The Ultimate Cloth Diaper Post

Theultimatecloth diaperblog post

Somewhere along the way, it was apparently agreed upon that all cloth diaper moms with a blog must write at least one post about cloth diapers

Even if the blog doesn’t have anything to do with babies or reusable products… We find a way to make it happen. 

You knew this post was coming.

And it’s gonna be a doozy.

A little backstory… I’ve been cloth diapering for almost five and half consecutive years. That’s half a decade of washing poo rags every three days. I’ve diapered a boy and a girl from birth through potty training. I’ve done big name brands, no name brands, and I’ve made my own diapers. I’ve used cloth on vacations and we use exclusively cloth at night. I’ve diapered through bad trends (washing diapers in a dishwasher?!) and through good trends (using appropriate amounts of detergent?!). I’ve admined cloth diaper groups and helped troubleshoot and solve problems. (Check us out at the Lowcountry Cloth Diapers Facebook Page or join our group.)

I’m going to share a few (<<LOL) awesome links and a bit of information that I found to be most helpful throughout the years.  Topics are in huge, bold type so you can scroll past anything you don’t find relevant.  This is likely the longest post on the whole innanets, so get your coffee NOW.  Let’s go. Continue reading

Natural Alternatives That Are Actually Bunk 

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I’ve been wanting to create a few posts about some of the natural remedies and alternatives floating around. Some of these methods are extremely popular and even touted as THEBESTTHINGEVAR by some users. 

But once you start digging, it starts to get sketchy. Sure, these items involve organic products or they’re mixed up in a cozy kitchen, or that other crunchy lady said it worked. But… These alternatives…  

Do they actually work?

Are they safe?

Do they make a lick of sense?

I love natural options as much as the next hippie, but far too often, the answer to these questions is a big ‘ol nope. Snake venom is natural, but I’m not gonna brush my teeth with it, ya know?

Instead of rewriting what other exceptional writers have already written, I’ve decided to do a link round up post. This also proves I’m not just being contrary and that many others have come to similar conclusions as myself.  I’m not crazy.

I preemptively apologize for the bubbles I’m about to pop.

Continue reading

A WEE Bit Greener

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Bad puns. Gotta love ’em!

But yes!  I’m ready to test these waters.  (there’s another pun there somewhere)  I’ve always used cloth wipes on my babies, but I’ve been hesitant to try them for myself.  I don’t think I’m ready for adult #2’s in my washer just yet, but I can handle #1’s!

I prefer to use nursery flannel to make my kids’ cloth wipes.  It’s soft and even softer when two layers are turned and topstitched together.  It does the job so well and they’re super cute.  It’s also a really easy sewing project for beginners.

Alas….I care not even a little bit about cuteness when it comes to grown folk wipes.  But that’s what makes this DIY so awesome.  It doesn’t matter what they look like.

I’m taking this little leap, and I want to encourage you to try it as well!  This is so easy.  Just minutes from start to finish.

The secret to this DIY is KNIT FABRICS.

If you’ve done much sewing, I bet you already see where I’m going.  Knit fabrics don’t fray.  No sewing required, no serging, no special scissors needed.  Just cut it up and go.

BOOM.

Knits are available at any store that sells fabrics, and you can feel free to skimp a little and buy the cheaper stuff or check the discount/remnant bin.  This DIY is also perfect for those of us clearing out closets.  Tshirts, PJs, tank tops, etc…A lot of these are made with knits.  Minimize, recycle, DIY, and save the planet all in one go!

I chose to cut my fabric into rectangles so I could easily fold them into thirds for use.  I didn’t measure or get too fancy.  However, keep in mind that knits will roll around the edges a good bit, so plan accordingly when deciding on a rough size.

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Perfectly Imperfect!  Full size to the left, folded in thirds to the right.

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Ample hand coverage!

That’s all it takes!  I store mine in a basket underneath my bathroom sink and pull out a tiny stack each day.  Used wipes get dropped into a mesh lingerie bag for washing.  If you don’t already have a mesh bag, I’d definitely recommend getting at least one.  Tiny wipes could get stuck in your washer!  The bag also makes it easy to refill your basket.  Just dump the clean wipes out of the bag and carry on.

We can do this!


Do you use cloth wipes?  What do you use?  What are your experiences?

The Lowdown on DIY Deodorant

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Let me start by saying that this is not a recipe post.  I do make my own deodorant, but in the process of learning how, I’ve come across about a zillion recipes “that really work!” and comments like, “What if I don’t have organic mango butter and an instant read infrared thermometer?”

Fret not.

The truth is that homemade deodorant is one of the easiest things you can DIY.  You may have to go through a couple versions to find out what works best for you, but it is literally as simple as stirring a mixture in a bowl.

In this post, I’m going to share some basic natural product DIY tips and break down the pros, cons, and properties of various ingredients you can use for deodorants.   You can start developing your personalized product by choosing ingredients that fit your skin type, your budget, or any other preferences/needs.

The Ingredients

Coconut Oil

  • Coconut oil is super popular as a cream or paste deodorant base and mixes very easily
  • Light/white in color
  • Light coconut scent
  • Vegan
  • Soft solid at room temperature, melts easily when applied to skin
  • Pros : Contains antioxidants, antimicrobial, moisturizing, antifungal, mixes easily
  • Cons : Slightly greasy feel, can cause dryness in some users, known comedogenic

Shea Butter

  • Shea butter is very firm and easier to apply when blended with a softer base.
  • Cream color
  • Nutty aroma
  • Vegan
  • Melts at around 110*F
  • Pros : Moisturizing, anti-inflammatory, good for a firmer deodorant
  • Cons : Requires melting either by microwave or double boiler, may cause a reaction in those with nut/latex allergies (very rare!)

Cocoa Butter

  • Cocoa butter is very firm and easier to apply when blended with a softer base.
  • Tan color
  • Sweet aroma
  • Vegan
  • Melts at around 95*F
  • Pros : Long shelf life, anti-imflammatory, great thickener, reduces the appearance of scars or blemishes, good for firm or stick style deodorants
  • Cons : Requires melting either by microwave or double boiler, can cause crystalization or “balls” in your product.  (still safe and usable, just less homogenous)

Beeswax

  • Beeswax is too stiff and waxy to be used alone, but it adds stability and firmness to other softer bases.
  • Various shades of yellow
  • Sweet, warm aroma
  • NOT vegan
  • Melts at around 145*F
  • Pros : Soother, protective barrier for skin, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial
  • Cons : Waxy feel, requires melting either by microwave or double boiler

Arrowroot Powder

  • Arrowroot powder is a root starch used in many natural products as well as foods!
  • Very fine, light, white powder
  • Vegan
  • Pros : Moisture/oil absorbing, thickener, helps to neutralize odors
  • Cons : Can be messy to work with
  • Cornstarch or potato starch may be substituted.

Baking Soda

  • Baking soda is extremely accessible and inexpensive and makes a great addition to DIY deodorants.  However, it sometimes has negative side-effects and should be paired with other ingredients to avoid excessive concentrations.
  • Fine white powder, slightly abrasive
  • Vegan
  • Pros : Moisture/oil absorbing, thickener, excellent odor neutralizer
  • Cons : Is known to cause irritation, redness, or rash in some users

Probiotics

  • Probiotics are the “good bacteria” that help to fight and balance the “bad bacteria.”
  • Can be purchased in capsules or loose powder
  • A shelf stable probiotic is necessary for deodorant usage! Refrigerated probiotics are amazing but won’t survive the heat/air of this DIY.
  • Capsules may not be vegan
  • Pros : Helps to fight odors, anti-(bad)bacterial
  • Cons : You body’s natural micro-flora may require you to tweak the amount of probiotics you include in your deodorant.

Essential Oils

  • Essential oils are a staple for many naturally minded DIYers and offer endless possibilities and combinations.
  • Pros (depending on the oils and amounts you choose) : can soothe the skin, fight off bacteria, prevent odors, lift your mood, or just make you smell fabulous.
  • Cons (depending on the oils and amounts you choose) : can irritate the skin, can result in sensitization, photosensitivity
  • Always dilute oils in appropriate ratios and choose your oils wisely.  For example, don’t load up your deo with cinnamon bark oil because it’s Christmas…ouch!
  • Common favorites include tea tree, lavender, citrus oils, pines, ylang ylang, frankincense, patchouli, sandalwood, bergamot, mints, etc.

Other Great Add-Ins

  • Vitamin E Oil
  • Mango Butter
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Various Oils (grapeseed, avocado, etc)
  • Vegetable Glycerin
  • Bentonite Clay, French Green Clay
  • Herbs or Herbal Powders (calendula or chamomile powders, for example)

Where do I find these things?

Some of these items can be found easily at your local grocery store.  Coconut oil, baking soda, and arrowroot powder can be found almost anywhere.  Some of the butters and oils can be found at health food stores or vitamin shops.  Earth Fare, Whole Foods, and so on.   And there’s always Amazon!  But here’s a list of natural friendly online stores to give you even more  options.

Mountain Rose HerbsStarwest BotanicalsFronteri Co-opiHerbPlant TherapyBulk Apothecary

Try to aim for organic, unrefined, nonGMO, cold-pressed, fair trade, virgin, etc.

What do I do with all this information?

This is the really beautiful part…  You choose what you want to use and just toss it all together!  The most elaborate recipe would still only require some sort of heating method, a bowl, a utensil, and a container for your finished product.  You can’t mess this up.  Remember that this is a Do It Yourself project, not necessarily a Do It The Way Someone Else Did It project.  Pick one or two ingredients or pick twenty.  It’s yours.

General DIY Tips

  • Work in small batches.  You don’t want to waste ingredients or end up with a gallon of product that you don’t like.
  • Clean up properly.  Things like coconut oil and beeswax should not go down your drain.  A flexible spatula ensure you get most of your product from your mixing bowl into your end product container.  Before washing, and ideally when your mixture is still pliable, use a paper towel or bit of toilet paper to wipe out any remaining product from the bowl and discard.
  • Remember that some of these ingredients will change in texture once they’ve been allowed to come to room temperature.  Coconut oil will naturally soften and melt a little as it’s being stirred, but it will stiffen up again if left in a cool room.
  • Be ready to adjust your product as your needs change.  Some of us can get away with a simple swipe of just arrowroot powder on wintery days.  Suit YOUR needs.
  • Be on the lookout for adverse reactions.  You may need to use less baking soda, you may need to add a few less drops of EO, you may need to skip them altogether.
  • Make notes as you go.  I’m horrible at this, but I absolutely see the merit in it.  Nothing is worse than ending up with the perfect product and then not having any idea how to replicate it.  Record how many spoonfuls, how many drops, how many tablespoons…

If you haven’t already jumped on the natural deodorant train, I hope this post encourages you to try! If you do already make your own, I’d love to hear what you use, your tips, and where you like to gather your ingredients.

Smell ya’ later!  ….OR WILL I?!

 

har har

 

Unexpected Minimalism

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I’m super duper busy this week, so this post might be a little blurby! Our church is having a sweet little Valentine’s banquet this weekend for about 30 people, and I ended up in charge of setting up, decorating, shopping for the food, and making desserts.

Does anyone else love being busy?

Stick with me through this.  I have a point, I promise!

We usually go with paper, plastic, or foam plates for church functions since there are so many people.  But if you’ve ever once in your life used a disposable plate, you know those babies would never hold up when loaded with a hefty steak and a generous baked potato.  And who wants to eat off of plastic at a Valentine dinner?  

And I also needed salad plates, dessert plates, bread plates, cups, sturdy forks, knives that actually cut more than butter…

I was starting to feel quite nauseous pricing out “good” plastic.

And then…

I remembered real plates are a thing.

I searched our church kitchen, and I found them!  A few years ago, someone had donated some dinner plates, bowls, and saucers.  We also had a pretty decent collection of matching drinking glasses.

Y’all….I went out and bought enough real dinnerware to feed 30 people for less than what it would cost to use plastic.


I wanted to share all that with you because I think it makes an *excellent* point that minimal is whatever you need it to be.

Sure, the stack of dishes in our church kitchen got a little bit taller this week.  And, yes, I’ll be washing dishes for a long while afterwards.  But…

  • I saved money.
  • I have better quality items that can be built upon and reused. (Imagine a future potluck with NO PAPER PLATES!  Insane.)
  • The church kitchen has plenty of empty cabinet space, so storage is a non-issue.
  • I ensured that the only thing going into the trash cans this weekend will be paper napkins. (I’m working on making cloth napkins to pair with our fabric tablecloths!)
  • People can eat comfortably without having their forks snapping in half :/

Minimalism can be based on so many factors.

Environmental impact, cost, storage space, long term usefulness, quality, personal value, etc.

For this banquet, I considered all of these things, and I concluded with keeping more stuff than I started with.

As I’ve said in another post, minimal is relative.  I also believe it’s much more broad than going through your trinkets or wardrobe and labeling each item as joyful or not.  It can be based on deep pondering, not just an immediate emotional reaction.  It can be based on what you need, it can be based on what you want, it can be based on what you know you don’t want or need.

One person’s method doesn’t have to be your method!  If your method is bringing you peace and joy, don’t let anyone else take that away from you in the name of “doing it the RIGHT way.”

Chocolate covered strawberries, anyone?!

Two Ingredient DIY “Everything Butter”

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A goal of mine as an aspiring minimalist and crunchy gal is to be more simplistic with the products I use.  Minimal products with simple ingredients serving multiple purposes.

This “Everything Butter” is my jam.

It’s made with two ingredients, coconut oil and beeswax.  Both items can be found easily and are pretty inexpensive.  Each ingredient also has multiple uses, so there is no waste.  This butter lasts forever and can be used for a multitude of things.

  • A body moisturizer
  • Lip balm
  • Essential oil carrier
  • General “booboo ointment”
  • Frizzy hair control
  • Homemade deodorant base
  • Baby butt cream
  • A quick and easy, made-with-love gift
  • Errthang

I wish I could say I have beautiful photos of my ingredients laid out on a classy wooden cutting board and all that jazz, but I’m not that blogger.  My DIY experiments are…heavily experimental.  This is actually the only thing I’ve ever made that I have measurements for!  Everything else I’ve made involves me side-eyeing my homemade concoctions, flicking in a little more of this or that, and hoping for the best.

But this is so simple.

All you need to do is…wait for it…

Using a double boiler, melt together 1/4 cup of beeswax pellets and one cup of coconut oil. Then let it cool.

You read that right.  Melt.  Cool.  Done.

The beeswax gives the coconut oil just a bit of extra stability and adds some moisture retaining qualities.  It holds as a solid but melts quickly when applied.

It’s impossible to mess up and the tweaks are endless.  If you want a firmer consistency (for example, making it into a deodorant stick or using in a chapstick tube), you can simply add more beeswax.  If you want to add some essential oils, just drop them into the melted mixture.  Add some colored clay or natural powders to make colored lip gloss.  Blend in some arrowroot powder and/or baking soda, and voila, you have basic deodorant.   I like to whip my cooled butter so it’s extra light and fluffy.

I love this stuff! And this is a great DIY for beginners. If you try it, let me know how it goes, how you tweaked it, and what you like to use it for.

#DIYALLTHETHINGS

Be My Tribe. Your Favorite Shampoo & Conditioner.

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I’m on the hunt for better, faster, stronger hair care solutions.  Please share your favorites with me!

I can comfortably go an entire week without shampooing my hair.  This is absolutely amazing because I used to shampoo, condition, blow dry, and flat iron my hair daily.

Just thinking about it now makes me feel exhausted.  Ugh.

However, I still use a very cheap and very mainstream shampoo and conditioner.  I’ve made the switch to natural and minimal body and face products.  My hair is the last frontier.

I’ve read about various no-poo methods, and I have my struggles with each.  The baking soda rinse followed with apple cider vinegar doesn’t quite suit me because I take issue with the alkalinity and acidity clash between the products and human skin/hair.

I also found this blog post over at Just Primal Things that made too much sense not to try.  While I do believe the water only method could be amazing, a few attempts at it was enough to know it was just too much maintenance and prep for me.  I’d love to sit and massage my head and distribute oils through small sections of my hair, but…actually, no.  I wouldn’t love that…  LOVE the premise.  Not so much the actual effort required for it.

And so the hunt is on!  I need a natural shampoo and conditioner!  Or at least more natural than Tresemme!

 

DIYing and My Personal Minimalism

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I used to think minimalism was all about having less stuff.  But the deeper I dig, and the greener I get, the more I’m realizing how minimalism applies to so much more in life.

Minimal spending.

Minimal stressing.

Minimal impact.

Minimal sourcing.

It’s simplification in the most compounded way.

For example, I’m making significant strides in switching to more natural body and beauty products.  And while I love supporting local businesses and people that share my beliefs, I also want to achieve more independence in this realm.  I want to be more self-sustaining.  I want to eliminate the middle man between me and my (minimal) stuff.

One less step.  One less shipment.  One less dollar.

I have several DIY projects floating in my head, and I’m super excited about them!  There are ready made alternatives that I could buy or even pre-made supplies that I use, but I’m hoping to go as independent as possible.

If only I had a goat to make my own goat milk soap…  Dream big, right?!

It’s definitely going to be a challenge meshing these two sides of myself.  The crafter in me wants to hoard ALL THE THINGS because there are so many grand possibilities for random scraps.  But the minimalist in me screams NONE OF THE THINGS.

Menstrual Cups. Yes, You Can. 

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“Comfortable, efficient, earth friendly, inexpensive. Is there any reason not to use a menstrual cup?” says every seasoned cup user out there.  But what about newbies?

I remember the first time I ever heard of menstrual cups. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t alone in my initial “That’s just…Too far…” reaction. Putting a literal cup in my vagina? And it’s supposed to be easy and comfortable.

LAWL

But being the hopeful eco-friendly chick I am, I decided to throw caution to the wind and added a menstrual cup to my Christmas wishlist last year, banking on the fact that no one in their right mind would buy it.  Lo and behold, my mother in law, free spirited red head that she is, purchased it and wrapped it up very nicely to present to me on Christmas day.

Since the initial expense was no longer an excuse worry, I was ready to try it!  After a few insertion fumbles and some trial and error, I can honestly say I will never ever ever go back to disposable menstruation products.  You really, really need to try it!

Instead of spending a week changing, carrying, and disposing of hygiene products, I now only have to address my period twice a day. After the first day’s cramping, I honestly forget I’m even on my period.  I forget.  About my period.  That is absolutely amazing.  AMAZING.

So here are my tips for the cup curious and beginner users.

You need to be familiar and comfortable with your anatomy and physiology.  You need to know what your cervix does and how to find it. You need to be able to come into fairly close contact with normal bodily happenings without flipping your lid. The good news here is that cups don’t have any of the ew-y side effects of disposable products.  There’s no smell, the stuff is fully contained inside your body until you’re ready to handle it.  Disposable products allow for oxidation and bacterial growth (aka stank) that cups bypass entirely.  Your insides don’t smell bad.  It’s the environment on the outside that makes things get weird.

Find the cup FOR YOU.  There are so many different cup sizes and shapes out there!  Diva Cups are one of the most easily accessible brands, readily found at most drug stores.  But everyone’s anatomy and personal preferences are unique.  A cervix that sits lower may require a shorter cup.  A mom might require a wider cup than a virgin. It all depends!  Luckily, some cup savvy people have made it easy to figure out which cups are best suited for you.  Put A Cup In It not only has excellent information, products for purchase, and a super helpful YouTube Channel, but also a short quiz to help match you with your perfect cup.

Don’t give up if you experience a hot mess the first few times.  It can take a bit of practice to figure out insertion and placement, and your body also needs time to become comfortable with such a foreign idea.  After a few cycles of practicing, you’ll notice a definite difference in your body’s tension and receptiveness to cups.

Use a water based lubricant.  Practice in the shower.  Search out and try multiple folds.  Be patient and kind with your vagina.

You will not regret leaving disposables behind!