Sep 28, 2009

Don't You Just Love a Great Deal?

When it comes to shopping, especially for big ticket items, I am compulsive about researching the product and finding the absolute best price. I have recently been introduced to a new website that will shave hours (yes I said hours!) off my online shopping experience.

As stated on their website: "Fresh Deals is a refreshing new way for shoppers to find and share the latest online deals." This site has the potential to revolutionize the way we shop online. You can comparison shop for the Freshest Deal by either entering a search term or browsing by category. On the home page there is also a "Freshest Deal" widget that highlights the best deals they've found and how much longer it will be offered.

But wait, there's more! Fresh Deals also has a Q&A section where you can ask other shoppers for their thoughts on a particular product or get a recommendation. This site is also harnessing the power of social media by creating a Facebook connection application that allows you to share your fresh finds with your friends.

I recently used this site to find the best deal on a new travel bed for my youngest. I had already done the product research and knew what I wanted. All I had to do was enter the name of the product and the first link was to the price comparison for 15 stores. I then did a quick web search for a coupon code for the lowest price store (happened to find a $10 off coupon) then had myself a new travel crib for several dollars below the lowest price!

This site is just getting started, so there is not a huge Q&A section yet. I'm sure once people find out about this site it will be a fabulous resource that will save you hours of price/review hunting.

If you don't find what you want on their site there is also an offering of sponsored links above and below the search results that may have what you are looking for.

Happy Shopping :)

Sep 27, 2009

Cloth Diaper Making Trial 2

Over the past two days, I made my second one-size cloth diaper. In the redesign I changed the area between the legs and across the bum to be a little narrower and extended the soaker a bit so it would extend the full length of the diaper on the largest setting. I also changed the snap locations so the material would gather at the leg openings instead of folding like it had been. My close up pictures ended up being fuzzy so I'll have to take new ones once the diaper is clean. As per usual, Logan pooped in it almost immediately after it was put on, so I won't know for a day or two if this diaper has the same leak issues my first diaper had. I decided to take a few pictures with the diaper at it's smallest and largest settings with a couple of fluffy models. A newborn would have a very fluffy butt, but it would at least fit (I think!) So, without further ado...
The models
The smallest setting
The largest setting
The inside
Testing it out
Nice diaper Mom! Now, I have to make sure it really works...(grunt)

Sep 25, 2009

Eco-Friendly Friday

As many of you know, cancer has become a more prevalent part of our lives. There are many factors leading to this; some natural, some not so natural. We need to be vigilant and mindful in our daily lives to the potential dangers around us. One danger that I have wrongly associated with only industrial exposure is asbestos. I have recently been introduced to the Mesothelioma and Asbestos Center website. Mesothelioma is the most publicized cancer (both benign and malignant) associated with asbestos exposure.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that occurs as bundles of fibers. These fibers are mined for a variety of applications; studies estimate there are approximately 3,000 types of products that include asbestos (MAACenter).

Scanning electron micrograph of asbestiform amphibole from a former vermiculite mining site near Libby, Montana. Source: U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 8, Denver, Colorado (

I have known for many years that asbestos is dangerous and that care had to be taken when demolishing older structures. I thought, as I’m sure many of you do, that asbestos had been outright banned due to the dangers. This turns out to only be partially true (statement that follows is from MAACenter.)

Contrary to what many people believe, asbestos is not and has never been banned in the United States. In 1976, Congress passed a law to regulate toxic substances (known as the Toxic Substances Control Act) but a total ban was not suggested. In 1989, the Environmental Protection Agency finalized regulations to ban asbestos under the aforementioned act, but two years later, a New Orleans circuit court of appeal overturned the regulation. The result was that new uses of the dangerous mineral were banned but old ones remained.

Many other industrialized nations have banned asbestos including the European Union and a handful of other countries, such as Chile, Croatia, Australia, Argentina, and Saudi Arabia. Several countries, especially those who continue to make money from the mining of asbestos, consistently fight against asbestos bans.

A few current U.S. senators, with the assistance of asbestos watchdog groups, hope to encourage the government to reconsider a ban on all asbestos products. A new bill, called the "Ban Asbestos in America Act of 2007" (S.742), was introduced by Senator Patty Murray on March 1, 2007.

You can find a list of products that could potentially contain or have previously contained asbestos here. I have gone through and have listed the most surprising:
  • Baby Powder (asbestos like fibers are found naturally along with Talc)

  • Cork Board

  • Duct Tape

  • Fertilizer

  • Vinyl Wallpaper

  • Hair Dryers

If you are interested in learning more about asbestos or mesothelioma I would suggest you check out the following resources in addition to the MAACenter:
The American Cancer Society
Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry
Nation Institutes of Health MedlinePlus
EPA FAQ about Asbestos in Schools

Sep 23, 2009

Cloth Diapers mentioned on TV!

I happened to be flipping channels yesterday and happened upon the Tyra Show. She was doing an episode on first time mom's and the things people don't tell you. One woman asked about the dreaded "blowout" and ways to stop it. The panelist answering informed her that it was usually do to an improper fit on a diaper. She went on to say that cloth diapers were good at preventing these because they tend to fit better! Then Tyra jumped in with the "green factor" of the reusable diaper. Can up believe it? The Tyra Banks Show advocating cloth diapers!

Wordless Wednesday

Sep 21, 2009

I'm Back!

Don't worry, I didn't fall of the face of the earth! I was never really gone, just very busy. My mother came to see the boys (and my husband and I she claims, though I know better!) and my husband just turned the big 3-0. So I've spent most of my time enjoying the company of my mother and spoiling my husband. In so doing I neglected my blog, though I do have several topics I'm working on for this week.
My mother is always good for teaching my children some new habit while she is here. This time she taught my youngest how to clap and yell "Yea" and to walk (the walking was really just a coincidence, but I'll try to blame her anyway!)
Here are a few shots from making the birthday cake for my hubby with my oldest. He loves to help me bake! I would normally make the cake from scratch, but I opted for a box mix this time. I did make the frosting from scratch, the can stuff just doesn't taste right! I failed to get a pic of the final product, but I assure you that it looked and tasted yummy!

Sep 17, 2009

Table Food Baby Food

Now that our little Logan is 9 months old (which I can't believe!) we are moving from baby food and onto table food. He seems to be quite happy with this shift, as he screams at us if we are eating and he is not. We still puree or grind up most of his food, but are making it thicker and more textured as we go. Here are some sample meals that he enjoys:

  • Banana and Toast strips
  • Cooked rolled oats mixed with fruit (banana, apple, pear, or peach are the usual)
  • Pancake with blueberries and apple sauce mix

Lunch - I tend to use pre-made veggie and fruit puree cubes as quick lunches, just thaw and serve

  • Sweet potato and peas
  • Carrot, Parsnip and apple sauce
  • Sweet potato and green beans
  • Carrot, leek, and potato (sweet or white)
  • Potato, cauliflower, and peas

Dinner - A pureed version of our normal meal (everyone in the family eats the same food)

  • Shepherd's Pie
  • Chicken, sweet potato and grapes
  • Hungarian Goulash, peas and noodles
  • Chicken, corn and green beans

He has loved all of our dinners, screeching if we don't feed them to him fast enough! He's done very well with the spices added to these meals (I just leave out the very hot spices in his). We had done jarred baby food with my older son, and he would not eat the normal versions when we stopped the jarred food. I am hoping that he will continue to love all these meals and not baulk at them when he gets the full un-pureed versions in front of him.

Sep 11, 2009

Eco-Friendly Friday

We, in America (and I'm sure in some other countries as well), are a disposable nation. So, what are some ways for us to take advantage of the reduce part of the recycling triangle (and save money while we're at it)?

  1. Use cloth napkins. Even just using one less napkin a day works out to saving one package of napkins from the landfill.

  2. Use cloth hankies. I found a package very cheap at a discount store, great for those who have ever running noses (like little kids) or sneezing fits every so often. This could save at least a box of tissues (if not more!) from a landfill.

  3. Use a dish cloth to wipe up spills around the house. I will admit that I don't do this yet, we had bought a giant bag of paper towels at the beginning of the year from one of those bulk item shopper clubs. I know when I do start this, I will save myself at least 3 rolls of paper towels a year (probably a lot more!)

I'll have more tips to come next week!

(Image courtesy of

Sep 8, 2009

My Homemade Diaper Review

The diaper was finished and has been worn and washed several times now. I feel I have a pretty good idea about the good and bad points of this diaper. It is super cute on and pretty trim - fit is very much like a disposable. I love the wider elastic at the back and the fuzzy bamboo fleece lining. Poop just falls off this diaper and does not stain. The hook and loop closure is convenient for our wiggly baby, who is very impatient at diaper changes these days. I might make the next diaper a snap closure though - as the hook part is a little rough at the edges.
I would call this diaper "full coverage," as I made the back a little too wide. You can see in the picture above that there is a puff at the back of the thigh from the extra material. I have also been having a wicking issue at the legs. I believe that I did not make the leg elastic tight enough, so I'm not getting a good seal. Perhaps this diaper will be good when he is a little older and fits the leg openings better.
I don't think it's a bad diaper for my first attempt. I will modify my pattern and try again once I get some more PUL. I would really love to be able to make a fantastic diaper, but I know it will take a few prototypes to get it right.

I'm also going to venture into the world of wet bags as I am frustrated with mine, and don't see anything better on the market. I have a front load washer, and it is very difficult to get the soiled diapers out of the bag seeing how you can't just turn it upside down. So, I am designing a "front loader friendly" wet bag.

We'll see how it all works out, stay tuned!

Sep 7, 2009

Labor Day 2009

Today is traditionally a day of rest in the United States. A day for workers to enjoy the end of the summer. One of my favorite activities for labor day is the family barbecue. We actually grilled last night, under threat of rain - though did not see more than a sprinkle. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner of BBQ chicken, stuffed bacon wrapped jalapenos, fresh sweet corn on the cob and roasted asparagus. Even the kids enjoyed the meal (minus the jalapeno!) with Logan wolfing down a pureed version of the feast.

The chicken was done by pounding three chicken breasts with a mallet until there were an even thickness. Seasoned with salt and pepper then grilled until cooked through. Then they were coated with BBQ sauce on both sides and and grilled until the sauce started to brown and get crispy in places.

The jalapenos were sliced in half and the seeds and ribs scrapped out (you might want to wear gloves - hubby didn't and ended up having his hands burn). They were then filled with a cream cheese spiced with Armadillo Rub (Texas steak rub - basically paprika, garlic, onion, and various pepper powders mixed together). The peppers were then reassembled, wrapped with bacon and secured with a toothpick (make sure you soak the toothpicks so they don't burn on the grill!). Grill until the bacon is crispy and the pepper is soften and slightly charred on the outside.

The asparagus was done one of my favorite ways. Wash the asparagus then pat them dry. Snap or cut the woody ends off, then peel the outer skin off the bottom section. If your cooking with kids you could have then help with the snapping of the stems (Aidan was too busy playing Wii to want to cook with me!) Toss in olive oil, salt and pepper. I actually cooked mine in my Foreman Grill but you can do them under the broiler or in a vegetable basket on the grill. Cook until bright green and softened.

The corn was done simply by boiling for about 6 min in a lightly sugar seasoned water. Another good place for kiddos to help is with the shucking of the corn - though you might want to check them over for silk strands if your dealing with young kids.

We are using this day to get caught up on some of our household projects. This morning I finished planting a small garden we added to the side of the house and my husband is outside currently moving a few plants around in our front garden and mulching. I am hoping to get started on building our compost bin this afternoon - a segment a will photo blog and share with all of you!

Well, I am off to labor on this labor day. I hope you enjoy your Labor Day festivities (or rest as you should!)

Sep 4, 2009

Eco-Friendly Friday

Every catalog I receive with kids toys has a kitchen set and little plastic or cardboard "food." Kids love playing with this stuff because it helps them model their world, to experience grocery shopping and cooking - things they see their parents and other adults doing all the time. So here is my (borrowed) super duper idea: Instead of compacting and recycling your empty food containers clean and reuse them for your kids to play with!

Empty cereal box? Make sure there are no crumbs in the bottom, close and tape it shut. I wouldn't suggest the cans unless you use a safety can opener that breaks the seal to there are no sharp edges - though I find it hard to get the lid back on. They could use the plastic strawberry containers and put blocks in to represent the fruit. Give them some pots and pans and wooden spoons to "cook" with. You could also give them an old shirt or jacket that would have been in the rag bag to use as a chef coat!

You don't need a fancy kitchen set for them to use imaginative play, a table, chair, even the couch can become the stove or table. My son even turns his puzzle holder into a restaurant counter where he asks what we would like for breakfast then turns around and makes it - representing the food with his puzzle pieces and blocks.

Kids don't need fancy toys to explore their world. All they need are some household items and their imagination!

What creative ways do your kids reuse items that otherwise would have been destine for the trash?

Sep 2, 2009

It's Done! (mostly)

Well, here it first ever homemade diaper. It's a quick-dry one size (I hope) all-in-one (AIO). All I have left to do is add the snaps for the rise adjustment.

Now to get the groceries so we can eat!

Wordless Wednesday

This picture needs a little explanation. Those are my supplies (minus the snap press and snaps) that I purchased to make my own diapers. I am super excited! I have the pattern for the shell designed and I am going to be designing the pattern for the soaker once I finish this post. Who knows, I might be able to post a picture of a finished diaper this afternoon!

Well, I'm off to have fun with my sewing machine...

Sep 1, 2009

When is it time to give up?

I have been breastfeeding my son for almost 9 months. When he was two months old I had to return to work and pumped when I was able. I was a teacher - not exactly easy to take a 15 min break to pump! I was only able to pump during my off period and after school. Not the best arrangement, but I managed to keep up with most of his demand.

After a few months he needed to be supplemented with formula more and more. I now feed him as often as I can during the day, but I still have to supplement him with one or two 6 oz bottles of formula. To add insult to injury my body is not responding to the pump very well anymore. Sites like La Leche League or Kellymom suggest pumping in between feedings to increase supply and gradually reducing the supplement (by ~1 oz every few days). I tried this tactic for a few days but found it too difficult with the two boys getting into trouble while I was attached to the pump for 10-15 min.

I love breastfeeding but I wonder when its time to stop. It's hard for me emotionally when Logan pulls off the breast and cries because he's still hungry. I feel like I'm failing him - my body is failing him. When does the stress of trying to maintain my supply (or increase it) negate the benefits?

I know that some would say (including myself on "up" days) that every drop of breast milk helps and counts for something. I wonder if all of my stress and challenge of trying to increase it is actually working against me. I want to, in my heart, continue breastfeeding until he is 1 year old. If it was a perfect world, I would also have him off the formula for that time.

What's your take on the subject? Is it worth the challenge or should I just give up? Should I be happy where I am with giving him 2 bottles a day? When is the "right" time to stop breastfeeding? I'd love to hear what you have to say!