Wednesday Walkthrough . . . cloth diapers

Today I thought we'd take a stroll through my cloth diaper cleaning process. Recently I've discovered The Cloth Diaper Whisperer blog, and already I have learned so many valuable bits of information from her. One entry that I found most interesting was about her cloth diaper washing routine. It varies a lot from mine, but it sounds just as efficient. I've already started considering which parts I could adopt as part of my own routine to possibly make it more efficient.

My cloth diaper washing process begins at the changing table. I have two buckets with sealed lids. The buckets are 5-gallon buckets bought at Lowes which came in pink and yellow. The yellow bucket stands next to the changing table, and anytime A has a wet diaper, the pre-folds go in the bucket and the cover (Bummi Super Brites) sets on top so it can dry out and be re-used. If it's a poopy diaper, the whole thing is taken to the bathroom where I have the pink bucket set up. The pre-fold gets swooshed in the toilet and goes in the other pail while the non-soiled cover goes on top.

On wash day (about every other day), both buckets and all liners are dumped in the washer and run on a cold cycle (no detergent). Immediately after that, I run them on a hot cycle with a small amount of detergent (usually about half of what I would use for a normal load). Currently I just use the detergent I use for the rest of the family (Seventh Generation), but I am contemplating ordering some Charlie's Soap and seeing if I can notice a difference.

Once the diapers are washed. I either line dry them in the sun for a nice natural bleaching, or I throw them in the dryer (the covers always are line-dried) and dry them on Hot for a soft comfy feel.

The finished products are dumped in the top drawer of the changing table, and the process begins all over again. 

A couple of extra thoughts:

1. I do have some light stains that probably could've been avoided if I used flushable paper liners, but I really didn't want to add another monthly expense to the budget. This is one of the reasons I'm considering Charlie's Soap--I'd love for it to clean more thoroughly than Seventh Gen.

2. I recently purchased my first pocket diaper (SwaddleBees), and I LOVE it! It seems to be more stain-resistant just by nature of the material. Perhaps the material on my pre-folds is more absorbent.

3. I started with covers and pre-folds because I could register for them and they were cheaper overall. Now that I'm into the cloth diapering thing a lot more, I'm about to purchase a batch of one-size Bum Genius 3.0. If they are as efficent as the SwaddleBees, then I'm really excited to use them and have my work load become even easier. 

4. When the buckets start to smell, I just set them outside in the sun for a day while the washing and drying are going on, and the sun naturally bleaches them clean and fresh-smelling for me.

What's your cloth diaper cleaning routine? Please share what has worked and not worked for you.


Wednesday Walkthrough . . . your television

Suppose we were to stroll through your television schedule of the past...Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers, Bugs Bunny, Popeye...ahh, stop right there. Popeye. We all remember his near failures to Bluto and the panic that gripped our hearts when we thought Olive Oil would be lost forever; and we all quietly (or not-so-quietly) chanted under our breaths, "Eat some spinach, eat some spinach" when the story hit its direst moment. Pause. Apply that to your own life. Well, don't wait until your direst moment; start now. "Eat some spinach."

I am continually amazed at how many good-for-you stuff is packed into those small green leaves, and it seems that every time I read another health article, spinach is the answer to most health problems...need antioxidants? Eat spinach. Need protein? Eat spinach. Need omega-3's? Eat spinach. Need iron? Eat spinach. When I was prego, I started to get a metallic taste in my mouth, and the doctor prescribed more iron. I wanted to stay away from red meats, but the nurse couldn't offer any other sources of iron besides a hearty steak. Of course, with a little research, I discovered that spinach was my answer.

Check out this chart and how many nutrients are included in one cup of boiled spinach (that's a lot of spinach since spinach shrinks so much when boiled).

Note the health benefits to just a few of those ingredients:

Vitamin K--aids in blood clotting. Babies are given a vitamin K shot within 24 hours of birth for this very reason. Nursing moms, think of a diet rich in spinach and what can be transferred to a baby via nursing. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that help treat osteoporosis and arthritis.

Vitamin C--it's not just in oranges. Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin C. It fights stroke, heart disease, contains antioxidants that build our immune systems, lowers blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels, protects colon cells from free radical damage, and the list goes on. 

Omega-3--known to help the brain and eyes. Especially great for pregnant and nursing women because omega-3's play a key role in helping with both the developing fetus and newborn. 

Protein--"Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues. You also use protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood."--quoted from WebMD

Iron--Plain and simple, iron gives you (and your children) energy.

The list goes on and on. In general, (and this is strictly my non-professional opinion), when it doubt, if you are fighting any sort of health condition, eat spinach. You really can't go wrong loading your body up with this many good nutrients.

I get a huge container of organic baby spinach from Sams for about $4. It easily lasts me 1-2 weeks, and I'm always looking for new ways to incorporate it into my meals. Right now it's most commonly found in my scrambled eggs, chopped small and added as a topping on Mexican food, boiled and mixed in with any baby food, and, of course, the main ingredient in spinach salads. (Here's my favorite Oriental Chicken and Spinach Salad--I substitute the Equal with a healthier sweetener.)

How do you eat your spinach? Please comment and leave any favorite spinach recipes or suggestions for adding more to your diet.


And the winners are...

And the winners* are...

5. Steph


17. Rae

You will be sent a winner's email, and you have one week to claim your prize. 

Thank you so much to everyone who participated, and welcome to all of my new followers. I'll be looking for more opportunities to give away new things soon!

*The numbers were picked using random.org


Wednesday Walkthrough . . . and my first-ever GIVEAWAY!

Today's walkthrough takes us to your soap dish, and if it's empty, offers a chance to win some free organic soap to refill it.

Since your skin is your largest organ, it only stands to reason that what you rub on it is going to affect your body in a big way. Since I was little, my skin tolerated very little, especially my face. I would use high-end soaps from department stores only to find that they made my face dry out. As I got older, I started implementing the less-is-more principal when it came to soap and focused on the scrubbing (dry and wet brushing, etc.). 

All that said, I'm really picky about my soap now, and I don't mind spending a little extra for the peace of mind knowing that I'm rubbing only good stuff into my skin. So when my former college roommate started making her own soap, not only was I intrigued, but I loved knowing that few ingredients and no chemicals were going into her soap. Steph's company Luka Organics has evolved to more than just a hobby picked up from her mom; it's a business with a mantra--Luka Organics creates quality and affordable organic and natural products that your skin will love to soak up. 

Recently I visited Luka Organics at the Pearl Farmers' Market here in Tulsa, and I picked up a bar of Almond Oatmeal soap. To start with, I love the look of these soaps. Each soap is minimally packaged so you can see the colors and textures of the ingredients swirled into the bar, and the top of each bar has a choppy raw edge that looks like a stormy soap sea frozen in time.
All of the yummy scents made the decision of which soap to pick almost impossible. Scents ranged from Coconut Lemongrass to Mexican Vanilla. I chose the Almond Oatmeal because of my love affair with almond scent and the natural healing properties of oatmeal. The scent of each bar was subtle, but when the soap hit the shower water, true to Steph's promise, the scent became a bit stronger. I have sensitive nose and can't stand fragrances in my products. I tend toward the earthy smells if I have to have a smell at all, but this soap was a perfect balance of scent and subtlety. 

I've tried many organic soaps, and compared to what the stores offer, Luka Organic soaps stand out for a few reasons. Number one, the size of the bar. Most organic soaps are high on price and low on quantity. My hubby loves a thick lather on his washcloth, and I cringe when my $8 bar of soap disappears into nothingness after a couple of showers. But for only $6, Luka Organics survived almost a month of thick lathers in our shower. I've also had organic soaps turn to a sticky, unmanageable mess that left a trail of slime from my fingers to the bar mush after a few uses. Not Luka Organics. In the shower, they hold their texture and shape and are pleasant to touch again and again.

Don't just take my word for it. Try it yourself . . . for free! Luka Organics has generously offered to sponsor my first ever blog giveaway. 

Two random winners will each receive two bars of soap of their choice. 

To Enter:

Visit Luka Organics and leave a comment about which scent sounds the yummiest for your skin to drink up. 

(If you are viewing this via Facebook, you must comment on my blog--click on "View Original Post" down by the comment section or go to www.plantingbamboo.blogspot.com. Comments left on Facebook will not be considered).

Extra Entries (be sure to add a separate comment for each):

1. Blog about this giveaway (2 entries--leave 2 comments)
2. Follow me on blogger

Be sure to leave contact information in your entry so I can notify you if you win. The giveaway will be open until Monday, June 15th. I'll contact the winners via email and post them on my blog. You'll have until Friday the 19th to claim your prize.

Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review but did receive a sample from Luka Organics.

**Thank you for all who commented. This giveaway is now finished**


Bargain 1-Year Birthday Bash

Ahhh, the one year birthday party is behind me, and it wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. I ended up pulling the entire party off for a rather cheap price. So, if you're looking for birthday bargains and ways to cut corners on price, I've got some suggestions for you.

The Favors:

I started with the favors because this is where I got my inspiration for the party. Peter Rabbit stuff was in the dollar bins at Target just before Easter. There were mini board books, notebooks, pencils and sticker books. I snatched those up and decided to make that the theme for the party. Dollar favors. The only cheaper option is to skip the favors :) I've heard of others buying Halloween stuff on clearance for a Spider Man theme party, etc. The favors are wrapped and displayed in the basket below:

The Invite:

This was a last-minute deal, so I couldn't order from Vista Print because they charge an arm and a leg for fast shipping. Peter Rabbit theme invites are few and far between (as my long search on the Internet proved), but I stumbled upon this treasure. This lady basically sells a file of an invite for only $5, and it's pretty much immediately emailed to you. I got this invite:

And with a little manipulation on Word and printing it on brown card stock turned it into this (sorry the file is a little hard to read):

The decorations: 

We focused more on a Mr. McGregor's garden theme and filled a park pavillion with potted flowers, scarecrows and gardening tools (no cost). I bought a couple of tablecloths, paper plates, and bunny centerpiece on clearance after Easter, again from Target. My sister-in-law has a hookup with a linen company, so she got me white tablecloths with green overlays--even though I didn't pay for these, if you can splurge a little, these made all the difference. It really took the decor up a notch. The centerpieces were buckets and vases I had around the house, and I bought a $4 bouquet of flowers that I cut and used in each vase.

The One shirt:

A dear friend of mine has a Cricket and cut the pattern out for me, and then I traced this on material and appliqued it to a $3 tee from Hobby Lobby. I'm probably the most proud of how this turned out :)

The Food:

This cost us the most money. We saved by asking family to bring sides, cutting coupons and buying in bulk. But, food is food, if you plan on feeding 40 people, it's going to cost some money no matter how you break it up. The best way to save is to plan a party that doesn't land during mealtime.

The cake:

I didn't want to have to cut cake and serve on separate plates, so I opted for cupcakes and borrowed a cupcake stand. Of course, Andie had her own little cake too! She ate all the strawberries off of it first. That's my girl!


Wednesday Walkthrough

For this week's walkthrough, let's take a quick look in your trash can :)

Recycling, obviously, reduces waste, and it saves money because you're not buying new things. Here's a few things I've recycled lately that have come in extra handy.

1. Coffee grounds. I was just reading in my Organic Gardening that coffee grounds are especially good as fertilizer for your rose bushes. I promptly emptied my French press and took the grounds outside. I've also heard that pouring coffee grounds down your disposal is good for it too!

2. Containers with snap or twist lids. One of my baby's favorite toys right now is a cleaned-up trail mix container that she puts her wooden blocks in. Her favorite games right now consist of taking things out/off and then putting them back. The trail mix container is no exception. She likes that it's see-through so she can monitor her progress, and the wide mouth of the jar makes it easy for her to reach in. Take this up a notch and cut the lid with a hole the same shape as the blocks. Now the fun is an accelerated-learning toy matching shapes with objects.

3. Leftovers in your glasses. Sometimes my home resembles the living room from the movie Signs--half-full water glasses scattered about the coffee table, TV, bookshelves, etc. Instead of dumping all that unused water down the drain, use the leftovers to water your inside plants. Personally, I'm terrible at remembering to water my plants, so this actually helps me water more frequently because I do it every time I pick up around the house. BONUS: You can also share your leftover tea with your houseplants too. Not sure of the science, but they love it. I have a plant that was truly on its last days, but once I started sharing my tea with it, the plant came back to life and started sprouting more leaves. A miracle!

What about you? What recycling tips do you have for things around the house? Please share!

Stay tuned next week when we walk through your bathroom--not only will you get great tips, but you'll learn about one of my favorite organic soaps, and you can be part of my first-ever giveaway!