Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Flannel baby wipes

Hey everyone! I hope you had a great long weekend! Audrey, Lola and I are heading to NJ today. Sadly, my great Aunt Ange passed away on Friday, so I am going up for her funeral. She was a wonderful lady, and I will miss her so much. I'm glad I got to see her a few weeks ago though, and that I'll get to say goodbye at her funeral.

While I'm away, I wanted to leave you all with the easy instructions for the cloth wipes I mentioned in this post.

Before the instructions, a little background...
I started using cloth wipes for Audrey about a month ago. At first, I bought Charlie Banana Organic Cotton Wipes, but after I realized how many I would need, and how expensive they were, I decided that I could probably just make my own wipes and save some money in the process.

I like the Charlie Banana wipes that I have, and I still use them. My draw to them was the organic cotton, but ironically, I like the fleece side of them better for wiping. This just added to my reasons for making my own.

Anyway, if you'd like to do the same, here's the simple step-by-step!



Gather your supplies:

  • Cotton flannel
  • Coordinating thread
  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Pins

First, cut your fabric into 9" squares. Since these wipes will be double-sided, choose 2 coordinating fabrics.



Pin your fabric together, right sides facing each other.


Sew together, leaving a small opening.


Trim excess around edges.


Pull the fabric right side out, through the small opening.

Fold the raw edges in and sew shut.



Top stitch around the border. I used a zig zag stitch. 




Now you're done!







Even if you're not into using cloth wipes for your baby's bottom, these still make great wipes for cleaning up little hands and faces! And of course, there is no limit to the cute fabric combinations you could put together!

Hopefully I will be back to blogging later in the week once we are home, but we're also headed to North Carolina for a family vacation on Saturday, so overall, it's a very busy week! 

I hope you all have a great Tuesday!

Friday, May 25, 2012

A little preview...

I've been very busy finishing up some projects, so in the meantime, I wanted to leave you with a little preview of Audrey modeling the car seat strap covers! I'll have a tutorial up for these soon!

Happy Friday! Hope you all have a great long weekend!


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

DIY chandelier chain cover

One day, when I was in the middle of another sewing project, I suddenly got inspired to make a chain cover for my dining room chandelier. It seems like I get inspiration for my projects all at once! I either have no ideas, or tons of them!


I can't say that I had even thought much about covering the chandelier chain before, but that day, it seemed like a great idea. This is really easy, and you could even do it without sewing if you wanted to!

Here we go.

Gather your supplies.


Fabric (about 7" wide and double the length of your chain)
Velcro (iron-on if you'd like to skip the sewing)
Thread
Measuring tape
Pins 
Scissors
Hem tape (if you'd like to skip the sewing)

First, cut your fabric to about 7" wide, and double the length of your chandelier chain (mine was 13" long, so I cut the fabric to 26"). I got this fabric as a remnant on clearance at Joann's for next to nothing! I didn't have any specific plans for it, but when I decided to make this chain cover, I thought it would be perfect!


Pin all edges, and sew (or use hem tape).



Cut your velcro into thin strips, pin it, and sew (or iron) onto your fabric. You'll want one piece of velcro on the outer side of the fabric, and the other on the inside, as shown below.


Now you're done! Just wrap it around your chandelier chain and secure the velcro. The fabric will bunch naturally since it is longer than the chain itself.


Take a look at the chandelier before:


And after:




Even though the exposed chain never bothered me before, I really love how it looks covered. I think it's more finished and the gold fabric makes me happy too, and ties in with a few other gold elements in the dining and living room.

I hope you're all having a great week so far!


Monday, May 21, 2012

Cloth diapering

I'm so glad I finally got this post together for you all! I've had several questions about cloth diapering, and how it's been going for us, so I hope that this post will address anything you've been wondering about! I know when I was researching cloth diapering, it was hard to find answers to all of my questions in one place, so my hope is that this post will do just that for you!



1. What we're using. Bum Genius Elemental One-Size All-in-One purchased from Cotton Babies. I love these diapers! The fact that they're all-in-one and one size makes them really convenient to use. There are no separate liners, and since they're one size with adjustable snaps, they should fit her until she is potty trained. The colors are adorable, too! We purchased mostly gender-neutral colors, in case a future baby is a boy, but I also had to get just a few pink and purple ones!


Initially, we started out with 18 of these diapers, but I quickly realized that we needed at least 6 more. Now we have 24, but I still have to do diaper laundry every day to keep up with it. If Audrey is even a little bit wet, she's going to let us know about it! That's a good thing though, but with cloth diapers, babies feel more wet than they do with disposables, so we go through lots of diapers each day!

As far as blow-outs are concerned, I had read that babies have less with cloth. I think I'd say we've had about the same amount as compared to when we used disposables in the beginning. Maybe less now, but I think that has more to do with Audrey than the diapers themselves. 

2. When we started. We started cloth diapering full time a little after Audrey was 3 months old. The diapers were too big on her when she was a newborn, but even if they weren't, I would not have had the energy to keep up with them. We were in survival mode for almost 3 months. Between my c-section recovery, Audrey's sensitivity to dairy (which meant crying all the time), and general newborn craziness, I could barely find time to eat something for lunch, let alone rinse and wash cloth diapers. Once we did start full time, it wasn't so bad. Now diaper laundry is just another part of my day, and it really doesn't bother me at all. I'm hoping for our next baby, I'll be able to start cloth diapers earlier on, but I'll just have to see how things are going when the time comes. 



3. Washing and care. Like I mentioned, I do cloth diaper laundry every day. Bum Genius recommends washing at least every other day, but I can't imagine how many more diapers I'd need to go that long without washing them! 

For pee diapers, we just toss them into the diaper pail. For the poo diapers, we rinse them with a Bum Genius diaper sprayer before throwing them into the pail. The sprayer is great and I can't imagine using cloth diapers without it! Not to give you a mental image, but Audrey is still getting all of her nutrients from breast milk with a few solids here and there, so the diapers I deal with are mostly of the liquid kind. I hear things get a little different once baby is getting on more of a solid diet though. At this point, it really doesn't bother me at all to rinse out a few diapers each day. 

We don't have a fancy front loading washer with cycles I can pre-program, so first, I turn ours on just a short wash cycle with cold water and no detergent. Then, I do a regular hot wash cycle, with Bum Genius diaper detergent. Last, I do a rinse cycle with cold water. When I take them out of the washer, I do a quick check for stains, and if I find a few, I set those diapers aside to be put on my windowsill to get bleached in the sunlight. The other diapers go into the dryer. It takes about an hour and a half for them to dry completely. I was a little skeptical that the sunlight would actually bleach out the stains like Bum Genius suggests, but I have to say, it works perfectly! 

4. Using diaper cream. You may know that you can't use diaper rash cream with cloth diapers, at least not without some sort of barrier between the cream and the diaper. The reason being, the diaper cream will leave a mark on the cloth diaper and mess with the absorbency in that area. I've been using the Bummis bio-soft liners as a barrier. I've also tried the GroVia liners, but didn't like them as much because they aren't as soft as the Bummis liners. I always use 2 liners for extra protection from the diaper cream, but even with doubling up the liners, we've still had a few incidents where the cream has somehow transferred onto the diaper. I think this is because they are semi-porous (sort of like a dryer sheet). That is my only guess as to how the cream has transferred, since I'm careful not to gob it on. 




I'm actually in the process of making my own organic flannel liners. I figure these will offer much better protection than the Bummis liners, plus they're organic, and I can just throw them in the wash and re-use them. I bought the cotton here. The liners I'm making are pretty simple; just 8x12 inches with hemmed edges. I don't plan on posting a tutorial for them, but let me know if you'd be interested in one.



5. Cloth wipes. I recently decided to start using cloth wipes as well. I figured it just made sense to go along with the cloth diapers, and Audrey's bottom seems to be looking better than ever since making the switch. She's never been one to have bad diaper rashes, but the cloth wipes seem to be more gentle on her bottom, and I love the fact that they don't leave her soaking wet like a regular wipe would. 

I'm using a combination of Charlie Banana wipes and wipes that I made myself (mine are pictured below). I started out with 30 Charlie Banana wipes, but when I realized we'd need a lot more, I decided to make my own to save some money. Also because, while I loved the fact that the Charlie Banana wipes were organic cotton, the other side was polyester fleece, and I happened to like that side best for wiping. It didn't seem worth it to me to keep paying for organic cotton when I didn't even prefer that side of the wipe.


As for a wipes solution, first I tried the Bum Genius bottom cleaner. I liked it just fine, but the bottle didn't last long and it was a little expensive at $7.95. Once again, I decided to just make my own. There are so many wipes solution recipes you can look up online, but I wanted to keep it very simple, so I just use water and California Baby Super Sensitive bath soap. I mix it up in a small bottle, so the solution is always fresh, and I just add a drop or two of the soap. I wash the cloth wipes separately from the diapers since they occasionally have diaper cream on them, and I don't want it transferring onto the diapers in the pail or in the wash. 



6. Diaper pails. I use white plastic trash cans from Target for the diapers and the wipes. I have a smaller (about 7 gallon) pail for the wipes and a larger (about 13 gallon) pail for the diapers. I line each with a Kissaluv's pail liner, and I have 3 liners total. One for each pail, and one extra so that when one is in the wash I can replace it. These liners are great because you can just take them out of the pail, dump the diapers or wipes into the washer, and throw this liner in with it. 

7. When we don't use cloth. I use cloth diapers almost 100% of the time, with a few exceptions. When we go to New Jersey with Audrey, I take disposables (as well as disposable wipes). Even though we'd have access to a washer and dryer, I wouldn't have my diaper sprayer, and I think it would be pretty difficult to get the diapers clean without that. We have an upcoming family trip to North Carolina, and we'll be using disposables for that as well. We've had our family watch Audrey two times over the last 6 months, and we've had them use disposables just to make it easier on them. I don't think they'd be too thrilled with rinsing out the diapers! Otherwise, I use the cloth diapers all the time. There has been one or two times when Audrey's bottom has been more red than normal, so sometimes in that case I'll put her in disposables if I really want to put a thick layer of diaper cream on her. That way, I don't have to worry about it coming through the liners and onto the diapers. I won't have to do this once I'm done making her flannel liners, though. We use Huggies Pure & Natural diapers or Whole Foods 365 brand, when we need disposables. I also try to get Seventh Generation wipes, since they are chlorine-free and un-scented.

Well, I think that should cover it! I know this was a really long post, but I hope it's helpful and informative! Let me know if you have any other questions, I'd be happy to answer them. I'll be posting a tutorial soon on how to make the cloth wipes, too!

If you cloth diaper as well, let me know if you have any tips or tricks of your own!



Saturday, May 19, 2012

Banana bread recipe

Hi friends! As promised, I'm going to share with you the best recipe I've found for banana bread! It's so amazing, that everyone in my family who has tasted it, has asked for the recipe. I have to credit my friend Tara for giving this recipe to me. I had tried so many others, but they all just turned out so dry. Not this one! It's perfectly moist and flavorful!


You'll need:

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup sour cream
2-3 medium bananas, mashed (I typically use 3)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x5 loaf pan. 
In a large bowl, stir melted butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla, mix well. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir into batter until smooth. Fold in sour cream and bananas.
Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

I always bake mine for exactly one hour, and it comes out perfectly every time. Sometimes, I add in semi-sweet chocolate chips, which I think makes this bread even better!

Happy baking! 



Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Birchbox-May

For me, the stand-out products from April's Birchbox were:



This is one of the harsher exfoliants I've tried recently, but it didn't irritate my skin at all. It did a great job of sloughing away dry, flaky skin and it really brought impurities to the surface. The downside to that, of course, is that you'll have a few blemishes as a result. This exfoliant smells just like oats to me. I didn't bother me at all, but some people might not particularly enjoy that about it! I really loved this product and I plan on adding it to my skin routine!



It wasn't so much this particular detergent that I loved (although I liked it just fine), but more the packaging. I've seen other brands detergents in these cute little plastic pouches before, but it never occurred to me to purchase them instead of the liquid detergent that I've been using for years. Since getting these samples, I've switched to buying these concentrated packs in my go-to brand (All Free & Clear). My laundry area is so much tidier and there will never be drips of detergent anywhere again! 

Ok, now for the May Birchbox:





It's Gossip Girl themed, and although I don't watch the show, it looks like a great box! I was so excited when I saw Kerastase products inside. Ever since reading about them on Veronika's blog, I've been dying to try them. What did you think of this month's box?! Did you have any favorites from the April box?

If you haven't signed up for Birchbox, and would like to, please feel free to use my referral link!


Monday, May 14, 2012

DIY nursing/teething necklace


I thought this would be a great DIY to share close to Mother's Day!

For a while now, Audrey has been pulling at everything while she nurses. My hair, her hair, my bra straps, you name it! If she can reach it, it's fair game! One day, when I was looking up something completely unrelated on Kellymom, I stumbled across the topic of nursing necklaces. I'd honestly never heard of them before, but it sounded like such a great idea!

The concept of a nursing necklace is simple... it's just something safe for baby to grab while they nurse.

I found these, which I really liked, and I thought it would be pretty easy to make my own. The great thing about them is that they double as a teething necklace as well!


Here's how I made mine.

Gather your supplies:


  • Fabric
  • Wooden beads
  • Thread 
  • Pins
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors

For this necklace, I combined different swatches of fabric that I had on hand. They were actually swatches I cut out from a Ralph Lauren fabric book years ago. You can certainly make it easier on yourself and just use one strip of fabric!

First, cut your fabric to about 5" wide, and 58" long. 

Once I had all my swatches cut to 5" wide, I just lined them up, pinned them, and sewed them together. If you're using one piece of fabric, you will obviously skip this step!





Next, fold your fabric strip right-sides together, pin and sew.


Trim the excess fabric.


Flip the fabric so it's right-side out. Now you have a tube of fabric. 


About 10" from the end of your fabric tube, make a knot. 


Drop a wooden bead down the other end of the tube, and make another knot after the bead. 


Continue adding beads and knots.


I used 7 beads, but you can use as many or as little as you like. Once you're done adding beads, cut some fabric off of each end to get your desired length, and to make the necklace even. Fold the ends of the fabric toward the inside of the necklace, and sew them together. 


You could even use pretty ribbon as the string of your necklace, but I didn't want to have to mess with tying ribbon to put it on.

Here's another one I made with just one strip of fabric.


Audrey tested it out! I think she was excited!




I wear these necklaces constantly, and they've really helped! Plus, I think they're kind of cute anyway, even if you don't have a nursing or teething baby!

Hope you're all having a good Monday!


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