Monday, May 27, 2013

Flats & handwashing challenge 2013 day 7(+)- What did we learn?

 The 3rd annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge is over already! This challenge was hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry.  The challenge focused on using flat cloth diapers and handwashing them for one week.  I can't believe how fast it went! Yesterday was the last day, and I washed my last load of diapers this morning. 

 over night flat (2 flats) and thirsties duo size 2 cover
In the past, (I've taken this challenge twice before) I have felt that hand washing was do-able, but hard.  Wringing was hard, I always ended up getting sore arms or blisters from wringing diapers - or a sore back from bending over the tub.  This time I washed in my kitchen sink and oh the difference it made!! I was right in the middle of the action, I could start the diapers washing, and let them soak here and there, while making the kids breakfast, or cleaning, or bugging the kids to get dressed.  I didn't have to go hide away in the bathroom and worry that some one would go for  a swim in the diapers while i let them soak - or that i would forget to actually finish washing.  My diapers seemed to get much cleaner this way (than with previous challenges) 

I thought the challenge would be harder with a younger baby (3.5 mo, vs. 8mo, 20 mo, and 4 yrs) It was harder in that there were more diapers per day but easier because this little guy holds still for diaper changes.  The challenge has gotten easier every year, this year it seemed to take a leap in the direction of helpful, and better than my normal routine.  Hand washing diapers cut down on the amount of time i spent on laundry this week significantly - It also cut hours and hours of running time off my washer and dryer, with a family of 6 and several loads of laundry a day, that really adds up!

I should also add, there are things about my normal diapering routine that are a direct result of past flats & handwashing challenges.  I was already using flats on my new little man while at home.  I donated ALL of my microfiber inserts to a cloth diaper bank before this baby was born.  When I do use pockets, I stuff them with homemade hemp flats or hemp 'prefolds' (2 pieces of hemp sewn together.  Though i am seriously considering switching over to exclusively using flour sac towel flats in my pockets, at least for the summer.  Honestly, I don't know if I'll use many pockets at all.  I prefer them for the diaper bag, but I also have 3 all -in-ones that are nice for the diaper bag, So i might just use those.  I will admit I forgot to pack a wetbag for my flats several times while we were out this week and having a self contained all-in-one is easier in that situation.  Though i would have wanted NO PART of hand washing even those 3 diapers. 

Well, I am trying to get all this out with a sleeping baby on my chest, and i'm already a day late.  I must say that blogging about the challenge every day was SO much harder than actually doing the challenge! time to type, on a computer?! no. my kids (I have 4 - ages 3.5 mo-7yrs) will hardly allow that. I did at least one blog entry from my phone.  So, with that said, I give up.  Not on the challenge, but on blogging every day -- I'm going back to posting recipes so that i can easily remember them and share them with friends.  I'll think about this blogging thing again when i don't have a baby who sleeps on my chest every night. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Meat balls & fudge-pops.. yeah..

yeah,  two things that do not and should not go together - these are just the recipes i need to get down before i forget what I did.. 

 Sorry, no pictures today.. 

(Gluten, Dairy and egg free) Meatballs

3lbs of ground beef (grass fed, if possible)
Italian seasoning & garlic salt to taste
1/4 cup gluten free flour
1 8oz can tomato sauce
2-3 tbs ground flax
1-2 tsp chia seeds 

Combine ingredients (with your hands, meatloaf style) and then roll into balls about an inch across - put on parchment paper on a baking pan (something with sides, so the grease doesn't drip off the pan) - bake at 375 for about 20 mins or until they are cooked, and browned :)  - These freeze well, I put them on a cooling rack (after blotting off the grease) and freeze them and then put them in a gallon ziplock bag 


I've tried a banana based fudge-pop type recipe  - my kids LOVE it, but I HATE bananas .. 

So, for me, I made these

1 cup full fat coconut milk
1/2 box of silken tofu
2 tbs pnut butter
2-3 tablespoons cocoa powder (or to taste)
1 tsp vanilla 
pinch of salt 
1/4 cup sugar (or to taste)

Pour into ice pop molds and freeze :)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Flats Challenge 2013 day 6: not much to say

Today is day 6 of the 3rd annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge! This challenge is hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry.  

I talked at the beginning of the challenge about how not excited I was feeling. Well, I'm still not excited and I'm not overly happy or sad that the challenge is ending! Its just slipped right into my normal routine and life in a way it hasn't in the past - I think washing diapers in the kitchen sink (vs the bathtub) has made a big difference for us! 

As summer comes, I'm excited to line dry more diapers - I just wish I could come up with a good solution to line dry our cloth napkins - we use SO MANY cloth wipes and napkins that it would take forever to hang them up - and it seems silly to line dry flats
and machine dry napkins.  the flats challenge has led to me doing what would be diaper laundry ("napkin laundry") a lot less often - so in theory I could keep hand washing the flats and it would save me several loads of diapers/napkins a week (4-5 loads, to be exact).  Another possibility would be to keep the diaper and wipes in separate wet bags and wash them in different loads since without the diapers I only need to wash napkins once or twice a week. (Diapers need to be washed every 1-2 days ) of course once I figure all this out, it will change as baby grows! 

So, I realize I didn't really say much today, but its an open topic day and I have nothing groundbreaking to say, and I think that is good - this shouldn't be anything special the 3rd time around - flats are simple, you figure them out and you've got them figured out , they don't change much and there are only so many ways to fold them - even if there are more ways, we don't need them! 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Flats Challenge 2013 Day 5: What is working for me, and what isn't working..

Today is day 5 of the 3rd annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge! This challenge is hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry.  This is my 3rd year doing the flats challenge.  The idea is to use flat diapers and handwash them for one week.  Here is why i am doing the challenge and why others are doing it.   

Today I'm talking about what is working for me.... and what is NOT working. 
What's Working?  

over night!!  I can't believe I have an overnight cloth solution that is working!  Now, I'll admit, I haven't tried much on my 3 month old, because nothing has worked for my other kids.  We've had a lot of leaks, rashes, and fussy babies over the years so I am quick to jump to disposables for overnight, because it works.  Now, I did use flats on my 4 year old for a whole year at night (we just recently moved to a pull up style overnight cloth solution, because he needed to be able to get up and pee) Maybe using them on my preschooler made this easier.   So here is what i've been doing

1 oversized cover, in this case, a size 2 thristies duo.  
2 flats, I have tried a combination of flour sac towels and receiving blankets all combinations seem created equal.
1 snappi 
1 fleece liner (optional)

done. special overnight diapers are EXPENSIVE.  I've used the jo-fold and the airplane fold so far, both work great for this.  I pad fold the extra flat and lay in on the other flat when it is still a big flat square so that it is all tucked inside.  

My clothes line. I have a clothes line wrapped around my deck, it is awesome.  

My Little helper(s) .. I have 3 kids eager to help - 7, 5, and 2.5 yr old - with my low clothes line even my 2.5 yr old can hang diapers. 

What is NOT working?

The only thing i find kind of horrible about the challenge is ... Wringing out the diapers and poop stains.  

When i use my washing machine, the (exclusively breastfed) poop comes out, no sunning required.  When i had wash, i just. can't. get rid of it. 

drying indoors - kinda sucks!
There is a solution for both of these - a nice sunny day.  If it is sunny and dry and i'm going to hang diapers outside, problem solved.  The sun takes care of the poop stains and the diapers don't HAVE to be wrung out very well and they will still dry quickly.  

the problem is that not every day is sunny.....  (on the other hand, poop stains don't hurt anything while they wait for sun.. and wringing out diapers is a good arm work out)

look great, just wait til a bird comes along.. 


Oh... and one more issue i'm having this year..  each time i've dried diapers outside I've had a bird or two poop on them... UGH.  When you hand wash flats, you don't want to hand wash them AGAIN to get BIRD POOP off them..   I have NEVER had this issue in the 5+ years I've lived here..   ugh ugh ugh.  Bird poop stains do not come out as easily as baby poop!!! 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Flats Challenge day 4: Washing without the machine

Today is day 4 of the 3rd annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge! This challenge is hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry.  This is my 3rd year doing the flats challenge.  The idea is to use flat diapers and handwash them for one week.  Here is why i am doing the challenge and why others are doing it.  

So, handwashing. It sounds hard, doesn't it?  Time consuming? and handwashing DIAPERS??!  Messy? icky? 

Well, let me tell you.  It REALLY isn't that bad.  It isn't ideal - but it IS 100% do-able. (and I am not the only one saying this!)  Now, I can hear you now.. you're saying something like.. 'she's crazy' ..  or 'I don't have time for that' ... or 'that is too much work'  ..  BUT if you are on a strict budget and its a choice between disposable diapers and food, you are passionate about the environmental impact of disposables, or your baby gets rashes from disposable diapers, flats are a realistic alternative -- so, you don't have a washing machine?  If you have access to water, hand washing flats IS an option.  Flats and handwashing is also a great option for camping, or other vacations.  The wash easily, and dry quickly.  I have hand washed flats in a hotel before, and while visiting family. Can i afford disposables? yes.  My issue with disposables is pretty simple.  I hate poop blow outs while traveling. I hate them. and they ALWAYS happen with a young baby. Always.  I've been there far more times than i can count, scraping poop out of a carseat at a rest stop.  That just does not happen in cloth diapers. 
The reason we say washing flats is easier is because they are one layer of fabric.  Most cloth diapers are multiple layers of fabric sewn together and it is harder to get them clean and they take a long time to dry.  You do have to follow a few simple rules when washing flats.  No fabric softener!!!  Fabric softener makes a greasy built up on fabric and makes it less absorbent - that is bad news for diapers - it can also cause your baby to get a rash.  It is best to use a natural detergent or soap.  I use Charlie's soap. I have also tried Dr. Bronners castile soap on diapers.  If you must have some scent to diapers, experiment with tiny amounts of essential oils. 

Our current wash routine involves s teaspoon or less of Charlie's soap and a similar amount of oxiclean.  A kitchen sink full of diapers, and hot hot water. Followed by 2-3 rinses with cold water. 

 I keep the dirty diapers in a bucket under the sink - soaking in a solution of cold water and a teaspoon or so of borax.

On cool, wet days - we wash indoors.. A fan helps the diapers to dry quickly. 

My 7 year old LOVES washing diapers. (She is standing on a stool)  She also loved using the plunger before it broke. 

Line drying outside is ideal.  You have sun to take out stains and kill any possible remaining bacteria.  Again, I have a wonderful helper! 
This morning i learned a new trick! I filled my wetpail for todays diapers, and used its weight to wring out yesterdays soaking water.  Multi-tasking!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Flats Challenge day 3: folds (and adorable newborn photos)

Today is day 3 of the 3rd annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge! This challenge is hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry.  This is my 3rd year doing the flats challenge.  The idea is to use flat diapers and handwash them for one week. 

 Why Flats? Because they cheap, and easy to wash.  I really like flats, and I always say (well, always since the first flats challenge 2 years ago) that I wish i had known about them when i began my cloth diaper journey. I tried prefolds first, and didn't like the way they fit my then 15 month old -- but if i had tried flats, i could have tried a different fold and they would have worked! Back then, i really didn't want to spend a lot of money on cloth, so i know i would have stuck with it.  (not that i want to spend a lot now... its just so easily justifiable)

So, I tried flats when Bently was just a few days old, they were so bulky, even on this 8lb baby -- they fit ok before his umbilical cord fell off, but they were irritating it and causing bleeding so I used disposables for a few days. Here was our first attempt at flats on a newborn. 
origami fold, 2 days old and about 8lbs

origami fold with thirsties duo cover (2 days, 8lbs)
awwwww.... so tiny!

not a flat. this is a one size fuzzibunz pocket on my adorable tiny 1 week old

origami fold with thirsties duo cover (3 mo, 15ish pounds)

origami fold (same diaper and cover as seen on the newborn above)
 For this challenge, i have learned and been using two new-to-me folds.  The Jo fold, which is incredibly trim.  And the airplane fold, which is amazing for a boy with all sorts of layers up front.

jo fold - flour sac towel
jo fold in cover

airplane fold

 I am lucky to have such a cooperative little guy - it was so much harder the first time around learning to use flats with a squirmy 8 month old! 

That is really all I've got for today, nothing ground breaking, just diapers.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Flats Challenge Day 2: the prep

Today is day 2 of the 3rd annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge! This challenge is hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry.  This is my 3rd year doing the flats challenge.  The idea is to use flat diapers and handwash them for one week. 

So, what did i do to prepare this year? Well..... umm..... not much.  Having done the challenge before, I already had EVERYTHING I could possibly need.  The night before the challenge, all i had to dig out was a 5 gallon bucket and my gloves because I have already been using my flats! Normally, I use pockets while we are out, and flats at home and a disposable at night (because the pockets were leaking). 

So here are my supplies:
Covers... most of them

- One Baby (3 and a half months old)

- One 5 gallon bucket, to use as a wet pail (free, I am using an old cat-litter bucket)

- Several covers, I lost count (my little guy is between sizes so a lot fits him) only one of these covers is new to this baby - about half of them were used for 2 other babies.  All were purchased on sale, used, as seconds, and one was a gift. 

Some of the flats: back to front, Target, Sam's, and Ikea
Cover List:
  • 2 thirsties size small  
  • 2 thirsties duo size 1 
  • 1 thirsties duo size 2 (night time) 
  • 1 econobum 
  • 2 blueberry coveralls 
  • 1 bumpkins cover
  • 1 bummis super brite size small
  • 1 grovia shell 

- 12 target flour sac towels, 30"x30" (purchased 2 years ago for $1 each)
- 9 Sam's Club flour sac towels,  36"x29" (purchased last year for a little less than $1 each)
- 6 Ikea burp cloths 28"x28" (purchased last fall for $1.50 each)
- One pair of hot pink gloves (no idea where these came from)
- fleece liners (for overnight) - were purchased for my 5 yr old
- 2 pairs of boingos - (one pair for last year's challenge, one purchased for this baby, about $4 each pair)
- 2 snappis (purchased at a silent auction for about $1)

Ok, I'll admit, I have enough stuff for twins.  But my baby does go through 12+ flats a day and if he had a poopy day, we'd likely go through several covers.  

I'm not going to add this up because, it doesn't mean anything.  I got everything together for a friend to use flats last summer and I spent about $50.  This is nothing compared to disposables! 

If I lost all my cloth diapers in a disaster or house fire or something - I would replace them with ikea burp cloths, a few flour sac towels (from both sam's and target for size variation). I would probably fill my cover needs with thirsties duo covers - unless I was working in a tight budget and then I would use a combination of a couple thirsties and econobum as back up. -- I would not just replace my flats, I would replace ALL the diapers with flats.  I love my pockets, and hemp and all of that, but the simplicity of flats is very appealing, they also work. 

Jo fold in a Sam's flour sac towel - aka. adorable and functional

Monday, May 20, 2013

Flats Challenge 2013 Day 1: Why take the challenge?

The 3rd annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge starts today! This challenge is hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry.  This is my 3rd year doing the flats challenge.  The idea is to use flat diapers and handwash them for one week.  

So, I'll just admit, I'm just not as excited about the challenge has I have been in the past.  I don't know if the cloth diaper nerd in me is not as strong, or if its that I have 4 kids now and I just don't need any more 'challenges' in my life at this moment.  Whatever the reason, I decided to do the challenge anyway as I'm sure it was not normal to be excited about handwashing old-school cloth diapers anyway.  I'm also not as excited because my favorite part of the challenge is... (drum roll) ... photographing line drying flats.. yup, huge dork here.  Anyway - it is suppose to be cloudy/rainy for most of the week.  Come on, weather, you're taking all of the fun out of this! (and the high humidity is going to make drying more challenging)    

So, why am I doing the challenge this year?  

  •  My 7 year old wants to do it and loves hand washing diapers and I really like that.  It is a good history lesson (life before washing machines, however inaccurate) and also helps her to understand (and us to talk about) how not everyone can afford necessities like diapers. 
  • As much as I'm not in the mood for extra work right now - I am the type of person who likes to be challenged and who also can't handle saying 'I can't.' 
  • As always, I believe in the cause - cloth diapers are more available than people think - they are also a good option for emergencies, if you have a baby you should be prepared to cloth diaper in case of an emergency situation (natural disaster etc.)

I'm sure there are other reasons, but typing with a 15+lb baby on my chest is difficult and I've been working on this post ALL DAY (literally) so, its just time to call it good.
2nd flat of the day! (first was pad folded, so not much to photograph)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

It's that time of year again! FLATS CHALLENGE TIME!

Yipee!! Its party time! I mean, Flats Challenge time

Don't know what i'm talking about?  Well, once upon a time..  Kim at Dirty Diaper Laundry thought it would be a good idea to prove that cloth diapering is within reach for almost anyone.  She asked others to join her and the flats and handwashing challenge was born.  

I am excited to participate for the 3rd year in a row, and this time with my new little man, Bently (3 months).  Once again, I'm going to tell myself that this is my chance to use my blog for something other than a recipe box. [at least for a week or two!]
Little Man, Bently (sporting a flat and cover)

Every day, starting Monday May 20th, I'll be blogging about a different Flats Challenge topic.  I'm going to ease into it this year. (the blogging and the flats)  I have already been using flats on and off along with my other cloth diapers since Little Man was born.. for that matter i've been using flats on and off since the first flats challenge 2 years ago.. but they really are a big part of our diapering routine now.  It isn't going to be a big deal for me to use flats all the time, though handwashing is a completely different issue.. I do an entire load of cloth diapers, wipes, and napkins in my HE front load washing machine almost every single day.  This will be the youngest baby i've ever hand washed diapers for and I am a bit nervous about the quantity of diapers here along with the lack of time in any given day.  I've got a great helper or 2 or 3 (ages 7, 5, and 2.5)  And to throw in a little element of mystery and surprise my regular once a week pooper pooped nearly every day last week.. (maybe my little man got the dates wrong for the challenge?)

So. Here we goooooooo  .. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Yummy chocolate chip cookies (Gluten and Dairy free)

I must find a way to make these without eggs...

  • 1 cup vegan butter substitute
  • 1 cup millet flour
  • 1 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch 
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup raw sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons milk alternative (i used rice milk)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. combine the flours, starch, arrow root, xantham gum, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. In the stand mixer bowl, combine both sugar and melted butter, cream together on medium speed for 1 minute.  Add the whole egg, egg yolk, milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Turn off the mixer and add the chocolate chips and stir to combine.
  4. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
  5. Using a tablespoon, gently roll the dough into balls and place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until slightly golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and cool the cookies on the pans for 2 minutes. Move the cookies to a wire rack by pulling the parchment paper off the pan, for best results cool completely on the parchment paper.