Baby Food – To Go

Around here we have been getting excited for our upcoming road trip back east.

Did you catch that?  I already sound Midwestern.

I said “back east”.

I digress.

Beard and I are packing up our three kids in our new-to-us mini-van and driving half way across the country to see a lot  of family.  We are excited.  The girls are excited.  Heck.  Baby Brother is excited, and he doesn’t even know it yet.

Our girls are definitely no stranger to long road trips.  They had made the 8 hour trip between Virginia and my home state of New Jersey at least three times every year, plus they each made a few journeys out here to Wisconsin from Virginia.

There was this one crazy year where my husband and I drove to Wisconsin, stayed a week, then drove to New Jersey for my cousin’s wedding, then we drove back down to Virginia.  With a 15 month old Bitsy girl.  And I was 30 weeks pregnant.

That trip was made pleasant by our friends at Pepperidge Farm and their genius invention called the “goldfish”.

This summer will be Baby Brother’s first big road trip, and it is the first time I have brought a baby that still requires purees on a long road trip.  I have taken babies that exclusively nurse, and I have taken babies that can eat a lot of table foods.  Little Guy, though, is just not ready for much table food at all.  It means I have to be creative (and probably a bit industrious) about having enough for him to eat without relying on pre-packaged baby food.**

There are some foods that are no-brainers when it comes to feeding babies quickly, easily, and conveniently:

  • avocados:  I love feeding my babies avocados.  They are easy to mash up, have tons of good fats, and they are green.  What mom doesn’t love to have a baby covered in green mush?  At this point, Little Guy eats between 1/8 and 1/4 of an avocado in one sitting.  By replacing the avocado pit into the remainder of the fruit and putting the fruit, in its peel, in a sealed bag or container, I could feasibly keep an avocado for a few meals.  I highly doubt Baby Brother would like to eat avocado for 4-8 meals straight, so I eat some of it myself or pawn some of it off on his older sisters.  They ate the green mush as babies, too!
  • bananas:  Bananas are another of those foods that are easy to mash and come in their very own container.  Heck, I can slice off tiny slivers of banana with a baby spoon.  Bananas require no prep at all.  Like an avocado, Little Guy could probably eat 1/4 – 1/8 of a banana in a sitting, but bananas don’t keep as well as avocados once they are peeled.  Fortunately, those are also easy to feed to other family members.
  • applesauce:  I almost never buy anything that is packaged into individual serving sizes.  I will forego this rule with applesauce on road trips.  I can buy individual cups of sugar free, organic applesauce that make a very easy meal for a baby on the road.
  • watermelon:  This may be the first in this list where you think HUH?  If I buy a watermelon, or even half a watermelon, I can slice it up and put it in a large bag or container.  Little Guy can hold a slice of watermelon and gnaw on it while we are stopped.
  • hard-boiled eggs:  I have gotten Baby Brother absolutely hooked on egg yolks.  For the most part, he likes the liquid yolk from my hard-boiled eggs, but unfortunately there is not way I could bring those with us.  Hard-boiled eggs, on the other hand, are super easy to keep on a long trip, as well as easy to mash and eat.  Fortunately for me, I have a daughter that will only eat hard-boiled egg whites, so those won’t go to waste.

These are great foods to keep in the car for feeding babies while on a road trip.  I am, however, going to put together some purees to bring along in my favorite “baby food cubes” in a cooler.  I am working on a post about which purees to make and take and which are best left at home, as well as how to keep them frozen, and how to thaw them and feed them to baby.

Stay tuned!

DIY Coconut Milk Deep Conditioner

Winters in Wisconsin are long, guys.

Did you know that?

I knew that.

I thought I was prepared.

But alas, I was not.

As a person with dry skin, I knew enough to keep myself stocked with tubs of coconut oil and shea butter so I wouldn’t dry out.  What I hadn’t anticipated was that the long Wisconsin winter would wreak havoc on my dry, curly hair.

I honestly waited too long to do a deep conditioning.  I should probably deep condition twice monthly in the winter months and monthly in the warmer months.  I had been frustrated with how my hair felt for months, yet just kept changing daily conditioners to find one that felt better.  What my hair actually needed was a good deep conditioning.

Here’s how I did it:

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In my microwave safe bowl, I measured 2 tbsp coconut oil and 2 tbsp honey.  I heated these for about 30 seconds, or just until the coconut oil melted and the honey become less viscous.  Then I mixed in 2 tbsp coconut milk2 tbsp yogurt (yes, that’s the stuff in the mason jar*), and  2 drops each lavender essential oil and rosemary essential oil.

I had my hair in my usual “mom do”:

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Super classy.  I had to, of course, let it all down to put in the conditioner:

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Then, using my hands, I saturated my hair with the deep conditioner, from about 1″ from my roots all the way to the ends:

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I got about as much product as I could onto my hair without having it literally dripping wet.  I used nearly all of the product I made on my medium length, thick hair.  (If you have very long hair, I would suggest doubling the recipe.)

I put my hair back into my “mom bun”:

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I left my hair like this for almost an hour before I took a shower.  I washed the deep conditioner out with a homemade coconut milk shampoo (post pending).  I had to wash twice to get all the product out of my hair.

But oh.  My.  Goodness.  This deep conditioner left my hair feeling so lovely and soft.  And the smell!  There is something about lavender and coconut, isn’t there?

Try this recipe, and let me know how you like it!

Our Natural Family (at this Point in the Journey, at least)

Today I’m going to kick-off a series that I have had rolling around in my head for months.  I finally decided to put it to paper, and I realized I’ll have quite a few posts and goodies to share with you guys.  I’m seriously excited about this.

I honestly cannot remember when this journey began, but for the past few years I have been working towards eliminating different man-made, chemical-laden products from our lives.  I know part of this journey, for us at least, has had to do with cost.  Many times store bought products like cleaning products, bath and beauty products, and baby care can be very costly; even generic brands can really add up if you are cleaning your home and bathing regularly!

So both in an effort to relieve some pressure on our budget and journey towards eliminating chemicals from our lives, I began to research natural things I could replace commercial products with.  I would often start on Pinterest or Google, and I would acquire the ingredients necessary to make whatever natural replacement I’d found.  Many times I wouldn’t be satisfied with the final product, but I would tweak, adjusting recipes, adding essential oils, or changing the steps in a method to get something I was satisfied with.

I’m now pleased to say that we have replaced over 20 commercial products in our lives with a natural alternative.  These replacements can be found in my cleaning repertoire, my bathroom, my purse, and our bedrooms.  I can estimate that we have saved at least $30/month on bath products alone, and another $15-$20/month on cleaning products since moving towards homemade products.  I find the ingredients I buy are often inexpensive (though some of them are definitely not), and they often last much longer than products I would buy in a store.  I’ll be posting more this week about each product I have mastered making for our family.  Stayed tuned this week!

All Natural Care – Burn Care

This may seem like an odd interlude in my series of posts about our big cross-country move.  I assure you, it is not.  I stumbled upon this simple and inexpensive way to care for burns while caring for my own burn only two and a half weeks ago.

I will confess that I am not what one would call graceful.  I can have two left feet, seem like a bull in a china shop, and trip over myself walking on flat ground.  Needless to say, I’ve had my fair share of injuries, some more preventable than others.  I have recently had the unique opportunity (note my positive thinking) to have experienced two second degree burns within only a few years of each other.

The first burn I acquired on our honeymoon.  Being too young to rent a car without the extra “under 25” penalty, my husband and I opted to rent a moped.  It was much cheaper and oh so much more glamorous.  Until, of course, I climbed off the moped and rested my calf against the muffler.  Never having experienced any significant burn, I was completely unaware of how to care for a burn.  My husband and I rushed into the nearest store and bought some gauze, tape, aloe, and burn cream.

After a couple days we returned home, and I saw a doctor about the proper care of my burn.  He suggested I use an antibacterial cream (Bacitracin or Neosporin) in a thick layer under gauze that I should change three times daily.  Each time I changed the bandage I was to gently wash the burn with water and antibacterial soap.

This sounds like pretty standard wound care to most out there, I’m sure.  I will tell you it was excruciatingly painful.  Washing a second degree burn with soap made me really want to scream.  Every single time I did it.  The antibacterial cream was my only relief.

I didn’t learn until later (after having researched care for my most recent burn) that the antibacterial soap was continuously drying out the healing skin, as well as removing some of the precious new skin that desperately needed to heal.  Using this method my burn healed in about 3 1/2 – 4 weeks to a point that I no longer needed to bandage the area.

More recently, while my husband was in Wisconsin for a job interview, I experienced my second second-degree burn.  With our house on the market, I’d been keeping a good eye on our lawn, and I knew it would need to be mowed before my husband could come home to mow it.  One afternoon, while the girls were napping, I got the big Snapper out of the shed and took care of most of the front lawn.  I ran out of gas before I could finish all of it, and I hoped to just come behind with the push mower to finish up.  As I pushed the Snapper out of the way I felt my left knee go numb.  Walking back into the house for a drink of water I saw singed skin and two large white spots on my knee; there was no pain yet.

Familiar with the feeling of a second degree burn, I quickly got inside to run my knee under lukewarm (not cold!) water.  The pain came shortly after, and I had to take a few pain killers to get around the house that day.

As I researched online, I found some intriguing methods for caring for burns naturally.  I chose to combine a few of these methods to make a salve that I used in lieu of the antibacterial cream.  This salve included items that I already had in the house, and it was fairly inexpensive to make.

First, upon realizing I had burned myself on a DIRTY lawn mower muffler, I realized I had to clean out the wound a bit.  I diluted some apple cider vinegar 1:1 with water, and I blotted this on the burn.  I cleaned the burn like this only once, and it was quite painful.  I knew, though, that using the vinegar would kill any microbes I might have picked up from the muffler while also not disturbing the pH of my badly injured skin.

From there on out I used my homemade burn salve (recipe below) on the wound 3-4 times a day, covered with a non-stick gauze pad and wrapped loosely with an ACE bandage.  I found that taping the gauze pad to my leg was completely ineffective.  It would move or fall off within an hour or so, and it gave me little mobility.  The ACE bandage allowed me to move the easiest.

The first several days of this treatment were definitely still painful, as it is simply painful to touch a fresh wound.  As blood vessels regrew and healed, I felt each one sting and burn.  I was, however, seeing a lot of skin regrowth.  That was encouraging.

By day 4 I had to carefully use tweezers and toiletry scissors to remove some dead skin in order to allow the new skin to properly heal.  At this time the more lightly burned areas had already changed color from bright red to brown, indicating that they were well along in the healing process.

For a week and a half I continued with this process:  3-4 times a day I changed the bandage and reapplied the salve, never wiping or cleaning the wound, nor leaving it open to the air for any significant period of time.

By then, I was able to use a wet washcloth (lukewarm water again) to gently slough off dead skin and scabs at one bandage changing each day.  I saw great improvement daily by this point.  The two spots that had been large and white on the day of the injury were healing and growing smaller and smaller.  I felt much less pain, if any at all, and I was able to bend my knee with much greater ease.

At about 2 1/2 weeks out from the injury today, I can see that this burn is healing much quicker than my previous burn.  I have been able to sleep without the wound covered up for three nights now (coating it with coconut oil for moisture before bed time).  I hope to be bandage free by three weeks out, as well as nearly scar free by 5-6 weeks out.

I apologize for any excessive details about injuries in this post.  I hope that someone finds it helpful for treating their own burn some day.

Without further ado, my homemade, natural burn salve recipe:

Natural Burn Salve

1/4 cup raw honey

2 tbsp pure aloe gel

1 tbsp coconut oil

5-10 drops lavender essential oil

 

Melt coconut oil if solid.  Mix all ingredients in a bowl, and store salve in a jar with a tightly secure lid.  Will keep in a dry cabinet for a month or refrigerated for three months.

Stumbled Upon

In praying and thinking about different ways to raise funds for my upcoming trip to Thailand, I came to the idea that I could make and sell some of my homemade, all natural body care items that I make for my family.

Before this week I made only deoderant for myself, hair moisturizer/conditioner, and body butter.  Upon squeezing the last few drops of Boudreaux’s Butt Paste out of the three tubes we had lying about the house, I thought I would like to make some diaper cream for Clara.

I did a bit of research, looking up different diaper creams and what kinds of ingredients they had.  I, of course, am not a large company and cannot put all kinds of emulsifiers and preservatives in my products, but that’s really the idea isn’t it?  I looked for the main ingredients, the ones that truly heal the skin and protect it from the wet diaper it touches.

After a few days of research, I came up with a list of some key ingredients to make my diaper cream:  coconut oil, shea butter, beeswax, and zinc oxide powder.

I had found out that zinc oxide powder is most often the ingredient in diaper creams that heals any rash.  Unfortunately, zinc oxide powder is also the only ingredient in diaper cream that makes it incompatible with cloth diapers.  So, that wouldn’t be going into my own diaper cream.

So my three other ingredients went into a double boiler and were melted down; about 1 part shea butter, 2 parts coconut oil, and 1 tbsp of beeswax pellets.  After it was combined, I poured my newest concoction into a mason jar and let it cool.

The next morning, I had a wonderful test for this new diaper cream on my hands.  In the interest of not over-sharing, let’s just say that Clara has had quite an appetite lately, which means she is producing many more dirty diapers.  When she produces a lot of dirty diapers in a day, no matter how quickly we change them, she gets quite a nasty diaper rash.  Poor girl has some seriously sensitive skin.

Anyway, I saw her rash and thought “oh geez, this diaper cream doesn’t even have zinc.  I hope it works.”  I doubted this new cream could do anything to the rash I saw on her.

But I consistently applied it after every diaper change and used it liberally.  In one day, I saw almost half of her rash go away, and most of it shrank.  In two days, there literally is no rash left on her bottom.  I could hardly believe it.  This diaper cream worked as well, if not better than, my precious Boudreaux’s Butt Paste, for which I had been paying almost $8 for 4 oz.  This 2 oz. batch of my “Butt Goo” cost me pennies, literally.

Please feel free to use the above instructions to make your own “Butt Goo”, but if you’d like to wait a few days until I receive my containers in the mail, I will be selling “Butt Goo” through my blog.