Giving Cloth Diapers a New Lease on Life

I have two beautiful little girls and I have cloth diapered both of them. I love my cloth diapers they are seriously cute and so easy to do and what baby doesn’t look cute with a giant fluffy bum. Using cloth diapers I have saved our family quite a lot of money and garbage! I love our diapers and even my husband doesn’t complain about using them (win!). We bought most of our diapers second hand and when we are finished I plan on selling them. That has to be one of the best features of cloth is they just keep going!

I have quite a significant stash of diapers probably about 36 pocket diapers and several hundred prefolds. I love my prefolds and will never every get rid of them there are so many things they can be used for like when your roof leaks they are perfect for cleaning up the mess or when your baby dumps an entire full mug of coffee all over your carpet prefolds to the rescue! I usually use my pocket diapers the most because they are super easy to get on a squirmy baby, I have a large number of them most of them are bum genius. These are my favourite. All of my other diapers are snaps except my BGs these are velcro (aplix, hook and loop whatever name you prefer). So after 3+ years of diapering to say the velcro looks a little sad would be an understatement!

The part that bothered me more that the sad velcro was the fact that the laundry tabs didn’t stick any more. All of the diapers would stick together in the wash and come out as a giant diaper chain. That was never fun to pull apart.

I got this great idea that I was going to take off all of the velcro and the tabs and put on snaps. Snaps are great, they stick really well and little fingers can’t get them undone to fingerpaint with the contents of their diaper. As I have learned from experience! So I pulled out my trusty stitch ripper and got to work. It took me about half an hour to remove all of the velcro, thread and tabs from the whole diaper. It did take longer on the diapers where for some inexplicable reason BG had stitched their logo into the tab rather than a simple X. But once all of the velcro was off I marked the diapers for the snaps.

To mark the diaper for snaps I have tried various methods (template, copying a diaper cover etc) but the best placement I have found is to mark the top line of snaps right under the stitching from the velcro. I put ten snaps on each row spaced 1 inch apart. Then I measure down from the top row 1 inch and mark for the next row. The stretchy tabs I just simply place my ruler where I think the snaps would look good and measure 1 inch and put some dots. To mark the diapers I use a sewing marker where the ink fades incredibly quickly (24hrs or something like that) and it has an erasing end, very helpful especially if you have children pulling at your arm while measuring. Once the dots are all placed I haul out my handy awl and poke each one of those marks to make a hole. I use plastic snaps from Kam Snaps in size 20. They are wonderful and they have colours to match all of the BG diapers there are other places where you can get the same snaps so just look around. I also bought the snap pliers a very handy piece of equipment!

The only tricky part with putting snaps into your diapers is to be very careful not to stab your finger because that hurts and will bleed all over your diaper. Once you have all the holes poked and the pointy cap of the snap pushed through them you can then start squeezing on either the socket or the stud depending on which part off the diaper you are working on. The stud goes on the stretchy tabs and the socket goes across the belly. This part goes really fast but make sure you squeeze the pliers extra hard because if the prongs are flat enough you will have trouble snapping your diaper closed (if you run into some problems after you have them all done you can always go back and squeeze them some more). After you are done squeezing until you think your hand will fall off you have completed your first diaper. Only 16 more to go!

Since I have been doing this for a while it takes me anywhere from and hour and a half to two hours to do a diaper start to finish. Generally, I will pick 2 or 3 diapers (usually all of one colour) and work on them all at once. This is a great way to refresh sad looking diapers to give them a new life so they can last even longer! My next project after finishing all of the snaps is to redo the sagging elastic in the legs. Right now they are still functional but losing their stretchiness. I am pretty sure I can always find some way to monkey around with my lovely diapers!

Share as part of Simple Lives Thursday.

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Our Transition to Traditional Cooking.

Over the past year or so (well ever since I was pregnant with J) I started feeling really convicted about what we were eating. There weren’t enough vegetables and everything was super processed. I wasn’t gaining  any extra weight (aside from the baby growing inside of me) but I felt that we needed a change. That was when I really started reading about nutrition and different diet/ways of eating. The amount of information out there was HUGE! I was so incredibly confused.  I had learned some stuff about soaking nuts to increase their digestibility from a vegan friend of mine. I just kept reading anything I could get my hands on. Finally I cam across a number of different blogs that talk about this amazing cookbook. So I asked for it for Christmas. My brother in law purchase this cook book for me and said “here is the hippy-dippy crazy cookbook you requested.” I was thrilled when I opened the present and saw Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.

I have found that I can relate more to the tradition method of preparing food. I am reminded of many stories that my grandmother told us of growing up in the depression and how they used many of these methods for preparing foods. It wasn’t until after the war, when she had children did she start using more processed foods (canned peas any one).

I still have a lot of learn and we still do eat some processed foods (we ordered a pizza last night, yum). But thanks to the vastness of the internet and large number of food bloggers out there I am learning day by day. I haven’t finished my copy of NT yet but I have tried a number of different recipes and they have all turned out fabulously. This isn’t the only book I have read/am reading on the subject I have a whole list of books that I want to read.

It was as I started learning about traditional cooking that I, by God’s grace, received a grain mill (read about it here). I was so excited to start grinding my own wheat. I got that in January and I am still grinding my own flour to make sourdough fails (otherwise known as bread), pizza dough, sandwich bread and muffins. I love watching the grain turns into flour and then into banana muffins or some other yummy delicacy.

For the most part my family has been very understanding! I mean my brother in law bought me NT and my mother in law gave me her grain mill and saves all of her jam jars for me. However I just don’t think they know the extent of how our food has changes, I mean I have ordered bacteria through the mail (more on this later this week) and I now always have jars of food sitting out on my counter, not in the fridge and my 3 year old talks about Kombucha (which they seem to think is a made up word). But they love me still the same! Even my husband who gags at the sight of strange food or mould tolerates the fact that I have things growing on my counter. It is so wonderful!

I am still on this journey and I hope to learn more and transition more of our food to real and traditional foods. I am always looking for books to read or good blogs so please feel free to make some suggestions. I am just about to head to the library to pick up a copy of Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz I have been on a waiting list for WEEKS! I am pretty excited.

Shared as part of Traditional Tuesdays and Fight Back Friday.

Do You Kombucha? How I Do it.

Yesterday I told you about how I started drinking KT and growing my own mother culture or SCOBY. Today I will share how I actually make the KT that we drink. For the most part I generally follow the recipe in the Nourishing Traditions cookbook by Sally Fallon but I scaled it down a little.

I start with 2 quarts of water (or ~2L if you are Canadian like me). I bring that to a boil and I add 2/3 of a cup of sugar (more if it is really hot out and I know it will brew faster than normal) and 2 or 3 black tea bags. I then let this sit overnight to cool. Or if I am in a hurry I will add extra tea bags and at the end dump in a bunch of ice cubes. While it is cooling I get everything else ready. I add at least 1 cup of KT from the previous batch (generally the first pour off the jar has the most active cultures in it and will help jump start your next batch) to my container. Once the tea is at room temperature I add that to the container and float my SCOBY on top. Don’t worry if it sinks it will float up to the top or it may even stay at the bottom but a new little baby SCOBY will form on the top. Then I put a tight weaved cloth over top and secure with an elastic as flies seem to love this stuff! I generally let mine brew for a week but at the 5 day mark I start tasting it to see when it is ready.

My Kombucha Corner

I was a little bit confused when I read all these posts about tasting it and I was trying to figure out how to taste it without contaminating the whole batch. The best way I have found is to take a clean straw and stick it under the SCOBY, then cover the other end with your finger to trap the KT in the straw, bring the straw out of the container and taste. It works great.

Once it is brewed to your likeness I then start the process all over again and bottle the kt that is done. Depending I sometimes do a second ferment with different flavours. Hannah Crum of Kombucha Kamp has some wonderful different flavouring ideas on her website some are found here and here. Our favourite flavours are raspberry blueberry or strawberry. To do a second ferment I cut up some fruit (or if it s berries squish them a bit) until it covers the bottom of the container, then depending on the tartness I may add a bit of sugar and then pour my kt over top. Then I cap it and let it sit for a day or too.

Cherry pieces floating in my second ferment

After you have brewed a batch your SCOBY will grow a little baby. This baby may be stuck to the original mother and you can either peel it off and start a new batch with it or leave it attached. I generally will peel the first little baby off and store it so I have an extra just in case something goes wrong. Check out this video of how to make a SCOBY Hotel (a fancy name for storing your SCOBY in a jar). After a while if you keep your original mother will get tired and not brew quite as fast or look a little sad. This is when I generally cut her up into a little pieces and add her to my garden. It works great!

Old tired mother culture on the left, new happy baby on the right

I love making my KT it is such a fun activity and A loves to help me with the SCOBY so it is her job to help float it on top. This is such a great summer drink because it can be fruit bubbly and fun.

For more information see this post by Kristen of Food Renegade and this Healthy Brew guide by Hannah Crum of Kombucha Kamp.

Next week I will share my other favourite bubbly drink with you, water kefir!

Shared as part of Fight Back Friday on Food Renegade.

Do You Kombucha? I do….. now.

That is such a fun word Kombucha! A loves to help me make it she loves to just say it over and over and over again! Today I am going to share how I started making kombucha. I had been reading several different books and blogs about tradition foods. All of the recipes sounded interested and tasty however there was one that seemed just downright weird to me and that was kombucha. For those of you that don’t know

Kombucha is a living health drink made by fermenting tea and sugar with the kombucha culture. (Definition from Seeds of Health.co.uk)

Sounds weird right? I kept reading more and more different articles and stories about this so called “wonder drink.” I am very skeptical when it comes to health foods and homeopathic stuff. Don’t get me wrong I use quite a number of them, but since I was raised in a very “western medicine centred” family (many family members are traditional doctors, nurses dentists etc) I tend to approach things with caution.

The other thing that kind of scared me was this Kombucha mother thing. What is the mother, well after looking around I learned it is called a SCOBY (with the O sound as in Scope mouth was and not Scooby Doo). This stands for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. Yeah that sounds like something I want to drink!

One day I was in my local health food store picking up some vitamins and I saw a bottle of Asian Pear and Ginger Kombucha Wonderdrink. So I thought I would give it a try (after I nearly chocked on the +$4 price tag I took it home. That evening when the girls were in bed and my wonderful husband was at class I curled up with my drink and my book. It was bubbly and delicious. But at over $4 a drink that was totally out of my price range!!!

originaliteaAs I was looking around on the internet I saw this post by Food Renegade of How to Grow your own Kombucha SCOBY and I though I would give it a shot. The only problem I ran into was the kombucha that I had tried earlier was pasteurized so there was no living culture in it. That meant that I couldn’t start my own from that particular brand. Finally after much searching (small towns tend to have limited health food options) I found Tonica Kombucha. I bought two, one to drink (yum) and one to start my mother. So I followed the instructions of the Food Renegade post, covered my drink and hoped and prayed this jug of sweet tea would grow me a mother.

I left the jug a lone for about 7 weeks. I wouldn’t really recommend starting it in the winter if you live in a cold climate unless you want to wait a LOOOOONG time. I live in Ontario and it was pretty chilly until about mid-March when it hit almost 30C (86F) then things really took off! When I peaked under the cover I saw a bumpy opaque mass of stuff floating on top of my tea.

My brand new kombucha mother.

Isn’t it lovely! I know it isn’t much to look at but man does it make me happy. I know there are several thousand website around that purport that kombucha can do everything from regulating your digestive system to growing a new limb (ok well that may be a wee bit of an exaggeration). For me, I drink it because it is tasty, it doesn’t have too much sugar (you can make it according to your tastes) and it is bubbly. I like pop (or Soda as I am told it is called in the US), I love the bubble in it and I love that it is not water. I drink a lot of water in a day so having 1 glass of something that is bubbly and refreshing is a nice change. Since I have started drinking the kombucha I haven’t had any pop, I will take the KT over the pop any day now because I can pronounce all of the ingredients in it (tea, water, and sugar) and it doesn’t have any scary ingredients like aspartame or caramel colour.

So that is how I started drinking the weird drink called kombucha and how I started my own  mother. Tomorrow I will tell you all about how I actually use the mother to make my kombucha and some of our favourite flavours!

Shared as part of Fight Back Friday.

Happy Belated Father’s Day

This past Sunday was Father’s day. A wonderful day to celebrate the wonderful men in our life. This year the girls and I got my wonderful husband a book. He loves books, well actually we both love books. We have books everywhere, we have 3 bookshelves stuffed with books and more hiding in boxes in the basement! But this year we got him the book Family Shepherds by Voddie Baucham Jr. It looks like a really good read.

For the grandfather’s this year I decided to do something a little bit cheaper creative. I had seen this cute little footprint craft on Dollar Store Mom and I thought it would be perfect! So I went to the dollar store to pick up some paint . I found some nice paint for a dollar and came home. That is when I noticed that it said “acrylic paint” eeep that means it doesn’t wash off!! Oh well I foraged ahead.

I got everything ready and covered the kitchen in newspaper. J was fine with me painting her foot and pushing it onto the paper. She even wanted to climb into the paint she thought it was pretty fun. Finally when I got her all cleaned up I called for A and said it was her turn. She was very upset and told me “No mommy we don’t paint with our feet we use paint brushes.”  I told her that she was right but we were making special presents so it was ok this time! After much, much coaxing she finally agreed and she had so much fun! Once it was dry I added all the little cutouts and I have to say it turned out lovely! (sorry for the crappy picture)

J’s foot was a little too small to turn into a tractor so we made it a trailer. Grandma thought it was a nice picture but she thought it was even nicer when A finally pointed out that it was made from her foot! Grandpa was equally as thrilled and it is now proudly displayed in his office!

I hope you all took time to celebrate the wonderful fathers in your lives this past weekend.

Hi Bloggy Land!

Hello out there!!

It has been entirely too long since I last posted February wow. So much and so little has changed since then! Some highlights. Little A turned three, THREE, I can’t believe it. Over the last little bit her vocabulary has exploded. She is talking in full blown long and sometimes run on sentences). We are still working on when to use the words “he and she” it is a hard concept for a little person. I think my favourite things that she says are the two words/phrases she mispronounces, she calls the garbage “gargub” and when she burps she says “skeet me” so sweet!  She gets a long wonderfully well with her little sister, they are becoming the best of friends.

Baby J is growing like a little weed. She is now almost 10 months old and is crawling all over the place. As a result of her new found mobility she has made my life incredibly more busy! She isn’t eating solids yet, she likes to suck on the odd cracker but that is about it. She still breastfeeds about 60 billion times a day (ok I exaggerate it is every 2 hours which feels like a billion!) and I am ok with that! We still aren’t sleeping through the night because she nurses every 2 hours but sometimes there is progress in that department.  She got her first tooth on June 4th and is now working on the next one, as a result I have a very cranky little baby on my hands!

Hubs and I are doing well. I don’t really have anything exciting to say about us! I am hoping to get more updates and recipes up soon. I have some yummy ones I am working on! Here is a nice new picture of my girls!Image