The Great Cloth Diaper Change

April 23rd – the day that at least 6,363 (and counting) diapers did not go to the landfill.  (Technically double that because you can count the one you took off and the one you put on…)

The Knoxville Chapter of the Holistic Moms Network put the event together for all the cloth-bootied babies in our area at Caswell Park downtown – there were about eighty folks who turned out to go down in the record books and we were three of them. At 12:30pm on the dot the officials from Guinness Book of World Records counted us down – I was curious whether the record was really diaper changing or the most crying babies in a city park at one time. Either way it was successful.

They took a before and after photo in order to prove that we in fact put our kids into a cloth diaper. The judges cruised around checking out our diapers to make sure they qualified – I am proud to note that we were one of very few who use the “old school” prefolds and covers. Very proud – even more so when we were in the top five to finish. Yeah, I’m that good.

BEFORE (far right corner, teal cover & Noles hat)
AFTER (middle right, tallest baby in the group)

Because we could only have one changer in the allotted area, Chris was able to film the event and my mad diaper changing skills. It is hysterical (and slightly embarrassing) to me how competitive I felt changing my kid’s diaper – I think I need a competitive outlet. But I am also fairly certain that I wasn’t alone in my cut-throat attitude:

It’s fun to say that we were a part of a Guinness World Record – and fun to see and read about all the folks around the world rediscovering the simplicity of cloth diapering. It gives me hope for a better tomorrow for our earth and our kids.

Random side story: After the event we went and grabbed lunch and headed over to Concord Park for Chris to ride the trails there – daddy has to have his fun, too. Noah and I played under a shade tree – reading books, vrooming trucks in the dirt, chasing bugs. I was rummaging through the goody bag we received at the event and found a cookie, specifically a Milkin’ Cookies chocolate chip. Cookies are not a regular item in Noah’s diet, however, it was a beautiful day outside and Noah had been playing so hard that I thought he deserved a yummy treat. He sat down next to me and devoured that cookie so fast – chocalatey little fingers and smudges all over his face. It wasn’t until I got home and rummaged a little more that I found the business card that goes with the cookie…

Any guesses as to the nature of the cookie?

Wait for it…

To increase milk supply in nursing mothers.

Whoops.

Always a good idea to read the labels – lucky for me (and more importantly Noah) the label also indicated that the maker of the cookies feeds them to her husband and kiddos because they are full of tasty goodness.

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Natural-Cut

…because I would hate for a potato to have been unnaturally cut.

What does that even mean – Inhumanely? In awkward shapes? Backwards? With a butter knife?

image from wendy’s website.

 

And from whole Russet potatoes? Golly, mister, I thought you might only use half…

Oh, Dave Thomas, you are so sneaky. And smart. But mostly sneaky.

If you remember back to the post about the Made in China Challenge (by the way, have you been shocked by the items in your house that traveled round the world?) I mentioned looking out for certain verbiage that is supposed to knock you off your feet and turn your heart on to this “new” product. This is one of those times. I will say that I have eaten my fair share of french fries from Wendy’s (not my proudest accomplishment) before the “Natural-Cut” came onto the scene, and remarkably I find it hard to tell a difference.

I can say with 98% certainty that there is not an employee at each and every Wendy’s cutting potatoes by the bushels for the thousands upon thousands of fries each store sells each day – that poor soul would surely hate potatoes by the end of the day. More than likely those whole potatoes are going down a conveyor belt somewhere, being chopped by a large machine, and packed into boxes to be frozen until served.

At least we know the fries are from real potatoes, not some crazy starchy substitute – and they are cut fair and square. And I will likely continue to consume them from time to time… but only because I like them.

You don’t fool me, Dave…

Green Clean Inspiration

You don’t need much more than the following video to a) clean your floors and b) clean your floors with earth and baby-friendly products. Recipe to follow the a-muse-ing video:

(I do not currently possess the brain power or time to figure out how to get the video to show up here, so you will have to click the link below.)

http://www.facebook.com/v/10100481613010513

I consulted my handy Make Your Place (affordable, sustainable, nesting skills) and got to work concocting this:

Lemon Floor Cleaner

1 cup liquid castile soap (I used Dr. Bronner’s)

1/4 cup lemon juice

1o drops tea tree essential oil

6 cups warm water

* Mix it all up and store in a plastic jug. To use, pour enough soap to cover the bottom of your mop bucket, add hot water, and get to scrubbin’.

Your home will smell delicious in no time.

And you could even eat off your floor when you’re done.

Scrub-a-Tub-Tub

I mentioned “green cleaning” a few days ago, have had a couple of folks quest for more information, and thought I would share a wonderfully earth+kid-friendly Tub Scrub recipe. I wish I could take credit for it, but alas, there are many and much wiser women who have gone before me and laid down a sudsy trail to follow.

Small but mighty, move over chickens, it’s time to talk about green cleaning.

 

This particular recipe comes from “make your place: affordable, sustainable nesting skills”:

Soft Scrub

1 cup baking soda
3-5 drops tea tree oil
1/4 cup liquid castile (Dr. Bronner’s is what I used)
2 aspirins
Mix all ingredients together & add enough water to make a paste. Keep in shampoo bottle. To use, apply with a sponge, scrub, & rinse thoroughly.

There is nothing I dread more than cleaning, especially the bathroom. As soon as I got this stuff concocted- and how convenient, it’s made of things I had readily available – I scurried to the bathtub and got to scrubbing. Our shower has never sparkled so brightly or smelled so fresh – mmm!  Chris couldn’t let me have all the fun so he joined in and cleaned the sink. Party in the potty!

I won’t vow to fall in love with cleaning, but it is immensely satisfying to have a clean home achieved with non-toxic cleaners. Good for me, good for you, good for little people.

If you’d rather leave the science lab to the professionals, Mrs. Meyer’s is definitely the way to go. We’ve been using her stuff since we lived in the midwest and we’ve brought her along our journey every step of the way – maybe even converted a few folks in the meantime.

Now, if I could only figure out how to convince Mrs. Meyer to come to my house…

Made in China Challenge

Made in the USA = Awesome

Made with sustainable resources and practices = Phenomenal

Made locally = Homesteading happiness

All of the above together in one product = Stand back so you don’t get hurt and enjoy the celebratory dancing- or join in, whichever you choose is fine by me.

As a young homesteader of a budding brood I have made it one of my life missions to tread lightly, show love and respect to the world around me, learn ways to reduce our impact inside and out, and spread the good word – and if I had a report card I think it would say: Above Average – Needs improvement in certain areas, but overall steady progress.

My main motivation? My child . It is him and his little comrades who will inherit the earth one day – whatever I do to it, they have to deal with. And I may not pass on much in the way of money or riches, but I want him to have and learn something he can be proud of – proud to frolic barefoot on, proud to produce rich harvests in, proud to eventually pass on to his wee ones.

Back to the original purpose of this post.

As a family, we have made the conscious decision and goal to remove  products from our purchases that do not reflect our values and beliefs of our land and resources. Simply put – if the process or materials used to make said product have been acquired irresponsibly or inhumanely (including the labor), we no longer bring it into our home. Even more simply put – we try our best not to shop at a particular big box store that rhymes with MalWart (isn’t that an interesting twist of letters?).

So how is it possible to know the innards of everything we consume? Well, it’s not. We have to do our research, trust the manufacturer’s label and mission, and hope that they aren’t misleading us intentionally.

A few things to watch for on labels to help make a decision:

  • Made in China – Just put it back and walk away. You probably don’t even want to know.
  • Animal Testing – It likely contains something historically harmful to some degree if it’s being tested in the first place.
  • Organic – Obviously an overall good choice, but check to see the country of origin. Just because it’s “organic” doesn’t mean it didn’t travel 674,587 miles to your store. On average in America, food travels 2,000+ miles to your plate. There may be a more viable, closer to home option you weren’t aware of that chooses not to slap “organic” on the label – and you’d be supporting local economy.
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup – Processed. Processed. Processed. Your arteries will thank you later.
  • Natural – The definition of this word varies. Keep reading the small print to make sure your definition matches with theirs. This one is a lot like “organic” – it might be good in theory, but there may be a better option.

I am not suggesting (and we are not doing) that everyone should throw out the products in their homes that reflect these things – that would be silly and wasteful. Making an effort to reduce your consumerism from this point on is an all around sigh of relief for mother nature.

I read somewhere that there aren’t just three “R’s”, instead there are five – Reconsider and Refuse. Check the label and ask yourself if you really need it – if you do, check for local/sustainable options – if you don’t, leave it on the shelf. Every purchase you make is a vote of what you expect and demand from suppliers.

A few things to try instead:

  • Make it yourself – cleaning products, clothing, accessories, compost, food, etc.
  • Try out your local Farmers’ Market or Community Supported Agriculture farms – they typically have way more than just food – clothing, art, jewelry, candles, soaps, music, etc.
  • Check out Etsy – this place is overflowing with handmade goodness.
  • Research – find out what’s close to you and your home and get involved.
  • Take a class – educate yourself. Knowledge is (em)power.
  • Visit your local natural foods store. EarthFare has freebies all the time and a program where you can swap out all of your not-so-healthy products for more wholesome choices for free.

I will be the first to say that these healthier options are sometimes more cumbersome to find and not always the most affordable – and it is challenging at times to put forth the extra effort or fork over the extra cash. If this is your conundrum, don’t beat yourself up over it. Make the choice the reflects your family’s needs the most and go with it. Sometimes you realize that you don’t really need that fourth bag of potato chips – organic or not – and now you are a few bucks richer. Save that few bucks for next time when you splurge on the locally-farmed honey. It’s all about balance and good choices…

So here’s the challenge: For the next month, starting February 1 (shortest month, aren’t I a gem?) “reconsider and refuse” anything that doesn’t reflect your family’s needs, values, and beliefs. Look for a more sustainable or local option and give it a try, you may be pleasantly surprised. Let me know how it goes – leave a comment detailing your surprises, shocks, or realizations – there may be something in it for you.

Bonus challenge: Count the number of items in the smallest room in your house (for us, the bathroom) that are made in China. I got to the double digits, discouraged, and quit when I saw that Noah’s rubber ducks were MIC. Bummer. Leave the number and most shocking MIC item in a comment – there may be something in it for you.

Stay tuned for details on the “somethings in it for you”…

 

 

Rocking in the CSA

Noah is jazzed about the upcoming party in his belly…

You would be, too, if your family just became proud owners of a small share in the Colvin Family Farm’s CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) for the 2011 harvest season (May-October)!

There were several options, surprisingly, in the 100-mile radius of our bustling metropolis. I researched most of them from what I could find – they are farmers, not internet gurus – and there was something about this simple family (if you can count having thirteen children as simple) that I was drawn to, that I could relate to (give or take twelve children), that I could appreciate.

A few things that I deemed important that set them apart:

  • More convenient pick-up location – about thirty-five miles rather than sixty.
  • Maw Colvin provides recipes for the goods in the box each week – now I will know what to do with three pounds of parsnip and arugula.
  • All of the children are an integral part of their family business. We eat well because of them, they eat well because of families like us. It’s a win-win.
  • The farm hosts various events where their CSA members can come out to the farm, meet them, feel the dirt under our boots, put a face and a handshake to a name, take hold of a unique situation and nurture the relationship of farmer-locavore.

With our cow being ready sometime this month, the CSA, Farmer Joe down the road, fresh breads made at home, the chickens, & our non-chemical cleaning supplies – our monthly grocery bill will be cut in half by our projections. Sure, there are start-up costs and care for the birds, upfront payments for both the cow & farm, and bulk orders for various herbs and plants – but the improvement in our family’s health and lifestyle and the relief – though small it may seem – on the earth’s resources is worth every penny, whether it’s more or less pennies in the long run. Though the beauty and reality is that we have more pennies at the end of the day to put toward other things. Good things. Good people doing good things.

So…between now and harvest season my plan is to collect recipes, stock up on canning supplies, find a second-hand pressure cooker, start seeds for our garden, build our chicken coop, and make new friends to invite over to share in our bounty. Here is your official invitation, friends, to join us for a meal this summer/fall – just give me a day’s warning and bring your favorite dessert.

If you are interested in finding a CSA in your area, please visit Local Harvest. You will find information there about CSA, farmers’ markets, local produce, and a host of resources to help navigate your decision.

Local agriculture – it’s the new black.

De-NO-derant

Remember the revelation of this little gem:

Look into my crystal ball...

Well, she’s still going strong after almost a year of fighting off armpit funk and odiferous aromas. I’ve been loyal and true to my crystal ball through weddings, camp days, skiing, holidays, the hot Florida sun, FSU football (that always makes me sweat), and even Dollywood – that is until yesterday.

Enter Arrid Dry.

I was desperate. Chris had already diligently packed the car to resemble that of a Jenga Game Gone Wild and I wasn’t about to ask him to go digging for my little gem. So, I did what anyone fearful of odorously offending anyone in a five foot radius and slathered on some of the perfumey goop – it felt so wrong in so many ways.

So wrong I haven’t even showered today – but that could have more to do with the pilot light going out on our hot water heater.

And rather than having a little bit of “ode de natural” I have day old flowery stink.

Gross.