A Change of Scenery

I write today from my childhood home.

This Sunday is Mother’s Day, and since I haven’t seen my mother on Mother’s Day for four years, I decided it was time to make the trek up here.  Bitsy Girl and I left Beard at home with a freezer stocked with chili, pasta primavera, and homemade tortillas and set off for the great north.  It is usually a seven hour drive from our home in central VA to the town I grew up in, but I knew that driving with a 10 month old would lengthen my drive.  Luckily, not by all that much.  We left early in the morning and made it here before rush hour traffic.

I’ll still be blogging this week, as I love to write and keep track of life, but I doubt anything will be very scientific.  It will probably be hilarious because I’ll be keeping you up to date with Bitsy Girl adventures, as well as things my family says, which is always fun.  Why?, you ask.  Because, well, I’ve avoided saying thus far where I am because I think it is the most significant piece of information of all.  I am

a Jersey girl.  

Not Your Grandmother’s Cloth Diapers, Put ‘Em in the Wash

Yesterday we talked a little about the different kinds of cloth diapers that are available, but today, I think, is the most important part of this series:  how to wash your cloth diapers.  I honestly think that this is what turns a lot of parents off to the idea of cloth diapers.  They think washing these things will be disgusting and horrendous.  I’ve had mothers ask if I have to hold my cloth diapers in the toilet while flushing.  I’ve had other mothers ask if we keep the cloth diapers in a bucket of water and bleach.

Thankfully, we do neither.  I would not appreciate a bucket of waste mess sitting anywhere in my house for any reason.  Which is why I was so glad to discover that washing cloth diapers is extremely simple if you have a washing machine.

First, you put the diapers, covers, and diaper bag (the one that holds your dirty diapers until you wash them) in the washing machine.  Set your machine on cold wash/cold rinse then select the option for an extra rinse.  If you do not have an option for an extra rinse, you will just have to run two cold cycles.  Use detergent only in this cycle.

In the second cycle, set your machine to hot wash/cold rinse.  Use detergent and softener (if desired) in this cycle.

After your diapers are clean, you may either hang them to dry or you may put them in the dryer.  If you have waterproof covers, do not put these in the dryer as it will put stress on the fabric and wear them out quickly.

Some extra tidbits:

Before baby gets any solid foods their solid waste is anything but solid; those diapers may be put through the wash without being dumped.  Once baby starts producing actual solid waste, just dump the solids into the toilet to dispose of it, then wash the diaper as normal.

If you find yourself with stained diaper inserts, simply leave them in the sun.  The sun will bleach the stain right out.

Use any detergent that you would use on your baby’s clothing.  Dreft is a popular one, as well as All, Free and Clear.  (For the record, I make my own detergent using Ivory soap, Borax, and washing soda, and I use that for everybody.  Saves me on confusing detergents.)

It really is just as simple as that.  If cloth diapers were rocket science, people wouldn’t have continued to use them for so long, and they sure as heck wouldn’t have returned to using them years later.  I found that using them was much easier than I had expected; I even had Beard convinced!

Not Your Grandmother’s Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapers.  For some people, just the name brings gross thoughts to their head; they see poopy messes that must be dumped in giant buckets of bleach, and they smell poop in every room in their house.  Not only was this not true with your grandmother’s cloth diapers, but it is most definitely not true with today’s new and improved cloth diapers.

When I was first pregnant, Beard and I were on a pretty tight budget, and I knew diapers would be a significant expense for us.  Being the amateur hippy I am, I decided to look into alternatives to the traditional disposable Huggies or Loves.  Of course there are some great prices for both generic and name brand prices in certain wholesale clubs or on some websites, and these are great options for those who cannot even dream of washing diapers in their washing machine.  But I didn’t like the idea of having to pay each week or month for paper that would just catch my daughter’s waste.  It seemed, well, a bit wasteful.

This week I’m going to write a few posts about our decision to use cloth diapers.  I’ll talk about what kinds and some common brands that are available, how to wash your cloth diapers, and then I’ll finish up with how to make cloth diapers work with your crazy life and schedule.

Tune back in tomorrow for the first installment!

On a side note, for your enjoyment I have a picture a friend took yesterday of the Bitsy Girl.

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A Wednesday Kind of Miscellany

I write this type of post mirroring posts I’ve seen on The Frugal Girl

 

Finally after having three weeks of bare (but nicely painted!) walls in the living room I decided to map out where I want to put pictures up.  I’ve got a few from our wedding a few years ago, one of each of us with Bitsy Girl, and one of each of us from the past.  Once that is up and done, I’ll share pictures.

This past weekend I cleaned out the pantry like a mad woman, and I’m ashamed to admit that I had some spilled corn syrup on the walls and shelves in there.  (I couldn’t see it until I moved everything out of there; don’t judge.)  Of course corn syrup is a terrifying substance, but I found the best thing to remove it:  hot water.  I put the hottest water I could stand in a bucket and wet a washcloth with it and wiped the syrup off.  I found if I rubbed in circles or side to side, I just spread the sticky stuff, but rubbing in the direction of the drips really got it all off!

Tuesday I took the day off to save sweet Bruno from the pound.  It turns out a neighbor’s dog was killed by a medium-sized black dog, and of course they swore it was the pitbull mix who did it.  Funny I didn’t notice any blood on his white snout….

Today was my going away lunch at work.  It made me realize that my resignation is for real.  I have been talking and thinking about it for a long time now, but to actually be this close to it is amazing to me.  As of Friday I am no longer gainfully employed.  I’ll write a post on it sometime soon, but I’ll just say this:  it was probably the second most controversial decision I’ve ever made*.

Finally, today I pick up my sister from the train station.

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That’s my Sniglets at our wedding.  Isn’t she lovely?  She’s a very cool older sister, and I’m very much looking forward to her visit.  🙂

Next adventure:  hanging pictures in the living room.

Miscellany on a Thursday

(This type of post comes from posts I’ve read on The Frugal Girl.)

I finally made it to Sam’s today to buy dog food for Bruno (which was a good thing since he finished his last bag at breakfast today).  While I was there I noticed one of my favorite household items at a great bulk price.

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Why, yes.  This is Rid-X.  For those of you who own a home with a septic system you may already be familiar with this product, and if not, you may need to become familiar with it.  When we moved into our home in May several veteran homeowners suggested we use this product once a month by flushing it down the toilet.  We have.  And we haven’t had an issue with our tank yet.  🙂

ImageI’m still wondering how this teeny little Bitsy Girl became this big girl

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I can’t believe that in only 8 months a tiny little squeaker became a sitting, crawling, talking, feeding herself baby!  I’m amazed at how quickly Bitsy Girl grows and gets ever so slightly more independent from us everyday.

I’ve been reading a book called A Year in the Village of Eternity which is about the foods and lifestyle of the people in the small Tuscan village of Capidomele.  Not only has reading this book reminded me of all the homemade, homegrown, and delicious things I grew up on in an immigrant Italian family, but it has inspired me to try to jar my own tomato sauce this year.  I’ve started seeds. 🙂

Well, off to enjoy some ice cream and hang with the Beard.

Wait! You Made This???

I literally hear that every time someone tastes my bread.  Apparently bread is one of those foods that people are terrified to make themselves because they think it will either 1.  be too difficult or 2. take too much time.  I’m going to tell you that, honestly, it’s not that difficult to make a tasty sandwich bread and it doesn’t take too much active time*.

I start with these ingredients:

*(Please take note of my giant bottle of honey and 1 lb bag of dry yeast.  Clearly we are members at Sam’s Club :-D)

First, I put 2 1/2 cups warm water in my mixing bowl and add 1 1/2 tbsp dry yeast.

While the yeast is yeasting, I put 1/2 stick or 4 tbsp of butter in a small pan over medium heat to melt it.

Next I’ll put in the sweeteners.  You’ll notice that I use some blackstrap molasses in my bread.  This ingredient has two purposes:  first, it tastes nice in small quantities, and second, it adds iron to the bread.  I would not suggest using only molasses to sweeten your bread, though; it can have a strong flavor in large amounts.  The recipe I use calls for 1/4 cup honey, so instead I use 1tbsp blackstrap molasses and 3 tbsp honey:

Then I’ll add 2 cups of flour.  Normally I use about half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose flour, but I had used up all of my whole wheat flour before today’s adventure.  So both cups were all-purpose flour.  I also throw in 2 tsp of salt, just for good measure. 🙂

When the butter looks like this:

Then I pour the butter into the mixer bowl and mix with the dough paddle attachment on low until the ingredients come together.  (There may be a few lumps, but that’s ok.  They’ll work themselves out later.)  Your dough will look like this:

Then I add another 2 cups of flour.  Typically I use 1 cup of whole wheat and 1 cup of all-purpose, but again, we’re only using all-purpose in these pictures.  I mixed on low/medium low until that was incorporated:

then add enough flour to make a dough.  This is usually between another 2-3 cups of flour (so total count so far is 6-7 cups of flour.  Your dough will look pretty much like this:

Please notice that the dough is clinging to the mixer blade.  That is the sign that you have enough flour.

I sprinkle about 1/4 cup of flour on the counter and knead the dough on it for 5-10 minutes, then return the dough to the bowl.  I cover it with a damp kitchen towel for 1 hour.

After it has risen, I punch the dough down (yes, that’s literally what it sounds like):

and split the dough in half.  I grease two regular size loaf pans with butter.  I find butter greases the pans better than oil, and once the bread is done baking I am able to turn the pan and have the loaf slide right out.

Working with one half of the dough at a time, I flatten (or you could roll) the dough into a rectangle about the size of a regular sheet of notebook paper:

Than I roll the dough into a cylinder, starting with the shorter edge.

I pinch the edge of this roll closed, and then fold the ends of it underneath the dough itself and pinch that.  (The pinch helps the dough to form a solid loaf and not have random appendages.)

(

(Dough rolled up)

(Ends pinched to center)

I repeat this process with the other half of the dough.

I then cover my loaves back up with the damp kitchen towel and leave them for half an hour.

My risen loaves looked like this:

I bake my bread for 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  And it comes out looking like this:

This bread is really tasty!  It’s soft, sliceable and great for sandwiches or toast.  Here’s the full recipe:

Sandwich Bread

6-7 cups of flour

2 1/2 cups warm water

1 1/2 tbsp yeast

2 1/2 tsp salt

1/4 honey/sweetener

1/2 stick/4 tbsp butter

Mix water and yeast in mixer bowl.  Melt butter.  Add honey/sweetener, salt, butter, and 2 cups of flour to mixer bowl.  Mix on low until combined.  Add 2 cups of flour and mix until combined.  Add the rest of flour and mix until dough comes together.  Turn dough out onto counter and knead for 5-10 minutes.  Put dough back in bowl and cover with a moist kitchen towel for 1 hour.  Punch down dough and separate into two pieces.  Grease two loaf pans.  Form a loaf out of each half of the dough by flattening out rectangles and rolling them up and pinching the edges and folding in the ends.  Cover loaves again with moist towel and let rise for 30 minutes. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Enjoy!

Tomorrow’s adventure:  Some talk about things I’ve learned that breastfeeding does to your body.