Saturday, July 31, 2010

DIY Applesauce

Applesauce is one of those foods that almost every toddler loves.  My son is no exception.  To save a little money and avoid some preservatives and additives, I make Nate's applesauce.  It's super easy and can be done during nap time.  And let me tell you, it's so good that I even have a bite or two.
Step 1:  Wash 5-6 of your favorite apples.  These are washington apples that my sister-in-law accidentally left at my house during her visit.  Thanks Sarah!
Step 2:  Peel the apples, cut them into wedges, and then into chunks.  Smaller chunks cook quicker than large wedges.
Step 3:  Boil about 4 cups of water and then place the steamer full of apple chunks into the boiling water.  Keep the lid on so they cook faster.
Step 4: When the apples can be pierced easily with a fork, then they are ready to go into the blender.  Add some of the water used for boiling to achieve the right consistency.  I usually start out with just a little water and then keep adding until it looks right.  I've heard of some people adding apple juice instead of water, but I'd rather not add the extra sugar that is in the apple juice.
And that's it!  I top it off with a bit of ground cinnamon for extra spice.  Freeze one container and then keep the other in the fridge for easy access.  Nate loves his mixed with bananas in the morning or plain just as a snack.
According to this site, these are the benefits of making your child's food at home:
Encourages Healthy Eating Habits
Increased Nutritional Value
Elimination of Additives
Improved Freshness
Additional Variety
Enhanced Control
Lower Costs

Breathe A Little Better

One of the cool things about my husband is that he grows awesome plants in our home.

Not only do these plants make our home look nicer, they also provide some important benefits.
According to an article by Georgia Lund, plants can "take any stale indoor room, purify it, and renew it." They filter out toxins, such as carbon dioxide and other pollutants.   One study conducted by NASA, found that certain houseplants are able to remove 87% of toxins in the air in a 24 hour period.  Check out this chart to find out which plants remove which types of toxins.

The above plant is an English Ivy, which Georgia Lund lists as one of the top 10 plants effective in reducing chemical pollutants in the air.

This plant is called a Pothos and is an extremely easy plant to grow indoors.  Once you get a good Pathos growing, you can snip a piece off, put it in a vase of water for a few days and news roots will grow (propagation).  Then you can plant it in a new container and have a new plant.  I think that's pretty cool!

Check out these new plants my husband is working on.  He has herbs as well as flowers in the works.

If you spend a lot of time at a desk or in a small contained area, researchers suggest having a plant within 10 inches of your work space in order to improve the air you breathe all day.

This can be a very inexpensive way to not only brighten up your home or office space but also a much greener way to purify the air than more expensive air filters.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Benefits of Cloth Diapers

Now that I've discussed some of the misconceptions of cloth diapering, it's time to talk about why cloth is best. While some parents and advocates of cloth could go on for days describing the pros, I'll keep this list short.
  • Better for the Environment   
There is a huge debate going on about how long it takes a disposable diaper to decompose in a landfill.  While some scientists argue that it will take 500 years, others argue that there is no way to know since disposables haven't been around that long.  Regardless of how long it takes, we can all agree that our landfills are getting too full.  Reducing the amount of trash being emptied into the landfills is something we should all strive to do.  Cloth diapers is one way to do that.  Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
  • Cost Effective
I just looked at wal-mart's website for disposable diaper prices.  A box of Huggies with 192 diapers will cost $35.  On average, newborns use 12 diapers a day, which means this particular box with last you 16 days.  You can easily wind up spending $70/month.  If you buy those diapers all year, you'll spend about $840 on diapers alone.  By investing a few hundred dollars into cloth diapers, you will begin to save money after only 2-4 months.
  • No Harmful Chemicals
Disposable diapers contain a chemical known as sodium polyacralate.  I've always called them diaper crystals.  They possess the capability of absorbing 300 times their weight, which is pretty amazing.  The problem is that this is a chemical.  It might be harmful to your baby and is definitely harmful to the environment.  With cloth diapers, you control what chemicals your baby is exposed to.
  •  Quicker Potty Training Time
Studies have shown that children who wear cloth, because they can better feel when they are wet, spend less time learning to potty train, which means more time for fun activities and park adventures!
  • No Late-Night Trips
No need to worry about running out of diapers in the middle of the night.  If you run out of cloth, just pop a load into the washer. In addition, you'll also save money on gas!
  •  They Are So Cute!
Don't you agree?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cloth Diapering Misconceptions

When I was pregnant and still debating whether or not I wanted to use cloth diapers, I posted this question on my Facebook wall: To Cloth Diaper or Not To Cloth Diaper?  My question was answered with a variety of responses, but most were opposed.  I wasn't surprised at the response but I was curious as to why they were against them.
Here are a few of the common misconceptions of cloth diapering that keep people from even considering the pros:

Courtesy of flickr user pierrotsomepeople

  • Too Time Consuming
  • They Smell Bad!
  • Too Hard to Figure Out
  • Cost
  • Increased Amount of Diaper Rashes
Too Time Consuming: I worried about this at first.  Would I be spending all my spare time washing and folding stinky diapers?  How often would I need to wash them?  Would I wind up hating cloth diapers simply because they took up too much of my time?  After 10 months of cloth diapering, I have found that I don't spend much time on them at all.  I do one load every other day, then I plop them into a laundry basket next to the changing table and grab them as needed.
They Smell Bad:  Well, yeah.  After baby does his business, they smell.  But so do disposables. If you wash them right (strip them occasionally) they won't smell.
 Too Hard to Figure Out: Many of the newer cloth diapers are much easier to figure out than the old-fashioned prefolds (although they are your cheapest option).  My diapers (pictured to left) took a few tries to get the diapers folded to the right size, but once I figured it out, it was easy.  If I can do it, so can you. 

CostWhen you consider the cost of a box of $15 diapers in comparison to one cloth diaper that can cost anywhere from $1 (prefolds) to the more expensive bumgenius, it's easy to not see the big picture.  Buying 3 $15 packs of diapers/month (you might even need more!) will set you back $45 a month or $540 a year.  I purchased a cheaper brand and am very happy with my choice.  Right now they areselling for $175, which gets you 30 diapers and 60 inserts. 
 Increased Amount of Diaper Rashes: In my experience, this is not true at all.  My son has had one diaper rash, which was quickly cured usingBag Balm.  Disposable diapers contain chemicals which allow the diaper to stay on much longer than cloth diapers, resulting in more rashes.

With all of these misconceptions out of the way, what are other reasons that one might choose disposable over cloth?  

Coming Up Next: Pros of Cloth