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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Green Laundry

Upon entering my laundry room, it looks fairly typical (the cloth diaper pail on the wall isn't as common), but when you check out the shelf of my laundry essentials, it may look a little different than most.

I have to admit, before I started cloth diapering the boys, I really didn't know too much about how to turn my laundry room green. Once I learned about why cloth diapers needed a environmentally-friendly detergent, I started to learn about the environmentally-unfriendly ingredients that were in the detergents I was using (brand-name stuff, cleaned my clothes and smelled good).

Then I learned about why dryer sheets weren't great for me, my clothes, or those of my kids. We live in a dry climate (not the desert, but close enough), and so I thought I was destined to use fabric sheets forever (since I long ago swore off fabric softener).

After learning why the stuff I was using wasn't good, I found some even MORE amazing eco-friendly alternatives. And now I'm hooked. I'll never go back to petrochemical based items again. And as I told a friend recently, I'm actually loving laundry day (regular laundry and diaper laundry!).

So, what do I use?

For detergent, I occasionally use Allen's Naturally. Allen's is a fantastic, bio-degradable, dye and perfume free detergent that is eco-friendly. It is fantastic for diapers and clothes, but if you're like most people, it's nice to have a scent. Nice smelling things are always a little cozier. You can add some vinegar to the rinse cycle scented with an essential oil, but I'm lucky to get the detergent in. More steps take time!

Enter Crunchy Clean. Really, it is eco-friendly detergent heaven. It is available in a regular and diaper friendly version (although the diaper version works well on clothes too) and dozens of wonderful scents. The scents range from fruity to spicy to fresh and clean. There is a scent to please everyone. And it comes in unscented too. As a work-at-home mom, I love that this is actually a homemade product, and I'm a huge fan of supporting small business.

(See the glass jar (I had a jar that fit the 136-load order perfectly!) and reusable containers with powdered detergent? I can't pick one scent, so I have a scent (Linen Breeze) for clothes, and two scents (Baby Bee Clean and Vanilla Insanity) for diapers).

If I need to get out the stinkies, some Bac Out (by BioKleen) or a little vinegar in a Downy Ball (for the rinse cycle) are ideal. And I found a plant based, eco-friendly (and kind to your skin) fabric softener for those times when I wash the sheets - Ecover.

On to drying. Ideally, it'd be great to line dry everything. But I admit, I don't. So the dryer is used. Once I eliminated dryer sheets, I learned about dryer balls. I found some at a big chain store, the plastic, "As Seen on TV" balls. They were priced right, but really didn't work that great. I still had static, and I hated using the plastic things!

I recently discovered Fuzzy Wuzzy Dryer Balls, another handmade product. And I'm in love. These 100% merino wool balls are not only beautiful, but they're natural and work SO much better than those plastic ones I used for months. They even nearly eliminated the static that I was afraid would happen if I didn't use dryer sheets in this semi-arid desert!

My laundry now is not only clean, but smells good, is fluffy dry and everything I'm using is better for my family and the environment.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mission: Reorganization

The bug bites me every few months to reorganize. We do a daily cleaning of the house, mostly the lived-in areas, but it still gets crazy. After the party last weekend, and the boys' amazing haul of cool birthday presents, I decided it was time to move less-frequently-played-with toys to the basement. (Note I say "less frequently played with because hubby fought me saying that, "they still play with this", "they use this", "he needs things to do!". I'm a pack-rat, so purging, even moving it out of sight is a big deal for me. I told him he couldn't fight me on it, and we needed to move toys out so they could enjoy a little change).

I think a good sign of needing to reorganize is when I caught Small Fry standing in his brother's bin of Cars toys.

It helped that my awesome neighbor pointed out that there was a Cars playroom set on clearance at Toys R Us this week for only $40! It is a 20-piece-set and nicely constructed. I didn't know how I'd use all of the pieces, but it was worth it for the table and stools, toy box and storage bins alone!

I started to assemble it this morning, and the Monkey was so excited about his new table, so while I was still cleaning, he decided to color (I like how he's currently ambidextrous - a crayon in each hand!).

The big goal aside from getting rid of toys was to get rid of the baby gate. I hate it, but it was nice to keep the kids away from the entertainment center. But there was a 3'x2' space where I could easily toss toys to keep them away from the boys, but it got messy, annoying, and the giant bookshelf that housed their toys was inaccessible to them. So I wanted to make it all kid friendly.

The baby gate.

I moved a lot of books to Small Fry's room, he's really getting into books, which is so cool, because if you know the Monkey, he's OBSESSED with reading and it's nice to have it rub off on his brother. I got rid of junk, garbage, non-used things, and consolidated art supplies, coloring books, organized toys into appropriate bins, etc. The bookshelf is ready to use, and the gate has gone away! (I roped the entertainment center doors and drawers shut though, that will be nice).

I also reorganized the rest of the family room, moving around toys and making room for the table and chairs. I also filled the new toy chest with all of the Monkey's Thomas the Tank Engine trains. They are getting a little out of hand, so the organization was nice. He has all the trains in his Thomas-shaped suitcase (a Christmas present from Grandma!), and then all the track, buildings, accessories in the toy box).

Another thing I wanted to do was to sort out the play kitchen food. This is a great toy, and it's in the "living room", the boys will wander in there and we're not always right there to watch them. A few weeks ago, Small Fry got a fake scoop of ice cream stuck in his mouth. It was too big to choke on, but just the right size to get stuck in his mouth, behind his 4 1/2 little teeth. He was bright red and panicking when I found him and I freaked. Thankfully we got it out, but I put away all the food until I could sort it better. So today I bagged up all the choking hazard/small pieces and put them in a baby-proof bin. The bigger stuff was put in a bin, and I stocked the play kitchen shelves. They've already tested it out.

And last, but NOT least, I got new silverware organization! I forgot to take a before picture, but it was a typical, white-plastic silverware organizer that I hated. It was way too small to hold our silverware, the Monkey's "in-between" silverware and Small Fry's spoons. So I splurged and got some cool stuff.

Apparently though, I still need to organize the drawer next to the silverware - the miscellaneous cooking utensil drawer.

It was a great day, I'm exhausted, didn't even spend too long in the studio tonight. I'm going to catch up on Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice and crochet, woohoo!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Some Bunny Loves You!

Sock Monkey has made his debut as an....Easter Bunny!

This is another one of my favorites, his soft bunny ears are the best (and even Small Fry was cuddling with the shirt when I showed it to him this morning). The ears are a super-soft white microfleece and the pink parts are a pink minkee.

I've got a variety of sizes in long and short-sleeved onesies, and a limited supply of long-sleeved shirts.

Available in my shop now!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Rockets Everywhere!

I am so in love with these new prints from FreeSpirit fabrics, and just had to make something from them. I finally got a breather from other things, and needed a night in my studio to create. So I made these two adorable onesie/pants sets (they are also available in custom sizes). Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

To Do: Buy Loads of Fabric

Done. I'm done shopping (for a while). I went on a spree the past two weeks replenishing my stash and getting some new items for new projects I have in mind.

I posted about all the diaper/reusable snack bag supplies I got over the weekend. Before that, I received a wonderful package of fabric from another Etsy seller, Lucky Kaeru Fabrics, SO easy and quick to work with and she had everything in stock that I needed. I forgot to take a picture of when it came in though - but here's a pic of my refolded, reorganized "stash on the side" (it's fabric that doesn't fit into any shelving unit and is used primarily for items I will sell). The fabrics in the middle stack, top half are my Lucky Kaeru fabrics. (And some other new items from my store!)

Yesterday, I received another wonderful package of fabric from Fat Quarter Shop. I've ordered from them a few times now and am always 100% pleased with the customer service and quality I get. I am SO excited to replenish my sock monkey fabric stash and add a few new pieces (I got a sample pack of Amy Butler's Midwest Modern 2 line and some larger pieces).

Sock Monkey Diaper!

Well, it's a sock monkey color diaper. Some of that brown PUL I got in the mail on Saturday, and the red fleece went to making this diaper. Small Fry loves it (and I think it's pretty cute too!)

Small Fry and his Banana

Bananas are Small Fry's favorite food. I decided to give him one this week with the peel still on. He got one bite, but then got distracted by the peel and tried to taste that too.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Amy Butler Reusable Snack/Sandwich Bags!

I dove into my favorite collection, Amy Butler's Midwest Modern, to make the latest snack bags. (Some sold before I even got this blog post up - but I have more if you're interested!) If you'd like to see a particular design or want a custom set of snack bags, please send me a note over on Etsy!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

How times have changed

My parents would always remark on things I did as a kid that would never have happened when they were kids. As a child on the cusp of the "Net-Generation", early computers made their way into our house when I was in elementary school. I remember our first "laptop", an IBM with a tiny (11" x 5" LCD) screen, a keyboard and it weighed at least 25 lbs.

When I was in middle school, I got a sound card for a Christmas gift, that I got to install in our desktop computer. It was very exciting, and I also got a CD-ROM drive that I also had to install in the computer (and I remember the rails not being the right size, so I taped Popsicle sticks to the sides of the drive so it rested in the bay properly).

Internet appeared in our house when I was 15, I quickly learned my way around, remember the days when internet wasn't unlimited? I had forgotten about that. I even set up my mom and dad with email addresses, they didn't have a computer, so I don't know why, but my dad still has the same address today.

When I was 16, I got a cell phone. It was $20/month and I had 60 minutes of talk time. I felt SO cool with that phone. I mean, a car AND a phone?

These days, my almost-3-year-old monkey knows to tell me to click on something on the computer, he knows how to use a mouse. He will never know life without email, blogs, cell phones, blackberries, iPods, and more. (He's even called grandma all on his own from my Blackberry). It is amazing to think of the mass amount of technological changes in the past 30 years.

Which brings me to the Monkey's most adorable statement this morning while playing with his pretend phone, "Mommy, I'm sending you a text message." I never would have said that when I was his age. :)

I love Colorado

You never know what to expect weather-wise in Colorado. Being a weather forecaster here is a thankless and often criticized job. At 10pm, we may be expecting 10" of snow, but the cold front decides to take a new path over the mountains and suddenly it's a balmy 60 degree day. Or the complete opposite may happen too.

The familiar phrase heard here is, "If you don't like the weather, wait a minute". And it is true. I do love my winters though. We are a higher elevation than the actual heart of Denver, and by virtue of our location, get some nice snowy days. This winter, however, has been unseasonably warm. I can't believe it's February, and we've hit record highs in the 70s!

The Monkey has been riding his trike (that we borrowed from Grandma and Grandpa who scored it in an awesome garage sale find), and is recently fond of the camera again (we went through a shy period of NO smiling in front of the camera).

I took some pics of him the other day riding outside with the neighbors, in the nice sunny weather (hubby was wearing shorts). He loves to smile and wave at the camera, silly kid! And for comparison's sake...I've posted some pics of what the Monkey was doing outside on this exact same date last year.

February 5, 2009

February 5, 2008

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Fluffy Mail

In the cloth diapering world, "fluffy mail" is the joyous event of getting a new cloth diaper in the mail. It is always fun, as I know (from first hand experience) that a great deal of the attraction in modern cloth diapering is all of the options and the endless amounts of cuteness.

I am so happy Fed-Ex delivers on Saturday (I have fabric coming via UPS, but not until Tuesday, boo). My doorbell rang about noon today and a wonderful box of "fluffy mail" arrived.

This time, it was not a finished cloth diaper, but instead a whole new stash of stuff to diapers! I have been using the white PUL (laminated knit - typically seen in cloth diapers), to line the inside of my reusable snack bags, and of course, I couldn't just order boring, white PUL, so I added a few (okay, many) other items to the order.

I got PUL in dark brown, light brown, black and melon, microfleece in red and white, organic hemp fleece (yeah!), and lots of velcro (for the reusable snack bags), and various kinds of elastic (including some fold-over elastic for diaper covers, another woohoo! - I'm planning on making diaper covers with matching t-shirts.)

Fluffy mail on a Saturday, couldn't be better!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Small Fry Turns ONE!

We'll be having the actual party for him in a few weeks (we're combining the celebration with the Monkey's birthday, which is in 3 weeks). We did do a little celebrating, however, today.

The morning started out with a yummy pancake, egg, and bacon breakfast. Small Fry enjoyed it, but was much more excited to walk around (his new favorite activity!)

A perfect shirt (a hand-me-down from the Monkey) - It says, "Birthday Boy"

The brothers playing together, nicely. (This is a RARE moment).

Grandma and Grandpa came over for dinner, and Grandma gave Small Fry his very first pickle.

He REALLY wanted to grab that candle flame.

After we helped blow out the flame, he was fascinated by the smoke.

Ready to dig in.

The Monkey wasn't left out - I made a cupcake for him! (And if you ask him, he'll tell you it was HIS birthday today)

Mmmm, carrot cake. Thanks, grandma!

Happy as can be (notice the fistful of cake).

Licking frosting off one hand and clenching a fistful of cake in the other. Perfect.

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