Blueberries for WV!

Auntie K and Uncle A (actually what we call them, not just a blog abbreviation) came to visit from NYC (“the big ci-tay”) while W was out of town. I felt like their visit was cut out of the “if you have just 4 days in Gloucester” tour book. We visited L in Richmond, enjoyed splashing in the James River at a secluded beach, noshed on fav sandwiches from The Cheese Shop in Williamsburg (best dang sandwich in VA if you ask me…now if only Edward Snowden could leak me their house dressing recipe), and I even taught the visiting Brooklynites how to pick Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs. But best of all, for A’s birthday, we went blueberry picking at College Run Farms! Picking fruit there is one of my favorite semi-local outings, because you have to cross the James on the (free!) ferry, wind your way through the cornfields (A: Monsanto? Me: Yes, Monsanto) of Surry, and come home with a trunk full of fruit. I called ahead and asked about their use of pesticides and the farmer informed me he hadn’t sprayed his blueberry bushes in 4 years – score! I’ve picked strawberries and pumpkins there, but never blueberries. Funny how whatever you are doing effectively blinds you to other things – though I’d been there 4 or so times, I hadn’t recalled blueberry bushes at the farm, but there they were, big bushy ladies bursting with fruit, rows and rows of them.

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P1050887 At first, A professed that the sweetest berries were certainly the top ones. We began by picking only “tops” then, but halfway through, had degraded to brushing lower hanging fruits half-heartedly into our buckets, not so gently, not as carefully as the first ones, which were all added, stemless, with much ado and hemming and hawing over girth, blue-ness, and mouthfeel. Soon, we had picked a fair portion of bluebs (pronounced “bloobs”). A and K each picked a quart and I had to go and pick a gallon.

Frankly, picking a gallon of blueberries is no small task, especially with a squirmy boy on your hip. WV’s sole enjoyment became picking from my basket, squishing, and then tossing. We had fun giggling about it, through blue-stained teeth and lips, but it soon became a habit that was definitely hindering progress. So, Auntie K held WV. He had a blueberry attitude going on, a little hyped on sugar (see below). A then helped carry WV, teaching him to pick from a bush instead of mommy’s basket; my picking picked up.

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I kept thinking of W’s favorite children’s book, Blueberries for Sal, and determined to read it when we got home to see how our adventure compared to Sal’s. I had a feeling Sal encountered a bear. We, on the other hand, encountered a salty old man, very serious in his picking, several full gallon baskets already a-brim, picking droves more to resell at his farm stand outside of NASA. NASA seemed like the exact opposite of us in this moment, stuffing our faces with bluebs and chortling about finding the largest one yet. Auntie K leaned into me and jokingly whispered of the old man, “he’s going in a poem” mere seconds before A, a poet by trade, looked over his shoulder and said “he’s a character” (translation: “he’s going in a poem.”).

I ended up making this blueberry muffin recipe twice. The first time, I followed it exactly. The second, I doubled the recipe and and changed around some ingredients. I have it here on our recipe page. And STILL there were bluebs left over. So, what did we do? We made jam, naturally. Nine 8-oz jars grace our cupboard now. This little tastetester approved.

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And Sal DID encounter a bear on Blueberry Hill – but got home safe with her Mamma to can blueberries for winter.

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Images from: McCloskey, Robert. Blueberries for Sal. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1948. Print.

March: Less Lion, More Lamb

Ok, this metaphor is inherently flawed. Lions are cool (I wore a tutu on my head for some months as a child because I was a male lion), endangered, beautiful big kitties. W likes to hold WV up and pretend he’s Simba. Lambs (and their adult counterparts SHEEEP!), on the other hand (as opposed to cows, and definitely lions), wreak havoc on the root structure of grasses by cropping them too close and killing them. This has lead to anthropogenically intensified erosion in New Zealand (for example), causing the rivers there to be some of the most sediment laden in the world (intrinsic to the topic of my Ph.D. dissertation). However, for the purposes of maintaining the Marchified metaphor, I shall equate lions with destruction and lambs with tender do-gooding. We know the truth.

March was all about reevaluating our home life and reducing or removing certain things from it that are wasteful, not economical, or generally make us cranky. I wanted to make some changes that would be easy for us, as W is pretty much ensconced in his office either working or finishing his thesis and doesn’t have much time to get down and dirty with other creative projects and family extracurriculars. So, my three lambs:

1. We went paper-towel-less. I’ll pause here, while you get in a good eye roll.

Now I’ll brag about how AWESOME being free of paper towels has been (and we’re not going back). For starters, I hated using paper towels. And running out of them. So wasteful of trees and money. I always felt bad when reaching for one to dry my hands (but I still did it, even though we have plenty of kitchen hand towels) – and ended up with a soggy lump of wet-but-clean paper towels waiting to be used for a real mess later. Good for cleaning up WV’s squash eyebrows, true.

cloth paper towelQuestion: Do you know what cloth “paper” towels clean up better? Answer: Everything! From the mess at lunch on the chopping block to WV’s chin to the wet rails of the sink after washing dishes. They are more absorbent (seen here drying washed spinach), they are reusable, they are better for the earth and our family! C’mon, I’ve got to believe you have a few towels you can cut up from bygone room mates and relationships. Join me in cutting them up and wiping up messes! I put them in a small muslin bag and hung it on our paper towel rack. I took our small bedroom trash bin, since we never use it, and put it behind the kitchen trash, and that’s what I’ve been throwing the used towels into for laundering as a bunch. They don’t look terribly pretty, I’ll give ya that, but then again, neither does an expanse of land devoid of trees – and is a paper towel’s role supposed to be aesthetics? My mom totally agreed it was a good idea, when she visited and pointed out that, in the same vein, she uses cloth dish rags around the kitchen. It’s always good when your mom approves. Gave me a much needed boost of confidence.

2. Shoes are banished from the inside of the house.

details (2)If you know me, you know I LOVE shoes. Once in a while, I’ll put on my wedding shoes (at right, *le sigh*) and think to myself, gah, how did I wear these and when can I again?!? I wish there were things I could wear nice shoes to more often. I get giddy just thinking about the insanely expensive shoe parade that is Sex and the City (see #3; a girl has to have a vice, ya know). These days I rotate between my all purpose crunchy mama Toms, all purpose weary cowgirl boots and treading-on-air Mizuno running shoes that I’m breaking in and trying to keep clean (a much-needed gift from my MIL).

But, finally, after a long-standing “let’s take our shoes off once we come inside” fairly unenforced policy, we’ve relegated our everyday shoes to the vestibule. We’d tracked in enough grime and crud…I was tired of constant sweeping up, and the mess o’ shoes by the front door would slowly migrate to the kitchen and living room (cray-cray, I know, but W has way more shoes than I do). More importantly, if you think about it (I did. A lot.) where have the soles of your shoes been?!? They keep your feet from touching the floor of a public restroom (and any other non-home floors); but if you wear them inside and then take them off, you are essentially spreading the germs of the public restroom to your feet…then you get in bed…ok, gross. I’m done with shoes in the house. Socks, slippers and bare feet are welcome, but we are adopting the cultural traditions of Japan, and many other countries, when it comes to shoes. Perhaps I’ll chance upon a nice wire rack to organize them. Further impetus is that WV is about to crawl. The floors need to be clean. Period.

3. “Hey wait, I can use that!” and “Hey wait, I can use that!”

I got to using more food and household items in non-traditional ways I hadn’t before.
These included (you decide if the emphasis is on “use” or “that”):

→ Saving the bones from a roast chicken to make yummy bone broth, thereby eeking a lot more value out of that expensive organic bird. This “lamb” is more like the proverbial Native American buffalo.
→ Cleaning the bathroom with baking soda and vinegar, thereby avoiding harsh chemicals and all that is intrinsic with their use.
→ Finding yummy recipes to use the pulp leftover from our juicing endeavors. That just makes sense. Since I’m prone to buying multiple 5-lb bags of carrots: Carrot Banana Bunt Cake with Cream Cheese Icing.

I’ve enjoyed browsing through the Year of Living Less blog, even though it is defunct. It gets me thinking. We all have our limits, though – while I admire purposeful simplifications I won’t dread out my hair to live without a comb (there was a time in high school I had wanted to…ah well, opportunity missed) or reduce our towel stockpile to the number of people in the house! But I’m really happy about our March’s worth of intentional living. I’m committed to observing my household with a keen eye for what can be replaced with less expensive, safer, and/or more sustainable options (not surprising, how it’s almost always all three), and will keep in mind what I change and find for further posts. I’m taking cues from family, friends, and frustrations. Another thing I’m going to give up is straws. Yes, I love straws, but W pointed out that they are wasteful pieces of plastic and, well, he’s right. Maybe I can get a glass straw? That sounds like a bad idea.

So tell me, what have you changed, repurposed or cooked in your household lately? What are your March “lambs?” Looking forward to hearing and getting some good ideas from ya’ll…

PS: W defends his MS thesis in early April and will be back to blogging thereafter. Send him happy math thoughts!!!

Weekend Musings

This weekend was quite full. It can be separated into two, admittedly mama-biased, categories:

P10405091. WV said his first legit word.
2. Everything else.

First word: DADA!!!
Oh laws, I can not, I can not! I’m just busting with pride.

We say, “Walter, can you say ‘dada’?”
He smiles. “DADA!”
We say, “Walter, can you say mama?”
He gives a coy look, “DADA!”

So, erm, we know he’s responding, and it’s technically a word. Buuut, I don’t think it’s attached to dada yet. The thing that really differentiates it from other babblings and cooings and gushings is that he is doing it on purpose, after we ask and he knows he’s repeating something we specifically say to him. We’ve had “back-and-forths” before, but it was more of the “gah, gah, snort, burble” ilk – cute, fun, he’s learning, but no real words. I’d had tried a while back doing vowel sounds to see if he’d mimic them back. Nope. Oh well. This time, he’s repeatedly repeating back the word. So. Dang. Proud.

And onto “everything else.”

It’s been a quiet, productive, cozy weekend.

W’s been working hard on his thesis – every now and then he’ll emerge from his office to rant about test-grids and phi-lines merging with Cartesian coordinates while pointing to a blow-up globe I gave him.

P1040517It was raining hard when I woke up on both Saturday and Sunday, which has been less than delightful. But later during Saturday morning the rain did pause and I quick found a garage sale on line that started at 10am. Perfect! I left the boys sleeping in bed, made a few wrong turns, but found it. Spent exactly $1 on a Daffodil Festival poster, which I am pleased to own – the Daffodil Festival is a Gloucester springtime tradition. Gloucester, didn’t you know, is the daffodil capital of the US! There’s a craft fair, zillions of daffodils sold in bunches and an accompanying 5k that my best friend and I have run several times. The posters are always wicked expensive so I never buy one, but now I have a happy souvenir to remind me of all the Daffodil Fest 5ks we’ve done. I think maybe I’ll sign me and The Walters up for this year’s 5k come to think of it. We have to break in our Bob running stroller!

P1040475Despite the dreary rain, there are some signs of spring just making me itch to go outside! Our yard is one perpetual soggy mess; I would love it to be dry enough to sit outside on the ground with WV, but alas. However, the garden is in progress in our bedroom instead – W rigged up a grow lamp and it has accelerated the process of seedlings peeping their shy first leaves out from beneath the soil. I think our March dual-post will be all things garden-starting, so I won’t say more. The spring peepers have started their cliche-ing-ly incessant crepuscular chatter, too, which is exciting and makes me think of balmy nights! And we’ve left the porch door open to let in the outside (and vice versa) and turned off the heaters a few times. I even sat with WV in the rocker out on the porch for almost an hour talking to an old VIMS friend, whom I hadn’t spoken with in a while! So great to catch up and breath fresh air.

We took a few dog walks, picking between the rain drops, and we (mostly WV) took several naps. He’s getting so big.

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Of course, no weekend is a weekend unless replete with too many cooking endeavors: an insanely tasty apple chicken salad (from a fellow foodie friend – I’ll check with her to see if she’s cool with me broadcasting the recipe), whole wheat pancakes, 8 pizza doughs (to be pizza’d this week), to name a few. WV also had his first pork – I smashed it up with apples (he now eats them incorporated with other flavors) and breast milk and added avocados once and another time, carrots. I also made mushed (boiled, then finely shredded) chicken with broccoli and bananas for him. I kind of want to eat baby food from now on – it was all delish!

Hrm…some other housey things I did in my “free” time? I’m trying to keep up with my book group book, Einstein Never Used Flashcards, by reading while BFing. We drooled over a silly posh-farmer catalogue that showed up in our mail box and agreed we could make everything ourselves. For our farm. I also sorted out a bunch of baby items to consign and then proceeded to miss the deadline to sign up for the local kids’ consignment sale (in my defense, they don’t appear to state the deadline on their website). I bought a mini-tube of super glue and went about the house a-gluin’ all the things I had made a mental note to mend over the past, say, 2 years. It may sound mundane, but small but attainable goals run this household. On my list: a milk-glass (love!) candlestick my Aunt gave me that had cracked in half when the candle burned too low, a magnet that had lost it’s magnet with a picture of my sister spitting water (she’d kill me if I showed the actual pic), the ceramic knob that informatively says “shower” and turns the shower on and off which was broken exactly in half, and a large chunk of a plant pot’s drainage dish that I kept propping up and would continually get knocked off by an animal. glued edited

Tonight, we stayed in, missing a sure-to-be awesome concert in Richmond that our friend’s band, Handsome Molly, was playing. But tomorrow I may go to Richmond to have brunch with her and mah BF! Looking forward to it!

February: Cloth Diapers

P1040222Cloth diapering (CDing) your little one is becoming more and more common (and hip, *wink, wink*). I sense that most people who are reticent to try cloth think that it takes too much time or dismiss it as “a thing a crunchy hippie does.” Neither, I say!!! At least, it doesn’t have to be. It just takes a little reframing and retraining. For February, I’ve gathered many resources for you to browse regarding cloth diapering and documented our cloth diapering motivation, set up, breaking it down into dollars and cents! Cloth diapering certainly has my vote, and I hope it will have yours after reading what it’s all about for this little family.

The Why (a bit of a manifesto):
I’d like to say that my main motivation is minimal environmental impact (originally it was) – however being good to the earth and saving money are tied for second. The main reason I do it is because have you seen the ingredient list on disposable diapers? Usually CD-friendly websites cite enviro reasons and/or cost; but I’ve found an ally here confirming my outcry at “dirty and dangerous” disposable diapers’ chemicals on my baby’s bum. First of all, an ingredients list on diapers?!? That’s a bit obscene. Question everything. We can talk about me being a little over-concerned about toxins in household products some other day (trying not to be a chemophobe), however I’ve backed up my oogy shiver at the thought of disposables with a fair bit of research and gumshoe observation. We did use disposables for a few weeks (“for convienience”) after WV was born and although that little new fangled wetness indicator strip is handy, I abhorred the “absorbent crystals” that cropped up in the wet diaper and clung to my new baby’s skin. I imagined disposable diapering a baby girl would be even more alarming as I wouldn’t want a single one of those “harmless” gummy crystals to get inside of her – I have found that some of the ingredients in diapers were removed from tampons because of their link with toxic shock syndrome in the 80’s…but they’re still in disposable diapers. That just doesn’t make sense to me.

Plastics, superabsorbent proprietary materials, sodium polyacrylate (SAP) and polyacrylate gel, tolune, xylene, ethylbenzene, styrene, isopropylbenzene and trace amounts of dioxins and tributyltin… I DO NOT want my baby’s tushy coming into contact with known carcinogens and endocrine disrupters, thank you very much. Emissions (yes, clean disposable diapers have emissions!) from single use diapers are linked to asthma (the original research). Also decreased sperm count, skin irritations, allergies, and even burns (a la the Pampers Dry Max fiasco, which resulted in a class action settlement) are associated with single-use disposables. And who knows what other touted as harmless ingredients will end up on an “oops, now your kid has three eyes just like his pet goldfish Blinky” list. I’m just applying the principle that “all drugs recalled by the FDA were once approved by the same agency” to disposables. And who would have fingered wet wipes as just as toxic, if not worse? I for one, wouldn’t have…but you can’t make this up, folks. For instance, MSN, a fairly mainstream news source, names wet wipes as one of the 12 most toxic “hot spots” in the household. It’s up there with mold, pressure treated wood, and another one on my own personal hit list, dryer sheets (use non-toxic wool dryer balls!). Hrm. So, this family did away with disposable wipes in favor of home made cloth wipes and wipe solution (affectionately called butt spray). Our next baby will be cloth diapered/wiped from day zero.

Other reasons to CD are: cloth diapers are way cuter than plastic-y disposables, you can get them used on Craig’s List or through swaps, they are often less bulky which provides increased mobility for your little one, it can be a way to meet like minded mamas – there is a burgeoning CD community. AND, I must say, it just feels kinda rad to hang up a load of clean diapers outside and watch the sun work it’s magic – an accomplishment! Here is a really comprehensive list of reasons you might find intriguing along with this fluffier one.

One final plus to all of this: you aren’t beholden to the beckoning fluorescent wasteland of Baby’s ‘R Us, BuyBuyBaby, WalMart or your local grocery store at 2am (or ever) when you’ve run out of something – you always know how much/what’s on hand, and you become more resourceful…if I was to ever run out of wipes (never has happened) I could just make some more! In a pinch anything is a diaper; I’ve used the old diaper-type cloths that I had repurposed as burp cloths, for example, or you could use a bandanna. If you exclusively used disposable diapers, doing that might seem odd or unfeasible – you are pigeonholed, in a way, by consumerism.

The How:
I realized I wanted to CD WV prior to his birth – an old friend, who really influenced my decision to go the midwife and home birth route, showed me how easy it was to CD her little girl at my baby shower. Throughout my pregnancy, I saw the secretary at my midwife’s office CD her little guy (and use home made wipes) – she also added me to several Facebook groups whose purpose was CD swapping, selling and info disseminating. I slowly picked up the lingo (oh yes, CDing has its own vocabulary; see this list of terms), and purchased a few different kinds of diapers – some with snaps, some with velcro, some with pockets, some without. I decided early on that I preferred velcro and a stuffable pouch and haven’t looked back. We use gDiapers, which have velcro tabs gdiaper info that close in back and are composed of a lightweight outer cotton shell (gPant), a snap-in wipe-off-able inner liner and then get stuffed either with a biodegradable (flushable, disposable, or compostable) insert or a reusable cloth insert or prefold. This “system” fit our lifestyle best because we don’t have a washer or dryer and I could see the benefits of being able to dispose of at least a portion of the diaper as we got a hang of things early on in WVs tenure as the greatest kid on earth.

diaper drawer2GDiapers come in 5 sizes that overlap in terms of the weight of the baby using them (NB [newborn], SM, MD, LG, and XLG). I originally got 12 NB and 6 SM ones for the drop-dead awesome price of $80 (and then got three more SM, for a total of 9). We are currently using a rotation of 13 MD and I am building up my stash of LG ones (currently own 3). We never used the newborn ones because WV was too big at birth! I only purchased one at full price (but I had a coupon for participating in a gDiaper trial), and one was a gift. The rest I have collected from Craigslist, Ebay and the Facebook groups mentioned above. I almost always buy unused ones, and the CD community is such that people are quite transparent about the condition of their diapers. I also received an awesome package of hand-me-downs from “The Diaper Fairy,” which included a stockpile of 16 prefolds, which gave us the guts to transition from disposable to reusable inserts a few months ago. I’ve gathered 20-or-so other cloth diaper inserts (including 12 gCloths that actually go with the gDiapers, a few bum genius and fuzzibunz doublers/inserts) and several extra snap-in liners from Craigslist, a freebee table at a consignment store, FB, etc., and we now exclusively use cloth inserts except for when it rains (and I can’t “line dry”) or if we’re on a long car trip or vacay where we’d rather throw out the biodegradable insert instead of hoard a mess of diapers that begin to smell like a barnyard. Although, come to think of it, that might be the perfect way to piss off the TSA while they’re unconstitutionally rummaging through our stuff.

CDingChanging WV is simple and literally takes less time than using a disposable. Here’s our changing table. Nothing fancy. I lay him down, undress/unsnap, attempt to contain wiggles with distracting toys, spritz with home made wipe solution (the liquid is captured by the dirty diaper), wipe with a home made wipe, re-stuff the liner, and sprinkle with home made lavender baby powder. Voila! When we use a disposable insert, I use Boudreaux’s Butt Paste (we call it butt hummus – wouldn’t it be great to serve with carrot sticks on April Fool’s Day?) if I think it’s necessary. Since we began using the home made powder, however, he’s had no rash, so I have pretty much convinced myself that cloth + powder is the way to go. I use a lined laundry bag for dirty diaper storage and a repurposed plastic grocery bag for trash. No need for some fancy diaper geenie thingy – those things scare me. If it’s a messy diaper, I remove the mess promptly to the trash bag or the toilet. W is making me a diaper sprayer device that attaches to the toilet (you know, in his free time… he’ll chronicle its construction in a man post later). Depending on my time constraints I may just wash the diaper then and there. If not, I purchased Bac Out, on the advice of a few people, and spritz it on until I get to washing – although I really haven’t noticed this doing much of anything and won’t be purchasing another bottle once we’re done. When we’re out and about, I have two cloth bags (with a liner) with zippers that can contain a few dirty prefolds.

P1030533To wash diapers, prefolds, etc., I rinse them with cold water, scrub each with a tad of Dawn in the sink with a cuticle scrubber, rinse again, heat up a giant pot (W’s beer brewing pot) of water and boil them all for ~30 minutes, and do a final rinse. I hang them up outside or occasionally will dry them by the heater. If we’re fortunate enough to be at one of our parents’ houses, I’ll use All Free and Clear, put them on an extra wash and rinse cycle and dry them with dryer balls (which makes them nice and soft).

The Cost Breakdown:
Diapers:
Cloth diaper costs are obviously going to vary widely based on the type of diaper you settle upon and how you purchase them. I am estimating (based on email and recall), because I haven’t kept stellar track of each Craigslist transaction (W will not be pleased to read this) that for the 12 NB, 9 SM, 13 MD and 3 LG + the 12 gCloths and other prefolds and liners I have purchased, I’ve spent approximately $326. I’ve been very choosy about purchasing them – both quality and price. I never paid more than $15 for a single gDiaper (outer cover + inner pocket). That said, we knew we wanted to cloth diaper, but we didn’t jump into it feet first, so there were other costs associated with WV’s butt. We did start with disposables (spent approximately $50, and we also got a few packages from friends), then we transitioned to biodegradable diaper inserts with the gDiapers because we were leery of having to hand wash everything but sufficiently done with disposables (spent $458 on gDiaper biodegradable inserts…that’s where they getcha) and now, finally, we are 100% cloth diapering! I would have liked to use fewer biodegradable inserts just because they did cost as much as a regular diaper AND I discovered they also contained SAP in them which, although better contained than in a disposable, really irritated me (pun intended). Total Pierce Household to-date diaper (disposable + cloth) expenditures: $834. I suppose I’ll spend around $75 more to finish buying the large sized gDiapers outers. I’m watching a few on Ebay right now. And then we will NEVER spend another penny on diapers…not for WV, not for future babies…YES!!!

Multiple sources cite, you guessed it, multiple total costs incurred using disposable diapers. I’ve found disposable diapers range in price from 30 to 40 cents per diaper, depending on the size and brand. How long are kids in diapers? I don’t know that yet. Conservatively, if it’s 2 years, assuming an average of 35 cents per dipe X 10 changes per day = $2555.00. Wow. Now, I know that I’m not taking into consideration the intricacies of disposable diaper use with age – as a child grows he/she will presumably use a few less diapers, however, the bigger kid diapers cost more. I also wonder if there is a subtle marketing psychology associated with that pesky indicator strip, encouraging new moms like me, who don’t know better (you look at that thing and it turns blue) to use more than 10 per day.

Wipes:
A mega-box of the “environmentally friendly/sensitive skin” type wipes (which we had been using until converting to home made) costs about $12.50, which comes out to 3.26 cents per wipe. Estimating 2 wipes per diaper change X 10 diaper changes per day = ~65 cents/day, or $237 in wipes per year. That’s almost $500 in dang wipes I’ve saved over a 2-year period. W: “Think of how much beer I could buy!” Of course, those are averages – some diaper changes require one wipe, others not so much. And that’s not counting wipes used for sticky hands, other messes, etc. However, check this: I bought receiving blankets (you could use any soft/absorbent fabric scraps) for $1 at a garage sale. I cut them into 7 X 7-inch squares. Boom. Wipes. I used pinking shears, for a nice edge and you could sew around the edges if you want, but honestly, they are just wiping butts. They don’t have to be fancy. The small amount of baby soap I use to make wet wipe solution is so negligible I can’t calculate an associated cost. The most expensive ingredient in it is Tea Trea Oil – purchase price: $6. I’m sure that will last well beyond 2 years. That is $7 for wipes and butt spray; if you were making new wipes yearly (I might; who knows, they could get ratty) then add another dollar to that for a two year total of $8.

Washing cloth diapers:
“But surely, there’s a cost associated with washing your cloth diapers,” you say? Here’s the silver lining to not owning a washer or dryer: washing cloth diapers pretty much costs nothing but time. I wash our cloth diapers by hand in exclusively cold *brrrr…winter well water*. Our well water costs nothing BUTT if we had a machine washer, I’ve calculated the cost of the electricity used to wash them here. Two loads of diapers/wipes per week (based on cycling through my stash of 36 inserts roughly twice weekly) would ring in at $70/year (our kWh cost about $.12). Cost of a giant bottle of Costco All Free & Clear with a coupon is $14.69 (will last approximately a year).

P1040262Butt friendly, environmentally friendly, and wallet friendly. And we’ll be spreading out this value even further with each subsequent child. After our baby-diaper days are over, I can resell them and recoup some dough…or I could become a Diaper Fairy. I think I’ll do the latter. I feel glorious!!! If you look at this comparison table (below) – you get an even better idea of the true cost of pure cloth vs. disposable – I’ve removed my transgressions with purchasing disposable diapers and biodegradable inserts but added in some items that I know come with the cloth and disposable territories. Have I convinced you yet? No doubt, there is upfront time in making the wipes and butt spray, and the way I wash our diapers, but there is also time associated with going out to buy single use items. There’s even time associated with buying them online and having them shipped to the house (which would cost extra anyway).

cost breakdown

Annnd I do believe I just wrote BUT(T) a grand total of 31 times.

So, there it is. I hope my strong opinions on wasteful, toxic, ugly, expensive single-use disposable diapers and wipes has given you food for thought. Perhaps you don’t have a little one but are thinking of going the cloth diaper route, or are disposable diapering and wondering what it took for one family to make the switch. Short of going diaper-free (as most developing nations and some really hippie parents do), I’m a firm believer: cloth is the best for my baby.

PS: A final note – as you can see, we’re a bit late in getting together our “February” blog post. All my fault. I kept researching and researching. I had numerous panic attacks as I discovered article after article about toxins in disposables. I wanted to cram more and more info in. I started feeling like hyperlinking was a poor substitute for a references section. I must remember: this is a blog, not a scientific paper (and I like it that way!). Gah!!! I had to cut myself off. Maybe I’ll write a formal research paper on cloth diapering someday, haha. Oh, and it’s not a dual-post this time…W agrees with everything I’ve said here (he proofed it for me) and is in the throws of finishing his MS thesis, so, ahem, dealing with a different kind of doo-doo. He’ll be back to the blog soon.

Signing out for now,
Dr. Mom.

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A Week In Recipes…Food & Otherwise

I made and cleaned a mess of a kitchen untold numbers of times this past week. I thought I’d share the week’s food and non-food recipes. Some were inspired by our attempts to more thoughtfully purchase, prep and eat (i.e. making things ahead of time and ensuring leftovers). I also learned that writing recipes takes thought and patience – new appreciation for those old biddies (how I imagine them) who write such old-fashioned-ly snarky things in The Joy of Cooking, and to all recipe makers out there!

Sunday: Super Bowl! Spent the evening with good friends, S & R (who happen to have a 7-month-old, J, who is WV’s girlfriend – I am hoping one day S and I are machatunia).

I made Fried Rice with Bok Choy – our homage to the San Francisco in San Francisco 49ers. We also brought Home Made Rolls and S made the most delish crab cakes to put on them. This recipe is also my favorite for making hot dog buns, from the book W has mentioned before – Make the Bread, Buy the Butter. I tease him by calling the author, Jennifer Reese, his mistress because he starts mucho kitchen sentences with “well, Jennifer Reese says…” She gives a definite “MAKE!” to hot dog buns, but says not to bother with, and “BUY!”, hamburger buns. This is confusing – why not just use the hot dog bun recipe to make hamburger buns and rolls? She says they wouldn’t hold up to a greasy overloaded hamburger, but they did hold up to a crab cake and I’m guessing will be much better than any store-bought hamburger bun (which, lets face, likely won’t hold up well either). I get the feeling from her book that she also wanted her hot dog and hamburger buns to be appreciably different in flavor. However, these buns are so tasty, I don’t mind them being the same for hot dogs and hamburgers and even rolls for dinner with pasta. Your alternative is always the grocery store disgusto-buns that have human hair and duck feathers and who knows what else (I’m serious) in them. So there’s that.

Monday: Babywearing WV in a double hammock, I was a dough-making fool! Eight pizza doughs and 18 more rolls rose during the day and then W and I cooked 4 of the pizzas – 1 for dinner and the others to freeze. Hallelujah for our stand mixer! We need to order more flour.

Pizza Dough and Pizza Recipes – It’s taken numerous iterations to get to what we think of as our “go-to” pizza recipe when it comes to both the dough and the process. We used to buy dough from Trader Joes, which sells a single dough (white or wheat) for 99 cents, which ain’t too shabby price-wise, but compared to home made dough, doesn’t hold a candle to the flavor. After several girl’s nights where my friends easily made tasty, tasty dough to make pizzas, I realized we should (and could) too! Our favorite recipe is from an Italian cook-book (makes sense) we got for our wedding. I often make 8 doughs at a time (we. eat. alot. of. pizza), quadrupling the recipe and using two bowls. I also usually make W help. Then we’ll assemble 2-4 pizzas that night, freezing the remainder of the doughs in individual portions as well as the left over pizza – it’s a great snack or dinner in a pinch. Brings new meaning to “frozen pizza.”

Tuesday: Day o’leftovers.  Lunch was Peanut Sauce and Glass Noodles, which although I made the Friday before I started this post, were so tasty and the recipe so simple, I thought it would be a good one to add.

Wednesday: Walter had a long day at work (usually he works from home, but he had to go to several meetings) so I was stuck at home thinking about chicken cutlets. I did something about that. Also, I made some baby food for WV.

Chicken Parmigiana – Oh man, this turned out soooo good!  I have never made this…probably mostly because my mom makes chicken cutlets to die for and I just didn’t want to try and fail – failing meaning, not tasting like my mom’s.  But this was a delish dish that made it onto sandwiches and as dinners over the next two days.  W and I figured it cost less than $2.00 a serving…and these were organic chicken breasts.  Recalling that our chicken parm sandwich from a restaurant a few weeks ago was nearly $10, well, I, uh, wow.

Apple SauceP1030810 Originally made for a certain baby, but as you can see here, after choosing the best organic apples, washing them, peeling them, juicing them, reconstituting them, heating them, and finally pureeing them…WV DID NOT WANT TO EAT THEM. He made several adorable “this sucks, mom” faces, pulled off his cute bib, and spit them out. Okay, so now it’s adult apple sauce.

Thursday: Juicing Fiends!!!  No need for a recipe here – I’d pulled out the juicer for the apple sauce, so kept it out for a round of home made orange, carrot and apple juices.  Mmm…liquid ambrosia.  The key to juicing is just prepping the ingredients all at once (makes you feel accomplished); then they’re ready whenever you want juice (makes you feel lucky). Carrot juice cut with a hint of apple is my favorite. The rest of the day was full of leftovers.

Friday: Breakfast – eggs and W’s Home Made Bread.  For dinner I made Pink Alfredo Sauce with onions and mushrooms and spinach pasta. This has got to go into our rotation as well – it came out scrumptious!!! I kept “re-saucing” my pasta, just to have some more!

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Saturday: Breakfast – Orange & Oat Scones. W’s mom gave me this beautiful stoneware scone pan that I don’t use often enough. These scones did’t show the thistle impression because they were too chunky with the oatmeal, but the pan keeps them in a nice shape. One note, if you are using a pan like mine and not a cookie sheet, you’ll need to adjust the baking time to ~25 minutes. Also, the recipe calls for 1 cup of buttermilk; I didn’t have any. Using one of my favorite handy cooking references, Substituting Ingredients, I added 1 cup of milk and 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar instead. I made two batches – one with and one without chocolate chips. Sixteen scones didn’t last long…they’re great with afternoon tea, too (and we gave a few away)!

I also made a new batch of our Go-To Granola, which I always modify in some way according to the ingredients I have laying about (this time I had date pieces and craisins). Usually I double the recipe, but this time I didn’t and it went much faster – mostly because mixing ~10 cups of ingredients is much harder than mixing ~5 cups of ingredients. Tasty for upcoming breakfasts with milk or yogurt or as a snack by itself.

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Lavender Baby Powder – One of my mom’s friends sent me a small shaker of home made baby powder, and it turned out to be the best thing we’d ever put on WV’s butt! Especially for cloth diapering, which necessitates not using any sticky creams. Anyway, we ran out. Ack!!! I didn’t want his rashlessness to end!!!  I haven’t made this recipe exactly because I’m waiting on the kaolinite (white clay) to arrive (bought 5 pounds here), but(t) have posted the full recipe because it kinda sucks without the clay (very hard to shake out of the bottle, trust me). Can’t wait for the clay to arrive and amend my currently eking-by baby powder.

Butt Spray (yep, that’s really what we call it). I made a batch of wet wipe solution (I make our own cloth wipes, too – more on that forthcoming). This is super simple and avoids all the nastastic and harsh ingredients in regular wipes. One batch lasts about a month.

Sunday: Crock Pot London Broil with Veggies – To prep for a few extra meals this week, I whipped this up and let it simmer all day. The house smelled divine. On Saturday I had cooked up 2 cups of rice to have for the week, when needed. That came in real handy for this diner! I like prepping a big pot of rice (might do some quinoa tonight, too) for the rest of the week. It came out a little tough, but I think that is because of the meat cut itself; other crock pot meats I’ve made with the same recipe were quite tender.

What’s in store, recipe-wise for this week? Well, for V-Day, I’m going to try salted caramel brownies cut into hearts. No other major cooking plans…maybe I’ll defrost some pizza. And chuckle at these cooking fails again! Bon Appetit!!!