Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How to Nurse while Babywearing

Nursing in a carrier is a great way to help meet your baby's needs when you either can't sit down, or if you want a little extra privacy.

My favorite is nursing in the Ergo.  To do this, I lengthen the straps a bit, lowering the baby.  Then I can manoever Baby onto the breast by moving my breast to his head level.  I have found this to be an easy way to get Baby to sleep as well.  For more privacy, just close the sleeping hood.

I never got the hang of how to nurse in the Moby.  I think I managed once by squishing baby lower and squeezing my breast high enough to reach Baby's mouth.  It looks like there is a way to do it by pretending it is a sling.  Here is a video someone else did of how to nurse in a Moby Wrap using it more like a sling:

However you end up managing it, nursing while walking or in the grocery store is a fine feat worth attempting repeatedly to get it right!  Good luck...

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Bright Bots Training Pants Review

Before I started sewing my own training pants (re-usable cloth Pull-Ups), I bought a few.  I knew I would be doing EC (this was before baby #1 was born), and I read the Diaper Free Baby and she recommended all sorts of items.  Cloth training pants seemed like a good idea, so I went looking.  I looked at the EC Store, and their cheapest ones were Bright Bots Training Pants.  I bought a few in size small and a few in size medium, and got a bit of use of them with both kids.

I liked them because they are cute, thin, and absorbent enough for one pee, and feel slightly damp from the outside but don't leak.  This lets you know Baby is wet and change him right away, but yet not leak pee all over.  What I didn't like was the long rise and slightly tight waist.  This could have just been how they fit on my babies, but I had to stop using them quickly because of the marks left on their waists ~ and both my babies have been on the non-chubby side. I also don't like the crinkly sound the waterproof layer makes.  I think those two items (the tight waist and crinkly noise) don't make up for the perfect thin-ness and absorbency.  Even at the right price point, I don't think they are the best option.

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Recipe: Crock Pot Chili

1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 green pepper, chopped
1 lb. ground beef, cooked
1 cup beans, soaked overnight and then cooked on the stove (cover with water and a sheet of kombu seaweed, bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer for an hour, or until fork-soft, uncovered)
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 t. cumin
1/2 t. cayenne
1/2 c. beef broth

Place in slow cooker. Cook 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high.

Served below with sauereuben and a roasted jalapeno (1 hour at 350 degrees with a little olive oil).

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Scootababy Carrier: My Current Favorite

I purchased the Scootababy carrier when my eldest was about 18 months old.  I did it on a bit of a whim when he was getting pretty heavy in the Ergo on the front, but didn't love to sit on the back.  Having him on my hip without adjusting the straps made it easy to use and actually pretty cozy.  I am using it again with my second, who is 7 months old.  He loves to look out, so sitting on the side is a nice compromise for both of us (he can look out without craning his neck, and I can still look at him).

This carrier is a soft structured carrier (SSC), just like the Ergo.  This means it is a classic Asian Mei Tai, redesigned to use clips instead of long straps and knots.  Its innovation is to have one strap instead of two on the upper body part so that it is permanently a hip carrier (although you can wear your baby more to the front or back).

I thought I wouldn't like having the weight on one shoulder, but the hip belt carries a lot of the weight, and the one shoulder is covered in a wide piece of fleece.  This piece really envelops the shoulder cap, thus keeping the weight on the wearer's skeleton instead of their muscles.  This makes the child feel light!  The carrier also keeps the child close.

It comes in a variety of colors, and has sturdy construction.  The clips are tight, waist padding is thick enough, and the padding for the opposite hip is mobile, so you can adjust it depending on the waist size of the wearer and where exactly the baby is on you at that moment ~ meaning baby can sit more in front or back and you will always have the other piece padding your opposite hip without carrying the extra padding around.

My only wish for it is a cell phone pocket or larger pocket of some sort, although adding a pocket would make it less cozy.

All in all, I really like the carrier and find it easy to use and comfortable from about 5 months to 40 pounds.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

How to Nurse Side Lying

Nursing on the side can be a little tricky at first, but once you get the hang of it, you can do it in your sleep (literally)!  It makes such a huge lifestyle improvement, that it is worth figuring out.

Let me (try to) help:

To do it, first lay on your side facing Baby.  You can roll up a thin blanket to keep Baby on his side if you feel like it helps, though you could also use your upper arm.  The lower arm is bent and hugging a pillow (this is key- placement of this pillow). Play with this lower arm and pillow placement until you figure out what is comfortable for you.  Your upper arm can be hugging baby or wherever. Your bodies are touching and belly to belly. One video showed a pillow between mom's legs but I don't.  Here is a video of a woman learning side lying nursing.

Here is another video of side lying nursing:

I hope this helps! It is really so so so useful, although in the beginning some babies don't have enough head control to make it work.  If this is the case, wait a few days and try again.  Happy nursing!
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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Big Box into a Little House

Supplies Used: 2 boxes, utility knife, scissors, packing tape, thin bamboo as dowel, fabric, 2 outlet covers, some cardboard corner protectors (the box was from a cabinet and these were attached to the corners).

Order of Assembly: height, doors, windows, roof, window coverings, door hardware, outlets, floor coverings.

Here it is in progress... the windows and doors have been cut and are being tested, and the roof is on.  Notice we  lengthened the box by taping the edges together to make it taller, and put another box part on top as a roof.
This window works.
Helping with the bamboo poles/ dowels (used to hang the curtains).
This is the back door/ window.  It is 3/4 height, and we covered the hole with a fabric curtain.  The curtain rod is a bamboo pole which is attached on each side with a piece of jute cord stuck in two holes and tied together on the inside.  The pole edges are taped in place.  The curtain itself is sewn with an easy fold over and stitch and the pole is laced through.  We used this same method for the side curtain.
This side has two windows and an electrical outlet.  The outlet is cut all the way through so it is an exterior and interior outlet (his design, not mine).  We filled it in with two outlet protectors taped together.  

You can see the front here as well. The front door is in two pieces (like a half door in some old houses).  The cardboard triangle corner protectors are on the bottom part on the inside and outside as a handle.  The top part has a hole to open and close the door with, as do the windows you see.  The fabric at the bottom is the welcome mat, which is a piece of fabric taped onto one of the cardboard flaps.
This is the other side.  You can see the back  window/ door here, and the other side window.  The window curtain is pulled inside in the photo.
You can see the front door here being held open.  He is standing on the rug we made.  It was made out of the back  big window/ door piece that was removed and happened to fit perfectly on the floor inside.  We cut a piece of fabric just larger and taped it to the cardboard piece from the back.
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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Plan Toys Roller Toy

This rainbow roller toy is just right for our growing baby.  He is 7 months old, sitting, and commando crawling.  This toy is giving him good practice grasping, and it is a good size to fit his hand around.  He drops it, then it rolls a bit, and the ball inside keeps his attention and he watches it roll away (object permanence).  Then he flops himself down onto his belly, and commando crawls after it.  Repeat grasping, dropping, watching, retrieving.  Quite entertaining.  Plus, it is made of wood and non-toxic paints.  I love Plan Toys.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sewing Machine Recommendations

Sewing machines span from less than a hundred dollars to closer to a thousand.  What is the difference? What features are useful?

When I was in grade school, I used to use the OLD machine that we had around the house.  The tension was always off, and I was forever screwing around with the bobbin and untangling thread.

I started sewing as an adult with a $79 refurbished Singer I got at JoAnn's.  It was magical.  It sewed straight and zig-zagged, and rarely tangled up the threads.  I was hooked.  I used it for a few hours a day for a year, then it started making a noise.  I took it to a local repair shop, and he explained that I should have been cleaning it regularly by opening it up and getting the lint out (huh?) and I should have also been oiling that particular model.  Hmm... Its parts were all plastic, and he explained that he could fix it for a hundred bucks, or offered a trade-in by discounting a model they offered.  

I took him up on the trade-in, and got a BabyLock Creative Pro.  I LOVE it.  It doesn't need to be oiled ever, its parts are metal (read: 25-year life span), and all I need to do to keep it purring along it to get the lint out every so often and put in a new sharp needle every so often.  The electronic screen makes choosing stitches very easy, and I love the drop-in bobbin.  I never need to thread the bobbin.  It automatically leaves the needle down when you stop sewing. It pulls the fabric along when I sew, and I use the different stitches regularly.  It is great, and makes sewing easier.

Fancier machines than mine have more features for quilting and for embroidery, which I haven't spent time doing and didn't see in my near future.

If you are looking for a new machine lower on the cost spectrum, I would recommend the Brother Sew Advance Sew Affordable.  It has a drop-in bobbin (it can be so frustrating to thread a bobbin, especially at first) and a lot of stitches to choose from.  Brother is a reputable company.  It looks like a great intro to sewing machine.

Whichever you choose, make sure you spend a few days poking around on it with the manual open.  Find an easy project or two and get a feel for how to manouever it.  Have fun!

This is the Creative Pro on their website. It doesn't look like the one I have.

This looks like mine. On the website, it is called the Grace.
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Monday, January 23, 2012

Cloth Diaper Comparison: Bumkims vs. Kushies vs. Prowrap All-in-Ones

All-in-one cloth diapers are the closest to disposables in terms of ease of use.  Well, perceived ease of use, anyway-- all the systems are easy to use once you get a system going.  But all-in-ones are unique in that they are all the pieces you need, and already assembled.  They have a waterproof layer on the outside, and an absorbent layer inside. Some have this soaker piece (the absorbent part) only sewn on one side instead of all the way in, and this is so that it will dry faster and get more clean in the wash.  Before I started sewing my own, I tried a few brands.  I am using these diapers again with baby #2, so they are fresh in my mind.  Note that all-in-ones are wash-it-yourself at home.  Here is how they compare:

Bumkins: These are my favorite ones.  They are soft and supple, yet waterproof and plenty absorbent.  The laundry tabs cover the velcro and the tabs are wide enough to maneuver quickly with a squirming baby.  The waterproof layer is thin.  The innermost flannel layer is only attached at the ends and dries easily in the dryer.  I also like how they are sized; mine are size large, which isn't supposed to fit until 22 pounds, yet they fit from about 15.  These are by far my favorite.  But at $20 each, they are a bit steep.  I found mine used, and they are still going strong on their fourth child.  They come in a huge variety of patterns or plain white.

Kushies: These are also made of flannel inside and a waterproof material outside.  This is more of a woven material outside and it is thick and contains moisture well.  These are absorbent and dry quickly enough.  They also have lanundry tabs.  I do not like how thin the velcro tabs are, though they do allow for some give in sizing up or down (meaning your baby can wear them outside the weights posted a bit).  At $10 each, they are a good deal for an all-in-one; though not my favorite, I like them.

Prowrap: I tried these because a friend swore by the diaper covers (see below- here is the all-in-one link).  She used them with her diaper service diapers and swore they were the best for containing blow-outs.  I found these to be a bit thick as an all-in-one, meaning they keep the wetness in very well, but take forever to dry out of the laundry, even though they are flannel. They also don't have laundry tabs, so the velcro sticks to the rest of the laundry often.  The tabs themselves are a bit short, so they don't accommodate any sizes adjustments and I feel like my babies grew out of them quickly.  At $10 each, they are cheaper than the others, but the thickness and short tabs made them my least favorite.

DIY: I like making them myself because I can make the adjustments and all the choices.  For example, I prefer snaps to velcro.  They don't have any laundry issues, hold up well, and don't wake baby with the noise.  I can also choose if I want flannel (feel-wet), or fleece (feel-dry) against baby's skin.  They are also cheaper in terms of materials but more expensive in terms of time... I guess it's a trade-off...

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Recipe: Persimmon Mint Spinach Smoothies

We are working our way through the persimmon glut, and are down to just two more 2-cup bags of persimmon puree in the freezer.  Here is how we are going to finish them off.

Persimmon Mint Spinach Smoothie

2 cups frozen or thawed persimmons
1 banana (fresh or frozen)
2 cups homemade bone broth
1 scoop Green Vibrance
2 T flaxseed meal
1 teaspoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon bee pollen
2 Tablespoons rice protein powder
sprig mint
2 T cacao nibs, optional (add a nice crunch)
1 cup fresh spinach or kale

Mix in blender.  Serves 2.

Please note that I am a bit ambivalent about using isolated protein (protein powder).  On the one hand, it adds protein to the meal.  But on the other hand, food should be eaten whole, as nature intended.  I am avoiding all sorts of foods for my little nursling at the moment, otherwise I think a big scoop of yogurt would be a better protein source in the smoothie.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Diaper Sprayer: Cloth Diapers Made Easier

This ingenious contraption attaches to the toilet, and makes poop in cloth diapers so easy to clean off and go where it belongs.  

To use it, you hold a poopy diaper over the toilet and spray it.  The poop falls into the toilet, and you flush it.  The wet diaper goes into the laundry basket or diaper pail (or, if you are like us, right into the wash-- we have so few of them because we do EC-- and we always have enough laundry to make a full load... then they don't need to sit around).

Its package calls it a "multi-use sprayer," so I suppose you could use it as a bidet, to help clean the toilet, or whatever else.  We like it because our utility sink is outside (in our old house it was inside).  With it, we can make the toilet into a utility sink of sorts; for example, washing dirty shoes or dirty feet inside instead of outside.

For its primary function, I have now used it a handful of times and it has made those poopy diapers NOT GROSS!  I didn't touch poop, or get poop on anything else.  Everyone says that with cloth, you just "shake the solids" into the toilet and I know that has never worked for me (they haven't been "shake-able").   If we weren't doing EC, this would be a mandatory cloth diapering item.  It really makes them so manageable.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

How Baby (and Kid) Sizing Works

Baby labels are sometimes marked with one number, and sometimes for a range.  When I was pregnant, I got a lot of hand-me-downs and gifts, and missed being able to use some of them because it took someone telling me that the number was the end of the range, not the beginning.  Oy!  To save you some confusion, here is how it works:

  • Preemie Size: These tiny clothes are for under about 6 pounds.
  • Newborn Size: This is for smaller babies, usually under around 8 pounds.  Some babies skip this size entirely, though both my babies (6 lb 10 oz and 6 lb 2 oz) wore this size for a month.
  • 0-3 Months (aka "3"): this is the next size up, although there is often overlap down.  
  • 0-6 Months: some items are sized in this huge range, though they are usually items like socks and booties.
  • 3-6 Months (aka "6")
  • 6-9 Months (aka "9"): Some brands skip this size entirely, so when your baby hits 6 months, don't forget to also use the 6-12 month clothing.  I found the arms too long in the 6-12 month when my babies were at the beginning of this range, or the bodies too wide.  So I really liked the items that came in this often overlooked size.
  • 6-12 Months (aka "12")
  • 1T: slightly larger than 6-12 months but fairly uncommon.  The "T" in the sizing means it is the start of the size range, not the end.
  • 12-18 Months (aka "18")
  • 18-24 Months (aka "24"): Some toddlers can skip this size, because it is SO similar to 2T.  The neck holes are a bit tighter and pants a bit shorter, though.  My elder son hit this size in the summer, so shirt length wasn't as important to us then, though.  A friend of mine with a big baby (non-walker at the time) had him in this size and said it was different than 2T. My guess is because he was sitting at the time instead of standing.
  • 2T: This is for 2-3 years of age.  
  • 3T: This size didn't do us much good, either, but my older son is around the 70th percentile.  He went right from 2T to 4T.  Had we stopped at 3T (which we did for a few items), we would have found the rise of pants very close to 2T in size, but the length longer.  The shorts are also a bit longer, but 4T are not that much longer that it is worth getting a 3T wardrobe in tops.  I think 3T is when manufacturers stop adding extra space for diaper butt.
  • 4T: For ages 4-5.
  • 5T: The last "T" size.
  • XXS: Some brands have this, and it overlaps with 4T.
  • XS: Overlaps with 4-5, though slightly longer in the arms and legs, and torso length.
  • S: Ages/ sizes 6-7
  • M: Size 8
  • L: Sizes 9-10
  • XL: Sizes 11-12
  • XXL: Sizes 13-14
There it is.  Don't forget to try the smaller and larger clothing regardless of what the tag says.  We had a 3T hand-me-down that fits the 6-12 mo range!  
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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Recipe: Rutabaga Sauerkraut (Sauereuben)

The yellow grated mass on his tray is sauerkraut made with rutabaga (he is also eating roasted cauliflower and chicken).    To make your own sauereuben, grate 5 pounds of rutabagas (or turnips).  Sprinkle in 3 T of sea salt.  Place into your fermentation vessel (or similar).  Pound down to release the juices.  Make sure the vegetables are covered with liquid, and place a ceramic plate (or similar) on top, touching vegetables.  Weigh it down to keep it pressed against food (a quart mason jar filled with water works well).  Cover entire vessel with a cheesecloth, dishtowel, or similar.  Leave on the counter for 3-5 days.  You can taste it to make sure the salt flavor is gone and it is tangy.  That means those probiotics are there and the food is actually MORE nutritious than when you started. Refrigerate and enjoy!

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Greener ways to Diaper ~ if you do not use cloth or do EC

If you aren't ready to go whole hog by using cloth diapers, but would prefer to be a bit friendlier on the environment than typical disposable diapers, there are a few greener alternatives.  My favorite, of course, is to go Diaper-Free.  The best part of diaper-free (EC) is that by around 3 months of age, all poops go in the potty, so you can easily use cloth training pants you wash yourself. But if you aren't ready for that, either, here are some other options:

  1. G-Diapers ~ This innovative system is a hybrid between cloth and disposable (or you can use cloth inserts to make it all-cloth).  The disposable part is actually flushable down your toilet.  It is a re-usable cloth exterior with a snap-in waterproof liner that holds the flushable (or cloth option) part.  The flushable portion feels like a maxi-pad.  If you choose the cloth option, you could also use a thin diaper liner (to throw the poop in the toilet and wash the wet liner part).  G-Diapers are a great "gateway" diaper to cloth, in my opinion, because they help you learn how easy and clean cloth is!  But you could also use it for what it is: a greener way to diaper the baby.  Plus, they are cute.
  2. A Compostable Diaper Service ~ In the Bay Area, Earth Baby is a service that picks up your soiled compostable diapers and brings you new ones.  Their premise is that human waste doesn't belong in our green bins, so they will properly compost your compostable diapers (they use Nature's Babycare Compostable Diapers). 
  3. Compostable Diapers ~ Broody Chick from Canada sells 100% biodegradable diapers.  They use wood pulp as the filler. You could also use Nature's Babycare Compostable Diapers on your own.  This option has mixed reviews, though.
  4. Chlorine-Free Disposable Diapers ~ Seventh Generation, Nature's Babycare, and Earth's Best make these.  A friend of mine has tried all of these and swears by Nature's Babycare - for the price, absorbency, and fit.  She loves them.  But chlorine-free are still disposable diapers, and the least green of the ones here.
Though I am making this information available to you, please do not consider this my endorsement of disposable diapering!  I really wholeheartedly believe that cloth is better for your baby and better for the environment.  Check out the chemicals noted here if the environmental argument isn't enough for you.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Breast Feeding Positions

What a great video!

Happy nursing... Pin It

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Persimmons: How to get the astringent out

Persimmons sure are yummy... but if you don't catch them right, they can "sting" your tongue with that astringent flavor.  We got a LOT of the pointy-bottom persimmons from a neighbor this year.  We figured out that there are two ways to avoid that off-putting taste: 1. to wait until they are so so so soft, like a water balloon, before eating them; or 2. to FREEZE them and defrost them.  That taste doesn't survive the freezer.  Weird, but true. Pin It

Saturday, January 14, 2012

More Smock Bibs

 This is my second round of smock bibs.  I made six this time- five with snaps to close (bottom photo), and one with a tie (top photo).

I used the same shirt bib pattern as before, with the same modification of making the arms wider.

I made these assembly-line style, which worked quite nicely.  My favorite assembly line trick is to feed one item in right after the other, then cut them apart after.  I did that with these and the FOE (fold over elastic).

I used PUL for the bibs, and FOE for the binding, though you could use anything for the binding.  I used KAM snaps at the neck.
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Friday, January 13, 2012

Recipe: Gluten Free Persimmon Bread in Breadmaker

1/2 cup raw milk
2/3 cup butter, softened
2 eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups pureed persimmons
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup honey
1 cup rice flour
1 2/3 cups oat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Place ingredients in bread pan in order listed.  Set breadmaker to quick bread/ cake.  This makes a large (2 lb) loaf.  After batter has mixed for 4 minutes, scrape down sides with a rubber spatula.  When cycle is complete and bread is cooked, cool on wire rack.
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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Preschooler Toy: Real Nuts, Bolts, and Screws

This great toy lets kids feel the heft of a piece of metal in their hand, and they work on fine motor skills, organization, planning, sequencing... plus it's fun!

My husband picked up the case, nuts, bolts, and screws at Home Depot for under $20.  You could even pack it less full.

The preschooler was given this toy with the express instruction that if he left any part of it out of its case, or let his [baby] brother touch it, it would disappear.  He has been fastidious.

Thanks to my friend for the idea (her son was playing with one and we had to go make one).
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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Persimmon Sorbet v 2.0

We made persimmon sorbet the other night, and it was delicious!

This experience, though, wasn't quite as good.  I used the alternate recipe I posted, which was 2 cups of pureed persimmons and the zest and juice of one lemon.  I put it into the ice cream maker.

I actually was a little disappointed.  The zest was too zesty, and the whole thing was a bit thick.  When I made it before, just freezing it and partially defrosting it in a bag, then squishing it, I was much happier with the result.

Go figure.
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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Green Onions for Teething Pain

All this food on my plate... and I want to gnaw on the green onion top... Oh, and I look just like my brother at this age (he is in the photo being held up)...

His third tooth in two weeks is breaking the gumline, and this little guy feels the pain more than child #1 ever did.  Trying to ease his pain without drugs, I started asking around.  Ice in a mesh bag like this was one idea I liked.  We had tried a frozen teething ring and his hands got too cold.

Another idea (from a mom of 10) was to have the baby chew on the tops of a green onion (scallion).  We tried it, and it seems to be working!
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Monday, January 9, 2012

Recipe: Persimmon Fruit Leather (Raw)

These are part of our Persimmon Project.  

We have now taken the glut of ripe Hachiya Persimmons our neighbor gave us and pureed them, skins and all, in the food processor and then we froze them in 2-cup ziploc baggies.

To make fruit leather, we took a baggie and defrosted it and spread it onto the Teflex sheet of the dehydrator.  We then spread it so that it was evenly distributed.

Then we put it into the dehydrator set at 115 degrees (to keep it raw and to keep the enzymes intact).  Drying time depends on the weather, and this took us about 8 hours.

They are just ok.  Sadly.  We had such high hopes for them.  We found them to be a little bland, although we find the ripe fruit to be divine.  My guess is that the addition of lemon juice and rind, or Vitamin C crystals/ ascorbic acid would help make the flavor pop.  The consistency was just right, though.
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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Wee Weka Pocket Diapers

I just made two more pocket diapers using Wee Weka's ML side snap pattern (the fifth one on this list).  I have used this pattern before, and we are actually using these at night these days, since the littlest guy doesn't get changed out of wet diapers that quickly at night.

The inner layer of suedecloth (or microfleece or fleece) keeps him feeling dry, since it wicks the moisture right away into the inner layer, which we stuff with prefolds as our inserts (see link below).  You could also stuff it with any sort of absorbent cloth.  The outside is PUL.  The snaps are Kam snaps.  I inserted them before putting the outer and inner together, which I hadn't done before.  I didn't want them to rub against the little guy's skin.  I did need to look at the pattern markings more closely than usual for placement, and this made my topstitching a bit lopsided at the end, as the snaps ended up a bit close for my presser foot to navigate around.

The advantage of pockets over all-in-ones is that the inserts come out and can be washed separately, meaning they are sure to get clean, plus they dry faster as separate pieces in the dryer. 

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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Feeding Baby: The Preloaded Spoon

One of the questions about Baby-Led Weaning (giving the baby whole foods and letting them feed themselves) is how to give them mushy foods.  The answer is to not usually give mushy foods, but, if that is what you are eating, then to load the spoon for them and give it to them to manage.

Here is the littlest guy, eating oatmeal with us.  His spoons are ready when he is.
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Friday, January 6, 2012

Book Review: The Fourfold Path to Healing

The Fourfold Path to Healing by Dr. Thomas Cowan had kept coming up on my amazon page every time I got the link for Nourishing Traditions (life-changing and fabulous cookbook) to recommend to someone (which happens all the time, actually- it is an amazing book).  Finally, I gave in and read it.  I am so happy I did this.

The book is in two parts.  In the first part, he describes each of the four parts of this fourfold path to healing: nutrition, therapeutics, movement, and meditation.  

He describes nutrition as healing the physical body.  He uses the principles in  Nourishing Traditions  but expands more on them, and makes it a bit more unified.  He uses Weston Price's research as well.  The information in this section alone is worth reading the whole book. 

He describes therapeutics as healing the life-force body.  He draws on the work of Rudolf Steiner's anthroposophy and Edgar Cayce's writings describes a few companies he sees as worthy of buying their supplements, like Dr. Royal Lee's Standard Process.  Most notably, he describes the hierarchy of healing interventions, describing how they work and which to try when.  He gives a detailed description of homeopathy and protomorphogens as well, which I found well-researched and informative.

Cowan describes movement as healing the emotional body.  This section has drawings and exercises to move the spirit through the body.  He later recommends specific exercises for specific conditions.

Lastly, Cowan says meditation is healing the mental body.  He argues that a patient's attitude helps determine the illness outcome, so spending time improving one's outlook pays dividends.  Thinking is also the highest function of the human being, and through it, we can reclaim perfect health.

In the second part, The Art of Medicine, Cowan goes through a number of diseases and gives specific recommendations using the four parts he described in the first part of the book.  Each chapter ends with an easy-reference chart to help the patient implement his suggestions.   These are interesting sections, and he spends time comparing diseases to the natural world and using these to come to remedies.  For example, in the women's health section, he discusses how women relate to the moon, and how silver is like the moon and is a useful homeopathic medicine for certain conditions of women.

The book ends with appendices with recipes and detailed therapy instructions.  His castor oil pack how-to is especially interesting, because he recommends it often and I have never seen one done.  He also has appendices for movement instructions which is largely repetitive of the first part, and then sources for products he recommends.

The about-the-author is at the end and, of course, he lives and works in the Bay Area and has a clinic in San Francisco.  Turns out he is also a founder of the Weston Price Foundation.

Overall, it is a good read.  It is a nice complement to   Nourishing Traditions (thanks, amazon!) because it gives specific suggestions of how and when to eat various items in the cookbook.  

My favorite part of the book was his idea of how to have children involved in their healing.  He suggests teaching children that their bodies will heal themselves, and sometimes we need doctors or medicines to help the body on its way.  I love that this language helps teach kids that their bodies are capable healers, but sometimes need a nudge.

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Recipe: Persimmon Sorbet

We are up to our eyeballs in persimmons again, thanks to another neighbor.  And they are ripening faster than we can eat them raw.

So we pureed loads of them and are using some and freezing others.  They are portioned in 2-cup ziploc baggies in the freezer.

Recipe: Persimmon Sorbet

2 cups pureed Hachiya persimmons (skins and all)
1 teaspoon Vitamin C crystals (we got ours at Trader Joe's but it is 100% ascorbic acid. You could also use the juice of a lemon and the zest)

Partially freeze a ziploc of puree.  Mix in the vitamin C powder. Enjoy!

You could also put into your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Kitchen Gadget: Apple Peeler

We got this apple peeler as a gift and I think it is going to revolutionize our apple cooking.  It suctions to the counter (which is entertainment, too!), then the apple (or potato) goes onto the prongs and you turn the handle and it peels and comes out cored as well.  You can turn off the coring for a potato, and adjust the amount of peel that comes off.

We used it to make apple sauce, and it was nice to not have the core or peels to contend with.  We also were able to eat the raw and cooked pieces, and it was fun to have it in the ring shape.

All in all, this is a cool implement and I can see us getting a lot of use out of it.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Recipe Review: Vegan Nut Free Gluten Free Brownies

I tried this recipe from Elana's Pantry for Vegan Nut Free Gluten Free Brownies and did not like it.  I was surprised, actually, because most of her stuff is delicious.

I found these tasted like banana, and were bland and too smooth for my taste.  I actually added salt, which I never need to do (I usually halve the salt in recipes).

Though in her defense, I skipped all of the sweeteners and replaced the sunflower butter with almond butter.  I did this because my sweet tooth doesn't need sugar if the banana is there (and who keeps xylitol around, anyway?).  Also, our local store doesn't sell sunflower butter without added sugar (the Trader Joe's one has cane juice in it).

Also, there aren't that many variations on the theme of cocoa, almond butter, and vanilla. But, in this vein, these from Heather Strang are far better. Pin It

Monday, January 2, 2012

Pattern Review: Owly Baby Yoga Pants

The Owly Baby Yoga Pants come in sizes NB through 6T, so I thought it would be a great pattern for my baby and preschooler-- to make them matching pants, of course.  Plus it is a downloadable pdf, so I could reprint it over and over as needed, which I always love.  I also thought it was high time for me to try another pants pattern (I have used this one over and over and over and I have just been making it longer now that the preschooler is too big for the largest size).

Here they are in sizes 12 mo and 4T, without the optional added inch for a longer waistband and without being hemmed (also an option).
I thought the pattern was easy to use, and I even learned something new.  She has you attach the legs together by putting the pant legs inside each other, right sides together, and stitch with them in one pile.  I hadn't tried that before, and it made it a lot easier.  This method allowed me to go quickly in making that seam, since I didn't have to readjust at all mid-seam.

They are also very easy because the legs just have an inner seam instead of inner and outer seams (less stitching).  I whipped up both pairs in under an hour, from printing to photo.

I used swimsuit lycra for the pant portion, and a cotton knit for the waistband.

However, once I put these on the kids I ran into a couple of issues.  

The baby pants fit great and are adorable.  The waistband is a bit loose, but they stay up, even without a diaper.  The waistband tends to unroll, but not enough to make them fall down or have a modesty issue.  

I don't have a photo of the preschooler's pants on because they fell off right away.  The waistband was so loose that they didn't stay over his hips.  The length was right, or a bit short (maybe he is a 5T-- but if he is, then they definitely shouldn't have fallen down off the waist).  I am going to need to add some elastic inside the waist, but I may have to tack it in place since it is such a wide waistband.  I may need another solution.

Overall, these are a nice find.  They aren't fabulous because I am going to need to tweak the pattern to make it fit.  But maybe that is one of the benefits of making your own clothing~ that you can change the fit to make it just right.  And they sure are cute... and quick and easy.

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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Maybe It's Time to Keep the Floors Clear

... because someone is moving all around...
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