14. Fresh Air

Today, I am thankful for nature. Outdoors. Fresh air. The simple things.

I took my students on a field trip to a local nature station. It is my favorite field trip of the year! It’s a calm, quiet, peaceful one. It is such a great experience for both the students and the adults who attend. The moms who chaperoned had a great time and couldn’t believe how much they learned! The students were enthralled with things other than televisions, cell phones, and video games. They became familiar with various trees and plants and other living creatures. They learned new words like biodiversity, escarpment, and non-renewable. They identified poison ivy, fungi, and soft-shell turtles. And many of them held a snake for the first time in their lives!

I love seeing the innocence return to my students’ faces when they see these “simple” life pleasures, really see them, for the very first time! I also love the renewed sense of minimalism I get when I visit the park. I always walk away reevaluating the needs and wants in my life, thinking of more ways to live simpler! It reminds me what a wasteful society we are and how we all need to play a bigger part in helping to save our earth, reducing the waste that we make by reusing things that we are so quick to throw away and recycling what we can.

Since visiting the nature station last year, I have made so many changes in my life! Visiting today made me realize that there are still so many things that I can change!

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Day 27: Cup O’ What?!?

*Warning: Not for the weary or faint of heart! Men, turn away now! Trust me!

So, the vast majority are going to read this and think one (or more) of the following:
1. You are disgusting!
2. I could never!!
3. Is she really blogging about this?
4. How embarrassing!
5. I will never look at you the same!

And, guess what! If I cared about any of those things, I wouldn’t risk blogging on this topic.

Before I go any further, I will warn you that if the words period, menstrual, tampons, or bleeding make you blush or make you queasy, then you should probably stop reading now!

Ok, so here goes! About four months ago, I read a conversation in one of my Facebook “mom” groups about something called a menstrual cup. At first, I was appalled! I couldn’t believe that something like that actually existed, and furthermore, I couldn’t believe that so many women actually used one! Then, when my favorite mom/baby/natural store Angel Britches (in Baton Rouge in the Mall of Louisiana) advertised their menstrual cups on sale, I decided to give it a shot!!

What is a menstrual cup, you ask? Well, it’s a chemical-free, reusable alternative to tampons! It is used in much the same way as a tampon, except you don’t throw it away!

So, I am sure the “how disgusting”s are starting right about now! Well, let me tell you a few facts:

1. It’s not nearly as disgusting as you are thinking! In the 3 months that I’ve been using the cup, I have never gotten blood on my hands!
2. The cup “collects” monthly fluids, whereas tampons absorb them. However, along with your monthly fluids, tampons also absorb everything else down there that shouldn’t be absorbed, screwing up your natural pH and all that good stuff! 😉
3. I have not had menstrual cramps since I started using the cup! Because tampons absorb instead of collect, they draw out fluids faster than necessary, causing excess cramping!
4. Cups don’t contain any chemicals or fibers that can lead to bacteria growth or infection!
5. Cups are reusable and do not contribute to the massive waste problem we have in this country!
6. TMI Warning: When using tampons, I would have to change an Ultra Tampax Pearl tampon (larger than a Super Plus) every single hour for the two heaviest days of my cycle! With the cup, I can go 12+ hours throughout my cycle with the exception of my heaviest day. On that day, I only change every 6 hours!
7. With the cup, there’s no need to hide tampons in your pockets or carry your purse with you to the bathroom!
8. With a one-time cost of about $30, you can save mega bucks! I was spending nearly $30 per MONTH buying tampons!

So, there you go! All pros and no cons! What are you waiting for?? You should totally try it! I promise you’ll be hooked!

There are several brands out there. The brand I use is the Moon Cup, and I highly recommend it! The Diva Cup is also a very popular brand that I have heard good things about! You can order online or find a local retailer near you!

Day 25: Cloth Diapers

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It’s hard to believe that it’s been 10 months since I started cloth diapering William! Never in my life did I imagine that I would use cloth diapers on my baby! My, how I have changed since having my first almost five years ago! I would never have even dreamed of using cloth with Cecilia! Heck! I threw away pooped in panties when she was potty-training! I’m not sure what exactly triggered the change in me, but I am grateful for it everyday!

So, why use cloth??

Cost:
Did you know that it can cost anywhere from $2,000-$3,000 to diaper a baby from birth until potty training?? Yet, it is possible to spend only $100-$300 on cloth diapers and accessories that can be used throughout a baby’s diaper years, not to mention the extra savings if you use them for more than one child! Also, cloth diapers have an amazing resale value! I just think those figures are so amazing!!

Environment:
Nearly 20 billion diapers are disposed of each year! It can take anywhere from 250-500 years for a disposable diaper to decompose completely! That’s a lot of really old crap!

Health:
Disposable diapers are FULL of chemicals and fragrances! Cloth, of course, isn’t! Babies who wear cloth diapers are much less likely to get diaper rashes than those who wear disposables! William hasn’t had a diaper rash in 10 months!

Cuteness:
Let’s face it! Cloth diapers are just so freaking cute! When I first delved into the world of cloth diapers, I thought those women were crazy when they told me that I’d soon be addicted to buying cloth diapers! Boy, was I wrong! I’m utterly obsessed!

So, if you’ve even been a tiny bit interested in cloth diapers, I highly recommend that you try them out! You won’t be sorry!

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Day 21: At-Home Pedicures

This Saturday, I decided that my sweet girl Cecilia and I needed to have a little girl time. We started off the day by going to lunch and then heading to Target to pick up a few things that we needed, including a new car seat for her. I really wanted to take her for a pedicure, but let’s face it–that is one expensive outing! So, I figured that we would just paint our toes later. Well, I decided that we should do more than just paint our nails! We would try our hand at doing at-home pedicures! I looked up a few tips, and we luckily had all the supplies that we needed! After getting everything together, locking ourselves in the bathroom, and putting on some music, we were all ready to go!

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My little girl was so excited about this! First, we filled the sink with super warm water. Then, we added 1/4 cup of milk (The lactic acid in the milk is supposed to smooth callouses.), some epsom salt, and a couple squirts of baby oil. After taking off all of our old polish, we soaked our tootsies for a while and had some interesting mommy-daughter conversations!

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Next, we used our homemade sugar scrub (1 cup sugar, enough olive oil to moisten all the sugar, and a few drops of Ylang Ylang essential oil to give it a nice smell) and took turns scrubbing each others’ feet until they were nice and smooth! Since we had the sink all nice and oily, we stood in the shower and washed off our feet and legs with some warm water and soap.

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After we were all nice and clean, we buffed our heels a little, filed down our nails, and took turns giving each other foot massages with some lovely foot lotion. This part got a few belly laughs since her feet are quite ticklish!

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Finally, it was polish time! Cecilia wanted something festive, so we decided on candy corn toes!! (It’s not even close to perfect, but she was thrilled, nonetheless!)

And, although I HATE my feet, I will give you a little peek of my finished toes. This is only so that I can show you my absolute favorite polish ever!! It’s called You Don’t Know Jacques by OPI! It is beautiful!!

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So, there you have it! Simple, fun, cheap at-home pedicures!! 

 

Day 14: Unpaper Towels

I haven’t purchased paper towels (or napkins) in about 5 months! This is a HUGE deal for us, as we used to buy the 16-roll package every couple weeks! As I mentioned before, my journey into the world of cloth-diapering forced me to take a step back and really analyze how much we actually wasted on a daily basis. I realized that we used entirely too many napkins (at the table) and paper towels (for everything else). We were just making so much garbage! The first thing we did was to do away with paper napkins. We dug out our linen napkins (and got a few more from my mother-in-law). This was a very easy transition for all of us. The next to go were the huge rolls of paper towels. I had heard of “unpaper towels” and had seen some super cute sets of them. Basically, they are 11×11 or 12×12 squares of cotton with an absorbent backing, such as birdseye or terry. Then, to give a paper-towel effect, they have plastic snaps so that they can snap together and roll up to be placed on a paper towel holder. They can be a bit pricey, with an average of about $3-$4 a towel, so I was super excited when I won a set in a raffle-like contest for about $7 for a roll of 12! They were made by 4 Green Beans! (I later added to my roll an additional 12 in the same fabric from Butt Face Baby that I purchased in a benefit auction!) This transition was a little more difficult for the hubs, as he was the main culprit in the case of the excess paper towel waste! In order to ease the pain, I started buying only one roll of (very cheap) paper towels at a time. But, since the unpaper towels had taken their place on the paper towel roll, the paper towels stayed in the cabinet. Gradually, we all started reaching for the unpaper towels more and more until we just stopped using the paper ones altogether! I have only encountered three situations in which the unpaper towels didn’t cut it. First, nothing absorbs the grease from freshly-cooked bacon like a good ole paper towel. Thankfully, we don’t cook bacon all too often, so this didn’t put much of a damper on our switch. Secondly, Windex and paper towels have always gone hand-in-hand in this house, but we have found a couple towels that we already had that work pretty well as a replacement. And, finally, my dad was pretty disappointed when he came for a visit and learned that I didn’t have paper towels for him to blow his nose! He only uses paper towels, so he was in a bit of a pickle! Now, he just remembers to bring his own when he comes for a visit!

Some people ask, “Why don’t you just use kitchen towels instead of buying unpaper towels?” Well, I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not eat my sandwich on the same thing that I use to wipe up chicken gunk or spilled milk on the floor! We use the kitchen towels for all the messy stuff, and save the unpaper towels for cleaner situations! We have saved lots of money not buying paper towels, and we have also saved a few trees in the process! We love our unpaper towels! They work great, and they look great too!

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Day 9: Wool Dryer Balls

After I began making my own laundry detergent, the only logical thing was to make my dryer routine a more natural one, as well. I had read about wool dryer balls a few times, and I was eager to try them. Once I received the first set of 4 that I ordered, I decided to give my dryer a good clean to rid it of any of the residue left behind from years of dryer sheet use. I wiped it down with vinegar and then dried a vinegar-soaked towel in it for a while. Then, in went the dryer balls! I have since ordered another set and now have 8 total balls bouncing about with each load of laundry that goes through a dry cycle.

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So, what exactly are wool dryer balls, some of you might ask? Wool dryer balls are tennis ball-size balls made of 100% felted wool, which is a sustainable resource (meaning we can’t deplete the supply since it just keeps growing back!!). They are a more natural, reusable, energy-efficient alternative to chemical-laden dryer sheets. They work by bouncing around the dryer and separating the laundry while absorbing moisture in order to reduce drying time, thus conserving energy and saving you money! They work naturally to soften your clothes and reduce the amount of chemicals on the clothes you wear on your skin all day long. Oh! And your towels will become more absorbent than ever!! Why? Because dryer sheets coat your towels with fabric softener, which prevents them from absorbing water. There have been mixed reviews about whether or not they truly reduce static. I have found that, no, my clothes are not always 100% static-free when I take them out of the dryer. However, I have also discovered that the static is more prevalent when I (aka, my sweet hubby) restart the dryer one too many times to “fluff” the load that has been sitting for a while, thus over-drying them. Over-drying absolutely does lead to static cling! So, if the clothes only go through the minimum amount of drying time necessary, I do not have issues with static! Also, after increasing from 4 balls to 8, I noticed quite a decrease in the overall static. So, the more the merrier! If you are interested in trying out wool dryer balls for yourself, you should check out this great video from Dirty Diaper Laundry!

I have become a bit obsessed with these fuzzy little balls, and so has William! He has made a game of jumping into the dryer to try to snag one faster than I can get the dryer door closed! I currently have a set of teal and a set of purple, and I would love to add more. Instead of buying more, though, I think I may try my hand at making my own (one of these days)! 

Day 5: Recyclothes

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I have never been against buying used clothes, I had just never really thought about it much. With Cecilia, I would shop occasionally at a local clothing resell shop called The Clothing Loft (https://www.facebook.com/ClothingLoftLafayette) and would find some really beautiful dresses for great prices. However, as I have been trying to be less wasteful, I have been buying second-hand clothes a lot more. I am a member of a local buy/sell/swap Facebook page, and I have found some amazing deals on gently used clothing and shoes, mostly for William. 

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These are 6 of the 10 or 12 shirts I scored for $9 a few weeks ago!

It has sort of become a game for me to find these great deals! It’s pretty exhilarating when I score something new! I have always been a bargain shopper, especially when it comes to clothes, as I rarely ever pay full-price for any clothes or shoes that I buy, for myself or my kids. Knowing, though, that I am giving these items a new life and getting them at such great prices makes the thrill that much greater!

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I
 may have a bit of a problem, though! These are all for William, but they range in size from 5-7, so he is set for a while. I scored all 16 pairs (in different transactions) for under $50. That’s about $3 per pair!

I know several people are weirded out about using something that someone else has worn, and I probably even felt that way at one time. However, people try on “new” clothes in stores all the time. What do you do? Throw them in the wash! It works the same way with preloved clothes! 

My new “mission”, so to speak, is to find more local second-hand clothing stores that I can actually go to and shop! Let me know if you have any suggestions or tips!

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William doesn’t seem to mind his recyclothes one bit! 😉

 

Day 2: Homemade Laundry Detergent

When I started cloth diapering my son about 9 months ago, my journey into the world of “crunchy” began. Now, I in no way consider myself to be a “crunchy” person, perhaps just a little crispy around the edges. I’ve tried to cut back on a lot of “waste” and have tried to switch to some more natural, less chemical-laden products. (Notice the word some! I am still a work in progress!) If you are a cloth-diapering momma, you know the constant debate on the subject of laundry detergent. Well, for several months, I used Tide original powder, which was already my go-to detergent for all of our laundry, and I loved it. However, after hearing often of moms who made their own detergent, I decided that I wanted to give it a try. I began making my own detergent about 5 months ago, and I have been extremely happy with it. It’s simple, cheap, has less chemicals than most brand-name detergents, and works great!

So, here’s the recipe that I use:

Equal parts Borax, Washing Soda, and Oxy Clean

*Use 1 small scoop (equal to 2 Tbs) per load

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Yep! That’s it! I told you it was simple! I also add a few drops of Ylang Ylang essential oils to each batch for a light, natural scent, but that is completely optional! Up until recently, I would make a large batch and keep it in an old plastic gallon ice-cream bucket. However, a couple weeks ago, my mother-in-law bought me a beautiful glass jar to store it in! It looks so much nicer now sitting on my dryer!

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When I started making my own detergent, I had heard that it was cheaper, but I honestly never really figured it all out. When I decided to include this blog post in my 31-day challenge, however, I decided that I needed to include that information in here. So, I took the time to figure it out for you guys! The average price for a box of Tide (102 loads) is $18. That comes out to about $0.18 per load, and that is ONLY if you fill it to line 1 for every load. A 150-load batch of the homemade detergent can be made for around $16, which brings the per-load price to about $0.11! So, there ya go! It IS cheaper!

I use this recipe for all of my laundry! It took us a little while to get used to our laundry being smell-less. Now, though, when I smell the strong scents of store-bought detergents, it is actually a little nauseating! I never before realized how strong they smelled! 

Not only do I love the fact that there are less chemicals and fragrances in the fabrics that touch my family’s skin 24/7, but knowing that I am the one who makes that happen does make me feel a little like Superwoman! And who doesn’t love that feeling every once in a while?!?!

And, there you have it! Homemade laundry detergent…simply simple!

 

*Please let me know if you decide to try out this laundry detergent recipe and how you like it! Or, if you already make your own detergent, please share your recipe!

 

Camo CD OTB

Camo CD OTB

Well, our venture into the world of CD (aka–cloth diapering) has begun! We (aka–I) are only doing it about 1/2 of the time right now as we build our stash and get used to the concept. The hubs still won’t change any yet, but I think he likes the feel of William’s new fluffy butt anyway! 😉 Hope you enjoy William’s first OTB (on the bum) shots as much as we do!

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Compost Box

Compost Box

Here is the beautiful compost box that the hubby created out of upcycled pallets, chicken wire, and scrap plywood (as the lid, not pictured).

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