee Changed and Change the World". And that's exactly what they are doing, one diaper at a time.

Little Bee Company diaper


For every diaper purchased, another one is donated to an orphan in need. Through their diaper drops, The Little Bee Company is attempting to improve sanitary conditions in orphanages around the world, and also make people aware of the orphan crisis that exists! You can read more about Little Bee Company's mission here.

The Little Bee Company sells newborn, one-size, and swim diapers, and has diaper colors that represent the home countries of children in need - Japanese, Russian, Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, Africa, China, Cambodia, and of course, at home in the US. One lucky winner will receive a Little Bee Company one-size diaper in Russian Sunflower, a bright, happy yellow!



Glow Bug Diapers

Glow Bug Diapers' founders, Sarah and Neta, started their own diaper company after becoming frustrated with the high costs of the cloth diapers that were already on the market. They understand that many parents find cloth diapers intimidating because of the cost to get started, and so they launched a cute line-up of quality, affordable diapers.

Glow Bug Cloth Diaper

This Canadian-based company sells diapers in packs of 12, rather than individually, and offers girl, boy, and gender neutral print sets. Glow Bug Diapers will be offering one of their diapers to one lucky winner! Winner's choice of gender neutral, boy, or girl!



Eco Parent Magazine

Eco Parent is a Canadian print magazine catering to eco-aspiring and eco-savvy parents. Published quarterly, it is their mission to give you the knowledge and inspiration you need to make better, healthier choices for your family! Eco Parent offers both a digital and a print version (printed on a matte environmentally-friendly paper), and it has excellent articles, photography, and content! One lucky winner will get to try out Eco Parent with a free subscription (print if you reside in Canada, or digital if you are from the US).

Eco Parent has also offered a special subscription discount to all Thinking About Cloth Diapers readers. For a limited time, you can save 20% off the cost of an annual subscription to Eco Parent with the code: thinkingaboutcloth.



Nature Bumz

Nature Bumz is a Canadian cloth diaper retailer based in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Nature Bumz Co

In December 2011, they undertook a huge initiative - putting together cloth diaper starter kits for the Salvation Army and Hannah House Maternity Shelter, in a project they called Operation Bumz Child. With the support of their customers and suppliers, they were able to donate more than 250 cloth diapers, plus accessories, to these worthwhile causes!

One lucky winner will receive 2 Fuzzi Bunz Diaper Talk diapers thanks to Nature Bumz!



We would also like to thank all of the retailers who have purchased advertising space on our Charity Profile pages, helping us to raise the money for the grand prize cash donation!


Lagoon Baby, from Vancouver, BC


Babyrama Canada from Ajax, ON


The Ninety Ninth Monkey from Brooklyn, ON


From the Stash from Simcoe, ON


All About Baby Boutique from Greensboro, NC


Take a Walk on the Green Side from Newcastle, ON






If you haven't already, click here to check out the profiles of
the cloth diaper charities you can vote for!




For your chance to win, and to place your vote for your charity of choice, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below!

Only open to residents of Canada and the US
Ages 18 or Older Only





Thank-you for your support!

Please click here to forward this page to a friend!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Is It The Strep Monster?

Posted by Heather Shields On 3:34 PM | 2 comments
School has been back in session for 1 month and 1 week. So far Henry has missed 6.5 days from being sick. The first time it was a rotten virus, the 2nd time (just last week) for strep throat, and today because of some unknown sickness. I headed out just before naptime to pickup a few things for dinner and the school called my cell phone to tell me that Henry had thrown-up and was running a fever. He was in the lunch room too, can you imagine being one of the other kids and trying to finish eating your food after that? Poor kids. Poor Henry. He's pitiful! 

And I'm mad. Yup, mad. Not at him, but at the fact that my kid, who eats healthy, takes wholesome vitamins, practically od's on vitamin c, is the one who has been sick constantly since going back to school. He drinks bone broth for goodness sake! So now I'm on a mission to find out how to boost his immune system even more and strengthen his body's defenses against all these nasty germs. Today I picked up some l-lysine, and I also plan to double his probiotic until he's feeling better. Here is a simple explanation of l-lysine from the University of Maryland.
Lysine, or L-lysine, is an essential amino acid. That means it is necessary for human health, but the body can't manufacture it.
Read more: http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/lysine-000312.htm#ixzz27i452zsG

 I do have a sneaking suspicion that rather than 3 separate sicknesses these are all combined. The first time our pediatrician was out, so we had to make a trip to the ER. The nurse from our pedi's office specifically said she wanted to rule out strep, but the ER didn't do any swabs, no tests... nothing. The nurse practitioner looked at Henry - but didn't touch him. As in not a finger. No checking lymph nodes, no looking at his throat, no checking his ears. Nada. She said there was a nasty virus going around, and sent us home with well wishes and a prescription for rest. The fever did go away over the weekend, although the headache he was rocking didn't. That was the week after labor day. Last week he woke up Tuesday night, feverish and complaining of a sore throat. I gave him Wednesday to heal, and when he was still having all the same symptoms we went to the dr on Thursday, and I was sure it was strep. I was right. He started on an antibiotic that day, and is still on it now, but today, 1 week later, we are onto sickness #3. With the same blasted headache. And more puking. And his throat is still red and swollen, and his lymph nodes are HUGE. 

I'm worried about my baby, want to know what is going on, and I'm hoping it's something that have a solution for. With as much school as he has missed we'd do better homeschooling! Which isn't a bad option, I just am not quite there yet, know what I mean? I've had one call back from the pediatrician today, but they wanted to confer a bit more and let me know what we needed to do. It also seems that my kids LOVE getting sick in the middle of the day on Thursdays... and of course our ped's office is closed on Friday. HA! Go figure, right?

I will keep you guys updated, and all prayers, well wishes, and healing vibes are welcomed and appreciated. If I'm scarce, or if posts start thinning out I apologize, but family comes first. I just want my baby healthy and happy again!

Wordless Wednesday

Posted by Heather Shields On 7:41 AM | No comments
My brand spankin' new Scentsy warmer. I'm warming Pumpkin Roll and reveling in that fall feeling, despite the nearly 90 degree temperatures expected today. It's all pumkiny, and cinnamony, and almondy. Isn't she lovely?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

GREENer Baking - Recipe Included!

Posted by Heather Shields On 10:21 AM | 9 comments

 I love cooking and love trying new recipes, but baking is a skill that for YEARS has eluded me. I live in the south, so knowing how to bake biscuits are essentially required of a woman if she wants to wear the Southern Belle ribbon. After struggling since my teens to find a recipe that I love, my family loves, and can have it's excellence repeated I found my biscuit mecca. Paula Deen's recipe. Why didn't I start there? There is no one more southun (pronounced like a true Belle) that Miss Pauwla. Say it. Out loud. Southun Pauwla. Southern Belle certificate awarded.

 There is no way to make a traditional biscuit recipe healthy. You can go green by swapping out whole wheat flower, but the truth is that my family doesn't go for that. I've tried switching out even a portion of regular flour for whole wheat and they all knew something was up. I have much better success with muffins, and this recipe is one that I just tried this morning. It's really easy to take a recipe like this, tweak a few of the ingredients, and have something much better for you. Enjoy!

Green Blueberry Muffins

2.5 cups unbleached, organic all-purpose flour
0.5 cup organic whole wheat flour
1.2 cups pure cane sugar
1 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup melted pasture butter (you can use oil if you want, but butter is more nourising and will keep you satisfied longer)
2 organic free range eggs (preferably local)
2/3 cup condensed milk (make your own with dry milk and water, skipping all the yucky additives in canned. Plus, you've already ditched your cans anyway, right? 1/3 cup dry milk, 1/2 cup water)
1/3 cup water
1 cup frozen blueberries

Preheat your oven to 400. Start by adding the dry ingredients to a bowl and stirring with a wire whisk to combine. In a large glass measuring cup measure out your milk and water together, then add your eggs, butter, and whisk to combine. Add your wet ingredients into your dry, stirring just until moistened. This gets pretty thick, so don't overmix because we still have to add the blueberries! Now FOLD in the blueberries. Using frozen berries helps not to demolish them, but still be gentle with your batter and berries. 

 At this point you need to put your mix in your muffin pan, but I want to say that a really easy way to go green in your baking is to get rid of the muffin liners. No waste. And they are completely unneccessary! So grease your tin with a little more butter, fill the cups to the top, and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. These will be big, hearty, satisfying muffins. Make sure you smear a nice pat of butter over each one while they're still hot. Everyone here loved them. Checkout my Facebook page for the proof


I've Been There Too, I'm Probably There Now

Posted by Heather Shields On 7:20 AM | 2 comments
Do you need a little validation today? Or maybe I'm the one looking for validation. Either way, it's Tuesday, the most mundane day of the week (except for the fact that Sons of Anarchy comes on! Yessssss!) and my morning has been anything but. I was hoping that the follies of my short morning might encourage, validate, and bring comfort to some of you. Because you're not the only one struggling. You're not the only one who feels up to their eyeballs before their first cup of coffee is done. You're not the only who can't even finish that cup of coffee before it cools down to iced temperature. I've been there too, and I'm probably still entrenched in it right now.

Here is what has happened at my house this morning.


  • Hubby, Henry, Luke, and Noah all had to come attempt waking me up before I actually got out of bed. I'm feeling under the weather, stayed up late last night doing dishes and laundry *coughgotcaughtupinascienceshowcough*, and Henry has been out of school since Wednesday of last week because he had strep, and yesterday was a teacher's work day so there was no school. So I'm out of the routine, to say the least. 
  • I was putting all of Henry's makeup work in his folder, along with his Dr's excuse, and realized that the wrong dates were on it. There are 2 things wrong here... the dates are obvious, the fact that I waited until 15 minutes before he had to be out the door to ready his backpack, not so much.
  • Got Henry out the door with Hubby and I realize that my 2 year old is walking around the house (in only a diaper mind you...a disposable diaper... because we've been fighting a nasty rash. And because I'm not perfect.) yelling a terrible expletive. That he picked up since his Daddy has been working from home. Any normal person coming into my home wouldn't be able to decipher it. But I'm not a normal person. I understand his bomb perfectly.
  • I've had to tell my kids umpteen times already that brownies are not for breakfast. Not for kids anyway. Hehehe Just kidding, I didn't tell them that last part. 
  • In spite up staying up too late doing dishes and laundry I still have multiple loads of laundry to do. I have also loaded the dishwasher and it's running... and there are still more dishes to be washed. Sigh. I have a real love hate relationship with my kitchen. I love cooking, I'm learning to love baking, it's the hub of my open-floor-planned home. It's usually a disaster. Which makes all of the aforementioned activities a pain in the butt.
  • While clearing the dinner dishes (I know, I know) from the table to load the dishwasher I dropped a bowl of brunswick stew and promtly got on my hands and knees to clean it up with a rag. The spill location is now the cleanest spot on my floor.
  • It's 9am and my kids and I haven't had breakfast. Although, to be fair, they're not asking for food and I am fairly certain that they did, in fact, raid the brownie pan.
  • I was supposed to be getting online to look for a blueberry muffin recipe. Instead I am commiserating with you. 
Happy Tuesday everybody!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Green Giveaway Round-up

Posted by Heather Shields On 2:21 PM | No comments
What do I love more than green? FREE GREEN! Here is a collection of Green giveaways that are surfing the net, just waiting for you to enter!


Hop over to SW Virginia Saving Money to see my guest blog post that gives you the lowdown on homemade cleaners. There are plenty of recipes to replace all your store bought products. Enjoy!

SW Virginia Saving Money: Guest post: Being Environmentally Friendly & Fruga...: I posted a short while ago about being environmentally friendly AND frugal when it comes to cleaners, eir fresheners, etc in the home.  A wo...

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sneaky Green Tip #3

Posted by Heather Shields On 6:24 PM | No comments
Sneaky Green Tip #3


Ditch the plastic to go green. When I first moved out on my own I would save the plastic containers from take out, yogurt, cheese... anything so I wouldn't have to spend big bucks on tupperware. After the BPA craze when companies started removing BPA from their plastics, I thought it would be fine to start saving those new BPA free containers. Then I read that often times, in place of BPA, companies are using substances more harmful than even BPA... we just don't know about it yet. I don't know who true this may be, but I'm not willing to gamble on it either. 


  So now I have a glass fetish. I collect glass everywhere and anywhere I can. I save my spaghetti sauce jars. I save the apple juice jar. I buy glass containers from every yard sale, thrift shop, and rummage sale I see. The tops of my cabinets are decorated with my glass finds, and my cupboards, and fridge are full of the work horse variety. I love glass!

www.mygreenlivingideas.com

Kids and glass aren't exactly simpatico, so when it comes to school lunches go for metal, a la Planetbox. The initial investment is more, but they're reusable, have a warranty, and I've heard of their exquisite customer service from friends. When your little ones are snacking out and about you can bring along their snacks in reusable cloth baggies instead of sticking them in ziploc bags. You can make your own DIY snack bags with this super simple tutorial! The kids will love how cute they are, you will love how functional they are, and your husband will love how they save you money in the long run! Sneaky, sneaky!


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Check Out Our New Bling!

Posted by Heather Shields On 2:29 PM | No comments
Do you love the new header as much as I do?? I hope so! I hope you're having a great weekend, and Happy first day of Autumn!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Take Action For Your Health

Posted by Heather Shields On 8:00 AM | No comments
One of the most important things I've changed for my family is to eliminate high fructose corn syrup. I know the commercials call it "corn sugar" (a name that the FDA rejected, btw) and tell us that it's no different from regular sugar, but that is a flat out LIE. Here are 5 facts about HFCS from a fantastic article on Huffington Posts website. Written by a doctor. So he knows what he's talking about.

1. Sugar in any form causes obesity and disease when consumed in pharmacologic doses.
The one point I can agree with the corn industry on is that HFCS and sugar in large amounts are both unhealthy. Although I've been known to eat large slices of cake every now and then. But still, all things in moderation, right?

2. HFCS and cane sugar are NOT biochemically identical or processed the same way by the body.
There is some really great scientific stuff at this point in the article, which I would be stupid to try to replicate. Again, read it HERE.

3. HFCS contains contaminants including mercury that are not regulated or measured by the FDA.
Pretty self explanatory. And scary. I had no idea there was even the threat of mercury being in HFCS until I read this article.

4. Many independent medical and nutrition experts DO NOT support the use of HFCS in our diet, despite the assertions of the corn industry.
AKA, the ones not being paid by King Corn.

5. HCFS is almost always a marker of poor-quality, nutrient-poor, disease creating,  industrial food products or "food-like substances."
If it has HFCS, it's not real food. You body MUST be nourished with real food or it will become sick, diseased, and wholey unhealthy.


Support Food Identity Theft

So this is where you and I come in. We can actually do something to get rid of HFCS. I've talked about the voice that our spending has, but if you want to yell a little louder you can sign a petition. Citizens For Health and Food Identity Theft have formally asked the FDA to change the way HFCS is labeled on packages. They are also calling for a total ban of HFCS, and have petitions for both that we the consumers can sign! I signed weeks ago, and encourage you to do the same. It would be just a little easier to have a healthy family if every fun food and sweet treat wasn't riddled with a chemical that's making us all sick.

SIGN THE PETITION TO BAN HFCS

SIGN THE PETITION FOR PROPER LABELING OF HFCS

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sneaky Green Tip #2

Posted by Heather Shields On 10:56 PM | No comments
Sneaky Green Tip #2


Buy frozen fruits and veggies instead of those in cans. They are the next best thing to fresh produce both in taste and qaulity, and you don't run the risk of having BPA leeched into your food from cans. By now I'm sure most of you have heard or read about the dangers of BPA, but just in case you haven't here's a quick run down. BPA, or Bisphenol-A, is a chemical used in plastics manufacturing. When humans come into contact with it it disrupts the endocrine system, or hormones. There are conflicting results from studies about the effects that BPA has on people, but they all agree that the younger the person, the greater the risk. Plastic containers aren't the only places you will find BPA though. It's used as a coating inside nearly all food and beverage cans and as a color developer for reciepts!

You can't avoid all reciepts, and you may not be able to avoid all canned foods and drinks, but if you switch your canned fruits and vegetables for frozen ones, no one will know the difference. Well, except for when they ask you why the peas tasted so much better at dinner. It's a simple, easy, painless way to be a little greener. 

Choose Your Charity Diaper Contest

Posted by Heather Shields On 8:10 PM | No comments
Thinking About Cloth Diapers  As a follow-up to the Cloth Diapering 101 post, I wanted to let everyone know about an exciting awareness event that will be happening round the blogosphere in October. The Choose Your Charity Diaper Contest aims to get the word out about cloth diaper companies that go above and beyond in their morals, charitable focus, and giving back. You will be introduced to company after company whose motivation is to bring about positive changes in the world.

  I would love for everyone to get the word out via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and word-of-mouth. Heck, send a snail mail letter if you think it will get someones attention! Let me know who your favorite cause-focused diaper companies are, and I will be writing reviews for mine and sharing them with you very very soon. Here's to having a positive impact with the choices we make!


Class Is In Session: Cloth Diapering 101

Posted by Heather Shields On 5:11 PM | 6 comments

My first big leap into the world of green was deciding to cloth diaper my oldest son. He was about a year old and I heard other mom's buzzing about the new styles of cloth diapers. They were throwing around words like pockets, stash, fitteds, longies. I was curious, but completely confused! It took me quite a while to decipher all of the abbreviations and slang terms and feel like I had a good base knowledge about cloth. So while on a trip to see my grandparents (sans Hubby) I started researching and purchased my first diaper set! It was called something different at the time, but it gave me the bug and I've been hooked ever since! I've cloth diapered all 4 of my kiddos, and its a passion, an obsession, and sure to empty your Paypal quick!

 So here is my gift to you. Cloth diapering 101. Everything you need to know if you're considering making the jump, or have already lept but feel like you're free falling. 


CLOTH DIAPERING 101

Hybrid gDiaper

What are my options?
  • All-in-one's - Also known as AIO. This is as close to a disposable diaper as you can get. They are full ready to go and have either snaps or velcro (aplix) to close. You just put it on, and take it off when it's dirty. Easy peasy.
  • Pockets - Similar to an AIO, but you select the type and amount of absorbency that you want. You choose the type of material that works best for you and can add more inserts to bulk up for nighttime, or slim it down and decrease the amount of inserts for a slimmer daytime fit what you baby will be changed more often.
  • Fitteds & Covers - Fitted diapers are similar to an AIO in that you don't have to stuff them, they are all ready to go in the absorbency department, but you do have to use a waterproof cover with these. That can be either PUL (polyurethane laminate - used when talking about the fabric that has been backed with PUL to make it waterproof), fleece covers, or wool. We'll get into the specifics of covers in a bit.
  • Flats, Contours, & Prefolds (PFs) - These are similar to the diapers that our mom's and our mom's mom's used. Flat and prefolds are rectangular cloths that you fasten with pins or a snappi (a modern answer to all the thumb sticking that diaper pins caused in years gone by). These obviously need covers as well, and your options are the same as with a fitted.
  • Hybrid - No, not a Prius, a diaper. A Hybrid has a waterproof washable shell with either disposable or washable inserts. You lay the insert in the shell, when baby goes to the bathroom you flush, compost, or trash the disposable inserts, or put the washable ones in your pail. Then add a new clean insert to the shell and you're ready to go again, until the shell becomes soiled. 
  • Covering options - There are several options here. You have PUL covers that snap or velcro, fleece made into soakers (underwear shaped), shorties (shorts), or longies (pants), or wool made into the same. 
If I'm going to cloth diaper, what do I need?


  • Diaper Pins/Snappi - If you're going to use flats, contours, prefolds, or some fitteds you will need a way to fasten them. I think everyone knows what a diaper pin is, but if you haven't delved very far into the world of cloth you're probably not familiar with snappis. It is a pinless diaper fastener that is made of non-toxic stretchy material. There are teeth on each of the 3 ends and these teeth grab hold of the diaper fabric and hold it in place.
  • Diaper Sprayer - No matter what phase of diapering you are in, a diaper sprayer makes life so much easier! It looks like the same sprayer you use in your kitchen, and it acts much the same, but this one attaches to the plumbing for your toilet. Instead of the old method of sloshing, dunking, and swirling poopy diapers you simply spray them and be done!
  • Wet Bags/Pail Liners - For disposables you use something like a diaper genie to contain the never ending stream of dirty diapers. When you use cloth you need either a hanging wetbag or a diaper pail with a liner. These are made of the same waterproof materials that pocket diapers are, and are tossed in with your regular diaper loads. There are small wetbags to go in your diaper bag, large ones for daycare or babysitting situations, and hanging bags for... well... hanging. LOL
  • Inserts & Doublers - If you plan to use pockets or AI2s you will need something to stuff them with. These are called inserts. They are made of microfiber, bamboo, or hemp. Microfiber is the most common, the cheapest, the quickest absorbing, but also holds the least amount of liquid and tends to harbor more bacteria. Bamboo and hemp are woven with cotton or terry and are more trim and absorbent than microfiber, but they absorb slower. I like to combine a hemp or bamboo insert with a microfiber for the best of both worlds. Doublers are added to the inside of a diaper to boost absorbency. They are usually very trim 
  • Cloth Wipes - You're saving money, lessening waste, and using materials that are better for your baby when you cloth diaper. So why not take that a step further and use cloth wipes right along side. It's really simple to make your own wipe solutions, you control the ingredients, and you NEVER have to send your husband to CVS at bedtime because you just used your last wipe and someone has a poopy diaper. Not that I've ever had to do that or anything. Not me. Nu uh. And as a little bonus, they are really cute! Look at THESE from Frog Loves Monkey on Etsy.Wouldn't it be fantastic if cloth wipes teamed up with burp cloths at baby showers?
Look at these adorable GREEN wipes!!
                                                            What if I have a problem?

Chances are, you will. But that's ok, because there are solutions!

  • Diaper Rash - Even cloth covered bums get rashes, but you do need to be mindful of the creams you use. You don't want buildup on your diapers that will repel, because then you will end up needing to strip your diapers. Speaking of stripping

  • Stripping - No, no, no. Not that kind. But man alive... look at those... ahem, back to diapers ladies. Periodically through your cloth diapering career you will need to strip your diapers. If they start to repel, get any sort of buildup on them, smell of ammonia - these are all signs they need a good stripping. Many a mom has given up cloth because of stripping woes, but with Dawn dish soap, oxygen cleaner, bleach, and vinegar thrown in my rinse cycle I haven't had a problem yet!
  • Yeast - This is probably the worst problem to have with cloth diapers. Yeast infects your baby and it infects the diapers. Step 1 is to treat your little one both topically and dietary, as yeast originates from their body. Then you have to get the yeast out of the diapers or they will reinfect your baby. I use the same routine as for stripping, but with some tea tree oil thrown in the wash for good measure. Make sure to wash with HOT water!

Say Whaaaaa?!

 Cloth diaper speak can sound akin to pig latin, so here's a guide, courtesy of Diaper Swappers, to help you through. If you're searching for dipes and stumble on a word or anonym you don't know, come to this post, push ctrl + f, and type it in. If it's not in this post either comment and ask me, or EMAIL ME! I would love to help!


3SR: 3 Step Rise

A
AI2: all in two , usually has a snap in liner
AIO: all in one diaper
AP: Attachment Parenting
APLIX: brand of hook and loop similar to velcro

B
BOV: bamboo organic velour
BKT: burly knit terry
BN: Brand New
Bump: Putting “bump” into a post is a way to move the thread back up to the top of a forum
BV: bamboo velour

C
CBOS: Cotton Babies One Size insert
CD: cloth diaper
CM: chubby medium
Colorway: The color of the yarn
Contour Diaper: Contour diapers are usually hourglass shaped with no folding necessary. Just lay them in a wrap or diaper cover
CPF: Chinese prefolds
Crunchy: is like super nutty...not what our modern day society considers normal. It's like an alternative to saying you're nuts! It's kind of used for natural, earthy, or renounced lifestyles, because these kind of things seem so strange in a modern world full of 'conveniences'

D
DSQ: diaper service quality
DWR: Durable Water Repellent (a brand of spray used to re-waterproof diapers)

E
EBF: exclusively breastfed (you’ll see in reference to how a diaper holds EBF poo)
EC: Elimination communication:[/b] it is where babies don't wear diapers and the parents watch for cues that they are about to pee or poop and take them to the restroom. Lots of mamas swear by it (and it is practiced exclusively in many third world countries).
EO: essential oil
ETA: edited to add
EUC: excellent used condition

F
FFS: free for shipping
Fitted: Fitted diapers are used in place of prefolds or contours. They require a diaper cover or wrap, however they are cut in an hourglass shape and have elastic around the legs and waist and have either snaps or hook and loop fasteners
FL: front loader (washing machine)
FLAG: fits like a glove
FLAM: fits like a mitten
Flat: a diaper that is typically 27"x27" square, single ply diaper to fold
FMFM - For Munky From Mommy http://www.hyenacart.com/formunkyfrommommy
FOE: fold over elastic
FPP: funded PayPal
FRB: Flat Rate Box
FBE: Flat Rate Envelope
FS: for sale
FS: front snapping
FSOT: for sale or trade
FT: for trade
FUC: fair used condition

G
GN: gender neutral
GUC: good used condition

H
HC: Hyena Cart www.hyenacart.com an online store “A collection of earth-friendly shops”
Hemp: hemp is made from the inner bark of the hemp plant. It is becoming increasingly popular for use in diapers because of its durability, absorbency and natural anti-microbial properties
HTF: Hard to find
Hyena: term for hard to get, popular diapers that are stalked by diaper hungry moms


I
IDNO: in desperate need of
IDSO: in desperate search of
IHA: I have available
IPF: indian prefold
ISO: in search of

L
LN: like new

M
M/L or ML: medium long (size usually the same as a medium except for the rise
MM: Malden Mills (Brand of fleece)

N
NB: newborn

O
OC: organic cotton
OCV: organic cotton velour
OS: one size - a diaper that usually fits a child from birth up until about 35 lbs
OV: organic velour

P
PF: prefold - diapers with a center strip thickness - they still need to be folded to fit the baby
PL’ed: Potty Learned or Learning
PP: PayPal www.paypal.com
PPD: postage paid (you'll see this when a price listed includes shipping)
PSA: public service announcement
PUL: polyurethane laminate, a material used to make diaper covers/wraps, the outer of many pocket diapers or AIOs

Q
QD: quick dry

R
RLR: is a laundry additive that softens the water and helps remove/prevent build for people who have hard water.
RME: Revolution Money Exchange A new company that is competition for Paypal.

S
SAHD: stay at home dad
SAHM: stay at home mom
SC: suedecloth (stay dry inner folds)
SS: side snapping
Stalking: is waiting around for a product to stock. People ask for stalking help to have better odds at scoring items on HC
STM: ship to me, as used during co-ops and presales where you have to pay to have your item shipped to the person running the sale and then again to have it shipped to you.
Stripping: this is when you have detergent buildup in your diapers and you must run multiple hot rinses until the bubbles are gone

T
TBW: The BabyWearer
TDF: to die for
T&T :Turned and Topstitched (some people prefer this as opposed to serged edges on fitteds)
TTO: tea tree oil

U
UBCPF: unbleached chinese prefolds
UBIPF: unbleached Indian prefolds
UC: used condition

V
VGUC: very good used condition
VHTF: Very hard to find

W
WAHD: work at home dad
WAHM: work at home mom
Wagon: Going on the wagon is choosing (or being forced to choose) to not buy anymore diapers. It is a term used often with drinking alcohol. If you have been drinking a lot, you say that you are “going on the wagon” and then you stop for a while
WIO: wool in one -AIO with a wool cover rather than fleece or cotton
WOHD: work out of home dad
WOHM: work out of home mom
Wool Soaker: A wool soaker is basically a diaper cover made exclusively of wool.

Y
YPA: you pick all
YYMN: Your yarn my needles






Great, now I want fluffy mail.

Fantastic! You can go to any number of sites to buy new diapers or you can hit up Diaperswappers for some quality used diapers at a bargain price. If there is something you want to know about that wasn't covered here, ask away. Happy diapering!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Posted by Heather Shields On 6:00 AM | No comments
Picture Courtesy of Organic Garden's "Wonky Veg" competition.
What? You don't like carrots?

Facebook is a GO!

Posted by Heather Shields On 12:11 AM | No comments
Hi everyone! I just got the Sneaky Green Facebook page setup and would LOVE it if you would "like" me. Please like me. Please. I'll be your BFFAA.

CLICK HERE TO LIKE SNEAKY GREEN FACEBOOK PAGE!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

There Is Nothing Green About This Post

Posted by Heather Shields On 8:54 PM | No comments
Not one single thing. But there are lots hilarious, quirky, and a really awesome things! I was checking out This Is Why I'm Broke and saw so many things that made me look over my shoulder for someone to share it with, but alas, everyone in my house is sleeping. So you know what that means? LOOKIE LOOKIE!!

This might actually be what I ask my parents for this Christmas. I'm not kidding. This is for your TV. Can you imagine the cool points I would score with my kids if I said, "Oculus Repairo" and the tv came on??

Kymera Magic Wand Remote Control



Again... I want this. I used to have a shirt that said, "I'm a player" and it had an old school tape deck pictured on it. This iphone case if the 2012 version of that shirt. I WANT! Oh, and they call it a "classic" cassette... does that make me a classic too? Hmmmm.

Classic Cassette Silicon Iphone Case

If I ever saw your husband wearing this, I would laugh at him. To his face. None of that behind the back crap. Because if a man is going to wear this, he better be prepared for the jokes that follow.

Batman Snuggie

This is just creepy. I have a snoogle that I used while pregnant, but if it had a picture of a man's arm or a fake hand on it, I never would have considered it. 

The Snuggle Pillow

Poor kitty. Poor, poor kitty. He just looks so scared. And totally hoodrat. HA! Get it? Cat - rat... see what I did there?

Pet Hoodies

I just keep thinking that this has to feel similar to walking around my house with a laundry basket on my head. Ever done that? Sure you have. It moves all around, and makes you feel off balance. I get the idea behind this, but really, when you're walking in the rain isn't that enough on your plate without freeing up your hands for additional tasks??

Hands-Free Umbrella Dome


Ok, if you aren't man enough to sit through a real tattoo, you aren't man enough to wear a "Thug Life" tattoo. Nuff said.

Thug Life Temporary Tattoos

Is it just me, or does this one look scary? It looks so real and... yeah, scary. I got it right the first time. *shiver*
Ooooooh, I wonder if this really works? Very very interesting.
I love man versus wild. LOVE. There is something about a strong British cutie drinking his own urine that just fascinates me.

Bear Grylls Ultimate Survival Kit



Pretty amazing what's our there, huh? If you want to see more check out This Is Why I'm Broke!



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