Saturday, March 21, 2009

The answer, my friend......

If I were a man, wind turbines would give me a hard-on. (You didn't see that coming, did you?) It's not necessarily the shape or the size even. It's what it can do. I would LOVE to be off the grid. I would LOVE to thumb my nose at the "man" and say


That's what I'd say if I had a wind turbine in my backyard.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Scrubby bubby chunks!

I've come up with a solution to..... my baby wipe...solution...problem (thesaurus please). First of all, there is a limited shelf life to anything water based that does NOT contain a chemical preservative. There are oils that can help. But, nothing that will make it last a significant amount of time. Since there are people who do purchase my baby wipe solution as baby shower gifts that will, therefore, not be used for awhile, I'm in a pickle (which are preserved with salt, btw).

I've scoured my local resources and special secret online resources to find a natural, handmade soap that will produce the most bubbly, yummy-smelling, bottom-soothing concoction EVER! This particular batch contains oatmeal to sooth dry and irritated winter skin. For now, I'm selling this in small (yet high yielding) quantities of 12 nuggets, which will make 24 cups of solution.

To use, just dissolve one nugget in 2 cups of hot water, then pour over your wipes. Avoid making too much solution as it will start turning musty after a few days. I only make one cup of solution at a time. You can either slice your nugget in half (can't wait to see what google searches THAT phrase comes up in) or take it out of your hot water when it is about half dissolved and then let it dry.

Cloth baby wipes and my homemade solution are better for the earth and your baby than chemical-laden, expensive disposable wipes. Even if you don't cloth diaper or your children are out of diapers, you can still keep a box of cloth wipes and solution on your kitchen counter to clean up dirty hands and faces.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Resolve to go green - simple steps

Okay, so to re-energize your efforts to go green this year, I thought I'd remind you of the reasons to do so. These are taken from my favorite book, "The Green Book" by Elizabeth Rogers and Thomas M. Kostigen. We'll focus on just a few things a week to work on. Here we go....

On average, you create 4.5 pounds of trash each day. Over the course of a lifetime, you will leave a 90,000 pound legacy of trash for your grandchildren. If every person in America simply seperated the paper, plastic, glass and aluminum products from their trash and placed it in the recycling bin, we could decrease the amount sent to landfills by 75%! Right now, it takes an area the size of Pennsylvania to dump our waste each year.

Americans use at least twice as much energy and water per person as anyone else in the world. If every American simply replaced just five of their traditional lightbulbs with CFL's, we'd keep more than 1 trillion pounds of greenhouse gases out of our air. That's equal to the emissions of 8 million cars!!!

By 2025, the world must increase its water supply by 22 percent in order to meet its needs. Every two minutes you save on your shower can conserve more than 10 gallons of water. If every American saved just ONE gallon of water, over the course of a year, it would equal twice the amount of fresh water drawn from the Great Lakes (the world's largest source of fresh water) every day.

By setting your house thermostat for one degree warmer in the summer and one degree cooler in the winter, you could save $100 per year! If every home in America made this small change, we'd save enough energy to provide a year's worth of gasoline, electricity, and natural gas to every person in Iowa.

Change your lightbulbs to CFL's
Take a shorter shower
Change your thermostat by just one degree

These are really easy things to do and will save you money too!

Thursday, February 12, 2009


I'm not sure where I stand on fertility treatment. I know as a Catholic I'm SUPPOSED to have an issue with it. I know that I thank God daily that I was able to have 4 beautiful children on my own. I can't say that if I had problems conceiving that I wouldn't have sought outside help. And, it might or might not surprise you that I used to think about over-population. My husband is a card-carrying Sierra club member that used to want to have just 2 children. Well, before we ACTUALLY HAD children. Then, he thought 3 or 4 wasn't going to have catastrophic consequences on our planet.

I'm surprised and saddened at the outrage people are feeling towards the woman that just had octuplets. She's in hiding now because of death threats. Seriously people! She didn't KILL 14 children!!! She gave birth to 14 children. I think that this is a perfect example of the rampant "nose-in-everyone's-business, opinion-on-everything" disease plaquing our society. How much time is wasted every day with people thinking about, commenting on, or judging other people? I bet the same amount of time we waste wishing our asses were smaller.

Here is what I do:

I wake up in the morning and take care of my kids.
I work on my business when the kids are occupied, playing, sleeping, etc.
I do charity work as the need arises.
I spend time with my husband, sisters, or good friends in the evenings.
I do not watch a lot of television.
I do NOT read tabloids or People, because I don't CARE what celebrities do.

That's it. And, I try really hard not to judge or gossip about other people. I don't tell people what they should or should not do. I don't tell them what I think God expects of them. They can seek that out for themselves and have THAT convo with God after they die. I have no hate in my heart. I sleep well at night. People like me. I like them. I have peace.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Tutorial - Matchbook notepads

This is what I made for my girls' classroom Valentine parties. It's something unique and handmade and that will last longer than the traditional "to you, from me" Valentine! This is also a cute party favor or "thank you" gift for online sellers to send out in their packages. It works best with thicker, double sided scrapbook paper. The heart and polka dot ones I have listed in my shop have single sided scrapbook paper mounted onto my recycled cardstock. But, it looks nice to have the inside be decorative too. These make 2.5 inch by 2.5 inch notepads when done. You can adjust them up or down if you want.

You'll want to cut a 2.5 inch by 6 inch strip of your double sided paper. Then, you'll score it or fold it about half an inch from the bottom and then again 2.5 inches from the top.

Next, you'll want to cut your inside paper. I use recycled printer paper. You'll cut 10-20 sheets of paper in 2.5 by 2.5 inch squares.

Then, you'll just insert the paper and staple and you're done!! It is really easy once you find your measurements and then your groove. Happy crafting!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

CPSC Blog-in

This is a reprint of a comprehensive, layman explanation of the new CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act). For those of you that read my blog, I've mentioned this outrageous new law and most of you know about it already. For my friends and family, this is the law discussed in my newspaper article This answers a lot of questions.

As parents and concerned citizens I’m sure most of us at one time or another have been confronted with the question of lead poisoning. But have you asked yourself what your government is doing to protect your children from lead contained in toys? The answer? They're banning toys, taking books from schools and libraries, hurting low income families, killing entrepreneurial spirit and risking putting the economy in an even greater depression than we've seen in decades. I'd like to introduce you to their solution: the CPSIA.

Do you know about the CPSIA? No? Then I ask you to take a few minutes to find out about it.

The CPSIA stands for Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, a new set of laws that will come into effect on 10 February, 2009 and will impact many, many people in a negative way. Make no mistake, this is very real. View it for yourself. If Forbes, the American Library Association and numerous other media are paying attention, perhaps you should too.

How will these new laws affect you? Well, here are a few examples:

To the Parents of Young Students:
Due to the new law, expect to see the cost of school supplies sky rocket. While those paper clips weren't originally intended for your student to use, they will need to be tested now that your 11-year-old needs them for his school project. This law applies to any and all school supplies (textbooks, pencils, crayons, paper, etc.) being used by children under 12.

To the Avid Reader:
Due to the new law, all children's books will be pulled from library and school shelves, as there is no exemption for them. That’s okay though, there's always television. Our children don’t need to learn the love of reading after all.
Article from the American Library Association

To the Lover of All Things Handmade:
Due to the new law, you will now be given a cotton ball and an instruction manual so you can make it yourself since that blanket you originally had your eye on for $50 will now cost you around $1,000 after it's passed testing. It won't even be the one-of-a-kind blanket you were hoping for. Items are destroyed in the testing process making one-of-a-kind items virtually impossible. So that gorgeous hand-knit hat you bought your child this past winter won’t be available next winter.

To the Environmentalist:
Due to the new law, all items in non-compliance will now be dumped into our already overflowing landfills. Imagine not just products from the small business owners, but the Big Box Stores as well. You can't sell it so you must toss it. Or be potentially sued for selling it. You can't even give them away. If you are caught, it is still a violation.

To the Second-Hand Shopper:
Due to the new law, you will now need to spend $20 for that brand new pair of jeans for your 2-year old, rather than shop at the Goodwill for second hand. Many resale shops are eliminating children's items all together to avoid future lawsuits.

To the Entrepreneur:
Due to this new law, you will be forced to adhere to strict testing of your unique products or discontinue to make and/or sell them. Small businesses will be likely to be unable to afford the cost of testing and be forced to close up shop. Due to the current economic state, you'll have to hope for the best when it comes to finding a new job in Corporate America.

To the Antique Toy Collector:
Due to the new law, you'd better start buying now because it's all going to private collection and will no longer be available to purchase. “Because the new rules apply retroactively, toys and clothes already on the shelf will have to be thrown out if they aren't certified as safe.”

To the American Economy:
Already struggling under an economy that hasn’t been this weak in decades, the American economy will be hit harder with the inevitable loss of jobs and revenues from suppliers, small businesses and consumers. The required testing is far too costly and restrictive for small businesses or individuals to undertake.

To the Worldwide Economy:
Due to this new law, many foreign manufacturers have already pulled out of the US market. You can imagine the impact of this on their businesses.

If you think this is exaggerating, here is a recent article from Forbes

And for those of you prepared to be stupefied and boggled, The New Law

Did you know? If this upsets or alarms you, please react.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

New product, thanks CPSC

So, what do you do with a TON of fabric and polyfill if you can't make children's products? You make "collectible" dolls. I've always loved Matryoshka dolls. It makes sense...I mean she does symbolize fertility, and I'm nothing if not fertile. I made these with a pocket front for the babies that Katie insisted I make. But, I think a little gift card fits great in it as well. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Resolve to go green in the New Year - Cloth diapers

I have guilt. I used disposables with my first 3 children. When I discovered how EASY and CONVENIENT cloth diapers were after I had my 4th, I vowed to inform as many people as possible about cloth diapers. I've "converted" more than 3 (to offset my 3 disposable-wearers), but I still feel compelled to share my knowledge. So, here you go, an abridged version of everything you need to know about cloth diapers....or at least how a busy, mother of 4 does cloth diapers.

You should know that I am a career-student. I finished my bachelor's program on a Thursday and started graduate school on the following Monday. I LOVE research and get completely absorbed (to the exclusion of everything else) in learning something new. Cloth diapers were no different. In fact, they were more intriguing, because I knew NOTHING! My mom used cloth diapers, diaper pins, and plastic pants on my youngest sister, who was allergic to disposables, 30 years ago!!!! I knew nothing of MODERN cloth diapers.

Why Cloth? Better for baby.
The bleaching process used to make disposable diapers pretty and white produces a chemical called dioxin. Dioxin is listed by the EPA as the most toxic of all carcinogenic chemicals. In fact, it is banned in most countries except ours. You want to stay far away from Dioxin! Disposable diapers contain Tributyl-tin (TBT) - a toxic pollutant known to cause hormonal problems in humans and animals. Also, the substance that makes disposable diapers SUPER absorbant is called sodium polyacrylate and is the same type of chemical that was removed from tampons after they found it increased one's risk of getting toxic shock syndrome! Basically, we won't stick this stuff up our hoo-has 4 days a month, BUT we have no qualms about wrapping our babies up in it 24/7 for the first 2-3 years of their lives??!! (Remember, I said I had guilt in the beginning...I'm just sharing the love).

It's not your fault though for not knowing. I swear I'm not a conspiracy theorist, BUT I must say that in this case, it has definitely been in the best interest of the disposable diaper industry to keep this information quiet. The cloth diaper advocates, frankly, don't have the money that Pampers and Huggies and those companies have. They simply can't compete with the propaganda. So, again, it's not your fault. Now you know.

Better for the environment.This is why I first switched to cloth. It wasn't until after I made the decision that I learned of the health risks of using disposables. No one knows how long it takes for a disposable diaper to decompose, but it is estimated to be about 250-500 years, long after your children, grandchildren and great, great, great grandchildren will be gone.

Disposable diapers are the third largest single consumer item in landfills, and represent about 4% of solid waste. In a house with a child in diapers, disposables make up 50% of household waste. Additionally, fecal matter is SUPPOSED to be flushed, so that it can go to the water treatment plant and be properly processed. However, who flushes their fecal matter BEFORE throwing their diaper away? Uh, no one. Fecal matter in the landfills is polluting the groundwater and producing harmful greenhouse gases to boot.

The manufacture and use of disposable diapers amounts to 2.3 times more water wasted than cloth. So, lazy people will often say that cloth is worse for the environment than disposables, because of water usage....not true! The water used to wash cloth diapers is the equivolent of if that child had used the toilet and flushed that day.

Over 300 pounds of wood, 50 pounds of petroleum feedstocks and 20 pounds of chlorine are used to produce disposable diapers for one baby EACH YEAR. It takes one cup of crude oil to produce ONE disposable diaper!

Better for your wallet.Although this wasn't the reason I switched to cloth, it certainly helps! It's so nice being able to completely bypass the baby section at the store. I remember spending $20 every 2 weeks on diapers alone. There are a ton of calculations of this, but I will tell you my personal experience. Okay, so I spent $20 every 2 weeks. That's $40 a month and $480 a year. My kids potty-trained, on average, at age 3. That's $1440 for 3 years of disposables...more or less. You can spend as little as nothing (if you have a really nice friend that will give you her diapers when she's done) or several hundred if you want top of the line, super convenient, many days worth of diapers. Either way, you'll save at least almost $1000. Now, that's just for one child. In most cases, your diapers will last through another child as well. So, if that's the case, you'll save the whole $1480 on the NEXT child!!

Types of diapers. (in order of cost/convenience...high to low)All in ones - these diapers are closest to disposables in function. They are one piece, usually velcro closure, go on and off just like a disposable. Dads, day care providers, grandparents, anyone can use these. They're easy and familiar. And, the most expensive. All in ones range from $15 to $30 each. And, they come in different sizes. So, you'll need a new set each time your baby outgrows his current stash. This CAN be economical if you don't mind laundry. I personally wash my diapers every day. I have a high efficiency washer and dryer, and like having fresh, clean diapers every morning. Plus, I didn't want to spend hundreds of dollars at one time. So, I only have to have enough to get me through a day or two. All in one's also take a while to dry in the dryer. If your machine isn't very efficient at drying, I'd suggest line drying these or using a different system.

A pocket diaper is a variation of the all in one. It has an opening that allows you to customize the absorbant layer. For example, you can use a thin hemp or microfiber insert when you're going out, so your baby can wear trim fitting clothing. Or stuff it with something really thick and absorbant for naptime and night time. Also, you take the insert out when laundering, so they dry faster than true all in ones. Most pocket diapers are also sized, making you have to buy new ones every so often.

The exception to this rule, however, is the Bum Genius one size pocket diaper. It has snaps in the front that allow you to adjust the rise, and velcro all the way across the front so you can adjust the circumference. They are intended for use from birth to potty-training. They come with super trim microfiber inserts and feature a microfleece (which makes your baby feel dry) skin layer. They come in a ton of colors and are a one-time investment, as you don't have to replace them as your baby grows. They retail for about $18! This is the one that Autumn is wearing in the picture.

The most ecomonical system is prefolds and covers. This is what I use during the day at home when we aren't going anywhere special. I have the same 9 prefolds that I got when she was a newborn and have only replaced the covers twice. You can get by with only 2 covers at a time. Unless they get poop on them, you can wipe them out with a baby wipe, or allow to air day and reuse. I use the same cover all day unless it gets soiled. And, then I wash it with my prefolds. You can get prefolds for $1.50 a piece and covers range from $10-$16. Do not buy the prefold diapers in the discount stores....those are great burp cloths, but are not great diapers. Buy Chinese or Indian prefolds online.

Washing your diapers
Again, there are many different suggestions on how to care for your cloth diapers. I'll tell you what I do. I throw my diapers into the washing machine throughout the day. Unless it's laundry day, and then I put them into a plastic grocery bag in my laundry room until that evening. After the baby is in bed, I wash them and then dry them that night or first thing in the morning. I use my own detergent that is both earth friendly AND free of perfumes and dyes. I sometimes use Oxy-clean. I sometimes use the stain treat or presoak option. I sometimes use hot water. But, usually, I do a simple warm wash, cold rinse. I use a 1/4 cup of white vinegar in my fabric softener dispenser on ALL my laundry. It is especially helpful with cloth diapers though, because it strips away any absorbancy-inhibiting build-up and leaves your diapers naturally soft. Do NOT use fabric softener on your cloth diapers!!! Commercial fabric softeners coat the fibers with a substance that will repel liquid....not something you want on your diapers!

Cloth baby wipes
If you already have to wash diapers, you might as well throw some cloth wipes in the washer as well. I use cloth wipes and a homemade, all natural wipe solution on Autumn. She has sensitive skin and gets a rash and redness whenever I use disposable wipes on her. Plus, trust me, you don't want to have to seperate out disposable wipes from cloth diapers before's yucky. I keep them in an empty wipes container and pour the solution over them, so that they are ready to go. Again, you'll be saving the environment AND some money.

Check out my shop for cloth wipes, wipe solution, laundry detergent and dryer sachets

Check out this awesome baby boutique for a great selection of cloth diapers

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Resolve to go green in the New Year - Laundry

I wanted to introduce you to some of my products and give you some tips to help you go "green" this year. I will thus begin a series of blog posts focusing on this and previewing what I will be bringing you this year.

Currently, I offer the most wonderful handmade laundry detergent you've ever tried. Why is it so wonderful? My three ingredient formula is super-gentle on Mother Earth and your clothes. It is septic safe and grey water safe, contains no phosphates, added perfumes or dyes. It is super-effective. I use it on ALL of our clothes. It effectively cleans my daughter's cloth diapers as well. Finally, it is economical. You will pay $.38 per load on average for other "green" detergents like Seventh Generation or Mrs. Meyers. Mine costs about $.28 per load.

Now that you've made the decision to stop assaulting the planet with commercial laundry detergents, you'll also want to stop using dryer sheets. They are loaded with chemicals and wind up in the landfill. I sell dryer sachets as a substitute. They are filled with dried lavender flowers and either organic lavender essential oil or fragrance oil. I prefer the essential oil, because I can now smell "artificial" smells, and I don't like them. I use scrap material from other projects, so that I am reducing my waste at the same time. Now, if you are switching from commercial fabric softener to natural dryer realistic. It's like switching from beef to's better for you, but it'll take some getting used to. The sachets will not "saturate" your clothes with an artificial smell. It will be v-e-r-y subtle. Oh! And, as for liquid fabric softener...use 1/4 cup of white vinegar instead. What makes your clothes feel "unsoft" is a buildup of detergent. Vinegar strips that buildup away, leaving your clothes naturally soft. You'll be kinder to the planet AND your wallet....sorry, Downy.

When it's nice outside, line dry your clothes. They dry faster. They dry for free. The sun disinfects your clothes and whitens your whites.

You can read more about my products and purchase them at