my journey to homemade solutions

myjourney.png

For a LONG time, I’ve been the person that said, “I want to use more natural products. I want to save money and make my own stuff (when it’s easy!).” But I’ll be honest – I’m lazy and just never got around to it. Well, the time has come, friends! I recently bought homemade body butter and lip balm from a friend, and that was the nudge I needed.

Since then, I’ve ordered my first set of doTERRA oils (I was using essential oils before, but they were the cheap ones from the grocery store); stocked up on washing soda, Borax, coconut oil, and shea butter; and made a trip to the store for bottles and jars! I’ve already made laundry soap and oil rollers for arthritis and calming (for us and the dogs!). I’ve also just made a new bottle of calming spray for my dog, and I’ve ordered the necessary ingredients to make baby wash for my son. When our dishwasher soap, hand soap, and other household cleaners run out, I’ll be making those too!

I’m excited for the benefits of all-natural solutions, and I’m excited for the cost savings. And truth be told, because I’m a total nerd, I’m also a little excited about getting all of my stuff organized and labeled! I’ll be posting my recipes and stories as I go, so check back often.

How to Wash Cloth Diapers the Natural Way!

diaperwashing

One of the major turnoffs for folks and cloth diapers is the fact that you have to wash that yucky stuff! At first, I was right there too. Gross! I’m not dealing with that. It’s turned out to be far less nasty than I was expecting, though. It’s been a learning experience, and I certainly won’t suggest my way is the ONLY or BEST way to do it, but it works well for us! Here’s our setup:

We have two diaper pails in our son’s room – one for dirty cloth diapers and one for trash, wipes, and the like. The cloth diaper pail is green (get it?), and the other is gray. I also have them labeled (because I’m a dork like that), more so for the baby sitters than for us. I chose the Diaper Dekor Plus based on the customer reviews. For the trash pail, I use their refills, and I use their cloth bags for the cloth diapers.

When a diaper is wet, it goes straight into the green pail. When a diaper is dirty, we remove the bulk of the waste and flush it. The dirty diaper then also goes into the green pail. I don’t soak them or rinse them or anything.

I always wash when I have at least three clean diapers left (to allow enough time to dry) if that comes during the day. Otherwise, I’ll wash after the little guy goes to bed so they can dry overnight.

My washing method (for an HE machine):

  1. Empty the bag into the washing machine (no need to pull inserts out if you have pocket style).
  2. Turn the bag inside out, and throw that in the machine too.
  3. Fill the “bleach” compartment with white distilled vinegar and a few drops of citrus essential oil (you can pre-mix this and use it also as a softener – one quart vinegar and 20 drops of essential oil). I use the doTERRA proprietary blend, Purify.
  4. Run the washer on a “pre-wash” or “quick” cycle using cool or cold water. Stains are better removed with cool or cold water than they are with warm or hot.
  5. When the first cycle completes, open the washer and pull any inserts out that didn’t come out by themselves during the first cycle. At this step, I also typically unsnap any inserts that are snapped down for sizing to ensure a better wash.
  6. Fill the “bleach” compartment again with vinegar mix, and fill the detergent compartment with 1/2 tbsp. of homemade laundry soap (or about 1/3 of the normal amount you would use of your regular detergent; do NOT use a “free” or other hypoallergenic detergent because it’s hard on the material).
  7. Run a “heavy-duty” cycle using the hottest temperature.
  8. Hang all diapers, inserts, and bags to air dry. Technically, you can tumble dry the inserts, but they’ll last longer if you don’t. If possible, hang them outside. The wind and sun will really help with odor and any staining, and they’ll dry much faster.
  9. Once a month, in place of your normal vinegar/oil mixture in the heavy-duty cycle, use bleach. You don’t want to bleach more often because it’s hard on the material, but definitely do it once per month.

how to wash cloth diapers (the natural way!)

diaperwashing

One of the major turnoffs for folks and cloth diapers is the fact that you have to wash that yucky stuff! At first, I was right there too. Gross! I’m not dealing with that. It’s turned out to be far less nasty than I was expecting, though. It’s been a learning experience, and I certainly won’t suggest my way is the ONLY or BEST way to do it, but it works well for us! Here’s our setup:

We have two diaper pails in our son’s room – one for dirty cloth diapers and one for trash, wipes, and the like. The cloth diaper pail is green (get it?), and the other is gray. I also have them labeled (because I’m a dork like that), more so for the baby sitters than for us. I chose the Diaper Dekor Plus based on the customer reviews. For the trash pail, I use their refills, and I use their cloth bags for the cloth diapers.

When a diaper is wet, it goes straight into the green pail. When a diaper is dirty, we remove the bulk of the waste and flush it. The dirty diaper then also goes into the green pail. I don’t soak them or rinse them or anything.

I always wash when I have at least three clean diapers left (to allow enough time to dry) if that comes during the day. Otherwise, I’ll wash after the little guy goes to bed so they can dry overnight.

My washing method (for an HE machine):

  1. Empty the bag into the washing machine (no need to pull inserts out if you have pocket style).
  2. Turn the bag inside out, and throw that in the machine too.
  3. Fill the “bleach” compartment with white distilled vinegar and a few drops of citrus essential oil (you can pre-mix this and use it also as a softener – one quart vinegar and 20 drops of essential oil). I use the doTERRA proprietary blend, Purify.
  4. Run the washer on a “pre-wash” or “quick” cycle using cool or cold water. Stains are better removed with cool or cold water than they are with warm or hot.
  5. When the first cycle completes, open the washer and pull any inserts out that didn’t come out by themselves during the first cycle. At this step, I also typically unsnap any inserts that are snapped down for sizing to ensure a better wash.
  6. Fill the “bleach” compartment again with vinegar mix, and fill the detergent compartment with 1/2 tbsp. of homemade laundry soap (or about 1/3 of the normal amount you would use of your regular detergent; do NOT use a “free” or other hypoallergenic detergent because it’s hard on the material).
  7. Run a “heavy-duty” cycle using the hottest temperature.
  8. Hang all diapers, inserts, and bags to air dry. Technically, you can tumble dry the inserts, but they’ll last longer if you don’t. If possible, hang them outside. The wind and sun will really help with odor and any staining, and they’ll dry much faster.
  9. Once a month, in place of your normal vinegar/oil mixture in the heavy-duty cycle, use bleach. You don’t want to bleach more often because it’s hard on the material, but definitely do it once per month.

calming spray for dogs

calmingspray

My oldest dog used to be the sweetest, happiest dog. As he’s aged, however, he’s losing his sight and hearing, and he’s become arthritic. Understandably so, he’s a bit defensive and seems to be nervous almost all the time. New places and people are scary, and he tends to stick as close to me as possible, so he doesn’t get lost.

To help ease his anxiety, I did some research on a calming spray for him. Essential oils are wonderful aromatherapy for us, and because the dog’s sense of smell is SO MUCH BETTER than ours, they are even more powerful for them! After experimenting with a few different blends, I came up with a great combination. It’s easy to make and easy to use! I simply spray it on a bandana and tie it around his neck. This way, the spray goes everywhere he goes! You’ll need a 4-ounce cobalt or amber glass spray bottle. Not sure where to get one? Check here.

How to Make It:

In a clean 4-ounce bottle, add:

Shake gently to mix, and shake gently before each use.

*Note: every dogs responds to different oils in different ways! Sometimes, what works for one dog might not for another. Other great oils to try are chamomile, wild orange, and vetiver.

first foods for baby

At our son’s four-month well-child checkup with the pediatrician, we were told we could start introducing solids at meal time. We were excited for this new adventure and quickly ran to the grocery store to buy a few purees. Having never bought baby food, I was astounded at the price on these tiny cups of food. Yes, they’re convenient. Yes, they’re healthy (I assume). But wow…they are expensive. We already owned a Ninja and bought fresh and frozen fruits and veggies regularly. Plus, during the summer months, we grow a fair number of things in our garden. I thought, how hard can it be?

As it turns out, it’s easy! At first, you of course want to start with simple purees of just one ingredient. Green beans, pears, apples, and peas are great choices for first bites. Bananas are great too, and they don’t need to be cooked! Be sure to introduce just one food at a time, and wait a couple days before trying something different to ensure no sensitivities to individual foods. Preparation of these single-ingredient purees is easy enough:

  1. For fruits, wash, peel, and remove seeds and cores (the peels are hard for their little tummies to digest). Cut into smaller pieces.
  2. Steam on the stove. Fruits should be steamed until soft but not mushy, usually about 7-10 minutes depending on the size of your pieces. Veggies need to be steamed simply until tender.
  3. Do not discard cooking liquid.
  4. Allow to cool slightly; then transfer to your blender or food processor. Add reserved cooking liquid as needed to puree to your preferred consistency. With the Ninja cup, I usually filled the cup with enough liquid to cover the bottom 1/3 to 1/2 of the solids.
  5. Puree to desired consistency.
  6. Transfer to storage containers. For new eaters, I used ice cube trays. Freeze until solid, and then pop them out and transfer to a freezer storage bag. Label the bag with contents and date for future reference (that probably seems like a no-brainer, but I forgot more than once!). Portions can be stored in a deep freeze for up to three months. Use with three days if kept in the refrigerator.
  7. When ready to serve, thaw in the refrigerator. Small portions from an ice cube tray typically take a few hours to thaw, so plan ahead. I often took a couple out before bed and allowed them to thaw overnight for the next day’s feedings.

As your baby grows and develops their digestive system, you’ll be able to offer blends and new foods.

what are essential oils?

If you’ve ever stopped to smell the roses, then you’ve experienced an essential oil. Essential oils are naturally occurring compounds found in the seeds, roots, bark, flowers, and other parts of plants. They give plants their distinctive smells, and they play a role in pollination. Essential oils have long been used for food preparation, beauty treatment, and health-care.

So now you’re thinking…what is this compound, and why should it matter to me? Essentially, they’re molecules that change quickly from their original solid or liquid state into a gas a room temp. Just open a bottle of an essential oil, and you’ll immediately smell the fragrance – even from across the room. Their interaction, then, with the olfactory sensors in our nose make them ideal for aromatherapy.

Over 3,000 varieties have been identified, and they can be used for a wide range of emotional and physical wellness. Each oil can be used alone, or they can be mixed into various blends for even more powerful and effective benefits.

To give you just an idea of their uses, I diffuse them for health benefits in our bedrooms, mix them to make deodorizing and calming sprays for our dogs, and apply them topically for a variety of health reasons. The possibilities truly are endless!

Source: doTERRA

bumGenius cloth diapers

If you’re considering cloth diapers and you’re not sure what brand to pick, it can be a daunting task! I’d like to say we tried several so I could tell you why we picked bumGenius. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. I read a lot of reviews, talked to others who had done cloth diapers, and ultimately, chose bumGenius based on the info I got. My brother and his wife used bumGenius, as did our pediatrician. The reviews I read on Amazon and other parent forums were great. So, we chose bumGenius too.

One of the biggest questions I get is: “What’s the difference between the original pocket style and the all-in-one?” The pocket style has an outer shell with an opening at the back that you stuff inserts into. The all-in-ones are just that. The outer shell and two layer “inserts” are all attached as one unit.

At first, after reading reviews, I was pretty sure we would want to use the pocket style, so that’s what we stocked up on. I had a couple all-in-ones for comparison, but my gut instinct was the pockets would be better. After all, the pocket style allowed you to double- and triple-stuff as needed. That seemed like a no-brainer. Overnight diapering would require more inserts, right? Not necessarily.

While double-stuffing clearly adds more absorbency, it also makes the diaper more bulky and thus harder to get a good, snug fit. What does that mean? That means you are more susceptible to gaps at the legs and waist, and gaps lead to leakage. The pocket style also by its very nature makes the waistband bulkier. And again, more bulk leads to gaps and leakage. Don’t get me wrong – we still use the pocket style, but I now prefer the all-in-ones.

The all-in-ones have one bigger drawback, though. They take quite a bit longer to dry. Keep in mind – cloth diapers have to air dry so you want to plan accordingly and wash with enough time to dry before you’ll run out of diapers. I typically wash when there are three clean diapers left (or right after he goes to bed so they can dry overnight).

why we chose cloth diapers

When our son was born, as much as I hated the idea of adding thousands of dirty diapers to local landfills, the thought of using cloth diapers seemed like a ton of work and frankly, pretty gross. My brother and his wife had given us a handful of bumGenius diapers they had used for their boys, and they sat nicely packed in a bag in my son’s closet.

For the first six months, we used disposables and never thought twice (or even once!) about those cloth diapers chillin’ in the closet. Then, (and I’ll leave out all the unnecessary details) we suddenly found ourselves living paycheck to paycheck and looking for ways to cut costs. One day while my husband was at work, he sent me a text: “You wanna try the washable diapers?” It sort of came out of nowhere, but it suddenly seemed like something worth trying to save some cash.

Being a numbers nerd, I did the math of how much we were spending on disposable diapers. Curious what it costs? For a newborn and up to size 2 diapers, I estimated $40-50 per month. Sizes 3 and 4 were $45-60 per month, and it just kept going up from there. The initial investment for cloth diapers is considerable, yes, but once you have them, the only ongoing costs are water and laundry soap, which to us seemed like nothing. Plus, if you plan ahead and register for cloth diapers, you can get them as gifts, saving that upfront cost!

Health is another big concern when choosing cloth vs. disposables. Babies are much less likely to get diaper rash in cloth diapers than they are in disposables. Guess what diaper rash leads to? That’s right – a fussy baby with a sore bottom.

Cloth diapers also do a better job of containing “blow-outs” than disposables. I don’t think I need to go into any details on that one. Just trust me, a contained blow-out is a manageable one.

Finally, the impact on the environment was a huge for me. After six months of doing more than my fair share of filling the local landfill, I felt good about switching to cloth. Empty a diaper pail a time or two, and you’ll feel the same way.

Now, the first question everyone asks me is, “So how many do I need?” Most people recommend having 20-25 cloth diapers if you’re planning use them exclusively. We currently have 14, and I wash roughly every 48 hours. That seems pretty good to me. Ideally, I’d like to get to 18. In case you’re wondering, why 18? It’s because 18 is the number that will fit perfectly in the dresser drawer while he’s wearing one. Ha! That might seem silly, but it would give us a cushion of a few more to wash less often and still be able to store all of them in one place. One note on the number: newborns go through more diapers in a day than older babies and toddlers. If you’re planning to use cloth from the get go, it’s important to remember newborns go through 8-10 diapers per day.

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